Briefs, November 11, 2012

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 November, 2012, 6:38am

Two killed as Israel retaliates in Gaza

GAZA CITY - An explosion targeted an Israel military vehicle on the Gaza border and Israeli troops fired into Gaza, killing two civilians and wounding at least 25, Palestinian officials and witnesses said. Ayman al-Sahbani, a doctor at Gaza's Shifa hospital, said all the casualties were civilians, and children were among the wounded. Witnesses said that following the large explosion, Israel retaliated with tank and machine-gun fire towards a residential area in Gaza, hitting people who were returning from a funeral near Gaza city. The Israeli military said it was investigating the incident. AP


Iraq cancels arms order with Russia

BAGHDAD - Baghdad cancelled a US$4.2 billion weapons package with Russia, citing graft concerns, torpedoing a deal that would have made Moscow Iraq's biggest arms supplier after the US. Cancellation of the deal, which had been announced when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki led a delegation to Russia last month, is a setback for Moscow's attempts to firm up its slipping foothold in the Middle East and also throws into doubt efforts by Iraq to equip its forces. Maliki's spokesman Ali Mussawi declined to say who was being investigated, or if Iraq would begin new negotiations with Moscow. AFP


17 Turkish soldiers die in helicopter crash

DIYARBAKIR - Seventeen Turkish soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed in southeastern Turkey due to bad weather conditions, the area's governor said. The Sikorsky helicopter crashed on Herekol mountain in Siirt province, Governor Ahmet Aydin said. The victims were members of the country's gendarmerie special forces, and there were no survivors on board, he said. The Turkish military has been carrying out operations on the mountain in recent months to flush out militants from outlawed separatist group the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who have hideouts there. Reuters


Probation for assistant to Vatican butler

ROME - A Vatican court convicted a computer programmer employed by the world's tiniest state for helping Pope Benedict's butler engineer a series of leaks that embarrassed the Vatican. The court handed 48-year-old Claudio Sciarpelletti a suspended sentence of two months in prison with a probationary term of five years, meaning that if he respects the terms of his probation he will likely not have to go to prison. Sciarpelletti was convicted on a single charge of aiding and abetting, the panel of three judges said. The trial comes just weeks after the former butler, Paolo Gabriele, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for leaking secret memos from the papal residence. AFP