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story.lead_photo.caption Adm. John Richardson (right), chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy, and Philippine Armed Forces Chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. arrive for a news conference Monday in Manila, Philippines.

Navy announces South China Sea patrols

DAVAO, Philippines -- The U.S. Navy will continue patrolling the disputed South China Sea, a top Navy official said Monday, after a Chinese destroyer came dangerously close to an American Navy ship during a "freedom of navigation" sail-by near a Chinese-occupied reef.

Adm. John Richardson, who heads U.S. naval operations, said in a news conference with Philippine military officials in Manila on Monday that such patrols highlight the U.S. position against "illegitimate maritime claims."

"We will continue to progress this program of freedom of navigation operations," Richardson said. "We do dozens of these operations around the world to indicate our position for ... illegitimate claims, maritime claims."

While Washington has no claims to the strategic waterway, it has declared that freedom of navigation and the peaceful resolution of the disputes are in the U.S. national interest. The U.S. has also questioned China's expansive claims.

A Chinese destroyer came close to the USS Decatur in late September in an "unsafe and unprofessional maneuver" near Gaven Reef in the South China Sea, forcing it to maneuver to prevent a collision, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Gaven is claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Malaysia and Brunei also have claims in the South China Sea.

Extremists kill 4 people in central Libya

BENGHAZI, Libya -- Islamic State militants attacked a small town in central Libya on Monday, killing at least four people, including the mayor's son and two policemen, and torching the local police station, according to residents and a lawmaker from the area.

The attack on al-Fuqaha began around 1 a.m. At least a dozen townspeople are missing, presumed abducted by the militants, including an 80-year-old man, said Ismail al-Shareef, a lawmaker from the area. The Islamic State extremist group later claimed the attack in an online statement, saying it took hostages.

The militants torched the town's police station along with two houses, residents said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The attack on al-Fuqaha, south of the former Islamic State bastion of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast, underscores the volatility of Libya's central region, where the Islamic State and other armed groups, including some from neighboring Chad, operate as highway robbers or attack patrols.

The U.N. mission in Libya condemned the attack and said two of the four killed by the militants were "executed in public." It did not say how they were killed, but residents had earlier said they had their throats slit.

Swiss company says 12 hostages freed

GENEVA -- A Swiss shipping company said Monday that 12 crew members of a bulk carrier who were abducted by pirates more than five weeks ago near Nigeria have been released, as Polish authorities confirmed a new hostage-taking off the West African country's coast.

Massoel Shipping said the seven Filipinos, a Slovenian, a Ukrainian, a Romanian, a Croatian and a Bosnian who were abducted in September were freed on Saturday in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and were in Switzerland before returning home.

The Geneva-based company said it would not provide details of the release "as to do so would only encourage further criminal acts of this kind."

Massoel said the ship carrying wheat was attacked Sept. 22 as it sailed from Lagos to Port Harcourt. The attackers apparently boarded using long ladders and cut razor wire on the deck to reach the bridge. Seven crew members were not captured.

In the latest hostage-taking, Poland's Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz confirmed that 11 crew members of a Liberian-flagged container ship, the Pomerenia Sky, including eight Poles, had been abducted off Nigeria's coast.

9 people hurt in Tunisia suicide blast

TUNIS, Tunisia -- A female suicide bomber wounded nine people, mostly police officers, on a busy avenue in Tunisia's capital on Monday afternoon, authorities said.

The 30-year-old woman set off the blast in Tunis just before 2 p.m. local time on Habib Bourguiba avenue, the Interior Ministry said.

The bomber, who wasn't previously known to authorities, blew herself up near a police patrol, a ministry statement said. It said eight police officers and one civilian were wounded. Apart from the bomber, there were no further reported deaths.

Tunisian radio station Mosaique FM said the attacker was wearing a homemade bomb belt with a small quantity of explosives. The station cited a security source it did not name.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi called the bombing a terrorist attack, in comments reported from Germany, where he was attending an investment conference.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

Tunisian forensic experts work at the scene of an attack after a 30-year-old woman blew herself up in Tunis, Tunisia, on Monday.

A Section on 10/30/2018

Print Headline: Extremists kill 4 people in central Libya Navy announces South China Sea patrols Swiss company reports hostages freed Swiss shipper says 12 hostages freed Suicide bomber wounds 9 in Tunisia 9 peop...

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