World Digest: May 20, 2014

May 21, 2014
FRANCE
Lab shut after loss of SARS virus samples

French medical authorities have ordered a prestigious laboratory to suspend its activities after it lost more than 2,000 test tubes containing the SARS respiratory virus.

The Pasteur Institute reported the tubes missing last month from one of its labs but insisted that the tubes do not pose any infection risk. It asked the ANSM medical safety agency to carry out inspections at the lab.

ANSM chief inspector Gaetan Rudant said Tuesday that his team did not find the tubes but did find “dysfunction” in the way the lab tracked its material.

The ANSM ordered a suspension of the lab’s activities and a “tube-by-tube” inventory of all material at the Pasteur Institute.

SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, infected about 8,000 people in 2003, killing nearly 800.

— Associated Press

YEMEN
27 killed in clashes in restive northwest

Clashes between Shiite northern rebels, ultraconservative Sunni tribesmen and government troops killed 27 in Yemen’s restive northwest, security officials and tribesmen said Tuesday.

The officials said troops bombed al-Makhath, a village in northwestern Amran province, after clashes erupted between the Houthi rebels and the ultraconservative Sunni tribesmen. The officials and tribesmen said 15 Houthi rebels, seven Sunnis and five troops, including an officer, were killed. The security officials said the rebels seized a military base in the area.

A six-year insurgency in the north led by the Houthi tribe officially ended in 2010. But the group has recently clashed with Sunni ultraconservatives. The Houthis accuse the Sunnis of trying to spread their school of thought in Houthi strongholds.

— Associated Press

Moscow court convicts 5 in journalist’s killing: A Moscow court has convicted five men of involvement in the killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building in 2006. Three of those convicted had been acquitted in a previous trial. Politkovskaya’s work in the Novaya Gazeta newspaper was sharply critical of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya.

Briton convicted on terror charges related to Syria: For the first time, a Briton has been convicted of terrorism-related offenses after going to Syria with the intention of joining the fight there. A London court convicted Mashudur Choudhury of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts. Prosecutors said the 31-year-old went to Syria in October planning to join a terrorism training camp. He was arrested at Gatwick Airport on his return to London later that month.

Vaz wins Guinea-Bissau presidential runoff: José Mário Vaz won the presidential runoff election in Guinea-Bissau, the West African nation’s election commission said. The former finance minister, a candidate of the dominant PAIGC party, won 61.9 percent of the vote, defeating Nuno Gomes Nabiam, an independent, who garnered 38.1 percent. The former Portuguese colony has been roiled by coups and power grabs since independence.No president has finished his term in office since 1974.

Attacks kill 13 in Iraq: Attacks in Iraq killed 13 people, including off-duty soldiers on their way home, officials said. Gunmen ambushed a minibus carrying the troops near the town of Suleiman Beg, killing eight, police said. A bomb north of Baghdad killed two people, and a blast in the city of Hilla killed three. The attacks came a day after preliminary results from April 30 parliamentary elections were announced, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bloc winning the most seats.

Video prompts look at killing of Palestinian teens: Security-camera video showing two unarmed Palestinians crumpling to the ground during a lull in a clash with Israeli soldiers revived allegations by rights activists that the troops often use excessive force. The Israeli group B’Tselem said the images back its findings that the teens were killed without cause. The soldiers were in “zero danger,” said Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, “It was a life-threatening situation, so the officers acted accordingly.” The United Nations and the United States urged a transparent investigation.

Italy rescues 500 migrants: The Italian navy rescued nearly 500 migrants, including 100 children, in an all-night operation off Sicily that highlighted the increasing number of minors attempting the dangerous sea journey to Europe. Most of the migrants were from Syria, Egypt and Bangladesh, the navy said.

— From news services

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