World briefs: West African piracy targeted

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. and some of its allies are considering plans to increase anti-piracy operations along Africa's west coast, spurred on by concerns that money from the attacks is funding a Nigerian-based insurgent group linked to one of al-Qaida's most dangerous affiliates.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has escalated over the past year, and senior U.S. defense and counterpiracy officials say allied leaders are weighing whether beefed up enforcement efforts that worked against pirates off the Somalia coast might also be needed in the waters off Nigeria.

There has been growing coordination between Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which was linked to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in September that killed four Americans, including the ambassador.

BRICS agreements made

DURBAN, South Africa -- South Africa signed deals with Russia and China on Tuesday as leaders of the five-nation BRICS forum of emerging market powers prepared to strengthen cooperation and reduce dependence on the West.

Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- the five the World Bank says are driving global economic growth -- are meeting in this coastal resort for two days. Brazil and China agreed to do up to $30 billion of trade in their local currencies, a step toward cutting dependence on the U.S. dollar and euro.

Election declared invalid

TOKYO -- Court rulings invalidating part of December's election because of the outsize weight of rural votes is putting pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to rectify the situation with legislation.

The Hiroshima High Court on Monday for the first time declared an election invalid due to gerrymandering, voiding the result in two districts. Another court made a similar decision Tuesday.

Four courts this month ruled the lower house contest, in which the value of a vote in the least populous district was worth 2.43 times that in the most populous one, unconstitutional while ratifying the results.

N. Korea on 'high alert'

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea's military said it placed all its missile and artillery units on "the highest alert" Tuesday, ordering them to be ready to hit South Korea, as well as the U.S. and its military installations in the Pacific islands of Hawaii and Guam.

The threat from the North's Korean People's Army Supreme Command came only hours after President Park Geun-hye of South Korea warned that the North Korean leadership could ensure its survival only when it abandons its nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, provocations and threats.

Suicide bombers kill 5

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Eight suicide bombers stormed a police compound in Jalalabad on Tuesday, killing five police officers and injuring four others.

Two militants detonated explosives-packed cars in front of the Quick Reaction Force headquarters, allowing the other attackers in a third car to speed into the compound. The driver detonated the explosives in that car, while the five remaining assailants opened fire. All five attackers were killed by police.

Red Cross at Guantanamo

MIAMI -- Two delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross, one of them a physician, are at Guantanamo to check out the ongoing hunger strike at the war on terror prison.

As of Monday, the Pentagon considered 28 out of 166 captives to meet the minimum criteria to be considered hunger strikers. Ten were being fed nutritional supplements mostly fed through tubes snaked up a captive's nose and into his stomach. Of the 10, three were hospitalized.

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