Nation & World briefing

Published Mar 30, 2014 at 12:01AM

Afghan violence — Usually, an Afghan election draws foreigners to Kabul, with incoming flights full of consultants, international monitors, diplomats and journalists. Now, it is the flights out that are full, and the incoming planes are half empty. Foreigners have been leaving Afghanistan like never before during an election period after a series of attacks on foreign targets and the commission running the vote. An attack on the offices of the Independent Election Commission went on all Saturday afternoon, with staff members hiding in armored bunkers and safe rooms while five insurgents fired rockets and small arms at its compound.

Egypt crackdown — The wreckage of towns across North Sinai tells the story of a crackdown so sweeping that even ardent supporters of the Egyptian military say it risks spreading sympathy for the militants it is hunting. The Bedouin residents of Sinai, the desert peninsula bordering Israel, have long complained of neglect. And they say that the Egyptian police have always applied abusive tactics like arbitrary or mass arrests here, treating any Bedouin as a suspected criminal. But in its 8-month-old battle to crush militants, the Egyptian military has responded with force on a scale that residents and historians say Sinai has never seen.

Quake aftershocks — A total of 115 aftershocks jolted the Los Angeles area by Saturday morning after a magnitude 5.1-earthquake Friday night, a federal seismologist said. Three aftershocks reached magnitude 3, the last at 10:37 p.m. Friday, said the seismologist, Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey. Aftershocks could continue for weeks, she said, adding that another noticeable earthquake was possible, though not a cause for grave concern. A fire battalion chief, John Stokes, said no one had been killed and only minor injuries had been reported.

GM recall — General Motors Co. announced Saturday morning that it was recalling about 490,000 trucks and 172,000 small cars, meaning the automaker has now recalled about 4.8 million vehicles in the United States during the first three months of the year. That is about six times the number of recalls it made in all of 2013. The trucks being recalled are the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups, as well as the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL with six-speed automatic transmissions. GM said a loose fitting for the transmission’s oil cooler line could allow oil leaks.

Cholesterol drugs — A new class of experimental medicines can dramatically lower cholesterol, raising hopes of a fresh option for people who can’t tolerate or don’t get enough help from Lipitor and other statin drugs that have been used for this for decades. The first large studies of these drugs were presented Saturday at an American College of Cardiology conference in Washington, and more will follow today.

Obama ends trip — President Barack Obama ended his weeklong trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning with a brief private ceremony in which he offered an International Women of Courage award to a Saudi woman who works to prevent domestic violence in the kingdom. Maha Al Muneef, the executive director of the National Family Safety Program, had been selected to receive the award March 4 but was unable to attend the ceremony in the United States for family health reasons.

Ancient remains — A 14-year-old boy digging a trout pond in the backyard of his father’s Salt Lake City home stumbled across a surprise: the remains of an American Indian who lived about 1,000 years ago. Experts from the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts spent Friday removing the remains, which were confirmed by medical examiners as those of a person from a millennium ago, and investigating the site for archaeological clues after ninth-grader Ali Erturk’s discovery last week.