WASHINGTON - Al-Qaeda has advanced beyond isolated pockets of activity in Syria and now is building a network of well-organised cells, according to US intelligence officials. They fear the terrorists could be on the verge of establishing an Iraq-like foothold that would be hard to defeat if rebels eventually oust President Bashar Assad. At least a couple of hundred al-Qaeda-linked militants are already operating in Syria, and their ranks are growing as foreign fighters stream into the Arab country daily, current and former US intelligence officials say.
Glory out of guns
NEW YORK - David Berkowitz, who shot and killed six people during a year-long spree in New York City in the 1970s, says "society has to take the glory out of guns". The "Son of Sam" killer lamented the recent mass shootings that left dozens dead in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, and a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He spoke to the Daily News from Sullivan County Correctional Facility in upstate New York, the maximum-security prison where he's serving six consecutive 25-years-to-life sentences.
ACCRA - Thousands of mourners including African leaders, dignitaries and ordinary Ghanaians have attended the state funeral of president John Atta Mills, who died last month ahead of a re-election bid. A military cortege conveyed Mills' body from the State House parliamentary complex yesterday, where it had lain in state since Wednesday, to the funeral at Independence Square. More than 10,000 people gathered in and around the huge square heard Ghana's new President John Dramani Mahama laud his predecessor in a funeral oration.
WASHINGTON - The US has slapped sanctions on the Syrian state oil company, Sytrol, for trading with Iran, in a bid to starve the regimes in both Tehran and Damascus of much-needed revenue. "This kind of trade allows Iran to continue developing its nuclear program while providing the Syrian government with resources to oppress its own people," US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement yesterday. Citing Syria and Iran's "two-way trade in the energy sector, in which Syria sent 33,000 metric tons of petrol to Iran in April.
BEIJING - The wife of the disgraced former Chinese Communist Party boss has reportedly confessed to murdering a British businessman and apologised for the "tragedy" she caused. The official Xinhua News Agency, in its most detailed report on the case, said yesterday that Gu Kailai and her co-defendant "confessed to intentional murder" at their trial the previous day. They were accused of poisoning her business associate, Neil Heywood, in November last year after having a dispute.
Homes in dark
SYDNEY - Thousands of homes in Sydney are still in the dark after a blustery day. "There's about 8000, and they are scattered around Sydney in isolated pockets," an Ausgrid spokeswoman told AAP early on Saturday morning. The northern beaches area has been among the worst affected. Along the NSW coast, strong winds ripped on Friday, taking school and hospital roofs with them and leaving 40,000 homes without electricity, although power has been restored to most of them.