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Linking attack to Caucasus, Russia faces old problem

MOSCOW — A day after an airport suicide bombing that investigators suspect was organized by Islamic militants, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday vowed retribution. President Dmitry A. Medvedev lashed out at low-ranking subordinates at the airport for failing to stop the attack, and a number of initiatives were announced to prevent future terrorist acts.

Even so, the government seemed to be facing a bleak calculus.

None of its strategies for stamping out the long-running insurgency in southern Russia – neither the harsh measures favored by some in the security services nor the social programs and infrastructure projects supported by many policy experts — have yielded much success.

1998 U.S. Embassy bomber receives a life sentence

NEW YORK — Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be tried in the civilian court system, was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for his role in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

The nearly simultaneous attacks in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killed 224 people and wounded thousands.

The defense had asked the judge for a lesser sentence, citing the extraordinary circumstances of Ghailani’s case, like the years he spent in detention in a so-called black site run by the CIA, where his lawyers say he was tortured.

But the judge, Lewis Kaplan of U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said that no matter how Ghailani was treated while in detention, “the impact on him pales in comparison to the suffering and the horror that he and his confederates caused.

“It was a cold-blooded killing and maiming of innocent people on an enormous scale,“ Kaplan said. “The very purpose of the crime was to create terror by causing death and destruction.”

—Benjamin Weiser, The New York Times

Across Egypt, protests direct fury at President Mubarak

CAIRO — Thousands of people demanding an end to the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak filled the streets of several Egyptian cities Tuesday, in an unusually large and sometimes violent burst of civil unrest that appeared to threaten the stability of a crucial Arab ally of the United States.

The protests, at least partly inspired by the toppling of the authoritarian government in Tunisia, began small but grew all day, with protesters occupying one of Cairo’s central squares. Security forces, which normally prevent major public displays of dissent, initially struggled to suppress the demonstrations, allowing them to swell.

But early Wednesday morning, firing rubber bullets, tear gas and concussion grenades, the police finally drove groups of demonstrators from the square, as the sit-in was transformed into a spreading battle involving thousands of people and little restraint. Plainclothes officers beat several demonstrators, and protesters flipped over a police car and set it on fire.

Protests also flared in Alexandria, Suez, Mansura and Beni Suef. There were reports of three deaths and many injuries.

Photographers in Alexandria caught people tearing up a large portrait of Mubarak. A video posted on the Internet of demonstrations in Mahalla el-Kubra showed the same, while a crowd snapped cell phone photos and cheered. The acts — rare, and bold here — underscored the anger coursing through the protests and the challenge they might pose to the aging and ailing Egyptian leader.