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By Saif Hameed and Ulf Laessing BAGHDAD/BARTELLA, Iraq (Reuters) - Islamic State fighters retreating in the face of a seven-week Iraqi military assault on their Mosul stronghold have hit back in the last two days, exploiting cloudy skies which hampered U.S.-led air support and highlighting the fragile army gains. In a series of counter-attacks since Friday night, the jihadist fighters struck elite Iraqi troops spearheading the offensive in eastern Mosul, and attacked security forces to the south and west of the city. On Sunday two militants tried to attack army barracks in the western province of Anbar.
The death toll from a fire at a California warehouse where a rave party was taking place rose to 33 on Sunday, with authorities saying they had no idea how many more bodies they would find. The fire in Oakland, near San Francisco, broke out late Friday at the cluttered warehouse where artists and students worked and lived, even though the structure wasn't licensed for such use. The cause of the blaze was still under investigation but Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said the district attorney had activated a criminal investigation as a precaution to preserve options as the case unfolded.
Popular New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced his shock resignation Monday, saying it was the right time to go after eight years in the job. Key, a former Merrill Lynch currency trader, had recently marked his eighth anniversary as prime minister and 10th year as leader of the centre-right National Party, which is set to meet next week to elect his successor. Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is widely seen as the favourite to take over.