World Digest: Sept. 19, 2013

SYRIA
Rebel groups clash for 2nd day in north

Al-Qaeda-linked fighters battled a rival Syrian rebel group near the Turkish frontier for a second day Thursday, after the militant Islamists stormed a nearby town and prompted Turkey to shut a border crossing.

On Wednesday, the fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant killed at least five members of the Northern Storm Brigade, a rebel group that controls the border, highlighting the deep divisions in the opposition.

The confrontation in the town of Azaz was one of the most serious clashes between the al-Qaeda affiliate, made up largely of foreign fighters, and the more ideologically moderate homegrown rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

A Turkish official said the Oncupinar border gate, about three miles from Azaz and opposite the Syrian Bab al-Salameh gate, had been closed for “security reasons.”

“There is still confusion about what is happening on the Syrian side. All humanitarian assistance that normally goes through the gate has ceased,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

— Reuters

IRAQ
Handcuffed corpses found by children

Children discovered the handcuffed and blindfolded corpses of 10 unidentified young men in eastern Baghdad on Thursday, all apparently killed by gunshots to the head, Iraqi police said.

Police said residents told them unusual vehicle movements to and from an abandoned building in the area had caught the attention of the children, who waited until the cars had left to investigate.

“Several kids climbed over the wall of the building to enter and they found the 10 bodies inside one of its rooms,” a police officer said. It was not clear who was behind the killings.

An additional 10 people were killed Thursday in two roadside bombings: one in a market in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, and the second near a refrigerator repair shop in al-Nasr Wal Salam, east of Fallujah, where eight people died.

— Reuters

SOUTH AFRICA
Panel: Police lied about mine shootings

A government commission investigating the shooting deaths of 34 striking miners by South African police at the Marikana platinum mine last year says the police force has lied, withheld documents and apparently doctored other papers.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Marikana commission said it had to search computer hard drives of officers to discover documents about the shootings, which riveted South Africa and recalled the worst excesses of the apartheid era.

The commission said documents show that the police version of events at the platinum mine “is in material respects not the truth.” It adjourned until Wednesday to study the new evidence.

— Associated Press

New trial begins in murder of U.S. nun in Brazil: The latest of several trials began for a landowner convicted of ordering the 2005 slaying of American nun and Amazon defender Dorothy Stang. Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura has been tried three times and sentenced to between 29 and 30 years in prison, but the Supreme Court annulled his latest conviction on appeal, saying he wasn’t given enough time to prepare his defense. Prosecutors contend that Moura and another rancher hired gunmen to kill Stang, who was born in Dayton, Ohio.

Gaddafi’s son appears in court in tribal stronghold: The son and onetime political heir of deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi appeared in a tribal court after the militia holding him defied an order from the state to deliver him to a jail in the capital. Saif al-Islam’s trial in the desert outpost of Zintan is not for crimes against humanity — a charge on which he is wanted in Tripoli and The Hague — but on a lesser count of giving sensitive information to an International Criminal Court lawyer.

Jail term upheld for Argentine cleric in abuse case: Argentina’s Supreme Court upheld the 15-year prison sentence of a priest convicted of sexually abusing a boy in his “Happy Children” foundation, prompting the victim’s attorney to call for the priest’s immediate arrest. The Rev. Julio Cesar Grassi continued to live in a home across the street from the foundation during his appeal despite the conviction and additional allegations that he abused more than a dozen children there.

Colombian government, rebels trade barbs as talks recess: The Colombian government and left-wing FARC rebels ended a 14th round of peace negotiations saying they had made progress on part of a six-point agenda, even as they accused each other of violating the principles underlying the talks. The FARC accused the government of seeking to unilaterally impose conditions on any future peace agreement, and the government chided the rebels for spouting irrelevant rhetoric.

Islamists defeated in Mali, Hollande says: French President François Hollande declared Thursday that the war against Islamist extremists had been won in Mali, though he vowed to keep French forces in the West African country as long as the threat exists. Hollande spoke at inauguration festivities for Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who overwhelmingly won the election that France urged Mali to hold.

— From news services

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