Suicide blast kills 5 in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - A suicide bomber blew up an explosives-packed car at the gates of an Italian military base Monday in one of two attacks on the relatively secure western city of Herat, killing at least five Afghans and wounding more than 30 people in a major commercial center scheduled to be handed over by NATO to Afghan control in July.

The bombings claimed by the Taliban were the second major attack in three days as insurgents expand their targets outside the southern and eastern theaters that were the focus of U.S. offensives last winter. In other violence around Afghanistan, four NATO service members were killed Monday.

Taliban attacks inside Herat are rare, though there are violence-prone districts on its outskirts. But insurgents have been increasing attacks around the country since the Taliban announced its spring offensive in late April and have been reaching into areas that had been fairly quiet until now. - AP

Mladic appeals extradition order

BELGRADE, Serbia - The lawyer representing war-crimes suspect Ratko Mladic on Monday mailed an appeal of his extradition order on health grounds, a tactic likely to result in a short delay in the former general's departure from Serbia for trial before the special tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague, Netherlands.

The appeal argues that Mladic, 69, is physically and mentally unfit for trial. Serbian officials said that if a three-judge panel in Belgrade denied the appeal, Mladic could be transferred in two to four days, depending on security arrangements. Since his capture last week, after nearly 16 years on the run, Mladic has asked Serbian political figures with medical expertise to visit him.

Bruno Vekaric, the deputy war-crimes prosecutor in Serbia, has characterized the appeal as a tactic because local doctors have concluded that Mladic is well enough to be transferred for trial. - N.Y. Times News Service

Saudi woman who drove is released

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - A Saudi woman detained for defying the ultraconservative kingdom's ban on female drivers was released Monday after increasing international pressure for her freedom, a rights activist said.

Manal al-Sherif, 32, had become the center of an Internet campaign that also drew attention to plans for a June 17 rally calling for a mass driving protest to challenge the restriction.

The rights activist, Waleed Aboul Khair, credited "pressure from inside and outside" Saudi Arabia for Sherif's release. Saudi Arabia follows an austere brand of Islam, Wahhabism, that is enforced by morality police. Sherif had been detained since May 21 after posting an Internet video of her driving as part of a campaign for the June protest. - AP

Elsewhere:

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi acknowledged Monday that his center-right party suffered defeats in runoff local elections Sunday and Monday in his stronghold of Milan and in Naples - outcomes that observers say could undermine his government's leadership.