1. Libya's NTC hands power to new assembly
TRIPOLI, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Libya's National Transitional Council on Wednesday handed over power to the newly elected national assembly in a ceremony and the assembly is due to begin its work a week from now, according to the official LANA news agency.
"The National Transitional Council hands over the constitutional duties for leading the state to the general national congress, which from now on is the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people," NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil said.
The assembly will name a new prime minister who will pick his government, pass laws and steer Libya to full parliamentary elections after a new constitution is drafted next year.
Representatives of civil society groups and diplomatic missions in Libya, as well as NTC and government officials, attended the ceremony.(Xinhua)
2. Regional leaders opt for military option to end DR Congo fighting
KAMPALA, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Africa's Great Lakes region leaders on Wednesday concluded a two-day summit here reinforcing the military option to end fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The leaders that included Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete, Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza and DRC's Joseph Kabila attend the summit convened by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a regional body bringing together 11 member states. (Xinhua)
3. Three dead, 9 injured as building collapses in Nigeria's capital city
ABUJA, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- At least three people were confirmed dead and nine others were severely injured on Wednesday when an uncompleted building collapsed in Dutse Alhaji area of Nigeria's capital city Abuja, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Spokesperson of NEMA Yushau Shuaib told Xinhua that the nine injured persons were receiving treatment at the Garki General Hospital in the capital city.
Despite being under construction, the ill-fated building had been housing more than 50 artisans, said a rescue official who declined to be mentioned.
The rescue official said some occupants of the house made a narrow escape as they ran out as soon as they heard cracks from the building.
Chairman of Bwari area council of Abuja Peter Yohanna told reporters that the building had been abandoned for many years by its owners after it failed an integrity test for approval.(Xinhua)
4. Clinton wants South Africa to persuade Iran to give up nuclear program
CAPE TOWN, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urged South Africa to use its "rare authority" to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program.
"As the first country to voluntarily give up nuclear weapons, South Africa speaks with rare authority," Clinton said in a speech at the University of Western Cape.
South Africa, which voluntarily abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 1989, can deliver a convincing message to Iran, Clinton said.
"You can most convincingly make the case that giving up nuclear weapons is a sign of strength, not weakness," she said.
Despite Western pressure, South Africa has maintained long- standing cooperation with Iran, from where Pretoria had imported about 30 percent of its crude oil. But Pretoria cut all crude oil imports from Iran in June amid heavy European and U.S. sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.(Xinhua)
5. Egypt appoints new intelligence chief after deadly attack
CAIRO, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi ordered on Wednesday to appoint Mohamed Raafat as acting chief of intelligence to replace Murad Muwafi who was ordered to retire, state TV reported.
Morsi also sacked North Sinai Governor Abdel Wahab Mabrouk after the deadly attack on a military checkpoint attack which killed 16 soldiers and injured seven others on Sunday.
Mohamed Ahmed Zaki was assigned as chief of the Republican Guards, and Maged Moustafa as assistant to interior ministry for central security forces in accordance with the president's instructions to preserve security in Egypt, said the president's spokesman Yasser Ali.(Xinhua)
6. Kenya intensify war against poaching with arrest of 44 suspects
NAIROBI, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Kenya wildlife authorities have intensified war against poaching with the arrest of 44 suspected poachers and recovery of illegal ivory across the East African nation in the past week.
A statement from the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) said the crackdown on poachers also resulted in the recovery of 1 M16 rifle with 10 rounds of ammunition during in various parts of the country.
"In Taita Taveta County at Kulalu Ranch, a suspect was arrested, an M16 rifle, 10 rounds of ammunition and two elephant tusks recovered on July 30," KWS Corporate Affairs Manager Paul Udoto said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
"In the same county at Kilibasi area, two suspects were arrested and two pieces of ivory recovered the same day," Udoto said, noting that a suspect was also arrested in Rukinga Ranch near Voi and two more pieces of ivory and an assortment of hunting weapons recovered on Aug. 2.
Rampant poaching incidents have forced KWS to embrace the use of modern technologies under its force modernization program to counter the problem and other poaching-related threats.
KWS said it has introduced the Canine Unit with sniffer dogs on a 24-hour basis at the Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa to detect movements of illegal ivory. The unit has since 2009 netted more than eight tons of raw and worked ivory.(Xinhua)
1. Syrian troops kill hundreds of rebels in Aleppo, while sacked PM enters Jordon
DAMASCUS, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian troops killed hundreds of armed insurgents on Wednesday in the northern city Aleppo, but the military gains were clouded by the entry into Jordan of former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab.
The state-run SANA news agency said hundreds of armed men were killed in Salahuddien district of Aleppo and the army have regained control of the area, as pro-government media said 70 gunmen were killed in the neighborhood of Mayer in the countryside of Aleppo.
Earlier in the day, SANA said Syrian troops dealt a "fatal blow " to the armed insurgent groups in Salahuddien, adding that the army was now combing the sprawling district after killing most of the armed rebels there.
It said many of the armed men have surrendered themselves to the authorities.
The Syrian army unleashed a counter strike to regain control of the district, the first that had fallen in the hands of the armed rebels since two weeks ago.
However, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said violent clashes were still reported in the neighbourhoods of Salahuddien, Bustan al-Qasr, and al-Firdous, where rebel fighters were trying to control the raids branch and the airforce intelligence branch.
The military achievements made by Syrian troops were clouded by the news that the sacked former Syrian prime minister had arrived in Jordon. (Xinhua)
2. France's ex-president Sarkozy calls for swift action in Syria
PARIS, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked the international community to act rapidly to end conflicts in Syria, in his first appearance after his election defeat, local media reported on Wednesday.
In a joint statement, Sarkozy and head of the opposition Syrian National Council Abdulbaset Sieda stressed "... the need for rapid action by the international community to prevent the massacres (in Syria)", local broadcaster Europe 1 said.
According to the report, Sarkozy and Sieda held 40-minute phone conversation on the Syrian conflict, which had "great similarities with Libyan crisis" when Sarkozy pressed for a military intervention to stop month-long fighting between armed rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed in October 2011.
In a recent report, the daily Le Parisien reported Sarkozy's criticism of President Francois Hollande's inaction to end the Syrian political crisis.
"I was criticized on Libya, but at least, I acted. They must be firmer against the regime in Damascus, much firmer," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper. (Xinhua)
3. 11 killed, 25 wounded in car bomb in Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- 11 Iraqis were killed Wednesday in a car bomb in popular market in south Baghdad, a police source said.
A car bomb parked near a popular market in a village in Wasit province, exploded at the time of breakfast of Ramadan, killing 11 people and 25 others were wounded, some of them seriously injured, the source added.
The explosion also caused the destruction of some cars and shops.
Violence is still common in the Iraqi cities despite the dramatic decrease since its peak in 2006 and 2007 when the country was engulfed in sectarian killings.(Xinhua)
4.Israeli intelligence agencies vying to lead campaign against Sinai militants
JERUSALEM, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Amid a spike in militant activities in Egypt's Sinai, Israel's intelligence community is embroiled in a competition for spearheading the efforts to foil militant plots in the neighboring peninsular.
Both military intelligence and the Shin Bet security service seek exclusive responsibility for the area, according to a Wednesday report of The Jerusalem Post.
The former is mainly tasked with gathering and analyzing strategic intelligence for military purposes. The latter is responsible for intercepting hard-core militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The third primary agency, Mossad, operates abroad.
Shin Bet, however, could have the upper hand. The agency provided the intelligence that enabled the military to prepare for an attack Sunday night in which dozens of heavily-armed militants killed 16 Egyptian security personnel at a police compound in northern Sinai, near the border with Israel.
The gunmen then rammed through the border fence with an armored troop carrier in hopes of reaching Israeli communities. Aircraft, tanks and infantry engaged the assailants, stopping them within minutes after they crossed into Israel.
Defense officials said the early intelligence forwarded by Shin Bet, which they shared with Egyptian counterparts, prevented a lethal "mega-attack" that could have claimed lives of a large number of Israeli civilians and soldiers.
Israel is concerned over the increasing lawlessness in Sinai since the ouster of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak 18 months ago, with al-Qaida-linked and other extremist groups exploiting the Egyptian military's dwindling presence to gain footing in the area and launch attacks against Israel.
Thousands of Israeli troops have since deployed along the border and more intelligence assets have been allocated as part of the intensive efforts to counter attacks.
The Israeli government is expected to intervene in the debate within the intelligence community and decide in the coming weeks which agency will be handed the responsibility for Sinai, media reports said.
Aside from prestige, the selected agency will likely see a major boost to its budget. Mossad's budget, for instance, grew by near half a billion U.S. dollars in 2007, after former prime minister Ariel Sharon tasked the agency with leading Israeli intelligence efforts vis-a-viz Iran.(Xinhua)
5. Death toll of Philippine monsoon rains climbs to 16
MANILA, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The death toll of torrential rains brought by the southwest monsoon in Metro Manila and other nine provinces rose to 16 by Wednesday, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Counci (NDRRMC).
Of the fatalities, 10 came from the national capital region, four from Pampanga province and two others from Batangas province. They died of landslide, drowning and electrocution, NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
As of 3 p.m., the number of population affected by the heavy rains totaled 265,630 families with 1.2 million persons from 1,139 villages in Metro Manila, Ilocos region, Central Luzon and Western Visayas, Ramos said. Of the number, 31,403 families with 149,170 persons are in 296 evacuation centers.
In a briefing presided over by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III at the NDRRMC office, Police Community Relations Group head Director Lina Sarmiento said that the situation in CAMANAVA, part of the sub-region of Metro Manila, "is still very bad." Rubber boats were sent to the area to ferry relief goods to the affected residents.
Many areas in Metro Manila and in Central Luzon, Ilocos region are still not passable to vehicles due to flooding. (Xinhua)
6. Columbia captures drug kingpin
BOGOTA, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Colombia's security forces on Wednesday arrested the leader of a major drug cartel during an anti-drug operation in northeast Columbia, local media reported.
Erikson Vargas was arrested in a dawn raid by the National Police in Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city in Antioquia province.
One of Vargas' bodyguards was killed in the operation, police said.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the arrest via Twitter, calling it "a death blow against crimes." (Xinhua)