Legislators block law on women’s rights

Conservative religious lawmakers in Afghanistan on Saturday blocked legislation aimed at strengthening provisions for women’s freedoms, arguing that parts of it violate Islamic principles and encourage disobedience.

Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for Herat province, said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament because of an uproar by religious parties.

“Whatever is against Islamic law, we don’t even need to speak about it,” Shaheedzada said.

The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women has been in effect since 2009, but only by presidential decree. Lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women’s rights activist, has led the effort to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its potential reversal by any future president under pressure from religious parties.

The law criminalizes, among other things, child marriage and forced marriage, and it bans the traditional practice of exchanging girls and women to settle disputes. It makes domestic violence a crime punishable by up to three years in prison and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery.

— Associated Press

At least 16 killed in continuing violence

A string of attacks left at least 16 people dead in Iraq on Saturday, the latest episodes in a wave of violence that has gripped the country.

The shootings and bombings followed three days of attacks that killed 130 people in both Shiite and Sunni areas, events reminiscent of retaliatory attacks between the two groups that brought the country close to civil war in 2006 and 2007.

In Saturday’s deadliest attack, gunmen broke into the house of an anti-terrorism police captain in a southern suburb of Baghdad, killing the officer and his family in their sleep. Police officials identified the dead as Capt. Adnan Ibrahim, his wife and two children, ages 8 and 10.

The attackers fled, and they killed a policeman who tried to stop them at a nearby checkpoint.

In the western, majority-Sunni province of Anbar, gunmen kidnapped eight police officers who were guarding a post on the main highway linking Iraq to Jordan and Syria, police officials said.

— Associated Press

Bloc takes heat for planned olive-oil rule

Critics ridiculed European Union bureaucrats Saturday for taking time off from fighting the euro zone’s debt crisis to impose strict new rules on how restaurants serve olive oil.

Beginning Jan. 1, eateries will be banned from serving oil to diners in small glass jugs or dipping bowls and forced instead to use sealed, non-refillable bottles that must be disposed of when empty.

The European Commission said the move is designed to improve hygiene and reassure consumers that the olive oil in restaurants has not been diluted with an inferior product.

— Reuters

24-hour curfew imposed on Ni­ger­ian city: Nigeria’s military declared a 24-hour curfew on neighborhoods in Maiduguri, a northeastern city that is home to an Islamist extremist network, as soldiers continued the government’s emergency campaign in the region, with authorities saying they killed 10 suspected insurgents. Soldiers arrested about 65 suspected extremists who were “attempting to infiltrate Maiduguri” after military strikes on camps in a nearby forest reserve, a military spokesman said.

Ivory Coast army detains militia leader: A militia leader in Ivory Coast accused of grave crimes during post-election violence in 2010 and 2011 was taken into custody not far from the national park where his forces had been illegally occupying the country’s volatile western region, officials said. Amade Oueremi, a native of Burkina Faso, fought alongside forces backing President Alassane Ouattara in the conflict, which erupted after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office despite losing the November 2010 vote.

Drone kills 4 in Yemen: Yemeni security officials said a suspected U.S. drone strike killed four al-Qaeda militants in the country’s south. The attack took place around dawn Saturday in the Deyfa area of Abyan province, they said.

Saudi Arabian woman scales Everest: Mountaineering officials said 64 climbers reached Mount Everest’s 29,035-foot peak from the Nepal side Saturday morning after climbing all night. Among the 35 foreigners and 29 Nepalese Sherpa guides who completed the climb was Raha Moharrak, the first Saudi Arabian woman to do so.

— From news services