- - Sunday, October 2, 2011

ISRAEL

Israel backs talks, with reservations

JERUSALEM — Israel’s government welcomed on Sunday parts of an international proposal to resume long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, but said it has concerns about the plan.

The plan by Mideast mediators, known as the Quartet, calls for a peace deal in a year and asks both sides to produce comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months.

The Quartet presented the latest timetable after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the U.N. late last month to recognize a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem - territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

The Palestinian request has put the U.S. and other countries in a diplomatically awkward position, forcing them to take sides for or against, and has stepped up pressure on the international community to chart out a resolution of the conflict.

The Israeli government would not say Sunday what its concerns are, saying only that it would raise them “at the appropriate time.” However, Israeli officials have expressed reservations about the Quartet’s timetable for the discussion of specific issues.

SERBIA

Police detain six suspected of extremism

BELGRADE — Serbian police said they detained six people and prevented a gathering of a pro-Russian far-right group that threatened to burn an EU flag and spit on the portrait of the U.S. ambassador in Belgrade.

Riot police were deployed in large number across the capital Sunday to enforce a ban on a gay-pride event and anti-gay protests, fearing they would turn violent.

Senior police official Srdjan Grekulovic said the six were detained in central Belgrade with masks and baseball bats on them. Police also prevented a protest on nearby Mount Avala by the Nasi group - an affiliate of a Russian organization of the same name.

NIGERIA

19 killed in clashes in northwest Nigeria

KANO — Gunmen carrying machetes attacked a village in northwest Nigeria early Sunday, going house to house posing as visitors before shooting and slashing 19 people to death, witnesses and police said.

The attack happened in Lingyado village in Zamfara state, a rural region of pasture lands approaching Nigeria’s border with Niger.

About 150 attackers surrounded the village and roamed between its compounds, shooting residents who came out to greet them, elder Husaini Dansadau told the Associated Press.

Those who could fled into nearby cornfields when the shooting began.

Some of the gunmen shouted that they would rape the women they found, said witness Ahmad Tsauri Lingyado, who uses the village’s name as his last name as is custom in Nigeria’s north.

The attackers used Kalashnikov rifles and machetes in the attack, witnesses said. They stole money and valuables from the simple homes before fleeing into the darkness.

At least 19 people died in the assault, Zamfara state police spokesman Sunusi Amiru said. Seven others were wounded, including women and children.

MOROCCO

Authorities dismantle new militant cell

RABAT — The Moroccan state news agency has announced the dismantling of a new militant cell planning attacks against foreign interests in the country.

The late Saturday report said the five-man group was operating in Casablanca and Sale, and had online links to al Qaeda operatives abroad. It quoted a statement from the national intelligence agency.

The statement said the group planned to attack Western interests and foreign companies in Morocco, as well as prison facilities.

The group also is said to have been in touch with the main defendant in the bombing attack against a Marrakech cafe to learn about making explosives.

Eight people are on trial for that April 28 attack, which killed 17 people, mostly tourists.

NORTH KOREA

Group: China arrests 35 N. Korea refugees

SEOUL — China has detained 35 North Korean refugees for deportation to their communist homeland, a South Korean Christian group said Sunday.

The refugees are being held in a camp in northeast China, waiting for forced repatriation, the Commission to Help North Korean Refugees said in a bulletin on its website.

They were arrested last week in several cities in a crackdown that intensified after Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, was confirmed as leader-in-waiting a year ago, it said.

The group urged Beijing to stop repatriating the refugees, who flee hunger or repression in North Korea. It also demanded Seoul and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees work for their release.

More than 21,700 North Koreans have fled their impoverished and hunger-stricken homeland since the 1950-1953 Korean War, the vast majority in recent years.

China repatriates those whom it catches despite the risk of harsh punishment in their homeland. Under an agreement with Pyongyang, Beijing treats them as economic migrants.