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World News: French Soldier Stabbed in Paris; Hezbollah Fighting for Syria's Assad

By: AP
By: AP
In this Saturday, May 18, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Qusair Lens which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrians inspecting the rubble of damaged buildings due to government airstrikes, in Qusair, Homs province, Syria. The town of Qusair has been besieged for weeks by regime troops and pro-government gunmen backed by the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group. The siege is part of a withering offensives forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have been pushing in recent weeks to regain control of the towns and villages along the Lebanese frontier. (AP Photo/Qusair Lens)

In this Saturday, May 18, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Qusair Lens which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrians inspecting the rubble of damaged buildings due to government airstrikes, in Qusair, Homs province, Syria. The town of Qusair has been besieged for weeks by regime troops and pro-government gunmen backed by the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group. The siege is part of a withering offensives forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have been pushing in recent weeks to regain control of the towns and villages along the Lebanese frontier. (AP Photo/Qusair Lens)

PARIS (AP) -- A French soldier was stabbed in the throat in a busy commercial district outside Paris on Saturday, and the government said it was trying to determine if there were any links to the brutal killing of a British soldier by suspected Islamic extremists.
French President Francois Hollande said the identity of the attacker, who escaped, was unknown and cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the assault on the uniformed soldier in the La Defense shopping area. The life of the 23-year-old soldier was not in danger, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
On Wednesday, British soldier Lee Rigby, 25, was viciously stabbed on a London street in broad daylight in a suspected terrorist attack that has raised fears of potential copycat strikes.
The French soldier was on a group patrol as part of a national protection program when he was attacked from behind, prosecutor Robert Gelli told Europe 1 radio. The assailant did not say a word, Gelli said.
"There are elements -- the sudden violence of the attack -- that could lead one to believe there might be a comparison with what happened in London," Interior Minister Manuel Valls told France 2 television. "But at this point, honestly, let us be prudent."
Rigby was attacked while walking outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in the Woolwich area of south London.
The gruesome scene was recorded on witnesses' cellphones, and a video emerged in which one of the two suspects -- his hands bloodied -- boasted of their exploits and warned of more violence as the soldier lay on the ground. Holding bloody knives and a meat cleaver, the suspects waited for police, who shot them in the legs, witnesses said.
In the video, one of the suspects declared, "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you ... We must fight them as they fight us."
Two Muslim hard-liners have identified that suspect as Michael Adebolajo, a Christian who converted to Islam and attended several London demonstrations organized by banned British radical group al-Muhajiroun.
French security forces have been on heightened alert since their country launched a military intervention in the African nation of Mali in January to regain territory seized by Islamic radicals. British Prime Minister David Cameron was himself in Paris meeting with Hollande when he first received word of the London attack.
Last year, three French paratroopers were killed by a man police described as a French-born Islamic extremist who then went on to strike a Jewish school in the south of France, killing four more people.

LONDON (AP) -- British police investigating the savage killing of an off-duty soldier in London have arrested three more suspects.
Scotland Yard said counter-terrorism officers arrested two men, aged 24 and 28, at a residential address in southeast London.
A third man, 21, was arrested separately on a London street at the same time.
Police said Saturday they used a stun gun on two of the suspects. All three were detained on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.
Officers have already detained four others in connection with the murder of 25-year-old soldier Lee Rigby, who was stabbed to death while walking outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in the Woolwich, south London, on Wednesday afternoon.

BEIRUT (AP) -- The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah says his Shiite militant group will not stand idly by while its chief ally Syria is under attack.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah says Hezbollah members are fighting in Syria against Islamic extremists who pose a danger to Lebanon.
Nasrallah's comments Saturday marked the first time he has publically confirmed his men were fighting in Syria.
They are also his first since Hezbollah fighters have become deeply involved in the battle for of the central Syrian town of Qusair.
He said tens of thousands of Islamic extremists from all over the world have been sent to Syria to fight the regime, but Hezbollah sends "a few" fighters and it is accused of intervening in the conflict.

Hezbollah: EU making big mistake
BEIRUT (AP) -- Hezbollah's deputy chief says the European Union would be making a "big mistake" to label the Lebanese Shiite militant group "terrorist."
Sheikh Naim Kassem told Al-Mayadeen TV Friday that such threats "do not concern" or worry the group. He did not elaborate.
France this week joined an EU push to declare the group a terrorist organization amid frustration with Hezbollah's support for Syria's military.
France's move could prove pivotal after Germany joined a British effort to name Hezbollah terrorist. The U.S. has long pressured Europe add Hezbollah to its terrorist list, which would hamper its operations in Europe.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France will ask that the military branch of Hezbollah be considered as a terrorist organization.

JERUSALEM (AP) -- An Israeli security expert says Syrian hackers tried to break into the computers of the water system of the city of Haifa.
Speaking at a lecture on Saturday in the southern city of Beersheba, Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, Israel's former cyber security adviser, said that a group calling itself "The Syrian Electronic Army" had launched the failed attack two weeks ago.
In April, an assault in the name of the hacking group Anonymous mostly failed.
The attack took place just after Israel bombed a military complex near Damascus. Israel refuses to comment on the strike but officials at the time said Iranian missiles set for Hezbollah were hit. Syria has said that it would keep all options on the table for its response.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal has warned against the danger of Iran's nuclear program to the region's security and said Iran should not threaten its neighbors since countries in the region harbor no ill-intentions to the Islamic Republic.
"We stress the danger of the Iranian nuclear program to the security of the whole region," Prince Saud said Saturday in a joint news conference with Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in the city of Jiddah.
Turning to Syria, he also that Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime should have no role in the country's future.
Saudi Arabia announced last week the arrest of 10 more members of an alleged Iranian spy ring.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Dozens of couples have locked lips at a subway stop in Turkey's capital, Ankara, to protest subway authorities' admonishment of a couple that kissed in public.
Turkish media say that, earlier in the week, Ankara subway officials made an announcement asking passengers "to act in accordance with moral rules" after security cameras spotted the couple kissing.
The issue prompted an opposition lawmaker to question the Islamist-rooted ruling party, which many secularists fear wants to expand the role of Islam in Turkey, about whether subway officials were authorized to make such demands.
Some 100 people in the station kissed for several minutes in protest Saturday. Demonstrators carried signs reading "Free Kisses" and chanted slogans.
A pro-Islamist group of some 20 people staged a counter-protest. Police set up barricades between the groups.

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court has ruled against parts of an election law approved by the Islamist-led legislature that had lifted a long-standing ban on the use of religious slogans during campaigning.
The court on Saturday said in its decision that not explicitly banning religious slogans in campaigns runs counter to national unity and principles of citizenship. The court says religious slogans may distract voters from focusing on the candidate's platform. The bill will now be sent back for review by the interim parliament.
It similarly ruled against a provision that stipulates media outlets give equal time to candidates, saying this violates freedom of the press.
The court also says the bill breaches the principles of separation of powers because it allows the president to set election dates and change them.

Opposition parties enforce strike in Bangladesh
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) -- Police say opposition activists have set off homemade bombs and smashed several vehicles in Bangladesh's capital as they enforce a general strike demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina resign before general elections.
Many stores and schools are closed in Dhaka on Sunday and few vehicles are plying the roads.
Police official Monirul Islam says no one has been injured, and more than 10,000 security forces have been deployed.
An alliance of 18 opposition parties called a nationwide dawn-to-dusk shutdown.
The opposition wants Hasina to hand over power to a non-partisan caretaker administration before the elections, due early next year. The government says the demand is unconstitutional.
The opposition says polls under Hasina's government would not be free or fair.
General strikes are a common opposition tactic in Bangladesh.


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