World Digest: Nov. 18, 2013

LIBYA

Military tries to push militias from capital

Libya’s military swept into the capital Monday with dozens of pickup trucks mounted with
antiaircraft guns in an operation to drive out militiamen, and it received a warm welcome from Libyans seething with anger against the numerous armed groups running rampant in the country.

Libya is seeing its strongest public uproar yet against militias, which have fueled chaos nationwide since the 2011 fall of longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi. The heavily armed groups, some made up of Islamist militants, have defied control by the weak central government in Tripoli, carving out fiefdoms and acting as a law unto themselves.

But the move to rein in militias risks a backlash leading to outright battles between pro- and anti-government militias. Since many of the groups are rooted in specific cities, any violence could pit city against city. Monday’s sweep was the most assertive yet by the army.

Essam al-Naas, spokesman for the Joint Operation Room, a security body under the prime minister, said that as the military deployed, militias from the western city of Misurata withdrew from four districts of the capital and
returned to their city.

Libya’s deputy intelligence chief, Mustafa Noah, also was freed Monday, a day after he was seized by gunmen as he was leaving Tripoli’s airport, a security official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in line with regulations. It was unclear who had taken Noah, whose family hails from Misurata.

— Associated Press

AFGHANISTAN

Headless bodies identified as police

Two separate roadside bombs killed nine children in Afghanistan on Monday, while six bodies found the day before in a southern province were identified as police and not contractors as was initially reported, officials said.

A roadside bomb killed seven children from the same family in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktika province, said Mokhlis Afghan, a spokesman for the governor. Three other children in the family were wounded. The children were playing on a road near their home when the bomb exploded.

In the southern province of Zabul, two children were killed when their family’s vehicle hit a roadside bomb, Deputy Governor Mohammed Jan Rasoolyar said.

He also said officials had identified the six bodies found Sunday, all decapitated, as policemen. Confusion had arisen because they were in civilian clothes.

— Associated Press

CANADA

Toronto mayor loses most of his powers

Toronto’s City Council voted Monday to strip scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford of most of his powers after a heated debate during which he knocked over a female council member.

The council voted overwhelmingly to cut Ford’s office budget by 60 percent and allow his staff to join the deputy mayor. Ford now effectively has no legislative power. He retains his title and ability to represent Toronto at official functions.

Toronto has been abuzz with the Ford melodrama since May, when news outlets reported that he had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine.

During the debate, Ford paced and traded barbs with the public. At one point, he charged across the chamber and knocked over council member Pam McConnell before picking her back up. Another member asked him to apologize. Ford said he was rushing to the defense of his brother, council member Doug Ford.

— Associated Press

Iran announces new drone: Iran unveiled a new aircraft Monday that it says is the biggest drone yet to be developed in the Islamic republic, capable of staying aloft for up to 30 hours. Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said the reconnaissance and combat drone Fotros has a range of 1,250 miles. That would cover much of the Middle East, including Israel.

Bachelet wins first round of Chile election: Leftist candidate Michelle Bachelet was the clear winner in Chile’s presidential election Sunday, although she will have to wait until a second-round runoff next month to seal her victory. Bachelet, who led Chile between 2006 and 2010 as its first female president, clinched just under
47 percent of the vote. Former labor minister Evelyn Matthei of the ruling right-wing coalition was second with 25 percent.

— From news services

 
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