Blast in Syrian town held by Turkey-backed gunmen kills 13

ISTANBUL — A car bomb exploded in a northern Syrian town along the border with Turkey on Saturday, killing 13 people, Turkey's Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said about 20 others were wounded when the bomb exploded in central Tal Abyad, which was captured last month by Turkeybacked opposition gunmen from Kurdish-led fighters.

The ministry blamed Syrian Kurdish fighters for the attack, saying it condemns it and called on the international community to take a stance against this "cruel terror organization."

A spokesman for the main Kurdishled force in Syria, Mustafa Bali, blamed Turkey for the blast, saying Turkey and the Syrian fighters it backs "are now creating chaos" in Tal Abyad to displace the Kurds who live in the town.

"Turkey is responsible for civilian casualties in the region it controls," Bali tweeted.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Turkey last month invaded northeastern Syria to push out Syrian Kurdish fighters, who it considers terrorists for their links to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.

Earlier on Saturday, the Kurdishled Syrian Democratic Forces said Christian fighters will now oversee security in a northern Syrian region that has witnessed fighting between Turkey-backed troops and Kurdishled militiamen. — AP

Hong Kong protesters attack office of Chinese news agency

HONG KONG — Anti-government protesters attacked the Hong Kong office of China's official Xinhua News Agency for the first time Saturday after chaos broke out downtown, with police firing tear gas and demonstrators hurling gasoline bombs as the pro-democracy movement approached the fivemonth mark.

Streets in the upscale Causeway Bay shopping area and nearby Victoria Park were clouded in tear gas, prompting thousands of protesters to flee as riot police moved to stymie a rally demanding meaningful autonomy after Beijing indicated it could tighten its grip on the Chinese territory.

Police deployed at least two water cannon trucks in the vicinity. They had issued warnings to protesters who occupied the area that they were taking part in an unauthorized rally and were violating a government ban on face masks.

Protesters accuse China's central government of infringing on the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.— AP

Malian government says 54 killed in jihadi attack on army

BAMAKO, Mali — Jihadis attacked the Malian military near the border with Niger, leaving at least 53 soldiers and one civilian dead, in the second major assault against the country's armed forces in a month, the government said Saturday.

The latest violence to target Mali's armed forces took place Friday in Indelimane, in Mali's volatile Menaka region.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though jihadis with links to the Islamic State are active in the area.

The new violence is likely to further raise tensions in the capital, Bamako, where military families have already protested in the streets. They say soldiers are not being given the resources on the ground that they need to confront an array of jihadi groups.

Friday's violence occurred a month after 41 soldiers were killed and 20 others went missing during two attacks on Malian soldiers taking part in a regional counterterrorism force.— AP

Judge blocks Trump's health insurance rule for immigrants

PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge in Portland Saturday put on hold a Trump administration rule requiring immigrants to prove they will have health insurance or can pay for medical care before they can get visas.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon granted a preliminary injunction that prevents the rule from going into effect Sunday. It's not clear when he will rule on the merits of the case.

Seven U.S. citizens and a nonprofit organization filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday contending the rule would block nearly two-thirds of all prospective legal immigrants.

The lawsuit also said the rule would greatly reduce or eliminate the number of immigrants who enter the United States with family sponsored visas.

The proclamation signed by President Donald Trump last month applies to people seeking immigrant visas from abroad — not those in the U.S. already. It does not affect lawful permanent residents. It does not apply to asylum-seekers, refugees or children.— AP

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