Middle East Updates / Attack on Egyptian Armed Forces Kills 11 in Sinai, Near Gaza

Amnesty accuses Islamic State of war crimes; Iran unveils new surface-to-air missile, radars; Gunmen in Tunisia attempt to kill politician; Syria rebels issue three demands for release of Fijian peacekeepers.


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Latest updates:

4:30 P.M. Saudi Arabia says it has arrested 88 men who are suspected of being part of an al-Qaida cell that was plotting attacks inside and outside of the kingdom.

The announcement Tuesday comes amid the advance of the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq and Syria, which has prompted Saudi Arabia to take harsher measures against sympathizers who could threaten the kingdom's stability.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki says some of the men had previously served prison sentences for similar offenses.

He says that Saudi security forces monitored the group for months and learned about their plans. He said the arrests came over the past several days.

The police say that three of the men are Yemeni nationals, one is still being identified and the rest are Saudis. (AP)

1:20 P.M. An attack on an armed forces convoy in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula killed 11 on Tuesday, security and medical sources said. Two were killed by a roadside bomb and the others were shot as they tried to flee, the security sources said.

Security officials say the explosive device appeared to have been detonated by remote control. They said the police vehicle was driving through the village of el-Wefaq near the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip. (Reuters and AP)

12:32 P.M. A record 4.1 million people in Syria received food rations in August due to more convoys being able to cross front lines and borders from Turkey and Jordan, the U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

11:41 A.M. Iran on Tuesday unveiled a new surface-to-air missile and two radar systems it claims will boost the country's defense capabilities.

Air defense chief Gen. Farzad Esmaili said the Talash-3, or Endeavor-3 missile will enable Iranian forces to "shoot down any hostile target," even at high altitudes. Speaking on state TV, he said the missile was successfully test-fired recently. He did not describe its range. Tehran regularly announces military advances that cannot be independently verified. (AP) Read full article

10:24 A.M. A secular Tunisian parliamentarian narrowly escaped assassination by six masked gunmen who surrounded his home early Tuesday in a city near the Algerian border, the Interior Ministry said. (AP)

10:22 A.M. Amnesty International has accused the militant Islamic State group of carrying out a systematic campaign of mass killings, abductions and ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq that could amount to war crimes.

The London-based rights group says the extremists, who in June overran parts of northern and western Iraq, have systematically targeted religious minorities. In a report Tuesday, Amnesty said the Islamic State group fighters expelled Christians, Shiites, Yazidis and others from their homes. Read full article

9:07 A.M. A Libyan security official says clashes in the eastern city of Benghazi between Islamists and rival fighters loyal to a renegade general have killed 31 on both sides.

The official said early on Tuesday that fierce fighting erupted between Gen. Khalifa Hifter's loyalists and a group of Islamist militias called The Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council late on Monday. The hours-long clashes concentrated around the city's Benina airport. Hifter's side lost 20 fighters while the militiamen had 11 killed, the official says. (AP)

4:18 A.M. Fiji's military commander says Syrian rebels have issued three demands for the release of 45 Fijian peacekeepers they've held captive for five days.

Brig. Gen. Mosese Tikoitoga said Tuesday that the Al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front wants to be taken off the UN terrorist list, wants humanitarian aid delivered to parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, and wants compensation for three of its fighters it says were killed in a shootout with UN officers.

Tikoitoga says the UN has sent hostage negotiators to Syria. (AP) Read full article