- - Tuesday, July 5, 2011

EGYPT

Court convicts ex-minister, acquits three others

CAIRO — An Egyptian court acquitted three Hosni Mubarak-era ministers of corruption charges Tuesday while finding a fourth guilty in absentia — a decision likely to stoke anger among protesters calling for more accountability for ousted regime officials.

The verdicts came a day after 10 policemen charged with killing protesters were ordered released on bail, prompting hundreds of Egyptians to attack a courtroom in Cairo.

Tensions are running high in Egypt over the ruling military council’s failure to punish those blamed for killing protesters during the 18-day uprising that forced Mr. Mubarak to step down Feb. 11 as well as former officials accused of participating in corruption and cronyism that was widespread during the former president’s nearly three-decade rule.

Many Egyptians feel the courts have not done enough to punish former regime officials, complaining that anti-graft cases have gone too fast to court without proper investigation, leaving them vulnerable to acquittals, while cases pertaining to human rights and the killings of protesters dragged.

Nearly five months later, only one policeman has been convicted in the slayings of at least 846 people during the government crackdown on protesters. He was tried in absentia.

IRAQ

Double bombing kills 37 at government office

BAGHDAD — A car packed with explosives and a roadside bomb went off back-to-back outside a municipal building north of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing 37 people and wounding 54, Iraqi police and a hospital doctor said.

The twin blasts in Taji, a Sunni-dominated town about 12 miles from the Iraqi capital, were the latest in a series of attacks across Iraq.

It came at a time of public debate over whether to ask the United States to keep some U.S. troops here past their year-end withdrawal deadline from the country.

Burned bodies were on the ground and about 20 cars were on fire, witnesses said.

YEMEN

40 militants killed in airstrikes, clashes

SANAA — At least 40 militants linked to al Qaeda have been killed in two days of airstrikes and clashes with government forces, Yemen’s state news agency said Tuesday.

The report by the Saba news agency said the government attacks began after militants tried to storm a military camp in the southern province of Abyan, where Islamist fighters have seized control of several towns.

The militant takeovers are part of widening chaos in Yemen since protests broke out in February calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is being treated in Saudi Arabia for wounds sustained in an attack on his palace last month.

The Saba report added that two government soldiers were killed and 20 others injured in the Abyan fighting.

Yemen’s al Qaeda outfit, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is considered one of the terror network’s most active branches and has been linked to several attempts on U.S. targets, including the plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009 and the parcel bombs intercepted in Dubai and Europe last year.

LIBYA

WFP says thousands running short of food

GENEVA — Tens of thousands of people living in Libya’s western mountain region are running short of food and are increasingly dependent on food aid to survive, the World Food Program (WFP) said Tuesday.

A mission to the region by U.N. officials “has found that food security is of major concern for the people there,” said Emilia Casella, spokeswoman for the U.N. food agency.

“People were depending entirely on food assistance for their survival,” she added.

The mission traveled to Nalut, Wazin, Jadu and Zintan and “found only two cows during their entire mission. They found no sheep, no goats,” Ms. Casella said. “People have been selling off their livestock or consuming their livestock.”

The mission was “really shocked there is really no trade going on, shops are closed, civil servants have not been paid since February.”

As a result, the people are left with a “very restrictive diet” with no access to eggs, meat or fish.

The WFP has sent 28,250 cubic feet of food in the region, where it has reached 125,000 of the most vulnerable people.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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