- - Tuesday, August 3, 2010

EGYPT

Security sweep launched after attack

CAIRO | Egypt has launched a wide security sweep of the Sinai after rockets said to be fired from the peninsula landed in Israel and Jordan and killed one person, an Egyptian security official said Tuesday.

A senior Jordanian official said earlier that his country had proof the deadly rocket that landed in the port town of Aqaba had been fired from Sinai.

“Following the Jordanian comments, Egypt has launched a wide security sweep of the Sinai Peninsula,” the Egyptian official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

He insisted that “there are no organized groups operating in Sinai, and security on the peninsula is extremely tight. Any suspicious activity would have been detected,” he said.

At least five blasts were heard on Monday, with one rocket exploding in open ground outside the Israeli resort of Eilat, two crashing into the Red Sea and the rest hitting Jordan.

IRAQ

Al Qaeda kills 5 troops, plants flag in Baghdad

BAGHDAD | Suspected al Qaeda militants killed five Iraqi soldiers in a brazen dawn attack Tuesday at a western Baghdad checkpoint and planted the terror group’s black banner before fleeing the scene, officials said.

It was the second time in a week that al Qaeda’s flag has appeared at the scene of an attack. On Thursday, in Baghdad’s Sunni Azamiyah district — a former al Qaeda stronghold — suspected al Qaeda militants stormed a checkpoint, killed 16 members of the security forces and briefly planted their banner nearby before fleeing.

Such attacks raise concerns that insurgents are successfully taking advantage of the enduring political vacuum nearly five months after Iraq’s parliamentary elections failed to produce a clear winner.

IRAN

Iran to reject offer to halt death sentence

TEHRAN | Iran signaled Tuesday it would likely reject the Brazilian president’s offer to give refuge to an Iranian woman convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning.

The case of 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani triggered an international outcry that prompted Iran at least temporarily to withdraw the stoning part of her sentence. The mother of two still could be hanged, however.

“A far as we know, [Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula] da Silva is a very humane and emotional person who probably has not received enough information about the case,” ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

Further information would be provided to the president to clarify the situation about “an individual who is a convicted offender,” he added. Iran says the woman also has been convicted of murder.

GAZA STRIP

Children’s group to glorify ‘martyrdom’

GAZA CITY | A Jordanian children’s musical troupe well-known for songs that glorify “martyrdom” in battle with Israel was to perform a rare outdoor concert in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

The group, known as the Birds of Paradise, recently produced a music video circulated on the Internet in which a young girl sings, “When we die as martyrs, we will go to heaven.”

On a stage made to look like a Palestinian village, children dressed as Israeli soldiers “massacre” civilians before the camera switches to a grown man singing, “Children, you have fulfilled your religious obligation … You have taught us the meaning of manhood.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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