Middle East Updates / At least 8 dead after car bomb in Baghdad Shi’ite district

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10:04 A.M. Egypt’s state news agency says 19 people were killed when two microbuses collided and plunged into a canal in the ancient city of Luxor in the country’s south.

MENA says the victims were travelling to a wedding party when the accident happened late on Monday night.

The report says the two microbuses were speeding and racing one another, which caused the collision. It says darkness hampered rescue efforts.

Abu al-Naga al-Haggagi, the chief of the local emergency services, is quoted as saying that six people were still missing after the crash and that rescuers were trying to find them.

Traffic accidents are common in this Mideast country due to badly maintained roads and disregard of traffic laws. Road accidents killed about 13,000 people in Egypt last year. (AP)

9:54 A.M. The Australian government says it will spend 64 million Australian dollars ($60 million) on measures to counter violent extremism and radicalization as Islamic State continues to recruit foreign fighters to its ranks in Iraq and Syria.

The measures announced Tuesday include strengthened community engagement programs aimed at preventing young Australians from becoming involved with extremist groups and new multi-agency investigation teams to disrupt foreign fighters and their supporters.

The Australian government is giving high priority to reducing a domestic terrorism threat created by homegrown extremists who travel to Syria and Iraq to fight. (AP)

9:00 A.M. A car bomb was detonated in a mainly Shi’ite district of eastern Baghdad on Tuesday, killing eight people and wounding 20, police and medical sources said.

The bombing in the New Baghdad neighborhood followed a series of blasts in the Iraqi capital on Monday which killed more than 20 people. Police sources said the death toll from Tuesday’s attack was expected to rise.(Reuters)

10:28 P.M. Iraqi police officials say two car bombs in a busy commercial district in Baghdad have killed at least 15 people and wounded another 21.

The bombs, which detonated less than two minutes apart, hit a restaurant on a commercial street in north Baghdad, the officials said.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. Both spoke anonymously as they are not authorized to brief the media.. (Reuters)

9:47 P.M. A Saudi court has jailed 17 men for up to 33 years on a range of militant Islamist charges, including fighting in foreign conflicts and joining terrorist cells inside the kingdom, state news agency SPA reported on Monday.

Riyadh’s concerns about Islamist militants have grown more acute over the past two years as the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have attracted more of its own citizens to travel to those countries to join groups fighting in the name of jihad.

King Abdullah decreed in February long prison terms for those who travel overseas to fight or who give material or moral support to groups officially labelled as extremist, including Al-Qaida, Syria’s Nusra Front and Islamic State.

The charges brought against the 17 men also included embracing a militant ideology and sharing the “conviction that what the terrorist organisation carries out, in terms of bombing, destroying and killing, is jihad in the name of Allah”.

The men, part of a group of 67, were also convicted of financing terrorism, possessing weapons and ammunition without permits and helping members of a “terrorist organization”. (Reuters)

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