Priest jailed in theft of statue's jewels

LA PAZ - A Bolivian judge has ordered a 34-year-old priest jailed in the theft of the sumptuous collection of gem-encrusted gold jewelry that bedecked a statue of the country's patron saint, the Virgin of Copacabana.

Also under arrest is the female owner of a hostel where the Rev. Jesus Cortes was lodged when the jewels disappeared April 22 from the basilica in the town on Lake Titicaca's shore. The jewels are worth an estimated $1 million.

Authorities said Cortes was the only member of the church staff who was not mysteriously tranquilized the night of the theft.


Opposition leader killed; protests erupt

TUNIS - A Tunisian nationalist was shot to death Thursday, igniting protests after the second assassination this year of an opposition figure in a country strained by the conflict between Islamist and secular political forces.

Mohammed Brahmi, a member of parliament, was shot 11 times in front of his wife and daughter by gunmen on a motorbike, according to news reports. Brahmi served on the panel that wrote Tunisia's proposed constitution.

His death followed the assassination in February of Chokri Belaid, a frequent critic of the country's dominant Islamist party, Nahda.


Pirates protecting illegal fishing racket

NAIROBI - Frustrated by a string of failed hijacking attempts, Somali pirates have turned to a new business model: providing "security" for ships illegally plundering Somalia's fish stocks - the same scourge that launched the Horn of Africa's piracy era eight years ago.

The success rate of Somali pirates has fallen dramatically over the last year due to increased security on ships and more effective international naval patrols.

Pirate gangs in search of new revenue are now providing armed protection for ships illegally fishing Somali waters. Former pirates are also trafficking in arms, drugs and humans, according to a report this month by the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.


Criticism alters US drone program

ISLAMABAD - The United States has drastically scaled back the number of drone attacks against militants in Pakistan and limited strikes to high-value targets in response to growing criticism in this country.

Those actions appear to have temporarily appeased Pakistan's powerful generals, who publicly oppose the covert CIA strikes, U.S. officials said. Only 16 drone strikes have taken place in Pakistan so far this year, compared with a peak of 122 in 2010, 73 in 2011 and 48 in 2012, according to the New America Foundation, a U.S.-based think tank.

Gov't bans condom ad for being too racy

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's media regulatory agency has banned a condom commercial after it received hundreds of complaints that the ad was too racy, a senior official said Thursday.

The 50-second television commercial shows a Pakistani couple wondering why their neighbor's new bride - model and actress Mathira Mohammed playing herself - is working so hard to keep her husband happy. Asked about his secret, the neighbor holds up a pack of condoms made by Josh, which means "excitement" in Urdu.

Pakistan's media regulatory agency banned the commercial Tuesday.

Wire reports