Showing posts from January 21, 2018

Ambulance bomb kills 95, wounds 158 in Kabul attack: Officials

KABUL: The casualty toll from Saturday's ambulance bomb attack in the Afghan capital  Kabul  reached at least 95 dead and 158 wounded, a health ministry official said.  The explosion -- one of the biggest since a truck bomb ripped through the Afghan capital's diplomatic quarter on May 31 last year -- triggered chaotic scenes as terrified people fled the area where several high-profile organisations, including the European Union, have offices.  An AFP reporter saw "lots of dead and wounded" civilians in the nearby Jamuriate hospital where overwhelmed medical staff struggled to treat bloodied men, women and children lying in corridors.  The force of the blast shook windows of buildings at least two kilometres away and shattered windows within hundreds of metres of the site. Some low-rise structures in the vicinity of the explosion also collapsed.  "The suicide bomber used an ambulance to pass through the checkpoints. He passed through the first checkpoint saying

Russia urges to raise efficiency in Karabakh peace process

13:08 26/01/2018   NKR There is a need to boost efficiency in the talks on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing in Moscow on Thursday.    “It is necessary to increase efficiency, not activeness in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process. I think it is a matter everyone will deal with,” said Zakharova. Asked whether a certain progress has been achieved by the peacekeeping mission, the top Russian official said she will clarify the issue with the experts. Source:

How the Muslim Brotherhood Hijacked Syria’s Revolution

The shadowy Islamist group that was all but destroyed in the 1980s is ruining the uprising against Bashar al-Assad. Hassan Hassan March 13, 2013, 3:12 PM AWAD AWAD  No one in Syria expected the anti-regime uprising to last this long or be this deadly, but after around 70,000 dead,  1 million refugees , and two years of unrest, there is still no end in sight. While President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal response is mostly to blame, the opposition’s chronic failure to form a viable front against the regime has also allowed the conflict to drag on. And there’s one anti-Assad group that is largely responsible for this dismal state of affairs: Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.  Throughout the Syrian uprising, I have had discussions with opposition figures, activists, and foreign diplomats about how the Brotherhood has built influence within the emerging opposition forces. It has been a dizzying rise for the Islamist movement. It was massacred out of existence in the 1980s after the Baathi

Peace Process Stalls in Afghan Province

Former Taleban fighters warn that the peace process has completely stalled in the southern province of Kandahar, where the High Peace Council (HPC) has failed to convince a single insurgent to lay down his arms in the last year. Part of the remit of the HPC, formed in September 2010 by then-president Hamid Karzai, was to bring more moderate elements of the Taleban to the negotiating table and eventually to hold direct talks with the government in Kabul. It has come in for some fierce criticism over the years for how it has handled these reconciliation, although its Kandahar branch has also been credited with persuading hundreds of armed militiamen to stop fighting. But now, former Kandahar insurgents argue that the process has stalled because the government has failed to fulfill promises to provide them with homes and employment. “The Taleban’s activities had become unacceptable to me - they were un-Islamic and inhumane,” said Najibullah, who used to command a unit of 14 figh

Myanmar peace process makes progress as more armed groups announce intention to join ceasefire pact

YANGON, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's peace process is making progress with two more ethnic armed groups announcing their intention to join the government's Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA). Following their meeting with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing in Nay Pyi Taw Tuesday, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) announced agreeing to sign the NCA soon, said a joint statement released by the two parties. NMSP, led by Nai Htaw Mon, and LDU, headed by Kya Khun Sar, are members of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), which represents the non-ceasefire signatory group. Meeting with the press, Aung San Suu Kyi expressed delight over the progress made towards peace, welcoming the two armed groups for promising to join hands with the government in the peace process. "I thank our ethnic national brothers and sisters and ethnic Mon and Lahu nationals for helping in

Lawful casualty or victim of a war crime?

(Illustrative photo: Colourbox) In her new book Joanna Nicholson, Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Oslo, investigates how some international criminal courts have untangled those who were legitimate military targets from those who were victims of international crimes. As part of her research, Nicholson clarifies how the act of fighting can make a difference in the context of when an individual can qualify as a victim of an international crime. Nicholson explains that courts have not always been as careful as they should be at determining whether a particular individual was a lawful casualty of war rather than a victim of a war crime. The researcher has chosen to emphasize crimes that can be committed against two specific groups: child soldiers and peacekeepers. Child soldiers In recent decades, child soldiers have become a regular feature of some armed conflicts.  Children are appealing to some armed groups as their youth can make them easier to manipulate and more

How Myanmar's Peace Process Could Jeopardize Wildlife

A 2012 ceasefire between the national military and the Karen people of eastern Myanmar is bringing hope of lasting peace to the strife-torn region. One of the unintended consequences of the decades-long conflict, which began in 1947, was that it kept development out, preserving the forest and creating a wildlife oasis. But with peace will come development, so the race is on to protect one of Southeast Asia’s last remaining unspoiled jungle habitats, home to tigers, leopards, bear, elephants, tapirs, and other endangered species. According to Colin Poole, Regional Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Greater Mekong, the main threats will come from the unsustainable development pressures that peace will bring, such as mining and plantation agriculture and the associated deforestation that goes with them. Luckily, the environment has an ally. Nerdah Mya, a Karen leader, is committed to protecting the environment and preserving it for future generations. He founded a

Football and singing could give girl soldiers a second chance in Congo - charity

"All they wanted was to be like all the other girls, they just wanted to be accepted and have friends" By Adela Suliman LONDON, Jan 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Playing football, singing in the church choir or talking to a trusted confidant could do more to help girl soldiers recover from traumatic experiences in Democratic Republic of Congo than traditional humanitarian projects, a charity said. Girls fleeing armed groups in DRC face stigma and rejection from friends and family when they return, and working on simple initiatives with local communities could help, said British charity Child Soldiers International (CSI). "We missed the mark a bit because the girls didn't need professional training or income-generating activities," Sandra Olsson of CSI told an audience in London on Thursday. "All they wanted was to be like all the other girls, they just wanted to be accepted and have friends." The charity interviewed more than 150 forme

Conflict in Congo has led to children being sexually abused and recruited as soldiers, finds Unicef

More than 3,000 boys and girls recruited by militias and armed groups over past year Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has displaced thousands of children  Kenny Katombe/Reuters At least 1.3 million people have been displaced in the Democratic Republic of  Congo by inter-ethnic violence and clashes between the regular army, militia and armed groups, according to a Unicef report. More than 800,000 children have been displaced in just two provinces - Tanganyika and South Kivu - with many facing sexual abuse or forced to serve as soldiers. The country is now home to one of the largest displacement crises in the world for children. Unicef  and its partners identified more than 800 cases of sexual abuse, although the true scale of sexual violence against children is believed to be much larger. More than 3,000 children have been recruited by militias and armed groups over the past year. Yves Willemot, the charity's head of communication in the  DRC

US, Somalia raid frees 30 children, some child soldiers killed in battle

STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. and Somalian troops recovered 30 children last week during a raid on an al-Shabab camp, but some child soldiers were killed during the confrontation, U.S. Africa Command said Wednesday. U.S. troops joined Somalian soldiers on the mission in the country’s Lower Shabelle region in an effort to free a group of children from an al-Shabab indoctrination camp, AFRICOM said. During the operation, the Somalian forces came under hostile fire. “The Somali forces returned fire in self-defense. In the ensuing firefight, five enemy combatants were killed and six were wounded,” AFRICOM said. Some of the enemy killed appear to have been younger than 18 years old, according to the military. U.S. troops were operating in an advisory capacity and did not fire their weapons, AFRICOM said. AFRICOM said it is supporting efforts to reunite the recovered children with their families. During the past year, AFRICOM has picked up the pace of operations in Somalia, w

Coalition hands over 27 child soldiers to Yemen

RIYADH: The Saudi-led military coalition fighting to uphold legitimacy in Yemen has handed over 27 child soldiers to the internationally recognised government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the Saudi government media office said on Thursday. The children were taken prisoner during fighting with the with the Iran-allied Al Houthi militia on the border of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh’s Centre for International Communication said, citing an unnamed official source. “Al Houthi coup militias are forcing Yemeni children and youths to fight, pushing them to battlefronts and using them in failed operations,” the statement said. It said that all the children were transported to Marib province in northern Yemen, which is under Yemeni government control. A coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia intervened in the Yemen conflict in March 2015 when Al Houthis advanced on the southern port city of Aden and forced Hadi and his government into exile in Saudi Arabia. Source:  http://

Assange lawyers go to court in bid to drop arrest warrant

FILE - In this May 19, 2017 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been in self imposed exile since 2012. Lawyers for Julian Assange on Friday Jan. 26, 2018, asked a British court to drop an arrest warrant for Assange, asserting that the warrant had "lost its purpose and its function", after Swedish prosecutors dropped the alleged sex offences case against him. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, FILE) LONDON (AP) — Lawyers for Julian Assange were asking a British court on Friday to drop a U.K. arrest warrant for the WikiLeaks founder, a move that would free him to leave the Ecuadorean embassy after more than five years. Assange's attorney says the warrant serves no purpose because he is no longer wanted for questioning in Sweden over alleged sex offenses. Swedish prosecutors dropped the case last year, saying there was no prospect of bringing Assange to Sweden in the foreseeable future.

Gun violence rocks US: 11 school shootings in 25 days as authorities seem powerless to prevent bloodshed

With 11 shootings so far this year, US schools once again find themselves vulnerable to spasms of gun violence that authorities seem powerless to prevent. >Washington: With 11 shootings so far this year, US schools once again find themselves vulnerable to spasms of gun violence that authorities seem powerless to prevent. A 15-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun at the start of the school day at a  Kentucky high school  on Tuesday, killing two students and wounding others. The day before, a teenager was wounded by a shot fired in her school cafeteria in Texas. Also Monday, a bullet grazed a 14-year-old boy in the parking lot of a New Orleans high school. Other recent incidents include shots aimed at a school bus in the state of Iowa, and incidents at a school in Seattle and at a southern California campus. The Kentucky shooting took place at Marshall County High School in the town of Benton. State police said the dead - a boy and a girl - were both 15 years ol

Turkey vows to expand Syria offensive east to Iraqi border

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vowing to expand Ankara's operation in a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria eastward, toward the frontier with Iraq. The announcement came as Erdogan spoke on Friday to his ruling-party officials in the capital, Ankara. Erdogan says the push into Afrin would stretch to the Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij and toward the border with Iraq, "until no terrorist is left." Manbij is held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, which Turkey considers a terrorist group and an extension of its own insurgent group. Pushing into Manbj would put Turkish troops in proximity to American soldiers there. Erdogan again slammed the United States, a NATO ally, for backing the Kurdish group, saying: "how can a strategic partner do such a thing to its strategic partner?" Source:

UN demands handover of Libya commander after new killings

Tripoli (AFP) - The United Nations demanded Thursday the immediate surrender of a Benghazi commander wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges after evidence emerged suggesting he had carried out new summary executions in Libya. UN demands handover of Libya commander after new killings Mahmoud al-Werfalli commands the Al-Saiqa Brigade based in Libya's second city and is loyal to military strongman Khalifa Haftar whose forces dominate the east of the North African country. When the ICC issued a warrant for Werfalli's arrest last August over summary executions in which at least 33 people were killed in 2016 and 2017, Haftar's forces insisted he was in their custody and would face a military trial. But video and photographs posted on social networks on Wednesday appeared to show him personally putting bullets to the heads of 10 prisoners at the site of deadly twin bombings in Benghazi the previous day. Witnesses said that Werfalli h

Travel security imperative to check terrorism: MoS PMO

DAVOS: Union Minister  Jitendra Singh  today said that  travel  security is imperative to check both domestic as well as cross-border  terrorism .  Addressing a workshop on "Shaping the Future of  Security  in Travel" during the  World Economic Forum  (WEF) here, he said that the procedures of security checks also need to be made easy, convenient and citizen-friendly.  "Travel security is imperative to check terrorism, both domestic terrorism as well as cross-country terrorism. This calls for not only constantly evolving new innovative methods to ensure security but also equally as much requires the  involvement  and vigilance on the part of the citizen," said Singh, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office.  He cryptically remarked that while holding a panel discussion over here on this subject, a similar group of crime promoters, somewhere, may also be holding a similar discussion as to how to negate the new methods of security check, according to

Mitigating the risk: The impact of terrorism on businesses

The changing nature of terrorism has impacted the world in many ways, today businesses need to understand the risk posed by terrorist attacks to their people, property and technology An unpredictable world In today’s volatile and unpredictable world, those who protect us from security threats such as terrorism can take a great deal of credit for successfully, and often unobtrusively, reducing our vulnerability to attack, as well as disrupting attacks. According to the US National Security Agency (NSA) over 50 potential terrorist attacks on the United States have been thwarted due to surveillance.   From sophisticated surveillance algorithms, highly-engineered security barriers disguised as public benches and significantly advanced online monitoring, the architects and implementers of protective security have undoubtedly made our lives safer.  According to a Vintech study, London is the second most watched city in the world, after Beijing, with 420,000 CCTV cameras.  Ch