Philippines: Prayers for Aquino

MANILA — Roman Catholic bishops and political leaders across the Philippines offered prayers Tuesday for former president and democracy icon Corazon Aquino after her family announced she was battling colon cancer.

The 75-year-old Aquino has started treatment, but no details were available. Her daughter and son have asked the media to respect the family's privacy.

A humble housewife propelled to politics by the assassination of her husband in 1983, Aquino led a peaceful uprising in 1986 that toppled late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and became a harbinger of nonviolent protests around the world.

Chile: Quake rattles the north

SANTIAGO — A powerful earthquake shook northern Chile on Monday, briefly knocking out electricity to a city and alarming its residents, authorities said. There were no immediate reports of deaths or major damage.

The Seismological Institute of the University of Chile said the quake had a magnitude of 6.2 and was centered in a sparsely populated area in the Andes mountains near the border with Bolivia.

Iraq: Shiite factions blamed

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military blamed Iranian-backed Shiite militia factions on Monday for a spate of rocket attacks that struck the Green Zone and surrounding areas, a day after the overall U.S. death toll in the five-year conflict rose to 4,000.

The White House called the grim milestone "a sober moment" and said President Bush spends time every day thinking about those who have lost their lives in battle. (See story on A2.)

The American deaths came Sunday, the same day rockets pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad and a wave of attacks left at least 61 Iraqis dead nationwide.

Mexico: 'Evil eye' killing

CANCUN — Two men have confessed to killing a man who made his living practicing witchcraft because they believed he had put an "evil eye" on a relative, officials on Mexico's Caribbean coast said Monday.

The two men, and a third who remained at large, stabbed a 28-year-old man seven times, crushed his skull with a rock and tried to burn his body, according to Luis Raymundo Canche, assistant prosecutor for Quintana Roo state. The attack occurred Saturday near the resort of Cancun.

Both men confessed, blaming the victim for the suicide of the father of one of the men.

Sri Lanka: Deadly battles

COLOMBO — Government troops and Tamil rebels fought scattered battles across northern Sri Lanka over two days, leaving 30 rebel fighters and four soldiers dead, the military said Monday.

Fighting between the two sides has escalated since the government pulled out of a long-ignored cease-fire with the rebels in January. The government promised swift victory over the Tamil Tigers, but many observers say the rebels are putting up far more resistance than the government expected.

Turkey: Cheney blames Hamas

ANKARA — Vice President Dick Cheney, concluding two days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, said Monday that Hamas militants and their backers in Iran and Syria are playing the role of spoiler in Mideast peace talks.

"It is clearly a difficult situation, in part, because I think it's true, there's evidence, that Hamas is supported by Iran and Syria and that they're doing everything they can to torpedo the peace process," Cheney told reporters before heading to Turkey, the final stop on his 10-day trip to the Mideast.