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World Briefs: Protestant militants target Northern Ireland party

- - Thursday, December 6, 2012

NORTHERN IRELAND

DUBLIN — Northern Ireland leaders and police commanders appealed for calm Thursday after Protestant militants attacked offices and a home connected to the most compromise-minded political party over its support for reducing the display of British flags on government buildings.

The overnight violence in two Belfast suburbs came on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's planned visit Friday to the capital of the British territory.

It underscored how divided Northern Ireland remains despite the broad success of a peace process that has stopped paramilitary violence but done little to bring down barriers between rival British Protestant and Irish Catholic communities.

Protestant hard-liners have responded violently to a Belfast City Council vote on Monday to reduce sharply the flying of the British flag atop City Hall.

Alliance, the only party trying actively to represent the middle ground between the two camps, holds the balance of power on the council and voted with the Catholic side to take down the flag except for 18 official days a year.

Several hundred protesters broke through the gates to City Hall Monday night and injured 15 policemen defending the building.

GUATEMALA

Police arrest software mogul McAfee

GUATEMALA CITY — Software company founder John McAfee was arrested by Guatemalan police for entering the country illegally, ending his bizarre weekslong journey as a blogging fugitive claiming to be persecuted by authorities in Belize.

The fate of the anti-virus guru remained unclear Thursday as Guatemalan authorities awaited word from their Foreign Ministry about what to do with Mr. McAfee and whether the ministry intended to send him back to Belize, where he is a person of interest in the killing of a fellow expatriate.

"We are awaiting instructions from the Foreign Ministry. It will be the foreign relations department that decides the process," said Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla following Mr. McAfee's arrest Wednesday at a hotel in an upscale part of Guatemala City.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. McAfee, 67, said he had formally requested asylum in Guatemala after entering the country from Belize, where he says he fears for his safety because he has sensitive information about official corruption and refused to donate to local politicians.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

U.S. Embassy attacker gets 18 years in prison

SARAJEVO — A Bosnian court on Thursday sentenced to 18 years in prison a man who was convicted on terrorism charges for opening fire on the U.S. Embassy.

Mevlid Jasarevic shot at the embassy in Sarajevo for 50 minutes with an automatic rifle and injured a local policeman before authorities shot him in the leg and arrested him.

He said in a video made before the Oct. 28, 2011, shooting that he wanted to force NATO to pull out of Afghanistan and for Bosnia to stop harassing his Islamic sect.

Alleged accomplices Emrah Fojnica and Munib Ahmetspahic were acquitted.

The court said the prosecution did not prove the three were a terrorist group. The prosecutor's office said it will appeal the acquittal.

THAILAND

Former premier faces murder charges

BANGKOK — Thai law enforcement authorities announced Thursday that they will file murder charges against former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy in the first prosecutions of officials for their roles in a deadly 2010 crackdown on anti-government protests.

The protests and crackdown left more than 90 people dead and about 1,800 injured in Thailand's worst political violence in decades.

Mr. Abhisit's Democrat Party, ousted in elections last year, and "Red Shirt" supporters of the ruling Pheu Thai Party have blamed each other for the bloodshed since.

Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Tharit Phengdit said Thursday that investigators found Mr. Abhisit possibly culpable in the death of a taxi driver because he allowed troops to use war weapons and live ammunition against protesters.

Mr. Abhisit and former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who was in charge of the ad hoc security agency set up to contain the protests, will be summoned to the DSI office on Wednesday to be charged formally.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Hackers hit talks on telecom controls

DUBAI — Organizers of a U.N. conference on global telecommunications said Thursday that hackers apparently blocked their website and disrupted the talks, a gathering some critics fear could lead to greater controls over the Internet.

The United Nations International Telecommunications Union said the website was hit late Wednesday, blocking access to its main page and interfering with a closed-door working group.

It says it is still investigating, but initial signs point to hackers.

The statement said Internet traffic was diverted to a backup website for two hours before normal operations resumed.

Officials at the conference, which brings together nearly 2,000 delegates from 193 nations, said the incident underscores the need for better cybersecurity coordination.

The 11-day gathering in Dubai also is being watched closely for the possibility that new international pacts on Internet commerce and security emerge from it.

BULGARIA

President vetoes citizenship bill

SOFIA — Bulgaria's president has vetoed a bill that would have offered citizenship to foreigners ready to invest at least $650,000 in the Balkan country's struggling economy.

In a statement Thursday, Rosen Plevneliev criticized the proposal, saying that "the assessment whether to grant citizenship or not cannot be based on financial arguments."

Bulgaria, which joined the 27-nation European Union in 2007 and is the bloc's poorest member, is trying to reverse the severe drop in foreign direct investment from $8.5 billion in 2008 to $2.3 billion in 2011.

Parliament approved the citizenship measure last month by a simple majority, and it can do so again.

The president, who went against his own ruling party on the bill, does not have the right to a second veto.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports