Islamist militants took over Libya’s Bahi oil station and the Mabrouk oilfield on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Security forces guarding the installations were forced to retreat, said Ali Hassi, a security official in the oil protection forces. Both oil operations were empty after staff were evacuated earlier. Mabrouk was assaulted last month by Islamist militants.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Russia on Wednesday that any serious violation of the current ceasefire in eastern Ukraine would prompt Europe to impose further sanctions on Moscow, Reuters said. “So far we’ve got a fragile ceasefire which needs to be stabilized,” Merkel said in Brussels. “If the Minsk agreement is seriously violated, European leaders and the [European] Commission stand ready to prepare and impose further sanctions,” she said.
Mexican security forces have captured Omar Trevino Morales, leader of the Zetas drug cartel and one of the country’s most wanted men, Reuters reported. Trevino, brother of captured ex-Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, was arrested in the city of Monterrey in the early hours of Wednesday, according to a senior government official. The detention comes just days after the capture of Servando Gomez, leader of the Knights Templar drug gang, who was the most wanted criminal still at large in Mexico.
Hundreds of civilians were killed as troops from Chad seized a strategically-located Nigerian town from Boko Haram extremists, AP reported. Boko Haram left hundreds of people dead Monday before fleeing Chadian forces which regained control of Dikwa, according to Chad’s military spokesman Col. Azem Bermandoua. The town was occupied by the militants for weeks.
The US and its allies staged 12 airstrikes on Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) targets in Iraq and Syria during the past 24 hours, Reuters reported. Three strikes near Kobani, Syria, hit a tactical unit and destroyed five fighting positions, the Combined Joint Task Force said on Wednesday. In Iraq, five airstrikes hit IS bomb-making facilities, a weapons storage site and vehicles. Four raids also were carried out near Ramadi and Sinjar.
A person believed responsible for shootings along highways over the last two weeks in the Baltimore-Washington area is in custody, the FBI said early Wednesday. The shootings include bullets that damaged a National Security Agency building. A person was taken into custody in Anne Arundel County on Tuesday night, county police said in a Facebook statement posted on Wednesday morning from a verified account, AP reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his speech to the US Congress gave a “practical alternative” to a possible Iranian nuclear deal. Netanyahu spoke in Israel on Wednesday after US President Barack Obama said the Israeli leader had offered no viable alternative to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, AP reported. His alternative would extend the breakout time for Iran to create a bomb, Netanyahu said. It would maintain sanctions until Tehran stops “its sponsorship of terrorism around the world, its aggression against its neighbors and its calls for Israel’s destruction,” he added.
A boat transporting migrants has capsized off Sicily, killing at least 10 people, AFP reported. The Italian coast guard said on Wednesday that 121 people were rescued. Scores of people have died in recent months as migrants from North African and Middle Eastern conflict zones attempt to reach Europe.
Former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden could return to the US if his situation was in the judicial rather than political sphere, RIA Novosti quoted his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena as saying on Wednesday. Politicians’ statements show that a fair trial of Snowden is impossible in the US, Kucherena said. He told a news conference on Tuesday that he has teamed up with US and German lawyers to work on the issue, but gave no further details, AP reported.
The US and Iranian foreign ministers began a third day of talks over Iran’s nuclear program on Wednesday, Reuters reported. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif resumed the meeting just hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned that the deal being negotiated was a serious mistake. The US-Iranian discussions are being held in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux, with an aim to work out a framework deal by late March.
French police will hunt and arrest the operators of drone aircraft flying illegally over sensitive sites in Paris and above nuclear power plants, Reuters reported, citing a government spokesman. “We need to be very vigilant on this, we’re going to have to be extremely careful,” Stephane Le Foll told France Info radio, referring to the drones. “The day that we find the people who are doing this, there will be penalties… We will find them, sooner or later.”
Russia’s Emergencies Ministry relief aid convoy has arrived in Donetsk in east Ukraine, TASS quoted a deputy head of the ministry’s National Center for Crisis Management as saying on Wednesday. “More than 80 trucks have delivered foodstuffs and daily necessities to Donetsk,” Oleg Voronov said. More than 1,800 tons of aid were dispatched to Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk Regions as part of the 17th Russian convoy for Donbass. Since mid-August last year, the ministry has delivered to Ukraine’s war-torn southeast more than 22,000 tons of relief supplies.
The Ukrainian military has said self-defense forces in eastern Ukraine “mostly observe” the ceasefire in Donbass. The press center of Ukraine’s military operation said the armed forces’ positions were “fired on” from small arms, RIA Novosti reported.
At least 27 Houthis have been killed in a series of suspected attacks by Al-Qaeda in Yemen’s Al-Bayda Governorate, Sputnik reported. Ten people were killed after militants from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) launched an attack on a stadium which was used by the Houthis as a training camp in the city of Al-Bayda. Eight Houthis died in an AQAP suicide car bombing attack on a gathering of the Shia Houthi group at a school in Az Zahir District in Al-Bayda. Also, at least nine Houthis were killed in a roadside bomb explosion in Az Zahir District, according to sources. AQAP has claimed responsibility for the attacks.