IN one day in Iraq: 59 people were killed by a suicide bomber at an army recruitment centre in Baghdad; talks about forming a coalition government following elections in March broke down again; the last of 50'000 US combat troops left Iraq after handing over to local security forces.

In South Africa more than one million public service workers began an indefinite strike for higher wages. Schools and hospitals expected to be affected.

Afghanistan's President Karsai ordered foreign private security firms to end operations within four months. Some 40'000 heavily armed civilians working for these firms provide security to foreign embassies, non-governmental organisations and businesses.

France started to expel hundreds of Roma, most of them Romanian nationals, saying that their camps were illegal. The EU said it was monitoring the situation in relation to the EU rules on freedom of movement.

A Venezuelan court ordered all newspapers to refrain from publishing pictures of violence for one month. President Chavez faces elections on 26 September.

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