Warsaw pauses in tribute to '44 uprising
WARSAW, Poland -- Sirens let out a long and mournful wail, and people and traffic stood still on the streets of Warsaw on Friday as Poland commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, a revolt against Nazi Germany that ended tragically for the Poles.
On Aug. 1, 1944, thousands of poorly armed young city residents rose up against the German forces to try to take control of Warsaw ahead of the advancing Soviet army.
They held on for 63 days in the cut-off city before being forced to surrender. Almost 200,000 fighters and civilians were killed in the street fights and in German bombings. The Nazis expelled the survivors and set the city ablaze.
President Bronislaw Komorowski joined hundreds of the surviving insurgents for a series of ceremonies that honored the heroic struggle that remains a source of pride for the Poles.
Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk laid wreaths at a black stone obelisk in a military cemetery in the day's main observance. Thousands of people of all ages turned out for the ceremony at 5 p.m. Warsaw time -- the exact hour when the uprising began.
Tunisia blocks escape route from Libya
RAS AJDIR, Tunisia -- Tunisia closed its main border crossing with Libya on Friday after thousands of stranded Egyptians and other foreigners fleeing violence in Libya tried to break through the passage, the Tunisian news agency said.
It was the second instance of unrest at the border in as many days, as thousands of Libyans and foreigners have streamed into Tunisia. The country is the only escape route as fighting escalates in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, where rival militias have been battling for weeks for control over the airport.
Friday's unrest took place when thousands of Egyptians, barred from entering Tunisia because they had no visa, held a protest before breaking through part of a fence at the Ras Ajdir crossing, Tunisian security officials said.
The police responded by shooting in the air and firing tear gas, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. Security forces used vehicles to block the hole.
After a Tunisian police officer was wounded by gunfire from the Libyan side of the border, authorities closed the border crossing, the official Tunisian news agency TAP said.
Japan gives names to 5 disputed islets
TOKYO -- Japan on Friday gave names to five uninhabited islets in an island group at the center of a territorial dispute with China as part of efforts to reinforce its claim, sparking quick condemnation from Beijing.
The five islands, named after directions of the compass, are part of the group in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. Five bigger islands in the group already have names.
The islets were among 158 islands that were named Friday, with the list published on a website of the Japanese maritime policy department. The other islands are in nondisputed Japanese waters.
The government said naming the islands was meant to raise public awareness that they belong to Japan.
China immediately rejected the Japanese move, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang calling it "illegal and invalid."
Top Shiite cleric asks al-Maliki to yield
BAGHDAD -- Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric appealed to Iraqi politicians on Friday not to make themselves "an obstacle" in the country's transition as the deadline looms for selecting the next prime minister.
The remarks by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, delivered by his spokesman, were another indirect appeal by the cleric for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down.
Al-Maliki's bloc got the most seats in April's parliamentary elections but failed to get a majority, so he needs to build a coalition in order to govern. Critics, though, have asked him to step down after an offensive by Sunni extremists, who have seized a large portion of the country's north and west.
Iraq's leaders are under pressure to form an inclusive government that can draw Sunni support away from the insurgency. The Sunnis have long accused al-Maliki of marginalizing their community.
-- COMPILED BY DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE STAFF FROM WIRE REPORTS
A Section on 08/02/2014
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