Islamic militants respond to raids, kill soldier, wound eight

Islamic militants clashed with army and police troops in the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday following the arrest of some of their members, killing one soldier and leaving six of his colleagues and two civilians wounded, Egypt’s military spokesman said.

Security officials said the attack was in response to early morning police raids on the homes of suspected militants that led to the arrests, backing away from an earlier report that the militants had taken children hostage to be used as human shields.

Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, the military spokesman, said the clashes began shortly after the raids, when militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles on the security building and troops.

Security officials said four men suspected of belonging to extremist militant groups were arrested in connection with the dawn raids.

But Ali later said the military operation, in which the air force was involved, resulted in the arrest of 10 suspected militants in a village east of Sheik Zuweyid.


Dismembered bodies found in area disputed by cartels

The dismembered bodies of 17 men were found Sunday on a farm in central Mexico, in an area disputed by violent drug cartels, officials said.

The bodies were dumped in the town of Tizapan el Alto by the border between Jalisco and Michoacan, said Jalisco state prosecutor Tomas Coronado Olmos.

Coronado Olmos didn’t reveal the identities of the slain men but said the bodies were naked, mutilated and stacked with chains around their necks near the highway linking Guadalajara and Morelia. They had been killed elsewhere and dumped on the property.

Authorities haven’t said who they think was behind the killings, but the area is a cartel battleground and Mexico’s crime groups regularly leave behind such grisly remains as they battle for control of trafficking routes and markets.


Pontiff calls for cessation of ‘so much horror’ in Syria

Pope Benedict XVI made a sweeping appeal Sunday for peace in Syria and the Middle East, decrying the violence “which generates so much suffering.”

Speaking at an open-air Mass before a huge crowd, he urged the international community and Arab countries in particular to find a solution to end the conflict in neighboring Syria. But he suggested no specific fixes for a crisis that has eluded all efforts at mediation.

“Why so much horror? Why so many dead?” Benedict said, pressing ahead with his call for reconciliation between Christians and Muslims and lamenting that “the first victims are women and children.”

With pilgrims from across the Middle East in the crowd, he said Christians must do their part to end the “grim trail of death and destruction” in the region.

While frequently condemning the violence in Syria, the pope never took sides in the conflict. Lebanon is fiercely divided about the conflict in Syria. The pope also did not mention the Islam-mocking film that has sparked violent protests in numerous Arab nations.


Endeavour’s trip west postponed by weather

The beginning of space shuttle Endeavour’s final flight to California has been postponed because of weather along the flight route.

NASA had planned for the 747 carrying the shuttle to take off from Kennedy Space Center on Monday. The flight is now scheduled to take off at sunrise Tuesday.

Low fly-overs are still planned at Cape Canaveral and NASA facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi. There’ll be a one-day stop in Houston.

Endeavour is expected to arrive in Los Angeles on Thursday for its eventual installation at the California Science Center. Endeavour is the second of NASA’s three retired shuttles to head to a museum. Discovery is at the Smithsonian Institution’s display hangar in Virginia. Atlantis will remain at Kennedy.