World briefs – August 27

A man suspected in 18 attacks in three states, including five fatal stabbings, has been ordered held without bond.

Stabbing suspect to remain in custody

FLINT, Mich. — A man suspected in 18 attacks in three states, including five fatal stabbings, has been ordered held without bond.

Thirty-three-year-old Elias Abuelazam was arraigned by video in a Flint, Michigan, court Thursday on a charge of assault with intent to murder in connection with a July 27 attack.

Prosecutors had asked for a $10 million bond, citing the severity of the attacks and concern that Abuelazam is a flight risk. Judge Nathaniel Perry III instead ordered him held without bond.

Abuelazam, a native of Israel, was extradited to Michigan from Atlanta earlier in the day. He was arrested at Atlanta’s airport on Aug. 11.

Police say Abuelazam is a suspect in 14 stabbings in the Flint area. He’s also suspected in similar stabbings in Virginia and Ohio.

Kim Jong Il visits China, Carter in North Korea

JILIN, China — North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has turned up in China in a strangely timed visit for the reclusive leader while former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is in North Korea trying to win the release of an imprisoned American.

It marked Kim’s second trip to China in three months — unusual for a man who never flies and travels only by armoured train.

South Korean media and regional analysts said he may be seeking Chinese aid following flooding in his impoverished country’s northwest — and could be laying the diplomatic ground work for the succession of his son, who is thought to be travelling with him.

In any case, it was unclear whether he would return in time for a meeting with Carter, an elder statesman well-regarded in North Korea despite the two countries’ longtime animosity. Carter met with Kim’s father, late President Kim Il Sung, on his last trip to Pyongyang in 1994 — a warm meeting that led to a landmark nuclear disarmament deal.

Congo demands help to stop attacks

KINSHASA, Congo — Congo’s army needs more international help to prevent brutal rebel attacks such as the recent mass gang-raping in eastern Congo, a government spokesman said Thursday.

Information Minister Lambert Mende also charged that the United Nations exaggerates the amount of rape in Congo and said its top official for sexual violence in conflict is wrong to call the country the “rape capital of the world.”

Mende spoke at a news conference called to respond to criticisms that more should have been done to prevent the latest atrocity, where nearly 200 women and four baby boys were raped over four days within miles of a U.N. peacekeepers’ base.

Lambert said Congo’s army needs more on-the-ground support for its security forces from the international community.

But the U.N. peacekeeping and stabilization mission in Congo already has faced a barrage of criticism for its support of offensives against rebels which have seen more than 60,000 soldiers — more than one-third of Congo’s army — spread across eastern Congo and often preying on the population.

Civil society leaders recently have been calling for the demilitarization of some zones, saying the soldiers, often unpaid, are as much a danger to the population as rebels.

Karzai questions withdrawal timeline

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai on Thursday criticized the U.S. plan to begin withdrawing troops starting next July and said the war on terror cannot succeed as long as the Taliban and their allies maintain sanctuaries in Pakistan.

Karzai’s statements were made during a meeting with visiting U.S. congressmen and come at a time when the Obama administration is ratcheting up pressure on the Afghan leader to do more to stamp out corruption.

The Afghan government maintains that the U.S. should be doing more on other fronts, including pressuring Pakistan to shut down the insurgent sanctuaries.

A statement by Karzai’s office said the Afghan leader told the U.S. delegation that significant progress had been made in rebuilding the country after decades of war.