World Briefs: Putin condemns terror bombings

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MOSCOW -- President Vladimir V. Putin on Tuesday broke two days of silence on the twin bombings in Volgograd, calling them "inhumane terrorist acts" and vowing that Russia would continue to fight terrorists until "their complete destruction."

On a day when the death toll from the attacks climbed to 34, Mr. Putin made his remarks during a New Year's message that Russian and, before them, Soviet leaders have traditionally given on the country's most celebrated holiday.

The bombings have tempered official celebrations somewhat, especially in Volgograd, a city of 1 million in central Russia that has now endured three suicide bombings since October.

Rebels attack key town

NAIROBI, Kenya -- The fierce clashes to control the South Sudanese town of Bor on Tuesday represent a pivotal development in the two-week-old conflict, giving rebels more clout in peace talks being held this week while potentially undermining President Salva Kiir's grip on the government and his ruling party.

After losing Bor little more than a week ago, loyalists of former vice president Riek Machar, who is leading the rebellion, stormed back in Tuesday morning, attacking government forces and seizing strategic parts of the town. By Tuesday night, it was unclear how much territory the rebels had captured, with some reports suggesting they were in full control.

Crowds block airport

BANGUI, Central African Republic -- Thousands of angry people flooded the runway of the international airport in the chaotic capital of Central African Republic, shouting slogans against the nation's Muslim president, who grabbed power in a coup nine months ago.

French forces deployed at the airport were unable to stop them and international flights appeared to have been suspended.

The number of displaced people in Bangui has increased 70 percent in the past two weeks, from 214,000 to 370,000, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Between 70,000 and 100,000 people have sought refuge at the airport, the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

Islamists' assets seized

CAIRO -- Egypt's interim government has ordered the assets of more than 500 Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist leaders seized -- including those of the country's ousted president -- as part of an ever-tightening crackdown on the group, senior judicial and security officials said Tuesday.

The escalation came as the military vowed to confront "the forces of terrorism and darkness" and protect the upcoming Jan. 14-15 vote on Egypt's draft constitution. Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi called on Egyptians to head to the polls as their "top national duty," saying that a "heavy turnout" is the only guarantee of a successful vote.

Abdel-Azim el-Ashri, a Justice Ministry spokesman, said that a ministerial inventory committee ordered the "movable and immovable properties" of 572 Muslim Brotherhood leaders seized.

Also in the world ...

Myanmar freed five prisoners Tuesday and more are expected to be released next week as part of pledge by the country's president to free all political prisoners by the end of 2013. ... A Russian chartered research ship has spent a week stuck in thick Antarctic ice as plans to rescue the scientists and others on board remained uncertain Tuesday, although the Russian Foreign Ministry said a decision had been made to evacuate most of the 74 people on board by helicopter.

-- Compiled from news services


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