CAIRO

Six die when gunmen storm Egyptian army checkpoint

Gunmen stormed an Egyptian army checkpoint outside Cairo early Saturday morning and killed six soldiers, including some still in their beds, officials said, in what amounted to an escalation by militants on military targets near the capital.

Just days earlier, masked men opened fire on a bus load of military police inside city limits, another rare attack on soldiers this far from the restive Sinai Peninsula, where the army is fighting a counter-insurgency campaign.

Provincial security chief Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Yousri told state news agency MENA that the gunmen also planted explosive devices after Saturday’s attack in Shubra al-Kheima, but bomb disposal experts managed to diffuse two and detonate another in a controlled explosion.

The military blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the attack, calling the group “terrorists” and saying they had planted the additional bombs to target rescue workers rushing to the scene.

ALGIERS, Algeria

Police allow activists to hold rare anti-president protest

About 100 Algerian activists from a new anti-government movement staged a rare protest Saturday against the ailing president and his decision to run for a fourth term.

While there was a heavy police presence, officers didn’t violently disperse the young protesters from the “Barakat!” (Enough) group like they did in similar demonstrations earlier this month.

“The state backed off after the images of repression from last week,” group co-founder Amira Bouraoui said, adding that future protests would take place outside the capital. “We will continue our fight against the election and the system.”

The 77-year-old president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, will be running for a fourth term after 15 years in power, despite having a stroke last year that has made his speech and movement difficult. While six candidates have been approved for the April 17 elections, Bouteflika is expected to win with the backing of the powerful machinery of the state.

BAGHDAD

Dozens killed, scores injured in series of car bomb attacks

A series of car bomb attacks targeting commercial areas and a restaurant killed at least 19 people Saturday in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, authorities said.

Police officials said a car bomb went off at night in a commercial street in al-Ameen district in southeastern Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 13. Minutes later, police said another car bomb explosion near a falafel restaurant killed three people and wounded six in the capital’s Qahira neighborhood.

A third car bomb exploded in a commercial street in western Baghdad, killing four persons and wounding 14 others, police said. Later, a car bomb in a commercial area of Baghdad’s northwestern neighborhood of Shula killed four people and wounded nine, police said.

In Baghdad’s northern district of Hurriyah, a car bomb also exploded, killing four people and wounding 10, police said.

JERUSALEM

Defense minister predicts no likelihood of peace

Israel’s defense minister says a peace agreement with the Palestinians is unreachable unless they recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland.

Moshe Yaalon, told channel 2 TV Saturday, “it is impossible to make an agreement without there being recognition on the other side of our right to exist as the national homeland of the Jewish people.”

He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is “not a partner” for ending the conflict. Peace won’t happen in his generation, he said.

The recognition issue is a sticking point in U.S. mediated talks. The Palestinians have rejected it.

– From news service reports