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World Briefs: Gunmen kill guards at border checkpoint

- - Sunday, August 5, 2012

Egypt

EL-ARISH — Masked gunmen killed 13 Egyptian guards Sunday at a security checkpoint along the border with Gaza and Israel, attacking with automatic rifles and weapons mounted on their vehicles, a security official said.

Egypt blamed Islamist terrorists.

The Israeli military said the attack was part of a plot to abduct an Israeli soldier. Two vehicles commandeered by the attackers crashed into Israel, where one blew up, the army added.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel's military and the internal security agency "thwarted an attack that could have injured many."

"The militants' attack methods again raise the need for determined Egyptian action to enforce security and prevent terror in the Sinai," he said.

The attack took place around sunset in the Egyptian border town Rafah, when the troops were having the traditional meal at the end of the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

Egyptian state TV said the attack on the checkpoint was carried out by Islamist militants. It quoted a security official who said 13 troops were killed in the attack coordinated between Palestinians who entered Egypt from Gaza and Egyptians in Sinai.

It was one of the bloodiest attacks in Sinai in years, underlining the growing lawlessness of the Egyptian territory, where security forces have become targets of militants, some loosely linked with al Qaeda.

Mali

Rebels snatch childrenfor soldiers, sex slaves

BAMAKO — Islamist rebels have kidnapped hundreds of children to use as soldiers or sex slaves, human rights campaigners told reporters Sunday.

"We have several hundred children aged between 9 and 17 years old within the ranks of the armed groups, including the Islamists, who control northern Mali," said Mamoud Lamine Cisse, president of a Malian child rights coalition.

"After investigations, we have corroborating information that these children are used as soldiers, minesweepers, scouts, spies, messengers, lookouts, cooks and sexual slaves in the case of young girls," he said.

The children are mostly from Mali, Senegal and Niger, he added.

"We appeal to sub-regional and international organizations to pay particular attention to this phenomenon, because recruitment of children is currently taking place in northern Mali," he said.

The Malian Coalition of Child Rights is a grouping of 78 Malian and international associations.

The Islamists who have controlled the vast desert north of Mali for four months, recently admitted to Agence France-Presse reporters that they have taken children of "all ages to fight in the name of God."

South Africa

Former U.N. rights chiefhits ANC corruption

JOHANNESBURG — A former U.N. human rights commissioner criticized South Africa's ruling party in a speech Sunday honoring Nelson Mandela.

Mary Robinson, also a former president of Ireland, urged the African National Congress to scrap a proposed official secrets law and referred to secrecy as "the enemy of truth."

Mrs. Robinson, speaking in Cape Town, also said that the ANC's "moral authority has been eroded" by corruption charges in recent years.

Mrs. Robinson gave the keynote address at the 10th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.

Mr. Mandela was imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against apartheid. Released in 1990, he led negotiations to end white rule. In South Africa's first fully democratic elections in 1994, he was elected president.

Libya

Militants attack Red Cross building

TRIPOLI — Armed assailants laid siege on Sunday to a Red Cross staff residence in the western Libyan city of Misrata, causing major damage to the building but no injuries to the humanitarian workers, the organization said.

Seven staffers were in the residence when the "unknown individuals" attacked the building with "various kinds of heavy weaponry" at dawn, said a statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Red Cross strongly condemned the attack and said it will suspend its work in Misrata and Benghazi in the east following what it called the fifth such incident in the two cities in less than three months.

Nigeria

Car bomb killssix soldiers, two others

DAMATURU — A suicide bomber Sunday killed six soldiers and two civilians in northeastern Nigeria, police said.

A suspected member of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram set off explosives in a car, after military patrol vehicles surrounded him in the city of Damaturu, said Yobe state police chief Patrick EgbuniweEgbuniwe. Nine other soldiers were hospitalized.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports