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  • Egypt stops attempt to smuggle Jewish artifacts

    Updated: Fri, Apr 18, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — Authorities in Egypt say they have seized a cache of Jewish religious artifacts that smugglers wanted to ship to Belgium at one of the country's main ports. Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said in a statement Friday that officials found the artifacts while searching cargo Thursday at the coastal city of Damietta. Among the artifacts are a cylindrical wooden box plated in silver, which would have held Torah scrolls. Officials also found a silver knife dating to roughly 1890 with inscriptions, and bells commonly hung in synagogues. A committee will study and date the cache, which the statement says "embodies a period of religious tolerance in Egypt's history." Egypt has experienced a security va

  • Syrian state TV: 14 people killed in car bomb near mosque in pro-government district of Homs

    Updated: Fri, Apr 18, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian state TV: 14 people killed in car bomb near mosque in pro-government district of Homs.

  • Iran: Rouhani talks peace, outreach at army parade

    Updated: Fri, Apr 18, 2014

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's president underscored his moderate policies and outreach to the West in a speech Friday during a military parade on the country's National Army Day. Referring to the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the world powers over Tehran's controversial nuclear program, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran has shown it has no hostile intentions toward anyone in the world, including the United States, which has long been considered an enemy. "During the talks, we announced to the world and we say so again ... we are not after war, we are after logic, we are after talks," Rouhani said. He touted Iran's diplomatic outreach and said the backing of the military and the nation was crucial.

  • Vandals damage mosque in northern Israel

    Updated: Fri, Apr 18, 2014

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Police say vandals have damaged a mosque in northern Israel in an attack blamed on a fringe group of Jewish extremists. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says the door of a mosque in the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm was damaged overnight and the house of worship was sprayed with anti-Arab graffiti. He said on Friday that the attack appeared to be the latest "price tag" incident. The phrase is used by a small group of Jewish extremists to protest what they perceive as the Israeli government's pro-Palestinian policies. He said police were investigating. Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by the vandals in recent years. The acts have been condemned by I

  • Christians mark Good Friday in the Holy Land

    Updated: Fri, Apr 18, 2014

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Christians in the Holy Land are commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Good Friday prayers and processions through Jerusalem's Old City. Thousands of Christian pilgrims filled the cobblestone alleyways of the Old City on Friday along the Via Dolorosa, Latin for the "Way of Suffering." They are carrying wooden crosses and following the 14 stations ending at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Tradition says the church was built on the site where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. The Easter holiday and Jewish Passover coincide this year. According to the Gospels, Jesus ate his last supper — a Passover meal — hours before he was betrayed.

  • UN envoy urges Syria's warring sides to save Homs

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — The United Nations envoy to Syria on Thursday said the besieged central city of Homs has become a "theater of death and destruction," and he urged both sides in the country's civil war to return to negotiations. In a statement, Lakhdar Brahimi called on Syrian government officials and opposition leaders to resume talks that broke off in February. The central city has seen some of the worst fighting in the 3-year-old conflict. An agreement on a weeklong cease-fire that allowed more than 1,000 civilians to leave Homs' rebel-held areas was hailed as the only achievement of the recent Geneva peace talks that Brahimi mediated.

  • Opposition cries fraud in Algerian election

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — The main opposition candidate in Algeria's presidential elections cried foul late Thursday night hours after voting ended, alleging massive fraud and vowing to reject any results announced. Ali Benflis told supporters at his headquarters that preliminary information indicated fraud on a grand scale with grave irregularities across the country. "Our history will remember this date as a great crime against the nation by stealing the voice of the citizens and blocking popular will," he said, while fireworks from celebrating supporters of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, his opponent, could be heard in the background.

  • Gulf Arab states strike new deal to heal rifts

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The Western-allied Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council said Thursday the bloc has agreed on the mechanisms to implement a security pact, marking a possible first step toward bridging deep rifts among its six energy-rich states. Qatar's official news agency confirmed that Doha's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah took part in the GCC Foreign Ministers meeting held in Saudi Arabia's capital of Riyadh. The GCC statement was released just before midnight after the meeting concluded.

  • Iranian woman forgives son's killer at the gallows

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    The execution of an Iranian convicted of murder was halted at the very last minute in a dramatic scene this week when the mother of his victim forgave him as he stood on the gallows with the noose around his neck. That's according to Iranian media and dramatic images published of the incident. The ISNA news agency reported the convict, identified as Bilal, had been sentenced to death for killing a teenager, Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, during a street fight in the market of the northern Iranian town of Nour seven years ago. Bilal was brought blindfolded to the site of his planned execution Tuesday. But at the last minute, Hosseinzadeh's mother, Samereh Alinejad, forgave him, after giving a speech to the crowd and then slappin

  • Curious about Palestine, Israeli visitors return

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — This bustling center of Palestinian life is just a 20-minute drive from Jerusalem, but for Israelis it might as well be on the other side of the world. Since a major round of Israeli-Palestinian fighting more than a decade ago, Israelis have been kept out of Palestinian cities by the Israeli military and their own fears. But after several years of relative calm, a few have begun trickling back in tours led by Palestinian guides and guarded by plainclothes Palestinian security agents. On Wednesday, about two dozen visitors, Israelis and a few foreigners, visited the mausoleum of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and a shrine to national poet Mahmoud Darwish — though hopes of talking to local resid

  • Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A recent spate of infections from a frequently deadly Middle East virus is raising new worries about efforts to contain the illness, with infectious disease experts urging greater vigilance in combatting its spread. More than 20 people, many of them health-care workers, have been reported infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in two distinct clusters — one in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — likely involving human-to-human transmission since early last week. The disease, originally identified in 2012 in the Middle East, has also for the first time spread to the Far East, which grappled with an outbreak of the related SARS virus last decade.

  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Militants launched a brazen attack on a military base in a restive area in northern Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 10 soldiers and wounding 12, officials said. The morning attack at the base outside the city of Mosul, about 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, started with a suicide bomber who detonated his truck packed with explosives at the gates of the facility, an army officer and a police officer said. A group of gunmen then opened fire from apparently commandeered military Humvees and a shootout ensued. At least 10 troops were killed and 12 were wounded, the officials said. Eight militants were also killed in the fighting. A medical official confirmed the casualty figures.

  • WWE wrestlers in Saudi Arabia for live matches

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Pro wrestlers with the WWE, including John Cena and former champion Randy Orton, are in Saudi Arabia for three days of matches in the capital, Riyadh. World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. says it is the first time its franchise has held matches in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom, home to Islam's holiest sites. WWE is wildly popular across the Middle East. WWE has an Arabic website and debuted live in the region in Egypt in 2012. Matches also have been held in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates since. Ticketmaster says on its website the matches in Saudi Arabia are "for males only." The state-run Saudi Press Agency says 35 U.S. wrestlers in total from WWE are in the kingdom for the

  • Mubadala posts strong profits for Abu Dhabi

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Abu Dhabi's Mubadala state investment company says profits last year tripled to roughly $395 million on the back of a strong performance from international investments. The company said Thursday in its 2013 financial earnings report that profits jumped more than three-fold from 470 million dirham ($128 million) in 2012 to 1.45 billion dirham. Revenues also rose from 30.8 billion dirham ($8.38 billion) in 2012 to 31.1 billion dirham ($8.47 billion) last year. Mubadala's mandate is to diversify Abu Dhabi's oil-rich economy. It has stakes in General Electric, Carlyle Group and semiconductor manufacturer Global Foundries. It also has aerospace partnerships with defense giant Lockheed Mar

  • Israel arrests Arab journalist over Lebanon visit

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's Shin Bet intelligence service says it has detained a young Israeli Arab journalist for traveling to Lebanon, which Israel considers an enemy country. Majd Kayyal, a 23-year-old journalist for the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, traveled to Beirut last month for a conference. Although Lebanon bars Israeli citizens from entering, the Shin Bet says Palestinian officials in the West Bank gave Kayyal Palestinian travel documents. Kayyal was arrested last Saturday at the Israeli border on suspicion of being recruited by a militant organization. The Shin Bet says it dropped that suspicion, and is considering indicting him for traveling to Lebanon. Kayyal has been held since his arrest without acc

  • Key things to know as Algeria votes for president

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerians went to the polls Thursday to elect the president of their oil-rich country, a key U.S. ally in the fight against terror and a major natural gas provider to Europe. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected to win, despite suffering a stroke that left him unable to campaign for a fourth term in office. Here are key things to know about Algeria. _____ ENERGY WEALTH: Algeria has large hydrocarbon resources which it has used to keep the country quiet amid pro-democracy uprisings across the region during 2011.

  • Iraqi officials: Gunmen attack military base in the country's north, kill at least 10 soldiers

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi officials: Gunmen attack military base in the country's north, kill at least 10 soldiers.

  • Jordanian fighter jet crashes; pilot killed

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A Jordanian military official says one of its fighter jets has crashed during a training flight, killing the pilot. The official says the crash took place on Thursday morning near the town of Safawi, in the northeastern desert region of Jordan toward the Iraqi border. He says the crash was due to a technical failure on the F-5 fighter jet. At the time, several fighter jets were taking part in the training flight. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations.

  • Moderate earthquake jolts southern Iran

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state TV says a magnitude 5.3 earthquake has jolted a sparsely populated district in the south of the country. The quake was moderate and no injuries were reported. The TV says the quake struck in Shonbeh on Thursday morning, at 04:01 a.m. local time (Wednesday 23:31 GMT). Last April, a magnitude 6.1 quake killed dozens and injured hundreds in the same district but authorities said it did not damage the nearby nuclear reactor in Bushehr, about 96 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Shonbeh. Iran sits on a series of seismic fault lines and experiences one slight earthquake quake a day on average. In 2003, some 26,000 people were killed by a magnitude 6.6 quake that flattened the historic

  • Iraq: Abu Ghraib prison closure not permanent

    Updated: Wed, Apr 16, 2014

    BAGHDAD (AP) — An Iraqi Justice Ministry official said Wednesday that this week's closure of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad is temporary and that it will be reopened once the security situation in the surrounding area is stable. The closure is the latest chapter in the history of the prison, which during Saddam Hussein's rule was one of the main facilities for jailing and executing his opponents. After the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam, Abu Ghraib became notorious once again, for a 2004 scandal over abuses of detainees by American guards.