World briefs (5/11/13)

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Russia defends missile sales

BEIRUT -- Russia defended its sales of anti-aircraft systems to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, just days after joining forces with the U.S. for a new push to end Syria's civil war through negotiations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov avoided saying whether those sales included advanced S-300 batteries. Israel has asked Russia to cancel what it said was the imminent sale of the S-300 missiles, portrayed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as destabilizing to Israel's security.

The S-300s would make it harder for the U.S. and other countries to even consider intervening militarily or enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria. The U.S. has urged Russia -- an Assad ally along with China, Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia -- to cut off weapons supplies to Syria.

Bombs kill 3 in Pakistan

MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan -- A pair of bombs targeting the offices of candidates running in this weekend's election killed three people on Friday in northwest Pakistan, the latest attacks in what has been a bloody campaign.

At least 130 people have been killed in attacks on candidates and party workers since the beginning of April. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks, saying the country's democracy runs counter to Islam.

Also on Friday, unknown assailants threw a grenade at the main office of the secular Pakistan People's Party in Quetta, the capital of southwest Baluchistan province, wounding five people, police said.

China, Taiwan protest

BEIJING -- Beijing and Taipei united in their condemnation of the Philippines on Friday for the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters.

The killing of Hung Shih-cheng, 65, injects a volatile new element in ongoing conflicts over the South China Sea, where fishermen and authorities from competing nations often play dangerous games of chicken at sea.

Philippines authorities admitted that one of their coast guard ships opened fire Thursday on the victim's Taiwanese vessel, but said they had done so to prevent their own boat from being rammed.

Standoff at Western Wall

JERUSALEM -- Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews flooded the Western Wall early Friday morning, creating a tense standoff with a pluralistic group of women that has for years prayed at the holy site once a month wearing garments traditionally used by men.

Black-hatted Orthodox men whistled, catcalled, and threw water, candy, a rock and other items at the group known as the Women of the Wall. Three ultra-Orthodox men were arrested and two were detained for questioning for trying to attack the women, the police said.

Also in the world ...

Malcolm Shabazz, 28, the grandson of slain civil rights leader Malcolm X, has been beaten to death in Mexico City, his battered body dumped near the famed Plaza Garibaldi, in what may have been a robbery gone wrong, police said Friday. ... Two World Health Organization employees traveled to Saudi Arabia on May 8 to meet with local health officials on the novel coronavirus, after an outbreak at a hospital there. Coronaviruses are a family of pathogens that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. ... President Park Geun-hye of South Korea has fired her spokesman Yoon Chang-jung for allegedly sexually groping a young woman while he was traveling with Ms. Park on her state visit to Washington this week, her office announced Friday.

-- Compiled from news services



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