World briefs (1/19/13)
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Islamists leave 2 Mali towns
NIONO, Mali -- Islamist rebels withdrew from their forward positions on both of Mali's war fronts Friday, an apparent sign that they'll be shifting tactics after heavy French aerial bombardment pounded their positions even in civilian residential areas.
The Malian military announced that it had regained control of Konna, the city whose fall last week prompted the French to send troops and air power to the West African nation.
The Islamists also pulled out of the town of Diabaly, which they had taken Monday, after days of intense aerial bombardment. Malian troops were expected to occupy the town Friday night.
Bloody week in Syria
BEIRUT -- A rocket slammed into a building in Syria's northern city of Aleppo and two suicide bombers struck near a mosque in the south Friday, capping a particularly bloody week in the country's civil war with more than 800 civilians killed, including an unusually large proportion in government-held areas.
The residential building struck in Aleppo was in a part of the city controlled by regime forces, as was a university hit earlier in the week in an attack that killed 87 people, mostly students. The government accused rebels in both attacks, saying they hit the locations with rockets, a claim the opposition denies.
But if confirmed it would signal that the rebels have acquired more sophisticated weaponry from captured regime bases and are now using them to take the fight more into government-held areas.
MOSCOW -- Russia has prepared the "Guantanamo list" of U.S. officials who will be denied entry visas, officials in Moscow said Friday, the latest apparent retaliation for a U.S. law imposing sanctions on Russians over the death of an activist lawyer.
Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the foreign relations committee in the lower house of parliament, said Friday the list as drafted last month initially included 11 U.S. officials involved in running the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and other sites allegedly used by the U.S. and its allies as secret prisons to hold terrorism suspects. The list was expanded this month to 60 people, he said.
Officer probing graft dies
ISLAMABAD -- A Pakistani officer investigating a corruption case against the prime minister was found dead in the country's capital Friday in what was likely an act of suicide, police said.
Kamran Faisal's death came days after the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and 15 others in connection with an old corruption case that the officer was investigating. The prime minister was implicated in the case when he was minister of water and power.
Judge explains ruling
ROME -- An Italian judge, Marco Billi, who sentenced seven natural disaster experts for failing to adequately warn people in 2009 about the upcoming risk an earthquake, on Friday explained his ruling.
In a more than 900-page document, he wrote: "The charge against the accused seems fully valid: The statements made regarding the risk assessment of the seismic activity in the L'Aquila area were absolutely vague, generic and ineffective."
Judge Billi's sentence is now expected to be appealed by the accused.
The central town of L'Aquila was hit by a 6.3-magnitude quake on April 6, 2009, which killed 309 people and left tens of thousands homeless.
-- Compiled from news services
First Published January 19, 2013 12:00 am