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April 6, 2013 at 6:57 PM   |   0 comments

Five killed in clashes in Egypt

QALYUBIA, Egypt, April 6 (UPI) -- At least five people were killed and 15 were arrested after violent clashes erupted in Qalyubia, Egypt, Saturday, officials said.

The clashes broke out after a group of Christian teenagers allegedly painted offensive drawings on the gates of a Sunni Muslim institute, Ahram Online reported.

Witnesses said the clashes actually arose from a dispute between a Muslim family and a Christian family.

Police were deployed to the area and arrested 15 people on charges of inciting violence, the state-run Middle Eastern News Agency reported.

There were conflicting reports as to how many people died in the clashes, but Egypt's Health Ministry confirmed five people were fatally shot. Five others were injured, the ministry said.

It was unclear who the gunmen were.


Joint chiefs chairman visits Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, April 6 (UPI) -- Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, traveled to Afghanistan Saturday to determine American troop level needs for 2014.

U.S. forces are set to end combat operations in Afghanistan next year, but will leave behind several thousand military members to carry on training of Afghan forces once they retake control of their own national security.

Dempsey's trip, though, has thus far been marred by ongoing violence. Three foreign coalition soldiers were killed in a car bomb attack in southeast Zabul province, NATO officials said. Their identities and nationalities had not been released, the Los Angeles Times said. Another attack on an Afghanistan provincial governor killed a doctor and wounded several others.

Dempsey was scheduled to meet with other U.S. generals and Afghanistan military officials to determine what needs must be met by American soldiers. There are now 100,000 coalition soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, including 68,000 Americans. Dempsey said he will decide sometime this summer how many will remain in the country, depending on the progress the Afghan army makes in warding off Taliban fighters.


South Sudan resumes oil production

JUBA, South Sudan, April 6 (UPI) -- South Sudan restarted oil production Saturday, more than a year after it halted operations due to conflicts with neighboring Sundan.

South Sudanese Petroleum and Mining Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau announced production restarted at the Tharjath oil fields in Unity state, the Africa Review reported.

"We are pumping from today," Dhieu said. "The production is to resume from Tharjiath and will be followed by other oil fields as from today."

South Sudan, which officially split from Sudan in 2011, has also agreed with Sudan to ship oil across the countries' border, the BBC reported.

The South took nearly 75 percent of Sudan's oil production when it seceded two years ago and in turn, Sudan charged the South high fees for exporting oil.

South Sudan, which is landlocked and relies on Sudan's ports, previously said the charges were too high.

Dhieu said the agreement between South Sudan and Sudan should be seen as a sign of peace between the two countries.


Turkey first stop on 9-day Kerry trip

WASHINGTON, April 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Saturday began a nine-day trip to the Middle East, Europe and Asia, beginning in Turkey, the State Department said.

At his first stop, in Istanbul, he will meet with Turkish officials about efforts to end the civil war in Syria, Voice of America reported. Kerry is also expected to meet with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan was reported to have given Kerry the cold shoulder in March, keeping the secretary waiting after he had an extended meeting with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Today's Zaman reported.

Another meeting with Davutoglu is scheduled during the current visit. The two are expected to discuss a number of regional issues -- including political turmoil in Iraq, the situation in Cyprus, the Syrian crisis and reconciliation between Israel and Turkey.

Kerry's itinerary includes stops in England, South Korea, China and Japan.

His talks in Asia are expected to concentrate on North Korea's nuclear weapons program and threats against South Korea.

Kerry will head home April 15 after visiting with officials in Tokyo.

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