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story.lead_photo.caption Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (left) and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands before a meeting Wednesday at the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey.

Turk warns of chaos in Iran terror listing

ANKARA, Turkey -- The U.S. decision to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization is a dangerous development that could lead to chaos, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Turkish minister also said that U.S. sanctions were harming the people of Iran.

The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran, including on its energy sector, in November, after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the designation against the Revolutionary Guard last week.

"When we start adding other countries' armies to terror lists, then serious cracks will occur in the system of international law," Cavusoglu said.

6 civilians killed as Libya militias battle

BENGHAZI, Libya -- At least six civilians were killed in heavy shelling on a residential neighborhood in Libya's capital, a health official said Wednesday, the latest escalation in fighting among rival militias over control of Tripoli.

The overnight rocket shelling on the residential district of Abu Slim, less than 4½ miles from the city center, prompted condemnation "in the strongest terms" from the United Nations envoy for Libya.

"The use of indiscriminate, explosive weapons in civilian areas constitutes a war crime," Ghassan Salame said.

Both sides blamed the other for the shelling, which wounded at least 26 people, according to Malek Merset, a spokesman for the Health Ministry in Tripoli.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday that "in the past 24 hours we've also seen the highest single-day increase in displacement, with more than 4,500 people displaced, and that's according to the International Organization for Migration."

Dujarric said the number of people forced from their homes had risen to 25,000.

The fighting broke out April 5 between the Libyan National Army, led by commander Khalifa Hifter and aligned with a rival government in the east, and militias affiliated with Tripoli's U.N.-supported government.

Afghans' detainees said to report abuse

KABUL, Afghanistan -- About a third of all conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan say they have suffered from torture or ill-treatment, the United Nations said Wednesday.

U.N. officials interviewed 618 detainees held in 77 government facilities across the country between January 2017 and December 2018. The joint report by the U.N. mission to Afghanistan and the U.N. Human Rights Office said 32 percent of detainees reported torture or mistreatment. That's down from 39 percent during the previous reporting period, from January 2015 to December 2016.

"We welcome the steps taken by the Government to prevent and investigate cases of torture and ill-treatment over the past two years," the report quoted U.N. envoy Tadamichi Yamamoto as saying. But he added that "there is still a long way to go to eradicate this horrendous practice among conflict-related detainees."

The allegations of torture included beatings, suffocation and electric shocks. The U.N. said nearly a third of those interviewed provided "credible and reliable" accounts of abuse and mistreatment, without providing an exact number of detainees.

The U.S.-backed Afghan government is holding thousands of detainees, many of them captured in the ongoing war with the Taliban. The insurgents have made major gains in recent years and now effectively control half the country.

Afghan officials dis not immediately comment.

Egypt sets vote on constitution revisions

CAIRO -- Authorities on Wednesday scheduled three days of voting starting Saturday in a nationwide referendum on proposed changes to Egypt's constitution.

Lasheen Ibrahim, chairman of the National Election Authority, said the vote will take place Saturday through Monday for voters in the country, while Egyptian expatriates will vote Friday through Sunday.

The announcement at a televised news conference in Cairo came less than 24 hours after the parliament, packed with supporters of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, overwhelmingly approved the proposed changes.

The changes are seen by critics as another step back toward authoritarianism eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended autocrat Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule, and nearly six years after el-Sissi led a military overthrow of the country's freely elected but divisive Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, after protests against his rule.

In general terms, the amendments only extend a president's term in office from four to six years and allow for a maximum of two terms.

But they include an article specific to el-Sissi that extends his current second four-year term to six years and allows him to run for another six-year term in 2024 -- potentially extending his rule until 2030.

A Section on 04/18/2019

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