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9 March, 2014


5.6 magnitude earthquake strikes off Colombia coast

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of southwestern Colombia on Sunday, 53 kilometers (33 miles) away from the city of Tumaco, according to the US Geological Survey. There have so far been no reports of fatalities or damage. The quake struck at sea at 3:29 p.m. local time and its depth was registered at 11.8 kilometers.


Libyan rebels threaten war if govt attacks oil tanker

Rebels in control of the port at Es Sider terminal in eastern Libya warned that if the government attacks the North Korean-flagged tanker, which has $36 million of crude oil in it, it will be “a declaration of war,” Reuters reported. This marks the latest development in a standoff between the Libyan government and the rebels in control of the oil reserves. The North Korean-flagged tanker began loading oil on Saturday. Earlier, the Libyan government threatened to bomb the tanker if it tried to export oil from the port. Navy and pro-government militias deployed boats to stop the tanker from leaving the port. "Several navy boats have been dispatched. Now the tanker's movements are under complete control and nobody can move it," Culture Minister Habib al-Amin, who is also acting as informal government spokesman, said.


15 Burundi opposition members injured in clashes with police

Fifteen members of an opposition party in Burundi, Southeast Africa, were injured in clashes with police late on Saturday, Reuters reported, citing witnesses and officials. Twenty people were arrested. The incident at the headquarters of the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD), a member of the Alliance for Democratic Change coalition, adds to political uncertainty in the country ahead of next year’s elections. Police fired live bullets when they went to free two colleagues who had been captured by members of MSD when they tried to break up a party meeting earlier in the day. It was not clear why police intervened to break up the gatherings, though other political meetings have been disrupted by authorities on occasion in the recent past.


16 killed in accidents in Egypt as heavy rains cause floods

Sixteen people have been killed in two weather-related bus accidents following Egypt's heavy rain, which has caused floods and damage in several regions, Ahram Online reported. The deadly incidents occurred in Minya governorate in Upper Egypt, near the resort town of Hurghada on the Red Sea. Authorities declared an emergency alert as the town of St. Catherine in Sinai was hit by a flood. Residents of the town are reportedly in a state of panic, with the flooding expected to reach its main market area.


Canadian freelance photographer killed in Syria – reports

29-year old Ali Moustafa from Toronto was killed in a bomb attack in Aleppo on Sunday, an activist told AP.Moustafa was reportedly killed in a blast, as a crude barrel bomb landed near to where he was standing with a group of firefighters. Dozens of journalists have been killed or kidnapped in Syria, both by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebels trying to overthrow him.


Peace deal with Palestinians at least a year way – Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a possible peace deal with the Palestinians would take at least another year to negotiate, should both sides accept US proposed principles to keep the talks going. Netanyahu reiterated that he regarded the proposals drafted by Secretary of State John Kerry, as an “American document of American positions.” This attitude would give leeway to those Israelis supporting Jewish settlements in occupied lands and lead to Israel backing out of the talks. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to meet Obama on March 17 to discuss the so-called framework deal, aimed at salvaging the faltering negotiations.


Kidnapped Maaloula nuns to be released ‘soon’

At least 10 Lebanese and Syrian nuns, who were kidnapped last year from the historic Christian town of Maaloula, may be released on Sunday, according to Arab media sources. A pro-regime Syrian news agency said a deal has been reached to release the nuns who were captured by the Nusra Front, one of the Islamist radical groups fighting Presedent Assad’s forces. Meanwhile the head of Qatari intelligence, Saadeh el-Kbeisi, has arrived in Lebanon. Along with Lebanon’s General Security Chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, Qatar has become a crucial player in the negotiations to release the nuns.


Astronaut Wakata becomes first Japanese to command ISS

Astronaut Koichi Wakata, 50, has become the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station. Wakata, who has been a flight engineer on board the ISS since November, has taken over command from Russia’s Oleg Kotov, who will return to Earth on March 11. “I am very proud as a Japanese to be given this important commandership of ISS,” Wakata said, as cited the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA. He will head the crew till May 14, when their return to the planet is scheduled.


Afghanistan Vice-President died of natural causes

Afghan Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, who used to be one of the country's most feared warlords, died of illness at the age of 56. Ethnic Tajik, Fahim was a leader of the minority in Afghanistan. “The government of Afghanistan has called for a three-day national mourning, during which the national flag will be half-mast for his demise,” presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said on his Twitter account.


At least 30 hurt as stage collapses in California high school

At least 30 people have been taken to hospitals in Anaheim, California, after a stage collapsed during a student event at Servite High School late on Saturday, AP reports. The injuries are minor. It’s not yet clear if all who were hurt were students. 250 girls from sister Catholic school Rosary High School were on the stage, when it collapsed. “Early investigations suggest the front of the stage gave out due to weight,” Anaheim police Lt. Tim Schmidt told Los Angeles Times.


Japan scrambles jets against China in territorial dispute

Tokyo scrambled jets to counter Chinese airplanes that flew close to Japanese airspace, defense officials said. An information-gathering plane and two Chinese bombers were picked up by the Japanese flying over the East China Sea in international airspace on Sunday. China and Japan are currently embroiled in a bitter territorial row over a group of island in the East China Sea known as the Senkakus to the Japanese and the Diaoyus to the Chinese.


At least 30 dead in two days of clashes in Yemen

Clashes between Shiite Muslim insurgents and Sunni tribesman in Yemen’s al-Jawf province have killed at least 30 people over the last two days, the local governor told Reuters. The Shiite fighters are reportedly trying to cement their position in the North through the attacks. Governor Mohammed bin Aboud told local television that the Presidential Commission had to intervene to stop the bloodshed.


Checkpoint in Iraq blown up: 12 dead

A suicide bomber in a vehicle stuffed with explosives detonated at a crowded checkpoint at the northern entrance to the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, killing 12 civilians and police officers and wounding over 60 people. Dozens of cars gathered at the control point have been damaged. In 2014, violence in Iraq continued after 2013 had become the bloodiet year in the modern history of Iraq. In March alone more than 120 people have been killed, while since the beginning of the year more than 1,850 have died in a new wave of violence.


N. Korean-flagged tanker loads oil from rebel-held Libyan port - report

A North Korean-flagged tanker began loading oil at a rebel-seized port at Es Sider terminal in eastern Libya, Reuters cited port and oil officials as saying on Saturday. Earlier, the Libyan government threatened to bomb the tanker if it tried to export oil from the port, marking an escalation in the fight for the country’s oil reserves. "The loading has started," a port worker said and a spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) confirmed. Rebels who took control of three major Libyan ports in August are demanding more autonomy.