- - Thursday, August 9, 2012


MANILA — Thousands of Filipinos shoveled muck and debris from flood-ravaged homes, shops and roads under a shining sun Thursday after nearly two weeks of nonstop rain shut down the capital and forced hundreds of thousands to flee from the deluge.

At least 49 people died and more than 2 million people were affected by Manila’s worst flooding since 2009.

More than half of the sprawling metropolis of 12 million was submerged at the peak, and schools and offices have been closed for days.


Gunmen attack police station in Sinai

CAIRO — Gunmen sprayed a police station in Egypt’s Sinai with bullets Thursday, setting off a brief firefight with police before speeding away in their truck, the latest in a series of attacks against security forces in the increasingly volatile peninsula, security officials said.

Meanwhile, the military sent additional armored and other army vehicles to boost its strength in a hunt for militants in the wake of a deadly weekend attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers.

The security officials also said army engineers were making preparations to destroy or shut an elaborate underground tunnel network linking Sinai and the Gaza Strip that is used to smuggle weapons, people and basic goods to circumvent border restrictions imposed against the Hamas-controlled territory by Israel and Egypt.


Clash in Caucasus leaves 5 police dead

MAKHACHKALA — Police said five police officers and three militants were killed in a shootout in the volatile Caucasus region in southern Russia.

Interior Ministry spokesman Vyacheslav Gasanov said a police unit was ambushed Thursday while responding to reports of armed men on the outskirts of a village in Dagestan, a Caucasus republic bordering Chechnya. Three officers were killed and one wounded.

In an ensuing clash with the militants, two more officers were killed and another wounded. Three militants also were killed.

Although Chechnya has become more stable after two separatist wars in the 1990s, an Islamic insurgency has spread throughout the Caucasus region.

Dagestan has become the epicenter of the violence in recent years, with militants staging daily attacks on police and other authorities.


Clinton pushes Nigeria on terrorism, corruption

ABUJA — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday urged Nigerian authorities to boost their intelligence capabilities to better combat growing extremist violence.

Mrs. Clinton is proposing that Nigeria create an “intelligence fusion cell” that would combine information from the military, spy services, police and other federal, state and local agencies.

The cell also would coordinate counterterrorism activities and serve as a contact for foreign intelligence services, State Department officials said.

The officials said the U.S. is ready to assist the cell with organizational expertise, training and equipment, including computers, and would offer the aid to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his new national security adviser, Mohammed Dasuki, on whom the U.S. has high hopes for expanded intelligence cooperation.

The U.S. has become increasingly concerned about the threat posed by militant groups in West Africa such as the Islamist Boko Haram in Nigeria and cells of al Qaeda-linked fighters in northern Mali.


U.S. Navy rescues 10 Iranian sailors

DUBAI — The U.S. Navy has rescued from a burning boat in the Gulf of Oman 10 seamen who said they are Iranian.

Wednesday’s rescue by the USS James E. Williams is at least the seventh involving Iranian sailors in nearly two years and is a reminder of the United States’ efforts to demonstrate the humanitarian value of its naval presence in the Persian Gulf, a strategic waterway the Iranian government has threatened to close in retaliation for international sanctions over its nuclear program.

The sailors were rescued from a traditional wooden boat flying an Iranian flag and were transported aboard the U.S. vessel, where they received medical treatment. They were awaiting transport to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which is coordinating repatriation efforts, said Lt. Greg Raelson, spokesman for the Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.


Security firm says new computer virus afoot

LONDON — A new computer virus has been found circulating in the Middle East, a Moscow-based computer security company said Thursday.

If a link were confirmed, the find would expand the electronic arsenal reportedly deployed by the U.S. and Israel against their rivals in the region.

Kaspersky Lab ZAO said that the new virus, dubbed “Gauss,” is aimed at stealing financial information from customers of several Lebanese banks.

The firm said similarities in coding, structure and operation leads it to say “with a high degree of certainty” that Gauss is related to Flame, a sophisticated piece of spyware that prompted an Internet blackout across Iran’s oil industry in April, and to Stuxnet, an infrastructure-wrecking worm whose discovery revolutionized the cybersecurity field.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports



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