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21 September, 2013


25 killed in Baghdad bombing

A suicide car bomber has killed at least 25 people in the Sadr City suburb of Baghdad, according to police and medics, Reuter’s reports. The bomber struck next to a tent full of mourners in the Shiite neighborhood and wounded more than 60, medics said. According to the United Nations, Iraq is the grip of the worst sectarian violence since US troops left the country in 2008. Almost 5,000 have been killed in the bloodshed in Iraq in 2012, according to the UN.


Gunman in Afghan uniform kills three NATO soldiers

A man dressed in Afghan security forces uniform has shot dead three International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) soldiers in the East of the country, the NATO-led coalition said, as cited by Reuters. The nationality of the victims has not been revealed. “We can confirm that three ISAF service members were killed and one wounded by an individual wearing an ANSF uniform in Gardez,” said Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi, adding that an investigation into the incident had been launched. The attacker was gunned down by Afghan soldiers immediately after the assault. This has become the seventh reported insider attack since the beginning of the year, with 12 coalition personnel killed so far.


Border-guard escorted Greenpeace ship to dock in Russian port

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise will arrive in the northern port city of Murmansk under escort by Russian border guards, Itar-Tass reports. On Thursday the Coast Guard boarded the Netherlands-registered vessel in the Barrents Sea and arrested 25 activists who attempted to halt the work of a Gazprom oil rig in the Arctic Sea. The activists were campaigning against environmental risks posed by increased energy exploitation in the Arctic. The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier called the activists’ actions “provocative” and accused them of “threatening the safety of the ships involved in the development of the Russian sector of the Arctic shelf.”


10 people dead in Nairobi mall attack – witnesses

At least 10 people have now been reported killed after an armed group stormed an upscale Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Saturday, witnesses said. A Reuters photographer said he saw five bodies outside the mall and a former British soldier said he saw four more people who had also been killed. At least two dozen more have been reported injured. Sporadic gunfire could still be heard two hours after the attack was first launched, and grenades were also deployed in the attack. The Somali militant group al-Shabaab has previously threatened to strike the mall, which is a popular destination for the city’s expatriate community. Witnesses said the attackers told all Muslims to leave the premises, as only non-Muslims would be targeted.


Over 400 Syrian refugees reach Italy by boat, one dies

More than 400 refugees who said they were fleeing the Syrian civil war have been intercepted near Sicily over the past 14 hours, Reuters cites Italy’s coast guard as saying. One 22-year-old woman died en route. The first boast, carrying 299 people, over half of whom were women and children, was escorted to the port of Syracuse late on Friday. The body of the woman who died was also on board. The cause of death remains unknown, although other refugees said she was a diabetic. The refugees said they had set sail from Egypt about a week ago. Another boat carrying 124 people was discovered overnight and escorted to a Sicilian port by the coast guard.


Gunmen open fire in upscale Nairobi mall, causalities reported

Witnesses say gunmen have opened fire in the Westgate Mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, killing at least five. A Reuters photographer at the scene says he saw what appeared to be five dead bodies in the mall. Witnesses have reported as many as 20 attackers at the scene, although other accounts say several gunmen are involved in the assault. The identity of the attackers or their motivations currently remain unknown.


Four suicide bombers kill six SWAT officers in Iraq

Four suicide bombers stormed a police headquarters in a town north of Baghdad, killing six swat officers early Saturday morning after an hour-long shootout, Reuters cites security sources as saying. It was not clear who was responsible for the attack which occurred in Baiji – 112 miles north of Baghdad. The attackers killed the guards outside the compound at the onset of the attack while one of them was shot dead in the ensuing fight inside the base. The other three blew themselves up when army reinforcements arrived. Security forces have regularly been targeted by Sunni Islamist extremists who have recently been gaining momentum in their battle against the country’s Shi’ite-controlled government.


Pakistan releases Taliban co-founder from prison

The co-founder and de facto leader of the Afghan Taliban has been released from prison in Pakistan, officials say. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar helped organize the terrorist movement and fought against NATO forces after the 2001 invasion. Baradar was captured in Pakistan in 2010. He reportedly was a proponent of peace talks between the Taliban and the government. He is regarded as a figure who could help to persuade his former comrades to lay down their weapons.


N.Korea puts off reunion of divided families

The North Korean government has postponed the reunion of the families divided since the 1950-53 Korean war, accusing Seoul of confrontation. Six weeks of meetings between the family members separated for decades were set to start on Wednesday, Reuters reported. "The reunions of separated families and relatives between the North and the South will be postponed until there can be a normal atmosphere where dialogue and negotiations can be held," said a North Korean spokesman for the committee, which oversees ties with South Korea. The South Korea government didn’t immediately comment on the situation.


China issues storm warning as ‘super typhoon’ approaches

The Chinese National Observatory has issued its highest level storm warning for super typhoon Usagi. According to data from the Observatory’s storm tracker Usagi is now heading straight for the city of Hong Kong. Experts say it is likely to be the strongest typhoon to hit the city this year.


Chemical weapons watchdog starts examining Syria’s record

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague has begun examining the file on Syria’s chemical weapons presented by Damascus. The OPCW received the Syrian declaration on Thursday and according to an unspecified UN diplomat the record is “quite lengthy”. As the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW is examining the file, the UN Security Council is preparing a resolution to ensure Syria’s chemical weapons are destroyed.


Mexico confirms 101 dead in wake of storms Ingrid and Manuel

Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, has confirmed 101 people dead as a result of rains caused by Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel, as well as 68 missing in La Pintada after Thursday’s massive landslide. Osorio Chong said that 24 Mexican states were impacted by the large storms and that significant rains were expected in the coming week. The official added that 58 thousand people remain in shelters throughout Mexico. Meanwhile, Guerrero state Governor Ángel Aguirre said the storms left 22,000 homes damaged there, which the country’s president has cited as being the worst impacted state. More than 20,000 Mexicans remain in shelters in Guerrero alone.


Two Republicans quit ‘Gang of Seven’ immigration reform group

Republicans John Carter and Sam Johnson, both of whom represent Texas in the House of Representatives, have left the House committee that is meant to draft immigration reform. According to a joint statement, the two congressmen departed the so-called ‘Gang of Seven’ over the Obama administration’s disregard for the Constitution in regards to Obamacare. The House group was set to deliver a plan in the fall, which was expected to lack the path to success of its Senate bill counterpart. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, cited by ABC News as a key player in the negotiations, said that the group was unlikely to produce a bill anytime soon. “The bipartisan group just wasn’t getting support from Republican House leadership,” said Gutierrez. “It’s just not gonna happen now.”


US ready to strike Syria if UN deal falls through

The US has not abandoned a military strike option against Syria if Damascus does not fulfill its obligations under the US-Russian plan to surrender its chemical weapons, a White House official stated Friday ahead of UN Security Council talks in the disarmament program. “We are not forsaking the option of the United States and our allies taking military action,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters. Deep divides are expected between Moscow and Washington as the UN General Assembly debates the terms of the resolution that would ensure Syria’s compliance.


China’s FM urges nuclear talks with N. Korea

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the restart of international talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, stressing that Pyongyang is willing to recommit to denuclearization. The FM made the comments on Friday in a speech titled, ‘A New Model for Major Country Relations between China and the United States’ during the Statesman’s Forum at Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. Wang insisted that North Korea recently stated that it is ready to return to a 2005 commitment to give up nuclear weapons and freeze its nuclear program in return for food aid. North Korea withdrew from aid-for-disarmament talks in 2009.


NASA's Deep Impact probe lost in space

NASA pronounced its Deep Impact spacecraft dead on Friday, six weeks after scientists last made contact with it. Deep Impact, launched in January 2005, studied and photographed multiple notable comets before sending the first images of Comet ISON, which is expected to be visible in daylight when it passes Earth this year, home to the space agency. Deep Impact also confirmed the orbit path of six separate stars and traveled 4.7 billion miles through deep space. The exact reason why NASA lost contact remains unknown, but experts have speculated that a problem with Deep Impact’s time-tagging technology eventually rendered it useless to mission control.