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Egyptian hard-liner denies Holocaust

Cairo, Egypt The leader of Egypt’s main Islamic opposition group said Thursday the Holocaust was a “myth,” and he slammed Western governments for criticizing disclaimers of the Jewish genocide.

The comments by Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohammed Mahdi Akef – made on the heels of his group’s strong showing in Egyptian parliamentary elections – echoed remarks made recently by Iran’s hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which sparked international outrage.

“Western democracies have slammed all those who don’t see eye to eye with the Zionists regarding the myth of the Holocaust,” Akef wrote in a weekly article meant as a directive to the group’s followers on its official Web site.

Akef’s hard-line rhetoric was in contrast to the moderate tone the Brotherhood took in November and December parliamentary elections, during which it played down its calls for implementing Shariah, or Islamic law, in Egypt and instead touted itself as a pro-democracy movement.

U.S. soldier may face murder charges in Italy

Rome A U.S. soldier is being investigated for his alleged role in the March killing in Baghdad of an Italian secret service agent, who had just secured the release of a journalist held hostage, a prosecutor and news reports said Thursday.

Rome prosecutors are investigating the March 4 death of Nicola Calipari, who was killed by U.S. gunfire near a checkpoint as he headed to the Baghdad airport with Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was held hostage by militants for a month.

Prosecutor Franco Ionta confirmed reports in Italian news agencies ANSA and Apcom that the soldier is being investigated, but he refused to discuss details. The reports said prosecutors are considering charging the soldier with murder. Prosecutors did not identify the soldier, who is believed to be the only one to fire at the car.

Israel kills militants during West Bank raid

Nablus, West Bank Israeli troops shot and killed three Palestinian militants, including the local leader of a small radical faction, during an arrest raid Thursday in the West Bank city of Nablus, witnesses and the military said.

Hours later, militants in the Gaza Strip launched a homemade rocket into an Israeli military base, slightly wounding five soldiers, the army said.

Israel responded with an artillery barrage into Gaza that Palestinian officials said killed one Palestinian. Israeli officials also threatened further unprecedented retaliation but would not elaborate.

Soldiers entered Nablus early Thursday in pursuit of wanted men and opened fire on a four-story building where militants were holed up, the military said. One wanted man and two associates were shot as they tried to escape, it said.

Witnesses identified one of the dead men as Bashar Hanani, the Nablus leader of the small Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.


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Report: Airstrikes on Syria pro-government positions kill 12

new  Airstrikes overnight in eastern Syria killed at least 12 pro-government fighters, all reportedly foreign nationals, a war-monitoring group said Thursday. The Syrian government-run media blamed the strikes on the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group.