World briefs: Libyan militias step up pressure

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TRIPOLI, Libya -- Gunmen swooped in on trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns and surrounded Libya's Justice Ministry on Tuesday, cutting off roads and forcing employees out of the building in the latest instance of powerful militiamen showing their muscle to press their demands on how Libya should be run more than a year after Moammar Gadhafi's ouster.

Over the past three days, militiamen stormed the headquarters of the Interior Ministry and state-run TV and besieged the Foreign Ministry while publicly calling for the removal of Gadhafi-era officials from government posts and the passage of the so-called "isolation law," which would bar from political life anyone who held any position -- even minor -- under the ousted autocrat's regime.

However, analysts and democracy advocates believe militiamen are using the isolation law as a way to get rid of Prime Minister Ali Zidan, who has vowed to restore the authority of the state and disband the armed groups that have become a power unto themselves in Libya.

Eurozone jobless rate rises

BRUSSELS -- The eurozone jobless rate rose to a record 12.1 percent in March.

The unemployment rate in the 17-nation currency union ticked up by one-tenth of a percentage point from February, when the previous record was set, Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, reported from Luxembourg. A year earlier, the rate was 11 percent.

U.S. investigates air crash

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan -- A team of federal investigators and representatives from Boeing Co. are headed for Afghanistan to examine a cargo plane crash that took place Monday at U.S.-operated Bagram Air Base.

The cause of the accident is unknown, but the plane's operator, National Air Cargo, confirmed that all seven American civilian crew members were killed and the aircraft, a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, was completely destroyed.

With the combat roles of U.S. troops in Afghanistan tapering off, aircraft accidents have also emerged as the biggest killer of U.S. troops during the first four months of the year.

U.S. troops sent to Mali

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has deployed a small number of troops to Mali to support allied forces fighting there, despite repeated pledges by the Obama administration not to put "boots on the ground" in the war-torn African country.

About 10 U.S. military personnel are in Mali to provide "liaison support" to French and African troops but are not engaged in combat operations, said Lt. Col. Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman. Twelve others are assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Bamako, the capital, he added.

Also in the world ...

A Pakistani court ruled Tuesday that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf could never run for public office again. The 69-year-old former general is already under house arrest for ordering the detention of dozens of judges in 2007 while he was in power. ... A Bangladesh court Tuesday asked the government to confiscate assets belonging to the owner of the factory complex that collapsed last week as hopes fade for more survivors after the nation's biggest industrial disaster. The death toll now stands at nearly 400. ...Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta won the final confidence vote needed to install his government before taking his economic growth plan to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.



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