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Jan. 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM   |   Comments

France strikes again in Mali

BAMAKO, Mali, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- French jets on Sunday again bombarded Mali, where Islamist extremists have occupied the northern part of the country for the past nine months, officials said.

Sunday was the third day of a French intervention in the West African country, Radio France Internationale reported.

"There were [airstrikes] last night, there are now and there will be today and tomorrow," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

"Our intervention is ongoing and we will continue in order to make them [Islamist fighters] retreat and allow Malian and African forces to go forward and re-establish the territorial integrity of the country," Le Drian said.

African troops were expected to start arriving in Mali on Sunday; Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal on Saturday each pledged 500 troops for an African-led intervention in Mali.

French President Francois Hollande met with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso Saturday to discuss the situation in Mali, Euronews.net reported.


Suspect shot in San Diego theater scare

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- San Diego police said they had to shoot and wound a domestic-violence suspect in a confrontation inside a suburban movie theater.

The man, whose name was not released, was recovering Sunday from multiple gunshot wounds suffered when he allegedly pulled a gun on officers inside the Reading Cinemas in the Carmel Mountain neighborhood late Saturday afternoon.

Police Capt. Terry McManus said about 15 customers were inside the theater where the shooting took place. None was injured. The suspect may have been trying to hide out from officers looking for him when he ducked into the theater.

The San Diego Union-Tribune said patrons fled the theater as police rushed in with guns drawn. "We saw four cops with assault rifles go by us, toward the theater," said Todd Cope, an employee of a neighboring store. "Moments later, a lady came in here and said she had heard a gunshot."

A police helicopter orbited the shopping center and police with dogs searched every store and inspected cars leaving the parking lot. Motorists were asked to open their trunks so officers could make cure no other suspects were trying to slip away.


Haass: Drop Hagel anti-Semitism debate

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass said Sunday accusations that Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel is anti-Semitic are irrelevant.

President Barack Obama nominated former U.S. Sen. Hagel, R-Neb., as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's replacement. Hagel has drawn criticism from Republicans who say they are concerned about his stance on Israel and Iran.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote for CNN that Hagel is seen as too tough on Israel and too soft on Iran.

"Where I think people are going over the line is with ad hominem attacks -- questioning for example whether [Hagel is] an anti-Semite," Haass said in an appearance on ABC's "This Week." "I've known Chuck Hagel for more 20 years. For what it's worth, I think that's preposterous. I also don't think that has a place in the public space."

Haass said the only thing relevant is Hagel's ability to run the Pentagon and his policy views.

"And I think there is a space and there should be a space for the hearings, and more broadly, to ask Chuck Hagel what is he prepared to do about Iran, what does he think the right mix, say, is of sanctions or possible use of military force? What should we be doing about cutting the Pentagon budget or ... about nuclear issues? All totally legitimate."

Earlier in the roundtable interview, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he questions whether Hagel's temperament is suitable for the position of secretary of defense.

"I think another thing ... that's going to come up is just his overall temperament, and is he suited to run a department or a big agency or a big entity like the Pentagon," Corker said.


Seven Afghans killed in post-raid blast

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Seven people were killed Sunday in an explosion that rocked a remote village in eastern Afghanistan, officials in Wardak Province said.

The cause of the blast was not immediately known; however officials said it occurred shortly after Afghan and U.S. troops carried out a raid against the Taliban.

A spokesman for Wardak's governor said seven people were killed in the explosion. The New York Times said residents pegged the number of deaths at 16.

The Times said the village was located in the Tangi Valley, an area that has been a Taliban stronghold and the scene of repeated battles between the militants and international forces.

A special-operations unit swept into the village early Sunday and captured a suspected Taliban commander. The commandos then came under fire from gunmen holed up in a mosque.

Four Taliban were killed in the engagement, some of whom were equipped with explosive suicide vests.

"Some civilians were trying to collect the bodies or to get their weapons and other ammunition when suddenly a huge explosion took place and resulted in civilian casualties but we don't know the exact numbers," said Lt. Col. Hagen Messer, a spokesman for the international force.

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