World Briefs: Italy rescues 4,000 migrants

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ROME -- Italian authorities said Thursday that they have rescued more than 4,000 would-be migrants at sea over the past four days as the war in Syria and instability in Libya spawn new waves of refugees.

The numbers of migrants reaching Italian shores generally rises this time of year as warm weather and calm seas make the Mediterranean Sea crossing from North Africa easier. But the U.N. refugee agency said the numbers so far in 2014 represent a 300 percent increase over the same period in 2013.

Italian maritime officials said 2,922 people were picked up March 17-18, and another 1,165 were rescued in the two days ending Thursday.

Italy beefed up its air and sea surveillance of the sea smuggling route after a boat capsized last October off the southern island of Lampedusa, killing more than 360 people.

Gang rape conviction

MUMBAI, India -- A court in Mumbai on Thursday found five men guilty on charges related to the gang rapes of a photojournalist and a call-center operator in an abandoned mill building last year. The case has shaken a city that has long prided itself on being relatively progressive and cosmopolitan.

The trial judge, Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, said he expected sentences for the five men to be handed down today. The men face possible prison terms of 20 years to life.

The Mumbai case illustrated the continuing effects of another gang-rape case, in which a physiotherapy student was fatally assaulted on a moving bus in New Delhi in 2012. The wave of protests that followed her death set in motion some remarkable changes in India.

Syria loses online access

ALEPPO, Syria -- Syria was hit with an Internet outage Thursday that lasted more than seven hours and covered most of the country, according to multiple Internet monitoring companies.

According to Renesys, the outage started at 8:26 Eastern time, and the only Internet service still operating was Turk Telekom, which connects the city of Aleppo. Aleppo, Syria's largest city, has been the site of some of the most intense fighting in the country's three-year civil war. Cybersecurity firm Akamai's monitoring service showed a similar disruption.

Myanmar overhauls police

RANGOON, Myanmar -- Western governments are ramping up their training work with Myanmar's police, eager to push the country toward a more professional "protect-and-serve" ethos.

But it's a tall order, say both Myanmar and foreign experts. The force is saddled with a reputation for brutality and corruption and is poorly trained in the basic tasks of a modern police force, such as collecting and maintaining evidence.

Pistorius to sell house

JOHANNESBURG -- Facing the need to raise money for legal fees as he stands trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee track star, plans to sell the house where he admits shooting her, a lawyer said on his behalf Thursday.

Mr. Pistorius, 27, has said he shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in a tragic error, mistaking her for an intruder locked inside a bathroom in his house in Pretoria, South Africa. But prosecutors have accused him of premeditated murder, a crime that carries a minimum 25-year prison term on conviction in South Africa, which does not have the death penalty.


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