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World Briefs

- - Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CUBA

Human rights group says dissidents being detained

HAVANA — Dozens of opposition activists have been detained in Cuba in the past five weeks, an outlawed rights group said Tuesday, blaming President Raul Castro for the crackdown.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said at least 65 men and women have been arrested by secret police; 29 remain in custody.

"For five weeks, the government has carried out violent political repression against women and other peaceful dissidents" in Santiago de Cuba province in the south of the island, according to a statement signed by the rights group's founder and spokesman Elizardo Sanchez.

"Most were totally unarmed and suffered acts of police brutality," it added.

According to the statement, several members of the "Ladies in White" group, which comprises wives and relatives of political prisoners, were "beaten and arrested" Sunday to prevent them from joining a Mass at the cathedral in Santiago de Cuba.

A Ladies in White leader, Berta Soler, told Agence France-Presse that the group planned to meet Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega in Havana on Tuesday, and would ask him to intervene on behalf of dissidents, officially considered "mercenaries" in the pay of the U.S. government.

IRAN

Press TV: Iran sending warship, sub to region's seas

CAIRO — An official Iranian news agency said Iran is sending a submarine and a warship to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

Press TV quotes the commander, Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, as saying the deployment will serve the country's interests and "convey the message of peace and friendship to all countries."

The item on Press TV's website Tuesday said the presence of the Iranian navy would "tighten security for all countries."

Adm. Sayyari said the ships also would fight against pirates.

Somalia, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden, is a base for many pirate gangs.

AFGHANISTAN

August is deadliest month for U.S. troops

KABUL — August has become the deadliest month yet for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, increasing pressure on the Obama administration to bring troops home sooner rather than later.

The 66 U.S. service members killed this month eclipses the previous record of 65 killed in July 2010, according to an Associated Press tally. Nearly half the August deaths occurred when insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter Aug. 6, killing 30 U.S. troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs.

Violence is being reported across Afghanistan despite the U.S.-led coalition's drive to rout insurgents from their strongholds in the south.

U.S. military officials predicted high casualties this summer as the Taliban try to come back after recent offensives.

The military has begun to implement President Obama's order to withdraw the 33,000 extra troops he dispatched to the war. He ordered 10,000 out this year and another 23,000 withdrawn by the summer of 2012, leaving about 68,000 U.S. troops on the ground.

RUSSIA

3 killed, 3 wounded in volatile Chechnya

ROSTOV-ON-DON — Three police officers were killed and three civilians wounded in a suicide bomb attack and subsequent shooting in Russia's province of Chechnya on Tuesday.

The suicide bomber killed two police officers near a cafe in the Chechen capital, Grozny, where a festive crowd was celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, duty officer Musa Kasayev said.

The explosion also wounded three civilians nearby, he told the Associated Press.

The regional police press service said that a third police officer was killed in a shootout in a crowd that gathered around the cafe after the explosion.

No one claimed responsibility for the attacks.

An Islamic insurgency has spread across Russia's southern Caucasus region since two separatists wars were fought in Chechnya. The insurgents launch regular attacks on authorities they blame for abductions, torture and extra-judicial killings.

While Chechnya has become more stable in recent years under the steely grip of a Moscow-backed strongman, neighboring provinces have seen an increase in attacks on police and other authorities.