World briefs (9/21/13)

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21 Yemeni soldiers killed

SANAA, Yemen -- At least 21 government soldiers were killed Friday in what appeared to be coordinated attacks by suspected al-Qaida militants on two military targets in the south of Yemen, government officials said.

In an official statement Friday afternoon, the government said that in the first attack, gunmen opened fire at security headquarters in the town of Mayfaa. That was followed by the explosion of two car bombs at a military camp in Al Nashama, the statement said. The attacks left 21 soldiers dead and 15 injured, the government said.

But security officials on the scene and residents who said they had seen the bodies disputed that number, saying at least 25 soldiers had been killed in the car bomb explosions and at least eight in the shootings.

All of those killed had been assigned to guard the oil and gas fields in southern Shabwa province, a volatile area and stronghold of al-Qaida where there have been frequent skirmishes between security forces and Islamist militants.

30 years for hiring hitmen

RIO DE JANEIRO -- A Brazilian estate owner was sentenced to 30 years in prison for having hired hitmen to kill a U.S. missionary in February 2005.

A court in Belem ruled late Thursday that landowner Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, known as Bida, ordered the killing of Dorothy Stang, 72, in the Amazonian town of Anapu.

Bida already had been sentenced to 30 years for the same killing in a prior trial, which was annulled. He is still entitled to an appeal.

Germany votes Sunday

HANOVER, Germany -- Chancellor Angela Merkel went into the final 24 hours of campaigning before Sunday's federal election evoking the European Union as the guarantor of peace as well as prosperity for generations of Germans.

Ms. Merkel and her Social Democratic opponent Peer Steinbrueck are crisscrossing the nation to appeal for votes. While the chancellor's Christian Democratic bloc leads in all polls, none show a clear majority for her alliance with the Free Democrats, while some suggest the anti-euro, anti-EU AfD party might win seats and further complicate the post-election coalition-building.

War games worry Baltic

MOSCOW -- Baltic officials said Friday regional security had been weakened as Russia led military exercises on their doorstep involving almost 12,000 troops.

A week of land and sea maneuvers began Friday as part of biennial exercises with Belarus, Russia's Defense Ministry said. It called the maneuvers an anti-terrorism exercise.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which regained independence in 1991 after half a century of Soviet rule, joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004 amid Russian opposition. NATO has held exercises in the Baltic region since 2010, while Russia has opened new military bases and deployed more troops on its western border in recent years.

Also in the world ...

East Asian meteorological authorities issued warnings as Tropical Cyclone Usagi, the world's strongest storm this year with wind gusts as strong as 152 mph, barreled toward the southern coast of China. Usagi, upgraded to a super typhoon, is expected to affect Taiwan, Hong Kong and China before making landfall Monday. ... At least seven people were killed during an exchange of gunfire between the Islamist sect Boko Haram and security agents in Nigeria's capital Abuja, the Nigerian Security Service Department said Friday. Several people were injured in the gunbattle, and 12 Boko Haram members were arrested.

-- Compiled from news services

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