Kirkuk (Iraq) (AFP) - Militants who have overrun a swathe of territory north of Baghdad in a lightning offensive released on Thursday 48 foreigners, including four Turks, held for several days, Iraqi police said. The construction workers, who were helping build a hospital in the now insurgent-held city of Tikrit, are from Turkey, Nepal, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. "The workers... were kidnapped near the Hamreen mountains four days ago, and were handed over near a checkpoint between Tikrit and Kirkuk," said Major General Torhan Abdulrahman, the deputy police chief for Kirkuk province. "We brought them to Kirkuk, and they will return to their countries soon."
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The driver of a tractor-trailer that plowed into a limousine van carrying comedian Tracy Morgan and several friends, killing one person and severely injuring Morgan and two others, was speeding in the final moments before the crash, according to a preliminary report released Thursday.
By Benet Koleka LAZARAT Albania (Reuters) - The smoke from burning marijuana plants billowed from a dozen houses on Day Five of Albania's most serious move yet against a southern village, armed to the teeth, that has churned out weed on an industrial scale for more than 15 years. Lazarat has long blighted Albania’s efforts to shed the image of a Balkan badlands since it threw off communism in 1991. With the fruits of its labor turning up in Italy, Greece and, last year, Germany, Albania has come under increasing pressure from the European Union to crack down on drug producers long considered untouchable, out of reach of the law thanks to a web of corrupt connections to the police and politicians. Albania hopes to get approval later this month from each of the EU’s 28 member states to become an official candidate for inclusion in the group.
Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists were locked in fierce fighting in the east of Ukraine on Thursday after rebels rejected a call to lay down their arms in line with a peace plan proposed by President Petro Poroshenko, government forces said. Heavy fighting broke out at around 4 a.m. near the town of Krasny Liman, which itself has been under government control since early this month. We guarantee their safety and investigation in line with Ukrainian law ... They refused," said government forces spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov. They are trying to break out," Seleznyov said.