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31 March, 2015


Three men arrested in connection with Paris terrorist attacks

The French police have arrested three more people as part of an investigation into the Paris terrorist attacks in January, during which 17 people were killed, Reuters reports. The men are linked to Amedy Coulibaly, one of the three Islamist militants involved in the attacks, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. Previously, seven men aged 22 to 33 were detained and placed under formal investigation in connection with the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in the French capital.


Deutsche Bahn halts train traffic in N. Rhine-Westphalia due to hurricane Niklas

Germany’s national railway operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) suspended regional trains in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia for the whole day as hurricane Niklas raged across Germany, Xinhua reported. Regional trains stopped running in North Rhine-Westphalia from 1000 GMT. Thousands of passengers were stuck at railway stations, including in Duesseldorf, Bielefeld, Dortmund and Cologne, Spiegel Online reported.


Greek debt deal won’t come before Easter - EU president

A new Greek bailout deal is possible before an end-of-April deadline, EU president Donald Tusk said on Tuesday. However, it will not come before Easter, AFP said. Experts from the IMF and the EU are scrutinizing economic reforms proposed by Athens in a bid to unlock another €7.2 billion in loans to stave off possible bankruptcy.


Prominent conservative in Merkel’s bloc quits refusing to back Greek aid extension

A prominent Euroskeptic in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc resigned on Tuesday over ‘pressure’ to back an extension of Greece’s bailout. Peter Gauweiler, a senior member of the chancellor’s Bavarian allies, the Christian Social (CSU), and an outspoken critic of aid to Greece, has led efforts to block eurozone bailouts and the European Central Bank's bond-buying program in court. The 65-year-old is resigning as vice-chairman of the CSU, relinquishing his mandate for the Bundestag lower house of parliament.


All 236 army officers acquitted in Turkey coup plot retrial

A Turkish court on Tuesday acquitted all 236 army officers accused of plotting to stage a coup in 2003 against the Islamic-rooted government, AFP reported. The suspects in the Sledgehammer case were retried by an Istanbul court. Turkey’s top court last year quashed the original convictions.


Iraqi troops drive ISIS militants out of central Tikrit – PM

Iraqi troops and Shiite paramilitaries have driven the Islamic State out of central Tikrit, Reuters quoted Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi as saying on Tuesday. “Our security forces have reached the center of Tikrit and they have liberated the southern and western sides and they are moving towards the control of the whole city,” Abadi said. Government forces have been fighting to take the city for a month, and the struggle to regain all of Saddam Hussein’s home town is continuing.


EU doubles Syria aid pledge to €1.1bn

The EU has announced a pledge of nearly €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) in humanitarian aid for Syria at a donor conference in Kuwait. “The needs are overwhelming and an extraordinary effort is needed by the wider donor community to mobilize significant funding,” AFP quoted EU aid commissioner Christos Stylianides as saying. “With our substantial contribution, the EU shoulders its responsibility to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.”


Islamic State militants kill 37 in Syrian village – report

Islamic State fighters killed at least 37 people in a Syrian village near the city of Hama overnight, Reuters said, citing a monitoring group. The militants killed entire families, including Alawites and Ismailis according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Syrian state television put the number killed at 44, adding that 21 others had been wounded in the attack on Mabouja, a 60-kilometer drive east of Hama.


Lufthansa cancels 60th anniversary celebrations

Lufthansa is canceling its 60th anniversary celebrations in memory of those killed aboard the Germanwings plane crash in France last week, Reuters said. The airline had planned to host an anniversary event on April 15. It will now instead show live coverage of the official state memorial service to be held at Cologne Cathedral on April 17.


Spain police arrest Moroccan family, prevent sons from joining jihadists

Police in Spain on Tuesday arrested four members of a family, including 16-year-old twin boys who were allegedly about to travel to Syria to become jihadist fighters, AP reported. The parents and their sons were arrested in the northeastern city of Badalona, near Barcelona, the Interior Ministry said. The four are Moroccan nationals.


Iraq forces retake govt HQ in Tikrit

Iraqi forces have retaken the Salaheddin provincial government headquarters in Tikrit from Islamic State (IS) jihadists, AFP reported. The move is seen as a significant advance in the battle to recapture the city. Members of pro-government paramilitary forces dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias took part in the fighting, after some froze offensive operations last week in response to US-led air strikes, according to the spokesman for the Badr militia. Pro-government forces launched an operation to retake the city on March 2. This is their largest offensive since the IS led an offensive that overran much of the country’s Sunni Arab heartland last June.


Kuwait emir pledges $500mn for Syria humanitarian efforts

Kuwait will donate $500 million towards easing Syria’s humanitarian crisis, Reuters reported. “I am pleased to announce the pledge by the state of Kuwait of $500 million from the government and private sectors to support the humanitarian situation for the brotherly Syrian people,” Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah told an international summit in the Kuwaiti capital on Tuesday. The UN, which is holding the summit, says aid is needed to help 18 million people both in Syria and scattered through the region.


Yemen situation should not deteriorate into Sunni-Shia standoff - Lavrov

The situation in Yemen should not deteriorate into Sunni-Shia standoff, and should not escalate into conflict between Arabs and Iran, TASS quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia-led coalition should stop airstrikes in Yemen, and the sides of the conflict should resume talks in neutral territory, according to him. Moscow is against any use of force in Yemen, and the situation “should not get out of control,” he added.


UN opens donors’ conference for Syria

A major UN donors’ conference for Syria which opened in Kuwait aims to raise billions of dollars, AFP said. The UN has launched an appeal to raise $8.4 billion this year. The one-day conference will be attended by delegates from 78 nations. “Failing to meet the required funds risks resulting in a horrifying and dangerous humanitarian catastrophe,” said Abdullah al-Maatuq, UN special envoy for humanitarian affairs. Many international aid agencies are complaining that a shortage of funding could lead to their operations in Syria being halted.


Tokyo Shibuya ward becomes 1st in Japan to recognize same-sex marriage

The assembly of Tokyo’s Shibuya ward has become the first locale in Japan to recognize same-sex partnerships as the “equivalent of a marriage,” AP reported. After a landmark vote Tuesday, the district famous among trendy youngsters will now guarantee the identical rights of married couples, including hospital visitations and apartment rentals. The legislation, however, is technically not legally binding, though people or institutions that violate the rights will have their names posted on the ward’s website. Shibuya has a population of 217,000, including 9,000 foreigners.


At least 11 dead after Saudi-led allied bombing in Sanaa, Yemen

At least 11 people have been killed after Saudi-led allied bombing of the Yarim District to the south of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, Sputnik reported. Another 30 people were injured, a security source said on Tuesday. A gas station was also destroyed in the shelling, the source said.