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World Briefs

- - Monday, February 13, 2012

LIBYA

Revolutionary militias unify in western Libya

TRIPOLI — Representatives of about 100 militias from western Libya said Monday they had formed a new federation to prevent infighting and allow them to press the country's new government for further reform.

The move was a blow to the National Transitional Council, which helped lead the eight-month uprising against longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi that ended with his capture and death in October.

The council has struggled for months to stamp its authority on the country, and has largely failed to bring under its control the hundreds of militias that fought in the war.

Ibrahim al-Madani, a commander whose brigade joined the new federation, said the fighters would not give up their arms to what they considered a corrupt government.

"We didn't turn against Gadhafi but against a corrupt regime," Mr. al-Madani told reporters. "We will not lay down our weapons until we are assured that the revolution is on the right track."

The leader of the federation, Col. Mokhtar Fernana, criticized the council panel in charge of integrating revolutionary fighters, accusing it of taking in many men who had fought for Gadhafi. "This committee is an attempt to hijack the revolution," Col. Fernana said.

NIGERIA

Army kills 12 fighters linked to Islamic terrorists

KANO — Nigeria's army killed 12 suspected fighters from the Boko Haram Islamists during a raid in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the group's base, a military spokesman said Monday.

Hassan Mohammed of Nigeria's special Joint Task Force said there was a shootout in the city late Sunday between soldiers and "gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram. In the encounter 12 members of Boko Haram were killed."

Residents said that raid came in response to a Boko Haram attack against the military in the violence-plagued city.

The Joint Task Force is a special squad established to combat Boko Haram, an extremist group with unclear motives that has killed more than 200 people already this year in Africa's most populous nation.

FRANCE

Police lose track of convicted terrorist

PARIS — An Algerian convicted of planning terror attacks in France has disappeared after being placed under house arrest while awaiting a legal decision on his deportation from France, sources said Monday.

Said Arif was convicted in 2007 for planning attacks on French targets in 2001 and 2002. French investigators said he was linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the deceased former leader of Iraq's branch of al Qaeda.

He was given a 10-year sentence but was released from custody in December last year and placed under house arrest in a hotel in the southern town of Millau, while he awaited a judgment on whether to send him back to Algeria.

The European Court of Human Rights has asked France not to send him back to his homeland, where, his lawyer says, he faces the risk of torture.

TUNISIA

Police arrests suspects linked to al Qaeda

TUNIS — The armed group that clashed with Tunisian forces in the south of the country earlier this month had links to al Qaeda, a Tunisian official said Monday as he announced a wave of arrests tied to the shootout.

Tunisian forces caught up with a three-man armed militant cell Feb. 2 and killed two of them after a gun battle the day before that wounded two soldiers and a national guard member.

Interior Minister Ali Laarayedh said that 12 other Tunisians have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to the group, and 34 Kalashnikov assault rifles were seized in a raid along with large amounts of ammunition and Tunisia, Libyan and American currency. At least nine suspects escaped.

UNITED KINGDOM

Cameron to hold talks on Scottish independence

LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron's office says he will head to Scotland for talks on the country's referendum for independence, a vote that could see the breakup of Britain.

Mr. Cameron is due Thursday to meet with Scotland's leader, First Minister Alex Salmond.

Mr. Salmond held discussions Monday with Michael Moore, the British Cabinet minister responsible for Scotland, over his plans to hold the vote in the fall of 2014.

Mr. Cameron has said he will campaign against independence. Opinion polls show only about a third of Scots favor splitting from England.

Scotland and England united in 1707 to form Great Britain, but Scotland gained significant autonomy after voting in 1997 to reconvene the Scottish Parliament in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.

From wire dispatches and staff reports