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World Briefs: More than 30 civilians killed by Nigerian military

- - Monday, October 8, 2012

MAIDUGURI — Nigerian soldiers angry about the killing of an officer fatally shot more than 30 civilians Monday in a northeastern city long under siege by a radical Islamist sect.

The attack came from soldiers attached to a special military unit on guard in Maiduguri, the spiritual home of the sect known as Boko Haram, supposedly in an effort to protect its citizens from the violence gripping the city.

The killings likely will further antagonize a population already alienated by checkpoints, security force harassment and the threat of being killed by soldiers who are targets for the sect's increasingly bloody guerrilla attacks.

Nigeria's military has been accused of committing so-called "extrajudicial killings" while in pursuit of Boko Haram members.

The military now routinely claims massive operations with dozens of people killed, always referred to as Boko Haram members or sympathizers, announcements that cannot be independently verified. The military also downplays its own casualties suffered during the operations.

Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, a spokesman for the military force in the city, declined to comment about the retaliatory attack.

TURKEY

Turkish jets strike Kurdish bases in Iraq

ANKARA — Turkish jets have struck suspected Kurdish rebel targets in two separate cross-border raids in northern Iraq, a Turkish news agency reported Monday, prompting Iraq to vow to take "diplomatic" steps against Ankara for violating its sovereignty.

Turkey frequently has struck targets of the autonomy-seeking Kurdistan Workers' Party in northern Iraq.

But with relations between Turkey and Iraq deteriorating, Baghdad recently warned Turkey against military operations on its territory.

Ties between Ankara and Baghdad have reached a low over a Turkish decision to shelter Iraq's Sunni vice president, even after a Baghdad court sentenced him to death for running death squads.

Turkey also started importing crude oil from northern Iraq under a deal with the Iraqi Kurdish administration that has angered Baghdad.

In August, Iraq accused Turkey of interfering in its internal affairs after Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu paid a surprise visit to the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, seen as a testing ground for whether Iraq's sectarian leaders can reach reconciliation.

PERU

Imprisoned Dutch killer to be father

LIMA — A newspaper reported Monday that Joran van der Sloot, a Dutchman who is serving a 28-year-sentence for murdering a young Peruvian woman, says he is going to be a father.

His attorney said the inmate does have a conjugal visitor, though he could not confirm she is pregnant.

The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that van der Sloot, a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba, said in a telephone interview Saturday that "a test has proved" the pregnancy.

Van der Sloot attorney Maximo Altez, told The Associated Press that a woman named Leidy Figueroa Uceda "is registered as a conjugal visitor of Joran. She is registered in the visitors books of the Piedras Gordas prison in Lima." Mr. Altez denied that Van der Sloot had told the newspaper he could confirm the pregnancy.

Van der Sloot was convicted for the 2010 robbery and killing of Stephany Flores in a Lima hotel room after meeting her in a nearby casino.

He is wanted by authorities in the U.S. for allegedly extorting money from the Holloway family on the promise of revealing the location of Natalee's body.

GREECE

Police plan crackdown ahead of Merkel visit

ATHENS — Greek police have increased security and are preparing to close down large sections of the capital to contain protests against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is visiting Athens on Tuesday for talks with the country's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Mrs. Merkel's brief visit comes amid growing unrest in Greece over plans for new cutbacks.

Greek authorities, who are struggling to talk bailout creditors into unfreezing a vital loan installment, are determined to prevent riots while Mrs. Merkel is in town on her first visit to the country in five years.

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias appealed to protesters Monday to "protect the peace, and above all our country's prospects and our international image." Some 7,000 police will be on duty for the chancellor's visit.

Police have banned public gatherings in much of the city center from early Tuesday and in a 110-yard radius from the route Mrs. Merkel's motorcade will follow.

A police spokesman said the ban will not affect two protests called by labor unions and opposition parties elsewhere in the city, but will include the German Embassy, where a populist right-wing party has called for an evening demonstration Tuesday.

SRI LANKA

Judges, lawyers boycott courts after attack on judge

COLOMBO — Sri Lankan judges and lawyers boycotted courts Monday to protest an assault on an outspoken judge, and hundreds of lawyers staged a demonstration demanding a thorough investigation into the attack.

About 500 lawyers and staff wearing black headbands marched in front of Colombo's court complex.

They carried a coffin, saying the weekend attack on Judge Manjula Tilakaratne represented the death of an independent judiciary. Later, they burned the coffin.

They held placards reading: "Stand up to protect the judiciary. Protect lives of judges. Arrest those who attacked a judge."

Judge Tilakaratne, secretary of the Judicial Service Commission that handles appointments and transfer of judges, was attacked by four men Sunday as he was a newspaper in his car reading after dropping off his son at school.

He sustained injuries to his face and right hand. Police said an investigation is under way.

Protesters said Judge Tilakarartne had irked the government with a statement two weeks ago complaining of outside influences on the commission's decisions.

District judges stayed away from work Monday, while lawyers also boycotted courts across the country, lawyer Nuwan Bopage said.

In July, lawyers accused a government minister of threatening a judge. The politician's supporters were accused of stoning the court complex.

From wire dispatches and staff reports