World Digest: Aug. 25, 2013

August 25, 2013
IRAQ
Insurgents kill 46 in string of attacks

Insurgents bent on destabilizing Iraq killed at least 46 people in nationwide attacks Sunday, striking targets as varied as a coffee shop, a wedding party convoy and a carload of off-duty soldiers.

The attacks are part of a months-long wave of killing that is the country’s worst spate of bloodshed since 2008. The violence is calling into question the ability of the security forces to protect the country and raising fears that Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divisions are leading it back to the brink of civil war.

One of the day’s boldest attacks occurred near the northern city of Mosul, where militants set up a fake security checkpoint, captured five soldiers and shot them dead, a police officer said. The soldiers were dressed in civilian clothes and returning to base in a taxi.

In Mosul, gunmen in a car fatally shot a grocer, though the motive was not clear. The grocer was a member of the Shabak ethnic group, which has its own language and religious beliefs.

Another police officer said a car bomb exploded as a judge drove past in the northern town of Balad, killing four people. Thirteen people were wounded, including the judge, the officer added.

In Madain, a town about 15 miles southeast of Baghdad, a car bomb killed four people and wounded 12, another police officer said. Authorities reported that another bomb there struck young people playing soccer, killing four and wounding 13.

Multiple blasts hit Baqubah, a city about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Police said one bomb exploded near an officer’s house, killing his 8-year old son and wounding 11 people, police said. The police officer was unharmed.

Later in the day, a car bomb went off in a residential area in the city, killing seven and wounding 34. Another bomb exploded next to a wedding party convoy, killing four and wounding 17, police said.

— Associated Press

BURMA
Buddhists torch Muslim homes, shops

Hundreds of Buddhists carrying sticks and swords went on a rampage in a village in northwestern Burma, torching dozens of homes and shops after rumors that a young woman had been sexually assaulted by a Muslim man, police and witnesses said Sunday.

State television reported that an estimated 42 houses and 15 shops were burned and destroyed — most of them belonging to Muslims — before security forces fired warning shots in the air to disperse the mob early Sunday.

There were no reports of injuries in the latest round of on-again, off-again Buddhist-
Muslim violence to sweep the country.

The riot in Htan Gone, in the Sagaing region, began late Saturday after a crowd surrounded a police station, demanding that the suspect in the assault be handed over, a police officer said.

— Associated Press

MEXICO
At least 5 migrants die in derailment

An infamous cargo train carrying at least 250 Central American migrants heading to the United States derailed in a remote region of southern Mexico on Sunday, killing five and injuring 16, authorities said.

Officials said the train company and rescue workers were bringing in two cranes to help search for more victims among the eight derailed cars of the train, known as “The Beast.” Thousands of migrants ride its roof on their way north each year, braving brutal conditions for a chance at crossing into the United States.

The Tabasco state government said that at least 250 Honduran migrants were on the train, heading north from the Guatemala border. Heavy rains had loosened the earth beneath the tracks and shifted the rails, officials said.

— Associated Press

Heavy casualties in Congo clashes: Congolese troops and rebel forces suffered heavy casualties Sunday as they fought for a fifth day near Goma, a city in the country’s volatile east. A doctor near the front line reported 82 dead since early morning, 23 of them soldiers. It was the highest death toll reported since hostilities broke out last week. Government troops are still fighting to take a hill from where M23 rebels can target Goma and have advanced less than a mile since fighting resumed Wednesday after a three-week lull.

Jerusalem pushes forth with settlement plans: Jerusalem pushed forward Sunday with plans to construct 1,500 apartments in East Jerusalem, a move that could undermine recently renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. City spokeswoman Brachie Sprung said city officials approved plans to lay down infrastructure for the project. She called the move a “standard and bureaucratic process” and said final government approval was still required.

Suspend trade talks over NSA scandal, Merkel rival says:German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s election challenger says he would suspend negotiations with the United States over a transatlantic free-trade agreement until Washington clarifies details about National Security Agency surveillance programs. Social Democratic leader Peer Steinbrueck, who is running for chancellor in Sept. 22 elections, said Sunday on ARD public TV, “I would interrupt the negotiations until the Americans say if German government offices and European institutions are bugged or wiretapped.”

— From news services

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