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WORLD BRIEFLY: Violence threatens Vegas' reputation as safe for travelers

Saturday, February 23, 2013 | 10:37 p.m. CST

Here are Saturday's top stories from The Associated Press.

Car-to-car shooting latest violent incident to brand Vegas as dangerous even as crime drops

LAS VEGAS — Variously known as an adult playground and Disneyland for grown-ups, Las Vegas brands itself as a place where tourists can enjoy a sense of edginess with no real danger.

But a series of high-profile episodes of random violence amid the throngs of tourists is threatening Sin City's reputation as a padded room of a town where people can cut loose with no fear of consequences.

A car-to-car shooting and fiery crash that killed two bystanders and an aspiring rapper Thursday followed a bizarre elevator stabbing and a movie theater parking lot shooting.

Though crime has been falling on the glitzy stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that houses most of the city's major casinos, tourism officials worry that vacationers and convention planners could begin to steer clear of the town because of a perception of mayhem.

"We are concerned because it can create misperceptions about the safety of the city, the safety of the Strip," said Gary Thompson, spokesman for Caesars Entertainment, which owns 10 resorts in the tourist zone, including Caesars Palace and Paris Las Vegas.

Egypt opposition leader calls for boycott of parliamentary elections

CAIRO  — Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei called Saturday for a boycott of parliamentary elections, drawing immediate criticism from some within his movement who said it was a hasty decision.

The dispute showed the fragility of a fairly new opposition front forged after the deeply fragmented movement found little success at the polls since it led the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Opposition infighting would only help ensure that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group remains Egypt's dominant political force after the next vote.

"(I) called for parliamentary election boycott in 2010 to expose sham democracy. Today I repeat my call, will not be part of an act of deception," Nobel laureate ElBaradei, who leads the opposition National Salvation Front, wrote on his Twitter account.

The comment reiterated a frequently heard opposition sentiment that democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi is acting like Mubarak.

Battle for Syria's Aleppo airport intensifies as regime tries to reverse rebel gains

BEIRUT — The battle for Syria's second-largest airport intensified Saturday as government troops tried to reverse recent strategic gains the rebels have made in the northeast in their quest to topple President Bashar Assad.

Assad's forces have been locked in a stalemate with rebels in Aleppo since July when the city, the largest in Syria, became a major battlefield in the 2-year-old conflict the United Nations says has killed at least 70,000 people. For months, rebels have been trying to capture the international airport, which is closed because of the fighting.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group, said the current fighting was focused on a section of a highway linking the airport with Aleppo, the commercial hub of the nation.

The rebels have cut off the highway, which the army has been using to transport troops and supplies to a military base within the airport complex. Rebels have made other advances in the battle for the airport in recent weeks, including overrunning two army bases along the road to the airport.

The rebels also control large swaths of countryside outside Aleppo and whole neighborhoods inside the city, which is carved up into areas controlled by the regime and others held by rebels. Months of heavy street fighting has left whole neighborhoods of the storied city in ruins.

Relatives of Pistorius' slain girlfriend have misgivings about overtures from athlete's family

JOHANNESBURG — Far from the courtroom drama that has gripped South Africa, the family of Oscar Pistorius' slain girlfriend has struggled with its own private deluge of grief, frustration and bewilderment.

The victim's relatives also harbor misgivings about efforts by the Olympian's family to reach out to them with condolences.

Pistorius, meanwhile, spent Saturday at his uncle's home in an affluent suburb of Pretoria, the South African capital, after a judge released him on bail following days of testimony that transfixed South Africa and much of the world. He was charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day, but the athlete says he killed her accidentally, opening fire after mistaking her for an intruder in his home.

"We are extremely thankful that Oscar is now home," his uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said in a statement that also acknowledged the law must run its course. "What happened has changed our lives irrevocably."

The Pistorius family took steps to lower its profile on social media after someone hacked into the Twitter account of his older brother, Carl, family spokesman Janine Hills said.


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