World briefs: Vivendi picks phone buyer

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LONDON -- After a bidding war, the French media conglomerate Vivendi said Saturday that it would sell its mobile phone unit, SFR, to Altice in a deal worth as much as 17 billion euros (about $23.3 billion)

Vivendi chose Altice, a cable and mobile service provider based in Luxembourg, over Bouygues, the owner of Bouygues Telecom, the third-largest mobile provider in France. Bouygues had hoped to reshape the French telecommunications market by combining two of the country's four largest mobile providers.

Under the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, Vivendi will receive 13.5 billion euros when the transaction is completed and a later potential payment of 750 million euros. It will receive a 20 percent stake in a combined entity made up of SFR and Altice's Numericable, which Vivendi intends to sell in installments at a later date.

21 Iraqi soldiers killed

BAGHDAD -- An explosion at a booby-trapped house, ensuing clashes with militants and roadside bombings killed 21 soldiers Saturday in Iraq, authorities said.

The house explosion happened Saturday afternoon when a group of soldiers searched a farmhouse in Garma, an area near the city of Fallujah, 40 miles west of the capital, police said. Minutes later, police said, gunmen opened fire on arriving soldiers.

The blast and clashes killed 15 soldiers and wounded 24, as well as leveled the home, officials said.

23 die in tribal feud

CAIRO -- Feuding between an Arab tribe and a Nubian family left 23 killed late last week in the southern Egyptian province of Aswan, leading the nation's military to intervene.

At least 50 were injured in clashes between the Bani Hilal tribesmen and Nubian villagers, the Health Ministry said Fighting initially started as a graffiti war between students from the rival sides at a local school, the Interior Ministry said.

Syria militia conflict

CAIRO -- Al-Qaida's leader called on fighters to determine who killed his chief representative in Syria, a man who many militant groups believe died at the hands of a rival militia, in a move that highlighted a conflict between rebels that has killed hundreds.

In a thinly veiled criticism of the breakaway Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant organization, Ayman al-Zawahri called the killing of Abu Khaled al-Suri an act of "sedition" that should be handled in accordance with Islamic law.

Army patrolling in slums

RIO DE JANEIRO -- About 2,700 members of Brazil's armed forces on Saturday occupied a poor neighborhood that sits along two highways connecting Rio's international airport to its main tourist zone.

The dawn operation met little resistance and is a part of the city's five-year-old "pacification" policing program, which has established permanent police patrols in select slums, or favelas, ahead of this year's World Cup soccer tournament, which Brazil is hosting.

Also in the world ...

Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said at a government meeting Saturday that Russia's plan to raise the natural gas price by 80 percent to what he called the highest price in Europe is "aggression against Ukraine." ... U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived Saturday in the Central African Republic in an effort to drum up world support for an effort to stanch the widening sectarian conflict there.

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