- - Thursday, August 25, 2011

PAKISTAN

Police deny recovery of kidnapped American

LAHORE | A Pakistani police chief denied Thursday that a kidnapped development expert had been safely recovered, only hours after saying that officers had freed the American in an early-morning operation.

The U.S. also said it had no information indicating Warren Weinstein, 70, had been freed. Mr. Weinstein was kidnapped almost two weeks ago from the eastern city of Lahore.

Lahore police Chief Malik Ahmed Raza Tahir initially said police traced Mr. Weinstein to the city of Khushab, 125 miles northwest of Lahore, and freed him early Thursday. He backtracked several hours later and said in a statement that Mr. Weinstein had not been recovered.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said on Twitter: “We have no information that would confirm recovery of Warren Weinstein, but we are hoping for a positive outcome.”

SYRIA

Gunmen abduct, beat artist as ‘warning’

BEIRUT | A renowned political cartoonist whose drawings expressed Syrians’ frustrated hopes for change was grabbed after he left his studio early Thursday and beaten by masked gunmen who broke his hands and dumped him on a road outside Damascus.

One of Syria’s most famous artists, Ali Ferzat, 60, earned international recognition and the respect of many Arabs with stinging caricatures that infuriated dictators, including Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and, particularly in recent months, Syria’s autocratic Assad family.

He lay badly bruised in a hospital bed Thursday evening with his hands swathed in bandages, a stark reminder that no Syrian remains immune to a brutal crackdown on a five-month-long anti-government uprising.

UNITED KINGDOM

Social-media firms meet government for riot talks

LONDON | More than two weeks after riots, Britain’s government and police met social-media executives Thursday to discuss how to prevent their services from being used to plot violence.

But authorities did not seek new powers to shut down Facebook, Twitter or BlackBerry Messenger in times of crisis.

The four days of rioting, triggered by a fatal police shooting in north London’s Tottenham area on Aug. 4, were the worst civil disturbances to hit Britain since the 1980s.

Police and politicians claim that young criminals used social media to coordinate looting sprees. Civil libertarians have reacted with alarm to suggestions the services could be shut down.

NIGERIA

Radical Muslim sect kills 12 in northeast

MAIDUGURI | Police said a radical Muslim sect killed 12 people in a brazen daylight attack in northeast Nigeria that saw members bomb a police station and rob two banks.

Adamawa state police Commissioner A.T. Shinaba said the attack happened Thursday. He said members of the feared Boko Haram sect first attacked the police station, killing four officers and a soldier on duty.

The commissioner said sect members then robbed two local banks, killing seven bank employees.

Commissioner Shinaba blamed the attack on Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sacrilege” in the local Hausa language. The group is responsible for a rash of killings in the area over the past year.

ISRAEL

Airstrike kills 2 Gaza militants

JERUSALEM | An Israeli airstrike killed two Palestinian militants in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday after a string of rocket attacks toward Israel.

Palestinian officials said the two were members of the Islamic Jihad militant group.

The Israeli military confirmed it carried out the attack, saying the two were targeted after they fired mortar shells toward an Israeli border crossing.

The military said more than 15 rockets and mortar shells were fired toward Israel Thursday and that the Erez Crossing was severely damaged.

Despite announcing a cease-fire earlier in the week, Palestinian militants have continued to fire rockets daily into Israel.

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