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ISIS attacks Libya camp, kills 9 soldiers

BENGHAZI, Libya -- Islamic State militants on Saturday killed at least nine soldiers in an attack on a training camp for the self-styled Libyan National Army in the country's southwestern desert, officials said.

The militants drove their vehicles into the recently established training camp and clashed with guards near an air base seized earlier this year by the Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, in the town of Sabha, the officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media. The medical center in Sabha confirmed the death toll.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying at least 16 soldiers were killed or wounded.

Sabha is 400 miles south of the capital, Tripoli, where Hifter's forces are currently fighting to take control of the city from militias affiliated with a weak U.N.-supported government.

The U.N. humanitarian agency said Friday that the monthlong assault on Tripoli has displaced nearly 55,000 people.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that at least 23 civilians have been killed since the Libyan National Army launched the offensive to take Tripoli on April 5.

The World Health Organization said the toll as of Thursday was 392 dead, including combatants and civilians. It said at least 1,936 people were wounded.

Syria strikes rebel areas; thousands flee

BEIRUT -- Syrian government bombardment of rebel-held areas in the country's northwest has killed and wounded dozens and forced thousands to flee their homes, opposition activists said Saturday.

The recent escalation of violence is the most serious in Idlib province and nearby areas since Russia and Turkey negotiated a cease-fire in September. The eight-month truce had averted a major government offensive in the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

On Saturday, government forces were sending new reinforcements toward Idlib, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and hundreds of troops.

Over the past weeks, government forces have bombarded rebel-held areas while al-Qaida-linked militants attacked army positions around Idlib, killing more than two dozen troops and pro-government gunmen over the past week.

The opposition's Syrian Civil Defense said 22 civilians have been killed and more than 60 wounded in airstrikes and shelling since Friday morning.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, reported more than 115 strikes against rebel-held areas on Saturday alone. It said six civilians were killed on Saturday, raising to 67 the number of civilians and insurgents killed since Tuesday when the government began its new campaign.

Sri Lanka seeks handover of knives

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Police in Sri Lanka have asked members of the public to hand over swords or other large knives to the nearest police stations after hundreds of such blades were discovered in mosques and homes during searches in the aftermath of Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said Saturday that those possessing knives used for day-to-day legal purposes need not hand them over.

In addition to illegal blades, Gunasekara said searches uncovered large amounts of camouflaged materials similar to those worn by the military. He said those too needed to be handed over to police by today.

More than 250 people were killed and hundreds were wounded when Islamic extremist suicide bombers attacked three churches and three tourist hotels in Sri Lanka on April 21.

Turkey answers attack by Kurdish rebels

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey began its largest offensive in months against Kurdish rebels across its borders, after its army came under attack from militants and faced hostile fire from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkish forces killed 28 Kurdish militants after they carried out two separate attacks from hideouts in Syria and Iraq that left four Turkish troops dead, the state news agency Anadolu reported.

Saturday's cross-border offensive marked one of the deadliest days recently for the Turkish military, which conducted the attack along with the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group supported by Turkey.

The clashes also highlight tensions over U.S. backing for the People's Protection Units, the Syrian Kurdish rebel group responsible for the death of a Turkish lieutenant earlier in the day. Three other Turkish troops were killed when the Kurdistan Workers' Party, a separate Kurdish militia designated a terrorist group by the U.S. and Turkey, shelled a military unit inside Turkey from positions in northern Iraq.

Farther south in Idlib in Syria, Assad's forces shelled an area near a Turkish military outpost, damaging a wall at the periphery of the compound and wounding two Turkish soldiers, state media said.

A Section on 05/05/2019

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