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Friday 23 February 2018

In Brief: Bombers hit hospital emergency room and university students in Pakistan

Gunmen took over parts of a hospital in Pakistan yesterday after two bomb blasts in the city of Quetta killed at least 22 people. Armed men captured sections of the hospital complex and were positioned on rooftops, said the head of police.

Frontier Corps troops and police commandos who were called in cleared the hospital after a five-hour standoff.

The attacks appeared to target minority Shiites. The violence in Baluchistan province started when a blast ripped through a bus carrying female university students. At least 14 people died in this incident.

As family, friends and rescuers crowded the emergency room where the dead and wounded were taken, another blast went off in the corridor. A top government official was killed in the blast and two other people wounded.

Egypt cuts diplomatic ties with Syria

Egypt's Islamist president Mohammed Morsi has cut off diplomatic relations with Syria and has ordered that the Syrian embassy in Cairo to be closed.

Mr Morsi told supporters at a rally yesterday that his government is also withdrawing the Egyptian charge d'affaires from Damascus. He also called on Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah paramilitaries to leave Syria.


FORMER South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela is recovering well from a lung infection that has kept him in a serious condition in hospital for a week, his grandson said yesterday.

Mandla Mandela's comment was the latest indication that the health of the 94-year-old was showing signs of improvement.


Two Spanish tourists who were kidnapped in Colombia a month ago have been rescued by police in a rural area near the northeastern border with Venezuela after being held by a criminal gang since mid-May.

No shots were fired and no suspects were detained during the rescue operation. However, a Syrian national and a Spanish citizen suspected of trying to collect a ransom were captured in Spain, officials in Madrid said.


Gunmen staged overnight attacks on at least six security buildings and outposts throughout Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, killing six soldiers, officials said yesterday.

The brazen assaults, involving snipers, rocket-propelled grenades and explosives thrown on to rooftops, comes after a number of smaller attacks and assassinations of security officials in the city in recent months.

A spokesman for the army's chief of staff said no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Officials have also not announced any arrests. An elite military unit known as Saaqa claimed on its Facebook page that Islamic extremists were responsible. It gave no further details.


AN AIRPLANE travelling between Egypt and the US made an emergency landing at a Scottish airport yesterday.

The aircraft was escorted to Prestwick Airport by RAF Typhoons after a woman on the plane found a note in a toilet apparently threatening to start a fire.


Seven people remain missing after a ferry sank in the central Philippines in which two people died.

The deputy coastguard chief of Masbate province said 22 crew members and 39 passengers were rescued after the vessel sank in calm waters off Burias Island. The cause of the sinking is under investigation.


An audio message purporting to be from the leader of al-Qaeda's Iraq arm has him rejecting an order by top al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri earlier this week to scrap a merger with the terror network's Syria affiliate.

In an online message, a speaker identified as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi insists that a merger he previously announced between the Islamic State of Iraq branch and Syria's Jabhat al-Nusra rebels to create a cross-border movement known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant will continue. Al-Nusra is Syria's most powerful rebel extremist group, and its head has rejected the takeover bid.


Pope Francis has taken his first major step in reforming the Vatican Bank by appointing trusted prelate Monsignor Battista Mario Salvatore Ricca to oversee its management.

The key job of prelate of the Institute for Religious Works has been vacant since 2011. The prelate oversees the bank's activities, attends its board meetings and, critically, has access to all its documentation.

Just before resigning, Benedict XVI named German aristocrat and financier Ernst von Freyberg as the bank's president. He has said the bank's main problem is its reputation, rather than any operational shortcomings.

Irish Independent

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