RUSSIA
Turkish cleric in U.S. denies role in killing

A U.S.-based Muslim cleric on Thursday condemned the killing of Russia’s envoy to Turkey and rejected accusations that his movement was behind the attack.

Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot by an off-duty police officer at a photo exhibition Monday in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has implicated Fethullah Gulen, a former ally, in the killing, accusing his movement of links to the gunman.

In a video address, Gulen accused Erdogan of defaming his movement and suggested that the Turkish government would facilitate other killings and blame them on Gulen’s followers. Gulen has been living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

Russia has flown a team of 18 investigators and Foreign Ministry officials to Turkey to help investigate Karlov’s killing.

In Moscow, officials and lawmakers gathered at the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters for a ceremony to honor Karlov. Diplomats and officials laid flowers at the open casket alongside an honorary guard.

President Vladimir Putin arrived at the end of the ceremony, laid flowers at the casket, offered condolences to the ambassador’s widow and left.

— Associated Press

ROMANIA
Nomination delayed of female Muslim premier

Romania’s president said Thursday that he needs more time to nominate a new prime minister, delaying the confirmation in office of the country’s first female Muslim premier amid signs of unease.

The Social Democrats, who won elections on Dec. 11, on Wednesday proposed economist Sevil Shhaideh, a little-known former minister, as prime minister.

President Klaus Iohannis had been expected to give official support to that nomination on Thursday. But he said he will delay any announcement until after Christmas. He did not say why.

Shhaideh, 52, served as Romania’s regional development minister last year. Critics of her nomination say that she lacks sufficient political experience.

She is married to Akram Shhaideh, a Syrian, who obtained Romanian citizenship in 2015.

The Rise Project, a member of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, said Thursday that Shhaideh’s husband had postings in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on his Arabic-language Facebook page.

Meanwhile, the Romanian Orthodox bishop of Cluj, Andrei Andreicut, said he personally wanted a “Romanian and Orthodox prime minister.” More than 85 percent of Romanians belong to the influential church.

— Associated Press

Death toll in alcohol poisoning in Russia climbs to 72: Local health officials in Russia’s Siberia said the number of people who have died this week from drinking a bath lotion that contained methanol has climbed to 72. The Health Ministry in the Irkutsk region said 33 people were still in the hospital. Bottles with the lotion carried warnings that it was not for internal use, but the labels said the product contained ethyl alcohol, not methanol. Household products containing alcohol are popular in Russia as a cheap alternative to standard spirits.

Bombings in Mosul kill 23: Three car bombs ripped through an outdoor market in Mosul, killing at least 15 civilians and eight police officers, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said. The attack occurred in the eastern district of Gogjali, which Iraqi forces retook from Islamic State militants weeks ago as part of an ongoing operation to drive them from Mosul. The Islamic State captured the northern city in summer 2014.

Senegalese man found guilty in U.S. woman’s killing: An Italian court has convicted a Senegalese man of killing an American woman he met at a nightclub and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. Ashley Olsen, 35, was found dead in her apartment on Jan. 9, 2016. She had been strangled and had suffered skull fractures. Police arrested Cheik Tidiane Diaw after street surveillance cameras showed him walking with Olsen toward her home that night and DNA traces were found on a cigarette butt and condom in her apartment.

Cambodia seizes animal parts smuggled from Africa: Cambodia has made one of its biggest seizures of smuggled animal parts, including more than a ton of ivory, a wildlife protection group said. The Wildlife Alliance said about 3,000 pounds of ivory, 10 cheetah skulls and 180 pounds of cheetah bones, and 301 pounds of pangolin scales were found concealed in three containers shipped from Mozambique. Cambodia has made 19 seizures of ivory and rhino horn from six African nations since 2014, the Wildlife Alliance said.

— From news services