World briefs: Chechen rebel chief 'eliminated'

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MOSCOW -- Doku Umarov, a militant who claimed responsibility for attacks in Russia and threatened to target the Winter Olympics in Sochi, has been "eliminated" during an anti-terror operation, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said.

"We are 99.9 percent sure," said Mr. Kadyrov, a former Chechen rebel who switched sides and was picked by President Vladimir Putin to run the region in 2007, according to comments posted on his website Friday. "That's why all the talk about a threat to the Sochi Olympics is groundless."

Mr. Umarov, who proclaimed himself emir of an Islamic state in the North Caucasus, told supporters in July to attack next month's Olympics. He's also said he was behind attacks including bombings in Moscow's Domodedovo airport and subway. Chechnya, which fought two wars for independence from Russia in the 1990s, is about 270 miles to the east of Sochi.

Anti-gay bill hits roadblock

KAMPALA, Uganda -- Uganda's president opposes an anti-gay bill passed by lawmakers that calls for life imprisonment for gays, even as he characterizes homosexuals as "abnormal" people who should be rehabilitated, according to excerpts of his letter to the speaker of parliament.

President Yoweri Museveni's opposition to the bill comes despite pressure from evangelicals as well from lawmakers from his own party.

But Frank Mugisha, a prominent Ugandan gay activist, said gays are not celebrating the president's words, noting that his characterization of gays "creates more hatred" of them.

EU-Israeli diplomatic row

JERUSALEM -- The foreign minister of Israel summoned the ambassadors of four European nations Friday to complain about what Israel sees as their countries' pro-Palestinian bias.

The rebuke by Avigdor Lieberman came the day after those same European governments -- Britain, Italy, France and Spain -- called in the Israeli ambassadors to their countries to protest Israel's plans to build 1,400 new settlements in territories that the Palestinians want for a future state -- the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

World's largest polio pool

KARACHI, Pakistan -- Pakistan's city of Peshawar is the world's largest pool of the polio virus, with the vast majority of cases in the country and neighboring Afghanistan tracing back to the restive northwestern city, the World Health Organization announced Friday.

Some 90 percent of polio cases found around Pakistan can be genetically linked to the city, the United Nations organization said. Even 12 of the 13 cases reported in 2013 in neighboring Afghanistan can also be traced back to Peshawar, officials said, showing the challenge of combating the disease in a country where militants target vaccinators.

Pakistan, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic.

Ireland's credit rating raised

DUBLIN -- Ireland's credit rating was restored to investment grade Friday by Moody's Investors Service after the country became the first to exit a euro-region bailout since the debt crisis erupted in 2009.

Moody's raised the rating to Baa3 from Ba1 with a positive outlook. Moody's cut the nation's ranking five times in two years before assigning junk status in July 2011.

The increase means all three of the main credit rating companies now rank Ireland as investment grade.

-- Compiled from news services

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