By Steve Scherer ROME (Reuters) - Nearly 5,800 migrants were plucked from boats off the coast of Libya and 10 bodies were recovered in less than 48 hours, Italy's coast guard said, in one of the biggest rescue operations this year. Two weeks after nearly 900 boat people drowned in the worst Mediterranean shipwreck in living memory, the flow of people desperate to reach a better life in Europe has accelerated as people smugglers take advantage of calmer seas. Seven bodies were found on two large rubber boats packed with migrants and rescuers plucked from the sea the corpses of three others who had jumped into the water when they saw a merchant ship approaching, the coast guard said. Italy's coast guard has coordinated the rescues by its own navy and coast guard, a French ship acting on behalf of the European border control agency, merchant ships, and one vessel run by the privately funded Migrant Offshore Aid Station.
By Amena Bakr and Jibran Ahmad AL-KHOR, Qatar/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Taliban representatives met with Afghan political figures for a second day in Qatar on Sunday, and one participant said the two sides discussed a possible ceasefire but ultimately disagreed over the continued presence of U.S. troops in the country. The United States and Pakistan, long-regarded by critics as sympathetic to the Afghan Taliban, both welcomed the closed-door talks aimed at ending an insurgency that has raged in Afghanistan since U.S.-backed forces drove the Taliban from power in 2001. The Taliban recently launched an offensive in northern Afghanistan that brought its fighters to the outskirts of Kunduz city, a provincial capital.
By Isaac Abrak and Emma Ande YOLA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Boko Haram fighters killed older boys and men in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest where many died of hunger and disease, freed captives said on Sunday after they were brought to a government refugee camp. The Nigerian army rescued hundreds of women and children last week from the Islamist fighters in northern Nigeria's Sambisa Forest in a major operation that has turned international attention to the plight of hostages. "They didn't allow us to move an inch," said one of the freed women, Asabe Umaru, describing her captivity. We thank the Nigerian army for saving our lives," she added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping offered the head of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party on Monday "equal" talks to resolve their political differences, but only if Taiwan accepts it is part of China, a concept many Taiwanese balk at. Xi, in his role as head of China's ruling Communist Party, met Nationalist chairman Eric Chu in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, the first meeting between the leaders of the old political rivals in six years, China's Xinhua news agency said.
The Philippines' most wanted Islamist militant, whose death at the weekend could boost peace efforts in the country's south, was killed by his own bodyguards in pursuit of a bounty offered by the United States, the head of the military said on Monday. Abdul Basit Usman, a militant with strong al Qaeda links who was blamed for numerous bomb attacks in the southern Philippines, had been hunted by security forces since 2002. "There was in-fighting among his group," General Gregorio Pio Catapang told journalists at the main army base in Manila. In March 2014, the Philippines signed a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ending about 45 years of conflict that has killed 120,000 people and displaced 2 million.
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal's government urged foreign rescue workers in the quake-hit capital to return home Monday as hundreds of people visited Buddhist shrines and monasteries to mark the birthday of Gautam Buddha.
Millions of Russians will on May 9 don black-and-orange striped ribbons to mark Soviet victory in World War II, but critics accuse the Kremlin of using them to link wartime glory to current policies. The ribbon is seen as Russia's answer to the poppy widely worn in Britain to commemorate the sacrifice of service personnel in two world wars and other later conflicts. With this year's 70th anniversary commemorations attracting much patriotic fervour, the ribbon has become almost ubiquitous. Three Russian cosmonauts at the International Space Station have already been seen sporting theirs, while officials such as Kremlin administration chief Sergei Ivanov have worn orange-and-black-striped ties.
By Sue-Lin Wong SHANGHAI (Reuters) - (This story correct time frame to 6 years not 60 years in the May 1 story.) The leader of Taiwan's Nationalist Party will sit down with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday in the first meeting between the heads of the ruling parties in the two rival states in 6 years. Xi, as head of China's ruling Communist Party, will host Taiwan's Eric Chu, whose Nationalists fled to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Chu told an opening ceremony in Shanghai on Sunday cross-strait ties must be addressed with a positive attitude. "We must use a healthy attitude, a positive attitude to welcome the age of cooperation between our two sides." China regards democratic Taiwan as a renegade province, to be brought under Beijing's control by force if necessary.
GARLAND, Texas (AP) — Two gunmen were killed after opening fire on a security officer outside a contest for cartoon depictions of Prophet Muhammad in Texas and a bomb squad was called in to search their vehicle as a precaution, authorities said.
Britain's deputy prime minister and leader of the centrist Liberal Democrat party Nick Clegg is fighting to retain his seat in parliament and save his political career in a general election this week. Support for the Liberal Democrats has plummeted since the party won almost one in four votes in the 2010 election, putting them in government for the first time since 1945 as the junior coalition partner of the centre-right Conservatives. A multilingual former Eurocrat, Clegg is fighting a close battle to retain his parliamentary seat in Sheffield Hallam in northern England, where an April poll showed the Labour candidate narrowly ahead. About a third of the party's 57 seats across Britain are under threat in Thursday's election.
Nigel Farage has turned the UK Independence Party (UKIP) into a national force but is battling for his future in Thursday's general election, with commentators saying he has run out of steam. Farage reminds UKIP's base of older, white, blue collar voters of a bygone era when the economy felt stronger, immigration was lower and Britain was great. Anti-Brussels and anti-political correctness, Farage, who once compared ex-European Council president Herman Van Rompuy to a "damp rag", led UKIP to top the polls in last year's European Parliament elections. Once dismissed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a party of "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists", UKIP is defending two House of Commons seats and looks set to take tens of thousands of votes nationwide from the main parties.
This week in Latin America we saw images by Rodrigo Abd from the Peruvian Amazon community nicknamed "Venice of the Jungle" where residents live half the year on the water, with canoes replacing motorcycles as the most popular form of transport. From January to June, water overflows from a river that feeds the Amazon, flooding the northeastern jungle community of Belen.
Scottish nationalists are on course to make historic gains in Thursday's general election and win unprecedented influence in Westminster, ironically energised by their defeat in last year's independence referendum. Over 55 percent of Scots said "No" when asked "should Scotland become an independent country?" in September, seemingly delivering a hefty blow to the Scottish National Party (SNP) that was created in 1934 with the express purpose of splitting from Britain. Combative SNP leader Alex Salmond stepped down following the defeat, to be replaced by protege Nicola Sturgeon, whose wit and grit have even won supporters south of the border. Since the independence vote, the party's membership has quadrupled to over 100,000.