World briefs: European powers boost drone efforts

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BRUSSELS — Italy, France and Germany agreed on Monday to develop a European drone program for reconnaissance and surveillance, seeking to inject momentum into a proposal first considered in 2013 to reduce reliance on U.S. and Israeli technology.

Large drones operated by European armed forces are mostly based on U.S. or Israeli designs, creating a dependence on foreign technology that some European companies and officials see as bad for European industry and military capabilities.

New S. Sudan violence

JUBA, South Sudan — Large numbers of civilians have been killed, raped or burned out of their homes in the latest upsurge of fighting in South Sudan, U.N. officials said on Monday.

Toby Lanzer, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, said in a statement that the latest fighting had also left over 650,000 civilians without access to aid. In Unity state, thousands of homes had been burned and a hospital in the town of Leer was under threat of destruction.

The world’s newest state, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011, was plunged into conflict nearly 18 months ago between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with his former deputy, Riek Machar.

Dozens killed in Colombia

SALGAR, Colombia — An avalanche of mud and debris roared over the alpine town of Salgar in western Colombia before dawn Monday, killing at least 58 people in a flash flood and mudslide triggered by heavy rains.

Colombia’s rugged topography, in a seismically active area at the northern edge of the Andes, combined with shoddy construction practices, has made the country one of Latin America’s most disaster-prone.

Venezuela officials probed

WASHINGTON — U.S. authorities are investigating Venezuela’s powerful parliamentary chief, Diosdado Cabello, and other senior officials for possible cocaine trafficking and money laundering, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Venezuelan opposition leaders and U.S. officials have made accusations for years of money laundering and drug trafficking against the governments of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and predecessor Hugo Chavez.

N. Korea sanctions mulled

SEOUL, South Korea — The United States and China are discussing imposing further sanctions on North Korea, which is “not even close” to taking steps to rein in its nuclear weapons program, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday.

The secretive North is already under heavy U.N., EU and U.S. sanctions for its missile and nuclear tests.

Also in the world …

The Ukrainian government said on Monday that it had captured two wounded Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine and would prosecute them on terrorism charges, prompting a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin to repeat the Kremlin’s denial that any Russian troops had been deployed across the border. … Simultaneous bomb blasts hit the offices of a pro-Kurdish party in two cities in southern Turkey on Monday, wounding six people, three weeks before a parliamentary election. … Thailand arrested the suspected kingpin of a human trafficking network on Monday, the latest bust in a crackdown on people smuggling that has triggered a humanitarian crisis on the region’s seas.


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