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Associated Press
A policeman walks on a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during a protest by Islamic activists demanding anti-blasphemy laws. At least 27 people died.
Briefs

Dozens die in anti-blasphemy protest

– Police banned all rallies in Bangladesh’s capital through midnight Monday after at least 27 people died in clashes between police and Islamic hard-liners demanding that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law, officials said.

The protesters blocked roads with burning tires and logs during more than five hours of clashes. They also attacked a police station and set fire to at least 30 vehicles, including police trucks, private Ekattar TV reported.

The private United News of Bangladesh reported that the violence erupted after security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters in the central commercial district.

The Islamic activists have been holding protests to demand that the government implement an anti-blasphemy law. They say some Internet users have recently used their blogs to spread atheism and lies about Islam.

Nation

Burial offers emerge for bomb suspect

A Massachusetts funeral director said Monday he has received burial offers from out-of-state cemeteries for the body of a Boston Marathon bombing suspect who was killed in a gun battle with police, even as Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s mother told him she wants the body returned to Russia.

But Worcester funeral home director Peter Stefan said despite the request, he doesn’t think Russia will take Tsarnaev’s body and he is working on other arrangements.

Meanwhile, Robel Phillipos, a friend of the surviving suspect in the bombings charged with lying to investigators, was released from federal custody Monday, but was under strict house arrest and only allowed to leave his home to meet with lawyers and for true emergencies.

Charges mulled in fatal soccer punch

A Utah prosecutor said Monday he plans to decide soon what charges to file against a teenager accused of punching a soccer referee who later died after slipping into a weeklong coma.

Authorities say the 17-year-old struck Ricardo Portillo in the head last month during a recreational league match after the referee called a penalty against him. Hours later, the 46-year-old went into a coma. He never regained consciousness and died Saturday.

Biden urges clergy to push gun control

Vice President Biden wants pastors, rabbis and nuns to tell their flocks that enacting gun control is the moral thing to do. But another vote may have to wait until Congress wraps up work on an immigration overhaul.

Biden met for 2 1/2 hours Monday with more than a dozen leaders from various faith communities – Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh, to name a few.

Both Biden and the faith leaders encouraged each other not to give up on what has been an arduous and thus far fruitless effort by Biden and President Obama to pass new gun laws in the wake of December’s schoolhouse shooting in Connecticut.

Assault prevention officer charged

An Air Force officer who led the branch’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit has been charged with groping a woman in a northern Virginia parking lot, authorities said Monday.

Arlington County Police said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski of Arlington faces a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery after an alleged assault about 12:30 a.m. Sunday in the Crystal City area of the county.

A police report says that the 41-year-old Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman’s breast and buttocks. Police say the woman fought him off and called police.

ACT college prep test going digital

Goodbye, No. 2 pencils. Hello, iPads. Starting as early as spring 2015, the ACT college admissions exam will go digital, reflecting students’ tech savvy and the demand for quicker results.

The tests will still have the familiar multiple-choice options for college hopefuls, but they will also expand to include interactive portions, such as a simulated science lab for students to conduct experiments or space for students to explain concepts in their own words.

Migraine medicine can lower babies’ IQ

U.S. health regulators are warning doctors and women of child-bearing age that a half-dozen medications used to treat migraine headaches can decrease children’s intelligence if taken while their mothers are pregnant.

The Food and Drug Administration says the drugs, including Depakote and Depacon, should never be taken by pregnant women for the prevention of migraine headaches.

World

Collapse toll at 675; murder charge eyed

Bangladeshi police are investigating possible murder charges against the owner of a shoddily built factory that collapsed nearly two weeks ago after the wife of a garment worker crushed in the accident filed a complaint.

The development comes as officials said Monday that the death toll from the country’s worst industrial disaster had reached 675.

Sheuli Akter, the wife of Jahangir Alam, filed the complaint with Dhaka magistrate Wasim Sheikh, saying her husband and other workers were “pushed toward death” by building owner Mohammed Sohel Rana and two others.

A conviction for murder can result in a death sentence in Bangladesh.

Political rally turns deadly in Pakistan

A bomb blast tore through a political rally held by an Islamist party in northwest Pakistan on Monday, in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban that killed 16 people and underscored an increase in violence ahead of the May 11 vote.

The explosion, at a rally held in the village of Sewak in the northwest Kurram tribal area, was the latest attack on candidates, political offices and election-related events as the vote approaches.

Much of the violence is believed to have been carried out by the Taliban against three liberal and secular parties. But Monday’s blast targeted a gathering of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party which generally has a more favorable relationship with the militant group.

Thousands demand release of prisoners

Around 20,000 Russian opposition supporters gathered for a protest in Moscow on Monday, venting anger against the Kremlin and demanding the release of political prisoners.

Exactly a year ago, a protest on the same square the day before President Vladimir Putin’s third presidential inauguration ended in violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

Participants in Monday’s rally, which went peacefully amid heavy police cordons, urged the authorities to free more than two dozen people facing criminal charges over their involvement in the protest a year ago.

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