Printed on: December 24, 2012

WORLD NEWS BRIEFLY


Taliban not insisting on power monopoly

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Taliban representatives at a conference did not insist on total power in Afghanistan and pledged to grant rights to women that the militant Islamist group itself brutally suppressed in the past, according to a Taliban statement received Sunday.

The pledges emerged from a rare meeting last week involving Taliban and Kabul government representatives.

The less strident substance and tone came in a speech delivered at a conference in France. It said a new constitution would protect civil and political rights of all citizens. It promised women would be allowed to choose husbands, own property, attend school and seek work. The speech was emailed from Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

Syria jets kill scores as int'l envoy visits

BEIRUT (AP) -- A government airstrike on a bakery in a rebel-held town in central Syria killed more than 60 people Sunday, activists said, casting a pall over a visit by the international envoy charged with negotiating an end to the country's civil war.

The strike on the town of Halfaya left scattered bodies and debris up and down a street, and more than a dozen dead and wounded were trapped in tangled heaps of rubble.

The attack appeared to be the government response to a newly announced rebel offensive seeking to drive the Syrian army from a constellation of towns and villages north of the central city of Hama. Halfaya was the first of the area's towns to be "liberated" by rebel fighters, and activists saw Sunday's attack as payback.

South Koreans light giant Christmas tree

GIMPO, South Korea (AP) -- South Koreans have lit a Christmas tree-shaped tower near the tense border with North Korea for the first time in two years following North Korea's rocket launch.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said Sunday that it allowed Christian groups to light the massive steel tower Saturday. Pyongyang views the tower as propaganda warfare.

Rape protesters clash with police

NEW DELHI (AP) -- Police in India's capital used tear gas and water cannons for a second day Sunday in a high-security zone to break up protests by thousands demonstrating against the gang rape and beating of a 23-year-old student on a bus.

Police chased angry protesters with batons, some of whom fought pitched battles with steel rods and rocks as they tried to get past steel barricades and a wall created by hundreds of policemen to reach the president's mansion to present their demands. "We want justice," they shouted.

Mali Islamists destroy mausoleums

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) -- A tourism official says Islamist extremists destroyed four mausoleums in Timbuktu on Sunday.

The director of Mali's Timbuktu tourism office, Sane Chirfi, said Ansar Dine rebels linked to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb tore down the mausoleums, which were historic but not included on the United Nations list of World Heritage sites.

Since taking control of Timbuktu earlier this year, the Islamists have destroyed seven of the 16 mausoleums listed as world heritage sites.