World briefs: EU sees surge in immigrants

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LONDON -- Even as its leaders grapple with populist demands for curbs on migrants, Europe is facing a surge of asylum seekers risking their lives to escape war and poverty in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, according to new assessments Friday.

The forecast is likely to sharpen disputes between Europe's mainstream politicians and right-wing figures who campaigned in elections this month on anti-immigrant platforms.

In figures released Friday, Frontex, the union's border agency, said the number of migrants from outside Europe known to have entered Europe illicitly this year was already close to the total for all of 2013 and was likely to rise as summer weather brings calmer seas, benefiting migrants crossing the Mediterranean from northern Africa.

In its annual report issued this month, Frontex said 40,000 asylum seekers arrived, mainly in Italy, from North Africa in all of 2013.

Terror suspect arrested

JERUSALEM -- Israeli security officials said their Border Police at a military checkpoint in the West Bank detained a young Palestinian man wearing a "suicide belt" packed with explosives. The man was arrested and did not activate the device, they said.

Suicide attacks were a signal tactic during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s. More than 600 Israelis and Palestinians were killed in those bombings.

Zebra trek documented

JOHANNESBURG -- Scientists have discovered a mass migration of animals in Africa that reaches farther than any other documented on the continent.

The journey made by about 2,000 zebra who traveled between Namibia and Botswana, two countries in a sparsely populated part of southern Africa, was discovered by wildlife experts only after some of the zebras were collared with tracking devices.

The zebra odyssey encompasses a round trip journey of 300 miles.

Coup chief delays election

BANGKOK -- The head of the military junta who seized power in Thailand said Friday that it could take more than a year for new elections to be held because peace and reforms must be achieved first.

Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha repeated warnings against protests or resistance to the army's May 22 takeover, saying they would slow the process of bringing back "happiness" to the Thai people.

2 police fired in rape case

LUCKNOW, India -- Facing relentless media attention and growing criticism for a series of rapes, state officials in north India fired two police officers Friday for failing to investigate the disappearance of two teenage cousins, who were gang-raped and later found hanging from a tree.

The Indian police also said Friday that they were scouring the countryside to find two more men accused in the rape and murder of the two teenage girls.

Police have already arrested two brothers and a police officer in the case.

Columbus' flagship

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haiti's government has formed a commission to help settle the question of whether remnants of a shipwreck off the country's north coast belongs to explorer Christopher Columbus' storied flagship, the Santa Maria.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced the group in the wake of a visit with leading underwater explorer Barry Clifford, who discovered a ballast pile that he believes belonged to the ship. that sank in 1492.

-- Compiled from news services

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