World briefs: Karzai criticizes U.S. war effort

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- In an unusually emotional interview, Afghan President Hamid Karzai sought to explain why he has been such a harsh critic of the 12-year-old U.S. war effort here.

Mr. Karzai said he's deeply troubled by all the casualties he has seen, including those in U.S. military operations. He feels betrayed by what he calls an insufficient U.S. focus on targeting Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. And he insists that public criticism was the only way to guarantee an American response to his concerns.

In Mr. Karzai's mind, al-Qaida is "more a myth than a reality" and the majority of the United States' prisoners here were innocent. He's certain that the war was "for the U.S. security and for the Western interest."

Such statements elicit scorn and shock from U.S. officials, who point out that Americans have sacrificed mightily for Afghanistan -- losing more than 2,000 lives and spending more than $600 billion in the effort to defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban and rebuild the country.

Court rampage kills 11

ISLAMABAD -- Gunmen stormed Pakistan's main court complex in Islamabad on Monday, cutting down fleeing lawyers before blowing themselves up in a rampage that killed 11 people. It was the worst terror attack in years in the capital, which has largely been spared the violence raging in many parts of the country.

The bloodshed undermined the government's efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the main militant group, the Pakistani Taliban, just days after the organization announced a one-month cease-fire for the talks. The Pakistani Taliban denied responsibility for the attack.

Pistorius trial begins

PRETORIA, South Africa -- The murder trial of South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius began dramatically in Pretoria's High Court on Monday, with a neighbor testifying that she heard "bloodcurdling screams" on the night his girlfriend was killed.

Michelle Burger, who lives close to Mr. Pistorius, told the court that she was awakened by the sound of a woman screaming in the early hours of Valentine's Day morning last year.

Mr. Pistorius, who in 2012 won acclaim for becoming the first amputee athlete to compete in the Olympics, pleaded not guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, as family members sat behind him in court.

Honor killings double

AQQABA, West Bank -- Twenty-seven women are suspected of being killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last year by family members claiming reasons of "honor" -- more than double the 13 cases documented in 2012.

The age-old rationale can serve as a cover for domestic abuse, inheritance disputes, rape, incest or the desire to punish female independence, according to Maha Abu-Dayyeh, the general director of the Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling, a Palestinian human rights group that tracks the murders.

Parliament forced to move

TRIPOLI, Libya -- Libya's Parliament moved into a five-star Tripoli hotel Monday, a day after rioters armed with knives and guns stormed the legislature building, torching furniture, killing a guard and wounding six lawmakers in the latest episode of turmoil in the country.

Tensions have been mounting between the country's biggest political blocs, each backed by militias, adding to the potential explosiveness of political disputes. Protesters demanded that Parliament be disbanded immediately after its mandate ran out in January.


-- Compiled from news services

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