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26 February, 2015


US jury convicts ‘bin Laden's trusted lieutenant’ over African embassy bombings

A Saudi man named Khalid al-Fawwaz was convicted in a federal court in New York in connection with the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Reuters reported. The 52-year-old – described by prosecutors as one of Osama bin Laden's most trusted lieutenants – may face up to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of all four conspiracy counts he faced, on their third day of deliberations.


Kerry, Lavrov to discuss Ukraine in Geneva next week – US State Dept

US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. According to Paski, the two officials will discuss the situation in Ukraine, where Kiev authorities and rebels have begun the withdrawal of heavy weaponry, as well as other regional issues of mutual interest. Kerry will arrive in Geneva on March 2 to speak before the UN Council on Human Rights.


19 killed in Nigerian suicide attack

Nineteen people were killed and 17 others injured in a suicide bombing in the Nigerian town of Biu, security officials told AP. It is believed the suicide bomber may have been heading towards the town’s market, but was forced to detonate his bomb earlier due to Civilian Joint Task Force checkpoints set up by locals, a witness said. The Civilian Joint Task Force was formed by residents in northern Nigeria to fight against militants from Islamist group Boko Haram.


Moscow urges India to help resolve seizure of Russian cargo vessel

Russia has called on India to facilitate the settlement of a dispute which led to the detention of the Russia cargo vessel 'Sevastopol' last week in the port of Mumbai. Local authorities refer to an order by the Madras High Court, which says that “Sevastopol and its cargo were allegedly arrested over a commercial dispute between the Russian ship-owner and its Indian counterpart,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said. According to the captain, the ship is currently being kept at anchor in neutral waters 14 miles away from the shore, the ministry added.


Swedish court sentences Syrian rebel to 5 yrs for ‘torture’ war crime

A former Syrian opposition fighter was sentenced to five years in prison for war crimes by a Swedish court on Thursday for a “torture-like” assault in Syria, Reuters said. Mouhannad Droubi, who in 2013 obtained permanent residency in Sweden, was arrested after he filmed and posted a video on social media. The court said Droubi, 28, had been a fighter in the rebel Free Syrian Army at the time, while his victim had been connected to the Syrian army. The court in Stockholm said that Droubi had taken part in “acts of violence of a torture-like character against an unknown person who was tied up and already injured.”


German hospital nurse jailed for life for murdering 2 patients

A German hospital nurse was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for murdering two patients. The 38-year-old man, identified only as Niels H., reportedly admitted to injecting his patients with lethal drug doses in a bid to try to revive them before his medical peers. The man, who was on trial for causing the patients’ deaths in an intensive care ward in northern Germany a decade ago, admitted that he had injected 90 patients in this manner, leading to 30 deaths, AFP reported.


Ukraine authorities say organizer, perpetrators of Kharkov blast detained

The organizer and perpetrators of the terrorist attack in Kharkov on February 22 that killed four people have been detained, Tass quoted the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Aleksandr Turchinov, as saying Thursday. "Five members of a terrorist group" were detained, and “weapons and munitions, including plastid, detonators for explosive devices and grenades, were seized,” he said. A remote controlled anti-personnel mine went off during a march in the east Ukrainian city of Kharkov on Sunday, killing four people and injuring 10 others, police said.


French museum cancels political cartoon festival over security concerns

A museum in the French city of Caen has canceled its annual political cartoon festival due to security concerns following recent terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, AP reported. “Under no circumstances can we take the slightest risk for the cartoonists, for our audience and for the employees,” said Stephane Grimaldi, director of the Caen Memorial, a museum focusing on World War II. The museum’s website has been hacked several times recently. The fifth annual gathering of political cartoonists from around the world was scheduled for April.


OSCE reaction to Ukraine’s actions against Russian journalists ‘insufficient’ – envoy

Moscow considers insufficient the reaction of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to Kiev’s actions to limit work of Russian journalists in Ukraine, Russia’s envoy to the OSCE Andrey Kelin told Rossiya 24 TV channel. After detentions of Russian reporters Moscow will bring up ‘media cleansing’ issue in the OSCE, TASS quoted Kelin as saying.


Airstrikes hit NE Syria area where ISIS abducted more than 200 Christians

A US-led coalition launched airstrikes on Thursday against positions of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in an area of northeastern Syria where the group has reportedly abducted at least 220 Assyrian Christians, Reuters said. The airstrikes targeted IS fighters near town of Tel Tamr, where the militants attacked a string of Assyrian villages earlier this week, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


Rival students clash at Ankara University, 1 injured

Police detained 46 students after rival groups clashed at Ankara University on Thursday. One member of the university’s security personnel was accidentally injured and taken to hospital after trying to separate the groups, the Hurriyet Daily News reported. One student has also been taken to hospital after being hit in the head. The buildings in the Faculty of Languages, History and Geography were evacuated, and police built a barricade between the groups to end the clashes. Classes at the same faculty were suspended on February 23 after tension arose following the death of Fırat Cakıroglu, the representative of the Nationalist Movement Party’s youth branch at Ege University, the newspaper said.


Hollande condemns French MPs meeting Syria’s Assad

President Francois Hollande on Thursday condemned a group of French lawmakers for meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad. “I condemn this initiative. I condemn it because French lawmakers have taken it upon themselves to meet with a dictator who is the cause of one of the worst civil wars of recent years,” AFP quoted Hollande as saying in the Philippines. France, which cut diplomatic ties with Syria in 2012, supports the moderate Syrian opposition, seeking the removal of Assad from power.


Cyprus opposes arms supplies to Ukraine – president

Cyprus opposes supplies of weapons to Ukraine, TASS quoted Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades as saying in Moscow on Thursday. His country also calls for internal dialogue in Ukraine to prevent a civil war, Anastasiades said. “Issues should be resolved exclusively through diplomatic channels and dialogue, while respecting the territorial integrity,” according to the president. “It is impossible to achieve a positive result by military means or through sanctions,” he said, adding that Cyprus is against the EU imposing sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.


Over 200 people killed in Afghanistan avalanches - reports

Over 200 people have been killed after avalanches struck Afghanistan, Tass news agency said, citing an AFP report. In the northern Panjsher province, the death toll from avalanches has reached 187, Khaama Press quoted deputy provincial governor Abdul Khabir Bakhshi as saying. Several people are still missing. The routes to the affected areas have been blocked by the avalanches.


3 men sentenced to death in Bahrain for killing policeman

Three Shiite Muslim men were sentenced to death by a Bahrain court on Thursday for killing three policemen, the kingdom’s public prosecution office said on its Twitter account. Seven others were given life sentences, Reuters reported. The men were found guilty of killing three policemen in March 2014, including Tareq Mohammed al-Shehhi from the neighboring United Arab Emirates. The public prosecution office said that a number of the men will be stripped of their citizenship.


CNN gets certificate of registration in Russia

Russia’s federal communications agency Roskomnadzor has signed an order to issue a certificate of registration in Russia to US news channel CNN International, RIA Novosti reported. The channel stopped broadcasting on cable and satellite networks in Russia on December 31, 2014 over recent changes in Russian media legislation. On January 1, a ban on commercials on Russian cable TV channels came into effect.


Al-Jazeera journalist to appear in Paris court next week over flying drone – report

One of three Al-Jazeera journalists arrested for flying a drone in Paris will appear in court next week, AFP quoted a judicial source as saying Thursday. The other two journalists have been freed. The reporters were arrested after flying a drone in the Bois de Boulogne in western Paris on Wednesday.


German MPs to back Greek bailout extension

German lawmakers are expected to approve an extension of Greece’s bailout with an overwhelming majority in parliament on Friday, Reuters said. Many of them, however, fear Athens will not deliver on its reform promises. In a test ballot on Thursday, 22 of 311 lawmakers in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc, comprising her Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the CSU, opposed the extension and five abstained.


Suspected Jewish extremists torch Jerusalem church building

Suspected Jewish extremists torched part of a church-owned building in Jerusalem overnight, AFP reported. The vandals set fire to an annex of a Greek Orthodox seminary just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. There were no casualties and the fire was put out before causing significant damage, according to police spokeswoman Luba Samri. On Wednesday, a mosque near Bethlehem in the southern West Bank was set alight and anti-Arab slogans in Hebrew daubed on a nearby wall.


4 bombs explode in Egypt capital, one killed

One person was killed and two were wounded when a bomb exploded outside a restaurant in the residential Imbaba district of Cairo on Thursday, Reuters reported. Three other bombs exploded in the nearby and mainly middle-class district of Mohandeseen, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said. They caused limited damage to mobile phone shops. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.


17 ISIS militants killed by airstrike near Iraq border – source

A coalition airstrike near the Iraqi border town of al-Qaim killed at least 17 militants from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) overnight, Reuters reported. A further 29 militants were wounded in the strike, according to a source in al-Qaim hospital. Some of them were taken across the border to Syria for treatment.


ISIS abducts 220 from Syria’s Christian villages – reports

Militants from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) have abducted at least 220 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria during a three-day offensive, Reuters reported, citing a monitor. The abductions took place when the IS took 10 villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority near the city of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.


Morgan Stanley agrees to pay $2.6bn in mortgage bond probe

Morgan Stanley said it had reached a preliminary agreement with the Justice Department to pay $2.6 billion to settle a probe into its marketing of mortgage-backed securities, AFP reported. The settlement resolves claims the civil division of the Justice Department “indicated it intended to bring against the company,” according to the investment bank. It previously described regulatory probes as focusing on the bank’s packaging of securities linked to subprime and non-subprime residential mortgages ahead of the housing bust and financial crisis.


US ‘ineffective’ in Palestinian-Israeli settlement – OIC head

The US cannot be a mediator in the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict any longer because it’s ineffective in this role, RIA Novosti quoted Iyad Madani, the secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as saying on Thursday. Speaking after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, Madani said Russia plays an important role in the Middle East settlement, TASS reported. Lavrov held talks with the delegation of a ministerial contact group of the OIC on Palestine and East Jerusalem.


'Turkish embassy car targeted' in Kabul suicide bombing

Embassies in Kabul are on high alert after a powerful explosion caused by a suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives targeted a Turkish embassy vehicle, killing one person and wounding another, Afghan officials said. The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the Thursday morning attack, which took place during rush hour. Authorities told Reuters the Taliban's initial claims of targeting a convoy and inflicting many casualties were inflated, which is not uncommon for the group. The blast also took place right outside the gates of the Iranian embassy, located adjacent to the Turkish mission.