World Digest: Jan. 7, 2014

January 7
PAKISTAN
6 killed, purportedly for visiting shrine

Six bodies were dumped outside a Sufi shrine in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on Tuesday, accompanied by a note purporting to be from the Taliban saying the men had been killed for visiting the shrine, police said.

Most Pakistanis are Sufis, a form of Islam that stresses a personal relationship with Allah. The Taliban espouses violent Wahhabi Islam, which rejects many traditional forms of Sufi worship, including worship at shrines.

Sectarian violence is increasing across Pakistan, with two Sufi shrines bombed last year in the province of Sindh.

The note found with the bodies claimed to be from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Fazlullah Group, a senior police officer said. “People visiting shrines will meet the same fate,” he quoted the group as saying in the note.

Two of the men had been beheaded, while the rest had their throats slit, the policeman said, in the first such instance of a mass killing at a shrine that he knew of.

The port city of Karachi is heavily infiltrated by the Taliban and has been the site of Taliban-style executions.

— Reuters

SOUTH SUDAN
U.N.: Clashes persist despite hope of talks

Combat is continuing in South Sudan despite the opening of peace talks meant to end factional fighting, the United Nations said Tuesday.

U.N. peacekeepers reported fighting south of the city of Bor in oil-producing Jonglei state, and U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said explosions were heard to the southeast.

The peacekeepers patrolled a highway in Unity state and found most villages along the road from Mayom Junction to Pariyang burned or looted. Severe food, water and shelter shortages were also reported to the U.N. mission by local officials, Haq said.

Peacekeepers are on 24-hour patrols in Juba, the capital, but the situation remains tense there, he said.

Talks in Ethiopia between representatives of South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar were to resume Tuesday.

— Associated Press

Pope limits use of ‘monsignor’ title: Pope Francis, in his latest move to simplify the Catholic Church’s hierarchy, has severely restricted the number of priests who can receive the honorific title “monsignor” — literally “my lord” — Vatican Radio said. From now on, the honorific title can be given only to priests who are at least 65, as opposed to the current 35, and thus have already given a
life of service to the church. Critics say the current standards foster favoritism and encourage careerism.

Man to die in China for selling dirty cooking oil: A court in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong sentenced a man to death and two others to life imprisonment for producing and selling dirty cooking oil, state media reported. The black-market trade of recycled kitchen oil known as “gutter oil,” which can contain carcinogens, has been a chronic problem in China.

Spanish princess charged with tax fraud: Princess Cristina, the youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos of Spain, has been charged with committing tax fraud and money laundering, an investigating judge announced. The “Noos case” is a three-year-long alleged corruption scandal that also has embroiled the princess’s husband, former Olympic handball player Iñaki Urdangarin.

American held in Dubai to be released: An American who has been detained in the United Arab Emirates for nine months in connection with a satirical online video about would-be “gangsta” youth in Dubai was expected to be released soon, the State Department said. Shezanne Cassim, 29, of Woodbury, Minn., was arrested in April, six months after he and others uploaded their spoof documentary to the Internet.

Ex-Miss Venezuela slain in apparent robbery: Venezuelan officials said soap opera actress and former Miss Venezuela Mónica Spear and her husband were fatally shot resisting a robbery near Puerto Cabello, the country’s main port, after their car broke down. Their 5-year-old daughter was injured in the attack, police said. The family lived in the United States and was on vacation.

— From news services

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