RAMALLAH, West Bank – The mysterious death of a 30-year-old Palestinian gas station attendant in Israeli custody stoked new West Bank clashes Sunday, along with Israeli fears of a third Palestinian uprising.
A senior Palestinian official alleged that Arafat Jaradat was tortured by Israel’s Shin Bet security service, citing an autopsy he said revealed bruising and two broken ribs.
Israel’s Health Ministry said the autopsy did not conclusively determine the cause of death, but that the bruising and broken ribs were likely the result of attempts to revive the detainee.
Jaradat’s death came at a time of rising West Bank tensions, including several days of Palestinian marches in support of four hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli lockups. In all, Israel holds nearly 4,600 Palestinians, including dozens who have never been formally charged.
Syrian rebels battle for police academy
BEIRUT – Rebels backed by captured tanks launched a fresh offensive on a government complex housing a police academy near the northern city of Aleppo on Sunday, while the government hit back with airstrikes to try to protect the strategic installation, activists said.
If rebels capture the complex on the outskirts of Aleppo, it would mark another setback for President Bashar Assad. In recent weeks, his regime has lost control of key infrastructure in the northeast including a hydroelectric dam, a major oil field and two army bases along the road linking Aleppo with the airport to its east.
On Saturday, opposition fighters in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour overran a military post believed to have once been the site of a partly built nuclear reactor that Israeli warplanes bombed in 2007.
Also on Sunday, prominent Syrian comedian Yassin Bakoush, 75, was killed in Damascus after apparently being caught in the crossfire between rebels and government troops.
French freelance photographer Olivier Voisin, who was wounded on Thursday in Syria and taken to Turkey for treatment, died of his wounds at an Istanbul hospital, the French Foreign Ministry said Sunday.
Cypriots elect conservative president
NICOSIA, Cyprus – Conservative candidate Nicos Anastasiades won Cyprus’ presidency Sunday by one of the widest margins in 30 years, and now faces the formidable task of preventing the country from suffering a financial meltdown.
Anastasiades, 66, won the runoff election with 57.48 percent of the vote, far ahead of left-wing rival Stavros Malas, who got 42.51 percent, final results showed.
The election comes as Cyprus is negotiating a financial rescue package with the eurozone’s other 16 countries and the International Monetary Fund.
The wide margin of victory in favor of Anastasiades indicates Cypriots are prepared, to a degree, to stomach what could be painful austerity measures to reform the economy, as well as a snub to left-wing rule that many feel is responsible for the country’s sorry economic state.
Austrian says abductors will kill him
CAIRO – An Austrian man held hostage in Yemen for two months has appealed to his government to save his life, saying his captors would kill him in a week if their ransom demand was not met. The Austrian Foreign Ministry said a government crisis group met Sunday to discuss the case.
Dominik Neubauer, who was kidnapped with a Finnish couple on Dec. 21, said in a video posted on the Internet Saturday and monitored in Cairo, that he was kidnapped by a Yemeni tribe “which is asking for some money.” He spoke on the video with a rifle pointed at his head. He did not say how much his captors were seeking.