EGYPT

At least 11 soldiers killed in Sinai raids

Insurgents early Thursday attacked two military checkpoints in Egypt's volatile Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 11 soldiers, injuring 19 other people, and setting off a major reprisal operation that continued throughout the day, security officials said.

The attacks, in which the assailants were said to have employed vehicle bombs, automatic weapons, and rockets, were the most serious in the northern Sinai since January, when Islamic militants staged a series of bombings against security targets in several northern towns. Those blasts left more than 40 people dead.

Three months prior to that, more than 30 Egyptian troops were killed in a multipronged attack by Islamic militants.

Hours after Thursday's assaults, attack helicopters buzzed overhead and troops flooded the area, searching for the assailants.

- Los Angeles Times
MALI

U.N. faults force Members of a U.N. police unit in the West African country of Mali used "unauthorized and excessive force" in fatally shooting three civilians and wounding four others during a protest in January, the U.N. announced Thursday. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "expresses his deepest apologies" to the victims and their families and is committed to ensuring justice for them, the statement said.    - AP
ISRAEL

Abduction 'staged'

Police say an Israeli man who had been feared to have been kidnapped in the West Bank has been located. Police said that Niv Asraf, 22, and his friends had "staged" the kidnapping, and that he had been found outdoors with camping gear and food in the West Bank. Security forces conducted a massive manhunt before determining the kidnapping was a hoax. Police said the men would be prosecuted. - AP