World briefs: Canada retiring weaker tank cars

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OTTAWA -- Canada will require railways shipping crude oil to use stronger tank cars, phase out weaker cars within three years and reduce the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods.

The Canadian government will ban the "least crash- resistant" of tanker cars known as DOT-111s from carrying dangerous goods, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said Wednesday in Ottawa. DOT-111 cars carrying crude or ethanol that don't meet new safety standards must be phased out or refitted within three years, she said.

The U.S. and Canadian governments have tightened rail safety rules after crashes involving oil shipments, including the explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in July, that killed 47 people.

Fighting rages in S. Sudan

NAIROBI -- Fierce clashes erupted in South Sudan on Wednesday as rebels sought to seize control of more oil-rich areas two days after being accused of killing hundreds of civilians in ethnically motivated attacks.

Fighting raged in three states despite a cease-fire agreement in January, said Col. Philip Aguer, South Sudan's military spokesman, raising the likelihood of more tit-for-tat attacks and civilian casualties.

Already, thousands have been killed and more than a million people have fled their homes since the conflict broke out in early December, tearing apart the world's newest nation.

The war pits President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against his former vice president Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer.

Allegations of gas attacks

BEIRUT -- Syrian government forces have attacked rebel-held areas with poisonous chlorine gas in recent weeks and months, leaving men, women and children coughing, choking and gasping for breath, according to Associated Press interviews with more than a dozen activists, medics and residents on the opposition side.

Syria flatly denied the allegations, and they have yet to be confirmed by any foreign country or international organization. But if true, they highlight the limitations of the global effort to rid President Bashar Assad's government of its chemical weapons.

The U.N. Security Council called for an investigation Wednesday.

U.S. military aid to Egypt

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. is resuming delivery of Apache attack helicopters to Egypt and releasing half of the $1.3 billion a year in military assistance that was suspended last year.

President Barack Obama decided to provide 10 helicopters to help fight terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told his Egyptian counterpart in a telephone call Tuesday.

The assistance was halted after the military led the ouster of Egypt's democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in July.

Debris linked to jet?

SYDNEY -- Investigators are examining whether material that washed ashore near the southern end of Western Australia is connected to the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, Australian search organizers said Wednesday.

In a separate announcement, the Malaysian government said it had approved the formation of an international investigation team to determine what happened on March 8 to the plane and its 239 passengers and crew members.

The brief announcement from the Australian agency overseeing the hunt gave no clues about what the newest find was or why it had piqued investigators' curiosity.

-- Compiled from news services



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