World Digest: March 12, 2014

March 11
ISRAEL
Apology offered in Jordanian’s death

Israel’s prime minister expressed sorrow Tuesday over the killing of a Jordanian judge and announced a joint probe into the incident, seeking to ease tensions with Israel’s key Arab ally.

The apology by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reflected the importance Israel places on its relations with Jordan, one of just two Arab countries with which it has a peace agreement.

The death of Raed Zueter, a Jordanian magistrate of Palestinian descent, has caused an uproar in Jordan, triggering street protests and calls in parliament to annul the 1994 peace agreement with Israel.

The Israeli military said guards shot Zueter on Monday after he tried to grab a rifle from a soldier at the border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan. Zueter, originally from the West Bank city of Nablus, had been visiting relatives there and was on his way back to Jordan.

The military said an initial investigation found that Zueter attacked a soldier while shouting “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” and that the soldiers were forced to open fire

— Associated Press

MEXICO
Vigilante movement torn by disputes

Mexico’s vigilante “self-defense” groups have been riven by internal disputes after driving the vicious Knights Templar drug cartel out of much of the western state of Michoacan.

Officials and residents said Tuesday that the tensions came to a head when hundreds of police officers and army troops were sent in Monday to separate two armed factions in the town of La Ruana.

The confrontation revived fears that the government has created a monster by letting the heavily armed group of some 20,000 vigilantes take over basic law enforcement duties in the state without knowing who is really behind the movement.

The vigilantes are now the de facto authorities in about 15 of the state’s townships, and several top drug cartel leaders have been arrested or killed.

— Associated Press

INDONESIA
Sumatra haze sickens thousands

Nearly 50,000 people were suffering from respiratory problems linked to worsening haze from forest and brush fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, an official said Tuesday.

Pollution reached “extremely hazardous” levels in several districts of the island’s central eastern province of Riau, said Sutopo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency. “The number of people who have become ill continues to increase,” he said.

— McClatchy-Tribune

Syrian war having devastating effect on children, U.N. warns: The number of Syrian children affected by the civil war has doubled in the past year to at least 5.5 million — more than half the country’s children — with devastating effects on the health, education and psychological well-being of an entire generation, the United Nations children’s agency said Tuesday. The conflict, which enters its fourth year this month, has unleashed massive suffering across all segments of Syrian society, but the impact on children has been especially acute, according to the UNICEF report.

Suspected militant killed in Cairo: Egyptian forces killed a suspected militant in a shootout in the streets of Cairo on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry said. The man was suspected of involvement in the bombing of a security compound in central Cairo in January in which four people were killed. The ministry said Mohamed el-Sayed Mansour el-Toukhy opened fire on security forces as they tried to arrest him in Cairo’s Ain Shams district.

Egypt’s al-Sissi visits UAE: The United Arab Emirates’ official news agency said Egypt’s defense minister, Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, was attending the closing ceremony of joint military exercises. It is Sissi’s second official trip abroad since he ousted President Mohamed Morsi in July. Sissi is expected to run in Egypt’s presidential election.

— From news services

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