2 more peacekeepers killed; total now at 11

Two more African Union peacekeepers were killed overnight in the Central African
Republic, officials said Friday, bringing to 11 the number of international peacekeepers killed in less than a month and underscoring the intensity of the unfolding conflict in the nation.

The two officers from the Congo Republic were killed by unidentified assailants, an A.U. spokesman said. The day before, a pickup truck carrying Chadian peacekeepers was attacked with heavy-arms fire, incinerating the vehicle and killing six of the soldiers inside. Earlier this month, two French soldiers were killed in Bangui, the capital, and an A.U. peacekeeper from the Congo Republic was killed by a Christian militia in the remote town of Bossangoa.

Also Friday, Secretary of State John F. Kerry issued a statement calling on the country’s transitional authorities to “immediately end the violence, end the use of torture, and investigate and prosecute all those implicated in grave human-rights abuses.”

The country’s attorney general said he had opened an investigation into a mass grave discovered this week on a hillside not far from the presidential palace. At least 20 decomposing bodies were found, he said, adding that they were several days old and bore signs of torture.

— Associated Press

Police charge six in double gang rape

Police arrested 10 people and charged six of them with raping a 21-year-old woman in southern India, an officer said Friday, a year after a fatal gang rape in New Delhi spurred debate on sexual violence in the country.

Officer Monika Bharadwaj said the arrests were made Thursday after the woman complained that she had been abducted and raped while visiting a friend in Karaikal, a port city in Pondicherry state. Bharadwaj added that the woman was hospitalized but did not suffer serious injuries.

Bharadwaj said the woman was first kidnapped by three of the accused near midnight Tuesday and released after nearly three hours. As she called her friend to pick her up after she was freed, another group of seven people came in a vehicle and took her away, Bharadwaj said.

— Associated Press

5 die as police battle Islamist protesters

With water cannons and tear gas, Egyptian riot police battled Friday with hundreds of rock-throwing supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in clashes across the country that left five dead, according to officials.

Authorities, meanwhile, unveiled a new tactic to contain protests called by the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, calling on large families to post armed men near the likely sites of demonstrations.

Friday is the day of the week in Egypt when protests are typically at their largest. The day’s demonstrations followed an announcement by authorities that they will use the Brotherhood’s new designation as a terrorist organization to levy harsh prison sentences on protesters.

In at least seven southern provinces, security and local officials said that the authorities had turned to armed civilians from anti-Islamist and pro-government families to provide support to security forces, help guard police stations and churches, and confront pro-Morsi rallies.

— Associated Press

Thai army general urges amity, doesn’t rule out coup: Thailand’s powerful army chief issued his strongest call yet for clashing political rivals to overcome their divisions, refusing to rule out the possibility of a military coup as long as the conflict threatens to tear the country apart. Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha made the comments a day after protesters trying to stop February elections battled with police in Bangkok in clashes that left two people dead and injured more than 140, one of the most violent days since the conflict began two months ago.

At least 23 killed in India train fire: A fire broke out on an express train in southern India early Saturday and killed at least 23 passengers, officials said. A spokesman for the railways said 67 passengers were in the train car when the fire started in Andhra Pradesh state. The train was traveling from Bangalore to Nanded in the western state of Maharashtra.

Bomb kills 8 in Somali capital: At least eight people were killed when a remotely controlled bomb exploded in a busy restaurant in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, police and witnesses said. Police said they suspect the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group al-Shabab of planting the bomb; the group did not immediately assert responsibility.

— From news services