Army: Hamas used fake dating apps to spy

The Israeli army said Tuesday that Hamas, the militant Palestinian Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, has been attempting to infiltrate the military using dating and sports apps on smartphones.

A senior army official in Israel’s intelligence directorate told journalists that the army had detected at least three malicious phone applications — including dating apps named Wink Chat and Glance Love — that contained malware designed to infiltrate networks and steal data.

The apps had been available in the Google Play store for Android phones and were removed in the past few months.

The army official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in keeping with military protocol, said Hamas operatives posing online as young, attractive and, in most cases, female Israelis attempted to lure young Israeli recruits via Facebook and WhatsApp to download the apps.

Once embedded in a person’s phone, the malware in the apps can read text messages, view visual content and other documentation stored on the device, as well as allow outside sources to listen in on conversations and take photographs remotely.

The army said the apps were downloaded by 400 to 500 people, though not all of them were soldiers.

It did not give exact numbers on how many soldiers were allegedly approached or duped into conversation with Hamas’s cyberoperatives.

A Hamas official declined to comment on the allegations.

This is the second time that Hamas allegedly has attempted to infiltrate the Israeli military in this way. In January 2017, the army said it had detected fake Facebook accounts used by Hamas militants to connect with young Israeli recruits in an attempt to gain access to sensitive information.

— Ruth Eglash

Atrocities by rebels, security forces alleged

Rebels and government troops in Congo have committed atrocities, including mass rape, cannibalism and the dismemberment of civilians, according to testimony published Tuesday by a team of U.N. human rights experts, who said the world must pay heed.

The team, investigating a conflict in the Kasai region of Congo, told the U.N. Human Rights Council last week that it suspected all sides were guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The 126-page report catalogued gruesome attacks carried out in the conflict, which erupted in late 2016, involving the Kamuina Nsapu and Bana Mura militias and Congo’s armed forces.

The testimony included boys being forced to rape their mothers, little girls being told that witchcraft would allow them to catch bullets, and women forced to choose gang rape or death.

Lead investigator Bacre Waly Ndiaye told the council that in one incident, at least 186 men and boys from one village were beheaded by Kamuina Nsapu, many of whose members were children forced to fight.

Many such child soldiers were killed when government troops machine-gunned them indiscriminately, he said.

— Reuters

2nd Philippine mayor killed in two days: A Philippine mayor was fatally shot a day after another mayor was gunned down. Mayor Ferdinand Bote of northern General Tinio town was in an SUV when a man on a motorcycle shot him repeatedly. The gunman escaped, police said. On Monday, Mayor Antonio Halili was shot in Tanauan, south of Manila. Opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV blamed the killings on a "culture of violence" under President Rodrigo Duterte, whom he has criticized for a brutal anti-drug crackdown.

At least 12 dead in Indonesia ferry sinking: At least 12 people were killed and a frantic rescue operation was underway off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi for dozens of passengers of a sinking ferry run aground by its captain in a desperate bid to save lives. The tragedy occurred the same day that officials called off a search for 164 people presumed drowned when a ferry sank two weeks ago in a lake on the island of Sumatra.

Azerbaijan hit by worst blackout in decades: Azerbaijan was hit by a massive blackout, the worst power outage in the country since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. President Ilham Aliyev set up a commission to investigate the accident at a power plant that officials said caused the blackout. The blackout occurred amid a heat wave, with temperatures topping 104 degrees, causing power consumption to spike. The outage plunged the capital, Baku, and nearly 40 other cities and regions into darkness. Officials said power was restored in Baku after several hours. Later, Baku and other regions suffered a second blackout.

S. Sudan wants to extend president's term until 2021: South Sudan's government has proposed extending President Salva Kiir's term for three more years, which the armed opposition calls illegal as the two sides pursue a peace deal to end a five-year civil war. Lawmaker Atem Garang said parliament has up to one month to approve the extension, which is virtually guaranteed as the ruling party holds a majority of seats. But opposition spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel called the proposal "definitely illegal" and "anti-peace" as the warring sides try to reach a peace agreement.

— From news services