World Digest: Sept. 30, 2013

September 30, 2013
Gunmen attack army base, take captives

Suspected al-Qaeda gunmen dressed in fatigues and riding in military trucks overran a key army base in eastern Yemen on Monday, security officials said, holding captive high-ranking officers and soldiers in the latest bold attack by militants there.

Security officials said that the base in the large but sparsely populated province of Hadramawt is supposed to be protected by several checkpoints leading to its main gate but that no security was posted outside the base when the attack took place.

The military sent in reinforcements, and troops surrounded the compound, intermittently clashing with the attackers, the officials said.

The Defense Ministry said it had managed to evacuate the building, but other security officials said there were still an unknown number of officers and soldiers inside the building.

The attack underscores al-Qaeda’s ability to exploit security lapses in Yemen, despite a dramatic increase in U.S. drone strikes on militants there since President Obama took office.

The group was blamed for an assault this month that killed 38 soldiers in nearby Shabwa province. The army base under attack Monday is responsible for overseeing security there, as well.

— Associated Press

Three U.S. envoys facing expulsion

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said Monday that he was expelling three U.S. diplomats he accused of meeting with opposition leaders and seeking to destabilize the oil-rich nation.

“I’ve told the foreign minister . . . to proceed with their immediate expulsion from the country. They have 48 hours to leave the country,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast.

“Get out of Venezuela! Gringos, go home! . . . I’m not going to allow any action that stirs violence in this country.”

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas did not have any immediate comment on the announcement.

Maduro has for weeks been denouncing a U.S.-backed “economic war” that has led to product shortages and blackouts. His critics say those problems are the result of an inefficient currency-control system and underinvestment in the country’s power grid.

— Reuters

Tropical storm sinks boats, hits Vietnam: Tropical storm Wutip lashed central Vietnam on Monday after sinking at least two Chinese fishing boats near the Paracel Islands, leaving 75 fishermen missing, officials said. The storm uprooted trees, cut power lines and damaged more than 1,000 houses. There was no immediate word of injuries, flooding or major structural damage.

Indian politicians convicted in ‘fodder scam’: Two former chief ministers of an Indian state were convicted Monday of embezzling millions of dollars in the 1990s with bogus bills for cattle feed. The verdict in the 15-year-old “fodder scam” case could make Lalu Prasad, now a member of Bihar state’s opposition and India’s Parliament, one of the country’s first politicians to face disqualification under a new Supreme Court order banning convicts from holding office. He is credited with changing the shape of Indian politics, previously dominated by the elite classes, by galvanizing low-caste Hindus into a powerful voting bloc.

Amanda Knox’s new trial begins in Italy: U.S. student Amanda Knox’s second appeals trial in the slaying of her British roommate opened Monday, but the star defendant was absent. Italy’s highest court in March ordered a new trial for Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, overturning their acquittals in the gruesome 2007 killing of Meredith Kercher. The Court of Cassation gave a harsh assessment of an appeals court acquittal in 2011, saying it was full of “deficiencies, contradictions and illogical” conclusions.

Jackson unable to visit U.S. prisoner in Cuba: The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson ended a four-day visit to Cuba on Monday without getting to visit a U.S. government development subcontractor who is serving a 15-year sentence in the Caribbean nation. The civil rights activist said he had requested access to Alan Gross of Maryland, but island authorities told him it couldn’t be arranged in time. Gross was arrested in 2009 while importing restricted communications equipment as part of a U.S. government-funded democracy building program. He was accused of spying and convicted under a statute governing crimes against the state.

— From news services

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