- - Wednesday, May 2, 2012


SANAA — An airstrike Wednesday killed 15 al Qaeda-linked militants in their training camp in the country’s south, Yemeni military officials said. The airstrike resembled earlier U.S. drone attacks, but the U.S. did not comment.

The officials said the air attack targeted the militants’ camp north of the town of Jaar in the southern province of Abyan.

It coincided with a Yemeni government offensive against the militants.

On Monday, 17 al Qaeda militants were killed in a two-pronged attack by military units and civilians who took up arms against al Qaeda south of the town of Lawder.

Two civilians and a military officer also were killed in the fighting.


Security Council approves sanctions on Sudan, South Sudan

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution threatening nonmilitary sanctions against Sudan and South Sudan if they fail to halt escalating violence on their border and do not return to negotiations.

China, which is a major oil buyer from both countries, and Russia traditionally oppose sanctions but voted in favor of the U.S.-drafted measure.

The resolution endorses an African Union road map aimed at getting the two countries to step back from the brink of war and resolve their differences.

It condemns repeated cross-border violence between Sudan and South Sudan, including troop movements, the South’s seizure of the oil-rich town of Heglig and Sudan’s aerial bombings in the South.


King swears in new reform Cabinet

AMMAN — King Abdullah II swore in a new Cabinet on Wednesday assigned to enacting laws necessary for political reforms and holding elections, reflecting his impatience over the pace of change.

Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh replaced Awn al-Khasawneh, who resigned last Thursday over differences with the king. Abdullah blamed him for failing to push hard enough for promised reforms, which include introducing three laws governing parliamentary elections, political parties and an independent electoral commission.

Jordan has had 17 months of low-level unrest over demands for more political say and objections to an election law that draws districts to boost the king’s backers among Bedouin tribes.


Sarkozy, Hollande face off in debate

PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy lashed out at his critics and his leftist challenger Francois Hollande called for national unity, as the two faced off in a highly anticipated presidential debate.

Mr. Sarkozy took a firm, critical posture from the beginning of the televised debate Wednesday night. He said he is being unfairly blamed for France’s economic problems after years of crisis and insisted he’s not “the only guilty one.”

He also denounced those who compared him to France’s Nazi collaborators because of his tough campaign rhetoric on immigrants.

Mr. Hollande, whose is favored to win Sunday’s election, called for bringing the country together. He said he has a hard time imagining the hard-hitting, attention-grabbing Mr. Sarkozy as a “victim.”


Prisoners reach record in hunger strike

JERUSALEM — At least 1,550 Palestinians in Israeli jails are now taking part in a mass hunger strike, Israel’s Prison Service said on Wednesday, with two of them marking their 64th day without food.

Prison spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said another 100 prisoners had begun refusing food over the past two days, swelling the number of those on hunger strike to more than a third of the total Palestinian prison population of 4,700.

Two of them, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla, have been on hunger strike for 64 days, with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel warning that both were in danger of dying.

The vast majority of prisoners began refusing food on April 17 in a demand for improved conditions, including increased access to lawyers and family visits, an end to solitary confinement and an end to administrative detention.


Border control union sets strike date

LONDON — Britain’s border control union Wednesday set a strike date for May 10 as part of its dispute with the government over retirement ages.

The strike by the union, which represents 4,500 border control officers who check passports and bags at customs, comes at a time of great tension at British checkpoints.

Long lines at London’s Heathrow Airport - with some visitors reporting waits of more than two hours to have their passports checked - have become the subject of national concern with the country preparing to host the Olympics from July 27 to Aug. 12.

Lucy Moreton, the deputy general secretary of the Immigration Service Union, said that workers at major airports and seaports will be affected by the 24-hour strike. Border controls in Paris and Brussels connected to the Eurostar train service will also be affected.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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