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World

Drone hit kills al-Qaida video star

– A U.S. drone strike has killed a senior al-Qaida leader in Pakistan’s tribal region near the Afghan border, Pakistani intelligence officials said, in the latest blow to the Islamic militant network.

Sheik Khalid bin Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan, who was also known as Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti, was killed when missiles slammed into a house Thursday near Mir Ali, one of the main towns in the North Waziristan tribal area, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Al-Kuwaiti appeared in many videos released by al-Qaida’s media wing, Al-Sahab, and was presented as a religious scholar for the group.

Covert CIA drone strikes have killed a series of senior al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in Pakistan’s tribal region over the past few years. The attacks are controversial because the secret nature of the program makes it difficult to determine how many civilians are being killed.

On Sunday, four drone-launched missiles blew apart a house near Miran Shah, another main town in North Waziristan, killing three suspected militants, intelligence officials said. North Waziristan has become the main hub for al-Qaida and Taliban militants in Pakistan.

Syrian war carnage returns to Lebanon

Syria’s civil war spilled over into neighboring Lebanon again on Sunday, with gun battles in the northern city of Tripoli between supporters and opponents of President Bashar Assad’s regime that left four dead.

Nine Syrian judges and prosecutors also defected to the opposition. It was the latest setback for the regime, which appears increasingly embattled with rebels making gains in northern Syria and near Damascus, the capital.

The defecting judges posted a joint statement online urging others to join them and break ranks with Assad’s regime. There have been several high-level defections over the past year, including Assad’s former prime minister.

Vote on constitution has Egypt nervous

Egypt’s opposition said Sunday it will keep up protests against a referendum on a disputed draft constitution but stopped short of advocating either a boycott or a “no” vote.

The opposition was still pushing for Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to cancel the Saturday referendum, saying it rejects the process entirely and refuse to call it legitimate.

In a sign of how jittery the government is about holding the referendum, Morsi has ordered the military to maintain security and protect state institutions until the results of the referendum are announced.

N. Korea may delay major rocket launch

A nearly two-week launch window for a North Korean long-range rocket began today, a day after Pyongyang said it may delay liftoff.

North Korea has faced mounting international pressure to abandon what critics call a cover for a banned missile test.

Scientists had been pushing forward with final preparations for the launch from a west coast site but are considering “readjusting” the timing for unspecified reasons, an unidentified spokesman for the Korean Committee for Space Technology told North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency early Sunday.

It was unclear whether diplomatic intervention or technical glitches were behind the potential delay.

A brief KCNA dispatch said scientists and technicians were discussing whether to set new launch dates but did not elaborate.

Prank call backlash engrosses 2 nations

The reverberations from the death of a nurse who accepted a hoax phone call about the ill Duchess of Cambridge spread through two countries Sunday, as Australian authorities said London police had contacted them about a possible investigation.

The Australian radio station behind the call also announced an immediate review of its broadcast practices after the debacle, which began with a prank call made Tuesday to the hospital where the former Kate Middleton was being treated for acute morning sickness.

Two radio DJs managed to impersonate Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles and received confidential information about the duchess’s medical condition, which was broadcast on-air.

The controversial prank took a dark twist three days later with the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two, who was duped by the DJs despite their Australian accents.

The death has sparked an angry backlash against the DJs, who have been taken off the air indefinitely.

Amid uproar, Ghana re-elects president

President John Dramani Mahama on Sunday was declared the winner of Ghana’s presidential election, despite widespread technical glitches with the machines used to identify voters and protests by the African country’s opposition which claims the vote was rigged.

Armored tanks surrounded Ghana’s electoral commission and police barricaded the road around the electoral offices as the election body’s chairman Kwadwo Afari-Gyan announced that Mahama had polled 5.5 million votes, or 50.7 percent.

Opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo, who lost the 2008 election by less than 1 percent, came in second with 5.2 million votes, or 47.7 percent, Afari-Gyan said.

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