World briefs: 1 million refugees in Lebanon

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BEIRUT -- The number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon surpassed 1 million Thursday, the United Nations said, marking a "devastating milestone."

Tiny Lebanon has borne a disproportionate burden of the refugee crisis that has arisen from the 3-year-old Syrian conflict. The vast influx of Syrians has contributed to political, social and economic instability in this strategically situated nation wedged between Syria, Israel and the Mediterranean.

Lebanon, with an estimated population of 4.5 million, now has the distinction of housing the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world, the U.N. says. Each day in Lebanon, the U.N. says it registers 2,500 new refugees -- more than one person a minute.

Musharraf targeted?

ISLAMABAD -- A bomb apparently directed at Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani military ruler, went off early Thursday, minutes after his convoy had passed, police officials said.

The bomb went off as Mr. Musharraf, who has been charged with treason, was secretly being shifted from a military hospital in neighboring Rawalpindi to his farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad. The blast did not cause any casualties to the convoy, police said.

Yanukovych accused

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's interim authorities on Thursday accused fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych of ordering snipers to open fire on protesters and getting help from Russian security agents to battle his own people, but they provided no evidence directly linking him to the bloodbath in Kiev that left more than 100 people dead.

Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov also accused his predecessor, who was in charge of police, of recruiting gangs of killers, kidnappers and thugs to terrorize and undermine the opposition during the months-long protests.

Ukraine rhetoric escalates

BRUSSELS -- NATO on Thursday accused Russia of spreading "propaganda" after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S.-led alliance broke a commitment to limit its forces in eastern European countries.

Russia, not NATO, is trampling on pledges made in the 1990s by wresting control of Crimea and massing troops near Ukraine's borders, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters.

As the rhetoric escalated between the Kremlin and the trans-Atlantic alliance, Russia sought to intensify the economic squeeze by announcing it will charge Ukraine an extra 26 percent for natural gas.

Equal access to Internet

LONDON -- European lawmakers approved new rules Thursday aimed at guaranteeing equal access to the Internet and cutting cellphone charges across the 28-member European Union.

The proposals, which had been subject to intense lobbying by industry groups and consumer advocates, mirror similar efforts in the United States to allow access by all companies and individuals to the Internet's pipelines for services like streaming music, on-demand television and cloud computing.

Fracking reaches Spain

MADRID -- Energy companies from Texas, Canada and Ireland are going after exploration and drilling permits in hopes of capitalizing on geology that indicates Spain has a sizable chunk of the 883 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in shale estimated to sit under Europe.

The energy industry estimates fracking could eventually create tens of thousands of jobs in a nation with an unemployment rate of 26 percent. Unlocking gas deposits might ease what consumers pay for the heating fuel. It's about triple the U.S. price.


-- Compiled from news services

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