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New Afghan spy chief accused of corruption and torture

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has nominated a cabinet minister to head the country’s spy agency who has been accused of involvement in torture, drug-trafficking and corruption. Asadullah Khalid, the minister for borders and a one-time governor of the Taliban-troubled province of Kandahar, must be approved by a parliamentary vote before…

South Africa to start releasing arrested miners

A South African court was due to start releasing 270 miners Monday who were arrested after police gunned down 34 of their colleagues, following a decision by prosecutors to withdraw murder charges against them. Prosecutors provisionally dropped the charges Sunday amid a public furor after officers opened fire on strikers…

U.S. consulate in Pakistan targeted in suicide attack

A suicide car bomber targeted a U.S. consulate vehicle in Pakistan Monday, in an attack officials said killed four, but there were conflicting accounts of whether Americans were among the dead. The bomber struck during the morning rush hour, close to residential quarters used by the US consulate in the…

Nine dead in Madagascar in clashes with armed zebu rustlers

ANTANANARIVO — Nine people were killed as police and gendarmes intervened after a gang of armed cattle thieves seized a thousand cattle in southern Madagascar, the gendarmerie said Sunday. Six rustlers, two gendarmes and a police officer died in the fighting, after around 130 armed men seized the zebu, a…

Rescuers save penguins caught in oil from leaking Turkish tanker

JOHANNESBURG — Fuel leaking from a Turkish freighter wreck that has been smashed up by a storm has contaminated at least five penguins on South Africa’s Robben Island, emergency services said Sunday. One penguin from the island had been rescued for treatment and cleaning and a team would also capture…

Obama not offended by Clint Eastwood’s convention antics

It probably didn’t make his day, but Barack Obama appears to harbour no grudge against Clint Eastwood for the actor’s bizarre attack on him during the Republican National Convention. In an interview with USA Today, the president diplomatically referred to the ageing Hollywood legend as a “great actor, and an…

Extinct species Eritherium azzouzorum discovered in Morocco

The three living species of the order Proboscidea, the savanna and forest African and Asian elephants, surely rank among the most bizarre and extraordinarily derived placental mammals. They are, however, relics of a long and once species-rich lineage. Thanks to a recently discovered fossil, we now know that this evolutionary march…

Iran plans major air defense exercise

TEHRAN — Iran plans to start a major military exercise later this month to test its air defence systems, a top Revolutionary Guards commander said in comments published on Sunday. The exercise was announced by Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, who heads the elite force’s air defence command, amid rising speculation…

U.S. experts probe beaching that killed 17 whales

MIAMI — US scientists are to investigate what led 22 whales to beach themselves in Florida — killing 17 of them — one of three such incidents in North America over the weekend. The dead whales will be “dispersed at different labs across Florida for necropsy,” or animal autopsies, Blair…

Rebels in Syrian ghost town hunted from above

TAFTANAZ, Syria — The noise is unmistakable and strikes fear into those on the ground: then it appears, the sinister silhouette of an Mi-24 gunship, scanning for targets so it can unleash its terrible firepower. The helicopters circle out of range of the rebels’ inferior weapons, before swooping to bombard…

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