Hundreds reportedly killed in detention

Hundreds of people are dying in military detention from shootings, suffocation or starvation as Nigeria’s security forces battle an Islamic uprising in the northeast, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

More than 950 people died in military custody in the first six months of this year, according to “credible information” from a senior Nigerian army officer, the London-based rights group said. Military and government officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Among other allegations in the report, which includes testimony from freed detainees, some prisoners “were reportedly shot in the leg during interrogations, provided no medical care and left to bleed to death.”

If the number of deaths in military custody cited by the Amnesty International is accurate, that means Nigeria’s military has killed more civilians than the Boko Haram extremists did during the first half of 2013.

Amnesty International called for an urgent investigation.

— Associated Press

No. 2 official leaves; blamed in scandals

The cardinal widely blamed for failing to prevent a string of ethical and financial scandals during the reign of Pope Benedict XVI stepped down Tuesday.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 78, left his post as secretary of state, the second-ranking post in the Vatican hierarchy, and handed over the role of “deputy pope” to Archbishop Pietro Parolin, a 58-year-old career diplomat. His departure comes as Pope Francis prepares to overhaul the secretive Vatican administration and its
scandal-hit bank.

Parolin, a former Vatican nuncio, or ambassador, to Venezuela, is known for a frugal lifestyle in tune with the pope’s preferences.

— Reuters

No pause in fighting despite Muslim feast

Syrian warplanes bombed several rebel-held areas Tuesday and opposition fighters fired mortar rounds and homemade rockets at Damascus on the first day of a major Muslim holiday, activists said.

The fighting during Eid al-
Adha showed how entrenched both sides are in Syria’s civil war, now in its third year. Previously, combatants occasionally tried to observe holiday cease-fires.

As the fighting continued, Assad attended holiday prayers in a Damascus mosque. Syrian state TV showed him sitting cross-legged on the floor, in the front row of worshipers.

Assad continues to appear in public, apparently to send a message of “business as usual” even as large parts of Syria lie in ruins.

— Associated Press

Italian funeral for Nazi war criminal sparks protest: Hundreds of people jeered the remains of convicted Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke as his coffin arrived for a funeral Mass celebrated by a splinter Catholic group opposed to Vatican outreach to Jews. After Priebke died Friday at age 100, Pope Francis’s vicar for Rome refused him a funeral in a Catholic Church. No one appeared ready to take him until the schismatic Society of St. Pius X in the city of Albano Laziale stepped forward.

Death toll in Philippines quake rises: The death toll from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the central Philippine island of Bohol rose to 110 Wednesday with only three people pulled alive from rubble. The three were rescued in nearby Cebu province hours after Tuesday’s quake shattered office buildings and homes and caused many centuries-old churches to crumble. In Bohol, the quake’s epicenter, rescuers counted 100 dead, officials said. Cebu reported nine fatalities, and one died on another island.

12 killed in mosque bombing in Iraq: A bomb ripped through a crowd of Sunni worshipers coming out of a mosque in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk after prayers at the start of Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim holiday, officials said. The attack left 12 dead.

Liberia’s Taylor begins prison term in Britain: Former Liberian president Charles Taylor has been flown to Britain to serve his 50-year sentence for sponsoring atrocities in Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war. Taylor, 75, was convicted in April 2012 of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for aiding murderous rebels. His conviction and sentence were upheld on appeal last month.

Poisoned-elephant tally climbs in Zimbabwe: Zimbabwean wildlife authorities said they have found 11 more carcasses of elephants killed by cyanide poisoning, bringing to 102 the number poisoned for their tusks in a continuing wildlife crisis. The bodies were discovered at a waterhole 25 miles from the main tourist camp in the western Hwange National Park.

— From news services