Searchers in Peru located the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed in a snowy part of the southern Andes on Thursday. No survivors have been found, and those aboard included eight South Koreans, as well as three Europeans: a Dutchman, a Czech and a Swede. Local police say it is unlikely that any of them survived, while Armando Quispe, a mayor of a nearby town, said it could take up to 12 hours for the rescuers to reach the site of the crash.
Kurdish activist Abdelbasset Sida has been chosen as the new president of the Syrian National Council (SNC) during a meeting in Istanbul on Sunday, Reuters reported, citing the Council’s statement. Sida replaced Burhan Ghalioun, who lives in Paris and had presided over the opposition bloc since it was formed in August last year. Sida is in exile in Sweden and joined the SNC as an “independent activist.” Before the appointment, he was a member of the SNC’s executive bureau and headed the bloc’s human rights department.
A 6.0-magnitude earthquake has struck off Taiwan on Saturday, according to the US Geological Survey. The epicenter of the quake was located at a depth of 74km off the shore of Su’ao. There have been no immediate reports of damage or casualties. Taiwan is located in an area with frequent seismic activity. In 1999 a 7.6-magnitude earthquake there killed over 2,000 people and destroyed some 50,000 buildings.
A man living in Selma, California killed his wife and two children before taking his own life, local newspaper The Fresno Bee reports. At 6:15pm, police received a phone call from Avtar Singh, who said he had killed his wife and two children and was about to commit suicide. Police then called the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office to ask for assistance, as Singh had military experience, having served in his native India. Sheriff’s officials tried to call Singh, but he failed to respond. A SWAT team later found the dead bodies of Singh, his wife and two children. A wounded 17-year old teen was also found on scene and taken to hospital in critical condition.
North Korea says that “at present” it has no plans to conduct a nuclear weapons test, calling allegations of preparations for such a test a South Korean provocation. The so-called provocateurs are seeking to “rattle the nerves of the DPRK,” said an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman, as cited by Pyongyang's official news agency, KCNA. South Korean intelligence officials claim to have satellite images that prove the North has been making nuclear test preparations. After a failed ballistic rocket launch in April, the UN Security Council tightened sanctions against the North, bringing up speculations over whether the country will undertake another nuclear test. In 2006 and 2009, North Korea responded to UN sanctions with two nuclear tests.
Spain is on the verge of appealing to the EU for emergency bailout funds, becoming the fourth eurozone member to do so since the debt crisis began. Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the government would not act until it received reports on how much money the country would need to save its banks from collapsing under the weight of soured property investments. The IMF said it estimates that Spanish banks need at least a 40 billion-euro capital injection following a stress test it performed on the country's financial sector. Spain's economy is in its second recession in three years, and unemployment is nearly 25%.
A bailout for Spain's banks, once requested by Madrid, could amount to as much as 100 billion euro, EU sources say. Spain’s formal request for European aid could come during a conference call of eurozone finance ministers on Saturday. “The statement will mention 100 billion euro as an upper limit,” a diplomatic source told Reuters. Madrid wants help to recapitalize its banks.
A Greek far-right politician has threatened to sue two women whom he attacked during a live TV election debate. Ilias Kasidiaris, the spokesman for the Golden Dawn party, has been in hiding since Thursday. During the debate on that day, he slapped a left-wing politician in the face and threw water in the face of another woman. Kasidiaris said on Facebook on Saturday that he regretted becoming involved in the incident, Reuters reports. But he said the events that took place on Antenna TV were staged “with the sole aim of provoking an extreme reaction” on his part.
Afghanistan's president has said that the US failed to consult Afghan forces when calling in an airstrike that killed 18 civilians. Hamid Karzai met with investigators on Saturday and concluded that US military had called in Wednesday's strike without coordinating with Afghan colleagues, AP reports. The US and Afghanistan agreed in April that the Afghans are in charge of such operations. After the incident in Logar province, Karzai warned that in future Kabul will consider any such actions as violating the agreement.
Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels have mocked a US offer of up to $33 million for tip-offs enabling the arrest of their top leaders. The US had offered a $7 million bounty for information on where Shebab chief Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed is hiding. Another Shebab leader, Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, said on Saturday that the offer “will never dissuade us from continuing the holy war.” He said that whoever informs the rebels of the place where US President Barack Obama “can be found will get 10 camels,” AFP reports. The group offered “10 roosters and 10 hens” for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The State Department said earlier that the group is responsible for the killing of thousands of Somali civilians, international aid workers, journalists and peacekeepers.
Independent Republican groups are outspending their counterparts on television advertising in the campaigns for the White House and the Senate, recent figures show. The organizations aligned with the Republicans spent nearly $37 million on TV ads through the first few days of June, AP said. Most of their ads attacked President Barack Obama. Groups supporting the president spent about $11 million, with much of it from Priorities USA Action. David Axelrod, a top strategist for Obama, is expected to meet with potential donors to the group on Monday.
Thousands of London bus workers have voted to go on strike ahead of the 2012 Olympics. As they want a premium for working during game time, members of the Unite union on Saturday endorsed industrial action, AP said. The union is seeking a $775 bonus for each of the 20,000 bus workers. London's subway train drivers have already secured one-time payments. Those running the capital's bicycle rental network have also asked for bonuses.
Egypt will try on Tuesday for the second time to set up an assembly to compose a new constitution, the parliament speaker said on Saturday. In April, a court dissolved the previous assembly, saying it was dominated by Islamists and failed to fairly represent Egypt's diverse society. “We have invited the elected parliament members... to elect a 100-member assembly to prepare a new constitution for the state,” parliamentary speaker Saad al-Katatni said, as cited by Reuters. Islamists control around 70 per cent of parliament.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has no plans to become a military-political alliance, the Russian president’s envoy for SCO affairs Kirill Barsky said on Saturday. Although security is a priority, the organization’s constitutional documents “clearly stipulate that the SCO is not a military-political union,” Barsky, an ambassador at large, said, as cited by Itar-Tass. The organization’s military cooperation and antiterrorist exercises “don’t involve activity envisaging the setting up of military-political unions,” he said.
At least five people were killed after new fighting broke out in southern Libya on Saturday between members of the Toubou minority and government forces. Tribal chief Issa Abdelmajid said the Toubou quarter of the town of Kufra came under shelling in the morning by the Libya Shield Brigade, AFP said. The brigade comprises former rebels under government control sent to quell previous ethnic fighting. Brigade commander Wissam Ben Hmid confirmed the fighting, saying his men had responded to a Toubou attack.
Syrian rebels warned they would free 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims taken hostage when their country establishes a new “civil state.” The pilgrims will be released “by the Syrian civil state when their case is reviewed by a new democratic parliament,” said a written statement in a video shown on Al Jazeera television. Some of the hostages in Syria's northern Aleppo province were shown saying that they were healthy and were treated like guests, Reuters said. The rebels said that it may be possible to negotiate the release with neighboring countries.
Islamabad on Saturday rejected US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's comments on militants’ safe havens in Pakistan. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry accused Panetta of oversimplifying complex issues “we are all dealing with in our efforts against extremism and terrorism.” The Pakistani diplomats described the statements as “misplaced and unhelpful in bringing about peace and stability in the region.” Panetta said on Thursday that stabilization efforts in Afghanistan would remain difficult as long as militants had safe havens in Pakistan.
Five bomb explosions at a northern Iraqi oil field damaged two pipelines on Saturday morning. The pipelines transport oil from the Bai Hassan field in the Kirkuk province to the Ceyhan pipeline that exports crude via Turkey. “It was a terrorist attack,” said Abid Hassan, mayor of the Dibis district, as cited by AFP. The blasts have not affected the export of oil, state-owned North Oil Company said.
Four international service members have been killed in an insurgent attack in Afghanistan's east, NATO forces say. The attack happened on Saturday in Kapisa province, which is mainly patrolled by a French contingent. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that a suicide bomber attacked the troops, AP said.
The Indian Army and police have rescued around 400 people trapped in landslides at Khardung La Pass, a high mountain pass located in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. 150 vehicles carrying passengers including women and children had been trapped since Friday evening in in multiple landslides along a stretch of 10 km, media reports say. Some 120 people were administered oxygen, and many passengers complained of mountain sickness.
Gunmen shot and killed four police officers who were guarding a railway track in southwestern Pakistan on Saturday. Earlier, local authorities were alerted about plots to plant bombs targeting trains along the route. The attack took place on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of the troubled Baluchistan province, AP reports. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. On Thursday, a bomb planted outside a seminary in Quetta killed 14 people.
Syrian troops shelled the southern city of Deraa overnight, killing at least 17 people, activists said on Saturday. The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad erupted in the town 15 months ago. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported fighting in Deraa between the army and rebels after the shelling, Reuters said. Explosions were heard overnight in the capital Damascus after fighting between rebels and security forces. The main road south from Damascus to Deraa was reportedly blocked by burning tires.
China will launch three astronauts in mid-June to dock with an orbiting experimental module, the Xinhua news agency said on Saturday, citing a space program spokesman. The three-member crew might include the country’s first female space traveler. A rocket carrying the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft was moved to a launch pad in China's desert in the northwest on Saturday. The crew will dock with the Tiangong 1 orbital module launched last year.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of an appeal filed by 17 news groups to make executions in the state of Idaho more accessible. A federal court had previously rejected a petition by those groups to strike down portions of Idaho’s regulations that prevent witnesses, excluding a limited number of reporters, from watching executions until after the catheters have been inserted into the hands of death row inmates.
A mob of several hundred men attacked a rally held to protest sexual harassment on Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Fifty women participated in the demonstration, surrounded by a protective ring of a larger number of men. The assailants penetrated the ring and started groping and heckling the women. A brawl broke out after the guardian men responded. Many women tried to flee, but were pursued by the gang. Some ended up cornered by a metal sidewalk railing, and the attackers proceeded to shove their hands down their clothes and grip their bags. Other women were able to hide in a nearby building. Many human rights groups are wary of an Islamist takeover, which could be detrimental to gender equality rights.
Rating agency Moody’s is considering downgrading debt ratings for some European countries in the event that Greece leaves the eurozone and Spain asks for a bailout. The agency said it was prepared to make changes to reflect any heightened risk posed to Spain’s creditors. It also noted that Greece’s abandonment of the euro would pose a credit risk to many other nations within the eurozone, with Cyprus, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain being at most risk.
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has called for a more unified European banking system, including the creation of a supervision apparatus and a bank resolution authority. Lagarde noted that these should go hand-in-hand with fiscal integration, and that the solution to the ongoing sovereign debt crisis lay with greater European integration.
Hundreds of people attended a rally called the "Friday of Isolating Ahmed Shafiq" to protest the presidential candidate, who managed to gain enough votes to make it to the runoff of the election. The turnout at the rally was somewhat disappointing as organizers hoped for crowds of at least several thousand to attend the event. The demonstration was held as Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential hopeful, and Shafiq’s only opponent in the coming round of the vote, tried to garner support from the failed presidential candidates, with many of them saying they would endorse neither candidate. Shafiq, a former minister under ousted President Mubarak, and Morsi, a Western-educated Islamist, qualified for the second round of the presidential vote last month.
Ukrainian police cleared a brawl involving Russian soccer fans at the edge of the viewing area in the city of Lviv in the west of the country. The altercation broke out after Russia beat the Czech Republic 4-1 in the Polish city of Wroclaw in one of the first games of the UEFA Euro 2012 soccer tournament, held in Poland and Ukraine. What sparked the skirmish is unclear, though one of those involved was wearing a Ukrainian nationalist t-shirt. No injuries or arrests have been reported.