Army claims capture of key rebel haven

The Congolese army retook one of the last remaining strongholds of the M23 rebels Wednesday, with fighters heading for the hills as the military sought to extinguish the 18-month insurrection, officials said.

As the army seized the town of Bunagana, leaving the M23 with a small sliver of territory, the civilian head of the movement, Bertrand Bisimwa, crossed the border into Uganda, prompting calls for his extradition.

The recapture of Bunagana comes just days after the United Nations’ special representative said, “We are witnessing the military end of the M23.”

Hundreds of civilians who had fled across the border to Uganda began crossing back after the gunfire stopped.

There was no immediate comment from the M23, which launched its movement in April 2012, becoming the latest reincarnation of an ethnic Tutsi rebel group dissatisfied with the Congolese government.

— Associated Press

Suicide bomber attacks resort town

A suicide bomber blew himself up on a beach in the Tunisian resort of Sousse on Wednesday, the first such attack in more than a decade in a country now battling Islamist militants boosted by chaos in neighboring Libya. No one else was hurt.

Police foiled another attack when they arrested a would-be suicide bomber at former president Habib Bourguiba’s tomb in the seaside town of Monastir and detained five other people in Sousse thought to be plotting assaults, security officials said.

No group has asserted responsibility, but the Islamist-led government said all the arrested men had admitted to being members of the Ansar al-Sharia movement, which it says is linked to al-Qaeda’s North Africa affiliate.

— Reuters

Siblings of Roma girl to be taken into care

Bulgarian authorities said Wednesday they would take into care most of the brothers and sisters of Maria, the child whose discovery in neighboring Greece captured global attention.

DNA tests have confirmed that Sasha Ruseva, 35, is the biological mother of Maria, whose blue eyes and blond hair aroused the suspicions of Greek police when they raided a Roma camp this month.

Ruseva and her husband, both Bulgarian Roma, have nine other children ages 2 to 20 and live in deep poverty, occupying one room in a crumbling house in the town of Nikolaevo, east of Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital. The two children older than 18 are not subject to state protection.

Maria is in the care of the Athens-based charity Smile of the Child. On Tuesday, Bulgarian authorities said they would take steps to bring her back to the Balkan country.

— Reuters

Jordanian convicted in Saudi Arabia of spying for Israel: A Saudi court convicted a Jordanian citizen of spying for Israel and sentenced him to nine years in jail and 80 lashes, the pro-
government Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh reported. The paper did not identify the Jordanian but said he had been found guilty of “writing to the Israeli prime minister and communicating with a Zionist intelligence officer” by e-mail and receiving a payment.

45 die in bus inferno in southern India: A packed bus traveling overnight from Bangalore to Hyderabad crashed into a highway barrier and burst into flames, killing 45 passengers, officials said. The driver, a bus cleaner and five passengers escaped through a window; the other passengers were trapped inside the sleeper bus, which had an automatic locking system that could be controlled by the driver.

Kenyan president’s trial likely to be postponed: The trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on charges of crimes against humanity is unlikely to start next month as planned, after prosecutors said they did not object to a delay. Fellow African leaders have urged Kenyatta not to attend the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which they accuse of unfairly targeting
Africans and violating Kenyan sovereignty.

Little boy sits in pope’s chair, steals the show: Pope Francis was delivering a homily in St. Peter’s Square about the important role grandparents play in family life when a little boy walked up behind him, then climbed up and sat in the pontiff’s white chair. Acting like an indulgent grandpa, Francis smiled while reading his speech as the boy gazed up at him and at one point clung to the pontiff’s legs.

— From news services