Showing posts from June 29, 2014

Saudi border post repels Al-Qaeda attack

One of the captured assailants believed to be on the run from Saudi authorities since 2006 Saudi soldiers exercise before a military parade during preparations for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, at a military camp in Arafat, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. (AP) Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—A Saudi border post along the Saudi-Yemeni borders was attacked by suspected Al-Qaeda militants on Friday. The commander of the Wadia border post in Saudi Arabia’s southern province of Sharura was killed in the attack along with three of the assailants; two other assailants were shot and captured by Saudi security forces. A well-informed Saudi security source, speaking to  Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that the assailants were Saudi nationals and members of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) franchise which has a strong presence in parts of Yemen. One of the suspected Al-Qaeda members who was captured during the attack is believed to be Saleh Mohamed Abdul Rahman Al-

Nigeria reports arrest of female recruiters for Boko Haram

Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group that has kidnapped schoolgirls and turned northeastern Nigeria into a war zone, has a female recruitment wing, Nigerian defense officials said Friday as they released photographs of three women alleged to be members of the group. Nigeria’s military headquarters said in Twitter message that three women had been arrested on suspicion of enticing women and girls to join the terrorist group. It said they were promising women husbands, mainly Boko Haram fighters, if they joined. Boko Haram has been waging an insurgency for more than a decade in its effort to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, a nation deeply divided between the mainly Islamic north and predominantly Christian south. The group opposes secular education, democracy, taxation, banking and all aspects of Western culture. In photos released by the military, a woman in a blue  hijab  identified as Aisha Abubakar cradled prayer beads in her hands. She and two other suspects, Hafsat Usman

ISIS poses threat to Indian lives and interests

Reports that Indian  nurses  held captive by the Sunni extremist  ISIS group in  Iraq  have been freed and will soon return home will assuage some concerns; it may even be heralded as a successful resolution to the first external crisis faced by the new government, but many more Indians still work in Iraq and they might be held captive as well.  That and  volatility  in oil prices might not, however, be the most potent threat ISIS poses to far-off India. That ISIS is an outright sectarian extremist movement is beyond doubt. It has declared areas in Syria and Iraq it has captured as a caliphate — but its agenda isn't confined to that region alone.  It dreams of that caliphate extending to regions once under Muslim rule: including Spain and India. That alone should make New Delhi take notice. Add the sectarian angle, with the struggle between the larger Sunni revolt against discriminatory  Baghdad rule being hijacked by ISIS, and what is happening in Syria and Iraq has the potential

ISIS: Tough warriors or guardsmen?

BEIRUT: Having taken land five times the size of Lebanon, and establishing the first “caliphate” in nearly 100 years, the rapid advances of ISIS are dominating headlines around the world and instilling fear in many across the region. But experts believe their military capabilities may have been embellished, and that they are not as strong as their slick media campaign makes out. Headquartered in Raqqa, eastern Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria made rapid advances across Iraq in early June, capturing Mosul and much of the surrounding Nineveh province, and taking Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown. In much of this conquered land, ISIS met Iraqi army forces who simply retreated, not even attempting to put up a fight, and discarding their uniforms and vehicles as they left. “ISIS just don’t show me a real strong combat capability,” said Jeff White, defense expert at the Washington Institute, who specializes in the Middle East. “They are good at ambushes, and good at plantin

US Warns of Terror Threat Against Uganda Airport

KAMPALA, Uganda — The U.S. Embassy in Uganda warned on Thursday of a specific threat by an unknown terrorist group to attack the country's only international airport. The Entebbe International Airport could be attacked on Thursday between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time, the embassy said on its website, citing information obtained from Ugandan police. The statement urged U.S. citizens traveling through Entebbe around that time to "review their plans in light of this information." There is a "continued threat of potential terrorist attacks in the country," with targets ranging from nightclubs to government offices, the statement said. The airport, which is about 36 kilometers south of Kampala, the Ugandan capital, was the scene in 1976 of a successful Israeli military operation to rescue dozens of hostages held by pro-Palestinian hijackers. The warning from the embassy came the day after the U.S. government called for tighter security measures at foreign airports t

Fresh Pak airstrikes kill scores of militants

Islamabad: Pakistani air force jets today pounded the restive North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border, killing scores of militants, mostly Uzbeks, as part of the massive military offensive against the Taliban.  The early morning attack was launched in Miranshah and Boya village after militants hiding in the areas continued their uninterrupted fire against Pakistani forces.  "The airstrikes were launched against five terrorist hideouts to flush them out," military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said.  "Caves and huge cache of arms and ammunition were destroyed and scores of terrorists killed in early morning strikes, silencing the firers," Bajwa said.  He said most of the terrorists killed in the strikes were Uzbeks. Al Qaeda affiliate Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has had a large presence in the country's tribal belt since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.  Bajwa said a soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) wen

Islamic State extends gains in parts of Syria: monitor

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Around 30 Islamic State fighters broke out of a makeshift jail where rival Syrian Islamists had been holding them, a monitoring group said on Friday as it detailed the latest territorial gains by the al Qaeda offshoot. The insurgents demolished a wall to escape the building - a former school - after fellow Islamic State fighters took control of al-Hawaaj village where al Qaeda loyalists had been holding them, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. In the same province on Thursday, Islamic State seized control of Syria's largest oil field from the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's official wing in Syria, consolidating its position in the eastern Deir al-Zor province bordering Iraq. Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq, includes thousands of foreign fighters and has become the main recruiting magnet for jihadi volunteers from Europe and North Africa. The Observatory said the 30 fighters that escaped on Friday were all Syrian. Th

4 killed in car bomb attack in Somalia

Four people were killed today when a car laden with explosives blew up near the parliament building in the Somali capital, a police official said. The Somali terror group al-Shabab, which has recently targeted parliamentarians, claimed responsibility. Capt Mohammed Hussein said the car exploded at a checkpoint where it had been stopped by Somali troops. The dead were soldiers and refugees from an internal refugee camp near the checkpoint, Hussein said. Troops had ordered the driver of the car out the vehicle for a search when he detonated the explosives, Hussein said. Seven children from the camp were wounded in the attack. Somali legislators were holding a meeting at the parliament at the time of the attack, but al-Shabab did not say what the intended target was. Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab has said it was responsible for the killing of a Somali lawmaker and his bodyguard in a drive-by shooting earlier this week. The targeting of members of parliament appears to be a new strategy for al

ISIL Militants Seize Syrian Oilfield Near Iraq

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has seized control of a Syrian oilfield located near the border with Iraq according to a monitoring group. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIL fighters took the al-Tanak oilfield on July 4. The oilfield is in Syria's Deir el-Zour Province, along the border with Iraq, and comes a day after ISIL's seizure of al-Omar oilfield, the country's largest. The Observatory said ISIL seized the oilfields after rival Islamist groups, including the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, withdrew from the area. ISIL has declared an Islamic caliphate in areas it has seized in western and northern Iraq. The group has also pushed towards the Turkish border, where it has shelled one town and taken control of several villages. Based on reporting by AP and AFP. Source

Iraqi Air Strikes Target Islamic Militants

Iraqi officials say air strikes have killed as many as 30 insurgents trying to capture the country's largest oil refinery. Sabah al-Nuaman, the spokesman for Iraq's counterterrorism services, said the air strikes targeted fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which have been trying for weeks to capture the Beiji facility, located some 250 kilometers north of Baghdad. The group, which has overrun much of northern and western Iraq, appeared on the verge of taking the refinery last month. But military troops managed to hold on and have since received reinforcements to help bolster their defenses. Also on July 4, Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called the inability of Iraq's parliament to agree on a new government in its first session this week a "regrettable failure." Sistani said in a Friday sermon delivered by his aide Ahmed al-Safi, "Last Tuesday the first session of parliament convened. People were

Syrian Jets Bomb Border Areas With Iraq

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey (right) speaks next to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on July 3. Syrian aircraft have bombed border areas between Syria and Iraq, killing three Iraq civilians according to local officials. The bombings come as fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) try to consolidate their hold over parts of the border separating the two countries. Separately, Iraqi military officials denied on July 3 that the country's border guards had withdrawn from the frontier with Saudi Arabia. The denial comes after Dubai-based broadcaster Al-Arabiyah reported that Riyadh had deployed 30,000 soldiers along the 800-kilometer border after Iraqi forces withdrew. It aired a video showing Iraqi soldiers saying they were ordered to withdraw from the Saudi and Syrian borders due to the swift advances by Sunni-led insurgents. Meanwhile, activists say ISIL fighters have

Germany Extradites Alleged Hashish Maker From Chechnya

German authorities have extradited a man from Russia's North Caucasus Chechen Republic who is wanted for the alleged large-scale production of hashish. Russia's Prosecutor-General’s Office said Mauldin Gavdakhanov was extradited on July 3. Gavdakhanov disappeared in June 2013 after authorities in Chechnya launched investigations against him, accusing him of the production and storage of a narcotic substance. Russian authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Gavdakhanov in July 2013. In November, investigators learned that Gavdakhanov was in Germany. In December, they formally asked the German Federal Ministry of Justice to extradite Gavdakhanov. Russia's Federal Drug Control Service is investigating the case. Based on reporting by Interfax and Source

Militant killed, jawan injured in Kashmir encounter

Srinagar: An unidentified militant was killed and an Army jawan injured in an encounter in Tral area of South Kashmir's Pulwama district Saturday.  Security forces launched a search operation in the forest area of Aripal village in Tral area following information about presence of militants there, an Army spokesman said.  He said contact was established with the militants and so far one unidentified ultra has been killed.  "The body of the militant, along with one AK 47 rifle, has been recovered," the spokesman said, adding the operation was still in progress.  He said an Army jawan was also injured during the operation.   Saturday, July 05, 2014 Source

Iraq crisis: Freed nurses reach Kochi, 600 more Indians to return in 48 hours

Source Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal & Himanshu Kapoor   While briefing the mediapersons, MEA Official Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, "Momentum of return of Indian nationals from Iraq gathers pace. 600 more Indian nationals returning home in next 48 hours."  As the month-long ordeal in the strife-torn Iraq ended for the stranded Indian nurses, most of them vowed not to go back risking their lives.  The special Air India plane has landed at Hyderabad airport where many of the Indians who have come from Iraq will disembark. The plane will then leave for its final destination, Delhi and arrive there later in the evening.  Ancy Joseph, one of the nurses back from Iraq, says she wants to thank everyone who helped them in getting out from there.  Indian nurses who were stranded in Iraq arrive at Kochi Airport, greeted by family members

Clashes in east Jerusalem after teen’s burial revive intifada fears for Middle East

JERUSALEM —  Thousands of Palestinians furious over the killing of a local teenager swarmed the streets of East Jerusalem on Friday to demand a new intifada. The fierce clashes with police that followed the teen’s funeral stirred fears that a mass uprising could already be underway. The protesters waved Palestinian flags and chanted, “Enough of the suffering, enough of the pain,” capping a week that has overflowed with both for Israelis as well as Palestinians. On Monday, soldiers discovered the bodies of three Israeli teens who had been missing for more than two weeks. Then, on Wednesday, the badly burned remains of 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khiederwere found in a forest. Although no definitive link has been established between the cases, there was no doubt in the Palestinian neighborhood of Shuafat on Friday that Khieder’s killing  was carried out by Jewish extremists  and that it was intended as revenge. The killings have brought Israeli-Palestinian relations to their most combustibl

Shots fired as Liberia police quell ArcelorMittal mine protest

MONROVIA: Liberia's security forces fired shots in the air to break up a protest at an ArcelorMittal SA iron ore plant northeast of the capital on Friday, authorities and witnesses said.  The protestors, who also fired shots, blocked entries to the mine, the company's railroad and offices. The company said in a statement they also entered the mines and looted equipment and building materials near the mine entrance, causing significant damage.  One demonstrator, who declined to be named, said ArcelorMittal had not fulfilled the terms of its concession agreement with the Liberian governmenOt. The person added that the company had not compensated local people for crops, nor had it paid wages or renovated houses.  The Indian steel and mining conglomerate operates the plant in Nimba County under a 25-year deal with the government.  "Ringleaders, including those who shot at the police, have been arrested and are being brought to Monrovia for further investigation and prosecution

Nigerian soldiers block roads, burn buses in Lagos protest

LAGOS: Nigerian soldiers blocked roads, fired shots into the air and burned several buses in Lagos on Friday after a soldier was killed in a bus accident, an episode residents said recalled the country's former military dictatorship.  Nigeria has been a democracy since shortly after the death of military ruler Sani Abacha 1998, but rights groups say abuses and indiscipline by its troops remain a problem, especially in the remote northeast, where an Islamist insurgency threatens stability across Africa's largest economy and top oil producer.  "The rampaging soldiers already burnt five ... buses," Femi Oke-Osanyitolu, director general of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, told Reuters by telephone, calling it "barbaric and uncivilised."  There were no deaths or injuries in the incident, he said.  The soldiers, he said, were reacting to the killing of one of their number who was hit by a bus while riding a motorcycle. Nigerian bus drivers have a reput

France tightens airport security on US-bound flights

PARIS: France is tightening airport security for US flight destinations for the summer holiday period at the request of US authorities, an official statement said on Friday.   The civil aviation authority warned passengers bound for the United States that they may experience some delays as a result.  Earlier this week the US department of homeland security said it would increase security measures at overseas airports that have direct flights to the United States.  The department did not specify which airports or what countries would be affected, nor did it say what triggered the enhanced measures.  Source

Taliban set 200 fuel trucks on fire in Kabul

KABUL: A Taliban bomb attack on the outskirts of Kabul set fire to some 200 fuel trucks that the militants claimed were supplying foreign troops in Afghanistan, officials said on Saturday.   The tankers were set ablaze as they sat in a parking lot waiting to enter the Afghan capital, which is currently gripped by a fraud dispute over presidential elections last month.  Taliban insurgents fighting a 13-year-war against US-led forces in Afghanistan often attack western supply convoys and claimed responsibility for the late Friday night attack.  "At around 10:30pm dozens of fuel tankers belonging to private companies caught fire," Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai told AFP.  "No one can get close to them since the fire is still raging at the scene," he added, saying that there had been no casualties.  Kabul police director Gul Aghan Hashimi said a magnetic bomb had been used in the attack while a Nato-led International Security Assistance Forces spokesman said t

Egyptian Court Sentences Brotherhood Leader to Life in Prison

FILE - Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's general guide , Mohamed Badie at the trial of Brotherhood members in February, 2014 near Cairo's Turah prison. An Egyptian court sentenced Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and 36 other Islamists to life in prison Saturday. Badie, convicted of involvement in deadly protests, had already received death sentences in two other cases in a crackdown on Islamist opposition after last year's military ouster of president Mohamed Morsi. The court also upheld the death sentences for 10 other Brotherhood supporters. Presiding Judge Hassan Farid said Saturday the defendants were involved in violence and murder during protests last July after the army overthrew Morsi, who belonged to the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has been designated as a terrorist group, with much of its leadership imprisoned, including the former president. Source

Ukrainian Forces Hoist Flag Over Slovyansk

Ukrainian government forces have hoisted the national flag on over the pro-Russian rebels' main stronghold of Slovyansk after flushing them out of the eastern industrial city in overnight fighting. Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey told President Petro Poroshenko in a statement posted on the Ukrainian administration's website on July 5 that the flag had been raised over the Slovyansk city council building, one of the main buildings where the rebels had been based. Ukraine's interior minister said earlier in the day that most pro-Russian rebels and their top commander had fled the industrial city of nearly 120,000, which they had occupied since April 6. Arsen Avakov told reporters in Kyiv, "This morning, intelligence reported that Girkin (Igor Strelkov) and a substantial part of the rebels had fled Slovyansk" amid intense fighting overnight. Avakov said in a Facebook post that the militias were fleeing to Gorlivka, a city of 260,000 about 50 kilometers southeast of

China-backed Panchen Lama visits monasteries in Tibet

The Panchen Lama, being groomed by China to take over as Tibet's top spiritual leader, today visited a number of monasteries in the restive Himalayan region and met local political leaders. The Panchen Lama, also called Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, who is mostly based in Beijing concluded his religious duties in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region today, officials said. The Panchen Lama is regarded as the second most important religious head of Buddhism in Tibet after the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India. He visited monasteries in Jokhang and Sera, where he performed rituals, including sutra interpretations and blessings. A member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, China's top political advisory body, the Panchen Lama also met CPPCC members in the regional capital Lhasa. "As CPPCC members, we should work together on national development and people's interests in Tibet,"