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29 August, 2013


Two Guantanamo detainees released to Algeria

The US announced the release of two detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay to their home nation of Algeria, bringing the total number of detainees at the prison to 164. Nabil Said Hadjarab and Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab were approved for transfer based on a review directed by President Obama. Hadjarab had been detained for 12 years, his lawyer told the Guardian, and was cleared for release in 2007. He took part in the ongoing hunger strike at the prison. More than 37 detainees remain on hunger strike, according to the US military.


Car bombing in Iraq kills at least 11

At least 11 people has been killed and 27 wounded in a car bomb in the Iraqi city of Samarra, some 125 kilometers north of Baghdad, reports Reuters, citing police and medical sources. The parked vehicle blew up in a busy market street. This comes just a day after a series of terrorists attacks ripped through Baghdad, killing up to 90 people and injuring around another 300. In July, over 1,000 Iraqis died in attacks – the highest monthly death toll since 2008, the UN said.


Moscow links Iraq bombings to Syrian armed groups

Moscow is “seriously concerned” over a new escalation of violence in Iraq, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday, commenting on a series of bombings Wednesday in Baghdad that killed up to 90 people and wounded nearly 300.“These terrorist attacks are obviously backed from abroad, including by armed groups operating in Syria,” the ministry said in a statement. The ministry said the attacks showed that the ongoing conflict in Syria had spread and that further destabilization could lead to a worsening of the situation “not only in neighboring states, but in the entire region.”


Greek unions start fall protests

Greece civil servants’ union, ADEDY, caused most public services to close early, while several hundred protesters marched peacefully to parliament. The action against government plans to axe thousands of state jobs saw no major disruption Thursday, but unions are threatening to organize more protests in September. The conservative-led government is planning to suspend up to 50,000 public servants this year and fire 15,000 by the end of 2014. The start of the new school year could be disrupted as teaching unions were meeting Thursday to plan strikes.


Pakistani judge overturns sentence of doctor who helped find bin Laden

A Pakistani judge on Thursday overturned the 33-year sentence of Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped CIA agents find Osama bin Laden. Judge Sahibzada Mohammad Anees ordered a new trial, ruling that the previous judge in the case had exceeded his authority when handing down the sentence last year, Reuters said. The US withheld $33 million in aid for Pakistan in retaliation.


Iran appoints first-ever Foreign Ministry spokeswoman

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has appointed Marzieh Afkham as its new spokesperson, the first time Tehran has named a woman to the position. A career diplomat with nearly three decades of service at the ministry, Afkham has been director of its media and public diplomacy department since 2010. Incumbent spokesman Abbas Araqchi described her as “seasoned and experienced in the field of media diplomacy,” ISNA news agency reported. “Her expertise was the only factor in this appointment,” he added, in reference to opposition from ultra-conservative MPs.


Khmer Rouge tribunal ‘survival’ under threat - UN chief

The UN secretary general has warned Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal is running out of money and its “very survival” is now under threat. International donors’ contributions to the UN-backed court have run dry and some staff members have not been paid for months, Ban Ki-moon said. Speaking in The Hague on Wednesday, he said that “financial failure would be a tragedy for the people of Cambodia.” The tribunal, which began in 2006 to seek justice for atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, has faced budgetary shortfalls. Some unpaid staff went on strike in March, and about 100 staffers plan to strike again on September 1.


Taliban kills 15 police in western Afghanistan

Taliban insurgents killed 15 Afghan officers and wounded 10 from police convoy patrolling a key highway in western Afghanistan’s Farah province, an official said Thursday. Insurgents staged an evening mountain pass ambush and fled unharmed after attacking about 40 officers in the convoy. Before dawn Wednesday near the ambush site, rockets were fired at a fuel truck parking. One truck full of gasoline exploded and fire destroyed about 35 of the 40 trucks in the lot, and reportedly killed six of the drivers.


Russia to send new ships to join naval group in Mediterranean Sea

The composition of the Russian Navy’s group of ships in the Mediterranean Sea will be changed soon, Interfax reported, citing a source in the Armed Forces General Staff. A large anti-submarine ship of the Northern Fleet is expected to join it within the next few days. The Black Sea Fleet’s missile carrying cruiser Moskva, which is now wrapping up its mission in the North Atlantic, will join it a little later, the source said. In autumn, the Pacific Fleet's missile-carrying cruiser Varyag is expected to replace the large anti-submarine ship Vice Admiral Panteleyev. The Russian Navy is not planning to expand its permanent force in the Mediterranean, a Navy spokesman told Interfax on August 27.


Founder of Indian Mujahideen arrested near Nepal border

Indian security services have arrested Yasin Bhatkal, the founder of Indian Mujahideen, after being on the run for over five years. Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Thursday confirmed the arrest near India-Nepal border. Bhatkal, 30, is accused of masterminding several terror strikes including Delhi, Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad explosions. He was detained along with another IM leader Akhtar, sources said.


Pennsylvania law argues marriage equality has no 'value or legitimacy'

Marriage licenses handed out to gay and lesbian couples are invalid under Pennsylvania state law because same-sex partners are prohibited from marrying, just as 12-year-old children are, Republican Governor Tom Corbett said Wednesday. Corbett’s administration filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent marriage licenses from being given to same-sex couples in suburban Philadelphia, where over 150 gay and lesbian couples have been issued the documents since July 24. State attorneys said in court documents that licenses to same-sex couples have no “value or legitimacy,” the same way it would be a “violation of state law” if “the clerk issued marriage licenses to 12-year-olds.” Over 30 gay and lesbian couples in the region have already been issued licenses, although they would be revoked if the state is successful in invalidating their “purported marriage licenses.” The federal government has challenged Pennsylvania’s state law.