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Yemeni civilians caught amid clashes

CAIRO -- A United Nations humanitarian agency warned Tuesday that thousands of Yemeni civilians caught in fierce clashes between warring factions are trapped in an embattled northern district, an area that has become a flash point in the country's civil war.

The number of displaced in the Kushar district in the impoverished Hajjah governorate has doubled over the past six months, with over 5,300 families fleeing from the district and its surrounding area in the past weeks, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Kushar, a mountainous district only 31 miles from the border with Saudi Arabia, has been isolated from the outside world -- roads and all communication lines are cut and "thousands of civilians are reportedly trapped between conflicting parties," the U.N. and local residents said.

Over the past several days, airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, which is fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels on behalf of Yemen's internationally recognized government, killed 22 people, including women and 14 children in the area.

Yemen's Houthi rebels imposed tight control over Kushar after powerful local tribesmen took up arms against them. The Houthis subsequently shelled the district -- home to 100,000 people -- and killed and wounded scores of civilians. Thousands were displaced. As the Houthi siege strangled the area, the Saudi-led coalition airdropped food and medicine to the tribes.

Yemen's civil war has killed over 60,000 people and displaced 3 million, pushing the already impoverished nation to the brink of famine.

Britons 'aware' of group's bomb claim

LONDON -- British police said Tuesday that they are "aware" of a claim of responsibility by Irish dissidents with regard to the sending of letter bombs last week.

The Metropolitan Police said Tuesday that a media outlet in Northern Ireland received a claim of responsibility Monday using a recognized code word.

The group making the claim said five devices were sent, but police have so far only found four -- raising the prospect that one package may not have been discovered yet.

"The claim was allegedly made on behalf of the 'IRA,'" police said, referring to the Irish Republican Army. The group has been in a cease-fire for years, but dissident groups are still active.

Police said they were already investigating possible dissident links to the packages, which did not cause any injuries.

According to the statement, counterterrorism police are keeping an "open mind" but stopped short of blaming dissidents for the use of the devices.

Physicist's former nurse hit with ban

LONDON -- British regulators on Tuesday barred one of Stephen Hawking's former nurses from practicing after finding she failed to provide appropriate care to the late physicist.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council struck off Patricia Dowdy, 61, who faced multiple misconduct charges, including financial misconduct, dishonesty, not providing appropriate care, failing to cooperate with the council and not having the correct qualifications.

Dowdy worked for Hawking between 1999 and 2004 and again from July 2013 until being handed an interim suspension in March 2016.

"The panel has found Mrs. Dowdy failed to provide the standards of good, professional care that we expect and Professor Hawking deserved," said Matthew McClelland of the council. "As a result, Mrs. Dowdy will no longer be able to practice as a nurse."

The best-known theoretical physicist of his time, Hawking wrote so plainly about the mysteries of space, time and black holes that his book A Brief History of Time became an international best-seller.

Though suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Hawking stunned doctors by living with the normally fatal illness for more than 50 years.

Hawking died a year ago at the age of 76.

Report faults chiefs in Congo violence

DAKAR, Senegal -- Intercommunal violence that left at least 535 people dead in western Congo may amount to crimes against humanity, according to a report by United Nations investigators released on Tuesday that cited witnesses saying village chiefs helped plan the violence.

The massacre took place over three days in December, not long before the country's long-delayed presidential election. Violence broke out in Yumbi between the Banunu and Batende communities after a dispute over a burial for a Banunu customary chief.

The attacks "followed strikingly similar patterns and were characterized by extreme violence and speed, leaving little time for people to escape," the U.N. said.

Banunu villagers were targeted with weapons including firearms and gasoline, the investigation found.

"The similarity in the way the attacks were carried out indicated prior consultation and organization," the report said. "Certain chiefs of Batende-majority villages were cited by many sources as having taken part in the planning of the attacks."

The U.N. investigators also expressed concern that not enough had been done to prevent the violence.

A Section on 03/13/2019

Print Headline: The world in brief

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