World briefs: China leaders close to Tiananmen Square attack

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BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping and the six other top officials reportedly were at Tiananmen Square on Monday when a vehicle crashed and exploded nearby, leaving five dead.

Although there is no indication that the physical safety of the leaders, who were attending meetings inside the Great Hall of the People, was jeopardized, the apparent suicide attack so close to the epicenter of power rattled the Chinese government and has raised doubts about the effectiveness of its often-stifling security apparatus.

"It is clear that China does not have a counter-terrorism capability. Their capabilities are very rudimentary, and they need to develop them," said Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based terrorism expert.

Egyptian judges step down

CAIRO -- The judges presiding over the trial of nearly three dozen members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, including its top leader, stepped down Tuesday after security agencies refused to let the defendants attend the courtroom sessions, judicial officials said.

The move represented a sharp pushback from within the establishment over the conduct of the trial amid criticism by the Brotherhood that wide-ranging prosecutions of its leaders, including ousted President Mohammed Morsi and group leader Mohammed Badie, are only vengeful show trials.

Mandela plotters sentenced

JOHANNESBURG -- Members of a white supremacist Afrikaner "army" who hatched a poorly planned plot to assassinate former South African President Nelson Mandela were sentenced Tuesday to as many as 35 years in prison.

The 21 defendants were charged with offenses including treason, terrorism, setting off explosions and culpable murder from the late 1990s to 2002. Their sentences ranged from five to 35 years, with the latter prison terms given to group leader Mike Du Toit and four others.

The group planted an explosive device by the road in a bid to kill Mr. Mandela when his car passed by in 2002. The plan fell apart when the president instead flew to a school by helicopter.

26 Palestinians released

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners early today, the second of four batches to be released as part of a deal that set in motion the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The decision to release the 26 has triggered anguish and anger in Israel, where many view the men as terrorists who have committed grisly crimes against Israelis.

The release was part of an agreement brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that brought Israel and the Palestinians back to the table for peace talks that had been paralyzed since 2008. In all, 104 convicts are to be released.

Also in the world ...

Argentina's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the government has a responsibility to prevent media companies from growing so large that they dominate public discourse, upholding a law that could demolish the nation's largest media group, a leading opponent of President Cristina Fernandez. ... Fighting between Mozambique's army and militia loyal to the opposition Mozambique National Resistance party has led to 58 deaths, a military official said Tuesday. The clash at Maringue resulted in the deaths of 17 soldiers and 41 members of the militia. ... Three people died and scores were injured as violence raged across Bangladesh Tuesday, the last day of a three-day strike called by opposition activists to pressure Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resign.


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