Germany’s Foreign Ministry has said it regretted any offence caused to Qatar after a minister linked it to financing jihadist militants in Syria and Iraq. “We regret if there have been any misunderstandings,” AFP quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying on Friday. Development Aid Minister Gerd Mueller, commenting on the public broadcaster ZDF on the financing of militant group Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS], said: “Who is financing these troops? Hint: Qatar.” Doha denies supporting the hardline IS insurgents who have overrun large parts of Syria and Iraq. A spokeswoman for Mueller’s office explained the minister had merely “referenced press reports” and had made “no concrete allegations.”
Britain has ruled out negotiating with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the battle against the Islamic State movement, Reuters said. “It wouldn’t be practical, sensible or helpful to even think about going down that route,” Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told BBC Radio. The only way to tackle the threat is by working with the Iraqi government which has troops on the ground, Hammond said, adding that dialogue with Assad would not advance the cause. The Islamic State has bases in northern Syria as well as in over one third of Iraq.
The death toll from a shooting attack on a Sunni mosque in Iraq on Friday has reached 68, Reuters said. The figure was announced by a morgue official. The attack was carried out by Shiite militia forces, the report said.
Palestinian militants in Gaza City executed 18 men on Friday for allegedly helping Israel in its six-week assault, according to Hamas TV. Men in the uniform of Hamas’s military wing grabbed six of them among worshippers leaving the city’s largest mosque, AFP said, citing witnesses. The Hamas-linked website Majd, said the 11 were killed after they “gave information to the Zionist enemy.”
Gunmen opened fire on worshippers during Friday prayers at a Sunni mosque in the town of Imam Wais, northeast of Baghdad. At least 32 people were killed in the attack and dozens wounded, AFP quoted Iraqi officials as saying. Accounts of the attack, varied sharply. Some sources blamed Shiite militiamen and others pointed to militants from the Islamic State, a Sunni jihadist group.
Nigeria has confirmed two new cases of Ebola, Reuters said. Both patients caught the disease from people who were primary contacts of the Liberian man who first brought it to Lagos, the health minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said on Friday. This brings the total number of recorded cases in the country to 14, according to the minister.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday presented the Japanese ambassador in Russia, Chikahito Harada, with a list of those to be restricted entry to Russia. The list is “a retaliatory measure to Tokyo’s visa sanctions against several citizens of our country,” the Russian ministry said, as cited by ITAR-TASS.
Iran denied a report that it is ready to help counter Islamic State insurgents in return for progress in negotiations over its nuclear program, Reuters said. The official IRNA news agency on Thursday cited Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as saying that “all the sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear activities should be lifted in return for its help in Iraq.” However, later on Thursday IRNA reported foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as dismissing “reports by some news agencies about Iran and US cooperation in Iraq.”
The UN human rights office said on Friday that at least 191,369 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict through April. This is more than double the figure documented a year ago and probably still an under-estimate, Reuters said. The UN report is based on cross-checked data from four groups and the government, according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. An additional 51,953 reported killings lacked sufficient information and were excluded from the analysis.
Teatralnaya metro station in Kiev was closed on Friday morning after police received information about a bomb threat, RIA Novosti reported. Officials said the reopening of the station would depend on the result of the checks. Numerous similar threats received previously have proved to be false.
Senegal closed its borders with Guinea on Thursday over Ebola epidemic fears, AFP said, citing the interior ministry. The move comes more than three months after the borders were re-opened. “Senegal has decided to once again close the land borders with the Republic of Guinea,” the ministry’s statement said. Following the decision, Senegal’s air and sea borders for aircraft and ships from the Republic of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have now been closed.
The bodies and ashes of first 20 Malaysian victims of MH17 crash arrived in Kuala Lumpur on a charted Malaysian Airlines jet from Amsterdam, AP reports. The remains of the victims were met with a solemn ceremony at the airport by lines of honor guards. The Malaysian government has proclaimed August 22 a national day of mourning, urging people to wear black and observe a minute of silence and prayer.
At least 27 people, including foreign nationals, were killed and about 50 others were injured after two buses crashed in the south of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, state news agency MENA reported. The accident happened after midnight on a deserted highway about 50 kilometers away from the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. As a result of a powerful collision one of the buses turned over. Rescuers are still working on getting the bodies out of the buses and local authorities are warning that the death toll could climb. There were several foreign nationals aboard the two buses, including one Russian citizen, two Saudi Arabia’s nationals and one Yemeni, according to RIA Novosti. Around 30 ambulances have arrived at the crash site.