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19 January, 2013


Eight killed in drone strikes in Yemen

Two US drone strikes in Yemen have killed eight people in Abieda valley in central Marib province, according to officials in the country. At least two people were reportedly believed to be members of the Al Qaeda, including a Saudi militant Ismail bin Jamil. At least three of the corpses were burned beyond recognition. Washington has engaged in countless drone strikes over recent years in Yemen against al-Qaida.


Malian townsfolk lynch Islamist rebel leader - reports

­Citizens of the northern Malian town of Gao have reportedly lynched a notorious Islamist leader in retaliation for the killing of a local journalist on suspicion he was cooperating with international radio. “Islamic police commissioner Aliou Toure was killed by the youth in revenge,” a Gao resident told Reuters. Toure was a local resident recruited by rebels as police commissioner after MUJWA Islamists took control of Gao in June 2012 and imposed strict Sharia law across the region.


Syrian FM invites any unarmed opposition to join the cabinet

­Any opposition parties that lay down their weapons and agree to take part in a national dialogue are welcomed to join a new Cabinet with wide executive powers, Syria’s foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said in an interview with state TV. “I tell the young men who carried arms to change and reform, take part in the dialogue for a new Syria and you will be a partner in building it,” Moallem stated, adding that “those who want foreign intervention will not be among us.” The Syrian government has already started contacting “representatives of the Syrian people,” Moallem added. Earlier in January President Bashar Assad proposed a national reconciliation plan which included talks with representatives of the opposition parties, elections and a new constitution.


Three arrested in Belfast loyalist flag protest

Three people have been arrested by the police in Belfast during a loyalist flag protest at the City Hall.  Police said a 30-year-old man, an18-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy were arrested for riotous assembly and disorderly conduct, after they and a group of about 200 strong blocked off one of the main roads of the Northern Irish capital. Belfast has witnessed a series of demonstrations after the City Council, late last year, decided to limit the days the Union Flag was flown at City Hall.


Three killed at Samba rehearsal in Brazil

Three people have been killed and three wounded as gunmen opened fire on a crowd of teenagers during Samba rehearsal in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. Law enforcement said the shooting was carried out by four men on motorbikes. Three suspects have been arrested. Police believe the attack was gang related. The victims were between 14 and 19 years old and were practicing ahead of next month's carnival in Sao Joao Del Rei.


Four dead and two injured after avalanche in Scottish Highlands

­Four people have died after an avalanche descended on six climbers in the Scottish Highlands, the Northern Constabulary has said. One of the male survivors raised the alarm and has survived with injuries. Another woman from the party is in a serious condition in hospital. The expedition of three males and three females was descending when a slope broke away and buried them.


Bolshoi artistic director questioned by investigators after acid attack

Sergey Filin, the Bolshoi Theater’s artistic director has been questioned by investigators in a hospital in Moscow where he’s being treated for an acid attack to his face. The former dancer is now out of intensive care after the assault on Thursday, and has been transferred to a regular hospital room in a stable condition, following eye surgery. In the attack Filin received third-degree burns to his face and eyes. The main concern is the patient’s vision. It’s not yet clear how Filin’s sight will have been affected by the assault, although officials at the Bolshoi insist he has not been blinded.


Kachin rebels cast doubt on government ceasefire

­Kachin Independence Army (KIA) rebels cast doubt on Saturday on a Myanmar government ceasefire to end a military offensive after weeks of intense fighting sparked international concern, including from the US and the UN.  The ceasefire comes after the country’s parliament called for a halt to the fighting, which has reportedly left dozens dead and has marred optimism about Myanmar’s political reforms. A KIA official told AFP that the government military had gained the upper hand and therefore had declared a ceasefire from a position of strength. A witness told AFP that an uneasy peace was prevailing in the rebel stronghold city of Laiza. The quasi civilian government in Myanmar has reached tentative ceasefires with a many of the ethnic rebel groups since taking power from the military government in 2011, but has had little progress with talks with the Kachin rebels.


Ally of former Ivorian president Gbagbo arrested in Ghana

­Charles Ble Goude, the chief youth protest organizer for Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, was arrested in Ghana Thursday and has been extradited to the Ivory Coast. Goude is wanted in connection with post-election violence, which gripped Ivory Coast in 2010, and left 3,000 people dead. Goude is known for his skill as an orator, which galvanized popular support for Gbagbo. The post-election crisis in Ivory Coast was sparked by Gbagbo’s refusal to accept defeat. Ghanian police said that Goude was arrested on a warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, the ICC has said it has no public link with Goude, although this leaves the possibility a sealed arrest warrant was issued.


500 stage anti-fascist march in Russian capital

­Hundreds of people marched in central Moscow to commemorate lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, who were killed in 2009. People brought flowers and pictures of the lawyer and the journalist to the place where they were assassinated. The two killers, Nikita Tikhonov and his lover Evgenia Khasis, have been jailed for life and 18 years, respectively. The motive behind the murders was believed to be Markelov’s activity in defending anti-fascist clients.


Russians involved in France bus crash flown to Moscow

Most of the 43 Russian tourists involved in a bus crash in southeast France have been flown to the Russian capital from Grenoble airport, according to a spokesperson for the Federal Tourism Agency. Several others are still in French hospitals being treated for injures ranging from minor to serious. Fourteen people were wounded when a tourist bus overturned near the French city of Chambéry. The incident was apparently due to ice on the road.


14 Russians injured in France bus crash

A bus carrying 43 Russian tourists overturned near the French city Chambéry, leaving 14 people wounded. Three of the victims, all of whom suffered back injuries, are in serious but stable condition, according to the Russian Consulate in France. The 11 others sustained minor injures. The incident was apparently due to ice on the road. The Russian emergencies ministry is considering sending an aircraft to fly those in need of hospital treatment back to Russia.


Heathrow cancels 100 flights over heavy snows

Another 100 flights were canceled at London's Heathrow Airport on Saturday, following 400 cancellations on Friday due to snowy weather. The airport is currently operating normally, but airlines continue to struggle with the backlog from Friday, a Heathrow spokesperson said. Snowfall caused jammed runways at Britain’s major airport as pilots were unable to find gates for passengers to disembark. Some were forced to spend several hours in their planes waiting on the ground.


British man jailed for Facebook beheading videos

­A British man has been sentenced to five years in prison after posting beheading videos on Facebook. Craig Slee, 42, created two online profiles, one of which he used to imply that he was a Taliban member and talk about fictional trips to Afghanistan. Despite not having any connections to terrorist organizations, he pleaded guilty to four terrorism offenses and possession of a canister of tear gas. Although he was not planning a specific attack, the influence his violent propaganda may have had over others was deemed significant.


African leaders hold summit on Mali crisis

West African leaders are holding an emergency summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to discuss the coordination of military action against Islamist rebels in Mali. France is represented by Foreign Minister Laurent Babius. The meeting comes after Malian soldiers retook a key central town of Konna from rebels with the help of French troops and air support. African states are expected to send about 4,000 troops to Mali. Half of those forces will be provided by Chad.


Egyptian police clash with Muslims trying to storm Coptic church

­Egyptian police clashed Friday with a crowd of angry Muslims who were trying to storm a Coptic Christian church in Qena, following claims that a merchant allegedly tried to sexually abuse a 6-year-old Muslim girl. Dozens of Muslims destroyed two Copt-owned shops before marching on the church; security forces then fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Police arrested the Coptic man as well as 10 Muslims. Copts make up between 6 and 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 83 million. Since Mubarak was ousted in 2011, the country has seen an increase in attacks on Copts as security has broken down. Earlier this month, Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula foiled an attempt to bomb a church in Rahaf during a Coptic holiday.


Number of rape cases in Indian capital increased by 23% in 2012

­The number of rape cases in New Delhi, India, increased to 706 in, a rise of more than 23 percent from the 572 in 2011, official data has revealed. Worrying statistics also showed that incidents of molestation of women rose by more than 10 percent in the same period. In 2012, 727 such cases were reported, up from 657 in 2011. The statistics highlighting rising crime against women in India came ahead of the high-profile gang-rape trial of five men. On December 16, the men raped a 23-year old student, who later died of her injuries in hospital. A sixth underage defendant is being tried in a juvenile court.


Turkish police detain 85 people in crackdown

­Turkish security forces have arrested 85 people in raids against those suspected of connections to a banned militant group. The individuals detained included musicians, leftist lawyers and human rights activists, Reuters reported. According to local media, those targeted in raids across seven cities were suspected of links to the leftist militant group the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). Turkish police were not available for comment on the arrests.


Russian woman wins trial, can spend holidays with daughter

­Russian national Irina Belenkaya has won the right to spend part of the school holidays with her daughter after receiving a two-year suspended prison sentence for kidnapping her child. An international row over Belenkaya began in 2009 when her ex-husband came to Russia and took their daughter to France. The mother went to France and then tried to return to Russia with the then-3-year-old Elisa, but was arrested at the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. A trial followed, resulting in a suspended jail sentence for the mother in 2010, as well as the father being imprison for 15 days for preventing Belenkaya from meeting her daughter.


20 Russians injured in France bus crash

­A bus carrying 44 Russian tourists overturned near the French city Chambéry, leaving 20 people wounded. Three of the victims, all of whom suffered back injuries, are in serious but stable conditions. The incident was apparently due to ice on the road. The Russian emergencies ministry is considering sending an aircraft to fly those in need of hospital treatment back to Russia.


Chinese ships close in on disputed islands – Japan

­Three Chinese ships entered the waters near disputed islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea, the Japanese coastguard said. All of the vessels then departed about five hours later. The move came shortly after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a veiled warning to Beijing not to challenge Tokyo over control of the islands. China has claimed sovereignty over the uninhabited land in the potentially resource-rich region of the sea.


4-year-old girl allegedly molested on school bus in India

­A 4-year-old girl was reportedly sexually assaulted on a school bus in Mumbai, India. The kindergarten student was the last child on a bus ride home when the conductor “touched her inappropriately;” a female attendant on the bus then confronted him over the act, police said. A case was registered against the bus driver, identified as Rajput, after the girl underwent a medical check-up. The man has been detained and charged with rape and molestation.


Pakistan to release more Afghan detainees

­Pakistani officials have announced that Islamabad has begun the release of more of the country's Afghan detainees as part of attempts to improve relations between the two nations prior to the planned 2014 withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan. Pakistan has upwards of 100 Afghan prisoners in custody, and Kabul has pressed hard for their release. US officials have voiced concerns over the freeing of prisoners they consider dangerous, such as Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban.


Canadian university students may have been exposed to HIV during exercises

The First Nations University of Canada has warned students who took part in blood-typing exercises over the last decade that they may have been exposed to diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. The risk came from a lancet used to draw blood. Unlike its blade, the instrument’s holder was reused after being cleaned with alcohol, rather than replaced between classes. The university said, however, that the risk of infection is low.


Half of Syria refugees are children – UN

­Over half of the 642,000 Syrian refugees currently residing outside the country’s borders are children, according to a senior UN official. Panos Moumtzis, the UN Refugee Agency regional coordinator for Syria, has drawn attention to the high proportion of very young children among the nearly 1.1 million refugees. Moumtzis labeled the situation a “children’s refugee crisis,” commenting on the violence and bloodshed they have witnessed, and the necessity for humanitarian aid. Children are believed to comprise a high proportion of the Syrian refugees flooding neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, as it is common for Syrian families to have around 8 to 10 children.


Gunmen in Yemen blow up oil pipeline

­Oil pumping in southeast Yemen has been halted following a pipeline blast. The oil pipeline, operated by Korea National Oil Co., transports around 8,000 barrels a day to export terminals on the Gulf of Aden to the south. The explosive device was placed under the pipeline overnight in Rudum, Shabwa province. Oil and gas facilities in the region have suffered repeated attacks with explosives, resulting in more than $4 billion in losses for Yemen between February 2011 and July 2012. The attacks have been blamed on both Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and tribal forces seeking to negotiate with authorities.


UN Security Council condemns 'heinous' Algeria attack

­The UN Security Council has issued a statement slamming “in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in In Amenas, Algeria,” related to the ongoing assault and hostage-taking situation at an Algerian gas complex. The council condemned the act as “heinous,” and expressed condolences to the victims’ families and “those countries whose nationals have been affected.” Malian militants took over the In Amenas natural gas installation on Wednesday, taking hundreds of hostages, including scores of foreigners. The rescue mission resulted in the deaths of 12 hostages, according to state news, while military sources claimed at least 30 captives were killed.


Jakarta flood death toll rises to 15

­The death count from three days of flooding in Jakarta, Indonesia, has escalated to 15. A further 18,000 people have been displaced from their homes, and 8,000 have contracted illnesses as a result of the disaster.The flooding has affected approximately 41 square kilometers of land so far. Officials said that the flooding may continue until mid-February.


Date set for Falklands sovereignty referendum

­A date has been set for the proposed referendum on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. Residents will vote on March 10 and 11 on whether they wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. Although it has been predicted that the answer will produce a ‘yes’ result, their sovereignty has been thrown into question in recent weeks, following President Cristina Kirchner’s open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron in which she labeled Britain’s assumption of control of the islands 180 years ago a “blatant exercise of 19th century colonialism.”


158 Mexican police arrested for drug trade connections

­Investigations have exposed evidence that police officers in northern Mexico have been protecting and leaking information to drug traffickers for at least three years. A reported 158 officers who worked in Gomez Palacio and Lerdo, Durango, have been arrested for their links to organized crime in the area, with prosecutors alleging they worked for the Sinaloa drug cartel. Durango is infamous for its drug trafficking, and the last two years have seen violent fights between the Sinaloa and Zeta cartels for control over drug smuggling routes.


Boing halts delivery of Dreamliner

­Boeing has suspended delivery of the 787 Dreamliner over safety concerns associated with the plane’s battery. The company said that production will continue but new planes will need a revision to the electrical system. America's skies watchdog, the FAA  has grounded the Dreamliners until the lithium-ion batteries problems are fixed. Boing has orders for about 800 planes from airlines worldwide. The 787 series has experienced a number of problems recently leading the FAA to order the suspension of flights.


Al Jazeera reporter killed by sniper in Syria - report

­A sniper has killed an Al-Jazeera reporter in southern Syria bringing the death toll of journalists in the Syrian conflict to at least 20, AFP reported. Mohammed Hourani was shot dead by a regime sniper in Basra al-Harir in the province of Daraa while he was covering the clashes there, Al-Jazeera said in a statement. An amateur video posted online shows the moment of Hourani’s death as he was running for cover from sniper fire in a column of rebel fighters. The 33-year-old Syrian journalist was an activist in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad before joining Al-Jazeera.


Fake TV crew gets 30 years jail time for drug money laundering in Nicaragua

Eighteen Mexicans have been sentenced to 30 years in prison in Nicaragua for drug trafficking and money laundering. The 17 men and one woman were caught in August with $9.2 million found in their news vans as they tried to enter the country illegally as reporters. Each of those convicted must also pay a $9.2 million fine. The woman and the leader of the gang, received 35 years in prison.