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World in brief: Hamas says longer truce acceptable

Fri., Feb. 13, 2009, midnight

The deputy leader of Hamas said Thursday night that the Islamic militant group agreed to an 18-month truce with Israel for the Gaza Strip, the official Egyptian news agency reported.

Moussa Abu Marzouk told MENA that Egypt’s government, which has been mediating between Hamas and Israel, would announce the truce in two days after consulting with other Palestinian factions.

In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office said the Israeli government had no comment on the report.

Egyptian diplomats have been working as go-betweens to try to arrange a truce deal between Hamas and Israel to solidify a cease-fire that ended Israel’s devastating 22-day offensive in Gaza last month. Hamas and Israel refuse to negotiate directly.

In the Gulf of Aden

U.S. Navy detains suspected pirates

The U.S. Navy apprehended suspected pirates Thursday for a second consecutive day in the Gulf of Aden, a treacherous waterway between Somalia and Yemen where international forces have been battling pirates preying on commercial vessels.

The Navy said it responded Thursday to a distress signal from the Indian-flagged vessel Premdivya which said it was fired upon by men in a skiff who were trying to board their vessel.

The Navy said a helicopter from the USS Vella Gulf fired two warning shots at the suspected pirates to stop them fleeing. U.S. forces searched the skiff and found weapons including rocket-propelled grenades, then took nine suspected pirates aboard the American ship.

On Wednesday, the same American ship detained seven other suspected pirates – the Navy’s first arrests since it established an anti-piracy task force this year.

From wire reports

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