Taliban insurgents marked the start of their spring offensive on Sunday by claiming responsibility for a remote-controlled roadside bomb blast that killed three police officers. In the attack in Ghazni province in southern Afghanistan, a bomb exploded under police vehicles traveling to the district of Zana Khan to take part in a military operation against insurgents, Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, the province’s deputy governor, said. He said the blast destroyed the vehicle carrying Col. Mohammad Hussain, the deputy provincial police chief, killing him and two other officers.
Bill sets stage for civil service layoffs
Greece’s Parliament approved an emergency bill Sunday to pave the way for thousands of public sector layoffs and free up $11.5 billion in international rescue loans. The bill, which passed in a 168-123 vote, will allow for the first civil service layoffs in more than a century. About 2,000 civil servants will be laid off by the end of May, with another 2,000 following by the end of the year and a further 11,500 by end-2014, for a total of 15,500.
Leader warns against prophet attacks
Morocco’s Islamist prime minister says it’s unacceptable to criticize the Prophet Muhammad, entering a war of words between a secular activist and hardline Salafists that has strained the balance between freedom of expression and religious sensitivities. Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane took a not-so-veiled swipe at secular activist Ahmed Assid at a party rally late Saturday in Rabat. While not mentioning Assid by name, Benkirane said respect must be given to the overwhelmingly Muslim country’s values. Assid has said a Moroccan school textbook implies that Islam could be imposed by force.
Cyberattack suspect had bunker, hacking van
A Dutch citizen arrested in northeast Spain on suspicion of launching what is described as the biggest cyberattack in Internet history operated from a bunker and had a van with equipment capable of hacking into networks anywhere in the country, officials said Sunday. The suspect traveled in Spain using his van “as a mobile computing office, equipped with various antennas to scan frequencies,” an Interior Ministry statement said. Agents arrested him Thursday in Granollers. The 35-year-old was identified as only as S.K.
Court convicts 8 on terror charges
A court convicted eight men on terrorism-related charges, including plotting attacks on an oil refinery, the official Saudi Press Agency reported Sunday. The defendants, seven Saudis and one Yemeni, were given prison sentences ranging from four months to eight years. All eight were banned from traveling abroad for at least one year after their release. Saudi Arabia runs a rehabilitation program that aims to dissuade militants from fighting alongside al-Qaida.
French forces leave Timbuktu
Dozens of French forces have left the northern Malian town of Timbuktu several months after their military operation largely ousted radical Islamic fighters from the area, a French military official said Sunday. The reallocation of about 100 French soldiers to the northeastern town of Gao will pose a critical test as to whether Malian soldiers and their counterparts from neighboring nations will be able to maintain security in the area still threatened by jihadists. Soldiers from neighboring Burkina Faso officially took over last week in Timbuktu, and French soldiers are now departing, Col. Cyrille Zimmer said.
The members of the state ethics commission, eager to bring order to one of the most disordered corners of state government, hired a “receiver” last week to heal their agency and then did they only thing they could.
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