World briefs: 11 killed in Sinai attacks

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CAIRO -- Suicide bombers rammed two explosive-packed cars Wednesday into an Egyptian military intelligence building and an army checkpoint in the volatile Sinai Peninsula near the border with the Gaza Strip, killing 11 people including six army officers,.

The attacks in Rafah are part of a sharp escalation in violence between Islamist militants and the Egyptian military in the desert region bordering Israel and Gaza since the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in July. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A suicide car bombing last week targeted Egypt's interior minister, who narrowly escaped the blast at his home in Cairo.

Death sentence sought

NEW DELHI -- Prosecutors on Wednesday asked for a death sentence for four men who participated in the rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in December, a goal long sought by the victim's family and many Indians horrified by the case.

"There can be nothing more diabolic than a helpless girl put through torture," said Dayan Krishnan, a prosecutor, as arguments began in the trial's sentencing phase. He called the attack "a case of extreme depravity."

All four men were convicted of all the charges against them Tuesday. A cry for the men to be hanged went up almost immediately after the woman died of her injuries.

Taiwan's speaker ousted

TAPEI, Taiwan -- The governing Kuomintang Party on Wednesday removed the speaker of parliament over influence-peddling allegations.

A disciplinary committee expelled Wang Jin-pyng, 72, saying he damaged the party's reputation when he allegedly told prosecutors not to appeal a not-guilty verdict in an opposition lawmaker's breach-of-trust case. President Ma Ying-jeou said the speaker was no longer fit to lead.

Mr. Ma is seeking to push his agenda -- including lower trade barriers with China and finishing a nuclear power plant -- through a parliament where Mr. Wang had acceded to opposition efforts to slow down the process.

1 million Catalans march

BARCELONA, Spain -- More than 1 million flag-draped and face-painted Catalans held hands and formed a 250-mile human chain across the northeastern Spanish region Wednesday in a demonstration of their desires for independence.

It was the second Catalonian National Day in as many years marked by a massive turnout to show support for breaking free of recession-beset Spain and its proliferation of internal disputes, corruption scandals and debt woes.

Catalonia, population 7.5 million, is one of Spain's wealthiest regions. The independence drive is fueled by resentment of a $20 billion annual imbalance between tax revenues collected in Catalonia and the services and benefits it gets in return.

Late-season hurricane

HAMILTON, Bermuda -- Humberto grew to hurricane force Wednesday, becoming the first of the Atlantic season, while Bermuda shook off a drenching by Tropical Storm Gabrielle.

Humberto's maximum sustained winds were near 85 mph and the U.S. National Hurricane Center said it could gain strength by this morning, when a gradual weakening would begin.

The storm was centered about 360 miles west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands and was moving north at 12 mph into open ocean.

It is unusual for this much time to pass in the Atlantic season without a hurricane forming. The record for the latest first-of-the-season hurricane is Oct. 8, 1905, based on records dating to 1851.

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