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20 April, 2014


Youth protesters clash with police in Venezuela on Easter Sunday

Masked youths clashed with police while protesting in Venezuela on Easter Sunday. The demonstrators demanded the “resurrection of democracy” while chanting “Liberty!” and throwing petrol bombs at officers. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons. Protesters also burned and hung from lamp posts effigies of President Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela has been gripped with anti-government protests since mid-February.


Malaysia Airlines plane with 166 on board makes emergency landing

A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane has successfully made an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur after it reported problems with its landing gear, the airline said. The aircraft was carrying 166 people – 159 passengers and seven crew members – when it experienced a malfunction of its right-hand landing gear upon takeoff. Fire rescue services were put on standby, according to the airline. It comes as the search continues for Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which disappeared with 239 people on board while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing last month. The search has so far yielded no results.


18 killed, nearly 50 injured in Iraq violence

At least 18 people were killed and almost 50 others injured in a wave of attacks in Iraq on Sunday, AP quoted officials as saying. One of the attacks took place in the southern city of Samawah when two car bombs killed seven civilians and wounded 17 others, according to police. Another attack targeted a Shiite college in Baghdad, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt at the main gate while other militants launched an attack at the back gate. Four policemen and one teacher were killed. Eighteen others were wounded in the attack. The additional militants were killed by police. A third attack shook the commercial neighborhood of Iskandariyah, a town south of Baghdad, with a car bomb explosion killing three civilians and injuring 12 others. Another bomb blast took place in al-Rashed village near Baghdad, killing three people and wounding six others. The attacks come just two weeks before the country's parliamentary elections. Security forces are struggling to control the situation, which is the worst violence that Iraq has seen since the country's civil war in 2006-2007.


8 dead in Finland plane crash

Eight people were killed after a small plane carrying parachutists crashed and caught fire in western Finland on Sunday. Three passengers were rescued. The incident happened as the parachutists jumped out of the aircraft above Jamijarvi airfield, some 70 kilometers (45 miles) east of the town of Pori, in the country’s southwest. The pilot and two passengers escaped by parachute and were not seriously injured, according to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. “Apparently some parts fell off the plane before it crashed,” Det. Supt. Petri Kangas told AP. Firefighters rushed to the burnt-out wreckage shortly after the accident. The Accident Investigation Board will begin exploring the wreckage tomorrow.


​US Navy submarine covers half of targeted area, no signs of Malaysia Airlines flight 370

The Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle has spent the past week searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in a remote and largely unmapped 6.2 mile (10 km) circle of sea floor, located some 1,200 miles (2,000 km) northwest of Perth. The submarine is now in its eighth deep sea mission with no sign of wreckage so far, Australian authorities said on Sunday. The submarine drone has searched about half its targeted area and needs one more week to complete the operation. The plane disappeared 44 days ago with 239 people on board.


​7 new cases of deadly MERS virus confirmed in Saudi Arabia

Seven new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have been confirmed in Saudi Arabia. Thirty-six people were infected earlier this week. The disease has no cure and kills around one-third of those infected. The virus appeared two years ago in Saudi Arabia and infected 231 people in the kingdom, 76 of whom died, according to the Health Ministry website. However, Saudi health authorities say the disease does not transmit easily between people and may simply die out. Despite that, a Malaysian citizen was confirmed to have the disease after a trip to Saudi Arabia last week, and Yemen has also reported its first case. A new cluster of cases has also been discovered in the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia is expected to receive a huge amount of tourists in July during the annual fasting month of Ramadan.


South Yemen drone strike kills 30

A drone strike in southern Yemen has killed some 30 suspected Al-Qaeda militants, a tribal chief told AFP. An earlier death toll on Sunday had said that only five had been killed, while several others were wounded. On Saturday a drone strike in the central province of Baida killed 10 suspects and three civilians after initial reports stated that 16 had been killed. Less than a week ago, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, chief of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), promised to attack Western ‘crusaders’. The US has admitted to operating drones in Yemen, stating that drone use is a vital component of the ‘war on terror’ but does not detail its operations.


Kidnapped French journalists arrive home from Syria

Four French journalists who were taken hostage in Syria arrived back in France on Sunday, to the relief of colleagues and family. The journalists had been held captive for 10 months. French President Francois Hollande called their return “a day of joy for France” as he welcomed them at a military airbase on the outskirts of Paris. Edouard Elias, Didier Francois, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres had been detained in two separate kidnappings last year. Syria is renowned as being the world’s most dangerous country for media. Hollande noted that “there are still hostages being held in Syria because they are journalists.”


Two UNICEF employees missing in Pakistan

Two UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) employees have gone missing in Karachi, south Pakistan, according to UN spokesperson Vittorio Cammarota. “UNICEF can confirm that two local staff disappeared on Thursday evening in Karachi,” he said in a statement released on Sunday. Police say that they suspect abduction, according to local media.


​Former Afghan FM Abdullah leads polls

Afghanistan’s former foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah, has been leading the polls in the voting for Afghanistan’s next president. However, he remains short of a majority, as widely predicted, according to the latest official count. The country’s Independent Election Commission has stated that Abdullah is leading with some 44.4 percent, with the figure based in results from half of the vote from all of the country’s 34 provinces. If the winner obtains a win of less than 50 percent, there will be a second round. Second in the polls is West-leaning politician and academic, Ashraf Ghani, with 33.2 percent. Final results will be released in May, with any necessary second round taking place towards the end of the month


​Israeli police arrest 16 Palestinians after clashes at Temple Mount

At least 16 Palestinians were arrested at Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Sunday. Local media reported that dozens of Palestinians threw fireworks and rocks at security forces upon the opening of the mount to Jewish worshippers. Officers responded with stun grenades. According to Israeli police, two border officers and five Palestinians were slightly injured during the incident. Tensions at the site, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, run high during Jewish holidays (Jews are currently celebrating Passover), when Palestinians oppose Jews praying there. Temple Mount is currently closed to visitors.


Iraq bombers kill 9, strike university

Explosions across Iraq, including a suicide bombing at a north Baghdad university, killed 9 on Sunday according to medical and security officials who spoke to AFP. Baghdad's Imam Kadhim University was bombed, killing three and injuring a further nine. However, accounts of how the attack unfolded have varied – while a police officer told the agency that a suicide attacker went into the building before detonating explosives, and that security forces killed two more potential assailants, an interior ministry official stated that the attack took place at the entrance and a second bomber was gunned down. Other attacks included a car bomb in Babil province south of the capital, in which three people died, and two more car bombs resulted in the deaths of three people and 26 more were injured. In 10 days Iraq will vote in its first parliamentary election since US troops withdrew from the country in 2011. More than 8,000 people died in 2013 and at least 2,700 have perished this year already, with the spike in violence being attributed to Sunni minority anger at the Shiite-led government’s alleged mistreatment, exacerbated by the ongoing war in Syria.


SpaceX capsule filed with ‘Easter presents’ reaches ISS

An unmanned Dragon capsule from private US firm SpaceX, which was full of supplies, has successfully reached the ISS. Astronauts used a robot arm to capture their Easter delivery, 260 miles above Egypt. The capsule was filled with more than two tons of food, spacewalking gear, and experiments like mating fruit flies and a little veggie hothouse. NASA also packed care packages for the six spacemen. SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for a series of future supply missions.


​US tracing Putin’s secret accounts is 'absurd' – presidential spokesman

The report in The Times on potential sanctions targeting President Vladimir Putin’s alleged secret personal wealth, is “apparently a hoax” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Ekho Moskvy radio.

The British newspaper reported that American financial investigators, who previously traced Al-Qaeda funding, would find the secret $40 billion of Putin’s money in numbered Swiss bank accounts, so that it can fall under US sanctions.

“Why would anyone be scared of sanctions, especially as absurd as these?” Peskov commented. “This can only be joked about.”


Militants ambush Algerian soldiers killing 11 - reports

Islamic militants ambushed Algerian troops during a routine mountain patrol near the capital Algiers, killing 11 soldiers, a security source told Reuters on Sunday. The attack, which occurred in Tizi Ouzou, 120 kms (74.5 miles) east of Algiers, marked the deadliest in years against Algeria's security forces. Al-Qaeda's north African branch, 'Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb' (AQIM), is reportedly operating in Algeria.


​Eight killed in Mexico plane crash

A small Hawker 800 flying from the Mexican Caribbean island of Cozumel to Ramos Arizpe crashed in the municipality of Ramos Arizpe in the North of the country, the government of the state of Coahuila said. All eight people on board were killed. The cause of the crash was not immediately apparent.


6.1 magnitude earthquake strikes off Papua New Guinea, no tsunami warning issued

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake has been registered 96 km (60 mi) southwest of the town of Panguna, Papua New Guinea, according to the US Geological Survey. The quake occurred at 00:15 GMT. The epicenter was located at a depth of 18 kilometers. Currently there is no information on possible casualties or damage. This comes just hours after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea's eastern coast, prompting a tsunami warning which was later canceled. Last week, a tsunami warning was issued for Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanatu, after two earthquakes hit the Solomon Islands within hours.