World briefs: Taliban kidnap, kill Afghan cops

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MAIDAN WARDAK, Afghanistan -- A group of Afghan policemen were kidnapped Wednesday while traveling in civilian clothes, and the Taliban later claimed they had killed seven of them.

In a statement emailed to journalists, the militants said they had killed the policemen in an ambush in the Said Abad district of Wardak province, and that they found documents on the policemen that showed they were members of the Afghan Civil Order Police, an elite police unit.

Afghan police officers often travel to Kabul to get paid and to visit their families, and generally do so in civilian clothes for their safety.

Pakistan peace prospects

KARACHI, Pakistan -- Pakistani Taliban militants on Wednesday said they were ending a cease-fire with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government, a blow to efforts to end more than a decade of violence in the nuclear-armed nation.

Mr. Sharif is seeking to reach a deal with Taliban militants operating near Afghanistan to bring peace and bolster his nation's $225 billion economy. Any fresh violence by the Taliban will put pressure on the prime minister to mount military operations against them.

Turkish PM faults Twitter

ISTANBUL -- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has called Twitter "the worst menace to society" and a tool of foreign conspirators. For good measure, he has also accused it of evading taxes.

After ordering the social media site to be blocked in March, he reluctantly turned it back on for Turkey's millions of Internet users two weeks ago, only because the country's highest court demanded that he do so.

That was the atmosphere that a delegation of Twitter officials stepped into when it arrived in Ankara, the Turkish capital, this week for a series of meetings with Turkish officials to smooth things over.

Pistorius trial delayed

PRETORIA, South Africa -- Oscar Pistorius' lawyers tried to roll back the prosecution's momentum at his murder trial Wednesday following the star athlete's shaky testimony, presenting a forensic expert who quickly found his own credentials and findings sharply questioned.

Earlier, the judge ruled that proceedings will adjourn for more than two weeks after today because a member of the prosecution team has another case to attend to. The trial will resume on May 5.

U.K. economic milestone

LONDON -- Britain crossed an important economic and psychological threshold Wednesday when growth in paychecks caught up with inflation after years of financial crisis, austerity and an accompanying dip in living standards.

With an election next year, the Conservative-led coalition is hoping that voters see the rapid turnaround in the British economy as a vindication of government austerity policies, which included big public spending cuts to curb the budget deficit.

Also in the world ...

China's rejection of U.S. grain grown with seeds genetically modified by Syngenta AG may cost U.S. growers as much as $6.3 billion in losses through August 2015, according to the National Grain & Feed Association, based in Washington. ... France's new prime minister, Manuel Vallis, announced plans Wednesday to cut 21 billion euros ($29 billion) from state pensions, health care and the social safety net as a part of a 50 billion-euro effort to rein in the country's debt and deficit.


-- Compiled from news services


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