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World Briefs: U.S. Navy tests mine-seeking sub

- - Thursday, September 27, 2012

PERSIAN GULF

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The admiral in charge of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet says a prototype mine-detecting drone was put through more tests during military exercises in and around the Persian Gulf this month.

The advanced sonar-equipped Kingfish sub is being evaluated by the Pentagon. Vice Adm. John W. Miller says the sub was used for the first time internationally during the maneuvers of more than 30 nations that wrapped up this week.

The Navy says drills were not designed to specifically confront a threat from Iran.

Tehran has warned it would try to close the Gulf's strategic Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for sanctions over its nuclear program.

Adm. Miller told reporters Thursday that the Kingfish eventually could be deployed with the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet and other places around the world.

Germany

Mother admits killing five of her babies

BERLIN — A 28-year-old woman killed her five infants shortly after giving birth to them in secret and hid their bodies because she worried her husband would leave her if she had any more children, authorities said Thursday.

The woman, who has been arrested on five counts of manslaughter, made a "comprehensive confession" to the killings after turning herself in as a six-year investigation closed in on her, said Ulrike Stahlmann-Liebelt, the head prosecutor in Flensburg, on Germany's border with Denmark.

The woman, whose name was not released in accordance with German privacy laws, has two living children, ages 8 and 10. But then in 2006 she began hiding her pregnancies, staying away from doctors and hospitals and killing the infants after giving birth to two at home and three in the woods, she said.

The husband has told police that he knew nothing about the pregnancies, and it is not clear how the woman managed to keep them secret, the prosecutor said.

Police found the first infant's body dumped in a paper-sorting station in 2006 about nine miles away from the town of Husum, where the woman lived. The second was found in a parking area off a regional highway, also about the same distance from Husum but in a different direction, in 2007.

She hid the next three babies in boxes in the basement of the building where she lived.

The bodies have been recovered, and autopsies have been performed. But forensic experts have not yet been able to determine the cause or dates of their deaths.

CHINA

Forensic expert questions Briton's cause of death

BEIJING — A Chinese government forensic scientist is questioning the cause of death of a slain British businessman, casting doubt on the official version of a scandal that reached into the upper levels of the Communist Party.

Wang Xuemei, who is with the government's top prosecutors' office, said Thursday the conclusion reached by Chinese authorities that Neil Heywood died from cyanide poisoning lacks sufficient evidence.

Heywood's murder is the centerpiece of a scandal that has seen Chinese politician Bo Xilai ousted from the leadership.

Mr. Bo's wife was given a suspended death sentence last month after confessing to murdering Heywood over a business dispute by pouring cyanide into his mouth.

Mr. Wang told the Associated Press that the official account of Mr. Bo's wife's description of the killing lacks details to prove Heywood died from cyanide poisoning.

Germany

Couple charged as Russian spies

BERLIN — Two Russians alleged to have been operating in Germany for more than 20 years have been charged with espionage, federal prosecutors said Thursday, in the first case of its kind since German reunification in 1990.

The man and the woman, who German media said are married, were arrested in October 2011, after police raided their home in the western town of Ballingen, reportedly catching the woman red-handed listening to coded messages.

The federal prosecutor's office identified the two suspects only by their "aliases," Andreas and Heidrun A.

It said they had established residency in Germany in 1988 using fake Austrian documentation.

"The accused had the task of gathering information about the political and military strategy of the EU and NATO," the prosecutor's office said.

They are accused of running another agent from October 2008 to August 2011 who stole official documents about European Union and NATO affairs from the Dutch Foreign Ministry.

Egypt

Christians flee town after terrorist threats

CAIRO — Christians have fled their homes in a northern Sinai town after receiving threats from suspected Islamic terrorists, a Coptic Christian priest said Thursday.

Father Youssef Sobhi said Islamic militants have verbally threatened seven Christian families in the town of Rafah on the Egypt-Gaza-Israel border. One shop owner came under fire by masked gunmen, he said in a phone interview. The families sought refuge in the town of El-Arish.

He said local authorities have not adequately protected Christians on the Sinai Peninsula, where Islamic radicals have gained influence after the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising last year.

Mr. Sobhi also said militants fired at the Holy Family Church in the northern Sinai. The church is built on the site where Christians believe Joseph, Mary and Jesus first stopped to rest after crossing into Egypt.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports