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Thursday, December 18, 2014

World Briefs

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Denmark
The Copenhagen Zoo put down Marius, a healthy two-year-old giraffe, on Sunday in front of an audience to prevent inbreeding of giraffes in the facility. Zoo staff killed Marius using a bolt pistol and skinned him in front of the crowd before feeding his carcass to the zoo’s lions, according to the Associated Press. Children were among the execution’s invited audience, the Associated Press reported.

Staff ignored an online petition, which had about 20,000 signatures against Marius’ killing, and allowed children to watch “an important display of scientific knowledge about animals,” according to AP.

Iraq
As the country’s Sunni-Shiite sectarian war rages on, nine people were killed in militant attacks on Sunday in the Salaheddin province north of Baghdad.

According to the Agence France-Presse, the first incident was an ambush at a police camp near a stadium construction site, in which militants gathered six policemen and forced them to pray before shooting the policemen. Police also found three severed heads, which authorities identified as belonging to an anti-al Qaeda chief and his relatives, who were kidnapped at a town market in the province Thursday.

Kazakhstan
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced on Sunday that he is mulling whether to drop the “-stan” in his country’s name as a move to distinguish the oil-rich country from its neighboring post-Soviet nations. Nazarbayev said he might push to change the country’s name to “Kazakh Eli,” meaning “The Land of Kazakhs” in English, which “would be more eye-catching for a foreigner studying the region’s map,” according to Reuters. No name change has yet occurred. In 1997, Nazarbayev changed Kazakhstan’s capital city from Almaty to Astana, the present capital.

Pakistan
Anti-government fighters in Pakistan on Sunday night ambushed and executed a family of eight in their home in the Baluchistan region. Authorities claim that the victims include two brothers who served in the pro-government militia and their children and wives, according to Reuters.

The ambush was part of an ensuing shootout among militia members in the region, in which six more people were killed by gunfire later that day, Reuters reported. The Frontier Corps, a pro-government force, claimed a banned separatist group, the Baloch Republican Army, was responsible for the family’s deaths.

Russia
On the third day of this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Felix Loch snagged the gold medal once again for Germany in the games’ luge event. According to the AP, Loch, 24, completed the course on the Sanki Sliding Center track in 3 minutes, 27.562 seconds — less than half a second ahead of silver medalist Albert Demchenko, 42, who is competing in his seventh Winter Olympics.

Loch first won the gold medal for the event four years ago in Vancouver. Italian Armin Zoeggeler, 40, placed at third in Sunday’s event.

Switzerland
Swiss voters on Sunday agreed to limit the flow of European Union immigrants to their country during a nationwide election. About 50.3 percent of voters cast their ballots in support of the “Stop Mass Immigration” proposal, which was initiated by right-wing political officials, according to AFP. Through the proposal, Switzerland will renegotiate its 2007 deal with Brussels, which gives E.U. citizens free access to the Swiss labor market. The proposal also aims to “recast relations between Switzerland and the EU” in the coming weeks.

Syria
An exodus of 611 people, mainly composed of women, children and old men, evacuated the war-torn city of Homs on Sunday. According to Reuters, the evacuees were led out of the city by the United Nations and Syrian Red Crescent on the third day of a ceasefire in the city in the midst of an aid mission in Homs. The United Nations said many of the evacuees were malnourished, Reuters reported. Red Crescent officials said the organization is striving to extend the evacuation operation beyond the three-day ceasefire.

Turkey
Following the Turkish Parliament’s decision to impose new Internet regulations, about 2,000 citizens on Sunday gathered to riot in Istanbul and clashed with police. Authorities used tear gas and water cannons against the rioters, who threw stones in retaliation and smashed windows of city establishments, according AFP. Protesters accused that the new law gives the government access to their personal online data. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denied the accusations, AFP reported.