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22 November, 2012


Seven people killed in Guatemala hospital shooting

­Seven people have died in a shooting spree at a medical clinic in Guatemala, local authorities report. A gunmen burst into the facility, shooting four people on the ground floor, one on the stairs and two more on the second floor before fleeing the scene. Six people died at the scene, and another victim died in hospital. The authorities are investigating.


­Police detain Greek pensioner inside tax office as he threatens to self-immolate

Greek police have detained a pensioner who was threatening to set himself on fire inside a state tax office in Thessaloniki, local officials said. Police and firemen stormed the office, where the elderly man walked in with a flare gun and a petrol can which he poured over himself. It is unclear whether the office manager, who stayed with the man for two hours, was a hostage. The 62-year-old was protesting the state's seizure of some of his assets, as the government has slashed state spending drastically to get much-needed bailout funds.


­Two killed in South African mine clashes

Two South African miners have been killed in clashes between members of opposing labor unions outside Harmony Gold mine, police report. A spokesman for the National Union of Mines claimed that clashes erupted between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union over a turf war. One person has been hospitalized. The incident happened at the Kusasalethu shaft, south of Johannesburg, when the mine resumed operations in August after weeks of strikes over wages.


Thousands lose power as rain, floods hit Britain

Gale force winds and torrential downpours battered parts of Britain for the second day straight on Thursday, causing flooding in the worst affected areas and leaving thousands without power. Over 80 flood warnings are in place, with the island’s South West worst affected by the inclement weather. Some 2,500 homes in England and Wales are currently without electricity.


Ahmadinejad promises gas pipeline to Pakistan will be finished by 2014

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said a 560-mile long, $7.5 billion dollar gas pipeline from southern Iran to its border with Pakistan would be finished on time despite political and financial pressures. Washington has pressured Pakistan to drop the project, while investors have been scared off by fears it could be affected by sanctions targeting Iran over the country’s uranium enrichment program.


Clothes salesman arrested in New York after three murders

­A garment salesman has been arrested in New York and charged with systematically killing three shopkeepers as working alone in their clothing stores. Salvatore Perrone was taken into custody after a pharmacy worker recognized him from surveillance footage. There were a number of similarities in the deaths of the three Middle Eastern shopkeepers, which the police initially thought were racially motivated but now believe to have no discernable motive. The locations of the shops form an equilateral triangle and are about 4 miles apart with addresses that contain the number eight.


Egyptian president prepares to implement “revolutionary” decisions

Sources close to Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi say he is set to issue potentially contentious political decisions on Thursday evening, AL Arabiya reports. Those decisions will most likely be connected with the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution for post-revolutionary Egypt. With sometimes violent anti-government protest gripping Egypt for a fourth day straight, Muslim Brotherhood members loyal to the president have been asked not to travel abroad as their presence might be necessary on the streets to support Morsi’s “revolutionary” course of action.


Islamist militants kidnap French citizen in Mali

The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) in Mali claimed responsibility on Thursday for the abduction of a 61-year-old French citizen two days prior, AFP reports. Thirteen hostages, seven of whom are French, are currently being held hostage by several al-Qaeda linked Islamist groups currently occupying the country’s north. Local security sources say they are actively searching for the captive.


Sarkozy embroiled in illegal campaign donation scandal

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has faced a probe for his alleged involvement in illegal campaign donations. The investigation focused on whether L'Oreal cosmetics heir Liliane Bettencourt and her staff illegally helped him during his 2007 presidential campaign. Sarkozy, who earlier denied all claims of illegally receiving cash, was questioned in a Bordeaux court on Thursday. The Bettencourt scandal has topped headlines in France since questions about the finances of France's richest woman emerged last year amid a family feud. Mrs. Bettencourt and Sarkozy’s former treasurer have since denied any wrongdoing.


5.6-magnitude quake hits northern Argentina

­A 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck northern Argentina near the Bolivian border, the US Geological Survey reported. The epicenter of the quake was measured at the depth of around450 kilometers. No casualties or damage has been reported.


Philippines, Vietnam protest new Chinese passport design

­Authorities in the Philippines and Vietnam expressed outrage over China’s new electronic passport designs, which feature a map showing Chinese control of disputed islands also claimed by Manila and Hanoi. The Philippines foreign secretary sent a letter of protest to the Chinese embassy in Manila, criticizing China’s territorial depiction as violating international law. Carriers of the new passport would be deemed as infringing on Manila’s national sovereignty, a spokesperson said, adding that Vietnamese officials have also expressed anger at the design. The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded by saying that the maps do not target a specific country, and that China is willing to “actively communicate” with both nations.


Pakistani Taliban demand return of Mumbai terror bomber’s body

The Pakistani Taliban threatened India to return the body of a Pakistani man executed for his role in the December 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan demanded that Mohammad Ajmal Kassab’s body be returned to his family or handed over to the Taliban. Kassab was the lone surviving gunman from the three attacks in Mumbai, which targeted two luxury hotels, a crowded train station, a Jewish center and restaurant. Nine other terrorists died during in the attacks, which killed 164 people and wounded at least 308.


Hollande forced to retract gay marriage gaffe

French President Francoise Hollande has retracted what he called an inappropriate statement implying that he would allow mayors to refuse to officiate at gay weddings. He told mayors at a conference that he would allow them to delegate responsibility to councilors if they had a personal objection to marrying same-sex couples. Inter-LGBT, a gay rights advocacy group, immediately said it would “suspend all relations with the government,” forcing Hollande to apologize, saying he “regretted having spoken inappropriately.” Hollande later said to reporters that “the law must be applied everywhere.” Same-sex marriages have been legal in France since 1999.


BBC appoints Tony Hall as new Director-General

The BBC has appointed Tony Hall – Lord Hall of Birkenhead and former director of news for the broadcaster – as its new general director. His appointment follows the departure of George Entwistle. Entwistle resigned earlier this month following a Newsnight report which falsely implicated Lord McAlpine in the North Wales child abuse scandal.


Sudan foils plot to destabilize country

Sudanese intelligence has disrupted a plot that aimed to create security disturbances in the country’s capital Khartoum, officials said. The conspiracy was “led by some opposition party leaders,” Sudan’s Media Center said. Though the government denied it had stepped up security in response, armored vehicles and troops were seen moving through the capital early Thursday morning.


Rebels capture eastern Syrian army base – opposition watchdog

­Syrian rebels have claimed they captured a key military base in the eastern Syrian town of Mayadeen after a 22-day siege, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The seized army base allows the Syrian opposition to claim control of the strategic oil-producing area between Deir Ezzor and the Iraqi border. The Syrian government has not commented on the alleged incident. Government forces maintain control of key cities in the area, and are using airstrikes to block the advance of rebel forces, local media reported.


15 killed as Syrian warplanes raze building in Aleppo – activists

­A building near a field hospital in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo has allegedly been destroyed by army forces, killing at least 15 people and damaging one of the last medical centers in the area. The facility sustained at least six direct hits in recent months, mostly affecting the upper stories, activists said, adding that at least 11 of those killed were rebel fighters. The Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011 with an uprising against the Assad regime inspired by other Arab Spring revolts. The crisis has since morphed into a civil war, with dozens of rebel groups across the country fighting government forces.


­N. Korea denounces South over victory claim ‘provocation’

North Korea has threatened to shell a border island if South Korea holds military exercises there, state news agency KCNA said Thursday. Seoul plans to hold drills on Friday on Yeonpyeong Island, which had been attacked by Pyongyang in 2010. “The commemoration of the so-called victorious battle on Yonpyeong Island will lead to the second Yonpyeong Island disaster,” a People's Army spokesman was reported as saying on KCNA. The November 23, 2010 shelling left four South Koreans dead.


­Syria presents list of 'liquidated' foreign mercenaries to the UN

Damascus has delivered to the UN a list of 143 "liquidated" foreign mercenaries alleged to have been “involved in terrorist activities," TASS reports. According to a letter signed by Bashar Jaafari, the Permanent Representative of Syria to the UN, the dead foreigners came from around 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Chad. The list also includes the names of Chechens and Palestinians who fought with the opposition. The list has been offered to the Security Council as evidence of foreign mercenary presence in the conflict.


Airstrike on Aleppo hospital kills dozens – Syrian rebel leader

­At least 40 people have been killed in an airstike that hit the Dar al-Shifa Hospital in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo, the leader of Yusif al-Asma rebel group, Ralib al-Omar, told CNN. A video posted by the rebels allegedly shows a collapsed building next to the hospital. The blast is reported to have damaged the lobby of the hospital, which is usually full of patients and visitors. On Tuesday, Islamist groups in Syria rejected the newly formed Syrian National Coalition and unilaterally declared the city of Aleppo an independent Islamic state.