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26 April, 2013


16 protesters injured in Cairo clashes

At least 16 people have been injured as protesters clashed with police near the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Al Arabiya reported. Law enforcement used tear gas in response to an unruly crowd throwing rocks. A police car was also torched by the demonstrators. Friday’s violence erupted after protesters from Tahrir Square, backed up by the Black Bloc group and football fans, started their march toward the Presidential Palace from Al-Murj metro station. The target of their anger was the government of the Islamist President Mohammed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood.


Tsarnaevs’ mother was on US terrorist database 18 months before Boston attack

The mother of the Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, had been added to a federal terrorism database, TIDE, about 18 months before the attack, AP cites two unnamed US government officials. The list was updated after Moscow contacted the CIA late in 2011 with concerns that the now-dead suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and his mother Zubeidat were religious militants about to travel to Russia. Being on the database doesn’t automatically mean the US suspects a person of terrorist activity, putting them under surveillance, security screening or travel restrictions. Tsarnaeva previously denied the allegations, saying she’s never had connections with any terrorist organization.


Malfunctioning Russian cargo spacecraft docks with ISS

Russian cargo spacecraft Progress-M19M docked with the International Space Station on Friday, despite its malfunctioning antenna. The unmanned cargo ship failed to deploy one of its antennas after it launched on Wednesday. Officials said the problem was not expected to hinder the unloading of the food, fuel, oxygen and equipment aboard.


France to keep 1,000 troops in Mali – minister

France's defense minister reaffirmed Friday that Paris will keep 1,000 troops in Mali after the arrival of more than 12,000 UN peacekeepers later this year. Jean-Yves Le Drian made the announcement during a visit to the volatile northeastern Malian city of Gao. "From now on we are in the post-war phase. The UN resolution adopted yesterday will allow for the arrival of a force to stabilize the country," he said. However, France “will keep about 1,000 soldiers to carry on with military operations,” the minister added.


Russian court denies parole for Pussy Riot member Tolokonnikova

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of feminist punk band Pussy Riot, has been denied parole by a court in Russian republic of Mordovia. She has been in custody since last March, following the band’s provocative ‘punk prayer’ on the altar of Christ the Savior Cathedral in central Moscow, Russia’s main Orthodox Church. In August, three Pussy Riot members – Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich – were sentenced to two years in medium security prison for ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.’ Later that day, a Moscow court suspended Samutsevich’s sentence. In January 2013, Alyokhina was denied her bid to suspend her sentence.


15 feared trapped as Indian hospital collapses

Up to 15 people are feared to be trapped after a hospital building partially collapsed in central India on Friday, an official said. A rescue operation has been launched at the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state, Mayor Krishna Gaur said. Four people have been rescued from the debris, according to police. The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear.


Putin says adoption agreement to be amended as France approves same-sex marriage

President Vladimir Putin said Friday that agreements with other nations on the adoption of children should be amended if their legislation contradicts Russian law. He expressed support for a proposal by the Kaliningrad Legislative Assembly’s head, who cited France’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage. Putin said Russia respects its partners, but also asks them to “respect Russia’s cultural traditions, its ethical and legislative norms.”


Number of Syrian refugees tops 1.4mn – UN

The number of Syrians who have fled their homeland has surpassed 1.4 million, the United Nations refugee agency said Friday. As of Thursday, the total number of Syrians registered as refugees was 1,401,435, AFP said, citing the UNHCR. "This corresponds to 30 percent more than the total envisaged under the current Regional Refugee Response Plan by end June 2013," the agency said.


4 killed by bomb blast outside Sunni mosque in Baghdad

A roadside bomb exploded outside a Sunni mosque in a southern district of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing four worshippers after Friday prayers, Reuters said, citing police and medics. The attack, which targeted the Kubaisi mosque, followed three days of the most widespread fighting in Iraq since US troops withdrew in December 2011.


New bird flu case found in China’s eastern Fujian province

Chinese authorities discovered on Friday the first case of a new strain of bird flu in the eastern province of Fujian, Xinhua reported. Fujian's health authority said a 65-year-old man with the surname Luo had tested positive for the virus. Thirty-seven people who were in close contact with the man showed no symptoms of the disease. The flu was first detected in March; the World Health Organization this week called the virus, known as H7N9, "one of the most lethal."


Syria ready to invite Russian experts for chemical weapons probe

Damascus is prepared to invite Russian specialists to investigate an incident that involved the use of chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo on March 19, RIA Novosti said, citing the Syrian Ministry of Information. Syrian authorities have accused anti-government rebels of using chemical weapons in Aleppo, while opposition forces said Damascus used them in Homs in December last year. Syria has not allowed UN experts into the country to investigate either incident.


Birmingham terror ringleader gets 5 life sentences for attack plot

The ringleader of the Birmingham terror cell that plotted to carry out a devastating attack in the UK was given five life sentences and ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years, media reports said. A group of 11 jihadists led by Irfan Naseer, 31, planned to use eight suicide bombers to cause more damage than the 7/7 London bombings. Naseer, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, were convicted in February of planning a terror campaign.


Flow of heroin to Russia increases 50% in Q1 – Drug Control Service

Russia’s Drug Control Service seized 50 percent more heroin in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, director Viktor Ivanov said Friday. He said that a new program will be submitted to the state leadership in summer aimed at rehabilitating drug addicts. The program hopes to be more effective than similar programs in the US or European countries, Itar-Tass quoted the service’s head as saying.


Death toll in Nigeria shootout reaches 25

Twenty-five people were killed in a clash between Nigerian security forces and suspected Islamist militants belonging to Boko Haram who robbed a bank and attacked a police station in northeastern Yobe state, police said on Friday. The military had earlier said seven people were killed in the Thursday shootout, Reuters reported. “Five policemen and 20 gunmen have been confirmed dead,” Yobe State police commissioner Sanusi Rufai said, adding that the stolen money had been recovered.


Boston bombings suspect moved from hospital to prison

Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was transferred out of the hospital to a Massachusetts prison Friday. "The US Marshals Service confirms that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been transported from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and is now confined at the Bureau of Prisons facility FMC Devens at Ft. Devens, Mass.,” US Marshals Service spokesperson Drew Wade said. The 19-year-old had been held in the hospital since his arrest by police a week ago, and his condition reportedly improved from serious to fair on Tuesday.


Israel tightens security along Lebanon border after drone incident

The Israeli military increased its security alert along the border with Lebanon a day after it shot down a drone allegedly sent by Hezbollah off the coast of the city of Haifa. Several reconnaissance jets also flew over several parts of southern Lebanon. The Lebanese army and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have reportedly deployed extensively along the border to “prevent any military escalation.” Hezbollah on Thursday denied sending the unmanned aircraft into Israel's airspace.


S. Korea to pull remaining workers from joint industrial zone

South Korea said on Friday it will pull out all remaining workers from the Kaesong industrial zone in North Korea. Pyongyang earlier rejected a call for formal talks to resolve a standoff that led to a suspension of operations at the complex. "Because our nationals… are experiencing greater difficulties due to the North's unjust actions, the government has come to the unavoidable decision to bring back all remaining personnel in order to protect their safety," Reuters quoted South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae as saying. About 170 South Koreans remain in Kaesong, which is on the North Korean side of the border with the South.


Pakistan court orders house arrest for Musharraf over Bhutto killing

A Pakistani court on Friday slapped a three-day house arrest order on former President Pervez Musharraf over the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto more than five years ago, a prosecutor said. Musharraf is already under a two-week house arrest, set to expire on May 4, over the sacking of judges in November 2007; the new order will run concurrently, AFP said. The retired general, who appeared in court in Rawalpindi for his remand hearing, is accused of conspiracy to murder Bhutto, who died in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007. It is the second of three cases, dating back to Musharraf’s 1999-2008 rule, for which he has been arrested since returning to Pakistan on March 24 after four years of self-imposed exile.


12 dead in ambush on Philippines mayor

Twelve people were killed in an ambush on a Philippines mayor, officials said Friday. The attack was the deadliest of a string of violent incidents that have marred the campaign for the country’s May 13 elections. Gunmen opened fire on a truck carrying Mayor Abdulmalik Manamparan and his supporters on southern Mindanao Island late Thursday, AFP quoted local military commander Col. Ricardo Jalad as saying. He added that Manamparan’s relatives were among the victims. The ambush on a remote mountain road near Nunungan town began as the mayor was traveling home from a campaign event.


Japan executes 2 inmates

Japan has hanged two inmates convicted of murder, its fourth and fifth executions this year. The executions were carried out early Friday in Tokyo, the Justice Ministry said. Former yakuza members Katsuji Hamasaki, 64, and Yoshihide Miyagi, 56, were convicted of shooting to death two rival gangsters in 2005. Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said he took into consideration the feelings of the victims' families and court documents when ordering the death penalty. Capital punishment in Japan has been criticized by human rights groups, but polls show public support for it.


Iranian scientist arrives in Oman after US detention

An Iranian scientist held by the US since late 2011 has arrived in Oman, media reports said Friday. Mojtaba Atarodi, a microchip expert at Tehran's Sharif University, was in US custody since December 2011 over allegations he bought advanced technological equipment in violation of US sanctions on Iran. Oman has served as a mediator between Washington and Tehran on previous occasions. IRNA news agency reported earlier this week that the US released Atarodi. In September 2011, two Americans convicted of espionage by Iran were freed and traveled to Oman. The country also briefly hosted a third member of this group after her release a year earlier.


China accuses Philippines of trying to 'legalize' occupation of islands

China accused the Philippines on Friday of trying to legalize its occupation of disputed islands in the South China Sea. In January, the Philippines asked a UN tribunal to order a halt to Beijing's activities, which it said violated Philippine sovereignty over islands that sit amid potentially energy-rich waters. Manila said Thursday that a UN arbitration court had set up the tribunal to hear Manila's complaint, which Beijing blasted as an attempt to seize Chinese territory, Reuters said. "The Philippine side is trying to use this to negate China's territorial sovereignty and attach a veneer of 'legality' to its illegal occupation of Chinese islands and reefs," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.


Afghan bus crash kills 30 after Taliban attack truck

A bus in southern Afghanistan has collided with the burning wreckage of a truck that was attacked by Taliban insurgents, killing 30 bus passengers, an official said. The truck was set on fire by Taliban attackers and left burning in the middle of a road, and the bus could not stop in time, said Omar Zawak, the governor's spokesperson in Helmand province. The fiery crash happened Friday, about 55 kilometers outside the capital of Helmand province, injuring 11 passengers.


Venezuela opposition to challenge election in court

The victory of newly elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is to be officially challenged in the country’s courts by opposition leader Henrique Capriles. Maduro was sworn in on April 14 after his stint as interim president following Hugo Chavez’s death in March. However, the narrow margin by which he won has led to demands from Capriles that the results be reexamined and an audit of votes take place. The election council has emphasized that the election results are not reversible, and that the audit procedure will solely be to ensure that the system worked properly.