World briefs: Jailed Kurd calls for peace

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ANKARA, Turkey -- In a major step toward ending one of the world's longest, bloodiest insurgencies, the Kurds' jailed rebel leader called Thursday for a "new era" of peace that includes an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of thousands of his fighters from Turkey.

Abdullah Ocalan's rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, has been waging a nearly 30-year battle against the Turkish government, seeking autonomy and greater rights.

Mr. Ocalan has been incarcerated for 14 years on a prison island off Istanbul. The Turkish government reacted cautiously to his message, which was conveyed by Kurdish legislators.

Terror-plot conviction

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- In a decision that could have significant repercussions for Hezbollah's operations in Europe, a court in Cyprus on Thursday found a man guilty of participating in a plot to attack Israeli tourists on the island, part of a conspiracy similar to a deadly bombing in July in Bulgaria.

The court found the man, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, a dual Swedish-Lebanese citizen, guilty on five of the eight charges against him, including participation in a criminal organization and in the preparation of a criminal act. The three other counts were conspiracy charges, which the ruling said were covered under the other counts.

Bailout action pushed

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Cypriot politicians moved Thursday to restructure the country's most troubled bank as part of a broader bailout plan that must be in place by Monday to avoid financial ruin. Concerned customers rushed to get cash from ATMs as bank employees protested.

Cyprus has been told it must raise 5.8 billion euros ($7.5 billion) if it is to receive 10 billion euros ($12.9 billion) from its fellow eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. If it does not find a way by Monday, the European Central Bank said it will cut off emergency support to the banks, letting them collapse.

That would throw the country into financial chaos and, ultimately, cause it to leave the eurozone, with unpredictable consequences for the region.

Crackdown on sex assault

NEW DELHI -- India's Parliament passed a comprehensive bill Thursday to impose stronger penalties on men who attack women and to criminalize offenses such as stalking and voyeurism.

The bill passed quickly in the upper house of Parliament on Thursday; the debate in the lower house Tuesday was longer, lasting seven hours. President Pranab Mukherjee is expected to sign it into law shortly.

The passage of the bill comes less than three months after a New Delhi physiotherapy student was gang-raped on a moving bus and later died from her injuries. The assault drew widespread outrage and prompted protests across India, some of them violent, over the issue of women's safety.

Also in the world ...

North Korea on Thursday threatened to attack U.S. military bases in Japan and the Pacific island of Guam in retaliation for training missions by U.S. B-52 bombers over the Korean Peninsula, while state radio blared air-raid warnings to the North Korean people. ... The United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday endorsed a U.S.-sponsored resolution calling on Sri Lanka to investigate alleged human-rights violations and war crimes that occurred during its 26-year civil war.

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