World Briefs

Violence concerning Syria erupts inside Lebanon

BIREH, Lebanon – Syria’s war barreled over the border with an angry, raucous funeral Monday for an anti-Syrian cleric whose killing set off a night of deadly street battles in Beirut and raised fears that Lebanon is getting drawn into the chaos afflicting its neighbor.

The violence is a reflection of Lebanon’s political dysfunction, a legacy of years of civil war when the country became a proxy battleground for other nations. Lebanon walks a fragile fault line over Syria, which had troops on the ground here for nearly 30 years until 2005 and still has strong ties to Lebanon’s security services.

To many observers, it was only a matter of time before the violence in Syria infected Lebanon.

The U.N. estimates the Syrian conflict has killed more than 9,000 people since March 2011, when President Bashar Assad started cracking down on a popular uprising.

Secular or Islamist? Egypt to choose president

CAIRO – Sixty years after their country came under military dictatorship, Egyptians are for the first time freely electing their president.

The voting that begins Wednesday is the greatest prize won by the multitudes who took to the streets to overthrow unpopular Hosni Mubarak in the string of people-power uprisings that upended the Middle East in last year’s Arab Spring.

It is also a moment of truth for this most populous Arab republic, determining whether power stays in the hands of the secular elite tied to the old regime or makes a momentous shift to the long-suppressed Islamists, with all the implications that such a change may have for relations with the U.S. and the Middle East peace effort.

Then again, most of the 50 million eligible voters will probably be looking for more modest returns – chiefly some peace and quiet after more than a year of turmoil, bloody protests, a falling economy and rising crime.

96 Yemeni soldiers killed in suicide bombing

SANAA, Yemen – A Yemeni soldier detonated a bomb hidden in his military uniform during a rehearsal for a military parade, killing 96 fellow soldiers and wounding at least 200 on Monday in one of the deadliest attacks in the capital in years.

Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen claimed responsibility, saying in an emailed statement that the suicide attack was intended to avenge a U.S.-backed offensive against al-Qaida in a swath of southern Yemen seized by the militant movement last year.

The bombing left a scene of carnage, with scores of bleeding soldiers lying on the ground as ambulances rushed to the scene.

“This is a real massacre,” said Ahmed Sobhi, one of the soldiers who witnessed the blast. “This is unbelievable. I am still shaking. The place turned into hell. I thought this only happens in movies.”

Al-Qaida said the bomber was targeting Yemen’s defense minister, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, who had arrived at the heavily secured city square to greet the assembled troops just minutes before the blast ripped through the area. He was unhurt.

Associated Press