World Briefs: Occupy London activists stage cathedral protest

Britain

LONDON — Several supporters of the anti-corporate Occupy movement chained themselves to the pulpit of St. Paul’s Cathedral during a service on Sunday in an action marking the anniversary of the group’s now-dismantled protest camp outside the London landmark.

The dean of St. Paul’s, David Ison, said he was at an evening prayer service when “four young women dressed in white” chained themselves to the structure. “It will be a long cold night if they want to stay there,” he said.

Photos posted by the group on the Internet showed the women around the pulpit with a sign urging “throw the money changers out of the temple.”

London police said officers were not trying to remove the demonstrators. Other protesters unfurled a banner with a similar message outside the church.

Protesters against capitalist excess and social inequality set up camp outside Christopher Wren’s domed landmark on Oct. 15, 2011, after they were stopped from demonstrating outside the nearby London Stock Exchange.

Philippines

Muslims rebels set to sign peace pact

MANILA — About 200 Muslim rebels led by their elusive chief arrived in the Philippines capital Sunday for the signing of a preliminary peace pact to end one of Asia’s longest-lasting insurgencies.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s decades-long rebellion has killed tens of thousands of people and held back progress in the south, where Muslims make up a sizable minority.

Government and rebel negotiators forged the framework peace agreement Oct. 7 in Malaysia after 15 years of tough negotiations.

The pact signing on Monday will be witnessed by President Benigno Aquino III, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and rebel leader Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who will set foot for the first time in Manila’s Malacanang presidential palace, where officials have prepared a red-carpet welcome.

Algeria

Suspected terrorist killed in ambush

ALGIERS — A suspected terrorist accused of maintaining contacts between al Qaeda and its North African branch Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has been killed in an ambush by Algerian forces, security officials said Sunday.

Boualem Bekai, who was known as Khaled El Mig, was killed Friday at Azrou about 30 miles from the Tizi Ouzou region east of the capital, the APS news agency cited the officials as saying.

His identity was confirmed Sunday by his family after relatives received his body from the hospital at Tizi Ouzou, the sources said.

The 45-year-old AQIM member became an Islamist militant at the beginning of the Algerian civil war in the 1990s.

His group is suspected of being behind several attacks in the region, including an April 2011 assault on an Algerian military barracks at Azazga near Tizi Ouzou that killed 14 soldiers.

The Azazga guard post is on the edge of the dense Yakouren forest, where AQIM is active.

AQIM, headed by Abdelmalek Droukdel, emerged in early 2007 from an Algerian armed Islamist movement, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. It operates in several northwestern African countries, including Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The group has since been boosted by the turmoil in neighboring Mali that followed a coup there in March, with hard-line Islamists occupying the country’s vast northern region.

MAURITANIA

President flown to France for wound treatment

NOUAKCHOTT — President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was being transferred to Paris for treatment and examinations after being wounded when the military fired on his vehicle outside the capital, the government said Sunday.

Mr. Aziz spoke on national TV on Sunday from his hospital bed in Mauritania to reassure the public he was in good health. He said the shooting was an accident when his convoy approached a military barracks by an unpaved road north of Nouakchott.

The president’s adviser said Mr. Aziz was going to Paris for further treatment.

Mauritania has been destabilized by an al Qaeda affiliate, which has launched attacks from neighboring Mali.

ISRAEL

Cabinet sets vote with Netanyahu leading

JERUSALEM — Israel’s parliamentary election has been set for Jan. 22, the Cabinet decided Sunday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leading in the polls.

Mr. Netanyahu said he was forced to call early elections last week after he was unable to pass a budget for the coming year. Elections originally were scheduled for October 2013.

The Cabinet’s decision Sunday awaits final approval from the parliament on Monday, where an endorsement is expected.

Most polls have shown Mr. Netanyahu is likely to retain his post if the current party alignment remains in place.

China

Prehistoric humans ate pandas, scientist says

BEIJING — A Chinese scientist says that humans used to eat pandas.

In a newspaper interview, Wei Guangbiao said prehistoric man ate the animals in what is now part of the city of Chongqing in southwest China.

Mr. Wei, the head of the Institute of Three Gorges Paleoanthropology at a Chongqing museum, said many excavated panda fossils “showed that pandas were once slashed to death by man.”

The Chongqing Morning Post quoted him on Friday as saying: “In primitive times, people wouldn’t kill animals that were useless to them” and therefore the pandas must have been used as food.

Mr. Wei said wild pandas lived in Chongqing’s high mountains 10,000 to 1 million years ago.

Pandas don’t eat much apart from bamboo.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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