Al-Qaeda urges Islamists to unite

Al-Qaeda’s leader urged Islamists in Egypt to unite under the banner of religion to rid the country of the rule of the military, saying in an audio recording that surfaced Friday that it is fighting a war against Islam.

In the Internet video, Ayman al-Zawahri blasted the Egyptian military, calling its leader “the Americanized butcher of the military coup.” He said the “secular military” has colluded with the United States, Israel, secular movements and Christians against Islam.

Al-Zawahri also accused Egypt’s secularists of cooperating with the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and taking money from Gulf countries in a “dirty conspiracy” to crush Islamic movements.

Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, Islamic militants have intensified their attacks against security forces in the Sinai peninsula and in some other places in Egypt.

— Associated Press

Second migrant ship capsizes, killing 27

For the second time in a week, a smugglers’ boat overloaded with migrants capsized in the Canal of Sicily on Friday as it made the perilous crossing from Africa to Europe. At least 27 people drowned, but 221 people were rescued in a joint Italian-Maltese operation, officials said.

Helicopters ferried the injured to Lampedusa, the Italian island that is closer to Africa than the Italian mainland and the destination of choice for most smugglers’ boats leaving Tunisia or Libya. It was off Lampedusa that a migrant ship from Libya capsized Oct. 3 with about 500 people aboard. Only 155 survived.

Friday’s capsizing occurred some 65 miles southeast of Lampedusa, in waters where Malta has search and rescue responsibilities.

Late Friday, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reported that 27 bodies had been recovered, three of them children.

— Associated Press

Prime minister lashes out at militias

Libya’s prime minister, who was abducted briefly by gunmen this week, lashed out Friday at the unruly militias stirring chaos, saying they are trying to “terrorize” the government and turn the North African nation into another Afghanistan or Somalia.

In a sign of the turmoil, a car bomb detonated outside a building housing the Swedish and Finnish consulates in the eastern city of Benghazi, where militias are particularly prominent. No one was hurt in the blast, but it damaged the building. The city, Libya’s second-largest, has seen frequent violence, including killings of security officials, as well as a string of attacks on foreign diplomatic missions that have driven most of their staffs away.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan appeared on TV and warned that “there are those who want to take Libya into the unknown. ”

— Associated Press

Venezuela evicts Guyanese ship: Guyana’s government said Friday that the navy of neighboring Venezuela had evicted a ship used by a U.S. oil exploration company from Guyanese waters, calling the move unprecedented and a serious threat to security. Venezuelan authorities, meanwhile, accused the survey ship, which was being used by Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum, of violating its waters.

Nazi war criminal dies: Erich Priebke, an unrepentant Nazi war criminal who was given a life sentence for his role in a World War II massacre in Rome, has died at the age of 100. The former SS captain was convicted in 1998 for his role in the Fosse Ardeatine massacre in 1944.

— Wire services