Saturday, March 28
Signs of discord as more joint Iran nuclear talks with deadline nearing
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program have taken on a frantic tone amid signs of discord in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The French and German foreign ministers have joined Secretary of State John Kerry in talks with Tehran's top diplomat ahead of an end-of-March deadline for a preliminary deal.
Negotiators have been meeting multiple times in various formats to produce what they hope will be an outline of an agreement that can become the basis for a comprehensive deal to be reached by the end of June.
Officials describe obstacles, including Iranian resistance to limits on research and development and demands for more speedy and broad relief from international sanctions.
But Iran's foreign minister suggests the blame for any impasses lies with the U.S. and its partners, writing on Twitter that "both sides must show flexibility."
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (hah-SAHN' roh-HAH'-nee) has spoken by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to emphasize the importance of reaching an agreement.
But Russia's deputy foreign minister still puts the chances of an agreement "significantly" above 50 percent.
Saudis say tracking Yemen rebel groups headed to border
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Saudi Arabia says that multiple groups of Yemeni Shiite rebels are moving toward the two countries' shared border.
The Gulf kingdom is leading a coalition of countries conducting airstrikes against the rebels, known as Houthis. Speaking from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Ahmed Asiri, a spokesman of the coalition campaign, told reporters that the coalition was tracking at least two rebel groups.
Asiri promises that Saudi Arabia and the coalition "will not allow" the Houthis to cross or threaten the Saudi border.
Meanwhile, Yemen's embattled president and the Shiite rebels who forced him to flee the country are accusing each other of being the "puppet" of a bigger power.
At an Arab summit in Egypt today, President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi accused the Houthi rebels of being "stooges of Iran," directly blaming the Islamic Republic for the chaos there. Hadi says the rebels are destroying Yemen with their "political adolescence" and manufactured crises and called for Saudi-led airstrikes to continue until the rebels surrender.
A senior official of Houthi's political arm says Saudi Arabia is calling all the shots at the summit, where Egypt's president called for a regional Arab military force.
Afghan court sentences AP journalist's killer to 20 years
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's highest court has ruled that a police officer convicted of murdering Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding an AP correspondent almost one year ago should serve 20 years in prison.
Documents sent to the country's attorney general on Saturday reduce the final sentence for former Afghan police unit commander Naqibullah — who was originally sentenced to death last year.
Naqibullah, who uses only one name, opened fire on Niedringhaus and Kathy Gannon without warning as they were covering Afghanistan's presidential election outside the southeastern city of Khost in April.
An award-winning German photographer, Niedringhaus was renowned for her humane depictions of ordinary life as well as for her coverage of conflict zones.
UPDATE: Boko Haram kills 39, legislator, disrupting Nigeria election
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Witnesses and officials say Boko Haram extremists killed 39 people, including a legislator, in northeastern Nigeria, disrupting the country's presidential election.
All the attacks took place in the northeast where the military Friday announced it had cleared the Islamic extremists from all major centers.
Residents of the town of Miringa say Boko Haram militants torched people's homes early Saturday and then shot them as they tried to escape. Twenty-five reportedly died.
Witnesses and officials say another 14 people, including Gombe state legislator Umaru Ali, died later Saturday in attacks on the towns of Biri and Dukku.
Elsewhere, tens of millions of Nigerians took part in the closely contested and largely peaceful presidential election.
Somali hotel siege leaves 24 dead
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Al-Shabab is claiming some of the gunman escaped after a deadly 12-hour siege of a hotel in Somalia's capital.
Somali special forces regained control of the hotel, which is popular with government officials and foreigners, this morning. At least 24 people were killed in the assault, including six attackers and one soldier.
Al-Shabab is promising more attacks. The Islamic extremist group has carried out many attacks in Somalia and controlled much of Mogadishu between 2007 and 2011, but was pushed out of Somalia's capital and other major cities by African Union forces.
SIERRA LEONE-EBOLA LOCKDOWN
Guinea deploys police as Sierra Leoneans flee Ebola lockdown
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Guinea has deployed security forces to the country's southwest in response to reports that people from Sierra Leone are crossing the border to flee an Ebola lockdown intended to stamp out the deadly disease.
Officials in Guinea say residents reported tension resulting from a large influx of Sierra Leoneans in recent days. The lockdown went into effect Friday and ends Sunday.
One Guinean resident says those fleeing Sierra Leone aren't wanted and asks: "Why would they leave their country if they didn't have Ebola?" Another resident says security forces had to intervene to prevent clashes last night between those coming into Guinea and locals.
The southwest region of Guinea borders northern districts of Sierra Leone that are focus areas for the lockdown. A spokesman for Sierra Leone's government says the two countries had agreed to police the border to ensure people with Ebola symptoms did not cross.
Ebola has infected nearly 12,000 people in Sierra Leone, more than any other country. The latest weekly total of 33 confirmed cases is the lowest since last June.
Crash victim's father calls for more focus on pilot welfare
SISTERON, France (AP) — The father of one of the victims of this week's plane crash in the French Alps is calling for airlines to take greater care over pilots' welfare.
French prosecutors have said they believe German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the Germanwings flight. Authorities have since said Lubitz hid evidence of an illness from his employers — including a sick note for the day of the crash.
Speaking near the site of the crash, Philip Bramley says Lubitz's motive was irrelevant. Bramley's 28-year-old son, Paul, was one of 150 people killed in Tuesday's disaster. He says action must be taken to ensure the incident is not repeated.
Aviation experts say medical checks on pilots are stringent but focus mainly on physical health. A pilot's mental state is usually only assessed before companies decide whether to admit them to a training program.
A special Mass was being held today in a town near the crash site to honor the victims and support their families.
Decorated Boston cop in coma after being shot in face
BOSTON (AP) — Boston's police commissioner says a decorated officer remains in critical condition in a medically induced coma after being shot in the face Friday night when gang unit officers stopped a car.
Commissioner William Evans said Saturday morning that 34-year-old Officer John Moynihan was struck just below his right eye and the bullet remains lodged below his right ear. He described Moynihan as "a fighter" and he hopes he's "going to pull through."
Evans says video shows Moynihan approaching the driver's door, and the suspect, 41-year-old Angelo West of Boston, shooting him at point blank range.
Evans says West fired at the other officers as he tried to run away and was killed when they returned fire. A woman driving down the street was shot in the arm, but is recovering.
POLICE BARRACKS SHOOTING
Trooper wounded in barracks ambush hopes to return to force
DUNMORE, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania trooper wounded in a deadly ambush outside his barracks last fall says he hopes to eventually return to the state police force.
Trooper Alex Douglass, wounded in the Sept. 12 shooting outside the Blooming Grove barracks that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson, made his first public remarks Saturday as the borough of Dunmore named a road after Dickson.
Douglass, who walked with a cane, told reporters he feels good and no longer needs crutches to get around. He says he has had 16 surgeries with one more scheduled next month.
Police arrested survivalist Eric Frein (FREEN) after a 48-day manhunt in the Pocono Mountains. Frein has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, terrorism and other charges, for which prosecutors say they plan to seek the death penalty.
Hundreds rally against Indiana law, say it's discriminatory
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Hundreds of people are gathered outside of Indiana Statehouse to rally against the state's new law that opponents say could sanction discrimination against gay people.
Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill Thursday prohibiting state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of "person" includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.
The law's supporters say it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds.
Saturday's crowd chanted "Pence must go" and held signs reading "I'm pretty sure God doesn't hate anyone" and "No hate in our state."
Indiana's law has been widely criticized by businesses and organizations around the country.
Sixteen states have introduced similar legislation, which is patterned after a federal act.
7 shot and injured at Florida spring break house party
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Seven people have been shot at a spring break house party in the Florida Panhandle.
The Bay County Sheriff's Office says multiple 911 calls flooded in just before 1 a.m. Saturday reporting gunshots in Panama City Beach.
Deputies arriving at the scene found victims in, outside and nearby the home. Several of the victims were described as Alabama A&M students visiting the Panhandle for spring break.
No fatalities are reported from the shooting, but at least three of the victims are hospitalized in critical condition.
A 22-year-old man from Mobile, Alabama, David Jamichael Daniels, has been charged with seven counts of attempted murder and is jailed awaiting a first court appearance.
UPDATE: LA commuter train hits car, partially derails; 21 hurt
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Officials say a commuter train slammed into a car at a crossing in front of the University of Southern California today, seriously injuring the driver and the train's operator. Nineteen passengers on the train suffered lesser injuries.
The Metrolink train was heading east toward downtown Los Angeles shortly before 11 a.m. when authorities say it appeared the car's driver didn't see it and tried to make a left turn across the tracks onto a major thoroughfare.
The car, a silver Hyundai, was all but demolished. The first two of the train's four cars slightly derailed, but they remained upright.
The train's operator was also badly hurt.
Nineteen passengers on the train suffered lesser injuries, mainly cuts and bruises.
Eight were taken to hospitals, and the others were released.
NEW: 4 killed while trying to recover gasoline after Mexico crash
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican officials say four people have died and 26 others are injured because a fire ignited as they tried to recover gasoline that from a tank truck that had crashed.
Tabasco state Civil Defense official Jorge Mendez Landeros says two of the victims died Saturday and two others at the moment of the fire. State health officials say two of the dead are children.
The Civil Defense agency says in a statement that the 15,800-gallon (60, 000-liter) tanker crashed on the road between Villahermosa and Coatzacoalcos on Thursday and local residents defied authorities' attempts to keep them away from the danger.
Many suffered serious burns when it exploded