- - Sunday, March 11, 2012

EGYPT

Parliament to consider cutting off U.S. aid

CAIRO — Egypt’s parliament has called for a vote on stopping U.S. aid.

Sunday’s move by the People’s Assembly was sparked by the March 1 departure of six American defendants in a case of 43 employees of nonprofit groups accused of using illegal foreign funds to foment unrest in Egypt.

The U.S. threatened to cut off aid to Egypt over the issue. Now the parliament is moving to take the initiative, by voting to reject further American aid.

The exit of the Americans kicked off a storm in Egypt, prompting many to accuse the ruling generals of bowing to U.S. pressure and intervening in the work of the judiciary.

In Sunday’s session, lawmakers complained the U.S. is disregarding Egypt’s sovereignty. They also called a vote on a no-confidence motion in the government.

NIGERIA

Car bomb kills 10 near Catholic church

JOS — A suicide car bomber attacked a Catholic church Sunday in the middle of Mass, killing at least 10 people in the latest violence targeting a church in a central Nigerian city plagued by unrest, a state official said.

The bomb detonated as worshippers attended the final Mass of the day at St. Finbar’s Catholic Church in Jos, a city where thousands have died in the last decade in religious and ethnic violence.

Security at the gate of the church’s compound stopped the suspicious car and the bomber detonated his explosives during an altercation that followed, Plateau state spokesman Pam Ayuba said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, though the city has been targeted in the past by a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram.

The sect claimed a series of bombings in Jos on Christmas Eve in 2010 that killed as many as 80 people. The sect also claimed a similar church bombing on Feb. 26 on the main headquarters of the Church of Christ that killed three people and wounded 38 others.

IRAQ

Iraqi ‘emos’ victims of brutal killings

BAGHDAD — Iraqi teenagers widely perceived to be gay are being brutally killed in Baghdad, with Shiite militias distributing lists of targets warning of further assaults, officials and human rights groups say.

At least 15 teenagers, described as “emos” for their tight-fitting black clothes and alternative hairstyles, have been stoned, beaten to death or fatally shot in the past month, medics say.

Reports also have said some of them had their heads smashed with concrete blocks.

Human rights groups say the death toll is far higher amid accusations of a cover-up by security forces.

Witnesses in the conservative Shiite Muslim bastion of Sadr City in north Baghdad say a militia group calling itself the “Brigades of Anger” has posted leaflets naming 22 youths to be “punished.”

Medical officials said at least 15 already have been killed in the past month, including seven who were stoned to death, five who were shot and one who was beaten to death. At least two of the victims were girls.

SYRIA

Annan ends trip with no deal

BEIRUT — International envoy and former U.N. chief Kofi Annan left Syria on Sunday without a deal to end the bloody year-old conflict as regime forces mounted a new assault on rebel strongholds in the north.

Mr. Annan said he presented President Bashar Assad with concrete proposals that “will have a real impact on the ground.”

“Once it’s agreed, it will help launch the process and help end the crisis,” he told reporters at the end of his two-day visit to Syria.

Mr. Annan, who also met with Syrian opposition leaders and businessmen in Damascus, said he was optimistic following two sets of talks with Mr. Assad, but acknowledged that resolving the crisis would be tough.

The former U.N. chief called for reforms that would create “a solid foundation for a democratic Syria,” but added: “You have to start by stopping the killing and the misery and the abuse that is going on today and then give time for a political settlement.”

SENEGAL

Opposition joins forces to back Wade challenger

DAKAR — Senegal’s opposition joined forces Sunday in a massive rally to block 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade from landing a third term in office and back challenger Macky Sall.

The 12 presidential candidates who fell out of the running in a first round of voting on Feb. 26 have formed a coalition they hope will usher Mr. Sall, a former prime minister, into power.

Mr. Wade is facing a stiff battle to retain power at the March 25 poll after a strong opposition showing crushed his hopes of overall victory in the first round and forced him into a runoff.

Sunday’s rally took place at Obelisk Square, where a month of violent anti-Wade protests began in the run-up to the election, leaving six dead and more than 150 injured.

The election in a country known as a haven of stability in troubled West Africa is being closely watched by foreign allies concerned about one of their reliable African partners.

Mr. Sall, 50, on Saturday announced the launch of the Alliance of Forces for Change coalition that will back him in the runoff election.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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