- - Sunday, October 3, 2010

FRANCE

Terrorist suspect arrested in Italy

PARIS | Italian police have arrested a Frenchman suspected of links to a network recruiting fighters for Afghanistan, a French official said Sunday.

The man was arrested in Naples in southern Italy in early September, based on a French probe under way for several months into suspected involvement in a terrorist enterprise, the official said. The official was not authorized to be named publicly because terrorism cases are classified.

The official said the man is suspected of having fought in Afghanistan and belonging to a network for recruiting fighters.

Two Italian newspapers said the man is 28 years old, of Algerian origin and suspected of being a member of al Qaeda.

Il Mattino, a newspaper based in Naples, and the Naples editions of La Repubblica said Sunday that the suspect had notes and a kit for making bombs when he was arrested. The French official, however, said the material seized was “insignificant.”

Il Mattino said the arrest took place two weeks ago and became public only after a closed-door hearing in Naples that approved the suspect’s extradition to France.

SICILY

Pope honors priest who fought Mafia

PALERMO | Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday hailed as a hero a slain priest who dared to challenge the Mafia in its stronghold, and he encouraged Sicilians not to resign themselves to deep-rooted evil on an island where organized crime has held sway for centuries.

“The temptation toward discouragement, to resignation, comes to those who are weak in faith, to those who confuse evil with good, to those who think that, faced with often profound evil, there is nothing to do,” Benedict told tens of thousands of faithful at Mass at a sunshine-drenched park alongside Palermo’s waterfront.

The pope later lamented the “barbarous” 1993 slaying of the Rev. Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi, who stirred consciences with his anti-Mafia preaching in one of Palermo’s most heavily mobster-infested lower-income neighborhoods.

BOSNIA

Presidential vote could impact EU

SARAJEVO | Polling stations closed Sunday in Bosnian elections that could either give a new impetus for the European Union’s integration of the Balkans country or further entrench divisions along ethnic lines.

More than 5,200 polling stations across the country closed at 7 p.m.

The first preliminary results for the tripartite presidency were expected by midnight, while others would be released by Monday, the electoral commission said.

Apart from the presidency, about 3.1 million voters also were choosing the central parliament and the assemblies of the country’s two largely autonomous entities: the Bosnian Serbs’ Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation.

Bosnian Serbs also were voting for a president, while the Muslim-Croat entity chose its district assemblies.

Almost 15 years since the 1992-95 war ended, Bosnia’s Muslims, Croats and Serbs remain strictly entrenched in their own communities.

The international community that monitors Bosnia hopes the vote will bring a leadership willing to overcome the ethnic divisions and strengthen the weak central institutions, a key condition for Bosnia to enter the EU.

RUSSIA

Militants target law enforcement

MOSCOW | More than 400 police officers and other law enforcement agents have been killed by militants over the past five years in just one of Russia’s restive southern provinces, its leader says.

Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, president of the province of Ingushetia west of Chechnya, said at a rally Saturday that more than 3,000 civilians have been wounded in attacks by militants in the region over the same period, a statement on his administration’s official website said Sunday.

Mr. Yevkurov was badly wounded by a suicide bombing of his convoy in June 2009.

Ingushetia and other provinces in Russia’s restive North Caucasus region have been plagued by Islamist militant attacks, which spread across the region after two separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya.

Rights groups say that police abuses against civilians have fueled violence.

THE NETHERLANDS

Coalition assails anti-Islam party ties

BRUSSELS | The European People’s Party (EPP), an umbrella group of 73 center-right parties, criticized on Sunday a postelection deal between Dutch conservatives and an anti-Islam party.

“I deplore this political evolution because it can threaten the understanding, the cohesion and the solidarity in our European societies,” EPP President Wilfried Martens said in a statement.

“It is the duty of the major political families in Europe to reflect on this unfortunate reality and to combat it jointly,” Mr. Martens said. “As in the past, the EPP will continue to refuse to work with extreme right and extreme left parties at the European Union level.”

Dutch Christian Democrats, a member party of the EPP, approved a draft coalition deal on Saturday to form a minority government with the liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

Under the deal, the anti-Islam Party for Freedom will remain outside the government but will provide the majority the coalition needs to enact legislation through parliament in exchange for a say in policymaking.

The liberals and Christian Democrats hold only 52 out of the 150 seats in the parliament’s lower house, but they muster a majority with the help of 24 votes from the PVV after June elections.

From wire dispatches and staff reports