93 officers injured in German rallies
BERLIN -- At least 93 police officers were injured and 354 protesters were detained after traditional May Day rallies in Berlin turned violent, the city's top security official said Sunday.
More than 20 different rallies took place in the German capital on Saturday, and the vast majority of them were peaceful. However, a leftist march of 8,000 people through the city's Neukoelln and Kreuzberg neighborhood, which has seen clashes in past decades, turned violent. Protesters threw bottles and rocks at officers, and they burned garbage cans and wooden pallets in the streets.
There's a nightly curfew in most parts of Germany because of the high number of coronavirus infections, but political protests and religious gatherings are exempt from the curfew.
In France, May Day marches in Paris and the southern city of Lyon were also marred by scattered violence, with riot officers targeted by small groups of violent demonstrators who tossed projectiles and trash bins. Police made 56 arrests -- 46 of them in Paris, the Interior Ministry said Sunday. It said six officers suffered injuries, three of them in Paris.
The CGT labor union that organized the main Paris march said violent demonstrators also targeted its marchers at the end of the rally, showering them with projectiles, blows and homophobic, sexist and racist insults. The union said 21 of its participants were injured, four seriously.
China answers U.S. with naval exercises
BEIJING -- China's Shandong aircraft carrier group has recently conducted routine annual exercises in the South China Sea, the People's Liberation Army said Sunday, after Beijing criticized the U.S. for sending Navy ships into the strategic area.
The Chinese Defense Ministry last week urged the U.S. to restrain its front-line forces in the air and seas near China. U.S. reconnaissance aircraft and warships have become more active around China since President Joe Biden took office, it said.
The South China Sea is particularly contentious because China's smaller neighbors also have competing claims to one of the world's busiest sea lanes, which Beijing claims virtually in its entirety. China has constructed several man-made islands in the disputed waters in what the U.S. says is a move to militarize the area.
Navy spokesperson Gao Xiucheng said in a statement that the exercises were completely legitimate and part of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as maintaining regional peace and stability.
Congo gunmen kill anti-extremist cleric
BENI, Congo -- An Islamic leader in Congo's eastern town of Beni was killed during evening prayers by unidentified gunmen after days of violent attacks by rebels left at least 19 people dead, officials said.
Gunmen came into Beni's central mosque Saturday, shooting dead Sheikh Ali Amin Uthman, the representative of the Islamic community of Beni, according to the head of the mosque, Sheikh Moustapha Matsongani.
The identity of the attackers was not yet known. Matsongani said Amin had been receiving threats from the Allied Democratic Forces for more than a year, and he had been questioned by security services days earlier about those threats.
Amin had often gone on the radio to denounce extremism.
His attack came on the heels of attacks in villages for days that left 19 dead, according to civil society groups.
The Allied Democratic Forces originated in neighboring Uganda and have long been a threat in eastern Congo. The Islamic State group has claimed some attacks carried out by the forces' rebels, but the exact relationship between the groups is not clear.
Assad grants amnesty, cuts sentences
DAMASCUS, Syria -- Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a decree Sunday granting amnesty and reducing sentences for several categories of crime committed before May 2, state news agency SANA said.
SANA did not give a reason for the amnesty, but it came days before Muslims celebrate Eid el-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It also comes ahead of the May 26 presidential elections, which Assad will most likely win for a fourth, seven-year term in office.
Since Syria's conflict began in 2011, Assad has issued similar amnesties, the latest of which came in September 2019. The conflict has killed half a million people and displaced half the country's prewar population including more than 5 million who are refugees abroad.
The decree granted a complete pardon for the punishment for crimes and felonies including smuggling, drug abuse and foreign currency trading. It also covers some kidnappings and allowed a general amnesty for military deserters.
The decree reduced the death penalty to life imprisonment with hard labor, and life imprisonment with hard labor to temporary hard labor for a period of 20 years.
The decree did not include an amnesty for the crimes of weapons smuggling, treason, espionage, consorting with the enemy and terrorism crimes resulting in deaths.
-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports