- - Sunday, May 20, 2012

ISRAEL

JERUSALEM — Israeli ministers held a special Cabinet meeting at Ammunition Hill on Sunday to celebrate Jerusalem Day, when the Jewish state captured the Arab eastern sector 45 years ago during the Six-Day War.

Celebrations were lined up throughout the day with formal ceremonies, parties and the annual flag march through East Jerusalem to mark the “reunification” of the city that took place after the 1967 Middle East war.

For Israel, which annexed the eastern sector in a move not recognized by the international community, Jerusalem is its “eternal and undivided capital.”

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The Cabinet meeting was held at Ammunition Hill in East Jerusalem, a former Jordanian military post that saw some of the bloodiest fighting and now houses preserved trenches, battle fortifications and a museum.

During the meeting, the Cabinet decided to allocate $91 million to create public spaces in Jerusalem over the next six years in a bid to develop tourism and infrastructure, a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

SYRIA

Bomb explodes near U.N. peace convoy

DAMASCUS — A roadside bomb exploded in a restive suburb of the Syrian capital as senior U.N. officials toured the area on Sunday, the latest incident in which the unarmed observer mission has nearly been caught up in the country’s bloodshed.

No casualties were reported in the blast, which detonated about 500 feet away from visiting U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous and Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the chief of U.N. observers in Syria. Journalists accompanying the team also were nearby. The explosion blew off the front of a parked vehicle.

Nearly 50 people were killed on Sunday in violence across Syria, including 34 civilians who died in an assault in the restive central Hama province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said

The revolt against President Bashar Assad’s regime started in March 2011 with mostly peaceful protests calling for political change. The deadly government crackdown led many opposition supporters to take up arms.

In March, the U.N. said that 9,000 people had been killed. Hundreds more have died since.

BANGLADESH

Opposition demands release of leaders

DHAKA — Hundreds of opposition protesters rallied Sunday in Bangladesh’s capital to demand that authorities release 33 of their leaders and find a missing opposition official.

Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia led the protest in downtown Dhaka as the activists staged a six-hour symbolic hunger strike. The protesters chanted “Down with the autocratic government” and “Free our leaders.”

Similar protests took place in all major cities and towns across the country Sunday.

The 18-party opposition alliance led by Mr. Zia accuses the government of manipulating courts and of abducting one of its leaders, Elias Ali. The government denies the allegations.

The opposition has also set a June 10 ultimatum for the government to restore a caretaker government system to oversee national elections due in 2014.

NEPAL

Police clash with protesters during strike

KATMANDU — Police on Sunday clashed with protesters who were violently enforcing a general strike and detained at least 52.

Police spokesman Binod Singh said the protesters attacked and burned at least two dozen vehicles that were defying Sunday’s general strike called by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities.

The group called for businesses to close and vehicles to stay off the streets to support their demand that states proposed in the new constitution be determined on the basis of ethnic groups.

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists said it had reports that the protesters also attacked journalists.

Most markets and shops remained closed and highways were deserted Sunday. Mr. Singh said security has been stepped up.

PAKISTAN

Facebook censored over Muhammad contest

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan blocked the social networking website Twitter for much of Sunday because it refused to remove tweets considered offensive to Islam, said one of the country’s top telecommunications officials.

The tweets were promoting a competition on Facebook to post images of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, said Mohammad Yaseen, chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication’s Authority. Many Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favorable ones, as blasphemous.

The government restored access to Twitter before midnight Sunday, about eight hours after it initially blocked access. It was unclear whether the government reversed its decision because of action by Twitter or because of public criticism it received for its censorship.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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