Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Libya's prime minister warns of security threat

Libya

Premier warns of security threat

Libya's prime minister warned of a perilous security situation Sunday after armed men stormed the Interior Ministry and a state-owned television station after blocking access to the Foreign Ministry.

Two years after the country's civil war, Libya is struggling to maintain security, build a unified army and reign in militias, which include rebels who fought to oust longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

About 200 armed men surrounded the Foreign Ministry building in Tripoli, demanding the ministry hire former fighters who helped overthrow Gadhafi. The men allege that many supporters of the old regime are still holding senior positions in the ministry and its missions abroad.

It was not clear if the armed men coordinated their moves.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan said the security situation remained perilous. He stopped short of saying which militias were behind the incidents.

Washington

Wolf Blitzer joins list of fake distress calls

Police in Montgomery County, Md., received an urgent message about 6:25 p.m. Saturday saying someone had been shot at Wolf Blitzer's home in Bethesda. Officers streamed toward the CNN host's residence near Congressional Country Club. They set up a perimeter.

But a dispatch supervisor was immediately skeptical, and a call to CNN confirmed it: The message was a fraud. Blitzer was fine — he was, in fact, out of town. The authorities were dealing with another case of "SWATing," in which someone jolts police into action with a fake distress call and technological trickery.

Roger Hixson, technical issues director at the Alexandria, Va.-based National Emergency Number Association, said that there are no reliable statistics on SWATing, but "it seems like every couple weeks we hear about one. … It's not a huge problem, but it's not trivial either."

Italy

3 are shot as new leaders take office

Two military police officers and a passer-by were shot and wounded on Sunday in a crowded square outside the Rome office of Prime Minister Enrico Letta and near the presidential palace, where his new government was being sworn in.

The newly sworn in interior minister, Angelino Alfano, said a preliminary investigation indicated the shooting amounted to a "tragic criminal gesture of a 49-year-old unemployed" man.

But the shooting was also a violent expression of social tensions in Italy, where unemployment is soaring, businesses are shutting their doors and political corruption is making headlines.

Albuquerque, N.M.

4 people stabbed at church, police say

A 24-year-old man stabbed four people at a Catholic church in Albuquerque as a Sunday Mass was nearing its end, police said.

Police spokesman Robert Gibbs said Lawrence Capener jumped over several pews at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church and walked up to the choir area where he began his attack.

The injuries to the church-goers weren't life-threatening. All were being treated at hospitals.

Police said they don't yet know the motive for the stabbings.

Elsewhere

Greece: Parliament approved an emergency bill Sunday to pave the way for thousands of public sector layoffs and free up $11.5 billion in international rescue loans. The layoffs are the first for civil service workers in more than a century.

Mali: Dozens of French forces have left the northern Malian town of Timbuktu months after their military operation largely ousted radical Islamic fighters from the area, a French military official said Sunday.

Pakistan: Pakistani Taliban attacks on election candidates in northwestern Pakistan killed at least eight people and wounded dozens Sunday, adding to a growing toll of militant violence before elections scheduled for May 11. At least 50 people have died since early April in election-related attacks mostly carried out by the Pakistani Taliban.

Peru: A hot-air tourist balloon carrying seven people in Peru fell into the Pacific Ocean, and authorities said Sunday that five women were rescued but the craft's pilot and another man remained missing.

Times wires

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