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Embassy attack highlights Balkan Islamists
BELGRADE | The young man wore a long beard and pants that stopped above his ankles. He sprayed the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia with machine-gun fire.
Friday’s incident in Sarajevo, in which the gunman and a police officer were wounded but no one died, was the latest in a series of incidents in Eastern Europe involving Wahhabis - followers of an austere brand of Sunni Islam promoted by radicals, including the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.
The recent rise of militant Wahhabis and other Islamic radicals across the Balkans - including in Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and even European Union member Bulgaria - has triggered concerns that the region could become a breeding ground for terrorists with easy access to Western Europe or the U.S.
The shooter in Friday’s incident, 23-year-old Mevlid Jasarevic, came from Serbia - the southern region of Sandzak, a Wahhabi stronghold - but also had strong links with a conservative Bosnian Muslim village that has attracted police attention in the past.
Authorities across the Balkans say that not all Wahhabis are militants, and not all militants are Wahhabis.
But they say the radical anti-Western Islamic teaching has the potential for creating terrorist cells that support the sect’s militants rooted in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Many fear that militant Wahhabis and other extremist Muslims from the Balkans could slip across borders and blend into Western societies before conducting terrorist attacks.
Bishop says protesters likely to move on
LONDON | The bishop of London said anti-capitalism demonstrators camped outside the city’s iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral have said they will likely move on.
Both the church and the local authority, the City of London Corporation, have launched legal action to seek to clear the scores of tents from a pedestrian square and footpath outside the cathedral.
Richard Chartres, the bishop of London, held talks Sunday with demonstrators, who were inspired by New York’s Occupy Wall Street movement.
He told Sky News television that the protesters had said “we shan’t be here forever.”
The church reopened Friday after being closed for a week on health and safety grounds, the first time the 300-year-old church had closed since German planes bombed the city during World War II.
Russia thanks Switzerland for WTO mediation
MOSCOW | Russia’s president has voiced hope that his country will be able to join the World Trade Organization by the end of the year.
Dmitry Medvedev, who spoke at Sunday’s meeting with visiting Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey, thanked her for Swiss mediation of Russia’s WTO accession talks.
Russia needs to reach individual agreements with all 153 members of the WTO, and the lack of progress in talks with Georgia has been the last significant stumbling block.
Switzerland has sponsored the negotiations between the two nations, which fought a brief war in 2008.
Georgia said Thursday it has accepted a Swiss proposal providing guarantees of international supervision of all trade and cargo between Russia and the breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Russian officials said they need several days to analyze the offer.
Shepherds lead 5,000 sheep through Madrid
MADRID | Spanish shepherds led flocks of sheep through the streets of downtown Madrid in defense of ancient grazing, migration and droving rights threatened by urban sprawl and man-made borders.
Jesus Garzon, president of a shepherds council established in 1273, said some 5,000 sheep and 60 cattle crossed the city Sunday to exercise the right to droving routes that existed before Madrid grew from a rural hamlet to the great capital it is today.
Following an age-old tradition, a chief herdsman paid 25 maravedis - coins from the 11th century - to use the crossing, Mr. Garzon said.
Shepherds have a right to use 78,000 miles of paths for seasonal livestock migrations from cool highland pastures in summer to warmer grazing in winter.
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