Interpol believes Al-Qaida may be behind numerous prison breaks overseas
PARIS (AP) -- Interpol has issued a global security alert in connection with suspected al-Qaida involvement in several recent prison escapes including those in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan.
The Lyon, France-based international police agency says that the alert follows "the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals" in the past month. The alert calls on Interpol's 190 member countries to help determine whether these events are coordinated or linked, the organization said in a statement Saturday.
Interpol says it issues such alerts fairly regularly, the last one 10 days ago following jailbreaks from Iraq's infamous Abu Ghraib prison and the Taji prison near Baghdad.
The alert also comes a day after the U.S. issued an extraordinary global travel warning to Americans about a possible al-Qaida attack.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's supreme leader has formally endorsed Hasan Rouhani as president, opening the way for the moderate cleric to take over from outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In a ceremony broadcast live on state television Saturday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave his official approval for Rouhani. Khamenei, the ultimate authority in Iran, has final say in all key matters, including Rouhani's upcoming selections for key Cabinet posts such as the foreign and intelligence ministers.
Rouhani will take the oath of office in parliament Sunday.
Rouhani won a landslide victory in June 14 presidential elections. He has pledged to follow a "path of moderation" and promised greater openness over the country's nuclear program, which has placed it at odds with the West.
He replaces Ahmadinejad, first elected in 2005.
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Bombings and shootings across Iraq have killed 19 people today.
The deadliest attack was an ambush north of Baghdad targeting a top military commander's convoy. Police say the commander wasn't hurt but six of his bodyguards were killed and four were wounded.
Two other attacks near Baqouba targeted former fighters in the anti-al-Qaida militia known as Sahwa. Gunmen killed two former fighters and the wife and two daughters of another. The militia joined with U.S. troops in the war against al-Qaida at the height of Iraq war and has been a target for Sunni insurgents ever since.
Violence has been on the rise in Iraq all year, but the number of attacks against civilians and security forces has spiked during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began early last month.
At least 597 people have been killed since the start of Ramadan, according to an Associated Press count.
BEIRUT (AP) -- Lebanon's state-run news agency says a Syrian warplane struck targets near the border with Lebanon, killing at least nine people and wounding nine others.
A Lebanese security official in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa region confirmed Saturday's airstrike and said it targeted the rebel-held Syrian town of Yabroud just across the border from the Lebanese town of Arsal.
The area is known to house many refugees from the Syrian town of Qusair, which was captured by Syrian forces in June following battles that destroyed much of the town.
The official said those killed included six members of the same family. He spoke on customary condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
PANAMA CITY (AP) -- Panama says it has unloaded live munitions from a ship seized in the canal as it headed from Cuba to North Korea.
Drug prosecutor Javier Carballo says ammunition for grenade launchers and another unidentified type were found.
Carballo told reporters Friday that boxes of munitions, though he didn't say how many, were found with the help of explosive-sniffing dogs.
The manifest said the Chong Chon Gang was carrying only sugar when it was stopped July 15 in the Panama Canal. Cuban military equipment was found beneath the sacks.
Cuba later said it was sending obsolete planes and missiles to be repaired in North Korea, but did not mention live munitions.
Cuban officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Panama has filed charges against the crew for transporting undeclared military equipment.
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- Tens of thousands of Taiwanese have gathered in downtown Taipei to protest the death of a 24-year old soldier confined to a brig as punishment for bringing an unauthorized cell phone onto his base.
Saturday's protest was the biggest so far in the continuing campaign to register discontent over the death of Hung Chung-chiu on July 3.
Hung died after several days of being forced to perform a rigorous regime of push-ups, sit-ups and other exercises in sweltering heat.
Eighteen officers and NCOs have already been charged in connection with the case. President Ma Ying-jeou has apologized and the minister of defense has resigned.
The simmering anger underscores the difficulty the Taiwanese military faces as it tries to transition to an all-volunteer force.