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  • Detained Berlusconi ally taken ill in Lebanon

    Updated: Wed, Apr 16, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — A Lebanese security official says a longtime ally of former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi detained in Lebanon has been moved to a Beirut hospital after falling ill. The official said Marcello Dell'Utri is in stable condition. A former executive in Berlusconi's media empire, Dell'Utri faces a final appeal of his conviction of Mafia association in Italy. He was declared a fugitive in Italy and detained in Lebanon. Italy said Saturday it was preparing to seek his extradition. Dell'Utri denies any ties to the Sicilian Mafia, and any link between the crime syndicate and Berlusconi. The Lebanese official said he was taken from a central prison to a Beirut hospital for treatment.

  • Watchdog: Rise in targeted media killings in Syria

    Updated: Wed, Apr 16, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — A spike in targeted murders of journalists in Syria landed the war-shattered country for the first time on the Committee to Protect Journalists' annual Impunity Index, joining a list of countries where journalists' killings are most likely to go unpunished, the international watchdog said Wednesday. CPJ said the murders add a new threat to the mix in Syria, already deemed the most dangerous place in the world for journalists to do their jobs with unprecedented numbers of abductions and high rates of fatalities in combat and crossfire. Iraq, another Middle Eastern country racked by unrest and sectarian violence, remains along with Somalia and the Philippines the worst places on the 2014 Index.

  • Israel police disperse riot at Jerusalem holy site

    Updated: Wed, Apr 16, 2014

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police stormed a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem on Wednesday, firing tear gas to disperse a protest by Palestinian Muslim worshippers, officials said. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the crowd hurled stones and firecrackers from atop the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Rosenfeld said police then entered the site and dispersed the group with tear gas and other non-lethal means. The compound is known to Muslims as the "Noble Sanctuary" and is Islam's third-holiest site. Israel captured the area along with the rest of east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war. Clashes often erupt at the site.

  • Jordanian jets strike vehicles on Syrian border

    Updated: Wed, Apr 16, 2014

    AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordanian military warplanes struck a convoy of vehicles as they were trying to enter Jordan from Syria, the army said in a statement Wednesday, in an unusual move at a time of tensions between the desert kingdom and Damascus. A Syrian military official said the vehicles did not belong to the Syrian army. The Jordanian military statement said the attack happened at 10:30 a.m. (0730 GMT) after "camouflaged" vehicles driving in a rugged area near the border ignored demands to stop from security forces. The statement said Jordanian aircraft fired warning shots at the vehicles, but they did not stop. The warplanes then destroyed the vehicles. The statement did not say how many vehicles were in the con

  • Session to elect Lebanon president on April 23

    Updated: Wed, Apr 16, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon's parliament speaker on Wednesday called for a meeting to elect a new president on April 23, kicking off what is expected to be a lengthy and fiercely contested vote for the country's top Christian post amid regional unrest. The meeting next Wednesday is expected to be the first in several attempts to elect a president before President Michel Suleiman's six-year term expires on May 25. A new Lebanese president faces massive security and economic challenges, most of them related to the spillover from the civil war raging in neighboring Syria. But the country's leaders are deeply split along sectarian and ideological lines.

  • Egypt clamps hold over mosques to control message

    Updated: Wed, Apr 16, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — In his weekly sermon, Muslim cleric Ali Abdel-Moati preached to his congregation in a southern Egyptian city about the evils of making hasty judgments. That prompted a complaint to authorities from a judge, who accused him of criticizing a recent mass death sentence issued against supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Days later, Abdel-Moati was suspended from the mosque in Assiut, replaced by a new preacher, and put under investigation by the Religious Endowments Ministry. Egyptian authorities are tightening control on mosques around the country, purging preachers and seeking to control the message, as the military-backed government cracks down on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood following his oust

  • Hamas praises deadly West Bank shooting

    Updated: Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    JERUSALEM (AP) — The prime minister of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday praised a shooting that killed an Israeli and wounded his wife and son as they drove through the West Bank the previous evening en route to a Seder, the traditional Passover meal that starts the weeklong Jewish holiday. Speaking in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said the attack outside the city of Hebron "brought back life to the path of resistance" against Israel and warned of more attacks in the territory. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest incident to threaten peace talks with the Palestinians. Hamas and Israel are bitter enemies.

  • Syrian forces try seize rebel-held areas of Homs

    Updated: Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian forces tried to seize rebel-held areas of Homs on Tuesday, with fighters weakened by defections and cut supply lines, in some of the fiercest fighting in the central city for months, activists said. Homs is the last chief stronghold for rebels in central Syria, and the fight to take it underscores how emboldened Syrian forces have methodically taken back opposition-held areas, bolstered by fighters from the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad used heavy machine gun fire, tank fire and aircraft shelling to pound rebels holed up in the old city of Homs, said an activist who uses the name Abu Bilal. The assault began five days ago, but Tuesday was the hea

  • Saudi king replaces intelligence chief Bandar

    Updated: Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's king has appointed a new intelligence chief, Youssef al-Idrisi, replacing Bandar bin Sultan in the key post, which oversees the kingdom's support for Syrian rebels. The Saudi Press Agency carried the royal decree Tuesday saying Bandar had requested to be relieved of the post. Al-Idrisi was Bandar's deputy. The news comes after security officials told The Associated Press that 65-year-old Bandar was returning to the kingdom after around two months abroad for surgery on his shoulder. Bandar's responsibilities as head of intelligence included executing Saudi policy in the Levant, including policies toward Syrian rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad. Bandar was amb

  • Bombing wounds 3 in central Cairo

    Updated: Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — A homemade bomb exploded near a traffic police post on a bridge over the Nile River in central Cairo early Tuesday, wounding two policemen and a civilian, security officials said. Police sealed off the blast site on the al-Galaa bridge in the Dokki neighborhood, and a bomb disposal team combed the area to make sure there were no other explosive devices, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. Egypt's MENA state news agency said two policemen were wounded in the explosion, but made no mention of a civilian casualty. Such discrepancies are common in the aftermath of similar attacks. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

  • Iran envoy visits Emirates in sign of warming ties

    Updated: Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — State media in the United Arab Emirates says Dubai's ruler has welcomed the Iranian foreign minister at his palace, a sign of warming ties between the two countries. News agency WAM says Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed bilateral relations and regional developments Tuesday. Sheik Mohammed is also prime minister and vice president of the UAE, an important U.S. ally. Iran's official IRNA news agency says Zarif also met the Gulf federation's foreign minister, Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi. It is their third meeting since Zarif took office last year.

  • Zeina Karam appointed AP's Beirut bureau chief

    Updated: Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — Zeina Karam, who has reported on political upheaval, war and transformation in the Middle East for almost two decades, has been named as Beirut bureau chief for The Associated Press, leading coverage of Lebanon as well as the devastating conflict in Syria. The appointment was announced on Tuesday by Ian Phillips, AP's Middle East news director, and Dan Perry, who heads AP's text coverage of the region. Karam, 41, replaces Elizabeth Kennedy, who is now South Asia news director, based in New Delhi. "Zeina was one of the first reporters to get into Syria after Arab Spring protests in 2011 — and her knowledge of the country will continue to enrich AP's report," said Phillips.

  • Libya: Gunmen abduct Jordanian ambassador

    Updated: Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Masked gunmen abducted the Jordanian ambassador in the Libyan capital early Tuesday, officials said, the latest in a wave of abductions in the North African nation still plagued by lawlessness more than two years after the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Assailants traveling in two cars opened fire on Ambassador Fawaz al-Etan's vehicle in Tripoli, wounding the driver and forcing the diplomat out at gunpoint, said Libyan Foreign Ministry spokesman Said al-Aswad. A spokeswoman for Jordan's Foreign Ministry, Sabah al-Rafie, confirmed the kidnapping but had no further details. She said the Jordanian government was following the matter closely with Libyan authorities.

  • Iraq closes notorious prison over security issues

    Updated: Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's justice minister says authorities have closed down a notorious prison west of Baghdad over security concerns. Hassan al-Shimmari said Tuesday that 2,400 inmates have been transferred from Abu Ghraib to other prisons in safer areas of the country. He says it was a precautionary measure because the Abu Ghraib facility is located in "a restive area." The prison is at the edge of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province, which has been engulfed in clashes between an al-Qaida-splinter group and government forces. Last July, militants attacked Abu Ghraib and another prison, setting free hundreds of inmates, including many militants. Dozens of other inmates and security personnel were killed in the attack.

  • Yemen: Al-Qaida militants kill deputy governor

    Updated: Tue, Apr 15, 2014

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A Yemeni security official says suspected al-Qaida militants have assassinated the deputy governor of a southern province. The official says attackers opened fire at Hussein Dayan as he was leaving his home on Tuesday, heading to work in the province of al-Bayda, a militant stronghold. The official says Dayan was killed instantly and the militants fled. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Yemen's branch of al-Qaida, also known as Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is considered to be the most dangerous in the world. It overran much of the south in 2011. Yemen's army, supported by U.S. military experts, pushed them back, but clashes continue.

  • Egypt: El-Sissi in final step to run for president

    Updated: Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's former military chief on Monday took the final formal step to run in next month's presidential election, submitting to the election commission eight times the number of signatures required, his campaign said in a statement. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a retired field marshal, did not deliver the 200,000 signatures in person. His campaign said a legal adviser, Mohammed Bahaa Abou Shaqah, delivered them. Photos released by the campaign and footage aired on local TV networks showed security guards delivering white boxes with an image of the retired soldier plastered on the side along with the name of the province from which it said the signatures were obtained.

  • Syrian troops choke off rebels north of Damascus

    Updated: Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    MAALOULA, Syria (AP) — Syrian troops triumphantly swept through some of the last remaining opposition strongholds north of Damascus, including a much coveted ancient Christian hamlet, sending rebel fighters fleeing to nearby hills amid an ever tightening noose. The near total collapse of rebels along a key supply route that has long funneled weapons to opposition-held districts around Damascus helps strengthen President Bashar Assad's hand in and around the capital ahead of presidential elections during which he intends to run for a third term.

  • Israeli families gather for ritual Passover meal

    Updated: Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Families across Israel gathered after sundown Monday for ritual meals signaling the start of Passover, with holiday observances overshadowed by a fatal shooting in the West Bank. The weeklong holiday commemorates the liberation of the ancient Israelites from centuries of slavery in Egypt, as described in the Old Testament. In Judaism, it is dubbed the festival of freedom. This year, Passover comes amid uncertainty over the future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with the sides facing an end-of-April deadline to reach a preliminary deal or agree to an extension of negotiations. Ahead of the holiday, Israel sealed off the West Bank, barring Palestinians from entering Israel, an annual Passover pr

  • Israeli man killed, 2 hurt in West Bank shooting

    Updated: Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    JERUSALEM (AP) — An assailant opened fire on Israeli motorists in the West Bank on Monday, killing a man and wounding a woman and a boy in two separate cars, police said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The attack could further complicate U.S. attempts to salvage troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The shooting took place just before the start of the weeklong Jewish holiday of Passover, marked by families gathering after sundown for a ritual meal, or seder. Police said the shooting took place near a crossing between Israel and the southern West Bank. Israeli TV stations said a gunman stood by the side of the road and opened fire as cars with Israeli license plates approached.

  • Hezbollah-owned TV channel says 3 of its journalists killed in attack in Christian Syria town

    Updated: Mon, Apr 14, 2014

    BEIRUT (AP) — Hezbollah-owned TV channel says 3 of its journalists killed in attack in Christian Syria town.