BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP
TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1200 GMT
GROZNY, Russia — Gun battles early Thursday in the capital of Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Chechnya left 10 police officers and at least nine militants’ dead after two buildings were stormed, including a school, authorities said. The fighting, which punctured the patina of stability ensured by years of heavy-handed rule by the Kremlin-appointed leader, broke out hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his annual state of the nation address in Moscow. By Musa Sadulayev. SENT: 340 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 500 words by 1300 GMT.
MOSCOW — In an annual speech ranging from economy to school tests, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday evoked religious imagery and defended the Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy as necessary for his country’s sheer survival. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March following the ouster of Pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and was later accused of supplying pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in ammunition and manpower. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 600, photos.
PARIS — An attack on a French couple this week is reviving worries about long-simmering anti-Semitic sentiment in France. The Service for the Protection of the Jewish Community in France says two people were handed preliminary charges Wednesday night of religion-motivated violence, armed robbery, rape, sequestration and extortion. SENT: 140 words.
LONDON — Afghanistan’s leader is asking international politicians not to abandon his country amid the withdrawal of most foreign troops and a surge in Taliban attacks. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and British Prime Minister David Cameron are jointly hosting a London conference, attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and international diplomats. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1300 GMT.
BERLIN — Swiss authorities have given the all-clear at a university building in Zurich which was locked down following an anonymous threat. The dpa news agency reported Thursday that students at the Zurich University of the Arts were told to stay in their classrooms and keep as close to the floor as possible while police searched the building. SENT: 110 words, photos.
PARIS — The former head of France’s Areva, a leading world nuclear manufacturer going through a difficult turnaround, has died, less than two months after illness forced him to step down from the company. French President Francois Hollande and top government ministers hailed Luc Oursel’s contribution to promoting France’s nuclear energy expertise on the global market. State-controlled Areva announced Oursel’s death Wednesday night. SENT: 120 words.
AMSTERDAM — Uber, the San Francisco-based ride sharing company, says it will set up a mobile phone software development team in Amsterdam, its international headquarters. In a blog post, Conrad Whelan — Uber’s second employee and first engineer — said he will begin working with a team of 10 Dutch mobile software experts immediately and hopes to expand that number to 30 “within a year.” SENT: 130 words.
LONDON — The next James Bond film will have a title that nods to the series’ past: “SPECTRE.” Director Sam Mendes announced the title Thursday, along with the identity of several new cast members and a new version of Bond’s iconic Aston Martin car. SENT: 210 words.