World Digest: Dec. 29, 2013

December 29, 2013
RUSSIA
At least 15 die in suicide bombing

A suicide bomber struck a busy railway station in southern Russia on Sunday, killing at least 15 people and wounding scores more, officials said, in a stark reminder of the threat Russia faces as it prepares to host February’s Olympics in Sochi.

No one asserted responsibility for the bombing in Volgograd, but it came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov called for new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Sochi Games.

Suicide bombings have rocked Russia for years, but many have been contained to the North Caucasus, the center of an insurgency seeking an Islamist state in the region. Volgograd had not been a typical target, but the city formerly known as Stalingrad has been struck twice in two months — suggesting that militants may be using the transportation hub to show their reach beyond the North Caucasus.

— Associated Press

EGYPT
Bomb blows out wall at security building

A bomb exploded outside an Egyptian army building north of Cairo, wounding four soldiers, the army said. It was the second bomb attack on security forces in the Nile Delta in less than a week.

The bomb partly destroyed the back wall of the military intelligence building in the village of Anshas, 60 miles north of the capital. The army described the bombing as a terrorist attack. Its statement referred to “groups of darkness,” but it did not name the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that was declared a terrorist organization last week by the military-backed government.

That decision was a response to a suicide bomb attack on Tuesday on a police compound in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, north of the site of Sunday’s explosion. The government had accused the Brotherhood of carrying out last week’s suicide bombing, which killed 16 people, even though a radical Sinai-based group called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility. The Brotherhood, which says it is committed to peaceful activism, condemned that attack.

— Reuters

IRAQ
Attacks kill general, Sunni militiamen

At least 18 people were killed in attacks across Iraq on Sunday. Among the victims were at least eight soldiers, including a brigadier general and three other officers, who were victims of a suicide bombing in the eastern part of Mosul, police and medical sources said.

Four members of a government-backed Sunni militia were killed in western Baghdad when gunmen attacked their checkpoints in the Abu Ghraib district, police and medics said.

Violence in Iraq has hit its highest levels since the sectarian fighting of 2006 and 2007, which killed tens of thousands of people. Al-Qaeda-linked militants have stepped up attacks in recent months against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government and its supporters. More than 8,000 people have been killed this year, according to the United Nations.

— Reuters

5,000 evacuated from Syrian town: The Syrian government evacuated about 5,000 people Sunday from an embattled industrial town near Damascus where al-Qaeda-linked rebels have been battling government troops for more than two weeks, the state news agency said. Opposition fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra swept into Adra, northeast of the capital, this month, reportedly killing civilians, including members of the Alawite and Druse sects. Both minority communities largely support President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite, against the primarily Sunni-led rebellion.

Saudi Arabia to give Lebanon $3 billion: Saudi Arabia pledged $3 billion to help Lebanon strengthen its armed forces and purchase weapons from France, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman announced. French President François Hollande, who was in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, Sunday for talks with King Abdullah, said France would help if requested to do so. The Lebanese army has struggled to contain increasing violence linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria, a conflict that has inflamed sectarian tensions in Lebanon and threatened the country’s stability.

— From news services

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