World News: Egypt Protest: Iraq, Turkey, Syria Updates: Afghanistan Plans

By: AP
By: AP
 Tension rises ahead of Egypt protest...Obama: US working to protect embassy in Cairo...Kerry continues Mideast shuttle diplomacy... Market bomb, shooting kill 7 in Iraq...Syrian fighter jets hit central city of Homs... Thousands in Istanbul protest demonstrator

Events are pointing to a massive protest on Sunday in Cairo...

CAIRO (AP) -- Organizers of a mass protest against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi are claiming that more than 22 million people have signed their petition demanding the Islamist leader step down.
They say the tally is a reflection of how much the public has turned against his rule.
The announcement adds to a sense of foreboding on the eve of opposition-led mass demonstrations that many are afraid could turn deadly and quickly spin out of control, dragging the country into a dangerous round of political violence.
The demonstrations planned for Sunday reflect the growing polarization of the nation since Morsi took power, with the president and his Islamist allies in one camp and seculars, liberals, moderate Muslims and Christians on the other.
There's a sense among opponents and supporters of Morsi that Sunday's rally is a make or break day.

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- President Barack Obama says the United States is concerned about protests and political unrest in Egypt. He says the top priority is making sure the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and American consulates are safe.
Obama says the U.S. has been in direct contact with Egypt's government and is planning to ensure American outposts are protected during weekend protests.
Obama says the U.S. supports free speech and free assembly in Egypt. He's urging all parties to refrain from violence and urging Egypt's police and military to show restraint.
He says Egyptians are still finding their way with democracy and there's been difficulty focusing on core issues like jobs and the cost of living.
Tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of Egypt's president have been rallying. One American has been killed.

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Secretary of State John Kerry, engaged in breakneck shuttle diplomacy to coax Israel and the Palestinians back into peace talks, is flying to the West Bank on Sunday to have a third meeting in as many days with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials have declined to disclose details of the past three days of closed-door meetings, but Kerry's decision to fly from Jerusalem to Ramallah, West Bank, to see Abbas again before he leaves the region was an indication that the secretary believes there is a chance of bringing the two sides together.
Kerry canceled a visit to Abu Dhabi on his two-week swing through Asia and the Mideast because of his extended discussions on the Mideast peace process in Jerusalem and Amman, Jordan.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraqi officials say a bomb has gone off in an outdoor market in west Baghdad, one of two attacks in Sunni-majority parts of the country that have left seven dead.
Police officials say that the blast Saturday morning in the capital's western suburb of Abu Ghraib killed four people and wounded 12 others.
Also, police said that attackers using guns fitted with silencers killed three off-duty policemen in a drive-by shooting near Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad.
Health officials confirmed the casualties. All spoke anonymously because they were not allowed to brief reporters.
The new violence came a day after a series of deadly attacks that left 19 dead. Violence has been on the rise in Iraq recently amid political and sectarian tension.

BEIRUT (AP) -- Activists say Syrian warplanes have hit rebel positions in Homs as part of the military's campaign to push opposition fighters out of the country's third largest city.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says regime warplanes bombed two-rebel held areas in Homs on Saturday as clashes flared in the heart of the city. The army also fired mortar shells into several central districts of Homs, which have been an opposition stronghold since the uprising against Assad's rule began in March 2011.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in the fighting.
The Syrian army has been on the offensive in recent weeks, reclaiming some of the territory it has lost to the opposition in the past year.

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Thousands have gathered in Istanbul's Taksim Square, demanding justice for a protester slain by police fire during demonstrations that have swept Turkey this month.
The protesters on Saturday also denounced the killing of a Kurdish demonstrator by paramilitary police in a mainly Kurdish town a day earlier.
A brutal police crackdown on a peaceful environmental sit-in ignited the nationwide protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.
Four people have died during nearly three weeks of demonstrations.
The demonstrators in Taksim were angry over a court decision that released a police officer from custody pending his trial for the killing of a protester in Ankara.
Earlier Saturday, hundreds in southeast Turkey attended the funeral of the Kurdish youth, who was shot while protesting the construction of a military post.

CAMP CLARK, Afghanistan (AP) -- With Afghan military and police now responsible for security in their country, the U.S. Army advisers from Fort Campbell, Ky., are focusing on encouraging the Afghans to share information and work together in a combined effort to fight insurgents.
Lt. Col. Thomas Sutton, who is leading a security force assistance team in Khost Province, from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, said there is a tendency in Afghanistan to hold onto information rather than share it. He also says Afghan forces don't rely on security data or intelligence reports like coalition forces do.
He said the challenge is getting all the Afghan security agencies to coordinate their patrols, operations and planning. The advisers have begun holding weekly security meetings between the army and police to encourage that cooperation.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghanistan's president says the Taliban's daylight attack on his palace in Kabul will not deter his government from forging ahead with the peace process.
Speaking Saturday alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron in Kabul, President Hamid Karzai tried to brush aside Tuesday's thwarted attack, saying "I wish they (the Taliban) would spend all the time attacking the presidential palace and leave the rest of Afghanistan alone."
He condemned the assault but said it will not deter the Afghan government from the peace process.
The Taliban have indicated they are willing to start peace talks at a new office in Qatar, but have not renounced violence and attacks remain regular. They have also not yet made contact to try and initiate a beginning to the talks.

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian police have arrested several gay rights activists and Russian nationalists who confronted them at a rally declared illegal under a new law against "gay propaganda."
Officials in St. Petersburg deemed that Saturday's rally, which took place in a space designated for public demonstrations, violated the law.
The statute prohibits public displays of homosexuality.
About 200 nationalists also gathered at the rally, chanted slogans such as "Sodomy will not pass," and threw eggs and rocks at the gay-rights activists, who numbered about 40.
The state-run Itar-TASS news agency quoted an unnamed police official as saying police arrested dozens of people, including eight nationalists.
Russia's parliament passed a law banning "gay propaganda" earlier this month. St. Petersburg was one of several cities to pass similar laws at local level before that.

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- President Barack Obama met privately Saturday with the family of Nelson Mandela.
The meeting was held in Johannesburg at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, part of the former South African president's foundation.
It lasted for about a half hour, enough time for a small crowd to gather outside for Obama's departure.
The White House says Obama met with two of Mandela's daughters and several grandchildren.
He will not meet with the ailing 94-year-old Mandela, who is hospitalized with a lung infection. The White House says the decision was made in accordance with the wishes of Mandela's family.
The White House initially said first lady Michelle Obama would attend, but later said she did not accompany the president. Mrs. Obama met Mandela during her trip to Africa in 2011.

BEIJING (AP) -- Chinese paramilitary troops are conducting round-the-clock patrols in the tense northwestern region of Xinjiang (shihn-jahng) following a series of bloody clashes that have killed at least 56 people.
The order for the patrols by the People's Armed Police was issued by the ruling Communist Party's top law enforcement official Men Jianzhu late Saturday. Meng said the troops must raise their visibility, maintain a deterrent threat and strengthen the public's sense of security.
The order comes days ahead of the anniversary of a 2009 riot between Xinjiang's native Uighur (WEE'-gur) people and Han Chinese migrants in the regional capital Urumqi that killed nearly 200 people.
At least 35 people were killed when assailants attacked police and government offices on Wednesday, while another mob attempted to storm a police station elsewhere on Friday.

SAO PAULO (AP) -- A new poll shows Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's popularity has plummeted since the outbreak of nationwide protests several weeks ago.
The Datafolha survey published Saturday finds 30 percent of respondents giving positive marks to Rousseff's government, down from 57 percent registered in its previous poll before the demonstrations began.
Datafolha says it's the biggest drop in a president's approval rating since a 1990 fall for then-President Fernando Collor de Mello, who was forced from office because of a corruption scandal.
The recent protests first targeted transportation fare hikes and quickly expanded to a variety of causes including government corruption, high taxes, poor public services and billions of dollars spent for next year's World Cup soccer tournament.
Datafolha surveyed 4,717 people on June 27 and 28. Its poll has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.


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