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24 April, 2011


NATO bombings put Libyan TV temporarily off air

­The night air strikes on Tripoli have resulted in three national TV channels stopping broadcasting. The attack targeted several facilities in the center of the capital. Transmissions by Libya TV, al Jamahiriya, and al Shabab were interrupted for approximately half an hour.


Earthquake measuring 5.1 shakes Japan’s Honshu

­The eastern coast of Japan’s Honshu Island has sustained a powerful 5.1-magnitude aftershock, reports US Geological Survey. The earthquake occurred at 22:06 GMT, 32.5 km under the Pacific seabed, 121 km from Tokyo. There have been no reports of damage or tsunami threat.


Hijack attempt on Paris-Rome flight foiled

­At about 21:30 a passenger described as being in a state of nervous agitation is reported to have attacked a flight attendant on Alitalia flight AZ329 traveling from Paris to Rome. The man threatened the female attendant with a blade and demanded the plane change course and head for the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Four attendants managed to overpower the passenger, reportedly a citizen of Kazakhstan. He was then handed over to police on arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino airport. The flight attendant sustained minor cuts to her neck, while none of the 131 passengers on board was harmed.


Libyan opposition receives $180 million from Kuwait

­Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chief of the Libyan Transitional National Council, declared on Sunday that the council has received $180 million from Kuwait. "His Highness the Emir gave us a financial grant valued at 50 million Kuwaiti dinar. This amount will help us a lot in paying the salaries of employees who did not receive their little salaries for two months," said Jalil as cited by Reuters. Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, Kuwait's Foreign Minister, promised Kuwait would provide large and urgent humanitarian aid to Libya through the National Council. On April 4, Kuwait became the second Arab state after Qatar to officially recognize the Libyan rebel forces.


Death toll reaches 500 in post-election clashes in Nigeria

The death toll for the post-electoral violence in Nigeria has now reached 500, according to a human rights watch organization. Since the poll on April 16, which resulted in victory for Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian candidate from the south, some 40,000 people have been forced to flee their homes through fear of violence. The violence hot spot is located in northern Nigeria, where the majority of the population support Jonathan’s defeated rival, Muhammad Buhari. Buhari claims the elections were rigged and has called for demonstrations, which have plunged the country into chaos.


Reforms promised, but protesters demand more in Morocco

­Thousands took to the streets of Morocco on Sunday in peaceful demonstrations to demand sweeping reforms and an end to political detention, the third day of mass protests since they began in February, according to Reuters. Despite the authorities having already announced some reforms to quell demands that King Mohammed cede more powers and limit the monarchy's extensive business influence, the protests have not eased. Some 10,000 people joined the protest in Casablanca, the largest city of one of the West's staunchest Arab allies. Marchers in the capital Rabat also denounced corruption and torture as well as unemployment, which is very high among youths.


N. Korea to wipe out US and S. Korea if provoked

North Korea has again threatened to destroy the US and South Korea if any provocation from the allies poses a threat to Pyongyang. The isolated communist state issued its latest war rhetoric on the eve of its army's anniversary. North's military knows no mercy and will “wipe out” the allies if they ignite a war, army minister was quoted as saying Sunday. The United States and South Korea launched annual joint drills in late February. Some parts of the training are still underway. North Korea has repeatedly threatened war over the drills, which it views as preparation for an attack.


Roadside bomb blast on Easter wounds 4 near church in Iraq

Four policemen and three civilian bystanders have been wounded after a roadside bomb exploded in Baghdad. The blast struck a police car near the entrance to a Catholic church in the city's central district. Shrapnel from the bomb struck the outside of the building, reports say. It is the second attack on a Christian target in Iraq in the last six months. As the whole Christian world is celebrating Easter Sunday the blast appears even more dramatic. Iraqi Christians have faced a recent wave of violence, including an attack last year against a Baghdad church that killed 68 people.


US senator calls for direct strike on Gaddafi inner circle

­A Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee has stated that NATO should bomb Muammar Gaddafi's inner circle and military headquarters to put paid to the Libyan stalemate. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says the quickest way to end the stalemate is “to cut the head of the snake off.” The UN Security Council authorized military action to protect Libyan civilians and to impose a no-fly zone. However the imposed resolution did not specify which party the coalition shall protect in the conflict, rather stressing civilians should be under the UN shield. Initially both US and the coalition forces insisted they do not aim to topple the regime of Gaddafi, while at the moment Western powers tend to state Gaddafi must leave for the conflict to be resolved.


Saleh agrees to go away some day, opposition wants it now

Yemen’s opposition rejected Sunday the president's exit plan proposed by government and international organizations on Saturday. Thousands of protesters in the Arabian country’s capital are demanding that Ali Abdullah Saleh step down immediately. The people fear the handover plan drawn up by the Gulf Co-operation Council may just be a maneuver for Saleh to keep power, sharing it with opposition powers. Yemen’s president agreed Saturday to the plan, which implies he is to submit his resignation to parliament within 30 days, with a presidential vote to be held within two months. Mass street protests in Yemen have been going on since January, with about 130 people killed in clashes between the opposition and loyalists.


Hundreds demand full halt to Japan’s nuke program

Several hundred people have marched through the center of Tokyo in another wave of protests against nuclear power generation. Most of the protesters demanded a full switch to clean, natural energy sources. Demonstrations against nuclear power have become regular in the last several weeks after a tsunami heavily damaged the Fukushima power plant, which led to a major radiation leak. They are also calling for the dissolution of TEPCO, the operator of the crippled Fukushima-1 nuke plant. Since 1973, nuclear energy has been a national strategic priority in Japan, as the nation is heavily dependent on imported fuel, with imports accounting for 61 per cent of energy production. A survey conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2005 demonstrated 61 per cent of Japanese support the current nuclear program, while only 15 per cent feel nuclear power is too dangerous and that all the plants in Japan should be shut down.


Russian anti-virus software mogul son’s kidnappers caught

The suspects who allegedly kidnapped the son of the Russian famous anti-virus software system developer, Evgeny Kaspersky, have been detained by police on Sunday. The five detainees include the possible organizer of the kidnapping. Their names are not being released for the sake of investigation. Ivan Kaspersky, a 20-year-old student at Moscow State University, allegedly went missing on Tuesday. On Thursday it was reported that he had been kidnapped, and that the criminals had demanded 3 million euros for his release. The ransom was reportedly paid, though no official comments were given by the Kaspersky company.


Cambodia accuses Thailand of chemical weapon usage, Thai army denies

­Despite accusations from the Cambodian side, Thailand has denied its troops used toxic weaponry in the recent deadly clashes over the disputed border area hosting a famous Hindu holy place, Bloomberg reports Sunday. Heavy guns and mortars were allegedly used in the battles, and thousands of civilians had to flee their homes. Cambodia also accuses Thai commanders of involving aviation and cassette bombs. Bangkok has officially denied all the accusations, saying there are no grounds for such accusations. The death toll of the latest clashes has reached ten. Earlier, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially called for immediate ceasefire in the conflict.


Massive wildfires engulf 4,500 hectares in Siberia

Wildfires in Russia’s Siberia are becoming more and more intense, with more than 4.500 hectares already in flames and 62 fires spotted in the area, according to reports Sunday. The main cause of the fires has been labeled by the Emergencies Ministry as the “actions of the residents,” who usually burn dry grass in spring, causing major blazes. Thousands of firefighters are involved in the localization operations, and special units are being used. The fourth level of fire hazard has been declared in several districts.


Fifty-five rebels killed in clashes in South Sudan

At least 55 rebels have been killed and many others wounded in the recent clashes in the world’s newest independent state – South Sudan, Agence France-Presse reports Sunday. Ahead of independence in July, South Sudan struggles to maintain security to avoid becoming a failed state and destabilize much of the region. The rebels accuse the southern government of corruption and nepotism, while neglecting development. More than 800 people have been killed this year in the clashes and traditional tribal conflicts. The south voted to separate from the north and form a new African nation in a January referendum that was promised to them as part of a 2005 peace deal ending decades of civil war in Sudan that claimed at least two million lives.


Over a million Muscovites take part in “neighborhood clean-up”

The traditional clean-up based on volunteer work has been carried out this weekend, with around 1.3 million Moscow citizens participating in it on Saturday alone. “Subbotnik”, or Saturday volunteer clean-up, is a Russian tradition that goes back to Soviet times and helps community service workers deal with the snow-melting season issues and clean the streets from litter and dust quickly. This year the Subbotnik was postponed because of the late spring. City authorities hope some 3,000 trees and 20,000 bushes will be planted after the two days of activity.


Sixty thousand in Siberian blackout

Forty-eight communities, including around 60,000 residents, have had their power supplies cut off in the extreme southern part of Russian Siberia on Sunday due to stormy winds, regional Emergencies Ministry office reports. A transmitter on the line was damaged, the rescuers say, which led to massive power cuts. Three brigades are deployed to restore the power supplies. The republic of Tyva, where the blackout happened, is situated in the far south of Siberia. Its capital city of Kyzyl is located near the geographical center of Asia.


Israeli settlers were attacked by mistake – agency

The fire opened at a car with Israeli people who were driving near the town of Nablus was caused by a inefficiency in co-ordination in the actions of the police, Palestine agency reports Sunday citing an official. The shooting left one dead and three wounded when a car of Israeli pilgrims was traveling on the West bank of the Jordan River. The official claims the incident happened due to lack of co-ordination between the Israeli and Palestinian law enforcement bodies, he also stated an investigation has been launched. Right after the shooting, Israeli troops blocked all entries to the city and now minor clashes between the police and military are reported. Clashes between Palestinian and Israeli population in Nablus are common as both claim a tomb located nearby to be a holy place.


Strong rain hits Brazil, 7 killed, thousands in blackout

Seven people are reported dead and five others remain missing after a severe rainstorm hit southern Brazil early Saturday, Latin American Herald Tribune newspaper reports Sunday. Torrential rains and winds of up to 74 kph caused flooding, landslides, toppled trees. 73,000 people were affected by the subsequent blackout. Firefighters and paramedics managed to rescue 20 people from the buried houses.


Ban Ki-moon calls for immediate ceasefire in Thai-Cambodian border conflict

­United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has called on Cambodia and Thailand to halt fighting along their disputed jungle border as troops exchange fire for a third day, according to Al-Jazeera. At least 10 soldiers have reportedly been killed and thousands of civilians forced to evacuate since fighting broke out on Friday after a previous ceasefire. Heavy shelling was clearly audible 20km away from the scene of the fighting on the Cambodian side, as those evacuated from their homes took refuge in schools and temples away from the clash.


Russian Kamchatka volcano Shiveluch spews ash again

A 7.5-km ash column is being observed over the currently active Shiveluch volcano, located in Russia’s Far East Kamchatka Region. The ash particles are registered in the air some 143 kilometers to the north-west from the volcano. An “orange” code is given to the eruption, meaning it is hazardous for air navigation. The volcano is dangerous for planes with this code declared, as the ash can cause engine stalls and other problems. Shiveluch is one of the largest and most active volcanoes in the Kamchatka Region. The volcano became active in 2009. Since then, several seismic events have been registered in the region, indicators of possible major eruptions.


Sai Baba, world-renowned Indian guru dies at 85

Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian spiritual leader and one of the country's most famous gurus, has died in hospital, Al-Jazeera reports. Sai Baba passed away on Sunday morning at the age of 85 due to cardio-respiratory disease, after more than three weeks in critical condition. Thousands of the guru's followers gathered at the hospital where he was under treatment in his hometown of Puttaparthi, southern Andhra Pradesh. The Indian guru has millions of followers across the world.


Japan to deploy 25,000 troops in new search action

Japan plans to send around 25,000 soldiers into its northern disaster zone on Monday in a new mission to recover the bodies of those killed in last month’s earthquake and tsunami. More than 12,000 people are still considered missing and presumed dead from the two disasters that hit March 11. Some were likely swept out to sea, while others are buried under the debris. About 14,300 are officially confirmed dead. Defense Ministry spokesman Ippo Maeyama said Sunday the military would send 24,800 soldiers to carry out a two-day search of the area. Police, coast guard and US troops will also be involved. Agriculture officials also plan to enter the evacuation zone around a stricken nuclear plant to check the fate of hundreds of thousands of animals abandoned by fleeing farmers.


Somali pirates release Greek ship after getting ransom

­The Greek bulk carrier The Eagle, with 24 Filipino crew members aboard, has been released after the company that owned the ship paid a ransom to the pirates.

The amount paid has not been disclosed, but it is thought to be a substantial sum for a ship of its age – the carrier is 25 years old.

The Eagle was captured in the Gulf of Aden in January on its way from Jordan to India.

The pirates are currently believed to be holding a total of 49 ships and 763 sailors captive.


Cambodia accuses Thailand of using chemical weapons

­The Cambodian authorities have accused the Thai army of shelling its territory with poison gas munitions in the current round of border skirmishes that started in February. They also claim the Thai air force has taken part in the conflict and used munition dispensers.

Clashes on the Thai-Cambodian border have occurred frequently since 2009. The main bone of contention involves several ancient temples that both sides lay claim to.

The border between the countries then known as Siam and French Indochina was defined in the period between 1897 and1907, but a detailed demarcation of the borderline has never been carried out.


Armenians remember 1915 genocide in Turkey

­A march was held on Saturday evening in the Armenian capital Yerevan in memory of the 1.5 million Armenians killed in Turkey 96 years ago. Younger participants in the demonstration burnt Turkish national flags.

Turkey has always denied all allegations of genocide, although the extermination of the Armenian diaspora in Turkey in the early 20th century has been recognized by many countries including Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and many others. Out of 50 American states 42 have acknowledged and condemned this act of genocide, making April 24 the memorial day to the victims of Armenian Genocide.