• AP Exclusive: Saudi crush was deadliest hajj tragedy ever

    Updated: 5 hr ago

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — One survivor of last month's crush and stampede at the hajj in Saudi Arabia recalled seeing so many bodies that he couldn't tell how many there were. The Associated Press sought to answer that question, arriving at a death toll of at least 1,470. That made the Sept. 24 disaster the deadliest accident ever at the annual pilgrimage. And hundreds remain missing. The AP count is 701 higher than Saudi Arabia's official tally of 769 killed and 934 injured in the Sept. 24 disaster in Mina, a few miles from the holy city of Mecca. Saudi officials, who could not be immediately reached for comment Friday, previously have said their tally remains accurate, although an investigation into the cau

  • The Latest: German county declares refugee emergency

    Updated: 6 hr ago

    ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The latest developments as hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety make an epic trek through Europe. All times local. ___ 8:45 p.m. A German county has declared an emergency ahead of the arrival of some 1,000 refugees on Monday. Officials in Main-Taunus county west of Frankfurt say the unusual action aims to make it easier for authorities to cope with the influx, for example by suspending certain building regulations. In a statement Friday, they said it was the first time since 1945 that a disaster has been declared in the country. Germany has seen almost 600,000 migrants arrive since the start of the year, including many refugees from conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghani

  • US weighing Russian response on flight safety guildlines

    Updated: 6 hr ago

    ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) — The Pentagon says Russian leaders have responded to a proposed draft of safety guidelines for military aircraft flying missions in the increasingly crowded skies over Syria. Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook says a second round of talks between the two countries about the plan could take place as soon as this weekend. The U.S. and Russia are trying to hash out flight procedures to ensure that there are no collisions or other incidents as both countries conduct bombing operations in Syria. The negotiations come on the heels of a series of Russian aircraft incidents that raised concerns about the potential for mishaps, as the U.S.-led coalition continues to launch daily airstrikes agains

  • US abandons Pentagon's failed rebel-building effort in Syria

    Updated: 6 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is overhauling its approach to fighting the Islamic State in Syria, abandoning a failed Pentagon effort to build a new ground force of moderate rebels and instead partnering with established rebel groups, officials said Friday. The shift, telegraphed weeks ago by disclosures that the effort had produced only a handful of trained rebels, is meant partly to take better advantage of U.S. airpower, which can play a bigger role now that Turkey is permitting American fighter jets to operate from its soil. But it is not expected to immediately give new momentum to a slow-moving — some would say stalled — American-led campaign against the Islamic State.

  • The Latest: US condemns rash of Palestinian attacks

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    JERUSALEM (AP) — The latest developments in ongoing violence between Palestinians and Israelis (all times local): ___ 11.00 p.m. The Obama administration has condemned the ongoing rash of Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers and appealed for calm on all sides. In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby referred to the Palestinian attacks on Israelis as "acts of terror." His comments came after a day where unrest that erupted several weeks ago at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site spread to the Gaza border in clashes that killed six Palestinians.

  • Israel struggles to contain wave of stabbing attacks

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Unrest that erupted several weeks ago at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site spread Friday to Gaza in the form of deadly border clashes with Palestinian protesters, as Israeli security forces struggled to contain a wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks against civilians and soldiers. For the first time since the current violence began, clashes broke out along the Gaza border after Palestinians in the territory ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas rolled burning tires and threw rocks at Israeli troops on the frontier. Six Palestinians were killed and a dozen were wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. The Israeli military said "More than a thousand rioters infiltrated the buffer zone

  • The Latest: Obama praises Nobel Peace Prize choice

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    OSLO, Norway (AP) — The latest developments in the awarding of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. All times local. ___ 9:15 p.m. President Barack Obama says the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to a coalition of Tunisian groups is a tribute to the perseverance and courage of all Tunisians. Obama says in the five years since a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself ablaze to protest an authoritarian government, Tunisians have made "remarkable strides" toward building an inclusive democracy. He credits the coalition — the National Dialogue Quartet — with playing an "indispensable role" in that arduous process. Obama says the group is a reminder that lasting peace and security can only be achieved when people are empo

  • Nobel Peace Prize boosts struggling Tunisian democracy

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — It was the fall of 2013 and Tunisia's newfound democracy was in grave danger. The assassination of a left-wing politician had prompted the opposition to walk out of the constitutional assembly. The government was paralyzed, the constitution unfinished and the country on the brink of war. In nearby Egypt, which had followed Tunisia in a democratic revolution, a coup had just overthrown the Islamist government, and some sectors in Tunisia wanted to follow suit. Then four civil society groups — the main labor union, the bar association, the employers' association and the human rights league — stepped into the fray.

  • Turkish journalist detained for tweets critical of president

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Police in Turkey have detained the chief editor of an opposition English-language newspaper for posting tweets critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Bulent Kenes, editor-in-chief of Today's Zaman, was taken away from the newspaper's headquarters in Istanbul on Friday as supporters chanted: "Free media cannot be silenced!" The detention was televised live. A court issued a warrant for his arrest for tweets that a Turkish prosecutor says insult Erdogan. Kenes, who received a suspended sentence earlier this year for insulting the president, denies the accusation, insisting he is exercising his right to free speech. Dozens of people have been prosecuted under a previously seldom-used law that b

  • IS advances near Syria's Aleppo despite Russian strikes

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants captured a string of villages near Aleppo on Friday in a lightning attack that brought them closer to the prized city in northern Syria, despite a major increase in Russian airstrikes that Moscow insists are targeting the extremists. The surprise advance that brought the IS group to within a few miles of Aleppo was the most significant in months, following what has largely been a summer of stalemate in the war against the extremists. It comes amid a wave of intense Russian airstrikes that have targeted insurgents fighting to topple President Bashar Assad, and a ground offensive by the Syrian army in the country's central region. Moscow says it is targeting mainly Islamic State mil

  • Pope turns bishops' attention to family crises in Mideast

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis directed the attention of the world's bishops to real-world crises Friday by denouncing the escalation of conflicts in Syria and Iraq and urging greater diplomacy to end the "humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions." Francis issued the appeal at Friday's meeting of some 270 bishops, Mideast prelates and patriarchs among them, who are in Rome for three weeks to hash out better ways to provide pastoral care to Catholic families. "War brings destruction and multiplies the suffering of people," Francis said. "Hope and progress only come from choices of peace." The bishops' meeting is discussing how to better minister to families facing issues big and small: those torn by divorce, raisi

  • Yemeni pro-government forces retake key seaside town

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Pro-government forces drove Shiite rebels from a strategic seaside town on Friday after three days of heavy clashes that killed nearly 100 fighters, Yemeni security officials said. Pro-government fighters have seized the town of Dhubab, cutting off rebel supply lines to Yemen's third largest city, Taiz, said the officials, who remain neutral in the conflict that has splintered Yemen's armed forces. Yemen's fighting pits the Houthi rebels, who are allied with army units loyal to a former president, against the internationally recognized government backed by a Saudi-led coalition. The U.N. says at least 2,355 civilians have been killed in Yemen since March, when the Saudi-led coalition began launchin

  • Egypt to restore King Tut mask after botched epoxy job

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    CAIRO (AP) — The restoration of King Tutankhamun's world-famous golden mask will begin Saturday, over a year after the beard was accidentally broken off and hastily glued back with epoxy, Egypt's state-run news agency said Friday. A German-Egyptian team will remove the mask from its display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and repair it in another area of the museum, MENA reported. The 3,300-year-old burial pharaonic mask was discovered in Tutankhamun's tomb along with other artifacts by British archeologists in 1922, sparking worldwide interest in archaeology and ancient Egypt. The beard became detached during work on the relic's lighting in August 2014 and then was hastily reattached with epoxy.

  • Saudi Arabia summons Czech ambassador over 'Satanic Verses'

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia has summoned the Czech ambassador over a coming translation of Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses." A Saudi Foreign Ministry official said the ambassador was asked Friday to censor the coming Czech translation because the book "distorts the true religion of Islam." The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to speak to journalists. Many Muslims consider "The Satanic Verses" blasphemous. Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling for Rushdie's death in 1989, and the book is widely banned across the Muslim world. Iran has offered a $3 million reward for anyone who kills Rushdie.

  • Defense secretary confirms Russian missiles crashed in Iran

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    LONDON (AP) — The U.S. has indications that four Russian cruise missiles crashed in Iran rather than Syria, suggesting there were malfunctions, Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed Friday. Carter spoke at a press conference in London with British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon. It was the first public comment by a U.S. official on the cruise missile failures. The British are part of the coalition striking Islamic State fighters in Iraq, but not doing strikes in Syria. Russia fired a total of 26 of the long-range missiles at Syrian targets. The officials said it's unclear whether the errant missiles, launched from Russian ships in the Caspian Sea, caused any significant damage in Iran.

  • The Latest: Slain Iran general was key figure in Syria war

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The latest developments as Syrian troops and other nations battle militants in Syria. (All times local in Syria). ___ 04:00 p.m. Iranian officials say a senior commander in the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard who was killed in Syria was a key figure in the fight against terrorism. Lawmaker Ismail Kowsari, a member of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told the semi-official Fars news agency that Gen. Hossein Hamedani played a significant role in coordination between the Syrian army and Iranian-backed volunteer forces. He said the commander was on a "temporary" advisory mission to Syria.

  • Airlines begin applying tax hike on flights departing Egypt

    Updated: 18 hr ago

    CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's aviation minister says airlines have begun applying a tax increase on all flights out of the country. The tax increase, which went into effect on Friday, is part of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's plan to shore up public finances after years of unrest following the 2011 uprising. Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal says in a statement that the tax on business class tickets increased by a third to reach 400 Egyptian pounds ($51), while the tax on coach tickets increased by half to reach 150 Egyptian pounds ($19). In an opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal last week, el-Sissi said he intends to introduce a value-added tax regime to boost revenues.

  • Libyan authorities detain 300 African migrants

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — A Libyan official with the Islamist-backed government controlling the capital, Tripoli, says they have detained 300 African migrants captured while boarding boats headed to Europe. Military spokesman Mohamed al-Shamy said Friday that the migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, were captured Tuesday on a beach east of Tripoli. "This is the largest group we have ever caught at once," he said. Thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe cast off from Libya on rickety boats, hoping to reach Italy. The International Organization for Migration says that more than 2,600 migrants have died in 2015 so far on the Central Mediterranean route that includes Libya.

  • Turkey snubs possible PKK ceasefire announcement

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A senior Turkish official has renewed a call on Kurdish rebels to lay down their arms and leave the Turkish territory. Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan's comments Friday came amid reports that the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, was preparing to announce a unilateral cease-fire that would last until Turkey's Nov. 1 elections. Yalcin dismissed the possible announcement as a tactical maneuver and said Turkey would maintain its battle against the PKK until it gets "results." Violence between the PKK and the Turkish security forces reignited this summer, shattering a fragile peace process. Close to 150 police and soldiers and hundreds of PKK rebels have been killed in the fighting since July.

  • New face of Asian cinema shows Indian film outside Bollywood

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    BUSAN, South Korea (AP) — A film from outside Bollywood reflecting generational gaps in India and an image-driven Iranian movie about a grieving old man were among the works showing new trends of Asian cinema at this year's Busan International Film Festival. The New Currents section at one of the most influential film fairs in the world has introduced first- or second-time feature movie directors who could become the next global name. It is Busan's only competition section and in the past has premiered early works by award-winning Chinese director Jia Zhangke.