World Briefs

Chavez wins a third term in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez won re-election Sunday, defeating challenger Henrique Capriles and gaining six more years to cement his legacy and press ahead with his crusade for socialism in Venezuela.

With about 90 percent of votes counted, Chavez had more than 54 percent of the vote, and Capriles had 45 percent, National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena said. She said 81 percent of the nearly 19 million registered voters cast ballots, one of the largest turnouts in years.

It was Chavez’s third re-election victory in nearly 14 years in office, though by a smaller margin than in 2006, when he won 63 percent of the votes. Chavez won more than 7.4 million votes, beating Capriles by more than 1.2 million votes, Lucena said.

Turkey, Syria trade fire; border tensions mount

AKCAKALE, Turkey – Turkey and Syria fired artillery and mortars across their volatile border for a fifth consecutive day on Sunday, in one of the most serious and prolonged flare-ups of violence along the frontier.

The exchange of fire stoked fears that Syria’s civil war will escalate into a regional conflagration drawing in NATO member Turkey, once an ally of President Bashar Assad but now a key supporter of the rebels fighting to topple him. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had warned on Saturday that Ankara would respond forcefully to each errant Syrian shell that lands on Turkish soil.

Ankara’s warning was coupled by an apparent diplomatic push by the Turkish leadership to promote Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa as a possible figure to head a transitional administration to end the conflict in the country.

France boosts security after synagogue attack

PARIS – France is boosting security at Jewish and other religious sites after blanks were fired at a synagogue and police accused a suspected cell of radical Islamists of ties to a grenade attack on a kosher grocery.

President Francois Hollande sought Sunday to allay tensions between Jews and Muslims aggravated by a recent series of violent incidents in the country.

Hollande singled out hateful extremists for criticism and urged respect for all religions in a country that is officially secular, but which has Western Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities.

He said authorities “in the coming days, in the coming hours” would increase security at religious sites so they won’t be subject to the kind of attack that targeted a synagogue in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil on Saturday night.

Libyans remove new prime minister

TRIPOLI, Libya – Libya’s parliament ousted the country’s new prime minister in a no-confidence vote on Sunday, the latest blow to hopes that political factions could agree on a government charged with restoring stability after last year’s civil war.

Mustafa Abushagur was the first prime minister to be elected after the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He represented an offshoot of the country’s oldest anti-Gadhafi opposition movement, and was considered a compromise candidate acceptable to liberals and Islamists.

But his proposed Cabinet was struck down by a legislature representing dozens of divided tribes, towns and regions across the country, many of whom feel they are owed the spoils of victory over Gadhafi. He was forced to withdraw his first ministerial line-up under pressure and his second attempt to submit one resulted in his ouster.

In a statement on Libya’s al-Wataniya TV after the vote, Abushagur said he respected the decision made by the General National Congress as part of Libya’s democracy, but he warns of instability if it takes too long to elect his replacement.

Associated Press