UN in Iraq worried about uptick in number of bodies found as fears of sectarian warfare rise
BAGHDAD (AP) -- The number of Iraqis slain "execution-style" surged last month, the U.N. said Sunday, raising fears of a return of the death squads that killed thousands during the darkest days of sectarian violence that followed the U.S.-led invasion.
The increase in targeted killings comes even though the U.N. reported that the overall death toll for November dropped to 659, compared with 979 in October. More than 8,000 people have been killed since the start of the year.
In an example of other dangers facing Iraqis, three bombs tore through the funeral procession of the son of an anti-al-Qaida Sunni tribal chief northeast of Baghdad, the deadliest in a wave of attacks that killed 17 people Sunday, Iraqi officials said.
"It seems that history is always repeating itself in Iraq," said Qassim Haider, a Shiite owner of a menswear shop in eastern Baghdad. He said he has stopped accepting invitations to visit friends in mainly Sunni neighborhoods due to fears of violence.
Widespread chaos nearly tore the country apart following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. The violence ebbed in 2008 after a series of U.S.-Iraqi military offensives, a Shiite militia cease-fire and a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq, but that trend was reversed after a deadly April 23 crackdown by security forces on a northern Sunni protest camp.
Thai protest leader met with Thai PM after day of violence, will push for new government
BANGKOK (AP) -- The leader of Thailand’s anti-government protests said unexpectedly that he had met the prime minister Sunday after daylong clashes between his supporters and police but defiantly told her he would accept nothing less than having her elected government step down to be replaced by an appointed council.
Suthep Thaugsuban said the meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was held under the auspices of the military, which says it is neutral in the conflict. His account of defiance drew lusty cheers from his supporters.
Police throughout the day fought off mobs of rock-throwing protesters who tried to battle their way into the government’s heavily-fortified headquarters and other offices. Mobs also besieged several television stations, demanding they broadcast the protesters’ views and not the government’s. Several of the capital’s biggest shopping malls closed in the heart of the city due to the unrest.
With skirmishes around Yingluck’s office at Government House continuing as darkness fell, the government advised Bangkok residents to stay indoors overnight for their safety.
The protests have renewed fears of prolonged instability in one of Southeast Asia’s biggest economies. Sunday marked the first time police have used force since demonstrations began in earnest a week ago -- a risky strategy that many fear could trigger more bloodshed.
Ukrainians stage largest anti-govt rally since Orange Revolution; clashes leave dozens injured
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- A protest by about 300,000 Ukrainians angered by their government’s decision to freeze integration with the West turned violent Sunday, when a group of demonstrators besieged the president’s office and police drove them back with truncheons, tear gas and flash grenades. Dozens of people were injured.
The mass rally in central Kiev defied a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a political and economic agreement with the European Union.
The protesters also were infuriated by the violent dispersal of a small, opposition rally two nights before.
While opposition leaders called for a nationwide strike and prolonged peaceful street protests to demand that the government resign, several thousand people broke away and marched to Yanukovych’s nearby office.
A few hundred of them, wearing masks, threw rocks and other objects at police and attempted to break through the police lines with a front loader. After several hours of clashes, riot police used force to push them back.
Egypt police fire tear gas at ousted president’s supporters as panel agrees draft constitution
CAIRO (AP) -- Police fired tear gas to drive hundreds of supporters of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president from Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square on Sunday, as a panel tasked with amending the constitution adopted during his time in office agreed on changes to the text.
The 50-member panel revising the Islamist-tilted charter adopted under former President Mohammed Morsi managed to resolve its differences after two days of clause-by-clause voting on the final draft.
The text gives women and Christians "suitable representation" but says a future law must decide the details. It also calls for elections, either parliamentary or presidential, within 90 days after the draft constitution is adopted. The other election should be held up to six months later.
The new charter would require future presidents to declare their financial assets annually, and allows lawmakers to vote out an elected president and call for early elections if they have a two-thirds majority.
Members agreed that a contentious proposed article allowing military tribunals for civilians would be scaled back, allowing them only in case of direct attack on military personnel or assets.
NTSB investigators trying to reach site of Alaska plane crash that killed 4, injured 6
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were attempting Sunday to reach the scene of a plane crash in remote southwest Alaska that killed four people and injured six Friday night.
Bad weather has kept investigators from reaching the scene where a single-engine aircraft went down near the village of Saint Marys.
Two NTSB investigators were waiting in Bethel, and they hoped to get to the crash site by Sunday afternoon, if weather allows, said Clint Johnson, the chief of the NTSB’s Alaska regional office.
"It’s way too early to draw any conclusions. Our goal at this point is to get on scene," Johnson said Sunday.
Another NTSB investigator in Anchorage also is hoping to interview survivors of the crash, he said.