World news briefs: 4/5/14

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Three to hang in India rape

MUMBAI, India -- Three men convicted of participating in a gang-rape of a Mumbai photojournalist last year were sentenced to death Friday under the strict provisions of a new rape law that have begun to cause unease among some women's rights advocates.

The death sentences are the first imposed under a law passed last year amid nationwide protests that followed the gang-rape and murder in December 2012 of a student on a New Delhi bus.

"I think these penalty provisions need to be reconsidered," said Renuka Singh, a sociologist at Jawaharlal Nehru University. "The purpose is to reform these people, not eliminate them."

Malaysia plane search

BEIJING -- Investigators began searching underwater Friday for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, with two ships homing in on a 150-mile path in the Indian Ocean where analysts believe the jet probably went down.

A pinger locator lent by the U.S. Navy was being towed by the Australian ship Ocean Shield, trying to pick up signals from the Boeing 777's flight data recorder.

Iran nuclear talks

WASHINGTON -- World powers and Iran will start drafting a final nuclear agreement next month, a U.S. official said Friday in a surprisingly optimistic assessment that expressed hope that a comprehensive pact could be reached in July.

Negotiators were to meet again next week in Vienna. The sides were making progress in talks, said the official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name and briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

U.S. to aid Tunisia

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama met Friday with Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa as the United States was set to provide the North African nation with $500 million in loan guarantees to help foster democracy there.

The agenda for their talks included U.S. financial and security assistance to Tunisia as well as support for its democratic political transition and efforts to combat extremism throughout North Africa.

Tunisia was home to the first and most successful of the Arab Spring uprisings that spread throughout the region in 2011, after Mohamed Bouazizi, 26, an unemployed vendor, committed suicide by setting himself on fire in December 2010.

Border guards freed

TEHRAN, Iran -- Four Iranian border guards kidnapped two months ago by Sunni Muslim militants along the nation's southeastern frontier with Pakistan have been released in Pakistan, Iranian news agencies reported Friday.

A fifth kidnapped border guard was reported executed last month by his captors. His body has been handed over to Iranian authorities, according to media accounts. The case sparked outrage in Iran and inflamed tension between Iran and Pakistan, where the abducted guards were apparently held.

Austerity protest

BRUSSELS -- More than 25,000 people took part Friday in a European trade union demonstration in Belgium's capital against austerity, while more than 20 people were injured in the protest that at times turned violent, a police spokeswoman told the German news agency DPA.

A "minority" of demonstrators were aggressive, throwing objects including stones and barriers, and "anything they could find," said police commissioner Ilse Van de Keere.


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