World briefs: Syrian fighter jet shot down
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BEIRUT -- Rebel forces said Thursday that they had shot down a Syrian fighter jet in the northwest of the country, only three days after rebels appeared to have shot down a helicopter over Damascus.
The downing of the jet, if confirmed, would be the third attack in a little more than two weeks in which rebels have brought down a government aircraft, a sign that the fighters have either received more sophisticated weaponry or are becoming more proficient at using the weapons in their arsenal.
A Free Syrian Army spokesman said rebel fighters attacked the Abu al-Zuhour military air base, east of the city of Idlib, and peppered the jet with heavy machine gun fire as it was taking off from the runway.
CANBERRA, Australia -- More than 120 asylum seekers may have drowned off Indonesia, according to the Australian government, which is reopening offshore detention centers in an attempt to deter refugees from attempting the boat journey.
"There were up to 150 people that were aboard this vessel," which is believed to have sunk, Home Minister Jason Clare told reporters in Sydney Thursday. "There is a massive search and rescue effort going on right now just off the coast of Indonesia."
Almost 1,000 asylum seekers, often from war-torn Middle Eastern and South Asian nations, are known to have drowned in the waters between Indonesia and Australia since 2001.
KABUL -- Five Australian troops were killed in two separate incidents in Afghanistan on Wednesday and Thursday, making it the bloodiest 24-hour period for Canberra in the war and adding to growing concern about attacks on foreign troops by rogue Afghan soldiers.
Three troops were relaxing at their base in southern Uruzgan province when they were shot at close range by an Afghan man wearing a military uniform, the vice chief of Australia's Air Defense Force told reporters in Sydney.
The shooter managed to escape by scaling a fence after the incident late Wednesday, Air Marshal Mark Binskin was quoted as saying. Two Australian soldiers were wounded.
MOSCOW -- The bodies of an elderly woman and her daughter were found in Russia beneath a scrawled message demanding freedom for the jailed members of the Pussy Riot band, officials said Thursday.
While a Russian investigator cautioned that the killer was possibly trying to mislead police by drawing attention to the punk provocateurs, the alleged link between a killer and anti-Putin protesters was immediately seized upon by Russian media and pro-Kremlin publicists.
Three members of the band were sentenced this month to two years in prison for a February "punk prayer" performance in Moscow's main cathedral entreating the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Vladimir Putin.
The authorities in Venezuela said Wednesday that they would investigate claims that illegal Brazilian gold miners massacred a village of Yanomami Indians deep in the Amazon jungle. It was not clear how many people may have died in the massacre. ... A 97-year-old message in a bottle found by Scottish fishermen in their catch has set the world record for spending the longest time at sea. Guinness World Records confirmed the April 12 discovery by the Shetland Islands fishing boat, the Scottish Government in Edinburgh said Thursday.
First Published August 31, 2012 12:00 am