Cairo, Aug 9 (AP/UNB) — Security forces killed at least 17 suspected militants in raids in Cairo and in another province, Egypt officials said Thursday, four days after a car filled with explosives wrecked outside the county's main cancer hospital, killing at least 20 people in the ensuing explosion.
The Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, said in a statement that eight of the militants were killed when security forces stormed their hideout in the town of Atsa in Fayoum province, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Cairo.
It said another seven were killed in the Cairo suburb of Shortouk. The remaining two, including a brother of the suspected militant who was driving the car, were also killed in Cairo, the ministry said. It said police arrested another suspect.
The statement said the militants were members of Hasm, which has links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
The ministry released a series of images and video purportedly depicting some of the militants and assault rifles found in their hideouts. The statement did not say when the raids took place, or whether police forces were wounded in the clashes with the militants.
Sunday's blast was the deadliest militant attack in more than two years in the Egyptian capital. Authorities said a car packed with explosives being driven to carry out an attack elsewhere collided with other vehicles and exploded on the busy Corniche boulevard along the Nile River, setting other cars on fire.
At least 20 people were killed and 47 wounded in the blast that also damaged Egypt's main cancer hospital nearby, shattering parts of the facade and some rooms inside, forcing the evacuation of dozens of patients.
For years, Egypt has battled Islamic militants, led by an IS affiliate, in the Sinai Peninsula. That insurgency has at times spilled over into other parts of the country.
Washington, Aug 8 (AP/UNB) — Ivanka Trump will travel to South America in September to focus on issues that make it difficult for women in developing countries to prosper financially, including lack of access to credit and limits on employment.
President Donald Trump's daughter and White House adviser plans to visit Paraguay and Argentina to promote the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, a program started six months ago, by focusing on three key areas: job training, financial assistance and encouraging legal and regulatory changes.
During the trip, aides said Ivanka Trump will advocate for laws and other changes that will allow women to access courts and other institutions, build credit, own and inherit property, travel freely and work the same jobs as men.
Ivanka Trump, who had a business selling clothing and accessories before joining her father's administration, said these laws, while not exhaustive, are "foundational to building strong societies where women can freely participate in the economy."
Owning property, either land or a home, is one avenue to financial independence for women, but 40% of all countries limit women's property rights, according to research by the global development initiative.
Women cannot run a business in nearly two-thirds of the world's nations. In 17 countries, they are prohibited from traveling without permission and, in 37 nations, they are not even allowed to apply for a passport. Many nations also limit women's occupations and work hours.
Advisers to the president's eldest daughter point to changes underway in Ivory Coast as an example of the kind of change that can help women in developing countries.
Ivanka Trump promoted the development program in Ivory Coast and Ethiopia in April, though the marriage code change was under consideration before her visit. Under the revised code, husbands and wives will have equal say in managing household assets and making financial decisions.
In Paraguay, most women work in informal jobs where they are subject to vulnerable working conditions and no access to social security, according UN Women, a division of the United Nations dedicated to gender equality and women's empowerment.
Women in Paraguay also participate in the labor market at a significantly lower rate than men.
Ivanka Trump launched the Women's Global Development and Prosperity initiative in February with her father's full backing and an initial investment of $50 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
London, Aug 8 (AP/UNB) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he plans to introduce a new fast-track visa to attract more of the world's best scientists to the U.K.
Johnson said Thursday he wanted to "ensure our immigration system attracts the very best minds from around the world."
Few details were announced. Johnson said the government would work with the scientific community on the new visa, "with a view to launching it later this year."
Britain is facing its biggest immigration shakeup in decades after it leaves the EU, currently scheduled to happen on Oct. 31.
After Brexit, EU citizens will lose the automatic right to live and work in the U.K., and Britons to settle in the bloc's 27 remaining nations.
That has sparked fears Britain may face shortages in key job areas.
Ankara, Aug 8 (AP/UNB) — Turkey said Thursday the deal it has reached with Washington to set up a so-called safe zone in northeastern Syria is a good start but warned against delays in implementation.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's comments came a day after the U.S. and Turkey announced they agreed to form a joint operations center to set up the safe zone.
The announcement provided few details, but Turkish officials said the center would be set up in Turkey as soon as possible.
Syria's government, meanwhile, described the agreement as a serious escalation that violates its sovereignty. It said it was part of Turkey's "expansionist ambitions" in Syria, aided by Washington and its Syrian allies, the Kurdish-led forces.
The announcement of the new deal may have averted — for now — a Turkish incursion into that part of Syria.
Ankara seeks to push U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters out of the region as it considers them terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.
The Syrian Kurdish fighters were the main fighting force on the ground against Islamic State militants in the area, and Washington has been hard pressed to protect its partners.
"We can define yesterday's agreement as a very good start," Cavusoglu told reporters.
But Cavusoglu added that his government will not let the implementation of this agreement stall like a previous deal with Washington reached last year.
"We won't allow this effort to turn into a new Manbij roadmap, to be a new delaying-tactic," he said. That deal had set a timetable for the Kurdish fighters' withdrawal from the town of Manbij, which lies on the western banks of the Euphrates River.
Turkey says the U.S. never kept to the promise regarding the fighters' withdrawal.
Turkey's Defense Ministry said the two sides had agreed that the safe zone would become a "corridor of peace" and that measures would be taken to ensure the return of refugees to Syria. It offered few other details.
Turkey has been pressing to control — in coordination with the U.S. — a 19-25 mile (30-40 kilometer) deep zone within Syria, east of the Euphrates River, and wants no Syrian Kurdish forces there.
In two previous military incursions, Turkey entered northwestern Syria, expelling Islamic State militants and Syrian Kurdish fighters from the area and setting up Turkish military posts there, with allied Syrian opposition fighters in control. Turkish troops also man observation points that ring the last opposition stronghold in the northwest — posts that are meant to uphold a now fraying cease-fire.
Meanwhile, Damascus said the Syrian Kurdish groups "bear historic responsibility" for the U.S-Turkey deal and urged them to drop "this aggressive U.S.-Turkish project" and align with the Syrian government instead.
Syria has had no presence along the Turkish border since 2012, when Syrian rebels and Syrian Kurdish groups took control of different parts of the region.
The deal to create a safe zone in the northeast comes as fighting in northwest Syria resumed after efforts to salvage a Russia- and Turkey-backed cease-fire crumbled.
Syrian government forces have maintained an intense air campaign that has enabled their troops to advance in recent days.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 49 air raids were recorded by early afternoon Thursday in 10 locations, while more than 380 government mortar and artillery shells were fired.
The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said troops captured the village of Sakhr and a nearby hill a day after taking another village to the southeast. The government resumed its offensive Monday, accusing the insurgents of violating terms of a revived truce.
On Thursday, the U.N.'s special envoy to Syria said the collapse of the cessation of hostilities deal was "regrettable." Najat Rochdi said in a statement that many civilians who had returned home because of the lull are now "at great risk" because heavy attacks resumed.
The U.N. said more than 500 civilians have been killed since the escalation in fighting in late April. More than 440,000 were forced to flee their areas, becoming displaced in the already crowded area that is home to 3 million people.
Srinagar, Aug 8 (AP/UNB) — Tens of thousands of government forces in riot gear patrol Indian-controlled Kashmir. Streets lined with shuttered shops are deserted, steel barricades and razor wire cutting off neighborhoods. An eerie silence is broken by an occasional security vehicle whizzing past or the cawing of crows.
An unprecedented security lockdown amid a near-total communications blackout entered a fourth day Thursday, forcing some news organizations to hand-carry dispatches out of the region.
The lives of millions in India's only Muslim-majority region have been upended since the latest — and most serious — crackdown followed a decision by New Delhi to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and downgrade the Himalayan region from statehood to a territory. Kashmir is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan, and rebels have been fighting Indian rule in the portion it administers for decades.
In central Srinagar, the region's main city, few pedestrians ventured out of their homes to navigate barbed-wire checkpoints guarded by helmeted soldiers in camouflage, wielding rifles and protective shields.
Shopping malls, grocery stores and even clinics were closed. In previous security clampdowns, neighborhood bodegas had opened their doors for a few hours a day after dark so that people could buy basic necessities like milk, grains and baby food. It is not clear whether the stores have opened in the current crackdown. Residents are used to stockpiling essentials, a practice they've honed during harsh winter months when roads and communications lines are often snapped.
The communication blackout — with landlines, cellphones and internet all down — means that people within Kashmir can't call one another or speak to friends and relatives outside the region, relying only on limited cable TV and local radio reports.
At the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital in Srinagar, doctors told The Associated Press on Thursday that at least 50 people had come in with wounds from pellet guns and rubber bullets, the ammunition security forces often use to disperse protests.
Razir Mir, 32, described hearing a loud bang on Monday and opening his front door to find his wife, Rabiya, "face down on the street. Blood was pouring from her eyes," he said.
Rabiya, who was left with blurred vision, said that after hearing the government's announcement that Kashmir's special status had been stripped, she thought to buy vegetables, anticipating a long curfew period in Srinagar.
"The moment I came out from my house, the soldiers out there shot at my direction," she said, as the couple's 2-year-old cried.
Rubeena Mehraj from central Kashmir was convalescing at the hospital after giving birth.
"When I called for an ambulance, I started traveling to Srinagar because I was expecting, but the ambulance was stopped at so many (checkpoints) along the route that I gave birth inside the vehicle," Mehraj said.
Outside the busy hospital, people struggled to communicate with family and neighbors.
A woman peering out of a window asked a group of reporters if they could find out about a sick person from a family living nearby. "We've no contact," the middle-aged woman said before she could give her name as soldiers ordered journalists to move on.
No news was coming out from elsewhere in the tense region.
Police and paramilitary officials enforcing the restrictions said they were clueless about how long the curfew would continue. "We know only about what's going on in the street we're deployed. We don't know how it is in the next street," said a police official in Srinagar's city center who could not be named in accordance with standard practice.
No official briefings for journalists were held nor curfew passes issued to any, a departure from previous security clampdowns.
Many local police officials expressed fury that they were left out of any decision-making, ratcheting up friction between local Kashmiri police and Indian soldiers on the ground.
On Sunday, in the run-up to India's decision to revoke Kashmir's autonomy, the top commander of the largest rebel group, Reyaz Naikoo, in an audio statement called local police to "redeem" themselves by refusing to enforce New Delhi's orders.
"India can make changes on paper, but they can't change our sentiments for freedom," said Naikoo, the operations commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. "India has embarked upon plans to change Kashmir's demography, but India is fighting a lost war. They're here by deceit and deception."
Kashmir's fury at Indian rule is nothing new. Its roots lie in a broken promise of a U.N.-administered referendum guaranteed shortly after India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain in 1947. The nuclear-armed neighbors have been unable to resolve their competing claims on the mountain territory divided between them.
The Indian side has experienced several separatist movements since then, including a bloody rebellion begun in 1989 to demand independence or a merger with Pakistan. Over 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the subsequent brutal military crackdown.