World briefs: Islamist adviser to Morsi quits

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CAIRO -- An ultraconservative Islamist adviser to Egypt's president resigned Monday in solidarity with a fellow aide who was fired amid allegations of abuse of office.

The resignation of Bassam Zarka, a member of the Salafi Al-Nour party, is the latest sign of tension between President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist ally ahead of parliamentary elections expected in the months ahead.

Some members of Al-Nour, which emerged from obscurity to win the second-largest bloc of votes in Egypt's parliamentary elections in 2011, have accused Mr. Morsi of failing to reach a compromise with the vocal liberal and secular opposition, heightening tensions that manifested themselves in violent street protests and a heavy-handed crackdown on dissent.

Al-Nour has denied the charges against Khaled Alam Eldin, the dismissed adviser to the president for environmental affairs.

Russian legislator dead

MOSCOW -- The body of a missing city legislator and construction tycoon has been found in a private basement garage on the city's outskirts, inside a rusted metal barrel filled with cement, the police said Monday.

The body of Mikhail Pakhomov, 36, was removed Sunday evening from the garage, 20 miles east of Moscow, where the police said he had been tortured and killed over an $80 million loan.

Mr. Pakhomov, who was reported missing last Tuesday, had served as head of a construction company that was reported to have won large contracts to develop utilities and infrastructure in several cities.

The police have identified the likely mastermind of Mr. Pakhomov's killing as Yevgeny Kharitonov, a former deputy minister for housing and utilities.

Meteorite pieces studied

MOSCOW -- Russian scientists said Monday they had established the composition of the meteorite that exploded over the Chelyabinsk region last week.

Over the weekend, scientists collected 53 tiny pieces of dark porous material recovered by local residents.

The pieces collected by scientists were described as bits of chondrite, a type of stony meteorite, which contained at least 10 percent metallic iron and nickel alloy as well as chrysolite and sulfite, according to a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences meteorite committee.

Model's mom seeks answers

JOHANNESBURG -- The family of Oscar Pistorius' slain girlfriend wants answers, her mother told a Johannesburg newspaper, as South Africans braced to hear why prosecutors believe a national hero murdered the model who was shot multiple times.

June Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp's mother, told The Times in a front page interview published Monday: "Why? Why my little girl? Why did this happen? Why did he do this?"

Pistorius, who remains in custody in Pretoria, is set to return to court Tuesday for the start of his bail hearing.

Also in the world ...

Militants disguised as tribal police officers and wearing vests packed with explosives attacked the Khyber tribal administration in Peshawar, Pakistan Monday, killing five people and wounding seven others. ... Peter Root and Mary Thompson, a British couple chronicling their cycling trip around the world on their blog, were killed Wednesday after being hit by a pickup truck east of Bangkok, Thailand, police said Monday. ... A delegation of American lawmakers arrived in Cuba Monday to gauge the island's economic changes and stress the importance of freeing jailed American Alan Gross, whose detention has chilled relations between the two countries.

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