Top news: Amid allegations that Afghans employed by U.S. forces had killed and tortured villagers in the area, the government of President Hamid Karzai announced Sunday that it will ban U.S. special forces from operating in Wardak province, a key area just west of Kabul used by the Taliban to stage attacks on the capital.
Arguing that the measure was taken as a last resort after coalition commanders turned a deaf ear on complaints of abuse, Afghan officials said that a university student in Wardak had been abducted and later found with his head and fingers cut off. "Those Afghans in these armed groups who are working with the U.S. special forces, the defense minister asked for an explanation of who they are,” presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said, implying that the Afghan employees in question are members of U.S.-run militias. "Those individuals should be handed over to the Afghan side so that we can further investigate."
On Monday, NATO announced that it so far had found no evidence of wrong-doing in Wardak, which over the course of the war has been a focus for counter-terrorism operations. Special forces represent a key bulwark of the Obama administration's withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan, and their inability to move freely around the country to strike at terrorist groups would hamper White House plans for the country after the NATO mission ends in 2014.
Cuba: Cuban president Raul Castro announced Sunday that he will resign as president in 2018 at the end of his current five-year term, signaling the end of an era on the Communist-ruled island. Since 1959, Cuba has been ruled by one of the Castro brothers, and Fidel Castro was in attendance Sunday at Raul's speech, at which he designated a political heir, Miguel Diaz-Canel.
- Amid allegations that a Palestinian prisoner was tortured to death in an Israeli jail, protests erupted in Gaza and the West Bank, and over 4,000 Palestinian prisoners refused food.
- The Syrian foreign minister said that his government is willing to sit down for talks with armed rebels.
- Fresh off of seizing a military base that used to house an alleged nuclear reactor destroyed by an Israeli air strike, Syrian rebels are battling for control of a government housing complex near Aleppo.
- The center-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani has a slim lead in Italian elections after the first day of voting amid a surge in protest votes and low turnout.
- Conservative Nikos Anastasiades won a decisive victory in presidential elections in Cyprus against his left-wing opponent.
- Britain's most senior Catholic cleric, Keith O'Brien, said he will resign amid allegations, which he denies, of sexual overtures toward fellow priests.
- Park Guen-hye was sworn into office Monday, promising a return of the country's economic boom years and issuing a warning to North Korea to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
- The president of the Philippines signed into law a measure that will provide compensation for victims of Ferdinand Marco's regime.
- Protests in the Bengladeshi capital of Dhaka over a ruling in a war crimes tribunal that have brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets continued over the weekend.
- The leaders of 11 African nations signed a peace accord aimed at ending violence in eastern Congo and that may pave the way for the deployment of a new U.N. force there.
- The Guinean opposition has withdrawn in protest from legislative elections set for next month.
- The United States deployed 100 troops to Niger in order to assist the ongoing French intervention in Mali.
- The Guatemalan government announced that there was no evidence indicating that Mexican drug lord Chapo Guzman had been killed in a shootout in the country, calling reports to the contrary a "misunderstanding."
- Hundreds of opposition activists demonstrated in Caracas, Venezuela, over the weekend to demand answers regarding the health of the ailing president, Hugo Chavez.
- A member of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon's administration disputed the existence -- as announced by his successor's government -- of a list that documents the names of 27,000 missing people.
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