International News Roundup Apr 21; Where's Chavez?, Middle East Update

By: AP
By: AP

FILE - In this undated file photo released by the Communication and Liaison Services of the Office of the South African National Commissioner, the corpse of a slaughtered Rhino lays on the ground in a national park in South Africa. Experts say Vietnam's surging demand of rhino horn is threatening to wipe out the world's remaining rhinoceros populations, which recovered from the brink of extinction after the 1970s thanks to conservation campaigns. Illegal killings in Africa hit the highest recorded level in 2011 and are expected to worsen this year. The photo was released when South African police and game park rangers announced Jan. 16, 2009 they have arrested 11 suspects in an international rhinoceros poaching ring. (AP Photo/South African Communication and Liaison Services of the Office of the National Commissioner, File) NO SALES

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been out of sight for a week, speaking only through Twitter messages and written statements while undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba.
The lack of any appearances on television has Venezuelans wondering about what his unusual silence might say about his struggle with cancer, and whether Chavez may be coping with a particularly tough phase of radiation therapy.
More than two dozen messages have appeared on Chavez's Twitter account since he left for Cuba on April 14. His messages have cheered on his supporters with messages such as, "Let's continue building socialism!"
But he has not mentioned much about his cancer treatment. National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello reiterated on Friday that Chavez is expected to return to Venezuela next week.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan security forces have arrested five militants with 22,000 pounds of explosives that they smuggled into the country from Pakistan, as well as another three suspects allegedly planning to assassinate the vice president.
A spokesman for the National Director for Security says three of the five men arrested with the explosives were members of the Pakistani Taliban, while the other two belonged to the Afghan Taliban. He says the explosives were hidden under potatoes packed in a truck and the men confessed they were planning an attack in the capital, Kabul. He says the men's orders came from militant leaders with ties to Pakistani intelligence.
The reports of new planned attacks in the Afghan capital came a week after militants said to be part of the Pakistan-based Haqqani network launched coordinated assaults in the heart of Kabul and in three other cities.
The security spokesman says the Haqqani network was also behind the foiled assassination attempt against Afghan Vice President Mohammed Karim Khalili.

(AP) -- The U.N. Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution expanding the number of U.N. observers in Syria from 30 to 300 and demanding an immediate halt to the violence that has been escalating since a cease-fire took effect over a week ago.
The resolution approved today gives Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon authority to decide when to deploy the additional observers, based on developments on the grounds including "the consolidation of the cease-fire."
Ban has accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of failing to honor the cease-fire, expressing dismay at the upsurge in violence.
Meanwhile, a group of U.N. observers toured a rebel-held neighborhood in the central city of Homs Saturday and heard calls for "military intervention" from residents.
Fighting and government shelling stopped in Homs before and during the visit. The city witnessed daily shelling shortly after the cease-fire went into effect on April 12.
Bystanders chanted "the people want military intervention."
An advance team of seven U.N. monitors has been in the country for about a week to assess compliance with an internationally brokered cease-fire.
It was the observers' first visit to Homs.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Yemeni officials say their troops are fighting al-Qaida militants in a strategic southern city, and that 19 people have been killed so far.
Yemeni military officials say government forces Saturday liberated the eastern part of Zinjibar from al-Qaida-linked fighters.
The group took control of the city as well as other territory during last year's uprising by Yemenis against the former president. The new Yemeni government has been trying to displace al-Qaida from these towns and cities.
A medical official said 12 al-Qaida militants and seven troops died in the clashes. The militants turned a kindergarten in the nearby town of Jaar into a field hospital to treat their injured.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

BERLIN (AP) -- The German military says it will deploy a quick reaction force of several hundred troops to Kosovo to strengthen the NATO mission there amid heightened tensions ahead of next month's election in neighboring Serbia.
Central command spokesman Hauke Bunks said Saturday about 550 German soldiers and some 130 Austrian troops will be deployed to the region by May 1.
Bunks says NATO seeks to strengthen its KFOR mission there "because of its evaluation of the current security situation in Kosovo."
Serbia will hold parliamentary and local elections May 6 which could re-ignite tensions between minority ethnic Albanians and majority Serbs in northern Kosovo.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is recognized by mant many countries, including most EU nations and the United States.

BEIJING (AP) -- A Chinese city government says villagers with sickles and clubs protesting against mining activities in the southwest attacked police, killing one officer and injuring 15 others.
The Lijiang city government in Yunnan province said late Friday that the violence erupted on Wednesday as villagers were gathered at a township government office to express concern that activities at a coal mine could trigger geological disasters.
The city government says in a statement posted on the provincial news portal that the villagers had camped out for several days with luggage and cooking utensils and had threatened officials and damaged government property.
It says police were trying to persuade the villagers to leave when they were attacked and that no villagers were hurt.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- The Kenya Wildlife Service says its game rangers have shot and killed five suspected poachers in the country's western region and recovered elephant tusks weighing 110 pounds.
Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Udoto said Saturday two game rangers were wounded in the gunfight that lasted 40 minutes early in the morning in Chepareria in West Pokot County. Udoto says three AK-47 rifles were recovered from the suspects and rangers are pursuing a suspect who escaped.
Kenya rangers shot and killed six suspected poachers last month. Udoto said Kenya's Wildlife Service is determined to make poaching "a high-cost, low-benefit activity" after elephant deaths increased in recent years and poachers became more agressive. Six rangers have been killed this year.

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