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17 February, 2013


Eleven people injured in Kiev restaurant gas blast

­A gas tank explosion in a Kiev restaurant has left eleven people injured. Three people have sustained burns to as much as 80-percent of their body. Eight have suffered minor burns and injuries.  All of the injured have been hospitalized. The restaurant “April” is housed in a five-story building. The blast from a twenty-liter gas tank in the basement of the building caused some damage to the bottom floors, from where four people were evacuated.


Car crashes into Russian gas pipe line, leaving 3,047 without heat

­A car crashed into a gas pipeline in Russia’s Udmutria republic, puncturing the structure and causing a gas leak. The accident has left 1,577 homes and 3,047 residents without gas supply, a spokesman from the Emergency Department told Itar-Tass. The affected areas are mostly rural.


Centre-right leader wins Cyprus presidential race – exit poll

­Centre-right leader Nicos Anastasiades has won the presidential election in Cyprus, according to an exit poll conducted by the state broadcaster CyBC. The poll placed Anastasiades at 51.1 percent, a majority which eliminates the need for a second round run-off. The conservative opposition leader had been the favorite to beat his main rival, leftist Stavros Malas, in an election that has been dominated by the global financial crisis. Cyprus is currently attempting to secure a 17 billion euro EU/IMF bailout which stalled under the country’s outgoing communist president. The new president will be tasked with finalizing that bailout deal.


Eight arrested on terror-related charges in Bahrain

­Bahrain arrested eight nationals on terrorism related charges, the interior minister Sheikh Rashed said in remarks to the official Bahrain News Agency. They were accused of receiving training in weapons and explosives and having terrorist-cell links to Iran, Iraq, Lebanon. The arrests come several days after the second anniversary of the continuing uprising. The majority Shiite protestors demand an end to the monarchy's political domination and full powers for parliament to make democratic reforms. The Bahraini minister made no link between the arrests and political unrest.


Bomb knocks out Iraqi oil pipeline

A pipeline carrying fuel oil from Iraq’s largest refinery to a province in the north of the country has been disabled after a bomb attack, the Iraqi oil ministry said Sunday. A spokesman from the ministry said repairs to the pipeline would take several days. The attack coincides with growing political unrest in the country; at least 26 people were killed on Sunday by a wave of car bombs, which exploded across Shi’ite areas of Baghdad.


Gunmen kidnap 7 foreigners in Nigeria

Gunmen have kidnapped seven foreign workers and killed their guard in northern Nigeria, police reported. The attack happened at a construction site in Bauchi state overnight Saturday. The attackers first targeted a prison in the area, police said. The nationalities of those kidnapped are unknown.


Dozens of attackers damage Greek gold mining site

Around 40 masked attackers wreaked havoc on a disputed gold-mining project in northern Greece early on Sunday, setting fire to machinery and roughing up four security guards, Reuters reports. Police detained 27 people following the attack, in which the facility was extensively damaged with firebombs and flammable liquid. The Skouries project, an open pit copper-gold mine run by Hellas Gold, has been vehemently opposed by locals and activists who claim it will damage the environment.


Israel ships military equipment to Turkey after 2-year delay

Israel has delivered to Turkey the remaining two electronic components for US-made Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft (AWACS), Turkish authorities said. Turkey bought four AWACS planes in the early 2000s. While the US delivered the machines, Israel won the contract to install the electronic equipment needed to make the planes fully operational. However, relations between the two nations fell to an all-time low after the 2010 incident in which Israeli special forces killed nine Turkish nationals in a raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, a part of the ‘Gaza Freedom Flotilla.’ In 2011, Israel refused to complete the installation.


Iran to build new naval base near Pakistan

Iran’s navy is constructing a new naval base in the Iranian port city of Pasabandar, 23 kilometers from the Iranian/Pakistani border and 30 kilometers west of Pakistani Port city Gwadar, Fars news reports. The base will monitor border sea traffic,  Iranian Navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Sunday. The new naval base will be situated 500 kilometers east of the Straight of Hormuz, which 35% of the world's sea-traded petroleum passes through each day.


First Moon church holds first mass wedding since ‘messiah’ founder's death

Some 3,500 identically dressed couples, many of mixed nationality who had met just days before, were married in a mass Unification Church wedding in South Korea on Sunday. It was the first such wedding since the death of the controversial founder of the church Sun Myung Moon. Moon’s 70-year-old widow Hak ja Han presided over the ceremony for the first time without her husband, who died five months ago at age 92. The church’s mass weddings, which began in the 1960’s, have led many critics of the ‘Moonie’ church to label it as a cult. Moon taught that romantic love led to sexual promiscuity, mismatched couples and dysfunctional societies.


Bangladesh amends war crimes law

­Bangladesh's parliament amended its war crimes law allowing the state to appeal any war crimes trial verdict, including the punishment of any organizations, it considers inadequate. The amendment was met with cheers from demonstrators, who have been rallying for 13 days in central Shahbag Square, calling for the death penalty for war crimes. The protests started after a tribunal this month sentenced a prominent Islamist to life in prison. Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami party  was accused of murder, rape and torture during Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. According to the new law, the government can appeal against Mollah's sentence and secure a retrial, lawyers said.


NATO to help Karzai execute airstrike ban – alliance commander

NATO will cooperate with Afghanistan’s defense leadership to help implement a recently proposed ban by President Hamid Karzai which will stop Afghan forces from calling for NATO airstrikes in residential areas, US General Joseph Dunford, the new alliance commander in the country said on Sunday. On Saturday Karzai announced his intentions to introduce the ban in response to a NATO airstrike requested by Afghanistan’s intelligence agency which killed ten civilians in the country’s east on Wednesday. The decree is likely to be issued on Sunday.


3 militants killed in anti-terror op in Dagestan

Russian security officers shot and killed 3 militants, including a known gang leader, in a Special Forces operation in the Khasavyurt district of the southern Russian republic of Dagestan. The three young men were shot and killed after they opened fire on the law enforcement agents. The violence is part of an on-going struggle between Russian authorities and local terrorist cells. The republic of Dagestan is notorious for its numerous militant attacks both on the police and the civilian population.


28 killed by blasts in Baghdad's Shiite districts

Several car bombs detonated in various parts of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 28 people, AP reported, citing Iraqi officials. The explosions took place mainly in Shiite neighborhoods. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Bombings targeting Shiites and security forces in Iraq have increased since the beginning of the year. A senior Iraqi army intelligence officer and three bodyguards were killed on Saturday.


Terror attacks in southern Thailand kill 9 - reports

­Radical Islamists have conducted a series of terror acts in Thailand’s Muslim-majority troubled southern province. Three bomb attacks occurred in the city of Pattani, some 800 kilometers from Bangkok. An explosion at an army post killed two soldiers and two civilians, and a motorcycle bomb killed three security volunteers in a separate attack. A third bomb exploded near a restaurant, allegedly killing two. Many were also injured in the string of attacks; seven to eight of the bombs were defused. Muslim extremists in southern Thailand claim Buddhists are oppressing them, and call for the creation of an independent sultanate on the border with Malaysia. Over the last nine years, separatists conducted nearly 12,000 attacks, killing over 5,000 and wounding some 10,000 people.


Israeli ex-Foreign Minister Lieberman faces trial over fraud

­Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will appear before a Jerusalem court on Sunday on charges of fraud and violation of the public trust. The prosecution claims that while in office, the right-wing politician promoted the Israeli envoy to Belarus in exchange for confidential information about a criminal inquiry into his business affairs. Lieberman has denied any wrongdoing. Earlier, he was acquitted of the more serious charges of money laundering and bribery.


Cyprus holds presidential elections amid financial uncertainty

As the Cypriot presidential election kicks off, the latest polls have shown that pro-bailout candidate Nicos Anastasiades of the Democratic Rally Party was 15 percent ahead of his closest opponent, leftist Stravos Malas. The center-right Anastasiades has promised to quickly seek financial help from the EU and IMF to rescue the island nation from looming bankruptcy. Discussions of the economy in the candidates' speeches indicate that for the first time in many years, Cypriots are more concerned with financial uncertainty than the island’s divided status.


Australia seeks explanation from Malaysian over senator deportation

­Australia awaits further explanation from Malaysia after the country's immigration authorities denied entry to an Australian senator, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Sunday. "We made immediate and strenuous representations on his behalf, not only in relation to him being detained, but into him being allowed to be in Malaysia," Gillard told reporters in Melbourne. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon flew to Malaysia on Saturday to discuss electoral reform, but was denied entry and deported. Malyasian immigration officials said that Xenophon was refused entry because he is a ‘security risk.’


Yemeni authorities rescue Dutch national from weeklong captivity

­Yemeni security forces have freed a Dutch man kidnapped a week ago by tribesmen in the country's west, the interior ministry has announced. "The man was taken to Sanaa and is in good health," the ministry reported. Authorities are still trying to free two Finns and an Austrian abducted from central Sanaa late last year. Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years, and almost all are released unharmed.


Libya marks 2-year anniversary of uprising

­Libya is celebrating the second anniversary of the beginning of the uprising that led to the revolution that displaced longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Libyan security services are on high alert ahead of celebrations. On Friday, thousands of people took to the streets in Tripoli and Benghazi to celebrate the initial demonstration on February 15, 2011, which led to a revolt two days later. Gaddafi was killed in October 2011 as he tried to flee the city of Sirte. Two years after the revolt, Libya has been further destabilized by numerous militia groups.


5.0-magnitude quake hits off Greek coast

A 5.0-magnitude earthquake has struck 34 miles southwest of the Greek city of Kalamata, the US Geological Survey reported. There have been no immediate reports of damage.


Greek ambassador to Mexico dies hours after presenting credentials

­Newly appointed Greek Ambassador to Mexico Dimitrios Anninos died from a sudden aortic aneurysm rupture in Mexico City on February 15, hours after presenting his diplomatic credentials to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, local media reported. Before being transferred to Mexico, Anninos worked as the Greek General Consul in Wellington, New Zealand, and Melbourne, Australia, as well as Shanghai, China.


Czech police on high alert as Danish students arrive

­Czech police have reinforced street patrols in Prague due to the mass arrival of students from Denmark on holiday. Young people are attracted to the Czech capital for its cheap beer, and cheap alcohol in general. On a daily basis, Prague police regularly detain many drunk tourists from all over Europe. The annual damage caused to Prague’s hotels by guests from Denmark is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of Czech korunas. Last Wednesday, teens from Denmark destroyed three rooms in a city hotel, amounting to 100,000 Czech korunas (over $5,000) in damage.
Michael Saba


Woman in northern Moscow dies from self-immolation

­A woman in northern Moscow has died after self-immolating. She reportedly poured flammable fluid over herself, and then set herself on fire in the staircase of a residential building. By the time medics arrived, the woman had already died from severe burns. The reason for the self-immolation is unknown, and police are investigating the incident. In November 2012,  a 33-year-old Moscow woman committed suicide by setting herself on fire in front of the school her two sons attended.


Mass wedding in Mexico City breaks world record

Mexico City hosted the world’s largest group wedding ceremony as 412 couples tied the knot in the district of Iztacalco on Saturday. Governor of the Mexican capital Miguel Angel Mancera Espinosa cut an enormous cake to kick off celebrations following the mass marriage ceremony.


Dorner's supporters rally in Los Angeles, accuse LAPD of racism and corruption

­ Dozens of protesters gathered at Los Angeles police headquarters in support of Christopher Dorner, the former LAPD cop and suspected killer of four who died following a stakeout. The protester reject police corruption and brutality supporting Dorner's claims of racism by the department that he said led to the rampage. The rally did not support Dorner's killings. Dorner was the main suspect in a series of shooting attacks on police officers from February 3 to 12 that left four people dead. On February 12, Dorner died inside a burning cabin during a stand-off with police in the San Bernardino Mountains. Authorities claimed that the results of the autopsy suggest he could have committed suicide.


Three fighters, militant leader neutralized in Russia’s Dagestan

­Three members of an armed extremist organization have been killed during a Saturday night raid in the district of Khasavyurt in Russia’s southern region of Dagestan. Earlier on Saturday law enforcement officers killed the leader of the group, Arsene Kuramagomedov, who was personally involved in at least 19 robberies and 3 murders. The district town of Khasavyurt was rocked by a massive blast earlier this week which killed four police officers and wounded five others.


Greek ambassador to Mexico dies a day after assuming post

Greece’s newly appointed Ambassador to Mexico has died of an aneurysm at a Mexico City hospital on Friday, a day after he had presented his credentials to President Enrique Pena Nieto, it was reported on Saturday. Dimitris Anninos’s diplomatic career has stretched from the Greek General Consul in Melbourne and Shanghai, as well as Greece’s Ambassador to New Zealand. Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos expressed his condolences to the diplomat’s family.


Hacking legend Mitnick to secure Ecuadorian elections

­A convicted internet hacker is  beingtasked with providing online security for Ecuadorian elections on Sunday. Kevin Mitnick,  after serving 5 years for cybercrimes, now heads an Internet consultancy which is now responsible for protecting the Net Lock computer system tasked with tabulating Ecuador's elections. After being released from prison, Mitnick told the APF  that he now uses his talents to track down other cyber miscreants.  Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador since 2007, is running for his third term in office on February 17. Polls show that he is favorite to win over popular candidate, former banker Guillermo Lasso.