World Digest: Dec. 16, 2013

December 16, 2013
IRAQ
Multiple attacks kill
pilgrims, policemen

A double car bombing and a shooting killed 34 Shiite Muslims on pilgrimage in Iraq on Monday, part of a wave of attacks across the country that left at least 65 dead. It was Iraq’s bloodiest day in nearly two months.

Police said the worst attack took place Monday night in the southern Baghdad suburb of al-Rasheed, when two car bombs struck a group of Shiite pilgrims walking to the holy city of Karbala, killing 23 and wounding 55. Earlier in the day, gunmen opened fire on a bus in Mosul that was carrying Shiite pilgrims also traveling to Karbala, killing 11 and wounding eight. Mosul is about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

In other violence Monday, a group of suicide bombers launched a brazen attack in Beiji, a former insurgent stronghold 155 miles north of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into the main gate of the police station.

The blast enabled three other bombers who were on foot to storm inside and blow themselves up, a police officer said. Eight police officers were killed and five were wounded, he said.

— Associated Press

SOUTH AFRICA
Fake signer accused in fatal 2003 attack

Just when it seemed the scandal over the bogus sign-language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial had run its course, a cousin and three friends say he was part of a mob that accosted two men found with a stolen television and burned them to death in 2003 by setting fire to tires placed around their necks.

Thamsanqa Jantjie was never tried because authorities determined that he was not mentally fit to stand trial, the four told the Associated Press on Monday. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the fake-signing fiasco, which has deeply embarrassed South Africa’s government and prompted a high-level investigation.

Their account of the killings matched a description of the crime and the outcome for Jantjie that he himself described in an interview published by the Sunday Times newspaper of Johannesburg.

“It was a community thing, what you call mob justice, and I was also there,” Jantjie told the newspaper.

Instead of standing trial in 2006, Jantjie was institutionalized for more than a year, the four said, and then returned to live in his poor township neighborhood on the outskirts of Soweto. At some point after that, they said, he started getting jobs doing sign-language interpretation at events for the governing African National Congress party.

— Associated Press

CHINA
16 killed in violence
in Xinjiang province

Sixteen people were killed when rioters attacked police as they were detaining suspects in China’s restive northwest Xinjiang province, according to China’s official news media.

Two police officers and 14 rioters were killed, the official Xinhua news agency said. Six suspects were detained in the attack, which occurred in Shufu county of Xinjiang’s Kashgar region. Xinhua described the assailants as “terrorists” and said an initial investigation found they were from a 20-member terrorist group.

The episode is the latest outburst of violence in Xinjiang, a province beset by tensions between the Uighur minority and ethnic Han Chinese, whom the government has encouraged to migrate there. China has linked a Uighur militant group founded in Xinjiang to an October incident in which a vehicle rammed a crowd near Tiananmen Square, killing the three people in the car and two bystanders.

— From news services

Israel, Lebanon move to ease tensions: Israel and Lebanon rushed to defuse tensions Monday after a deadly border skirmish that left one Israeli soldier dead Sunday, with the countries holding a face-to-face meeting with U.N. peacekeepers and pledging their commitment to a seven-year-old cease-fire. In Sunday’s incident, a Lebanese sniper opened fire at an Israeli vehicle near the Rosh Hanikra area, killing a soldier inside. Several hours later, the Israeli military said it shot two Lebanese soldiers after spotting “suspicious movement” in the same area.

U.N. shooting in Mali wounds two: Residents in the troubled Malian city of Kidal say U.N. peacekeepers fired on Tuareg rebels and civilians, wounding two. The incident came after a weekend suicide attack that killed two peacekeepers. A witness said Chadian peacekeepers fired on a rebel truck Monday, wounding one person, and on people traveling by motorcycle, hitting one person.

— Associated Press

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