Ayatollah makes public appearance, belies rumors

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a public appearance Sunday amid rumors about his health, as a relative dismissed the claims as gossip meant to derail ongoing nuclear talks with world powers.

State television aired pictures Sunday of the 75-year-old Khamenei addressing a group of environmental officials and activists at his residence in central Tehran. He appeared to look comfortable and healthy in the footage.

Foreign-based news websites in recent days have claimed that Khamenei, who has the final word on all matters in Iran, had been hospitalized in critical condition.

Khamenei has been Iran’s top leader since the death in 1989 of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.


Rocket strike on base kills 2 children, U.N. peacekeeper

Two children and a U.N. peacekeeper were killed in a rocket attack early Sunday on a U.N. base in Mali’s northeastern city of Kidal, the United Nations mission in Mali said.

More than 30 rockets and shells hit the U.N. base, spokesman Olivier Salgado said. Another 14 people were wounded. The peacekeeper was from Chad, and 11 of the wounded were peacekeepers, the spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general said in a statement.

The attack came a day after a masked gunman sprayed bullets into a restaurant and bar in Mali’s capital, Bamako, killing five people, including a Frenchman and a Belgian.

A group formed by the elusive and dreaded Algerian extremist leader Moktar Belmoktar claimed responsibility for the rare burst of violence in the capital.


Girl, 18 months, survives car crash in frigid river

An 18-month-old girl survived a car crash in a frigid Utah river after being strapped in a car seat upside-down for some 14 hours before being found by a fisherman, officers said.

The condition of Lily Groesbeck was upgraded from critical to stable but critical condition at a Salt Lake City hospital, but her 25-year-old mother, Lynn Groesbeck of Springville, was found dead in the car, police said Sunday.

“She is doing remarkably well considering the circumstance. The doctors have been hopeful so far,” the mother’s sister, Jill Sanderson, told KSL-TV of Salt Lake City on Sunday.

The fisherman discovered the car on its top about 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the Spanish Fork River in Spanish Fork, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City, police Lt. Matt Johnson said.


U.S. general calls Iraqi army units ill-prepared

Some Iraqi army units in line for U.S.-led training to fight the Islamic State group are showing up ill-prepared, the top American general said Sunday.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, speaking to reporters aboard this French aircraft carrier in the northern Persian Gulf not far from Iran’s coast, said he sees no reason to send more U.S. military trainers or advisers at this time. More, broadly, he defended the pace of the overall military campaign in Iraq.

“Right now we don’t need more advisers on the ground,” Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

– From news service reports