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17 April, 2014


Security Council to discuss worsened situation in Syria's Homs – UN source

The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting over the situation in Syria. The closed talks are to take place at 21:30 GMT on Thursday. A diplomatic source in the UN told Itar-Tass that the meeting will concern the renewed clashes between the Syrian army and rebel fighters in the Homs area. Earlier, the joint UN-Arab League mediator on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, expressed his regret over the breakdown of negotiations aimed at the evacuation of civilians from the Old City of Homs. Since the beginning of the year, some 1,350 people have been evacuated from the area.


​Saudi blogger sentenced to 15 years behind bars

A Special Criminal Court in the capital of Riyadh found 26-year-old Fadhel al-Manasef guilty of incitement and participation in demonstrations, writing articles against state security and posting them online. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail, barred from traveling abroad for 15 years after his release, and also fined 100,000 riyals ($26,700). Manasef denied the charges and his lawyer plans to appeal the verdict. Manasef has been in detention in a jail in Dammam since October 2011. He was convicted in three cases that date back to 2009.


Syria submits ‘more specific’ list of chemical weapons to watchdog

Syria has submitted a "more specific" list of its chemical weapons to the global regulator overseeing the destruction of its stockpile, Reuters reported. The joint mission of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Syria earlier cited “discrepancies between what they found, and what was on the original declaration,” according to diplomats. The original list had reportedly been based on estimates, not exact amounts of toxic agents found in storage and production facilities across Syria. OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan confirmed a revised list had been submitted.


Taliban militants execute 4 abducted police officers in Wardak province - reports

Taliban militants have reportedly executed at least four Afghan policemen in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. They were abducted from the Asadbad district on Tuesday night, the Khaama Press said. The policemen were members of the public order forces and were taken from Kabul-Kandahar highway, according to local security officials. On Saturday, at least five policemen were killed or injured after a group of militants ambushed a supply convoy in the district of Syedabad.


Man wounded in blast near bus stop in Russia’s Bryansk

One man was injured by a blast near a bus stop in the Bezhitsky District of the western Russian city of Bryansk on Thursday, Interfax reported. He is in hospital with minor injuries, local police said. Bomb-disposal experts were sent to the scene.


Taliban negotiator placed under house arrest in UAE – Kabul

A leading Taliban peace negotiator has been placed under house arrest in the United Arab Emirates, Reuters reported on Thursday. Agha Jan Mutassim, a finance minister during Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, has been missing for over a week, according to the Afghan government. He disappeared after arranging a meeting in Dubai between Afghan and Taliban officials in February. The arrest is dealing a blow to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s efforts to jump-start a peace process before leaving office.


Several people wounded as gunfire breaks out near South Sudan UN base

At least 14 people were wounded in South Sudan on Thursday after gunfire erupted outside a UN peacekeeping base in the war-ravaged town of Bor, AFP reported. Shooting took place while local youth were demonstrating, said Mayor Nhial Majok. Some of the young men were armed with guns, he said. However, it was not immediately clear who fired the shots. Almost 5,000 civilians are sheltering at the base.


Gunmen kill 10 soldiers in attack on Iraqi military base

Militants attacked a military base in a restive area in northern Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 10 soldiers and wounding 12, AP reported. The morning attack took place at the base outside the city of Mosul, about 360km northwest of Baghdad. A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden truck at the gates of the facility, and a group of gunmen then opened fire from apparently commandeered military Humvees. Eight militants were also killed in the fighting.


25 Palestinians hurt in Temple Mount clash with police - reports

Palestinians have said 25 people were hurt during a clash with police on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, including one seriously, according to the Haaretz daily. Clashes continued for several hours on Wednesday between Israeli police officers and dozens of young Palestinians. One officer was slightly wounded amid stone-throwing by the protesters. Police allowed some Jews onto the Temple Mount after the clashes subsided, but hundreds of visitors were turned away. Tensions have increased recently, and most incidents involve Jews attempting to access the area in order to pray or demonstrate a Jewish presence.


Ruble strengthening as Putin says no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine

The Russian currency started to strengthen against the dollar on Thursday after President Vladimir Putin said claims that Russian forces were present in eastern Ukraine were “rubbish.” The ruble is 35.86 against the dollar, 13 kopecks less than previous closing, Interfax reported. The euro stood at 49.69 rubles, losing 3.5 kopecks. The bi-currency price ($0.55 and euro 0.45) decreased by 8.5 kopecks to 42.08 rubles.


India starts biggest day of voting in marathon elections

India kicked off the biggest day of its marathon general election on Thursday, with a quarter of its 815 million voters set to head to the polls, Reuters reported. Narendra Modi, the prime-ministerial candidate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has promised voters to rescue India from its slowest economic growth in a decade and create new jobs. The latest opinion poll shows that the BJP and its allies were forecast to win a narrow majority in the 543-seat lower house of parliament. Previous surveys predicted they would fall short.


Magnitude 5.3 earthquake hits southern Iran

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has jolted a sparsely populated district in the south of Iran, state TV said. The quake struck in Shonbeh on Thursday morning, at 04:01am local time (Wednesday 23:31 GMT), AP reported. No injuries were reported after the moderate quake.