- - Tuesday, December 25, 2012

TEHRAN — An Iranian semiofficial news agency said there has been another cyberattack by the sophisticated computer worm Stuxnet, this time on the industries in the country’s south.

Tuesday’s report by ISNA quotes provincial civil defense chief Ali Akbar Akhavan as saying the virus targeted a power plant and some other industries in Hormozgan province in recent months.

Mr. Akhavan said Iranian computer experts were able to “successfully stop” the worm.

Iran repeatedly has claimed defusing cyberworms and malware, including the Stuxnet and Flame viruses that targeted the vital oil sector, which provides 80 percent of the country’s foreign revenue.

Tehran has said both worms are part of a secret U.S.-Israeli program that seeks to destabilize Iran’s nuclear program.

The West suspects Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, a charge Tehran denies.

KAZAKHSTAN

Military plane crashes, killing 27

MOSCOW — Kazakhstan’s acting border service chief was among 27 people killed in a military plane crash Tuesday near a southern city, authorities said.

The An-72 crashed at 7:55 a.m. Eastern time about 12 miles from the city of Shymkent near the border with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan’s Committee for National Security said in a statement.

The fatalities included a crew of seven and 20 border guards, including the acting head of the ex-Soviet nation’s border protection service, Col. Turganbek Stambekov, the statement said.

Without specifying further details, authorities said an investigation was opened into the crash.

Col. Stambekov was appointed acting head of the border service in June, after a mass killing of 14 frontier troops in a remote Kazakh outpost near China the month before.

Vladislav Chelakh, a 20-year-old conscript, was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison after being found solely responsible for the killings.

NIGERIA

Christmas Day attack kills 5 in northeast

LAGOS — Gunmen attacked a village in northeast Nigeria early Christmas Day, killing at least five people in the latest violence to hit a region long under attack by a radical Islamist sect, the military said Tuesday.

The attack happened in a village just west of the city of Potiskum in Yobe state, military spokesman Lt. Eli Lazarus said.

The gunmen opened fire in the hours before dawn, also wounding at least four people.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though suspicion immediately fell on Boko Haram.

The sect is waging an increasingly bloody campaign of guerrilla attacks against the nation’s weak central government and wants Nigeria to enact strict Shariah law.

MOROCCO

Authorities break up jihadist recruitment cell

RABAT — Moroccan authorities Tuesday said they had broken up a recruitment cell for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in the central Fez region, after announcing the discovery of a jihadist network last month.

“The police, in coordination with the leadership of territorial surveillance, have dismantled a cell with six members, originating from the city of Fez,” the Interior Ministry said.

The aim of the cell was to “enroll and recruit young Moroccans who have embraced jihadist ideas, in order to send them to camps of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Algeria,” it added.

Among those arrested was a “former prisoner detained under the anti-terrorism law” who had been “extradited from Algeria in 2005 after he attempted to join the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.”

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the global terror network’s North African branch, evolved from the Salafist Group, a breakaway collection of militant Algerian Islamists who refused to lay down their weapons when Algeria’s civil war ended.

Last month, Moroccan authorities said they had dismantled several terrorist cells that were planning to attack strategic targets in the kingdom.

SWEDEN

Foreigner angered over gray Santa outfit

STOCKHOLM — Police in Sweden had to intervene after a foreign visitor to a spa and conference center grew angry because a visiting Santa Claus was wearing a gray instead of red costume.

No one was arrested during the incident in Vallsta, some 180 miles north of Stockholm, early Tuesday.

But police said in a brief statement that the foreign guest grew agitated over the Santa outfit and argued with the center’s staff.

They did not say where the foreigner was from.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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