World briefs: Syria forces push into city

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BEIRUT -- As Syrian government forces on Saturday pushed into Yabrud, a town long held by rebels near the Lebanese border, opposition activists said that one of many fighters who fell in battle was a leader of the insurgent group the Nusra Front who had helped negotiate an unusual prisoner exchange last week.

Activists in and around Yabrud said the fighter, Abu Azzam al-Kuwaiti, had been killed in fierce combat in the area.

Government forces, backed by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, have spent weeks edging toward Yabrud, a critical transit point for militants, refugees and arms heading in and out of Lebanon. Now the fall of Yabrud appears to be imminent.

Doctor's sentence reduced

ISLAMABAD -- A Pakistani official reduced by 10 years the 33-year sentence of a Pakistani medical doctor who had helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden, local news media reported Saturday.

The doctor, Shakil Afridi, was arrested in 2011 after members of a U.S. Navy SEAL unit killed bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound. The raid caused the tumultuous relationship between United States and Pakistan to plummet.

In 2012, Dr. Afridi was convicted of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison. On Saturday, it was reduced to 23 years.

Gunmen kill 5 soldiers

CAIRO -- Assailants targeted a checkpoint in a northern suburb of Cairo just after Saturday's dawn prayers, killing at least five soldiers in what the government denounced as a "cowardly terrorist act." Armed forces spokesman Col. Ahmed Ali cast blame on the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Saturday morning's checkpoint attack, the military police officers were gunned down, but assailants also planted three explosive devices. Security forces safely defused two of them and set off the third in a controlled explosion, state media reported.

N.Y. lead financial center

LONDON -- New York replaced London as the world's leading financial center for the first time, after London was rocked by a series of scandals and questions over the U.K.'s place in the European Union.

New York holds the top spot in the latest Global Financial Centres Index with a "shaky, statistically insignificant" two-point lead, according to Michael Mainelli, chairman of Z/Yen Group, which compiles the index.

Troops repel Islamist attack

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- Nigerian troops repelled an attack by Boko Haram insurgents attempting to free fellow Islamists at an army detention center in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

Soldiers fought with rebels remaining after an attack on the Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri on Saturday, killing and arresting some of them, Major-General Chris Olukolade said Saturday in an emailed statement.

Charges filed for diplomat

MUMBAI, India -- The Indian government Saturday expressed its displeasure with the U.S. Justice Department for refiling criminal charges against a diplomat whose arrest in New York last year on charges of underpaying her domestic help caused a crisis in bilateral relations.

The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan on Friday issued a new indictment against the diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, just two days after a judge dismissed a similar indictment on diplomatic immunity grounds.

-- Compiled from news services


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