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World Briefs

- - Sunday, May 8, 2011

IRAQ

Al Qaeda prisoners spark jail riot; 17 killed

BAGHDAD | The accused al Qaeda mastermind of last year's Baghdad church siege overpowered a policeman, sparking a jail mutiny on Sunday in which six Iraqi police and 11 inmates were killed.

Among the policemen killed were Brig. Gen. Moayed al-Saleh, the head of counterterrorism for Baghdad's central Karrada district; a lieutenant colonel and two first lieutenants, a spokesman said.

One of the inmates killed was Huthaifa al-Batawi, accused of planning the Oct. 31 siege on a Baghdad church in which 46 hostages and seven security force members died, and who triggered the prison uprising.

The group killed Gen. Saleh and several other officers before a group of four attempted to flee the prison, at which point Iraqi police reinforcements arrived and killed the prisoners attempting to escape.

CUBA

Dissident dies in jail after police beating

HAVANA | A Cuban dissident died Sunday after a run-in with authorities at a protest, said fellow government opponents who accused police of beating him and provoking his death.

Juan Wilfredo Soto died early in the morning in the central city of Santa Clara, fellow dissident Guillermo Farinas told the Associated Press in an interview by telephone from a funeral home where he said family members were gathered.

He said Mr. Soto was detained and beaten Thursday during an anti-government protest. Mr. Soto was hospitalized, and Mr. Farinas said doctors said he died from an inflamation of the pancreas.

ITALY

Pope calls for tolerance on visit to Venice

VENICE | Pope Benedict XVI urged Italy on Sunday to welcome immigrants fleeing to its shores, invoking the historic role of Venice and the once influential church in nearby Aquileia as cultural bridges during his two-day visit to northern Italy.

"The churches created by Aquileia are called today to renew that ancient spiritual unity, in particular in light of the phenomenon of immigration and the new geopolitical circumstances," Benedict said during his homily to more than 300,000 worshippers gathered in a vast park on the Venetian mainland.

Italy has been struggling to cope with thousands of illegal immigrants who have reached its shores in recent months, often in rickety boats as they flee unrest spreading through North Africa. On Sunday, about 400 were rescued when their boat crashed against rocks at the port of Lampedusa.

ISRAEL

Fallen soldiers, victims of terrorism honored

JERUSALEM | Sirens wailed across Israel, as the country came to a standstill Sunday to remember its soldiers killed in wars and victims of attacks.

Israeli government statistics list 22,867 soldiers and civilians killed since 1860, the date cited as the beginning of modern Jewish immigration.

Across the country, Israeli flags were lowered to half-staff. Israeli radio and TV stations aired documentaries about Israel's wars and stories of fallen soldiers.

After sundown Monday, Israel switches to Independence Day celebrations.

SOUTH AFRICA

Zulu queen reburied after search for remains

DURBAN | President Jacob Zuma held a memorial service Sunday for the queen mother of South Africa's Zulu people. She was reburied after a more than two-year search for her remains.

Mr. Zuma said the reburial of Queen Thomozile Jezangani KaNdwandwe Zulu, the mother of King Goodwill Zwelithini, restored her place in history. He spoke at the unveiling of the queen's new tombstone in the eastern city of Durban.

The final resting place of the queen, who died in the 1950s in her early 30s, had been unknown.

The current king, who was just 11 years old when she died, made a life-long mission of finding her grave and reburying her according to Zulu tradition.

ECUADOR

Voters approve referendum to control judiciary, media

QUITO | Leftist Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa scored a major political victory, with voters approving a raft of controversial proposals in a referendum, early returns and private exit polls showed Sunday.

The proposals included measures bolstering Mr. Correa's power to regulate the country's judiciary and news media, among them aims to amend the constitution to restrict investment in local media.

The referendum also sought to authorize a council to regulate violent, sexually explicit and potentially discriminatory content.

Journalists have expressed outrage about the proposals, which would hold them criminally responsible for such violations. Other critics characterize the action as a veiled attempt to muzzle dissent.