NEW DELHI

Swiss woman on biking trip gang-raped in central India

A Swiss woman who was on a cycling trip in central India with her husband was gang-raped by eight men, police said Saturday. The attack comes three months after the fatal gang-rape of a woman aboard a New Delhi bus outraged Indians.

Authorities detained and questioned 13 men in connection with the latest attack, which occurred Friday night as the couple camped out in a forest in Madhya Pradesh state after bicycling from the temple town of Orchha, police said.

The men beat the couple and gang-raped the woman, police said. They also stole the couple’s mobile phone, a laptop computer and $185.

The woman, 39, was treated at a hospital in the nearby city of Gwalior, police said.

WASHINGTON

President Obama tempers expectations from Mideast

When President Obama steps into the Middle East’s political cauldron this week, he won’t be seeking any grand resolution for the region’s problems.

His goal will be trying to keep the troubles, from Iran’s suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon to the bitter discord between Israelis and Palestinians, from boiling over on his watch.

Obama arrives in Jerusalem on Wednesday for his first trip to Israel as president. His first priority will be resetting his oft-troubled relationship with now-weakened Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and evaluating the new coalition government Netanyahu laboriously cobbled together.

The president also will look to boost his appeal to a skeptical Israeli public, as well as to frustrated Palestinians.

“This is not about accomplishing anything now. This is what I call a down payment trip,” said Aaron David Miller, an adviser on Mideast peace to six secretaries of state who is now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

BEIRUT

High-ranking officer says Syrian morale has collapsed

One of the highest-ranking military officers yet to abandon Syrian President Bashar Assad defected to neighboring Jordan and said in an interview aired Saturday that morale among those still inside the regime had collapsed.

In another setback for the Assad regime, a leading human rights group accused Syria’s government of stepping up its use of widely banned cluster munitions, which often kill and wound civilians.

The twin blows illustrated the slowly spreading cracks appearing in Assad’s regime as well as its deepening international isolation. While few analysts expect the civil war between Assad’s forces and rebels seeking his ouster to end soon, most say it appears impossible for the 4-decade-old regime to continue to rule Syria.

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ezz al-Din Khalouf announced his defection from Assad’s regime in a video aired Saturday on the Al-Arabiya satellite channel. It showed him sitting next to his son, Capt. Ezz al-Din Khalouf, who defected with him.

– From news service reports