World briefs: 7/25/11

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Australia official pleads for Somalia aid

DOLO, Somalia -- Somalia's famine will be five times worse by Christmas unless the international community increases its food aid, Australia's foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, said Sunday during a visit to Somalia, even as the international Red Cross distributed 400 tons of food into hard-to-reach areas of southern Somalia.

The World Food Program estimates more than 11.3 million people need aid across drought-hit regions in East Africa.

The U.S. last week announced it was giving an additional $28 million in emergency funding on top of the $431 million in assistance already given this year.

The U.N. fears tens of thousands of people already have died in the famine in Somalia. Mothers are being forced to leave behind their weak children to die as they walk for days attempting to reach refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militia, the most dangerous militant group in the country, has exacerbated the drought crisis, saying it will prevent international aid workers from operating in the territories it controls in southern Somalia. The group denies a famine is taking place, disputing the U.N. death toll.

8 dead in Yemen explosion

SANAA, Yemen -- A suicide attacker driving a pickup truck packed with explosives blew himself up outside an army camp in Yemen's coastal city of Aden on Sunday, killing at least eight soldiers and wounding dozens, security officials said.

Yemen, an impoverished nation in the southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, is home to one of the most active al-Qaida branches in the world. Additionally, the country is in the midst of a six-month political crisis, with near daily street protests demanding longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.

Officials have repeatedly warned that al-Qaida-linked militants were infiltrating the port city just beyond the southern mouth of the Red Sea to prepare for attacks there against Yemen's security forces.

Relic found in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM -- A tiny golden bell pulled after 2,000 years from an ancient sewer beneath the Old City of Jerusalem was shown Sunday by Israeli archaeologists, who hailed it as a rare find.

The relic was found last week. Shukron said it was the only such bell to be found in Jerusalem from the Second Temple period, and as such was a "very rare" find. The Second Temple stood from about 515 B.C. until A.D. 70.

Tamil pact leads elections

NEW DELHI -- Voters in northern and eastern Sri Lanka gave an alliance of parties closely linked to the defeated Tamil Tiger insurgency, the Tamil National Alliance, majorities in 18 of 26 local council elections, according to results released Sunday.

The elections were the first local votes in the regions that bore the brunt of years of ethnic conflict, and the results underscored just how deeply divided the country remains two years after the fighting ended.

Also in the world . . .

India's best-known Islamic seminary ousted its reformist leader Mullah Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi on Sunday because he was quoted as speaking favorably of a Hindu nationalist suspected of fomenting deadly anti-Muslim riots. ... President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela returned home from Cuba Saturday after completing cancer treatment and said his doctors in Cuba had not detected any malignant cells.



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