Islamist appointment riles Luxor residents

Egyptian tourism workers and residents of the ancient city of Luxor voiced their anger Monday after an Islamist linked to a former militant group that carried out the city’s deadliest terrorist attack, killing nearly 60 tourists in the 1990s, was appointed governor of their province.

Workers, opposition politicians and activists in the southern city of Luxor said they plan to seal off the office of the governor to prevent Adel el-Khayat from entering. Tourism is the lifeblood of Luxor, home to some of Egypt’s most dramatic ancient temples and pharaonic tombs, including that of King Tutan­khamen. The city has been hit hard by the downturn in foreign visitors amid the past two years of political turmoil in Egypt.

Khayat belongs to the Construction and Development party, the political arm of Gamaa Islamiya, which waged a bloody insurgency against the state starting in 1992, attacking police, Coptic Christians and tourists. In 1997, gunmen from the group attacked tourists visiting Luxor’s more than 3,400-year-old Hatshepsut Temple, killing 58.

More than 1,200 people died in the campaign of violence by the group and another militant organization, Islamic Jihad.

Both Gamaa and Islamic Jihad renounced violence in the 2000s, amid a crackdown by the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Since Mubarak’s fall, both have launched political parties, and Gamaa’s is allied with Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Among 17 governors appointed by Morsi on Sunday, Khayat said he would not be influenced by his political affiliation. “I am honored to belong to the Islamist current, but now as a governor I am in the service of the nation,” he said in comments e-mailed to the Associated Press
by a media person for Gamaa’s party.

— Associated Press

Premier calls pick on security a mistake

Bulgaria’s prime minister said Monday that the parliament’s appointment of a media mogul as the nation’s security chief was a mistake but that his government will not resign over it.

Several thousand people took to the streets of Sofia, the capital, and other cities on Monday, the fourth day of protests demanding that the government resign over the appointment of Delyan Peevski, who has no experience in security, as the head of Bulgaria’s national security agency.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, whose government came to power two weeks ago, said that the legislature’s appointment, made Friday without debate, was a mistake and that he will consult with the public before a new security chief is appointed.

Citing the protests, Peevski announced Saturday that he would resign. Oresharski said Monday that he had accepted the resignation but that the final decision belongs to the parliament.

Peevski’s mother owns several dailies, weeklies and TV stations in Bulgaria, but he is believed to have a strong influence over their editorial policies.

— Associated Press

Convoy attacked outside Kabul: Insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns into a convoy carrying goods to the Afghan capital Monday, killing three drivers and wounding two others, an official said. Two of the trucks caught fire after the grenade blasts about 2:30 a.m. on the main highway about 37 miles east of Kabul, said Sarhadi Zwak, spokesman for Laghman province. It was unclear whether the trucks were carrying supplies for the U.S.-led military coalition, Zwak said, adding that no international troops or military vehicles were in the convoy.

Rwandans seeking asylum in Uganda: Sixteen Rwandan students are seeking asylum in Uganda, saying they are the victims of harassment by security officials at home for refusing to join a Congolese rebel group that allegedly recruits inside Rwanda. The allegations are the latest sign that the Rwandan government is the not-so-secret backer of the M23 rebels in Congo, an allegation that the government of President Paul Kagame consistently denies despite a U.N. report that cited evidence to the contrary.

Protests in cities across Brazil: More than 100,000 people took to the streets in overwhelmingly peaceful protests in at least eight cities Monday, demonstrations that voiced the deep frustrations Brazilians feel about carrying heavy tax burdens but receiving woeful returns in public education, health and other services. The protests were initially sparked last week by a 10-cent increase in bus and subway fares. Monday’s protest was peaceful in Sao Paulo, but violence was seen in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and the southern city of Porto Alegre.

— From news services