Showing posts from July 14, 2013

Syria war widens rift between Shi'ite clergy in Iraq, Iran

NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - The civil war in Syria is widening a rift between top Shi 'ite Muslim clergy in Iraq and Iran who have taken opposing stands on whether or not to send followers into combat on President Bashar al-Assad's side. Competition for leadership of the Shi'ite community has intensified since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein, empowering majority Shi'ites through the ballot box and restoring the Iraqi holy city of Najaf to prominence. In Iran's holy city of Qom, senior Shi'ite clerics, or Marjiiya, have issued fatwas (edicts) enjoining their followers to fight in Syria, where mainly Sunni rebels are fighting to overthrow Assad, whose Alawite sect derives from Shi'ite Islam. Shi'ite militant leaders fighting in Syria and those in charge of recruitment in Iraq say the number of volunteers has increased significantly since the fatwas were pronounced. Tehran, Assad's staunchest defender in the reg

Maoists raise Rs 140-250 crore a year through extortion, protection rackets

India , July 20 -- They wield influence in nearly 203 of India's 708 police districts, routinely kill people and policemen in 90 districts, often have the last word in 27 of them, hope to lead a revolution and - by 2050, according to one account - overthrow the Indian State. So how does the Communist Party of India (Maoist) find the money to keep the fire burning for the revolution? A government-commissioned study concluded this month has told the home ministry that Maoists generate at least Rs. 140 crore annually from extortion rackets that target businesses - big and small - industry, contractors executing public works, corrupt government officials and political leaders. "The largest and principal sources of income for the Maoists are the mining industry, public works and collection of tendu leaves," the study says. Police officer ML Meena has seen some of it first-hand. In January this year, Meena, inspector general of police, Bokaro Range in Jha

After SAP camp attack, Maoists pull down CRPF building in Bihar

India, July 20 -- Maoists struck again in Bihar, this time in Lakhisarai district in the south eastern part of the state on Friday, bringing down an under-construction CRPF camp building. There were no casualties as no CRPF personnel were present at the spot when over 50 Maoists launched the attack. Two days ago, Maoists had attacked a special auxiliary police (SAP) camp in Aurangabad district in the south-central part of the state killing six persons, including three SAP jawans. "A pamphlet left on the spot questions the rationale of raising a security forces camp in an area where the people are battling with poverty, unemployment, corruption and price rise," said an official. The SP said other leaflets left at the attack site indicated that it was meant to dissuade the CRPF and the police from staging a street play meant to dissuade local youth from joining the Maoist ranks. The play, Bhatke Rahi, was supposed to highlight how the ultras were making fa

1.1 million Brazilians murdered in 30 years

BRASILIA, Brazil (AFP) –   More than one million people were murdered in Brazil between 1980 and 2011, making it the world's seventh most violent country, a survey showed Thursday. During the period, homicides soared 132 percent to claim 1,145,208 lives, from a rate of 11.5 murders for 100,000 inhabitants in 1980 to 27 per 100,000 in 2011, according to the Map of Violence report, Among those aged between 14 and 25, homicides skyrocketed 326 percent to reach 53 per 100,000 inhabitants, said the study published by the Latin American Studies Center (Cebela). In 2011, Brazil, now home to 194 million people, recorded 51,198 homicides, ranked seventh among the world's most violent nations after El Salvador, the US Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Colombia and Guatemala. From 2007, the study highlighted a resumption of a surge in violence after a drop in the previous decade, attributed mainly to public disarmament policies. The survey show

Qaeda suspects kill pro-army militiaman in Yemen

ADEN (AFP) –   Al-Qaeda suspects shot dead a member of a Yemeni pro-army militia that had backed a military offensive against the network last year, a police official said on Saturday. "Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen riding in a vehicle shot dead Mohammed Abbad, a member of the Popular Resistance Committees in the town of Mudia" in the southern Abyan province, the official said. The attack took place late on Friday near and the assailants "fled to an unknown location," the official added. The Yemeni army launched a month-long offensive in May last year against Al-Qaeda militants in the southern Abyan province with the help of local tribesmen and residents. The army, backed by US drone attacks, managed to retake control of the country's south, of which large swathes of land had been seized by Al-Qaeda militants. The network has been weakened but still carries out hit-and-run attacks against army and police targets and occasionally assassin

15 militants, 4 security personnel killed in Pak clash

The security forces engaged in a gunbattle with the terrorists in which 15 militants and four security personnel were killed, officials said.   Fifteen militants and four security personnel were killed during an operation to flush out terrorists from the restive Khyber tribal region of northwest Pakistan, officials said today. The clash broke out when the security personnel were conducting an operation in Zao Kharmatang area in Khyber Agency last night. The security forces engaged in a gunbattle with the terrorists in which 15 militants and four security personnel were killed, officials said. The operation named Khyber-2 was launched yesterday to clear the area of terrorists and criminal hideouts. Troops have so far cleared Surgarh and Shergarh heights. Two hideouts of terrorists were also destroyed in the operation. Several banned organisations, including the Taliban, are active in Khyber Agency and the army

7 killed in Iraqi attacks

7 killed in Iraqi attacks BAGHDAD, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Seven people were killed and 10 others wounded in separate attacks in eastern and northern Iraq on Saturday, the police said. In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, Wisam Mahmoud, a local leader of a government-backed Sahwa paramilitary group, and two of his aides, were shot dead by gunmen while they were leaving Mahmoud's house in al-Gatoon area, just west of the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The Sahwa militia, also known as the Awakening Council or the Sons of Iraq, consists of armed groups, including some powerful anti-U.S. Sunni insurgent groups, who turned their rifles against the al-Qaida network after the latter exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities. In a separate incident, a civilian was wounded in a roadside bomb explosion at

Nazi-themed cafe in Indonesia sparks global outrage

BANDUNG, Indonesia (AFP) –   From a painting hung high on a blood-red wall, Adolf Hitler peers down on young students eating schnitzel and slurping German beer in Indonesia's Nazi-themed cafe. The SoldatenKaffee ("The Soldiers' Cafe") opened its doors in the western Javanese city of Bandung in 2011, named after the popular hangout for soldiers in Germany and occupied Paris during World War II. Eerier than the gas mask canisters and battle flags bearing swastikas is the more than two years' silence that has followed the cafe's grand launch. When the cafe opened no one voiced offence at the waiters and guests dressed as Nazi soldiers -- the Holocaust is weak on the radar in Indonesia, home to the world's biggest Muslim population, where the Jewish community numbers a mere 20 people. But a recent report about SoldatenKaffee in the English-language Jakarta Globe newspaper triggered angry responses online and prompted Bandung deput

Al-Qaeda-linked leader charged in Algeria attack

U.S. offers $5M reward for information leading to Mokhtar Belmokhtar's arrest Terrorism charges were unsealed Friday in New York against a purported al-Qaeda-linked leader in Africa accused of leading a January attack at a gas plant in Algeria that killed more than 35 hostages, including three Americans. The charges against Mokhtar Belmokhtar were announced by federal law enforcement officials in Manhattan. They include conspiring to support al-Qaeda, use a weapon of mass destruction, discharge a firearm and use and carry an explosive. Additional charges of conspiring to take hostages and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carry a maximum penalty of death. Authorities also said a $5 million reward was being offered for information leading to the arrest of Belmokhtar, who's also been known as "the one-eyed sheik" since he lost an eye in combat. Belmokhtar left al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African offshoot of the

Israel, Palestinians Agree to Relaunch Peace Process

Officials to Meet in Washington to Work Out Details, U.S. Secretary of State Announces Israel and the Palestinians agreed to restart direct peace talks after more than three years, as months of diplomacy by Secretary of State John Kerry showed tangible, if tenuous, signs of progress. Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials will meet in Washington within the next two weeks to establish a time frame and other details before a more formal relaunch of the Middle East peace process, Mr. Kerry said at a news conference late Friday in Jordan. Enlarge Image Mandel Ngan / Reuters John Kerry meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Friday. "I'm pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement. This is a significant, and welcome, step forward," Mr. Kerry said. "We know that the challenges will require difficult choices in the days ahead. Today. I am hopeful." The agreement to get the t

Ex-bin Laden spokesman: US tortured me on plane

NEW YORK — Lawyers for Osama bin Laden's son-in-law claimed in court papers Friday that he was tortured by the U.S. and asked a judge to dismiss the terrorism case against him. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith's attorneys said in papers in Manhattan federal court that their client is charged in a flawed document that fails to adequately explain how he was part of a conspiracy to kill Americans. They said the statute of limitations had expired and that he was denied due process. They also said he was interrogated at length during a 14-hour flight to the United States earlier this year during which "he was subjected to a variety of deprivation techniques and harsh treatment which constitute torture." Abu Ghaith, 47, has been held without bail since he was brought to the United States in March to face charges that he conspired against Americans in his role as al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. Authorities say he had appeared in propaganda videos

Afghan officials: Late night bombings kill 15 people in southern province

KABUL, Afghanistan –   Officials say a wave of bombings in southern Afghanistan has killed 15 people, including six members of the country's security services. Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, says there were four bombings. All of them took place late on Friday in different locations in Helmand. He says the most deadly of the attacks was when five members of the Afghan intelligence service and a policeman died when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the Sangin district. Zwak says the deputy head of Sangin's intelligence service was among those killed in the explosion. Helmand police spokesman Shamim Noorzia says the other three bombings killed six civilians and two police officers. Insurgents have increased attacks in Helmand as foreign forces withdraw from the area. Read more:

Global navies thwart piracy off coast of Somalia

NAIROBI, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Piracy off the coast of Somalia has dropped significantly for the first time since 2006 due to preventive measures deployed by the foreign warships to thwart such attacks, a global maritime body said in its report published on Monday. The report by International Chamber Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB)'s global piracy report attributes the fall in piracy to actions by the international navies as well as preventive measures by merchant vessels including deployment of privately contracted armed security personnel off the coast of Somalia. "The navies continue to play a vital role in ensuring this threat is kept under control," IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan. According to the report, as at June 30, Somali pirates were holding 57 crew members for ransom on four vessels. They were also holding 11 kidnapped crew members on land in unknown conditions and locations. The report says four of these crew have been hel

Syrian army bombs key rebel town; three killed

Syrian government forces bombed a strategic rebel town in the country’s north for the third straight day on Saturday, pounding it with airstrikes that killed at least three people, activists said. President Bashar Assad’s troops have in recent weeks seized the momentum in the civil war, now in its third year, and have been on offensive against rebels on several fronts, including in the northern Idlib province along the border with Turkey. In Idlib, government forces this week besieged the town of Saraqeb, hitting it with rockets, tanks and air raids, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. On Saturday, the group said military aircraft dropped at least 15 makeshift bombs, known as barrel bombs, on the town. The bombs are made of hundreds of pounds (kilograms) of explosives stuffed into barrels. Meanwhile, an airstrike by a fighter jet killed at least three people, including two children, said the Observatory, which relies on reports from a ne

Suicide Bomber Photos Provoke Protests in Paris: Review

Rebels? Freedom fighters? Terrorists? The question arises not only in Syria . An exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, Paris’s premier photography museum, has drawn the ire of Jewish organizations. They accuse the museum of glorifying Palestinian suicide bombers. Enlarge image "Untitled (Death Nr. 3)" by Ahlam Shibli. The photograph, depicting a demonstration in Nablus in support of a hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners, is on view at the Jeu de Paume through Sept. 1. Source: Jeu de Paume via Bloomberg Enlarge image

Four killed in clashes between rivaling protesters in Egypt

CAIRO, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Four women were killed and scores of others injured in overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt 's ousted President Mohamed Morsi in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, a Health Ministry statement said on Saturday. Morsi's supporters took to the narrow streets in the northern Egyptian city and clashed with hundreds of people carrying knives and weapons, the statement said. State-run Ahram website said the pro-Morsi protesters, mostly veiled women, surprisingly found themselves surrounded by thugs and had to hide in nearby buildings for three hours before the security forces managed to rescue them. On Friday, tens of thousands of Morsi's supporters flocked to main squares across the country to demand his reinstatement, slamming his deposition as "a military coup." In the meantime, Morsi's opponents voiced support for the army and its roadmap while celebrating of the victory of a 1973 war that led t

Explosion heard at Beijing airport -Xinhua

The Sina Weibo microblog of state broadcaster China Central Television said a man detonated a package of black gunpowder used to make firecrackers just outside the international arrivals exit.   A loud explosion was heard in Beijing airport's Terminal 3 on Saturday evening, China's official Xinhua news agency reported, citing witnesses. The Sina Weibo microblog of state broadcaster China Central Television said a man detonated a package of black gunpowder used to make firecrackers just outside the international arrivals exit. (Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)   Source:  

Sri Lanka asks EU to help stop LTTE funding

Sri Lanka today asked for sustained vigilance on the part of the European Union to stop funding of the LTTE by the outfit's front organisations. Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister GL Peiris stressed on the issue during talks with a six-member EU parliamentarian team which is on a tour of the country, the ministry said. Peiris was referring to Europol's Terrorist Situation and Trend Report this year which said the LTTE is still considered active and benefiting from support in countries with a significant diaspora. The LTTE was banned as a terrorist outfit by the EU in 2007. Peiris said he was happy that the EU delegation was able to see for themselves the progress made by the Sri Lankan government. The parliamentarians for their part urged the government to conduct the September's provincial council election in the Tamil-dominated north in a civilian environment. Sri Lanka has resisted international calls for de-escalation of the military presence citing nat

Colombia's Farc offers to release 'US veteran'

Colombia's Farc rebel group says it has captured a former US soldier and is willing to release him to prove its commitment to the peace process. In a statement, the rebels named the man as Kevin Scott Sutay and said he had been taken on 20 June in El Retorno in the southern Guaviare Department. The US has so far not commented on the claims. Peace talks between the guerrillas and the Colombian government opened in November in the Cuban capital, Havana. It is the fourth attempt at a negotiated peace deal since the beginning of the conflict in the early 1960s. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) cited Mr Sutay as saying he worked as an anti-mining and explosives specialist in the US Navy until March, having served in Afghanistan in 2010-11. His passport identified him as having been born in New York City, said the group, adding that he had travelled through Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama be

Thailand hunts for fugitive ‘jet-setting’ monk, wanted for statutory rape, money laundering, drug trafficking

Thailand has been riveted by the scandal involving Wirapol Sukphol, a 33-year-old Buddhist monk charged with living lavishly and committing a raft of crimes ranging from statutory rape to manslaughter to fraud. Wirapol Sukphol, a fugative Buddhist monk from Thailand who has been outed for living a lavish life-style, is seen in a photo holding a wad of cash while riding aboard a private plane. The 33-year-old Buddhist monk  has been implicated on charges including statutory rape, embezzlement and online fraud.   BANGKOK — He's known as Thailand's jet-setting fugitive monk, and his story has riveted the country with daily headlines of lavish excess, promiscuity and alleged crimes ranging from statutory rape to manslaughter. Until a month ago, 33-year old Wirapol Sukphol was relatively unknown in Thailand. Now he is at the center of the biggest religious scandal the predominantly Buddhist country has seen in years. Despite the vows he took to lead a

Briton 'is kidnapped in Nigeria'

The unnamed person was believed to have been captured shortly after leaving the international terminal of Lagos airport, according to the Reuters news agency. A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said it was working with authorities in Nigeria. The spokesman said: "We are aware of reports of a missing person and are liaising with Nigerian authorities." Source:

IM spreads to Red Jharkhand: Maoists help terror outfit grow roots in the state

The widening web of India's home-grown terror outfit, Indian Mujahideen (IM), has now found a new haven - Jharkhand. The terror group, responsible for a series of attacks across the country, has developed strong links with some Naxalite cadres and Jharkhand, which is believed to be a Maoist stronghold, is emerging as its new hub, suggest fresh intelligence inputs accessed by Mail Today. According to sources, Jharkhand has become the new recruitment centre for IM. The disclosure came following the arrest of an IM suspect, Manzar Imam, by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in March this year. High recruitment Imam, who hails from Jharkhand, disclosed during his interrogation that IM is recruiting members from the state in big numbers. "Not just Jharkhand but even other states hit by Left-wing extremism such as West Bengal, Bihar and parts of Andhra Pradesh are providing recruits to the outfit," said an intelligence officer. With the busting of seve

Iraq bombing kills 17 at Sunni mosque; Ahmadinejad wraps up visit

BAGHDAD -- A bomb ripped through a full Sunni mosque in central Iraq during midday prayers Friday, killing at least 17 people in the latest outburst of deadly violence targeting worshipers during the holy month of Ramadan. Suicide attacks, car bombings and other violence have killed nearly 200 people since the Islamic holy month of daytime fasting and charity began last week. The violence is an extension of a surge of attacks that has roiled Iraq for months, reviving fears of a return to the widespread sectarian bloodshed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. The attack struck while Iran's outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , wrapped up a two-day trip to Iraq with visits to the Shiite Muslim holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, south of the capital, Baghdad. There was no indication the mosque blast was related to his trips. Diyala provincial councilman Sadiq Husseini said Friday's explosion hit the Abu Bakir Al Sidiq mosque in the town o

Kurdish rebels warn Turkey on peace

Kurdish rebels have warned Turkey that it must start implementing reforms agreed under a plan to end their 30-year conflict. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said in a statement that "concrete steps" should be taken "in the shortest time". The PKK has already begun withdrawing its fighters from Turkey, but Ankara insists on a full withdrawal for peace talks to progress. The 30-year Kurdish insurgency has left more than 40,000 people dead. "If concrete steps are not taken in the shortest time, on the subjects set out by our people and the public, the process will not advance and the AKP [Turkey's ruling party] government will be responsible'', the PKK said on the pro-Kurdish website It called the statement a "final warning". The PKK took up arms in 1984 with the aim of creating a Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, but it has now moderated its goal to regional autonomy. It has been designated a terrorist organisation by Tu