TIMBUKTU, Mali (AP) -- Residents of Timbuktu have been cheering French President Francois Hollande (frahn-SWAH' oh-LAWND') as their liberator today.
Hollande is visiting the fabled desert city in northern Mali six days after French forces parachuted in to free it from the radical Islamists who seized control 10 months ago. The French president vowed that his country's forces along with Mali's own army and other African troops will push on to liberate the rest of northern Mali.
Thousands of people stood elbow-to-elbow behind a perimeter line in downtown Timbuktu, hoisting homemade French flags they had prepared for Hollande's arrival. Women wore vibrantly-colored African prints, and bared their midriffs, their arms and their backs, after nearly a year of being forced to wear a colorless, all-enveloping veil. They danced as men played the drums -- a loud, raucous celebration that had been forbidden under the Islamists.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Police in Turkey are reportedly questioning 11 people in connection with the death of a New York City woman who went missing while vacationing alone in Istanbul.
Turkey's state-run news agency says the body of Sarai Sierra was discovered Saturday evening near the remnants of ancient city walls.
The agency says she was found with a head wound and a blanket near her body. She was wearing jeans, a jumper and a jacket, and still had her earrings and a bracelet.
Sierra, whose children are 9 and 11, had left for Istanbul on Jan. 7 to explore her photography hobby and made a side trip to Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Munich, Germany. She had originally planned to travel with a friend, but ended up traveling alone when her friend canceled.
She was in regular contact with friends and relatives, and was last in touch with her family on Jan. 21, the day she was due back in New York. She told them she would visit Galata Bridge, which spans Istanbul's Golden Horn waterway, to take photos.
The body was found not far from the bridge.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- A leftist militant group in Turkey has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.
The outlawed Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C, did so Saturday in a statement posted on a website linked to the group.
It said the suicide bomber, Ecevit Sanli, carried out the act of "self-sacrifice" on behalf of the group.
A government terror expert confirmed the authenticity of the Revolution Liberation website that is linked to the DHKP-C. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with rules that bar civil servants from speaking to reporters without prior authorization.
Friday's attack on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara killed the bomber and a Turkish security guard and seriously wounded a Turkish television journalist.
CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's Interior Ministry has offered a rare expression of regret after riot police were caught on camera yesterday beating a protester who had been stripped of his clothes.
The video shows police then dragging the naked man along the muddy pavement before bundling him into a police van.
The incident took place only blocks from the presidential palace where protests raged in the streets Friday. The video has further inflamed popular anger with security forces and several thousand anti-government demonstrators marched on the palace again today.
In its statement, the Interior Ministry promised an investigation of the incident. But it also distanced itself from the abuse, saying it "was carried out by individuals that do not represent in any way the doctrine of all policemen."
Later, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim put the blame elsewhere entirely, saying "rioters" had undressed the man during skirmishes with police.
President Mohammed Morsi's office called the beating "shocking", but stressed that violence and vandalism of government property is unacceptable.
The uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011 was fueled in part by anger over police brutality.
Egypt prime minister says chaos threatens economy
CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's prime minister says the street violence and political unrest that has engulfed the country for more than a week is threatening the nation's already ailing economy.
In a brief statement on TV Saturday, Hisham Kandil also condemned recent attacks by protesters on state property and said no government can effectively govern in the current climate.
His comments come a day after protesters hurled firebombs and flares at the presidential palace in Cairo.
Egypt's foreign currency reserves have been cut by more than half since the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Foreign reserves currently are estimate at around $15 billion.
The Egyptian pound has also lost around four percent of its value due to the recent turmoil.
NKorea issues guidelines on strengthening military
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un convened a high-level Workers' Party meeting where he issued "important" guidelines on how to bolster the army and protect the nation's sovereignty.
North Korea said last month that it would conduct a nuclear test to protest international sanctions toughened over its long-range rocket launch in December.
The official Korean Central News Agency said Sunday that Kim made a "historic" and "important concluding speech" at a meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party. It said the speech served as a guideline for strengthening the military and defending national security and sovereignty. KCNA did not say when the meeting took place.
Analyst Hong Hyun-ik said the move suggests North Korea is preparing to conduct an atomic test soon.
Report: German check bust man is ex-Iran bank head
BERLIN (AP) -- The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reports that a man caught last month trying to enter Germany with a check worth about $70 million was Iran's former central bank chief.
The weekly reports that customs officials at Duesseldorf airport found the check in Tahmasb Mazaheri's luggage Jan. 21 upon his arrival from Turkey.
German customs had issued a statement Friday saying a check for 300 million Venezuelan Bolivars issued by the Bank of Venezuela was found on an unnamed 59-year-old man.
Neither customs officials nor Iran's embassy could be reached for comment late Saturday.
Mazaheri was the governor of the Central Bank of Iran until 2008.
Bild am Sonntag reported in its Sunday edition that German police and customs are investigating possible money laundering.
Extreme-right supporters stage big Athens march
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- More than 5,000 supporters of Greece's extreme-right Golden Dawn party have marched past the U.S. Embassy in Athens, chanting anti-Turkish, anti-U.S. and anti-immigrant slogans to commemorate a 1996 border incident that caused a crisis between Greece and Turkey.
Many of the marchers held burning torches and hundreds of motorcyclists brought up the rear.
Saturday's march ended peacefully.
The 1996 incident involved two uninhabited islets off the Turkish coast whose ownership is disputed by Turkey and Greece.
Nationalists from both countries planted flags on the islets, and a military confrontation between the two nations was only averted after U.S. intervention. Three Greek navy officers died when their helicopter crashed during a reconnaissance mission in the area.
Withdrawal of the Greek flag was seen by nationalists as a shameful capitulation.
Yemini military: Town seized from al-Qaida
SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- The Yemeni military says it has wrested control of a southern town from al-Qaida fighters after three days of clashes that killed 17 people.
Military officials say 12 al-Qaida fighters were killed and five soldiers and members of local tribes fighting alongside the army died in the clashes. Local militiamen had joined the military offensive to push al-Qaida out of the mountainous al-Maraksha in Abyan province.
Tribal sources say the al-Qaida fighters fled the to another town (East Ahwar), about 80 kilometers outside the provincial capital.
All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Last year, Yemen's army, backed by the United States, drove militants out of southern areas that al-Qaida had seized during Yemen's 2011 uprising.
Illegal fireworks blamed for deadly blast in China
BEIJING (AP) -- Chinese authorities say a truck that exploded and caused an elevated stretch of highway to collapse, killing 10 people, was loaded with holiday fireworks that were illegally produced and transported.
State media say local authorities have shut down the factory where the fireworks were produced and detained four company officials after Friday's blast.
It is unclear what set off the fireworks on its shipping route through the central province of Henan.
The Ministry of Public Security said Saturday that Hongsheng Fireworks Manufacturing Co. Ltd., based in neighboring Shaanxi province, illegally produced the explosives, improperly packaged them and contracted with a trucking company unlicensed to handle hazardous commodities.
Fireworks are a major part of the festivities surrounding the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 10 this year.