The world in brief

IS militants attack Syrian army post 3 S. Koreans found guilty in crush case Venezuela rights groups decry arrest 1 dead as winds rip Australian state

IS militants attack Syrian army post

CAIRO -- Militants from the Islamic State group attacked military barracks in central Syria this week, killing nine soldiers, an opposition war monitor said. The Syrian army and officials have not confirmed the attack.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack on Monday near the town of Al-Sukhna, saying its fighters also seized weapons abandoned by fleeing soldiers and set fire to the barracks. The militants' statement claiming responsibility was posted late Tuesday.

The attack was the latest in intensifying clashes in the desert in eastern Syria between the militants and the Syrian army, supported by Iran-backed militias.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, says IS has carried out 41 attacks so far this year there.

The Observatory said three Syrian troops were wounded in addition to the nine killed in Al-Sukhna.

IS militants have found refuge in the desert in remote areas in Syria and along the Iraqi-Syrian border, where they continue to stage attacks nearly five years after the group was defeated in Syria in 2019.

U.S. troops in northeastern Syria and U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have conducted numerous operations against the remaining IS militants. The United States has approximately 900 troops in Syria focused on countering the group's remnants.

3 S. Koreans found guilty in crush case

SEOUL, South Korea -- A South Korean court on Wednesday found three former police officers guilty of destroying evidence indicating that the police had been aware of the safety risks at Halloween festivities in Seoul before a deadly crowd crush that shocked the nation in 2022.

The officers were the first officials to be convicted of crimes related to the event, in which nearly 160 people were killed. They were found guilty of destroying evidence, including deleting an internal report that warned of the possibility of accidents during Halloween celebrations.

A Seoul district court sentenced Park Seong-min, who was a senior official at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, to 18 months in prison. Kim Jin-ho, a former official at Yongsan Police Station, received a suspended one-year sentence. Kwak Young-seok, a former officer at Yongsan Police Station, was handed a four-month suspended sentence. Lawyers for the former officers could not be immediately reached for comment.

The court found that Park had ordered Kim and his subordinates to erase the documents out of concern that the records, if leaked by investigators or the media, would lead to the police being held criminally liable for the disaster.

Venezuela rights groups decry arrest

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Representatives of nearly 10 human-rights organizations in Venezuela held a news conference on Wednesday to demand the immediate release of a prominent attorney and activist detained last week.

They expressed concern over Rocio San Miguel's well-being and condemned her inability to access legal support of her choice.

San Miguel was detained Friday at the airport near the capital, Caracas, while she and her daughter awaited a flight to Miami. Her arrest set off a wave of criticism inside and outside the South American country.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab accused her, without offering any evidence, of having a link to a plot to kill President Nicolás Maduro and other officials and attack military units.

Saab on Tuesday said San Miguel had an initial hearing Monday on charges of treason, conspiracy and terrorism.

San Miguel, 57, is specialized in researching Venezuela's shadowy, often corrupt, armed forces. She is the head of the nongovernmental organization Control Ciudadano, which focuses on human rights, security and the armed forces.

Police also detained San Miguel's daughter, Miranda Díaz, ex-husband, Victor Díaz, two brothers and a former partner.

1 dead as winds rip Australian state

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Powerful winds have killed a man and brought widespread destruction across Australia's second-most populous state, leaving 530,000 homes and businesses without power and fanning fires that razed homes and injured five firefighters, officials said on Wednesday.

Winds of up to 98 mph toppled six electricity transmission towers on Tuesday and caused one of the highest number of power outages Victoria state had ever experienced, Emergency Management Commissioner Rick Nugent said.

A 50-year-old dairy farmer was killed by flying debris while driving a tractor near Mirboo North in southeast Victoria on Tuesday, Nugent said.

Storms also brought lightning strikes that sparked several forest fires in the west of the state, damaging homes in the township of Pomonal. Five firefighters who were protecting Pomonal sustained minor burns from cinders on Tuesday night when the fire changed direction and burnt over their truck, officials said.

Weather conditions had eased on Wednesday and the fire risk had diminished.

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