Briefly: Police officer wounded in Sinair attack

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Egypt

EL-ARISH — A senior Egyptian police officer was shot and seriously wounded Tuesday in the second recent attack of its kind on security forces in the country’s turbulent northern Sinai region.

Security officials said Inspector General Selim Said el-Gamal was riding in a police car with other officers in the provincial capital of el-Arish when attackers in a white truck opened fire at their vehicle.

Officials said that Mr. el-Gamal stumbled out of the car after he was shot, and that the driver and other officers ran for cover by fleeing the vehicle. Some of the assailants, who had fired from the bed of their truck, stole the police vehicle.

Later Tuesday, gunmen ambushed an army truck in the town of Sheikh Zuweyid just outside el-Arish, stealing the vehicle that had been transporting fuel to nearby bases and checkpoints, officials said.

Dr. Tareq Khater, a medical official in northern Sinai, said Mr. el-Gamal was shot in the neck and is in critical condition. He was airlifted from el-Arish to Cairo for treatment.

Tuesday’s attack comes just three days after gunmen killed three policemen in the same area. Officials said the militants raised the black flag associated with Islamic militants before speeding off.

Bahrain

King calls on subjects to help in police probe

DUBAI — King Hamad on Tuesday called on his subjects to cooperate with the authorities to arrest terrorists who carried out a series of bombings that killed two Asian expatriates, state news agency BNA reported.

He ordered “the swift arrest of the terrorists who carried out the recent terrorist acts in Bahrain” and urged citizens to help “bring them to justice so they receive their punishment over this appalling act,” BNA said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa added, “The terrorists and vandals plotting against Bahrain will receive their punishment and the inciters will be held responsible for what happened.”

“The government will not allow a stray group to destroy the nation, threaten and terrorize safe citizens,” said Mr. Khalifa, who hailed “security forces who are doing their duties to the best of their ability and who have our full support.”

Five explosions in the capital on Monday killed two Asian expatriates and wounded a third, police said.

Kuwait

Emir warns of chaos, denounces wave of unrest

KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait’s leader on Tuesday called for his people to choose between a state of law or chaos after the oil-rich Gulf state witnessed unprecedented unrest over disputed electoral legislation.

“We are required today to choose between the state of law and constitution … or the path to chaos and undermining constitutional authority,” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said as he met commanders of the army, police and national guard.

About 150 protesters and 24 policemen have been injured in the past two weeks during three demonstrations by the opposition, which is protesting an amendment to the electoral law. The amendment would limit a voter to the choice of one candidate for parliament, instead of the current four.

Sheikh Sabah stressed that there will be no leniency in confronting actions that may undermine the security and stability of the country and vowed to apply the law to all without any hesitation.

He praised the commanders for efficiently handling “violence and irresponsible practices carried out by some individuals by organizing illegal gatherings and processions.”

The opposition — comprised of Islamists, nationalists and liberals — has vowed that it will continue its “peaceful” protests until the disputed amendment is scrapped, and has announced plans for a big gathering Sunday.

Syria

Opposition leader opposes plan for new council

DOHA, Qatar — The head of Syria’s main opposition group warned Tuesday that forces he says are trying to undermine his Syrian National Council are inadvertently prolonging the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Abdelbaset Sieda spoke at a council convention in Doha, as the group tried to push back against U.S. criticism and efforts to form a new opposition leadership that likely would sideline the council.

The group, formed a year ago, has been slow to include activists and fighters from Syria who are risking their lives to topple the regime. Made up mostly of exiles and academics, the council has appeared increasingly irrelevant and out of touch as the conflict in Syria has escalated and the focus has shifted to the battlefield, where control of Syria is almost certain to be decided.

Syrian dissident Riad Seif, who is leading the effort to create a new opposition leadership, said the existing council has “failed.”

“Nowadays, we need leadership to guide the revolution in this very difficult period, and we need an authority to look after millions of Syrians who have nothing,” he said.

Mr. Seif has proposed setting up a 50-member leadership group in which the council would have only 15 seats to make room for activists and local leaders from inside Syria. Mr. Seif says the idea has won broad international backing, and he has portrayed it as the only way forward for the opposition to garner badly needed foreign aid and political support. Mr. Seif has told reporters he is not seeking a leadership post.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

Egypt

Female teacher convicted of child abuse

LUXOR — A court in southern Egypt has convicted a female teacher of child abuse and given her a six-month suspended sentence, after she cut the hair of two schoolgirls for not wearing a Muslim headscarf.

The incident last month in the village of Qurna sparked immediate criticism from civil rights groups and local officials. The case falls into a broader debate in Egypt over personal and religious freedoms following the rise of Islamist political movements.

The teacher, who wears the niqab that leaves only her eyes visible, was transferred to another school as a rebuke. But the father of one of the girls and a national center for childhood rights filed a complaint, accusing the teacher of abuse.

The court on Tuesday also fined the teacher $8.

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