CAIRO – Egypt’s top generals led hundreds of mourners Saturday at a funeral honoring former spy chief Omar Suleiman, who for decades served as a key pillar of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime.
Long a shadowy figure in Egypt, Suleiman continued to play a divisive role in the country even after his death Thursday at a hospital in the U.S. at the age of 76.
On Saturday, an honor guard carried aloft the former spy chief’s coffin, draped in Egypt’s red, white and black flag.
Suleiman died at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, where he had been treated since Monday. The clinic said in a statement that Suleiman died from “complications from amyloidosis, a disease affecting the heart, kidneys and other organs.”
Suleiman was Egypt’s point man in cooperation with the United States in the post 9/11 rendition program in which terror suspects snatched by the Americans were shipped to Egypt and other countries for interrogation, sometimes involving torture.
Iran warns of upping uranium enrichment
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran will increase its level of uranium enrichment if world powers continue to place pressure on the country over its nuclear program, a senior cleric warned Saturday.
“Iran is now capable of enriching uranium at a 20 percent level, but if they (world powers) continue their pressure, we will increase enrichment levels to 56 percent,” said Reza Taqavi, a close aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The remarks followed media reports that parliament was preparing a bill urging the defense ministry to design nuclear-powered ships, whose fuel would require enriching uranium to more than 50 percent.
World powers are demanding that Iran immediately halt the 20 percent enrichment of uranium.
U.S. cuts Rwandan military assistance
JOHANNESBURG – The U.S. government said Saturday it has cut this year’s planned military assistance to Rwanda amid concerns that the government in Kigali is supporting rebel movements in Congo.
“The United States has been actively engaged at the highest levels to urge Rwanda to halt and prevent the provision of such support, which threatens to undermine stability in the region,” State Department spokesman Darby Holladay said in an emailed statement.
Rwanda has denied reports by the United Nations and rights groups that it is supporting the so-called M23 rebel movement in East Congo, which has sparked new fighting in the area that has forced more than 200,000 civilians from their homes since April.
The U.S. cut $200,000 of initially pledged military aid for a training academy, reallocating the funds to another country instead, the State Department said.
Pakistani Taliban attacks militants
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A Taliban suicide car bomber attacked a rival militant commander’s compound in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 10 people, as heavily armed assailants killed eight members of the coast guard in the southwest, officials said.
There has been significant infighting over turf and leadership positions within the Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella organization set up in 2007 to represent roughly 40 insurgent groups, many of whom are waging a bloody campaign against the government.
The compound that was attacked in Spin Dal village in the Orakzai tribal area was owned by militant commander Mullah Nabi.
Nabi was at the compound when the attack occurred but was not hurt. The 10 killed included five children, he said.
18 dead after boulders hit bus
GAUHATI, India – A government official in India says 18 people died after a bus fell into a deep gorge after being hit by hurtling boulders during a landslide in the mountainous northeast. Another 17 people were injured.
Arunachal Pradesh state Transport Minister Zoram Sangliana said the bus plunged about 150 feet into the gorge early Saturday near Keifang, a village 60 miles east of Aizawl, the state capital. Monsoon rains triggered the landslide.
Murdoch resigns from media boards
LONDON – Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has resigned as a director of a number of News Corp. boards overseeing his Britain newspapers, a spokeswoman confirmed Saturday. He also quit some of the media company’s subsidiary boards in the United States.
Murdoch stepped down this past week as a director of NI Group, Times Newspaper Holdings and News Corp. Investments in the U.K., said Daisy Dunlop, spokeswoman for News Corp.’s British arm, News International. The companies oversee The Sun, The Times, and The Sunday Times.
It was not immediately clear which of News Corp.’s U.S. boards Murdoch had left.
Saturday’s announcement suggests that Murdoch may be distancing himself from his British newspaper interests, which have been shaken to the core by a widespread phone hacking scandal.
If you were going to give something up for Lent, what would it be?
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