Tests reveal identity of girl in Greece

DNA tests have confirmed that a Bulgarian Roma couple living in an impoverished village with their nine other children are the biological parents of a girl, known only as Maria, who was found in Greece with another Roma couple, authorities said Friday.

Sasha Ruseva, 35, said that she gave birth to a girl four years ago in Greece while working as an olive picker but that she gave the child away because she was too poor to care for her.

Maria has been in the care of a charity since authorities raided a Roma settlement in Greece last week and found that she was not related to the Greek couple she was living with. Her discovery triggered a global search for her biological parents, fears of possible child-trafficking, and interest from authorities dealing with missing children cases in Poland, France, the United States and elsewhere.

The Greek Roma couple have been charged with abducting Maria and committing document fraud. Their lawyer said Friday that they plan to seek legal custody of the girl.

A senior Bulgarian social services official said Maria would probably be returned to Bulgaria for adoption.

There was no word on whether Maria has said where she wants to live.

— Associated Press

Attacks, raids kill scores in northeast

Suspected Islamist militants attacked several police targets in northeastern Nigeria’s Yobe state Friday, razing at least three ­offices and provoking gun battles that killed scores of extremists and security forces, a police officer said.

Friday’s attack came as the military in the neighboring state of Borno said that an aerial bombardment and ground assault on what they described as two “terrorist camps” killed 74 insurgents.

The Borno assaults hit forested areas near the town of Benisheik, where suspected Islamist militants have been blamed for attacks that have left nearly 150 civilians dead in the past month, many with their throats slit.

In the Yobe state capital, Damaturu, on Friday, security forces killed 35 extremists and arrested 25 for the loss of 17 soldiers and 10 police officers in the attack, police said.

— Associated Press

Army asserts gains near Damascus

Syrian troops killed at least 40 opposition fighters in an ambush Friday near Damascus, the government said.

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah gunmen, also seized control of a rebel ammunition supply route on a highway linking the capital to its eastern suburbs — part of a government offensive to bolster its position amid an international push for peace talks.

The Otaiba area where soldiers staged their ambush is part of a region known as Eastern ­Ghouta, the site of a chemical weapons attack in August believed to have killed hundreds.

— Associated Press

Ni­ger­ian rebels say they have been in contact with Americans’ abductors: Rebels in Nigeria’s troubled and oil-rich Niger Delta said they have been contacted by the kidnappers of two U.S. mariners and can help ensure their safety. A Nigerian navy spokesman said a rescue operation has been mounted for the men, whom U.S. officials identified as the captain and chief engineer of a U.S.-flagged offshore supply vessel seized Wednesday. Almost all foreigners kidnapped in the region are released once ransoms have been paid.

Madagascar holds first post-coup vote: Residents of the island nation of Madagascar cast their ballots in a presidential election that many hope will restore security, improve lives and mark the end of political and economic turmoil suffered since a 2009 coup. More than 60 percent of eligible voters in the capital, Antananarivo, went to the polls, officials said. Results will be announced within 10 days.

Earthquake hits off the coast of eastern Japan: An earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck early Saturday off Japan’s east coast, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and Japan’s emergency agencies issued a tsunami advisory for the region that includes the crippled Fukushima nuclear site. Tsunamis of up to 15 inches were reported at four areas along the coast. There were no immediate reports of damage on land.

— From news services