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International News Aug 19

By: AP
By: AP
Panetta prods Karzai on Afghan insider killings... Bomb hidden in cemetery kills 2 in Afghanistan... Syria

A wounded Afghan man sits in a car at the scene of an explosion in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. More than a dozen people, including four women and a policeman, were injured when explosives set up on a bicycle exploded at a market in the city of Herat while people were shopping for an upcoming Muslim holiday, said Noor Khan Nekzad, a spokesman for the provincial police. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

US-AFGHANISTAN
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have discussed the rising number of "insider" attacks in which Afghan security forces have turned their guns on American and other coalition troops.
Spokesman George Little said Panetta and Karzai talked by phone on Saturday.
Panetta encouraged Karzai to work with U.S. commanders to ensure more rigorous vetting of Afghan recruits.
The call was a sign of growing concern in Washington about the insider threat, particularly because American and allied troops are now working more closely with the Afghan army and police in preparation for the transition to complete Afghan security control by 2014.
In the latest incident, an Afghan police officer on Friday shot to death two U.S. servicemen during a training exercise in the western province of Farah.

AFGHANISTAN
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan police say a bomb has exploded in a cemetery in the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah, killing two men whose brother is a lawmaker for Helmand province.
Provincial Deputy Police Chief Ghulam Rabbani says the bomb was buried near the grave of a relative of parliamentarian Abdulwadood Popal, who was not present. A number of his family members had gone to the cemetery to pay their respects after morning prayers for the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Rabbani says another seven members of the family were wounded in Sunday's blast.

SYRIA
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syria's state-run TV has aired footage of the Syrian president performing prayers in a mosque in Damascus.
It is the first appearance in public by Bashar Assad after a July 18 bombing in Damascus killed the country's defense minister and three other top security officials, including the president's brother-in-law.
Assad prayed at the Hamad Mosque in Damascus early on Sunday at the start of a three-day holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The last time he appeared in public was on July 4 when he gave a speech in parliament.
Since then, there has been a sharp escalation in the country's civil war with almost daily fighting in some districts of the capital between security forces and rebels seeking to topple Assad.

PAKISTAN
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistani intelligence officials say missiles fired from unmanned American spy planes have hit two vehicles near the Afghan border, killing at least seven militants.
Three intelligence officials said the strike on Sunday came in the Mana area of North Waziristan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
The officials say the area is dominated by a commander whose forces often target U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but they did not know whether his men were targeted.
A U.S. drone strike Saturday also in North Waziristan killed five allies of the group.
Most Pakistanis feel the strikes violate the country's sovereignty and kill innocent civilians. The U.S. maintains they are directed against militants and necessary to combat groups like al-Qaida.

CHINA-POLITICAL SCANDAL
BEIJING (AP) -- A fallen Chinese politician's wife who confessed to killing a British businessman is due to hear the verdict Monday in her murder trial and Communist Party leaders might have decided against a death penalty for fear it might incite public sympathy for her.
The conclusion of Gu Kailai's trial will be a step toward closing a scandal that has rocked the Chinese leadership as it prepares to hand over power to younger leaders.
Questions remain over the fate of her husband, Bo Xilai, a prominent figure who was dismissed in March as party secretary of the major city of Chongqing.
Analysts say Chinese leaders might have decided against a death sentence for fear it might stir outrage or make Gu look like a scapegoat for her husband.

Japan activists land, raise flag on disputed isle
TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's Coast Guard says a group of Japanese activists have landed on Uotsuri, one of a group of islands at the center of an escalating territorial dispute with China.
The Coast Guard in southern Japan's Okinawa prefecture said nine or 10 activists had landed without authorization early Sunday in the small archipelago known in Japan as the Senkakus and in China as the Diaoyu islands. Plans for the visit drew a protest from China's Foreign Ministry.
Photos from Japan's Kyodo News Agency showed several men and a woman brandishing the Japanese flag atop rocks on the shore of the uninhabited island.

Ousted SAfrica leader blames police in mine deaths
JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Miners and their families have welcomed expelled politician Julius Malema to the site where 34 South African miners were killed this week.
Malema, the former youth leader of the governing African National Congress, told the thousands who gathered there Saturday that police had no right to shoot, even if the miners had opened fire first.
Family members continue to hunt for loved ones missing since Thursday's shootings. Women say they don't know if their husbands and sons are among the dead, or among the 78 wounded or some 256 arrested by police on charges from public violence to murder.
Malema is the first politician to address the miners at the site during a more than weeklong saga in which 10 people were killed before Thursday's shootings -- including two police officers butchered to death and two mine security guards whom strikers burned alive in their vehicle. He says he came because the government had turned its back on the strikers.

Mexico investigates reports of missing journalist
CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico (AP) -- The government of the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas says it is investigating the reported disappearance of the editor of a small regional weekly newspaper, almost a week after he was last seen.
Tamaulipas Interior Secretary Morelos Canseco says no formal missing person report has been filed in the case of Mario Segura, director of the Sol del Sur newspaper. But Canseco said Saturday investigators are looking into the Segura's whereabouts.
The Inter-American Press Association issued a statement Saturday calling on Mexico to investigate the disappearance.
Local media reported Segura went missing Monday. No one answered the phone number listed on the newspaper's website.
In July, Mexico's special prosecutor for crimes against journalists said 67 journalists have been killed and 14 have disappeared in the country since 2006.


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