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30 October, 2014

15:43

Burkina Faso protesters set parliament main chamber ablaze

Protesters, who stormed Burkina Faso’s parliament on Thursday, dragged furniture and computers onto the street and set the main chamber ablaze, AP said. The attackers wanted to block a vote in parliament that would have allowed President Blaise Compaore to run for a fifth time. The prime minister’s office issued a statement saying it was canceling the vote. The demonstrations are continuing in the West African country’s capital, Ouagadougou, and other places. Military leaders met on Thursday afternoon with the influential chief of the country’s largest ethnic group, the Mossi.

15:27

Hundreds evacuated in fire at central railway station in Helsinki

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the central railway station in Finland’s capital Helsinki on Thursday over a fire at a restaurant, TASS said. No one was injured, according to an STT report, which states police aren’t ruling out arson.

14:52

Berlin to ban anti-Islamist rally after Cologne riots

The German capital will ban a planned rally against Islamists by neo-Nazis and soccer fans after rioting in Cologne, Reuters reported. On Sunday, some 4,000 hooligans and neo-Nazis hurled objects at police who responded with pepper spray and water cannon. Police said 49 officers were injured. The organizers in Berlin plan to stage a protest against ultra-conservative Islamic Salafists at the Brandenburg Gate on November 15, a week after the capital celebrates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

14:39

Russian helicopter pilot captured last year by Afghanistan’s Taliban released

The pilot of an Mi-8 helicopter, who was captured by Taliban in Afghanistan in April 2013, has been released, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. Petrenko was released on October 29 “as a result of concerted efforts,” the ministry said, as cited by TASS. The pilot had made an emergency landing in the Afghan province of Logar and has been held in captivity by the Taliban since April 2013. Petrenko is currently at the Russian embassy in Kabul and will soon return to Russia, the ministry said.

13:43

US forces stage airstrikes on ISIS targets near Kobani - Central Command

US forces have staged 10 airstrikes on Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) targets near the Syrian city of Kobani since Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing US Central Command. The raids in the Kobani area hit two small IS units and destroyed seven fighting positions and five buildings, and these airstrikes were among 12 in Syria by US fighters and bombers. The IS headquarters building near Deir Al-Zor and a security building near Raqqa were also damaged. Allies joined US forces in raids in Iraq that hit a small IS unit near Bayji and a checkpoint west of Ramadi.

13:01

Donetsk, Lugansk urge Russia, OSCE to make Ukraine fulfill Minsk agreements

Representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics have called on Russia and the OSCE to take urgent steps and force Ukraine to fulfill the Minsk agreements. The two republics said that a law adopted by Kiev on the status of Donbass is judicially null and void, RIA Novosti reported. Ukraine isn’t implementing the agreed ceasefire, they said, adding that Ukrainian forces are shelling apartment buildings and enterprises in Donbass. The decentralization of power has not been achieved, as well as the agreement to free all hostages, they said.

12:36

UN panel urges Israel to halt settlement building

A UN panel of independent experts urged Israel to halt construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and take measures to withdraw all settlers, Reuters reported. The UN Human Rights Committee also said on Thursday that Israel should stop confiscating land for settlements’ expansion and prevent violence against Palestinians. The watchdog called on Israel to investigate all alleged violations committed by its forces during three recent wars in Gaza and ensure military commanders are brought to justice for any crimes.

11:56

Polish prosecutors question Polanski on US sex case, allow him to walk free

Polish prosecutors on Thursday questioned film director Roman Polanski on a US arrest warrant for sex offences, and then allowed him to walk free, AFP reported. “Prosecutors have decided it was not necessary to arrest Roman P.,” Boguslawa Marcinkowska, spokesperson for Krakow district prosecutors said. Polanski, who has been wanted by US police since 1978 for having sex with a 13-year-old girl, said he would cooperate with Polish authorities.

10:37

New Australia laws to prevent people fighting in overseas conflicts

Australia passed laws on Thursday aimed at preventing young people from going to fight in overseas conflicts such as those in Iraq and Syria, Reuters said. Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament at least 70 Australians were fighting in Iraq and Syria backed by about 100 Australia-based “facilitators.” The government has already canceled the passports of about 70 people, Abbott said.

09:50

Thousands of protesters storm Burkina Faso parliament – report

Thousands of protesters stormed Burkina Faso’s parliament building on Thursday, forcing police to withdraw, Reuters said, citing a witness. The parliament was due to vote on a motion to allow the president to stand for re-election.

09:14

China calls on Japan to stop scrambling jets, cites safety concerns

China called on Japan on Thursday to stop scrambling its jets against Chinese aircraft, Reuters reported. In recent months, the two states have accused the other of flying military aircraft too close to its own jets in a territorial dispute as both sides claim a string of Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea. They are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Last year, Beijing declared an air defense zone covering most of the East China Sea. Japan’s fighter jet scrambles against Chinese planes rose 29 percent to 103 in July-September, Beijing said.

08:23

Saudi Arabia reports 6 new MERS cases

Saudi Arabia has detected six new cases of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 24 hours. This is the biggest daily jump for months with officials blaming lax hospital procedures, Reuters reported. Two of the new cases announced by the health ministry were in medical personnel. The surge in cases, now numbering 32 since the start of October, is centered in Riyadh and the western city of Taif. However, it remains far less extensive than an outbreak in April and May that infected hundreds.

07:12

5 militants in Pakistan killed by US drone strike

A suspected US drone strike killed at least five militants in a Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Thursday, Reuters reported. “We heard from local militants that there was a senior Arab commander but they didn’t mention his name,” one villager in South Waziristan said. A number of “foreign guests” were staying in the targeted house after fleeing a major military offensive in the tribal region of North Waziristan, according to another villager.

02:59

Russia launches Soyuz-2.1a rocket with Meridian satellite

Russia has successfully launched a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia, according to Defense Ministry spokesperson Col. Aleksei Zolotukhin. A Meridian communications satellite was aboard the rocket. The satellite has been designed to provide communication to ships and aircraft as well as ice reconnaissance on the Northern Sea route. The rocket was successfully launched at 4:43 a.m. Moscow time (01:43 GMT), Zolotukhin said, adding that the launch was carried out in the usual mode. Thursday’s launch marks the fourth time a Soyuz-2 rocket has taken off from Plesetsk space center this year. Soyuz-2 is able to carry 7,800 kilograms of cargo into the Earth's orbit and 4,500 kilograms into higher orbits.

02:12

Bahrain rights activist Rajab to remain in prison over tweet

A Bahrain court decided to keep prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab in prison on Wednesday, as his comments on Twitter were viewed as insulting to public institutions, AFP reported. The judge set a new hearing date for Sunday, according to activists. Rajab was detained on October 1 after posting Twitter remarks which criticized the interior and defense ministries. One of the tweets said: "Many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator.” Rajab is the head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and was one of the leaders of the 2011 protest movement which demanded reforms in the country. Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, while over 75 percent of the population is Shia.

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