In brief | Nation & world 100713


Egypt: 51 dead in clashes between security forces ousted president’s supporters

CAIRO — Security forces and Islamist protesters clashed around the country Sunday, leaving 51 killed, as a national holiday celebrating the military turned to mayhem. Crowds from Egypt’s two rival camps — supporters of the ousted Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, and backers of the military that deposed him — poured into the streets and turned on each other.

Several neighborhoods of the capital, Cairo, resembled combat zones after street battles that raged for hours. Morsi supporters fired birdshot and threw firebombs at police who responded with gunshots and tear gas. Streets were left strewn with debris, and the air was thick with tear gas and smoke from burning fires, as the crack of gunfire rang out.

An Associated Press photographer saw nine bodies lying on the floor of a clinic in the Cairo district of Dokki, scene of some of the heaviest clashes. Most of the bodies had gunshot wounds to the head or chest.

Sunday’s death toll of 51 was the highest on a single day since Aug. 14 when security forces raided two sit-in protest camps by Morsi supporters, killing hundreds.

Weapons inspectors begin destroying Syrian chemical stockpile and machinery

BEIRUT — International disarmament experts on Sunday began dismantling and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and the equipment used to produce it, taking the first concrete step in their colossal task of eliminating the country’s chemical stockpile by mid-2014, an official said.

The inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have about nine months to purge President Bashar Assad’s regime of its chemical program. The mission, endorsed by the U.N. Security Council, faces the tightest deadline in the watchdog group’s history and must simultaneously navigate Syria’s bloody civil war.

Sunday marked the fifth day that an advance team of around 20 inspectors have been in the country and the first day that involved actually disabling and destroying weapons and machinery, an official on the joint OPCW-U.N. mission said.

The team oversaw Syrian personnel who used cutting torches and disc saws to destroy and disable a range of items, including missile warheads, aerial bombs, and mixing and filling equipment, the OPCW said in a statement.

The Syrians are responsible for the actual physical demolition of the materials, while OPCW inspectors monitor the process and verify what is being destroyed, the official said. He declined to provide details or say where the work took place. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Italy migrant death toll reaches at least 194 as divers recover dozens of bodies

LAMPEDUSA, Italy — Pairs of divers plumbed calmer seas off the Italian island of Lampedusa on Sunday to recover the corpses of would-be asylum seekers who died when a fishing boat packed with 500 African migrants capsized within sight of land. By nightfall, 83 bodies had been retrieved, including one child, raising the official death toll to 194.

About 150 more are believed to still be missing, many likely trapped in the wreckage 154 feet below the surface.

The enormous scale of the tragedy, which could become the largest death toll in a migrant shipwreck in the Mediterranean on record, has created momentum for a comprehensive European Union immigration policy to cope with the tens of thousands fleeing misery and strife in Africa and the Middle East.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France and Italy have asked that the issue be placed on the agenda of an EU interior ministers’ meeting Tuesday.

By wire sources

On Wednesday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso plans to visit the island, Italy’s southernmost point and a frequent destination for migrants trying to reach a safe haven. Tens of thousands arrive there each year seeking refugee status in Europe.

By wire sources