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27 January, 2013


UN Security Council envoys in Yemen to support peace efforts

UN Security Council envoys arrived in Yemen on Sunday to support a US-backed deal to transfer power in the country. Bringing about the end of political instability in the region is being seen as of utmost importance, as Yemen flanks one of the world’s main oil producers, Saudi Arabia.  The country’s cooperation has also been deemed as vital by Western countries, in combating Al-Qaeda in the region. Security details were on high alert as ambassadors were deployed across Sanaa, where the news conference took place. It was the first time the Security Council had visited Yemen and the first time in five years it had visited the Middle East.


Bulgarians support nuclear plant construction - exit polls

­The construction of a new nuclear power plant in Bulgaria has been backed by a majority of votes in the country’s first referendum since the fall of the communism, exit polls showed Sunday. The referendum has been regarded as the precursor to a general election scheduled for later this year. The turnout, between 19.5 and 20.3 per cent, will mean the results aren’t binding and that PM Boyko Borisov’s polices put off many voters and have complicated his election campaign. However, earlier he told local media that the question of the plant’s construction would remain the case, even if Bulgarians voted in favor of a new plant.


EU pays tribute to Holocaust victims and survivors

­The survivors of the Holocaust “remind us of this tragedy that we must never forget,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement released on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday. Ashton stressed that responsibility for genocide of the 6 million Jews does not lie just with a few, as it was “caused by the violence of some and the indifference of others.” Ashton however, went on to praise the acts of courage and sacrifice of some of the Holocaust survivors, saying it was “proof that we are not powerless against evil,” and as a lesson that must “guide us today,” January the 27th marks the date when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp. Germany carries an “everlasting responsibility” for the Holocaust, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a video message earlier on Saturday.


Attack on Syria to be considered attack on Iran – top official

­An attack on Syria will be "considered (an) attack on Iran and Iran's allies," Ali Akbar Velayati, an advisor on International Affairs to Iran’s Supreme Leader told Mehr news agency. Velayati explained his statement by saying that Syria plays “a very key role” in supporting or destabilizing the resistance front in the region. For this same reason, Iran is the strongest Syria ally in the Middle East, providing the country with military and political support for years, he added. This comes as the UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos arrives in Damascus for a two-day visit to hold talks with the Syrian government about the current situation in the country, which she dubbed “catastrophic”.


Hundreds of Iranian workers rally to urge S. Korea return funds

­At least 1,000 Iranian workers in Tehran have taken to the streets to protest in front of the South Korean embassy. Demonstrators demanded Seoul return a down payment of $70 million, after the South Korean government allegedly held onto it following a business deal going sour. The decision was taken after a failed bid to buy shares in the Korean firm, Daewoo Electronics, employees of Iran’s Entekhab Industrial group claimed. The 2010 deal was blocked because of South Korea’s escalating concerns about mounting international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.


Twenty sailors missing as Russian vessel capsizes off Japan

­Thirteen Russian and seven Indonesian crew members are pronounced missing after the Russian fishing vessel Shans-101 capsized in the Sea of Japan. Ten crew members – six Russians and four Indonesian sailors - were recently found on a life boat and rescued by the freighter, said the Russia’s emergency service. The search began by air and sea as the ship owner claimed that the fishing vessel failed to contact at the scheduled time on Sunday afternoon.


UAE to try 94 citizens on plot to seize power

­Ninety-four UAE citizens, suspected in plotting to take over the oil-producing country under the guise of adherence to the Islamic religion, will be tried, the attorney general said on Sunday as quoted by local WAM news agency. Their aims were to seize power in the US-allied Gulf Arab countries and confront the main principles the rule is based on, the state news agency WAM said. Last year the UAE authorities raided about 60 people, who were mostly the members of al-Islah, the Islamist group, linked to the Muslim Brotherhood organization banned in the country, the privately-owned newspaper stated.


Israel confirms Syria preventive strike plan talks

­The moment Israelis “begin to understand” Syria’s chemical weapons are about to fall into Hezbollah’s or rebels’ arms, a preventive military intervention would be launched, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said on Sunday. The statement confirms reports that Israeli PM Netanyahu had discussed a possibility of strike on Syria at a meeting with security chiefs last week, which comes as the latest in a series of threats made by the Israeli government against Syria. Israel and NATO claim that Syria has multiple sites where chemical weapons are stocked.


UK urges immediate evacuation of its citizens from Somalia

­The specific threat to Westerners in the Somaliland region of Somalia has prompted the UK to urge Britons located in this area to leave it, British diplomats said Sunday. No further details were stated in the emailed statement of the British Foreign Office to the reporters, but the "kidnapping for financial or political gain, motivated by criminality or terrorism" was mentioned as the main threat. This threat came only days after Western governments, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom among them, urged their nationals to leave the city of Benghazi, Libya.


Syrian rebels clash with Assad forces in Damascus - reports

­The main highway of the southern town of Deraa was closed, as Syrian rebels fought with Bashar al-Assad’s forces in southwest of Damascus, the activists said. The clashes started as the UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos arrived in the country ahead of the UN aid conference which looks forward to raise $1.5 billion for those left homeless and hungry in the long-lasting Syrian conflict. At least 50,000 people were killed since the conflict developed into the civil war in the country.  Last month 25 foreign aid workers from Syria were withdrawn by the UN, as fighting intensified.


Al-Qaeda plots to kidnap Germans and Britons in Libya - report

­Al-Qaeda is targeting to kidnap German and British citizens, located in Libya, Der Spiegel quoted a German intelligence source as saying. In this regard Germany, Great Britain and several other Western countries urged their nationals to leave the city of Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. Last week Italy suspended activity at its Benghazi consulate and withdrew staff after a gun attack on its consul. The details of Al-Qaeda plotting are still unknown and the German Federal Intelligence Service declined to provide any comments on the situation. The country entered the period of instability since its dictator Muammar Gaddafi was killed in October 2011.


French, Malian forces approach Timbuktu

­French and Malian troops that held a strategic town of Gao on Sunday have reached Timbuktu as advancing against Islamist rebels in northern Mali, a Malian military source said on Sunday. The joint troops had paused outside Timbuktu to work out a strategy for entering the town and removing any Islamist fighters who might still be in town. As the troops advance towards northern Mali with US and Europe to back this operation, African troops to be flown into the country are expected to number 7,700.


Japan to boost military personnel as territorial spat with China rises

­Japan will increase the number of military personnel, which now stands at 225,000, by 287 in the next fiscal year starting in April. This measure is taken to stand tough on the dispute over the Senkaku Islands in Japan (known as Diaoyu in China), Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Sunday. This increase will be the biggest in two decades. He added that the defense budget will grow to $440 million.


Ten killed, at least 30 injured in bus crash in Lisbon

­A bus crash killed at least 10 and left over 30 people injured in Lisbon, Portugal, El Pais reported. The bus with 44 passengers on board fell down in ravine on the IC 8, the National Agency on Civil Defense reported. There are more than 200 firefighters attended the scene. All the injured were taken to the hospital of the Coimbra University, Castelo Branco. The bus crashed as it was in its way from Badajoz to Santa Maria da Feira.


France destroys militant commander home in Mali

Overnight French airstrikes have destroyed the home of the leader of Tuareg group Ansar Dine, Iyad Ag Ghaly, as the warplanes were bombing the city of Timbuktu in the militant-controlled north of the country, local sources reported. French-led troops are advancing after seizing Gao, the most-populous city in the region. Tuareg rebels captured Mali's North months after the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who used to recruit members of the nomadic ethnic group into his army. However Tuaregs' attempt to create a national state in the territories of Mali, Algeria and Libya failed as they were sidelined by hardcore Islamist militants.


Four bodies found after mining accident in Siberia

Emergency workers found four bodies in a mine in the Kemerovo Region, southwestern Siberia, after a methane explosion rocked the site a week ago, raising the number of dead to eight people, Russian media reported. During the accident 77 miners were on site and 69 of them managed to escape. The deaths of four were immediately known, but the other four were listed as missing until today. After the accident it was decided to flood the mine with the remaining four missing workers inside in order to reduce the concentration of deadly gas. Rescue workers on site stated that the chance of finding the other four miners alive beforehand was close to nil. Russian authorities are investigating safety violations during mining operations.


Japan launches 2 intelligence satellites

­Japan’s newly-launched intelligence satellites successfully entered orbit on Sunday, say officials. The launches of the domestically-produced HII-A rocket, the operational radar satellite, and the experimental optical probe from the Tanegashima Space Center appear to have gone smoothly. The move comes amid growing concerns that North Korea is planning to take ‘substantial and high-profile important state measures,’ including the possibility of conducting a nuclear test.


Twelve dead, 14 missing in Indonesian landslides

­Two separate landslides in western Indonesia have killed twelve people after 20 houses were buried in an avalanche of mud and rocks in the province of West Sumatra. Seven bodies were recovered, and a further 14 are missing. The torrential rain led to a separate incident on Saturday, in which a landslide killed five workers in a drilling field on Sumatra Island. Five others have been injured.


US test-flies missile interceptor

The United States has successfully launched a missile interceptor on a test flight from the central Californian coast, AP quoted the Missile Defense Agency as saying. The Ground-Based Interceptor rocket completed a series of pre-programmed maneuvers when it reached space after being launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Saturday afternoon. There was no target involved in the test, but the final stage of the program is to develop an anti-ballistic missile system. This was the first test flight of its kind since the halt of all tests after a failed attempt in December 2010.


Bomb kills 8 police and 3 detainees in Afghanistan

­A vehicle was blown up, killing eight police offices and three detainees in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Sunday. The bomb was reportedly a home-made device, described as ‘very, very powerful’ by the Kandahar provincial governor's spokesman, Jawed Faisal. The explosion also wounded six other officers and one suspect in a second vehicle. Police had been conducting an operation in the area to detain insurgents. Twenty-four people in total have now been killed in the fourth explosion of its kind in the space of a day.


400 evacuated from fire in Moscow State University

­A blaze broke out in the canteen of the Lomonosov State University in Moscow, forcing the evacuation of 400 people. The fire started at 7:50am local time (03:50 GMT), and in half and hour firefighters had managed to put it out. The last time there was a fire in the main building of the major Russian university was in December 2011 when two people were injured in the blaze.


Flood warnings issued across Britain

­Milder temperatures across the UK have triggered a snow thaw which, along with rainfall, has generated around 34 flood warnings and 200 alerts throughout the country. There have been temperatures of up to 9°C in parts of the UK on Saturday, and the thawing of snow continued overnight, along with rain in most parts of the country.


N. Korea leader vows to act against US aggression

­North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has pledged to take "substantial and high-profile important state measures" at a meeting of the country’s top brass and foreign officials, AP reported. Analysts pointed out it could mean that North Korea is soon to carry out a nuclear test. Last week, the country’s National Defense Commission announced that North Korea would conduct the nuke test in defiance of the UN Security Council. In December, the organization launched a set of sanctions against North Korea for a long-range rocket test.


Nine killed, 2 wounded in gunmen attack in Philippines

­Gunmen have ambushed and attacked a truck with police and village guard protecting a village festival in the central Philippines. The assault left nine people dead and two injured. Security services have set up checkpoints and are looking for the gunmen, AP reported. The attackers may have been communist New People’s Army militants or participants of an illegal logging syndicate, according to police sources.


Death toll in Venezuela prison riot rises to 61

­The death toll in fierce clashes between inmates and National Guard troops in a Venezuelan prison has risen to 61, a hospital director told AP on Saturday. Some 120 people were injured after violence broken out in the Uribana prison in the city of Barquisimeto on Friday, when groups of inmates attacked National Guard troops who were attempting to carry out an inspection. Penitentiary Service Minister Iris Varela said Saturday that officials had begun evacuating inmates from the prison and transferring them to other facilities.


Syrian rebels free 300 prisoners

­More than 300 inmates were freed by Syrian opposition fighters after they stormed a major jail in the northwestern city of Idlib, near the border with Turkey. According to opposition activists, dozens of prisoners and security personnel were killed in the unsuccessful attempt to gain control of the detention facility. Meanwhile, violence across the country continues to take more civilian lives. The latest strike by a Syrian warplane near the city of Manbij, reportedly killed 16 people, including eight children.


Gunman opens fire near DC nightclub, 5 injured

At least five people have been injured after an unknown gunman opened fire outside a nightclub in Washington DC, NBC4 Washington reports. Police are on the hunt for the man who walked up to the door of the club and started shooting on Saturday morning. The suspect has been described as a large man wearing a skullcap. None of the victims suffered life threatening injuries. The incident comes on the same day as thousands of people marched in the nation’s capital in favor of gun control.