British police have opened a formal investigation into the sexual abuse of about 200 underage victims by several people, including former BBC star Jimmy Savile. He died last year at the age of 84. Following a fortnight of collecting information, the case status was changed from ‘assessment’ to a formal criminal investigation. The probe will look into the cases of those suspects who are still alive.
Elections to the Russian opposition ‘Coordination council’ start Saturday and are set to continue for two days. A demonstration in support of the elections is to take place in central Moscow. During the rally, opposition leaders are planning to inform the public on the coordination council’s future activity and also to demand the release of political prisoners.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron says he will veto the EU’s trillion euro budget for 2014-20 if no cuts to the current project are made. "It would not be acceptable to see a huge increase in spending when budgets are being cut," he said. The 27 EU members are to convene next month to discuss the draft budget. Cameron wants to slash at least 100 billion euros from the current estimates.
Former Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Al-Hariri, has accused Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad of being behind the killing of a top intelligence official in Beirut. A neighborhood in the Lebanese capital was rocked Friday by a massive explosion. Wissam al-Hassan, the head of the Information Branch of Lebanon's Internal Security Forces, is believed to be the target of the deadly attack. The car bomb took lives of at least 8 people and wounded over 118 others.
The CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington within 24 hours that the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was possibly carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset by an anti-Islamic film, US officials told the Associated Press. The Obama administration maintained publicly for a week that the September attack which claimed the life of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was carried out by an angry mob. Obama’s response to the attack has become a highly contentious issue in the run-up to the November presidential election.
Plumes of smoke have been seen rising from the City Mall shopping centre, in the Jordanian capital of Amman. The Associated Press initially reported an explosion but then said the ceiling of the mall has collapsed following a fire. No official figures on the number of dead or injured have been released.
The main trade unions in Spain on Friday called a general strike for November 14 to protest government austerity measures and labor reforms. The date coincides with similar demonstrations in Portugal and Greece. The strike called by the Workers’ Commissions and General Workers’ unions is the second to be held in Spain this year after a partially successful one held on March 29. The upcoming event will also be the first ever joint general strike in Iberian neighbors Spain and Portugal, AP quoted Fernando Lezcano, the spokesman for the Workers' Commissions, as saying. The General Workers’ union said the government-imposed “cuts are strangling the economy and dismantling our social model.”
At least three people have been injured and 2,000 evacuated after a leaking gas pipeline exploded in western Mexico. The fire broke out Thursday evening in the town of Zapotlanejo near a highway, AFP said. The pipe was reportedly ruptured by construction crews working in the area, and authorities had to close the road. Two firefighters and an employee of the state-owned energy company Pemex were injured. Officials expected to have the fire put out later Friday.
Gunmen have opened fire on a military convoy and at a hotel, killing at least one person and wounding two in Indian Kashmir, police said on Friday. The suspected insurgents attacked the convoy on the outskirts of Srinigar, then entered the grounds of the Silver Star hotel and continued firing. The three victims were hotel employees, AP reported. Police started a search operation. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both, with several rebel groups fighting Indian rule.
The situation in Mali poses an “immediate threat to the Sahel region as well as to the West, North Africa and to Europe,” EU leaders said on Friday. They discussed the crisis in Mali where radical Islamists have seized the north of the country, and threatened with sanctions against them. Targeted restrictive measures could be taken against those involved in the armed groups and those hindering the return to constitutional order, the EU statement said. African leaders on Friday discussed in Mali’s capital, Bamako, on Friday, details of a possible military operation against extremists. The EU pledged to examine support for the envisaged military force and speed up efforts to help reorganize and train the Malian defense forces.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has not yet received any appeals from Ekaterina Samutsevich, a member of the punk group Pussy Riot, RIA Novosti reported on Friday. Her lawyer Irina Khrunova said that a short complaint was sent to the court the previous day, where Samutsevich claimed violations of her right to freedom of expression, her prosecution and arrest following a guerilla performance at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February. Samutsevich, 30, and two other members of the group, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, were first sentenced to two-year jail term, but Samutsevich’s term was recently suspended. Khrunova said that even a suspended sentence breaches the European Convention, which guarantees freedom of speech. The lawyer also said that an extended complaint will be sent to the ECHR later.
Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai has been able to stand with help for the first time, doctors treating her at a British hospital said on Friday. Malala is also communicating by writing notes, according to Doctor Dave Rosser, the medical director at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. The girl was taken to that hospital from Pakistan on Monday after she was seriously wounded by the Taliban. “Malala Yousufzai's condition this morning is comfortable and stable,” the hospital said in a statement. “Malala's family remain in Pakistan at this time,” it added, as cited by AFP. A hospital spokeswoman said Malala was 15, not 14 as previously stated.
Twitter has agreed to remove French-language anti-Semitic messages that appeared at the micro-blogging site in recent days, the Jewish student union UEJF announced Friday. The UEJF threatened the previous day to seek an injunction against Twitter, AFP reported. The US company reportedly agreed to apply French law and remove offensive messages. On Thursday, Twitter said it had blocked a neo-Nazi group’s account at the request of German police.
A suicide bomber fleeing from the police in southeast Iran detonated his explosives, killing one person, reports Iranian state TV. The attack in the country’s troubled border region with Pakistan has been branded a “terrorist attack” by state press. The bomber was reportedly barred from entering a mosque service in the port of Chabahar by security guards. As he fled he set off the explosives.
Iraqi authorities have issued arrest warrants for the former Central Bank chief and other bank officials after a probe into corruption. Director Sinan al-Shibabi was ousted by the cabinet after the parliament accused bank officials of abusing dollar sales that could lead to the weakening of the dinar. Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, a spokesman for the judiciary council confirmed that the arrest warrant was issued.
The US forces in Japan have imposed a curfew and other restrictions for American military personnel following allegations that two US sailors raped a woman in Okinawa. Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker were in Okinawa on a brief stopover. Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella said Friday that military personnel in Japan will have to take “core values training,” AP reported. The military's liberty policy could also be reviewed. Angellela apologized for the case, which drew protests in Japan.
The Russian military successfully carried out combat training launch of a Topol RS-12M intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday. The missile launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the northern Arkhangelsk Region successfully reached a target at far eastern Kamchatka range, the Defense Ministry said. The warhead hit the target with a high accuracy over the Kura military ground in Kamchatka, Vadim Koval, the spokesman for Strategic Rocket Forces, told Interfax. The purpose of the launch was to confirm stability of Topol missiles' flight and technical characteristics under the plan to extend their service life to 24 years. The possibility of extending the missiles' service life to 25 years was also assessed.
Kuwait’s public prosecution ordered the detention of three former opposition MPs on Friday for three days. Falah al-Sawwagh, Bader al-Dahum and Khaled al-Tahus were questioned for nine hours on accusations of undermining the status of Kuwait’s ruler, AFP quoted defense lawyer Mohammad al-Jumaih as saying. They were later taken into custody around midnight. The detention was also extended for three more days of four opposition activists arrested on Monday during clashes of protesters with police. Hundreds of supporters of the opposition activists and former MPs reportedly gathered outside the Palace of Justice in Kuwait City in solidarity with them.
Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi denied all charges at his trial on Friday. He is accused of having sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his powers by putting pressure on police to release her. “I never had an intimate relationship of any kind with her,” he told the court, AFP reported. “I was sure she was 24, as she herself said,” he added.
At least 15 civilians were killed and 18 wounded by a blast from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's northern Balkh province, police said. They were traveling in a minibus to a wedding on Friday in Dawlat Abad district, police spokesman Shir Jan Durani said, as cited by AP. The group reportedly included men, women and children.
African and European leaders are meeting in Bamako on Friday to discuss the logistics of recapturing Mali’s desert north from Islamist militants. The UN Security Council passed a resolution a week ago giving West African nations 45 days to lay out details for a military intervention. Radical Islamist groups have controlled a vast region since a March coup in Mali, imposing a kind of Sharia law on their territory. The West African regional bloc ECOWAS could send up to 3,000 troops to recapture the area. France’s Defense Ministry expects African-led intervention within weeks and has pledged to provide logistical support for the operation.
Washington plans to invite Myanmar as an observer to the Cobra Gold military exercise next year, host country Thailand said on Friday. “Myanmar is on the list of observers but it’s not finalized yet,” Defense Ministry spokesman Col Thanathip Sawangsang said on Friday, as cited by AFP. The participation of Myanmar military may be approved later this month. The US’ largest multilateral exercise in the Asia-Pacific region annually brings together thousands of troops from the US, Thailand and other states. The proposal to invite Myanmar was reportedly Washington’s initiative.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has called for all sides in the Syria conflict to observe a ceasefire during the Islamic Eid ul-Adha festival next week. Speaking at an international conference in Ankara on Friday, the minister said such a ceasefire could be extended further. International envoy on Syria conflict Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to visit Damascus on Friday to try to broker a ceasefire.
A Bahraini policeman hurt in a roadside bombing during clashes with protesters overnight has died from injuries, the Interior Ministry said on Friday. He was one of two injured in the explosion of a homemade bomb, AFP reported, citing officials. The policemen were wounded in an explosion in Akar, a Shiite-populated village near the capital Manama. “One of them died” as a result of the wounds he suffered, the ministry said on its Twitter feed.
At least nine soldiers were killed after an Al-Qaeda suicide attacker set off an explosive-laden car inside a military base in southern Yemen early on Friday, a military official said. The militant drove through several military checkpoints and then entered the base of the Yemeni army’s 115th brigade in Abyan province, AFP reported. Other reports say at least 10 soldiers and 11 suspected militants were killed in the attack and at least 15 other soldiers were injured. The previous day, a drone strike killed at least seven Al-Qaeda members in the region.
Insurgents of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkish province of Agri have blasted gas pipeline delivering 27 million cubic meters of gas from Iran daily. Reportedly 28 Turkish soldiers deployed in the area were wounded as a result and hospitalized.
The head of the UN has called Hezbollah's drone launch into Israeli airspace earlier this month a "reckless provocation," AP reports. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also slammed Israel for using of drones and fighter jets in Lebanese territory, saying it violates Lebanon’s sovereignty. In a report submitted on Thursday, Ban also said militias like Hezbollah pose serious risks "to the stability of the country and the region" and urged the group to disarm.
Libyan Islamist leader, Ahmed Abu Khattala, has denied any involvement in the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi on September 11 that claimed the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, AFP reports. During an AFP interview, Khattala said US media suggestions that he was behind the attack were baseless. A report published on Wednesday, citing anonymous Libyan officials and witnesses, identified him as the commander behind the assault. "The report is a lie and all its contents are fabricated, baseless and lacking any credibility," he said.