Al Qaeda-linked extremists in Mali who have already destroyed three ancient mausoleums in the town of Timbuktu, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, vow to completely demolish the unique shrines. "We're going to destroy everything before we apply Shariah in this city," the spokesman for the Ansar Dine group said on Sunday, AP reports. The move had already been condemned by the international community with the International Criminal Court calling it a “war crime.” The extremists are threatening to destroy all 333 shrines, 16 of which are recognized as part of the World Heritage Site. Ansar Dine, “the Defender of the Faith”, consider the Sufi mausoleums idolatrous.
As tensions rise between Damascus and Ankara, Turkey has sent six fighter jets to the Syrian border. The move is seen as a response to three incidents on Saturday when Syrian helicopters came close to the border. This follows the downing of a Turkish fighter jet last month by Syria after it briefly crossed the country's border. Ankara claimed the plane was unarmed and was just testing Turkish radars. In response to the downing of the plane, Turkey began deploying artillery along its border with Syria. Damascus meanwhile insists it was just protecting its security.
Yemeni authorities have foiled an Al-Qaeda plan to carry out at least 13 attacks against foreign diplomats, embassies and senior military and government officials, AP reports, citing a high-ranking Yemeni security official. According to information obtained from captured Al-Qaeda members, sleeper cells were plotting a string of assassinations, bombings and abductions of foreign diplomats in the capital Sanaa, as well as in restive southern cities. Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi had already met with top security officials to discuss the new information. The report comes as the Yemeni army, backed by the US, has been trying to uproot Islamist insurgents in the south of the country for the past two months.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sent a letter to Egypt’s newly elected President Mohammed Morsi urging peace between the two countries, AFP reports. Report says the letter congratulated Morsi on his victory and expressed hope that both parties will observe the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
About 300 armed protesters have broken into the office of the National Election Commission in Benghazi, Libyan, reports Reuters. The men, calling for greater autonomy for Libya's east, took computers and ballot boxes out of the building and broke and burned them outside. The incident took place several days before Libya is to hold its first election since the popular uprising which ousted Muammar Gaddafi from power last year.
At least 62 people have died in floods and landslides caused by monsoon rains, which have been pouring on north-east India for over a week, Associated Press reports. More than 2,000 villages have been flooded in Assam state. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. Some 480,000 people have sought shelter in government-run relief camps. Authorities say the flood is the strongest since 2004.
Tunisia’s Defense Ministry has declared the Sahara desert area a “closed military zone.” An announcement stated that special authorization will now be required to enter the territory. Permits are needed for those wishing to visit so that they can be protected, according to the ministry. More than 5,500 tourists visited the Tunisian Sahara in May.
Texts used at the exhibition for Israel's national Holocaust memorial have been amended after the original versions upset the Vatican by implying that Pope Pius XII had not do enough to help. A spokesman from Yad Vashem, the museum and memorial in Jerusalem, said the display was updated following new research, adding that the new display "better shows the complexity of the issue." The text of the memorial now acknowledges that the Pope`s neutrality in the war allowed church members to carry out some secret rescue activities. However, the text also references those critics of Pius who said he could have done more.
Israel's Supreme Court has granted the state a four-month extension to remove apartment blocks built illegally in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. The five homes in the Ulpana neighborhood of the Beit El settlement were to be torn down by July 1. The families who lived in the buildings moved out last week to temporary accommodations nearby. The Supreme Court says the demolition can be delayed until November 15 now that the buildings are empty.
The declaration adopted in Geneva means the end of president Assad`s rule, said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. The text agreed upon in Geneva proposes that a transitional government take power in Syria to end the conflict. The measure implies that Assad must go, Fabius declared in a televised interview. Moscow, however, maintains that the final text of the declaration does not order Assad to step down.
Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators have gathered on the streets of Hong Kong to protest against the 15th anniversary of Chinese rule. Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the city earlier, swearing in businessman CY Leung as the territory's new leader. According to different estimates, between 65,000 and 400,000 people gathered to protest against growing social gap and mounting real estate prices. Beijing has a "one country, two systems" policy with Hong Kong, where residents are allowed more political freedoms than the Chinese mainland. However, protesters complain that Hong Kong authorities loyal to Beijing only elect candidates chosen by the state.
Kenyan police have reported 17 dead, including two police officers, and 45 wounded in a double terror act on churches. Seven masked militants attacked two churches in Garissa, the capital of the North Eastern Province of Kenya. They threw grenades inside of the Catholic Church and the African Inland Church and then opened fire from sub-machine guns. The town of Garissa serves as a base for the Kenyan army units operating against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants in neighboring Somalia. There have been no claims of responsibility for the terror attack so far.
Egypt has secured an agreement with the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to get $1 billion to finance energy projects and food imports to Egypt. The agreement was signed on Sunday in Cairo by Waleed Abdul Mohsen al-Wohaib, chief executive officer of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, a part of the IDB. Egypt is also currently in talks with the International Monetary fund to secure $3.2 billion in funds.
5 miners died from smoke inhalation on Saturday at the KDC west mine in South Africa, Gold Fields mining company announced in a statement on Sunday. Reuters reports that 14 miners were admitted to the hospital after the incident, while Frans Baleni, the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, strongly condemned the company for “sending workers on an overtime night shift when there is no ventilation." South African gold mines are the deepest in the world, and Gold Fields is the world’s fourth largest gold producer.
Kenyan police report at least 10 people dead and over 40 wounded after blasts rocked two churches in the city of Garissa, the capital of the North Eastern Province of Kenya.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sent a letter to Egypt’s newly elected President Mohamed Morsi, according to reports. The letter congratulated Morsi on his election, and re-iterated Israel’s desire to continue peaceful relations. "Israel values the democratic process in Egypt and respects the results of the presidential election," Netanyahu said in an earlier statement. "Israel hopes to continue cooperation with the Egyptian government on the basis of the peace treaty." Israel has been wary of the events in Egypt, concerned that the new government could destabilize the treaty.
A man has opened fire outside a nightclub in the northern city of Lille, killing two people and injuring five, report police. The man, who had been refused entry into the club returned later in the evening with a heavy-caliber gun. Police are now searching for the gunman.
A bomb has struck a bus-load of people in Afghanistan’s Ghanzi province, killing five people and injuring 11 more, say local police. The bomb went off on Sunday morning as the bus ferried people from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar. Women and children were both reportedly among the dead.
A drone attack has struck a house near the Pakistani border with Afghanistan, killing eight suspected Islamic militants, report local officials. The strike happened in the northern tribal region of Waziristan in Shawal valley where militants had reportedly been operating. US remote drone attacks are a bone of contention for Pakistan, who brand them as illegal and an affront to their national sovereignty.
At least 85 people have been killed when a car bomb exploded during a funeral procession Saturday evening in the Syrian town of Zamalka, the Los Angeles Times reports. People had gathered in the town near Damascus to honor a resident who had been killed earlier in the day, said local activist Abu Omar, who attended the funeral. The car bomb went off as the procession passed a mosque.
Iceland’s President Olafur Grimsson is projected to win the presidential elections having gathered 52.5 per cent of the votes so far, Reuters reports, citing initial results released on Saturday. Grimsson, famous for his defiance of Britain and the Netherlands over massive debts from a bank crash, faced competition from Thora Arnorsdottir, 37, a local television journalist. The 69-years-old incumbent president also opposes joining the European Union. He angered the British and the Dutch by refusing to pay about $5 billion in compensation for their bailout of local savers in 2008’s banking collapse. The Icelandic presidency is a largely ceremonial post.