World briefs: African leaders hold summit

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- African leaders begin a two-day summit at the African Union's headquarters here Thursday as the continent continues its struggle to prevent and manage conflicts in member states.

The political and sectarian violence that has killed thousands of people in South Sudan and the Central African Republic have added to instability in Somalia, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau and Egypt, African Union Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

"The pursuit of an African renaissance is severely threatened by violent conflict on our continent," she said. The clashes "displace millions, destroy infrastructure and interrupt vital economic activity."

Hamas losing cash

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, is in severe economic straits, having lost a major source of income in recent months because of an Egyptian clampdown on hundreds of smuggling tunnels, a high-ranking Israeli military official told reporters at army headquarters here Thursday.

Dozens of tunnels running beneath Gaza's border with Egypt are still operating, he said, but the $200 million that Hamas collected annually in tax revenues from the tunnel trade has been reduced to a few million dollars at most.

17 die in Baghdad attacks

BAGHDAD -- Militants attacked the Transportation Ministry compound in Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing seven people, according to security officials.

Two car bombs also went off at two public markets in Baghdad, killing 10 civilians, according to police officials.

The attacks came as clashes continued between Iraqi security forces and Qaeda militants in the western province of Anbar.

Egypt arrests 11 Islamists

CAIRO -- Egyptian authorities arrested 11 Muslim Brotherhood members accused of running Facebook pages that incite violence against the police, expanding a crackdown on followers of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to include social media.

The arrests Wednesday and Thursday are a sign that after largely crippling the group in a wave of arrests and killings of protesters, security agencies are going after younger members using the Internet to keep protests alive -- and looking for evidence of links to a growing insurgency and violent backlash.

Vatican bank crackdown

VATICAN CITY -- Dozens and perhaps hundreds of widows and Vatican pensioners recently were told by the Vatican bank they had to close their accounts or risk losing access to their money .

The bank now says it was all a "technical error" and that the widows and pensioners are being kept on as clients. That reversal came despite the bank's highly-publicized plan to close so-called "lay accounts" as it tries to mend relations with Italian authorities who have suspected that Italians were using the bank as a tax haven.

China forces reporter to exit

BEIJING -- China forced a New York Times reporter to leave the country on Thursday for the second year in a row, the latest in a series of government actions against journalists.

Austin Ramzy, a journalist who previously worked in China six years for Time magazine, has not been given a journalist visa since he moved to the newspaper last year. Facing an expiring visa, he boarded a flight to Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday afternoon.


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