BBC news 2010-03-27

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2010-03-27 BBC

BBC News with Marian Marshall

The electoral commission in Iraq says the political group led by the secular former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has won the country's parliamentary election. His group secured two seats more than the bloc led by Nouri al-Maliki, the current Shiite Prime Minister. Mr al-Maliki has expressed concerns over irregularities, and says he'll challenge the result in court. Here is our Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi.

As it's been widely anticipated, the scene is setting Iraq for a protracted political conflict with a risk of violence never far off. Almost immediately after the announcement that handed Mr Allawi the electoral victory, the incumbent Nouri al-Maliki refused to accept the result. He repeated his demand for a recount of the vote. He even went further than that by asking for a re-run of the poll in what he described as problematic provinces. Iraq can ill-afford in outdrawing political conflict with no effective government.

At least 40 people were killed just before the announcement when two bombs exploded in the town of Khalis, north of Baghdad. The twin bombing occurred outside a restaurant, wounding a further 60 people.

The American and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev have agreed to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons. After finalizing the deal in a telephone conversation, President Obama said other countries should meet their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Kevin Connolly reports.

The days are gone when nuclear weapons reduction talks between Moscow and Washington were the biggest and most important diplomatic game on earth, but this is still a treaty of huge significance. It contains new lower limits on the number of warheads the two sides can deploy and on the missiles, submarines and bombers which carry them. For Barack Obama who has spoken of the dream of a non-nuclear world, it also sends a powerful signal on the key contemporary issue. The White House believes US efforts to prevent Iran and North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons will be enhanced if it's seen to be reducing its own arsenal.

The Israeli military says that two of its soldiers have been killed and two others injured in clashes with Palestinian fighters in the southern Gaza Strip. Israel said two Palestinians who were planting explosives on the border were also killed. Our Middle East correspondent Jon Donnison reports from Jerusalem.

These clashes came around in an attempt by militant groups in Gaza to capture another Israeli soldier to add to Gilad Shalit who's now been held for more than three years. Local sources in Gaza say fighting broke out after an Israeli incursion into the southern Gaza Strip. Such incursions are relatively frequent in this area. It appears that militants in Gaza then tried to capture at least one Israeli soldier. The militant wing of Hamas has claimed responsibility for the deaths of the two Israeli soldiers, but says it was a defensive action.

Following the fighting, Israeli tanks are reported to have entered Gaza.

World News from the BBC

The United States government has unveiled new plans to help home owners struggling to pay their mortgages. With nearly 10% of the US labour force jobless, the new proposals will provide a temporary reduction in loan repayments for unemployed borrowers. There have also been incentives for lenders to reduce the debts of home owners whose mortgages are now bigger than the value of their houses.

A South Korean ship has sunk close to the disputed maritime border with North Korea. The incident initially raised fears of a conflict and prompted a special security meeting in the South Korean capital Seoul. But southern officials later said it wasn't clear whether North Korea was involved. John Subworth reports from South Korea.

The disputed sea-boundary of the west coast of the Korean peninsula has been the scene of deadly exchanges of fire between the northern and southern navies over the past few years. So it's not surprising that there is media speculation that North Korea may be involved in the sinking of this ship. But so far the South Korean government is taking a cautious line, saying that the cause is still unknown, and the rescue operation remains the priority. Although it's a precaution, the police force here in the capital Seoul have moved to a heightened state of alert.

Police in Uganda say one person has been killed in a stampede at a ceremony to mourn the destruction by fire of a series of royal tombs. Thousands of people attended the week-long event which ends today at the Kasubi tombs on the outskirts of the capital Kampala. The tombs were a UNESCO World Heritage Site and served as a burial site for the kings of Buganda, the biggest traditional kingdom in Uganda.

The 2008 Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has been stopped by police in Australia for bad driving. He just clocked the fastest lap during practice for Sunday's Grand Prix in Melbourne and was pulled over when he skidded as he drove his private car out of the race circuit. His Mercedes was impounded. It's not clear if he'll be charged.

BBC News.