World briefs: Thousands flee Iraq violence

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BAGHDAD -- More than 140,000 Iraqis have fled parts of Anbar province over clashes between security forces and al-Qaida militants, the worst displacement of civilians in years, a United Nations official said Friday.

The spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Peter Kessler, described it as "the largest" displacement witnessed in the country since the sectarian violence of 2006-2008. He added that more than 65,000 people fled the conflict just in the past week alone.

Since late December, members of Iraq's al-Qaida branch -- known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- have taken over parts of Ramadi, the capital of the largely Sunni province of Anbar. They also control the center of the nearby city of Fallujah.

Fighting roils CAR capital

BANGUI, Central African Republic -- Heavy gunfire erupted in Central African Republic's anarchic capital Friday as night fell, with civilians taking cover behind the skeletons of cars as bullets flew overhead. Rwandan peacekeepers backed by French forces later came to the scene and began firing their weapons.

The violence marks the latest unrest to shake this lawless country in the heart of Africa, where thousands of French and African peacekeepers have been trying to calm a political crisis that has ignited unprecedented tit-for-tat killings by armed Christian and Muslim movements..

48 Muslims killed by mobs

YANGON, Myanmar -- The United Nations has confirmed that at least 48 Muslims appear to have been killed when Buddhist mobs attacked a village in an isolated corner of western Myanmar, violence that has been vehemently denied by the government.

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million people, has been grappling with sectarian violence since June 2012.

The incident in Du Chee Yar Tan, a village in northern Rakhine state, appears to be the deadliest in a year, and would bring the total number of mostly Muslims killed in violence nationwide to more than 280.

Court backs delaying vote

BANGKOK -- A Thai court ruled Friday that a postponement of the country's coming elections next month, which protesters have worked feverishly to block, is lawful under the country's Constitution.

The decision by the country's Constitutional Court was a blow to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and surprised many legal scholars, who say there are no provisions under Thai law for a delay.

Snowden's asylum

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Russia plans to extend its offer of asylum to Edward J. Snowden beyond August, a Russian lawmaker said Friday at the World Economic Forum here.

The lawmaker, Alexei K. Pushkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's lower house of Parliament, hinted during a panel discussion that the extension of temporary refugee status for Mr. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, might be indefinite.

Translator killed

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Noor Ahmad Noori, an Afghan translator who formerly worked for The New York Times in Afghanistan, was found beaten and stabbed to death, wrapped in a sack and dumped on a roadside late Thursday outside the Helmand province capital of Lashkar Gah where he lived.

No one claimed responsibility for the killing, and it was unclear whether it was linked to the Taliban insurgency.


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