Monday 23 October 2017

In brief: Rebels clash with Gaddafi's troops in battle to control key mountain town

Libya's rebels fought yesterday with regime troops for control of a key mountain town that is a strategic gateway on the road to Tripoli in an intensified western offensive aiming to push toward Col Muammar Gaddafi's stronghold in the capital.

Rebels earlier claimed control of Gharyan, saying they had moved into the centre of the town and that Gaddafi's troops had withdrawn. But several hours later, regime forces returned and the two sides clashed, said rebel spokesman Gomma Ibrahim. Mr Ibrahim said Gharyan residents had joined with the rebel fighters, in part out of anger that some 2,500 of the town's men had been arrested in recent months for voicing opposition to Gaddafi. The claims could not immediately be confirmed independently.

Hijacked vessel released by pirates

A Maltese bulk carrier and its 21 crew have been released six months after the vessel was hijacked off the coast of Oman by Somali pirates, Mumbai's directorate general of shipping said yesterday. The MV Sinin, a 52,000-tonne carrier, is heading to Sri Lanka, where it will be dry-docked for inspection. The ship was hijacked on February 12. The statement didn't say whether or not a ransom was paid.

20 rescued after night in cable car

Emergency helicopters rescued 20 people yesterday who were trapped for 17 hours overnight on an Alpine cable car near Germany's most famous castle. Helicopter crews lifted the cable car operator and 19 tourists from a gondola suspended 330 feet above the ground on Tegelberg mountain in southern Germany, emergency services spokesman Roland Ampenberger said. The cable car was halted after a paraglider tandem flight crashed into its cables, but strong winds hindered a swift rescue, police said.

Activist group denied entry to Angola

Angolan authorities have barred activists from entering the country ahead of a regional summit there next week. An alliance of civil society groups known as the Regional Apex Organisation said yesterday Angolan authorities had denied them entry at the Luanda airport. The activists had planned to hold meetings alongside the Southern African Development Community summit that opens Tuesday.

Death penalty sought in shooting case

Prosecutors in Florida say they will seek the death penalty for a woman accused of killing her two teenage children in January. State Attorney Mark Ober's office filed a document stating its intention to seek the death penalty if Julie Schenecker is convicted of first-degree murder in the killings of her 16-year-old daughter, Calyx, and 13-year-old son, Beau. Police said Ms Schenecker, 50, deliberately shot each child twice in the head on January 27.

Canal du Midi to lose iconic trees

For nearly 200 years, the plane trees lining the 17th-Century Canal du Midi in southern France have watched over Europe's oldest, largest and most spectacular man-made waterway. Now, however, the canal's 42,000 arboreal sentinels are under threat. For the past five years, a fungus has been attacking the trees and defying attempts to cure it. Specialists say it is almost certain the planes will have to be chopped down, burned and replaced over the next 20 years.

Honduras and Canada sign trade deal

Honduran president Porfirio Lobo and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper have signed a free-trade agreement, but it still must be approved by the Central American country's legislature. Mr Lobo said 96pc of Honduras' products would enter Canada duty-free under the deal.

Producer's aide tells of harassment

Hollywood producer Jon Peters' former personal assistant testified on Friday that he crawled into bed with her, uninvited, at an Australian hotel. Shelly Morita's testimony came in her $1m (€700,000) sexual-harassment lawsuit against the 66-year-old producer of such films as Superman Returns and Batman.

Hotline to tackle corruption in Niger

Niger's government has launched a telephone hotline through which citizens can call to report corruption, officials said yesterday. The West African nation, which is rich in uranium but suffers perennial food shortages, is battling years of deep-rooted corruption, particularly under ex-president Mamadou Tandja. New president Mahamadou Issoufou has vowed to clean up the government.

Gang boss jailed for racketeering

A man who authorities say led one of South Florida's most violent gangs has been sentenced to 65 years' jail on racketeering charges. A Palm Beach County judge sentenced Futo Charles, 30, after a jury convicted him of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and drug charges.

No land threat from Storm Franklin

Forecasters say the sixth named storm of the Atlantic season has formed well off the US East Coast. Tropical Storm Franklin was centred about 460 miles north-northeast of Bermuda. It does not pose any threat to land.

McMahon considering Senate move

Former wrestling executive and 2010 US Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon says she is "leaning strongly" towards getting into Connecticut's 2012 Senate race. She will make a decision over the next four to six weeks.

Missing tourist feared dead in Aruba

Authorities in Aruba believe a missing American tourist is no longer alive and are seeking to extend a detention order for her travel companion. Investigators have few witnesses who saw Robyn Gardner and Gary V Giordano together in Aruba before he reported her missing, said Solicitor General Taco Stein. Mr Giordano told police she was pulled away by the ocean current as they snorkelled off the southern tip of the island on August 2.

Woman reveals face transplant result

A US woman who underwent a full face transplant in May after being mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009 revealed her new face in a photo released on Thursday. Charla Nash, 57, has a new nose, lips and facial skin.

Unmanned craft loses contact in test

An unmanned experimental aircraft designed to glide down from the atmosphere at 20 times the speed of sound lost contact on its second test flight last Thursday, a Pentagon agency said. The Falcon HTV-2 was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a rocket.

Appeals-court blow to healthcare law

US President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law suffered a setback last Friday when an appeals court ruled that it was unconstitutional to require all Americans to buy insurance or face a penalty.

Low-key celebration for Castro's 85th

Fidel Castro marked his 85th birthday outside of the public spotlight yesterday. There were no announced celebrations of his birthday.

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