World Digest: Aug. 18, 2013

August 18, 2013
LEBANON
Explosives-laden car found; four arrested

Lebanese security forces seized a car loaded with explosives and arrested four men suspected of preparing bombs, days after a deadly bombing in southern Beirut, security officials said Sunday.

The car was found Saturday about 10 miles south of the capital, laden with five containers of TNT as well as nitroglycerin, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.

The men were being held on suspicion of preparing explosives for possible use in car bombings, but they were not believed to be connected to the car or to Thursday’s car bomb, which killed 27 people.

— Reuters

BRITAIN
Hundreds protest at fracking test site

British opposition to extraction of shale gas flared up in the tiny village of Balcombe on Sunday as hundreds marched on an oil-exploration site to protest the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Banner-waving men, women and children arrived in buses and on bicycles to join local residents in a mile-long trek, surrounded by police, toward a drilling operation run by Cuadrilla Resources in the picturesque English county of West Sussex.

The British government needs to win over a skeptical public if it is to stimulate a U.S.-style production boom and offset dwindling North Sea oil and gas reserves.

Groups orchestrating the protest said it would be followed by two days of “direct action” Monday and Tuesday. Acting on police advice, Cuadrilla on Friday said it was suspending test drilling during the protests.

— Reuters

IRAN
Former official cites weapons gains

A former Iranian defense minister said Sunday that his country is ranked sixth in the world in missile production.

The semiofficial Fars News Agency quoted Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi as saying that Iran reached that level of manufacturing by “attaining domestic technology for building solid fuel missiles, as well as designing and manufacturing surface-to-surface long-range missiles.”

Vahidi also said Iran is ranked first in the Middle East in missiles production. He gave no specific figures.

Iran occasionally announces military achievements that cannot be independently verified.

Some of Iran’s surface-to-
surface missiles are estimated to be capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in the region. Both countries have not ruled out a military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Tehran denies that it seeks to make nuclear weapons.

— Associated Press

British, German embassies reopen in Yemen: Britain and Germany have reopened their embassies in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, after closing them for not quite two weeks because of a terrorism threat. British Ambassador Jane Marriott said in a statement Sunday that she and her team were “glad to be back and working in Yemen after this brief hiatus.” The German Embassy posted a statement on its Web site Sunday saying that it had reopened.

Madagascar drops president, rival’s wife from ballot: Madagascar’s Special Electoral Court has removed the country’s incumbent president, the wife of his longtime rival and a former president from its list of presidential candidates, officials said. The Special Electoral Court canceled the candidacy of President Andry Rajoelina and Lalao Ravalomanana, who is the wife of Marc Ravalomanana, the leader Rajoelina overthrew in 2009. Former president Didier Ratsiraka was also removed from the list. The court said neither Ravalomanana nor Ratsiraka met the residence requirements for candidacy.

Libya’s interior minister resigns: Libyan Interior Minister Mohammed Khalifa al-Sheikh submitted his resignation Sunday over differences with the prime minister, according to a parliament member and an official at the prime minister’s office. Al-Sharif al-Wafi, a member of the Libyan General National Congress, said Sheikh submitted his resignation to the cabinet and to parliament to protest what he said was interference in his work by the government and parliament. The Interior Ministry has come under increasing pressure to deal with violence that has persisted since the 2011 war that toppled longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi.

— From news services

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