Share this article

print logo


Anniversary of coup try is marked quietly

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia quietly marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the attempted coup that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, with only about 100 people gathering Friday evening at the spot where tens of thousands of protesters rallied in 1991.

Neither the Russian president nor prime minister mentioned the anniversary in their public appearances Friday.

The coup attempt was initiated by Communist hard-liners who placed Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev under house arrest at his vacation home, fearing that his pending agreement to allow wide sovereignty for Soviet republics would lead to the USSR's disintegration.

But public opposition quickly weakened the putsch, notably the tens of thousands who gathered around the Russian government headquarters where Russian President Boris Yeltsin famously defied the coup while standing atop a tank.

The coup collapsed three days later, and Gorbachev returned to Moscow, but his power and credibility were fatally reduced.


Prison population hits record high

LONDON (AP) -- England's prison population hit a record high following the jailing of hundreds of people involved in the country's recent riots.

Statistics released Friday by the Ministry of Justice showed that the prison population in England and Wales has reached 86,654, just 1,500 places below capacity.

Prison authorities said they faced an "unprecedented situation" and were working on emergency plans to boost capacity "should further pressure be placed on the prison estate."

The figures show that a net of 700 people have been added to the prison system over the last seven days, many of them convicted for their roles in the four nights of unrest that swept London and other major cities last week.

According to the justice ministry, 1,300 riot suspects had appeared in British courts by Wednesday, and about two-thirds had been jailed.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he believes judges have been correct to impose tough sentences.


Israel gets complaint about soldiers' deaths

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt registered an official complaint Friday with Israel over the deaths of four Egyptian soldiers and one policeman in fighting that followed an ambush by militants who killed eight Israelis near the Egypt-Israel border.

Retaliatory violence between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas also escalated Friday in the aftermath of the deadliest attack against Israelis in three years. Israeli airstrikes killed at least 12 militants in the Gaza Strip, and six Israelis were wounded when Palestinians fired rockets into southern Israel.

Egypt's official news agency blamed an Israeli fighter jet for shooting and killing the five Egyptians while chasing the militants after Thursday's ambush in southern Israel.

An Israeli military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a suicide bomber, not Israeli soldiers, killed the Egyptian security forces. He said the attacker had fled back across the border into Egypt and detonated his explosives among the Egyptian troops.


Libyan plane bomber may live longer

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) -- A Libyan convicted of killing 270 people by blowing up a passenger jet in 1988 over Lockerbie could live for several more years, a cancer specialist said Friday, two years after the terminally ill bomber was freed because he was near death.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was released from a Scottish jail and flown back to Libya on Aug. 20, 2009, after prison doctors estimated he had only three months to live.

Scottish authorities have come under attack for releasing him on compassionate grounds after he had served eight years of a 27-year sentence.

At the time, medical experts advising the Scottish prison service said he was close to death. But Roger Kirby, a London prostate cancer specialist, said al-Megrahi, 59, is likely taking a cutting-edge hormone treatment and "could live much longer, for several more years because of this drug."