Printed on: October 31, 2013

World news briefly


Congo army takes rebel stronghold

BUNAGANA, Congo (AP) -- The Congolese army retook one of the last remaining strongholds of the M23 rebels Wednesday, with fighters running for the hills as the military sought to extinguish the 18-month-old insurrection, officials said.

As the army retook the town of Bunagana, leaving the M23 with a small sliver of territory, the civilian leader of the rebel movement fled Congo, crossing the border into Uganda and prompting calls for his extradition.

Israel plans new settlement homes

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel announced plans Wednesday to build more than 1,500 homes in Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, dealing a setback to newly relaunched peace efforts hours after it had freed a group of long-serving Palestinian prisoners.

The construction plans drew angry condemnations from Palestinian officials, who accused Israel of undermining the U.S.-led talks by expanding settlements on the lands where they hope to establish an independent state.

Pakistan: 3 pct. of drone tolls civilian

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- The Pakistani government said Wednesday that 3 percent of 2,227 people killed in U.S. drone strikes since 2008 were civilians, a surprisingly low figure that sparked criticism from groups that have investigated death tolls from the attacks.

The number, which was provided by the Ministry of Defense to the Senate, is much lower than past government calculations and estimates by independent organizations that have gone as high as 300. The ministry said 317 drone strikes have killed 2,160 Islamic militants and 67 civilians since 2008.

Spy backlash may cost U.S. billions

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The backlash in Europe over U.S. spying is threatening an agreement that generates tens of billions of dollars in trans-Atlantic business every year -- and negotiations on another pact worth many times more.

A growing number of European officials are calling for the suspension of the "Safe Harbor" agreement that lets U.S. companies process commercial and personal data -- sales, emails, photos -- from customers in Europe. This little-known but vital deal allows more than 4,200 American companies to do business in Europe, including Internet giants like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Revelations of the extent of U.S. spying on its European allies is also threatening to undermine one of President Barack Obama's top trans-Atlantic goals: a sweeping free-trade agreement that would add an estimated $138 billion a year to each economy's gross domestic product.

Assad says support for rebels must end

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad told the Arab League-U.N. envoy Wednesday that foreign support for the armed

opposition must end if any political solution to the country's conflict is to succeed, state-run media said.

Assad's comments to Lakhdar Brahimi during their meeting in Damascus cast further doubt on already sputtering efforts to convene an international peace conference to try to end the country's civil war.

Suicide bomber hits Tunisia resort

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- A suicide bomber and a teenager carrying a backpack loaded with explosives attacked two sites popular with tourists Wednesday, raising fears that Tunisia's Islamist extremists may be adopting more violent tactics.

No one was killed besides the suicide bomber, but with the Interior Ministry saying both men belonged to the same extremist group, the attacks could signal the adoption of more deadly tactics by Tunisia's Islamic extremists.