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Pakistani gets 86 years for attacking U.S. questioners

A Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to kill American soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan was sentenced to 86 years in prison Thursday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The case of the scientist, Aafia Siddiqui, a former MIT student, had attracted wide attention, particularly in Pakistan, where she was widely portrayed as a heroine.

In Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore, word of the sentence prompted protests from religious parties, which announced plans for nationwide demonstrations Friday. Outside Siddiqui’s house in Karachi, dozens of protesters chanted anti-American slogans.

Siddiqui’s lawyers had requested a sentence of 12 years; federal prosecutors had pressed for life imprisonment.

The judge, Richard M. Berman, said “significant incarceration” was called for, and he expressed concern about the likelihood of recidivism and difficulty of rehabilitation for the defendant.

In 2004, she was described by Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the FBI, as “an al-Qaida operative and facilitator.” And an indictment charged that when she was arrested in 2008, she was carrying instructions on making explosives and a list of New York landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building.

Rebels’ second in command has been killed, Colombia says

CARACAS, Venezuela — Colombia’s security forces killed the second in command of Latin America’s largest rebel group in an elaborate bombing raid in the country’s remote Macarena mountain range, the government said Thursday, dealing a major blow to a four-decade insurgency that had re-emerged with new vigor in recent months.

Colombian military officials said the multiday air and ground operation killed the field marshal known as Mono Jojoy, the nom de guerre used by the 57-year-old military mastermind who oversaw some of the main offensives of the group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. About 20 other members of the group were also said to have been killed.

“The FARC are crumbling from within,” said Rodrigo Rivera, Colombia’s defense minister, in announcing the operation.

The raid followed an unusually bloody stretch in Colombia’s slow-burning war of attacks and counterattacks, which had claimed the lives of dozens of guerrillas and more than 50 members of security forces since Colombia’s new president, Juan Manuel Santos, was inaugurated in August.

FDA to restrict a diabetes drug citing heart risk

In an unusual coordinated announcement, European and U.S. drug regulators said Thursday that Avandia, the controversial diabetes medicine, would no longer be widely available.

The drug’s sales will be suspended entirely in Europe, while U.S. patients will be allowed access to the medicine only if they and their doctors attest that they have tried every other diabetes medicine and that patients have been made aware of the drug’s substantial risks to the heart. Patients now taking Avandia may continue to do so.

Dr. Steven Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist whose studies highlighted Avandia’s heart attack risks, said that the decision brought an end to “one of the worst drug safety tragedies in our lifetime,” adding that it was “essential to fully investigate what went wrong with the regulatory process to prevent this type of tragedy from endangering patients in the future.”