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16 September, 2012


Soyuz departs ISS

­The Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft with the international trio onboard, Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin, as well as NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba, who have spend more than 4 months has landed in Kazakhstan. Expedition 32 Commander Padalka ceremonially handed over control of the space station to Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams in the Destiny laboratory on Saturday afternoon during the traditional Change-of-Command Ceremony, NASA reported.


S. African police disperse strikers

­Police in South Africa have blocked a miner protest after a security crackdown following turbulent strikes in August in the country's platinum-rich northern region. No clashes or injuries were reported after bulletproof trucks and riot police prevented the demonstration's movement on a police station, a day after officers used rubber bullets to disperse workers in the nearby strike-hit Lonmin mine, where several people were injured. Following government orders to stop the strikes, police and the army raided residences, confiscating piles of weapons. Sunday marked a month since the deadly bloodshed at Lonmin, in which a total of 45 people were killed. Lonmin executives are due to resume talks on Monday with strikers who rejected a pay rise offer last week.


Soldier killed as militants attack Egyptian security headquarters in Sinai

An Egyptian soldier has been killed and eight people injured as Islamic militants attacked Egypt’s security headquarters in northern Sinai on Sunday with mortar bombs and machine guns. There were also clashes with police elsewhere in the desert region, which wounded three conscripts. Ten militants were arrested by the government forces. Egyptian forces last month began their biggest security sweep in decades in Sinai after militants killed 16 border guards on August 5.


Syria says Turkey let al-Qaeda over the border

­Syria has accused Turkey of allowing thousands of Muslim extremists to cross the border into the country. In a letter sent to UN Security Council and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Syria's Foreign Ministry said Turkey let "thousands of al-Qaeda, Takfiri and Wahhabi terrorists" enter Syrian territory to "kill innocent Syrians, blow up their properties and spread chaos and destruction."


Greece needs until 2016 to fully implement austerity – PM

­Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says Athens would benefit if the crisis-stricken country were allowed four years instead of just two to implement further austerity measures. "We are talking about an extension to 2016," he told the Washington Post. Samaras stressed that exiting the eurozone would be a “catastrophe” for Greece. Athens is yet to finalize spending cuts worth 11.5 billion euro ($15.1 billion) intended to take place over the next two years. This is required for the EU country to qualify for the next 33.5-billion euro installment of its second 130-billion euro bailout.


New Somalian president sworn in days after assassination attempt

­Hassan Skeikh Mohamud was inaugurated Sunday in Mogadishu, the Somalian capital, four days after surviving an attempt on his life. In his inauguration remarks, Mohamud pledged a democratic course for the country, but stated that security remains Somalia’s paramount issue. Mohamud won a general election the previous week, beating outgoing President Sheik Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who had been leading a transitional government for the past three years. The election results were condemned by Islamist militants, who said it was manipulated by the West. The al-Shabab group, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the failed suicide bombing whose planners had hoped would kill Mohamud.


Netanyahu: Iran 6-7 months away from nuclear bomb

­Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with NBC on Sunday that by mid-2013, Tehran will have 90 percent of the enriched uranium needed for an atomic bomb. Netanyahu again urged the US to set a clear "red line" for Iran's nuclear program, “before it is too late.” President Barack Obama has refused to meet with Netanyahu later this month, citing the upcoming November elections. US authorities believe Iran needs at least another year before it can build a nuclear bomb; there are also no reports that Iran has made the decision to move towards 'breakout' capacity for such weapons.


Up to 50 arrested in Libya over killing of US ambassador

­Libyan authorities arrested some 50 people for the killing of US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans during an assault on the US consulate in Benghazi last week. The head of the Libyan parliament said that several of those arrested were foreign nationals from Mali, Algeria and other countries. Others were affiliates and sympathizers. Libyan officials claimed that the attack was planned by people “who entered the country a few months ago,” and that the amateur US-made anti-Islamic film 'Innocence of Muslims' was used as a pretext for the attack.


Tripoli air traffic controllers strike over pay dispute – airport official

Air traffic controllers at Libya's Tripoli International Airport staged a strike over wages Sunday, delaying flights in the capital and other cites, the airport’s director told Reuters. The strike affected the airports in both Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi, where some flights receive directions from Tripoli's air traffic controllers. A Qatar Airways flight en route to Benghazi was diverted to Alexandria, Egypt, as a result of the strike. The airport director said that negotiations with the striking workers are currently underway. The strike came after Benghazi's airspace was briefly closed for security reasons on Friday, following an attack on the US consulate earlier in the week that killed the US ambassador to the country and three other Americans.


Iran may abandon Non-Proliferation Treaty if attacked – top general

­Tehran may leave the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if it is targeted for military action, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard said Sunday. Jafari also made it clear that this was his personal opinion. “Iran may leave the NPT – but it would not mean a dash towards a nuclear bomb because we have a religious edict from the supreme leader,” he said. The NPT is meant to prevent the development of nuclear weapons, but permits atomic energy. Jafari also said that in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, Tehran could strike targets in Israel, close the Strait of Hormuz, a major shipping lane for Gulf oil, and attack US bases in the Middle East.


First Lady of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge freed

The most senior female member of the Khmer Rouge, Ieng Thirith, was freed by a UN-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, after it was determined she was not fit to stand trial. Doctors said that Thirith, 80, suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. Court spokesperson Yuko Maeda reported that Thirith was released "to her family." The former social affairs minister and sister-in-law of regime leader Pol Pot was accused of authoring some of the Khmer Rouge’s must extreme policies, which resulted in up to two million deaths during its 1970s reign. Thirith's husband, former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, remains on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Canada temporarily closes embassies in Egypt, Libya and Sudan

­Canada closed its embassies in Libya and Sudan on Sunday morning, citing continued safety concerns over violent anti-US protests in the countries. The missions may resume operations on Monday if the levels of violence decrease. In many Muslim countries, Sundays are work days. In Egypt, where the weekend takes place on Friday and Saturday, the Canadian embassy has been closed since Wednesday. The country is also considering suspending operations at its embassy in Tunisia. The decision to close the missions was made hours after the US announced it was evacuating its embassy in Tunis of all nonessential personnel and family members.


Man desecrates icon in Moscow’s main cathedral over Pussy Riot

­An elderly man visiting Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral doused one of the church's icons in ink. The cathedral is a major place of worship for Russian Orthodox Christians, and became part of international headlines after punk band Pussy Riot's infamous performance at the church. The man, who was born in Russia but resides in Germany, told police he is mentally ill. He claimed that the act of vandalism was revenge for the three members of Pussy Riot sentenced to jail for their February 'punk prayer' in the cathedral. It was not immediately clear which icon was desecrated, or how much damage was inflicted by the ink.


Roadside bomb in Turkey kills 8 police

Eight Turkish police officers died in a roadside bomb explosion in the country's southern province of Bingol, officials said. Nine officers were also wounded in the blast, which struck a police service bus in the Karliova district. Sources claimed that Turkey’s separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party (KKP) was responsible for the attack.


S. African police disperse striking miners

More than 1,000 workers protesting low wages and substandard conditions at a South African mine were peacefully dispersed by police. The strikers gathered outside the Marikana mine in the town of Rustenburg, but were prevented from demonstrating by a row of armored police trucks. The incident came amid a month of protests that began when police shot and killed 34 striking workers at the mine.


15 killed by roadside bomb in Pakistan

­Fifteen people were killed, including two children, and 12 others were wounded when a roadside bomb struck a van in Pakistan's northwestern region of Jardol near the Afghan border. The vehicle was headed from a border village to the town of Munda. Roadside bombs are often used in Pakistan's tribal regions, where militants can easily cross the country's border with Afghanistan. It is unknown why a civilian vehicle was targeted in the attack.


US orders evacuation of embassies in Sudan and Tunisia

The US State Department evacuated its embassies in Tunisia and Sudan and ordered all nonessential personnel to leave, citing security concerns over rising anti-US violence in the Muslim world. Washington warned American citizens in Tunisia to use extreme caution and avoid protesters. The State Department also deemed the terrorism threat in Sudan “critical,” and is requesting that US citizens travel in armored vehicles and ask for permission to go anywhere outside the capital of Khartoum.


Afghans kill 4 alliance troops in insider attack – NATO

Renegade Afghan police officers killed four NATO troops in an attack in the country’s South, alliance forces reported. The attack occurred early Sunday morning and was "suspected to involve members of the Afghan police." Eight alliance servicemembers died over the weekend in so-called ‘green-on-blue’ killings.


Japan warns China as protests enter second day

China "must strictly be on guard to prevent harm to Japanese citizens and companies", Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told Fuji TV on Sunday, as anti-Japanese protests swept the mainland for the second day. The protests erupted Saturday after the Japanese government decided to buy the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea from a private Japanese owner. China, Japan, and Taiwan have all claimed the island territories, which may contain oil reserves.


Roadside bomb in Pakistan kills 12 near Afghan border

Twelve people died when a roadside bomb struck a truck carrying villagers to a market in northern Pakistan near the Afghanistan border, police officials reported. Women and children were among the dead and seven more people were injured in the incident, which took place in Pakistan's Lower Dir region. The army has stepped up its presence in the area since 2009, but the border zone remains a hotbed for insurgent attacks.


Taliban destroyed six Harrier warplanes in airfield attack

­Six Harrier fighter jets were destroyed during a Taliban attack on military airfield in Afghanistan on Friday, the UK Defense Ministry reported. The insurgents wore US Army uniforms and were armed with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and suicide vests. The attack also reportedly destroyed three refueling stations and damaged the hangars housing the aircraft. Earlier reports indicated that two US Marines were killed in the attack.


Iran guided by ‘leadership of fanaticism’ - Netanyahu

­Peaceful methods of restraining Iran will not work, because Tehran is “guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with NBC. "You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?" he asked, reiterating the theory that Iran is close to acquiring a nuclear bomb. In the last few months Washington and Tel Aviv have split over whether to give economic sanctions and diplomacy time to work before attacking Iran.


More than a dozen detained in OWS march

­More than a dozen people have been taken into custody at an Occupy Wall Street march in New York. Around 300 people took the streets of lower Manhattan to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the movement. The march came on the first of three days of planned events. The official anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement is Monday, September 17th.


Anti-Japan protests hit China second day running

­Massive demonstrations against Japan over its control of disputed East China Sea islands hit more than two dozen cities in China, occasionally turning violent. Protesters burned Japanese flags and clashed with paramilitary police at the Japanese Embassy. The angry mobs threw rocks, bottles, eggs and traffic cones at the embassy. Many fear that the increased violence could backfire ahead of a Communist Party leadership succession.


Belgian police detain 120 anti-US protesters

­Roughly 120 demonstrators have been arrested during an anti-US protest in the Belgian city of Antwerp, local police said. Violence erupted after police blocked protesters from the city’s main road. Authorities had to use “pepper spray and batons, but no one was injured,” a police spokesman told the Het Laatste Nieuws daily. Those arrested had been taken to police stations for identity checks and were later released. Earlier on Saturday, 150 protesters were detained for identity checks after they staged a protest near the US Embassy in Paris.