World Briefs: Libya official assassinated

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CAIRO -- A Libyan deputy Cabinet minister was killed by a gunman Saturday evening in the first assassination of a senior government figure there since the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi more than two years ago.

The deputy minister of industry, Hassan al-Droui, was hit by a spray of bullets in the former Gadhafi stronghold of Surt, which he had represented in the wartime transitional council and then in the elected Parliament.

Assassinations of military and police officers, usually presumed to be the work of Islamist extremists, have been accelerating in the eastern cities of Benghazi and Darnah. But Mr. Droui's death is also the latest sign that the pattern of assassinations may be spreading westward; Surt sits roughly midway between Benghazi to Tripoli on the coastal road.

Biden on way to Israel

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Israelis and world statesmen will pay tribute to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today before his casket is taken past the Latrun battlefield that shaped his life, then on to his beloved desert ranch for burial.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former U.K Prime Minister Tony Blair are among those flying in for a memorial ceremony at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, where Mr. Sharon's body lay in state after his death two days ago at 85.

Mr. Sharon leaves a mixed legacy. He was seen as an audacious and ferocious military strategist who was later forced to resign as defense minister, found to have had indirect responsibility for the massacre of Palestinian refugees by an allied Christian militia in Lebanon. As prime minister, Mr. Sharon was hailed internationally as a peacemaker for withdrawing Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip.

Pakistan attack kills 5

MINGORA, Pakistan -- A bomb attack targeting Amir Muqam, an aide of the Pakistan's prime minister killed five people in the country's north Sunday, police said, though the official escaped unharmed.

Shangla is part of the Swat Valley, which local Taliban militants captured before an army offensive drove them out in 2009. The militants have killed thousands in a campaign they hope will bring down the state and allow them to impose their own extreme interpretation of Islamic law.

Bangkok braces for strife

The protesters are trying to force caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign and have her government replaced by a nonelected interim administration to implement reforms they say are needed to stop corruption and money politics. They want to scuttle an early general election called by Ms. Yingluck for Feb. 2.

Say farewell to facade

MADRID -- In the latest development in the ongoing travails of Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect, construction workers are due to start removing the crumbling mosaic facade of Valencia's opera house today.

Mr. Calatrava covered the opera house with thousands of tiny mosaic tiles, using a technique made famous over a century earlier by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona. But the Valencia authorities threatened to sue Mr. Calatrava last month after chunks fell off in high winds.

-- Compiled from news services

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