TPM World News

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on an attack on soldiers in a Paris suburb (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

France’s Defense Ministry says three soldiers were seriously injured in a car attack in a Paris suburb but their lives are not currently in danger.

The ministry said in a statement that six members of the 35th infantry regiment were injured in the incident, including three “more seriously.”

Defense Minister Florence Parly and Interior Minister Gerard Collomb are visiting soldiers hospitalized at the Begin military hospital in the suburb of Saint-Mande.

It was the latest of several attacks on members of the Sentinelle military operation tasked with protecting French sites after deadly attacks.

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11:35 a.m.

French counterterrorism prosecutors have opened an investigation into a car attack on soldiers in Paris suburb that left six injured.

The Paris prosecutor’s office says the investigation was opened after Wednesday’s incident in Levallois-Perret.

No one is specifically named in the investigation yet, but it aims at pursuing perpetrators on charges of attempted murder of security forces in connection with a terrorist enterprise, the prosecutor’s office said.

The move means authorities believe the attack was deliberate and planned with a terrorist motive.

The car and driver have not yet been found.

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11:15 a.m.

A Paris suburb where a vehicle rammed into soldiers is home to France’s main intelligence agency and a staging point for soldiers assigned to protect prominent sites after recent attacks.

Residents of Levallois-Perret are so accustomed to seeing security forces that resident Roseline Bailleux thought Wednesday’s attack was an exercise.

Bailleux, 67, was one of several people who said that the street where the soldiers were hit was nearly always thronged with soldiers.

She was woken in the morning by her husband, who had noticed a crush of ambulances and emergency vehicles.

“We thought it was an exercise,” she said.

She said that area was popular with parents and their children but the attack happened when they weren’t around.

She said she had been touched by several previous attacks, including the 2015 gun rampage at the Bataclan music venue in Paris — which was next door to where one of her children lived — and the 2016 Nice truck attack, which happened near where she used to live.

“I’m not going to stop walking through the park because of that. … It can happen to anyone.”

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10:15 a.m.

Police officials say a driver in a dark BMW is on the run after ramming his car into a large group of soldiers in what appeared to be a calculated ambush in a Paris suburb.

Two police officials say authorities are checking video surveillance of the area near the city hall of Levallois to identify the vehicle and hunt the driver responsible for Wednesday’s attack.

The officials said witnesses described seeing a BMW with one person on board waiting in a cul-de-sac near a building used for soldiers from the Sentinelle operation. One official said the attacker hit just as a group of soldiers emerged from the building to board vehicles for a new shift.

Neither official was authorized to be publicly named discussing ongoing operations.

—by Angela Charlton

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9:50 a.m.

The mayor of a Paris suburb where a vehicle ran down six soldiers says it was a deliberate act targeting security forces.

Levallois Mayor Patrick Balkany denounced on BFM television what he called an “odious attack” and said it was “without a doubt deliberate.”

Authorities are searching for the driver and vehicle, which drove away after the incident at Place de Verdun in Levallois, on the northwest edge of Paris.

It targeted soldiers from the Sentinelle security force created after Islamic extremist attacks in 2015.

The incident comes four days after a teenager with psychiatric problems tried to attack security forces guarding the Eiffel Tower.

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9:40 a.m.

French police say a vehicle slammed into soldiers guarding a Paris suburb, injuring six of them, before getting away.

Authorities are now searching for the vehicle and driver after the Wednesday incident, according to a Paris police spokesman.

The vehicle appeared to clearly target the soldiers but the motive is unclear, the spokesman said. The official was not authorized to be publicly named according to police policy.

Four people were injured lightly, two more seriously, the spokesman said.

The incident in Levallois, northwest of Paris, is the latest of several attacks targeting security forces in France guarding sites after a string of deadly attacks.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against three of the four Arab countries that are isolating it, opening up a possible new path for negotiations with its opponents.

The Gulf nation said late Monday it had filed the grievance with the WTO’s dispute settlement body alleging that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are violating laws and conventions related to trade.

The three countries, along with Egypt, cut diplomatic ties and severed air, land and sea links with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting extremists. Qatar denies the charge and sees the boycott as politically motivated.

Qatar’s appeal to the WTO coincided with a visit to Geneva by Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassem bin Mohammed Al Thani, the country’s minister of economy and commerce, who met with the head of the trade organization and lawyers specializing in trade disputes.

It calls for the start of formal consultations with the three Gulf states and lays out specific trade violations, according to a statement released by Qatar’s government communications office. It argues the boycott hurts not only Qatar, which is the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, but also its trading partners.

“This positive step taken by the State of Qatar clearly demonstrates to all member countries of the WTO the level of transparency exhibited by the State of Qatar through requesting formal and transparent dialogue and consultations with the siege countries,” the statement said.

Under WTO rules, the parties have 60 days to resolve their dispute through negotiations. If they fail, Qatar can request the establishment of an independent panel that could force the trio to end their boycott or face penalties.

Qatar has rejected a tough 13-point list of demands from the Arab bloc, arguing that accepting them wholesale would undermine its sovereignty.

Fellow Gulf state Kuwait is mediating the crisis, but it and Western-led diplomatic efforts have so far failed to secure a breakthrough. Neither side has shown any significant sign of backing down.

The isolation campaign, which sealed Qatar’s only land border with Saudi Arabia, has proved costly for the 2022 World Cup host, however.

Qatar Airways, one of the Mideast’s biggest long-haul airlines, has been forced to reroute flights on costly detours over friendlier airspace and is blocked from flying to key regional feeder airports such as Dubai. The boycott has dramatically driven up costs to import food, medicine and likely even building materials that Qatar needs for extensive infrastructure projects.

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea after decades of effort has a missile potentially capable of reaching the continental United States, but analysts say Pyongyang has yet to show the ICBM can inflict serious damage once it gets there.

U.S. and South Korean experts on Tuesday said Japanese video footage capturing the Hwasong-14’s re-entry vehicle shortly before it crashed into the sea suggests it failed to survive the extreme heat and pressure after re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere following its launch from northern North Korea on Friday.

But the apparent failure likely means the North will conduct more flight tests of the Hwasong-14 missile to ensure the warhead could survive the re-entry from space and hit its intended target, the analysts said.

The Hwasong-14 ICBM, which was first tested on July 4, follows decades of effort by North Korea to obtain a nuclear deterrent against the United States. Analysis of the flight data from Hwasong-14’s second test has suggested that more of the U.S. mainland, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now in range of Pyongyang’s weapons.

However, whether North Korea can arm the missile with a nuclear warhead and protect it throughout the flight are different questions entirely.

After analyzing video from a rooftop camera operated by Japan’s NHK television on the northern island of Hokkaido, U.S. missile expert Michael Elleman concluded that Hwasong-14’s re-entry vehicle “disintegrated” before it landed at sea.

In an article posted at the 38 North website, Elleman said the video showed the re-entry vehicle shedding small radiant objects at an altitude of 4 to 5 kilometers (2.5 to 3 miles). He said the re-entry vehicle dims and quickly disappears at an altitude of 3 to 4 kilometers (1.9 to 2.5 miles) before it passes behind a mountain range and is obscured from the camera’s view. Had the re-entry vehicle survived, it would have continued to glow until disappearing behind the mountains, Elleman said.

“In short, a reasonable conclusion based on the video evidence is that the Hwasong-14’s re-entry vehicle did not survive during its second test,” said Elleman, an expert with the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “If this assessment accurately reflects reality, North Korea’s engineers have yet to master re-entry technologies and more work remains before Kim Jong Un has an ICBM capable of striking the American mainland.”

Granted, it’s impossible to know how the warhead would have performed if North Korea had launched the missile for real. Both ICBMs were test-launched at highly lofted angles to reduce the range and avoid neighboring countries, and the near-vertical flight paths meant the re-entry vehicles endured harsher conditions during their descents.

But Kim Dong-yub, a defense analyst at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul, said it’s obvious North Korea has yet to reach where it wants to be with re-entry technologies.

While North Korea has declared that the Hwasong-14’s latest launch confirmed important features of the missile, such as its range and the warhead’s atmospheric re-entry, it also described the rocket as “landing in the target waters in the open sea.” That probably wasn’t an ideal outcome for North Korean engineers because nuclear warheads are usually designed to detonate at lower altitudes shortly before impact, Kim said.

“Considering the cost and efforts they put into tests, North Korea likely would have tried to detonate the warhead properly; they apparently failed this time, but could focus on this aspect in future tests,” Kim said.

Mastering warhead re-entries would be one of the most critical military milestones the North has left, along with developing a submarine-launched ballistic missile system and solid-fuel ICBMs, Kim said.

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MOSCOW (AP) — Pyotr Levashov appeared to be just another comfortable member of Russia’s rising middle-class — an IT entrepreneur with a taste for upmarket restaurants, Thai massages and foreign travel.

Then police raided his vacation rental in Barcelona, marching him out in handcuffs to face charges of being one of the world’s most notorious spam lords.

Levashov’s April 7 arrest was one in a series of American-initiated operations over the past year to seize alleged Russian cybercriminals outside their homeland, which has no extradition agreement with the United States.

They come at a fraught moment in relations between Moscow and Washington, where politicians are grappling with the allegation that Kremlin hackers intervened in the U.S. election to help President Donald Trump. Through their lawyers, several defendants have suggested their arrests are linked to the election turmoil. Experts say that’s possible, though an Associated Press review of the cases found no firm evidence to back the claim.

“There is a big hunt underway,” said Andrei Soldatov, an expert on the Russian security services and co-author of “Red Web,” a book about Russian attempts to control the internet. He said the recent burst of arrests made it look like the United States was “trying to understand what’s going on with a very complicated world of Russian hacking and a very complicated relationship between Russian hackers and Russian secret services.”

But Soldatov didn’t rule out another possible explanation: The imprisoned Russians may be falsely tying their arrests to Trump’s election in a bid to sow confusion and politicize their cases.

“It’s a very big question,” he said.

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“HE GOT TO EVERY MAILBOX THERE EVER WAS”

At least five Russians have been picked up in Europe as part of U.S. cybercrime prosecutions in the last nine months.

Evgeny Nikulin, 29, was arrested in a restaurant in Prague in October, accused of hacking into LinkedIn and Dropbox around the time that tens of millions of users there were compromised; Stanislav Lisov, 31, the alleged developer of the NeverQuest financial data-stealing software, was detained at Barcelona’s airport during his honeymoon in January; and Yury Martyshev, 35, accused of helping run a service that let cybercriminals test-drive their malicious software, was recently extradited to the U.S. after being pulled off a train at the Russia-Latvia border in April. On Tuesday, Alexander Vinnik, 38, was arrested at his hotel in Greece on charges of running a money laundering ring for hackers that processed billions of dollars in digital currency.

Levashov, who made his first court appearance in Madrid for a brief hearing Wednesday, is easily the best known of the five. The 36-year-old is charged with fraud and unauthorized interception of electronic communications, but his spamming career is said to stretch back to the turn of the millennium, when the business of stuffing email inboxes full of pitches for cut-price pills and penny stocks was still largely unregulated.

Court documents trace how Levashov, using the alias Peter Severa, teamed up in 2005 with Alan Ralsky, an American bulk email baron once dubbed the “King of Spam.”

Ralsky described the Russian as a master of his trade.

“He made me look like an amateur,” Ralsky said in a recent interview. “He got to every mailbox there ever was.”

Spammers can make a lot renting out their services to those peddling grey market pharmaceuticals or pornography. Ralsky said Levashov was pulling in “more money than you could shake a stick at” and traveled widely, saying he remembered getting vacation snaps of the Russian enjoying himself at a fishing cabin in Finland or the famously expensive Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.

By then, Levashov had crossed American law enforcement’s radar.

In 2007, he was indicted under his Severa alias as part of the case where Ralsky and several associates pleaded guilty to charges including wire fraud and mail fraud. Two years later, American authorities identified Levashov by name as the operator of the “Storm” botnet, a massive network of compromised, spam-spewing computers.

In the Russian hacker community, Levashov’s profile was rising too. In online forums, he promoted the idea of collaborating with Russia’s spy services, according to Soldatov, the Russian intelligence expert, who said Levashov spearheaded an effort to knock out websites linked to Islamist insurgencies in southern Russia.

“He was the first Russian hacker known to have brought the FSB into the circle of the Russian hacking community,” Soldatov said, referring to Russia’s domestic spy agency. “His idea was to make it more patriotic.”

When Levashov was finally caught, his wife Maria drew international attention when she was quoted as saying the arrest was “linked to Trump’s win.” But in a conversation with The Associated Press in Madrid on Wednesday, she pulled back from those comments.

“I think there are some political reasons in this case, but I’m not sure,” she said. “I don’t have any evidence.”

Levashov’s lawyer, Margarita Repina, offered a similar qualification to her assertion that U.S. officials were “just taking hackers with any excuse to see if any of them admits involvement in the Trump issue.”

“This is just an opinion,” she said. “We have no evidence.”

Legal documents suggest the latest effort to catch Levashov began well before the election. In a sworn declaration, FBI Agent Elliott Petersen said he began tracking Kelihos, the latest incarnation of Levashov’s alleged spam botnet operation, more than two years ago.

The former spam king was also skeptical that Levashov’s arrest was linked to the vote.

“They’ve been after him for a long time,” Ralsky said.

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“THERE IS A CHESS GAME THAT ESCAPES US”

Levashov wouldn’t be alone in floating thinly supported claims that his prosecution is related to the 2016 election. Lisov was also arrested in Barcelona and spent a month as Levashov’s cellmate in Madrid. His attorney, Juan Manuel Arroyo, told an extradition hearing last week that there was “a game of chess that escapes us” between Moscow and Washington. Arroyo suggested that the American extradition request was “not normal.”

A Spanish court document seen by AP suggests Lisov has been sought by the U.S. since Aug. 5, 2015, undermining the idea of an election link. Arroyo says he disputes the existence of any such request.

Nikulin, who is the subject of a conflicting extradition request from Russia, has been the most explicit. He told a judge in Prague that he was twice taken out of prison and offered a pardon, U.S. citizenship and refuge for his parents if he confessed to having “hacked the Democratic Party” on the Russian government’s orders, an apparent reference to the embarrassing leak of Democratic National Committee emails in the heat of the U.S. race.

Nikulin said he rejected the offer, and his lawyer Vladimir Makeev later wrote a rambling letter warning Trump that the bureau was railroading Nikulin to undermine his presidency.

In an interview at his office in Moscow, Makeev said his client was being pressured by “certain unscrupulous representatives of the FBI that wish to have an impeachment carried out on president of the United States.”

There’s little evidence for the inflammatory claim.

Nikulin was in fact questioned in the presence of an FBI agent from the bureau’s San Francisco office, according to a Russian-language legal document which Makeev shared with AP.

But there’s no indication the agent — who was one of 10 officials, translators and defense lawyers listed as being present at the interrogation — ever discussed the election or made Nikulin an offer, much less of citizenship. The FBI would not make the agent available for an interview but a law enforcement official said no such deal was ever discussed. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Martyshev’s attorney did not return messages seeking comment, but the Russian pleaded not guilty to all charges at a court hearing in Alexandria earlier this month.

Levashov may soon be joining him in America. His extradition to the United States seems a foregone conclusion, according to Repina, his attorney. She argued that would hardly be fair given that, in Russia, the spamming he’s alleged to have carried out may not even be a crime.

“In his country, Levashov has legal businesses and a family that he needs to provide for,” she said. “He is a patriot.”

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia urged the United States Monday to show “political will” to mend ties even as it ordered sweeping cuts of U.S. embassy personnel unseen since Cold War times.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it will take time for the U.S. to recover from what he called “political schizophrenia,” but added that Russia remains interested in constructive cooperation with the U.S.

“We are interested in a steady development of our ties and are sorry to note that we are still far from that,” he said.

Peskov’s statement followed Sunday’s televised comments by Putin, who said the U.S. would have to cut 755 of its embassy and consulate staff in Russia, a massive reduction he described as a response to new U.S. sanctions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had previously said that the U.S. should cut its embassy and consular employees to 455, the number that Russia has in the United States. Along with the caps on embassy personnel announced Friday, it also declared the closure of a U.S. recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow and warehouse facilities.

Moscow’s action is the long-expected tit-for-tat response to former U.S. President Barack Obama’s move to expel 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian recreational retreats in the U.S. over reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Putin had refrained from an immediate quid-pro-quo until now in the hope that President Donald Trump would follow on his campaign promises to improve ties with Moscow and roll back the steps taken by Obama.

The Russian leader hailed his first meeting with Trump at the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany earlier this month, saying that the talks offered a model for rebuilding Russia-U.S. ties.

But the Congressional and FBI investigations into links between Trump’s campaign and Russia have weighed heavily over the White House, derailing Moscow’s hopes for an improvement in ties.

The overwhelming endorsement of a new package of stiff financial sanctions that passed Congress with veto-proof numbers last week dealt a new blow to Moscow’s aspirations. The White House said that Trump will sign the package, and Putin decided to fire back without waiting for that to happen.

“We had hoped that the situation will somehow change, but apparently if it changes, it won’t be soon,” Putin said in remarks broadcast by state television late Sunday. “I thought it was the time to show that we’re not going to leave it without an answer.”

The diplomatic personnel reductions are the harshest such move since 1986, when Moscow and Washington expelled dozens of diplomats.

The U.S. State Department called Putin’s move “a regrettable and uncalled-for act.”

Putin described the cuts in the U.S. embassy and consulate personnel as “painful” and said that Russia has other levers to hurt the U.S. He added, however, that he currently sees no need for further action.

The State Department declined to give an exact number of American diplomats or other U.S. officials in Russia, but the figure is believed to be about 400, some of whom have families accompanying them on diplomatic passports.

The vast majority of the more than 1,000 employees at the various U.S. diplomatic missions in Russia, including the embassy in Moscow and consulates in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg, are local employees.

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LONDON (AP) — Charlie Gard, the critically ill British baby at the center of a legal battle that attracted the attention of Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump, has died, according to a family spokeswoman. He would have turned 1 next week.

Charlie suffered from a rare genetic disease, mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which caused brain damage and left him unable to breathe unaided.

His parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, raised more than 1.3 million pounds ($1.7 million) to take him to the United States for experimental therapy they believed could prolong his life. But Charlie’s doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital objected, saying the treatment wouldn’t help and might cause him to suffer. The dispute ended up in court.

The case became a flashpoint for debates on health-care funding, medical intervention, the role of the state and the rights of children.

After months of legal battles, High Court Judge Nicholas Francis ruled Thursday that Charlie should be transferred to a hospice and taken off life support after his parents and the hospital that had been treating him failed to agree on an end-of-life care plan for the infant.

Under British law, it is common for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child. In such cases, the rights of the child take primacy over the parents’ right to decide what’s best for their offspring. The principle applies even in cases where parents have an alternative point of view, such as when religious beliefs prohibit blood transfusions.

The case made it all the way to Britain’s Supreme Court as Charlie’s parents refused to accept decisions by a series of judges who backed Great Ormond Street. But the Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts, saying it was in Charlie’s best interests that he be allowed to die.

The case caught the attention of Trump and the pope after the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene. The two leaders sent tweets of support for Charlie and his parents, triggering a surge of grassroots action, including a number of U.S. right-to-life activists who flew to London to support Charlie’s parents.

The intervention of two of the world’s most powerful men made the case a talking point for the planet. Images of Charlie hooked to a tube while dozing peacefully in a star-flecked navy blue onesie graced websites, newspapers and television news programs.

Medical ethicist Arthur Caplan said the case shows how the medical profession is struggling to adjust to the age of social media, which puts the general public in the middle of decisions that in the past would have been private issues for doctors and the family.

“I do think that in an era of social media it is possible to rally huge numbers of people to your cause,” said Caplan, of New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “The medical ethics have not caught up.”

The heated commentary prompted Judge Francis to criticize the effects of social media and those “who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions.”

But in the end, the increased attention did little for Charlie.

While offers of help from the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu children’s hospital in Rome and doctors at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York were enough to reopen the case, the High Court ultimately decided the proposed treatment wouldn’t help Charlie. His parents gave up their fight earlier this week after scans showed that Charlie’s muscles had deteriorated so much that the damage was irreversible.

“Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn’t save you,” his parents wrote when they announced their decision. “We had the chance but we weren’t allowed to give you that chance.

“Sweet dreams baby. Sleep tight, our beautiful little boy.”

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TOKYO (AP) — North Korea fired a ballistic missile Friday night which landed in the ocean off Japan, Japanese officials said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called a meeting of Japan’s National Security Council.

“I have received information that North Korea once again conducted a missile firing,” he said. “We will immediately analyze information and do our utmost to protect the safety of the Japanese people.”

There was no immediate announcement of the type of missile. On July 4, North Korea test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the missile launched Friday flew for about 45 minutes and landed off the Japanese coast in waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK said the coast guard issued safety warnings to aircraft and ships.

South Korea and the United States also confirmed the launch.

“We are assessing and will have more information soon,” said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched from North Korea’s northern Jagang province.

Analysts say the “Hwasong 14” ICBM launched by North Korea on July 4 could be capable of reaching most of Alaska or possibly Hawaii if fired in an attacking trajectory. It was launched at a very steep angle, a technique called lofting, and reached a height of more than 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean 930 kilometers (580 miles) away.

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ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s prime minister stepped down on Friday, hours after the country’s Supreme Court disqualified him from office in dramatic developments that have plunged the nuclear-armed nation into another major crisis.

A five-judge panel of the top court disqualified the thrice-elected Nawaz Sharif following a petition filed by the opposition, which had levelled corruption allegations against the prime minister and his family members.

It is not the first time the Pakistani judiciary has ordered dismissal of an elected prime minister. The court also ordered that criminal charges be filed against Sharif and his family.

The court panel, in a unanimous decision, said Sharif was disqualified for not remaining “truthful and honest” in the face of the evidence against him. It also ruled that Sharif could no longer serve as a member of the National Assembly, the powerful lower house of parliament.

The landmark ruling threw Pakistan, which is battling a stubborn militancy, into political disarray and triggered questions over who will succeed Sharif as prime minister — and even questions on who is leading the country at the moment.

Sharif’s supporters, though dismayed by the ruling, suggested that Pakistan’s powerful military — which had once before overthrown Sharif in a bloodless coup — were crowing at the court’s decision because they have viewed the prime minister as an upstart who sought to challenge the army’s authority.

The military, which has ruled for more than half of Pakistan’s 70-year-long history, is considered the country’s most powerful institution, a position it has been unwilling to see challenged.

Sharif’s political opponents, many of whom have questionable corruption records themselves, welcomed the court decision as a vindication of their months-long battle and proof that even the politically powerful can be held accountable.

Opposition supporters danced in the streets and opposition leader Imran Khan called on followers to head to Islamabad on Sunday for a major celebration in their legal battle against the “corrupt ruling elite.”

Khan congratulated the judiciary on dismissing Sharif and described the disqualification as a “good omen” for Pakistan. He told reporters at a news conference that he hopes all those who looted the nation’s wealth would face a similar fate.

The current case against Sharif and his family dates back to 2016, when documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm indicated that Sharif’s sons owned several offshore companies.

Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz at the time acknowledged owning offshore companies but insisted they used legal money to set up businesses abroad.

However, the court-appointed investigators in July concluded a significant disparity existed between the Sharif family’s declared wealth and its known sources of income.

The Supreme Court on Friday also ordered Pakistan’s anti-corruption body to file corruption charges against Sharif, his two sons and daughter in the next six weeks for concealing their assets.

The panel also ordered corruption charges filed against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, a close relative of Sharif.

Sharif’s party expressed its disappointment over the court orders and urged their followers to remain calm and avoid confrontations.

“This decision is not surprising, but we are disappointed,” Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb told reporters shortly after the ruling. She said their Pakistan Muslim League ruling party will issue a detailed reaction after consulting Sharif’s advisers.

The court also asked Pakistan’s figurehead President Mamnoon Hussain to “ensure continuation of the democratic process.”

Hussain was expected to convene the National Assembly once Sharif’s ruling party nominates his successor. That person would serve as prime minister until June 2018, when the next general elections are to be held.

In the jam-packed courtroom early Friday morning, the Supreme Court announced its decision and asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to issue a notification of Sharif’s removal. But Sharif quickly stepped down, saying he did it to show respect for the country’s judiciary.

However, in a statement, Sharif’s office said justice had not been served.

Sharif’s resignation has left constitutional experts at a loss to explain who is in charge in Pakistan until a successor is nominated. It wasn’t immediately clear when that would be or who it could be.

Legal experts say Sharif will now nominate a lawmaker of his choice to replace him under constitutional rules. They say Sharif’s nominee will be elected by the National Assembly, where the ruling party enjoys a comfortable majority.

Hashmat Habib, a legal expert, said the court’s order was binding and that Sharif and his family may not challenge it.

It’s not the first time that Pakistan’s judiciary has ordered the dismissal of an elected prime minister. In 2012, the court convicted the then-Premier Yusuf Raza Gilani in a contempt case, forcing him to step down.

Opposition lawmakers, who petitioned the court for disqualification of Sharif, welcomed the court decision, saying it was a victory for justice.

Sirajul Haq, who heads Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami party, told reporters that he had been fighting a legal battle to ensure the accountability of the “corrupt ruling elite.”

Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz in a tweet said the prime minister was sent home, “but only to see him return with greater force.” She asked her party to “stay strong.”

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque ended peacefully Friday amid two weeks of unrest over security at a major holy site in Jerusalem, Israeli police said, but violence flared in the West Bank, where a Palestinian was killed after he attacked soldiers.

Tensions have been high since Arab gunmen killed two police officers in the compound July 14, prompting Israel to install security devices at entrances to the site that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

The move outraged Muslims and sparked some of the worst street clashes in years and threatened to draw Israel into conflict with other Arab and Muslim nations. Under intense pressure, Israel removed the metal detectors this week and said it planned to install sophisticated security cameras instead.

Firas Dibs, an official from the Jordanian religious body that administers the sacred site, said tens of thousands attended Friday prayers.

The prayers ended without incident, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. There were some sporadic, low-level scuffles between Palestinians and Israeli forces nearby, but nothing on the scale of recent violence.

Police had barred men under 50 from the Jerusalem site and braced for violence following security assessments indicting Palestinians had planned protests there. There were no restrictions on women.

Muslims only returned to the site Thursday after about two weeks of praying in the streets nearby to protest the new security measures. They had claimed Israel was trying to expand its control over the site. Israel denied the allegations, insisting the measures were to prevent more attacks.

Four Palestinians have died in the past week and scores injured in violent clashes with Israeli security forces over the holy site.

The fate of the shrine is an emotional issue at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even the smallest perceived change to delicate arrangements there can increase tensions.

Jews revere the hilltop compound as the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish biblical temples. It is the holiest site in Judaism and the nearby Western Wall, a remnant of one of the temples, is the holiest place where Jews can pray.

The walled compound is home to both the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It is Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Muslims believe the site marks the spot where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

In the violence in the West Bank, a Palestinian was shot and killed after he brandished a knife at troops, Israel’s military said. No soldiers were hurt in the incident at the Gush Etzion Junction, the military added.

The busy intersection south of Jerusalem has been the site of multiple Palestinian attacks in the past two years.

Palestinians threw firebombs and rocks, and rolled burning tires at soldiers who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets at several protests in the West Bank, the military said.

On July 21, a Palestinian infiltrated a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and entered a home where he stabbed three people to death and wounded a fourth as they ate the traditional Sabbath meal and celebrated the arrival of a new addition to the family.

Israel has been coping with a wave of Palestinian violence that began in 2015 over tensions at the holy sites in Jerusalem. Attacks at times were a daily occurrence.

Since then, Palestinians have killed 48 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks targeting civilians and soldiers. In that same period, Israeli forces killed more than 256 Palestinians, most said by Israel to be attackers.

Israel blames the violence on incitement by Palestinian religious and political leaders. Palestinians say the attacks stem from anger and frustration at decades of Israeli rule in territories they claim for a state.

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LONDON (AP) — Britain will abide by some European Union rules for up to three years after it officially leaves the bloc in March 2019, the country’s Treasury chief said Friday.

Philip Hammond said a transition period is needed “to get from the status quo today to the new normal.” He said the transition should end before Britain’s next election, scheduled for 2022.

Many British businesses accuse the government of sending mixed signals about Brexit. Officials say Britain will leave the bloc’s single market and customs union, and end free movement from EU countries.

But officials also say the changes, which have huge economic implications, won’t happen overnight.

Hammond told Sky News that a transition period will let businesses “go on operating normally” while Britain works out its post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

His comments come amid conflict within the government between those, including Hammond, who want a compromise “soft Brexit” to ease the economic shock of leaving the EU, and those who want a clean, sharp break.

More than a year after Britons voted to leave the bloc, many aspects of the U.K.’s future relations with the EU remain unclear. That includes the nature of any trade relationship, and the status of some 3 million EU nationals who live in Britain.

Meanwhile, the prime minister of EU member Malta said he is starting to believe that Britain’s divorce from the European Union will not happen.

Joseph Muscat, whose country held the EU’s presidency for the first half of 2017, said he saw signs that British public opinion is turning.

In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, he said he hopes a British politician will “stand up with the courage” to offer voters a new referendum on the final Brexit deal.

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LiveWire