VOA NEWS IN SPECIAL ENGLISH

October 15, 2012

Turkey confirmed Sunday that it has banned Syrian passenger planes from Turkish airspace. The announcement came four days after Turkish air force planes forced a Syrian passenger plane flying from Moscow to Damascus to land in Turkey. Turkish security forces said they removed military supplies from the plane. Turkey has accused Syria of using civilian airliners to bring in weapons for Syrian troops who are fighting a now 18-month-long rebellion. It has promised it will prevent Turkish airspace from being used for such purposes.

Israeli warplanes carried out several raids on Palestinians suspected of firing rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The raids killed five militants Sunday including the leader of a Salafist group linked to al-Qaeda. Medics in Gaza said an Israeli airstrike killed Salafist commander Hisham Saidani and another militant as they rode a motorcycle late Saturday in northern Gaza. The medics said a second Israeli attack killed a Palestinian militant and wounded another on a motorcycle in southern Gaza early Sunday. A third strike killed two militants in central Gaza later in the day. Several other people were wounded in the raids.

The Israeli cabinet has agreed to hold a national election on January 22. Israeli ministers approved the election date Sunday at their weekly cabinet meeting. The vote will come eight months earlier than expected. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he wanted to hold the vote early because his coalition was unable to agree on a state budget.

The British Ministry of Defense says five Royal Marines have been charged with murder in the death of an insurgent in Afghanistan last year. Officials arrested nine Marines in connection with the incident. This is believed to be the first time British troops have been arrested and charged with murder during the Afghan War.

Chinese state media report that Cambodia's former king, Norodom Sihanouk, has died in the Chinese capital, Beijing. He was 89 years old. Sihanouk became the king in 1941 when he was 19 years old. He ruled Cambodia for most of the next 60 years.

Nigerian officials say suspected robbers shot at people outside an Islamist religious center Sunday, killing at least 20 people. The officials say the attack happened early Sunday in Dogon Dawa village in Kaduna state. A rescue official in the state who lives nearby told the Associated Press that as many as 50 gunmen surrounded the village and its farmlands. Some of those killed appeared to have been leaving the mosque after morning prayers. No one immediately claimed responsibility.

Senegal's African Nations Cup match with Ivory Coast was canceled Saturday after Senegalese angry with their team's performance started rioting. Police used tear gas to stop the unrest after people threw objects onto the field, including pieces of stone. Several people were hurt. Senegal was losing by two goals when officials suspended play with 15 minutes remaining. Ivory Coast beat Senegal in the first part of the competition in September.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz flew to France Sunday for medical treatment. Mr Abdel Aziz was shot and wounded Saturday in what government officials are calling an accident. At the time, he was riding in a vehicle near the capital. Officials said the shooting was accidental. They said the shot was fired because security force members did not immediately recognize the president's vehicle. But some reports say the president was targeted by a militant group while traveling to a town where he spends most weekends.

The Islamist-led cabinet in Tunisia has agreed to hold presidential and parliamentary elections next June. The agreement calls for general elections to be held on June 23. Tunisians will choose between the top two candidates for president on July 7. Constituent Assembly members need to approve the agreement before the dates are set.

Lithuania's opposition party has received a leading number of votes in Sunday's parliamentary elections. Researchers spoke with voters leaving polling stations. The studies showed the Labor Party received almost 20 percent of the votes. The Social Democrats received 18 percent. The two parties will likely form a coalition to govern the nation. The Homeland Union party led by Prime Minister Andrius Kubillius received almost 17 percent of the votes. Its coalition partner, the Liberal Movement party, got over 8 percent.

Montenegro's ruling coalition has won many of the votes in Sunday's parliamentary election. Researchers spoke to voters as they left the polling stations. The studies showed the Democratic Party of Socialists received 46 percent of the vote. The party has held power in the former Yugoslav Republic for the last 20 years. The studies showed the opposition Democratic Front received 20 percent of the votes. The next Montenegro government will lead the country in talks about joining the European Union.

Finally this news, an Austrian skydiver jumping from a balloon has broken a 52-year-old record for the highest parachute jump. Felix Baumgartner also became the first skydiver to break the speed of sound. He jumped Sunday from more than 38 kilometers above the southwestern American state of New Mexico. He landed safely about ten minutes later. The International Federation of Sports Aviation said he reached a maximum speed of 1,342 kilometers per hour during the free fall. No one has ever moved that fast outside of a spacecraft.