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04.23.12 Syrian neighborhoods shelled by security forces despite presence of UN observers
April 23 - Syrian forces shelled several neighborhoods in Homs as it continued to violate the shaky ceasefire, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian activists. The government forces launched a wide scale attack on al-Bukamal neighborhood early Monday, killing four people, the Syrian Shaam News Network reported. As many as 20 people have been killed on Monday when the Syrian forces fired at a protest in al-Arabaeen neighborhood in Hama, sources told Al Arabiiya. The attacks come one day after the violent military operations carried out by the government forces in the Damascus suburb of Duma and in Deraa on Sunday, which killed at least 22 people, according to the Syrian General Revolution Commission. Internet video footage that activists said was filmed in Duma on Sunday showed gray smoke rising from buildings and the sound of heavy gunfire in the background. One clip showed soldiers in helmets and bullet-proof vests next to a tank. The official news agency SANA made no mention of fighting in Duma but said that at least one officer was killed by a bomb that struck a convoy of army officers and cadets in the northern province of Aleppo. Another bomb targeted a freight train transporting flour in Idlib province, it said. [More>>alarabiya.net]
04.23.12 US sets new sanctions for aiding Syria and Iran
WASHINGTON, April 23 - President Obama, seeking to expand his administration’s response to oppression in the Middle East, announced new sanctions on Monday against those who provide Syria and Iran with cutting-edge technology to track down dissidents for abuse, torture or death. The measures underscored the role that computers, social media and cellphones have played not just in organizing resistance to authoritarian governments but also in helping security services crack down on those dissidents. The new sanctions are meant to put technology providers on notice that they will be held responsible for enabling human rights abuses. The announcement came as Mr. Obama continues to search for a more effective response to the killings in Syria, where more than 9,000 people have died over the last year as the government of President Bashar al-Assad has tried to suppress a popular uprising. Critics have described Mr. Obama’s response as too passive and have called for more robust action to halt the violence. Mr. Obama argued on Monday that the focus on technology reflected an ever-widening set of actions that would eventually stop Mr. Assad. [More>>nytimess.com]
04.23.12 North Korea military warns of 'special actions' soon
AP) April 23 - North Koreans said Lee's radio comments about North Korea last week "hurt the dignity" of the North Korean people. North Korea's military says it will launch "special actions" soon meant to wipe out conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's administration. The army statement carried by state media Monday said the actions will last 3 to 4 minutes and be carried out "by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style." It gave no more details. North Korea has issued a steady stream of harsh criticism against Lee and his government. Pyongyang says Lee insulted the North's recent celebrations of the birth centennial of national founder Kim Il Sung. [>koreaherald.com; See also,
thestar.com.my (AP) April 23, "North Korea military warns of 'special actions' soon" : PYONGYANG - North Korea promised Monday to reduce South Korea's conservative government "to ashes" in less than four minutes, in an unusually specific escalation of recent threats aimed at its southern rival. The statement by North Korea's military, carried by state media, comes amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula. Both Koreas recently unveiled new missiles, and the North unsuccessfully launched a long-range rocket earlier this month. The overall animosity has prompted worries that North Korea may conduct a nuclear test - something it did after rocket launches in 2006 and 2009. South Korean intelligence officials say recent satellite images show the North has been digging a new tunnel in what appears to be preparation for a third atomic test...
04.23.12 The French election: A nasty fortnight begins
April 23 - The battle over the next two weeks between the two remaining candidates in the French presidential election will be a study in contrast. There is Nicolas Sarkozy, the brash, flash incumbent taking on the understated and untested Francois Hollande who is promising a change in attitude and substance. Their political differences are well documented: both men promise to balance France's budget but their solutions are very different. Unsurprisingly Socialist leader Mr. Hollande wants to increase the tax burden of the wealthiest and regulate the banking sector, while Mr. Sarkozy, on the right, is promising more austerity, while tightening some tax loopholes. But rarely has a head-to-head contest seen such differing styles, which both men will seek to exploit. Mr. Sarkozy has cleverly challenged Mr. Hollande to three televised debates instead of the usual one, gambling that the Socialist leader is almost certain to say "non." That allows Mr Sarkozy to portray his rival as running scared. But the challenger will trade on the incumbant's deep unpopularity; Mr Sarkozy is seen as an out of touch elitist, prescribing tough medicine for the French people, while dining with billionaires. [More>>news.sky.com]
04.23.12 Danger from the deep: New climate threat as methane rises from cracks in Arctic ice
April 23 - Scientists shocked to find greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than CO2 bubbling from deep ocean. A new source of methane — a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide — has been identified by scientists flying over areas in the Arctic where the sea ice has melted. Click here to see 'The deadly depths - Methane release in the Arctic' graphic The researchers found significant amounts of methane being released from the ocean into the atmosphere through cracks in the melting sea ice. They said the quantities could be large enough to affect the global climate.
Previous observations have pointed to large methane plumes being released from the seabed in the relatively shallow sea off the northern coast of Siberia but the latest findings were made far away from land in the deep, open ocean where the surface is usually capped by ice. Eric Kort of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that he and his colleagues were surprised to see methane levels rise so dramatically each time their research aircraft flew over cracks in the sea ice. "When we flew over completely solid sea ice, we didn't see anything in terms of methane. But when we flew over areas were the sea ice had melted, or where there were cracks in the ice, we saw the methane levels increase," Dr. Kort said. "We were surprised to see these enhanced methane levels at these high latitudes. Our observations really point to the ocean surface as the source, which was not what we had expected," he said.
"Other scientists had seen high concentrations of methane in the sea surface but nobody had expected to see it being released into the atmosphere in this way," he added. Methane is about 70 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat. However, because methane is broken down more quickly in the atmosphere, scientists calculate that it is 20 times more powerful over a 100-year cycle. The latest methane measurements were made from the American HIPPO research program where a research aircraft loaded with scientific instruments flies for long distances at varying altitudes, measuring and recording gas levels at different heights. The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, covered several flights into the Arctic at different times of the year. [More>>independent.co.uk]
04.23.12 Bomb in south Lebanon restaurant injures five
TYRE, Lebanon (Reuters) April 23 - Five people were injured and a building was damaged when a bomb exploded in a restaurant in the south Lebanon coastal town of Tyre early on Monday, a Lebanese security source said. There has been a spate of bombings in majority-Muslim Tyre in the last few months of clubs, shops and restaurants that sell alcohol, whose consumption is forbidden by Islam, and several restaurants have stopped serving alcohol as a result. The latest bomb detonated shortly after midnight in the Nocean, a restaurant serving alcohol, on the third story of a commercial complex in the east of the city, shattering the windows of nearby cars.
"Five employees were injured, but only lightly," the source said, adding that four of them were discharged from hospital on Monday morning. Lebanese security forces cordoned off the area, where large chunks of concrete had fallen onto the streets. "I was on my way to the restaurant in my car, talking on the phone. I heard an explosion and then something fell on the car," Nocean owner Zahi Zaydan told Reuters. Two bombs detonated in a nightclub and a liquor shop in Tyre in November, and a restaurant selling alcohol was targeted in December. The majority of Tyre residents are Shi'ite Muslims but members of Lebanon's Christian and Sunni Muslim communities also live in the city. [>alarabiya.net]
04.23.12 Sri Lanka to demolish mosque after monks' protest
DAMBULLA, Sri Lanka (AP) April 23 - Sri Lankan officials have decided to demolish a mosque and a Hindu temple after a group of Buddhist monks and their lay supporters protested their presence inside a Buddhist sacred area. Ruling party lawmaker Lakshman Perera said Monday that places of worship and other buildings will be relocated to alternate sites outside the designated sacred zone within six months and Muslim politicians had agreed with this. Thousands of Buddhist monks and lay supporters stormed the mosque in the central Sri Lankan town of Dambulla on Friday because they said it was an illegal construction. They damaged the building. Buddhism is Sri Lanka's state religion and monks are powerful in political and social affairs. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
04.21.12 Afghanistan militants 'planning huge' attack held in Kabul
April 21 - Afghan security officials say they have foiled a huge attack in the capital Kabul, as they gave details of the seizure of 10 tonnes of explosives. The explosives were found in a truck seized along with five militants in an operation last Sunday, a National Directorate of Security spokesman said. The group was planning to attack crowded areas in the capital, he said. He also gave reporters a video detailing plans for a separate attack on Vice-President Mohammed Khalili. Describing the planned bomb attack on Kabul, the spokesman, Shafiqullah Tahiri, said the 10 tonnes of explosives were stuffed in 400 bags and hidden under piles of potatoes.
"If this amount of explosives had been used, it could have caused large-scale bloodshed," Mr. Tahiri said. He said three of the captured militants are Pakistani citizens, and two are Afghans. The five suspects had confessed that the planned attack was co-ordinated by two Taliban commanders with links to Pakistan's main intelligence organization the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), according to the spokesman. The arrests, which came during a wave of insurgent attacks around the country, was kept quiet at the time because of the ongoing security operation, he said. Afghanistan has often accused the ISI of involvement in supporting anti-government insurgents in Afghanistan - an allegation strongly denied by Pakistan. Last week, 51 people died in a wave of co-ordinated attacks by insurgents in Kabul and three other provinces. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
04.21.12 Kenya rangers gun down suspected elephant poachers
(AFP) April 21 - Kenyan rangers shot dead five suspected elephant poachers in a night-time firefight in the north of the country, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said on Saturday. "Five suspected poachers were last night gunned down and one escaped during a fierce exchange of fire with Kenya Wildlife Service rangers at Chepareria in West Pokot County," it said. Two rangers were wounded in the firefight which went on for more than 40 minutes, the KWS said, adding that it had recovered 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of elephant tusks and three assault rifles at the scene. Trading in ivory was banned in 1989 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. [>france24.com]
04.21.12 Bombings kill three as governor targeted
BAGHDAD (AFP) April 21 - Bombs exploded in two minibuses in Baghdad on Saturday, killing three people and wounding at least 12, while a bomb attack on a governor’s convoy wounded two guards, security officials said. An interior ministry official said the bombs in the minibuses exploded about 8:30 am (0530 GMT) near a Shiite place of worship in the Chikouk area in north Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 12. A medical official at Al-Nur Hospital near Chikouk said the facility had received three bodies and 14 other people who were wounded in the blasts. Meanwhile, a roadside bomb targeted the convoy of Hisham al-Hiyali, the governor of Diyala province, north of the provincial capital Baquba, police Captain Hazem al-Juburi said. The officer said that two guards were wounded in the attack, but that the governor was unharmed. Violence in Iraq has fallen sharply from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks still continue across the country. In March, 112 Iraqis were killed, government figures showed. [>alarabiya.net]
04.16.12 Karzai wants 'intelligence failure' probed
April 16 - President faults both Afghan and NATO authorities after 18-hour standoff with Taliban fighters in Kabul. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has said intelligence failure allowed the Taliban to carry out the latest attacks in Kabul and elsewhere in the country. "The terrorists' infiltration in Kabul and other provinces is an intelligence failure for us and especially for NATO and should be seriously investigated," Karzai said in a statement on Monday. The president however, praised the "bravery and sacrifice of the security forces who quickly and timely reacted to contain the terrorists." In his first reaction after the series of attacks targeting western embassies and NATO bases, which continued till Monday morning, Karzai said that "Afghan security forces proved to the people that they can defend their country successfully." Gun battles between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters in the capital, Kabul, ended after almost 18 hours of fierce fighting, according to government and police officials. "The latest information we have about the Afghan parliament area is that the attack is over now and the only insurgent who was resisting has been killed," Hashmatullah Stanikzai, the Kabul police chief's spokesman, said on Monday. [More>>aljazeera.com]
04.16.12 Alleged Qaeda member kills himself and his family during raid in Iraq
BAQUEBA, Iraq (AFP) April 16 - An alleged al-Qaeda member blew up his house in Iraq’s Diyala province during a raid Monday, killing himself and four family members, while five people died in other attacks, security sources said. Just before Iraqi soldiers entered the home "of an al-Qaeda member in Saadiyah, he blew up the house and killed himself, his wife, and three children," who were between 5 and 15 years old, Iraqi army First Lieutenant Abbas al-Tamimi said. The suspected al-Qaeda member, Hussein Abdelsattar, destroyed the house northeast of Baquba, the capital of Diyala in central Iraq, about noon (0900 GMT), Tamimi said. Iraqi army Major Ahmed al-Juburi confirmed that "the terrorist was killed with his family, which consisted of his wife and his children." Juburi said that no soldiers were wounded as they had not yet entered the garden of the house when it was blown up.
Gunmen meanwhile shot dead five people in two other attacks on Monday. In the deadliest attack, gunmen killed four young people who worked in a date palm orchard in Rashidiya, northeast of Baghdad, and then fled, an interior ministry official said. Three other people were wounded in the attack, the official said on condition of anonymity. An official in the Sheikh Dari hospital in the area confirmed the toll. Meanwhile, a policeman who was riding a motorcycle was shot dead in Tuz Khormatu, 175 kilometers (108 miles) north of Baghdad, a police colonel said. Violence in Iraq has fallen sharply from a peak of 2006 and 2007, but attacks still continue across the country. In March 112 Iraqis were killed in violence. [>alarabiya.net]
04.16.12 UN monitors begin work in Syria
BEIRUT, Lebanon, April 16 - A team of six UN observers set up headquarters in Damascus on Monday and began reaching out to the Syrian government and its opponents, in hopes they could start healing the country’s violent divides. The team is led by a Moroccan colonel named Ahmed Himmiche, and another 25 members are expected to arrive in the next few days, said a spokesman for UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan...As of Monday afternoon, three civilians had been killed in fighting in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters news service, and shelling was ongoing in areas of the city of Homs that have been controlled by opposition fighters at various times in recent months. [Full story>>washingtonpost.com; For more details, see,
timesofindia.indiatimes.com, (AFP) April 16, "Two die in Syria violence after UN monitors land" : BEIRUT - Syrian forces killed two civilians and were locked in fierce clashes with rebels in one city while bombarding opposition bastions in another on Monday, hours after UN observers arrived, monitors said. Security forces shot dead the two civilians when they opened fire on a car in the central city of Hama, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Elsewhere, fierce gunfights broke out at dawn between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels in the northwestern city of Idlib, the Britain-based Observatory said. Meanwhile, regime forces resumed shelling of the rebel neighborhoods of Khaldiyeh and Bayyada in the central city of Homs...
04.16.12 Khartoum bombs UN camp in South Sudan
(AFP) April 16 - Sudanese planes bombed a UN peacekeeping camp on Monday, officials said, damaging the base but causing no casualties. An escalation of fighting in the past two weeks has seen sporadic clashes between Sudan and South Sudan along their shared border. Sudanese warplanes bombed a UN peacekeepers' base, damaging it but causing no casualties in the first such attack since a recent escalation of fighting with South Sudan, officials said Monday. Bombing raids on Sunday also killed nine civilians elsewhere in South Sudan's Unity border state, said the area's information minister, Gideon Gatpan.
"They launched another bombardment here yesterday," Gatpan said, adding that bombs were dropped near the oil-producing state's capital Bentiu, as well as in the village of Mayom, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) to the west. "In Mayom... it killed seven civilians and wounded 14, two bombs fell inside the UN camp in Mayom and destroyed a generator and a radio," Gatpan said. "Two fighter jets released eight bombs east of Bentiu," he added. "Others fell in villages around Bentiu, where two people were killed, including a pregnant woman, and eight people were wounded." UN peacekeeping mission spokesman Kouider Zerrouk confirmed the attack on the small base, but said "there were no casualties, no one was wounded." [More>>france24.com]
04.16.12 Tunisia still wants sun lovers, Islamist government says
DJERBA, Tunisia (Reuters) April 16 - Sun worshipers are welcome on Tunisia’s beaches even though an Islamist government now runs the Mediterranean country which relies heavily on tourism to fill its coffers, its prime minister said on Monday. "We will respect the traditions of our visitors in their food, and clothing and lifestyle," Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said at a conference to promote tourism held on the island of Djerba, known for its white sandy beaches and luxury spas. As if to reinforce his message, a wide selection of alcoholic beverages was on offer at the opening ceremony of the tourism conference on Sunday night. Jebali's moderate Islamist Ennahda party took power at the head of a coalition in an election after last year’s revolution, which ousted veteran leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring. Tunisia, which relies on tourism for almost 7 percent of its gross domestic product, saw visitor numbers and tourist revenues drop by more than a third after the revolution. [More>>alarabiya.net]
04.15.12 Taliban launch raids on Kabul and other Afghan targets
April 15 - Militants have been carrying out what they say are co-ordinated attacks on the Afghan capital Kabul and other targets in Afghanistan. Foreign embassies, NATO's HQ and the Afghan parliament all came under attack in the first major attack on Kabul in more than six months. The Taliban said "tens of suicide attackers" had struck in Kabul and Logar, Paktia and Nangarhar provinces. Reports speak of least 23 people injured and 14 militants killed. There were no immediate reports of foreign nationals among the casualties. The last attack on Kabul on this scale was in September 2011 when heavily armed insurgents took over an unfinished high-rise building and opened fire on the US embassy and NATO headquarters. That attack left at least 14 Afghans dead. [More>>bbc.co.uk]
04.15.12 Aghan security forces kill 47 Taliban militants, wound 31
KABUL, Afghanistan (Xinhua) April 15 - Afghan security forces backed by NATO-led troops have killed 47 Taliban militants and injured 31 others over the past 24 hours, the Interior Ministry said in a statement released here Sunday. "The Afghan National Police in harmony with the National Army and backed by the NATO-led Coalition Forces launched 11 joint operations in several provinces including Kabul over the past 24 hours during which 47 armed insurgents were killed, 31 wounded and 21 others were arrested," the statement stressed. However, it did not say if there were any casualties on security forces. Taliban militants fighting Afghan and NATO-led forces are yet to make comment. [>xinhuanet.com]
04.15.12 'Syria forces shell Homs' before UN visit
April 15 - Syrian forces have shelled central districts in the besieged city of Homs, hours before an advance team of UN military observers visit Damsacus, activists have said. Mortar bombs and machine guns were fired into the Khaldiyeh and Bayada areas, residents said. Head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel Rahman said: "The bombardment of Khaldiyeh intensified this morning with an average of three shells a minute." He added that it was the fiercest bombardment of Homs since a UN-backed ceasefire came into force at dawn on Thursday. The security forces now control some 70% of the flashpoint city, which has seen some of the biggest losses of life of the 13-month uprising in Syria. [More>>news.sky.com]
04.15.12 Taliban free hundreds from Pakistan prison
April 15 - Nearly 400 inmates of jail in Bannu, a town in country's northwest, escape following raid by anti-government fighters. Hundreds of prisoners are believed to have escaped from a jail in northwest Pakistan after it was attacked by anti-government fighters armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Some of those who escaped from the facility in the town of Bannu, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, early on Sunday morning were "militants," an intelligence official told the Reuters news agency. "Dozens of militants attacked Bannu's Central Jail in the early hours of the morning, and more 300 prisoners have escaped," Mir Sahib Jan, the official, said. "There was intense gunfire, and rocket-propelled grenades were also used." Many of those who escaped following the raid were convicted Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters, Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder reported from Lahore. A prison official in Bannu confirmed that "384 prisoners have escaped." A police official identified one of the inmates who escaped as a "dangerous prisoner", who took part in one of the attempts to kill the former president, Pervez Musharraf. The TTP, an umbrella organization for anti-government groups that are loosely allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda, took responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for Hakeemullah Mehsud, TTP's leader, confirmed to Al Jazeera that the group was responsible for the attack. [More>>aljazeera.com[
04.15.12 Yemen air strike kills three Qaeda leaders
SANAA, Yemen (AFP) April 15 - An air strike in southern Yemen has killed at least three suspected al-Qaeda militants, the defense ministry said in a statement on Sunday. A security official said the late Saturday raid was conducted by a US drone against a moving vehicle carrying al-Qaeda operatives in the province of Bayda, some 210 kilometers (130 miles) southeast of the capital Sanaa. The defense ministry however maintained the Yemeni government’s routine insistence that only its aircraft carry out such operations on its soil. The official statement released on the ministry’s website said that the three militants killed were "local al-Qaeda leaders." [>khaleejtimes.com]
04.06.12 Frightening prospects for Afghan women
April 6 (by Joel Brinkley) - Half of all Afghans are utterly terrified, understandably so. At least 33,000 American troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan this year. And after all the justified fury over the burning of those Korans and the shooting deaths of those 17 women and children, talk is rife in Washington right now about accelerating the withdrawal. That leaves Afghan women scared to death. A nationwide survey of 1,000 of them by ActionAid, a nongovernmental organization, concludes: “A massive 86 percent are worried about a return to a Taliban-style government, with one in five citing their daughter’s education as the main concern. And with good reason.” "There really is good reason to be afraid," said Anita Haidary, co-founder of the Afghan group Young Women for Change. "You can’t go to school, you can’t work. Nothing." When the Taliban fell from power in 2001, 5,000 girls were attending school. Today, the number is 2.5 million...
most everyone believes that, once foreign forces leave, the Taliban will almost certainly return to power...Now, with foreign forces about to leave, President Hamid Karzai and his crooked colleagues are already whittling away at half the population’s rights with complete impunity. This month the Ulema Council of religious bigots issued a ruling that permits men to beat their wives, forbids women to travel alone or mingle with men in public while also ordering them to respect polygamy. It flatly states that women are worth less than men...just before International Women’s Day early this month, the United Nations office in Kabul urged the state to finally begin enforcing that law because “violence against women remains pervasive.”
Young girls are still self-immolating to escape forced marriages to octogenarian men. Families caught in disputes are still giving their daughters away to settle the problem. Women who are raped are still jailed with the rapist because they are assumed to have tempted him. Women are still killed to settle a grievance between two men. And last weekend, in a typical incident, a man beat and tortured his wife with electric shock because she refused to enter prostitution to provide him with more income. [Full story>>koreaherald.com]
04.06.12 Syria crisis: UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemns attacks
April 6 - The head of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, has condemned the Syrian government for fresh military assaults despite agreeing to a deal to end the violence. Mr. Ban said the 10 April ceasefire deadline was "not an excuse for continued killing" by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Activists say at least 100 people have been killed over the past two days as troops intensified operations. Earlier, Turkey said it may need UN help after a surge in refugee arrivals. After speaking to Mr. Ban, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the rate of refugees had doubled since Mr. Assad agreed to implementing the UN-Arab League plan. The six-point peace plan, mediated by envoy and former UN chief Kofi Annan, envisages cessation of armed violence by all parties from 10 April, with a full ceasefire on 12 April...In Friday's statement, Mr Ban said the recent attacks on civilians "violate" the UN's demands and demanded the government halt military operations. Mr. Ban "deplores the assault by the Syrian authorities against innocent civilians, including women and children, despite the commitments by the Government of Syria to cease all use of heavy weapons in population centers." it said. [Full story>>bbc.co.uk]
04.03.12 Iran says could hit US if it came under attack - paper
DUBAI (Reuters) April 3 - The United States would not be safe from retaliation if Iran is attacked by Washington, the Iran newspaper quoted a senior Revolutionary Guards commander on Tuesday as saying. "In the face of any attack, we will have a crushing response. In that case, we will not only act in the boundaries of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, no place in America will be safe from our attacks," Massoud Jazayeri was quoted as saying by the daily. Iran would not strike any country first, he said. Tehran is locked in a dispute with the West over its nuclear program. Israel and the United States have threatened military action against Iran unless it abandons activities which the West suspects are intended to develop nuclear weapons. Further talks between Iran and world powers are expected to take place this month in an attempt to reach a compromise. The most recent talks failed in January 2011 after Iran refused to suspend its sensitive uranium enrichment work, as demanded by several UN resolutions. [More>>thestar.com.my]
04.03.12 Hafiz Saeed demands proof after US bounty
April 3 - Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief blamed for Mumbai attacks tells Al Jazeera his opposition to NATO supply lines led to $10m bounty. Hafiz Saeed, the leader of a Pakistan-based group blamed for the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, has demanded proof after the US announced a $10m bounty on his head. In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Saeed said the US move was prompted by the fact that he had been organizing rallies against the re-opening of supply lines through Pakistan to NATO forces in Afghanistan. "We are not hiding in caves for bounties to be set on finding us," Saeed said. "I think the US is frustrated because we are taking out countrywide protests against the resumption of NATO supplies and drone strikes. I believe either the US has very little knowledge and is basing its decisions on wrong information being provided by India, or they are just frustrated".
US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, on a visit to India, said a $2m bounty had also been announced for Abdul Rahman Makki, Saeed's brother-in-law and the group's second-in-command. Rewards for Justice, a program sponsored by the US State Department, announced the cash reward for the 62-year-old Saeed on its website. "Saeed is suspected of masterminding numerous terrorist attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which resulted in the deaths of 166 people, including six American citizens," the page said. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), designated as a terrorist organization by the US in December 2001, is accused by India of carrying out several attacks besides the one on Mumbai. LeT is the military wing of Saeed's larger organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is also blacklisted by the US.
Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving gunman involved in the three-day rampage in November 2008, has been sentenced to death by an Indian court. Kasab accused Saeed of organizing the attack, which involved 10 gunmen, nine of whom were killed during the shootout.... The bounty on Saeed, equivalent to that on Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, is second only to the $25m bounty on Ayman al Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the al-Qaeda chief. Saeed is the fifth Pakistani national on the list. [Full story>>aljazeera.com]
04.03.12 Syrian cities bombarded as truce deadline nears
(Reuters) April 3 - Opposition activists said Tuesday that forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad have stepped up their attacks on anti-regime militants as a final blow before next week's planned ceasefire, to which the government agreed yesterday. Opposition activists accused Syrian troops of shelling two cities on Tuesday in a campaign to weaken forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s government before a ceasefire deadline next week. Rebel fighters also kept up their attacks, killing three soldiers in separate actions in northern Syria, activists said. Assad has agreed to a ceasefire negotiated by international peace envoy Kofi Annan from April 10, the latest effort to end a year of bloodshed stemming from an uprising against his rule. An advance team from the United Nations' peacekeeping department will arrive in Damascus in the next two days to work out how observers can monitor the truce, Annan's spokesman said in Geneva. But Syrian opposition figures as well as Western governments have already made it clear they are not convinced that Assad, who has failed to honor previous commitments, would keep his word this time. [More>>france24.com]
04.03.12 14 dead in Pakistan violence
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 3 - At least 14 people were Tuesday killed in sectarian violence in Pakistan. Ten bus passengers, believed to be Shia Muslims, were shot dead in Bonar Das area in Chilas city after being force to disembark. The gunmen then opened fire at them. The attack came soon after clashes between Sunni Muslims and police in neighboring Gilgit city early Tuesday left four people dead. Activists of a Sunni group in Gilgit were protesting against the detention of their leader by police March 28. He was accused of firing at a rally of Shia Muslims last month injuring three people, Urdu channel Dunya TV said. Chilas also witnessed clashes between Sunni and Shia Muslims in which at least five buses were set on fire, Xinhua quoted Urdu channel AAJ TV as saying. A curfew has been imposed in the area and the army has been called out. [>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
04.03.12 Yemeni forces kill 38 Qaeda suspects
ADEN, Yemen (AFP) April 3 - Yemen’s armed forces killed 38 suspected members of al-Qaeda in two days of air raids and shelling of their hideouts in the country’s south, an official said Tuesday. "Thirty-eight members of al-Qaeda were killed in shelling and air strikes that targeted their positions in Huroor throughout the past 48 hours," said the official who spoke from the nearby al-Qaeda stronghold of Jaar. The town of Huroor lies on the crossroads between the provinces of Lahij and Abyan, where the terror network has a strong presence. An army officer on ground told AFP that US forces backed the Yemeni military operation. “The al-Qaeda militants withdrew from Mallah,” in Lahij, where they took over an army post on Saturday, "following shelling and air raids by the Yemeni air force with US help," he said, without elaborating. On Saturday, at least 28 soldiers and 12 militants were killed in clashes that broke out in Lahij when the insurgents tried to take over several army posts. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
04.03.12 Suspected Islamists detained in France planned kidnappings: investigators
April 3 - Islamists detained in France planned to kidnap a magistrate and other people, a source close to the investigation into the murders committed by the Toulouse gunman said. "It looks like some of them planned to carry out kidnappings including that of a magistrate who has a Jewish-sounding name," the source said, according to AFP. Another source confirmed that a Jewish magistrate from Lyon in central France was to be targeted. The head of France’s Central Directorate for Domestic Intelligence (DCRI), Bernard Squarcini, said on Saturday that those arrested the previous day were French nationals involved in “collective war-like training, linked to a violent, religious indoctrination.” Some of those arrested belonged to a suspected extremist group called Forsane Alizza, he said, and had been involved in paintball gun games. Forsane Alizza chief Mohammed Achamlane was on Monday transferred to Paris where he was to appear before anti-terror magistrates who already extended the custody of 15 other suspected Islamists arrested on Friday. [More>>alarabiya.net]
04.03.12 Aung San Suu Ky's party sweeps Myanmar by-election
YANGON, Myanmar (Xinhua) April 3 - The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi has won 43 of 45 parliamentary seats available for contest in Sunday's historic by- election, according to final official result announced by the Union Election Commission on Tuesday. The NLD took all 37 seats of the House of Representatives, four seats of the House of Nationalities and all two seats of region or state parliaments. Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party boycotted the last multi-party general elections that formally ended military rule in November 2010, was elected a member of House of Representatives for the first time in her political career spent mostly under house arrest.
She won over 85 percent of the votes in Kawhmu township constituency in Yangon region, beating two rivals including U Soe Min, candidate of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The ethnic minority party of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), also known as the White Tiger Party, won a seat of the House of Nationalities in Shan state's Lashio-Kunlong constituency, while the ruling USDP won a seat of the House of Nationalities in Sagaing-Katha constituency. The first by-elections under the new elected government was seen as free and fair by over 150 international observers from ASEAN and its dialog partners. Even if the NLD won most of the seats, the army and the army- backed USDP will still hold about 80 percent of seats in parliament. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
04.02.12 Rocket to cost North equivalent of feeding 19 million for 1 year
April 2 - This month’s long-range rocket launch will cost North Korea some $850 million, the equivalent of feeding 19 million people for one year, intelligence authorities in Seoul estimated Monday. According to the estimate, revealed by a military official, construction of the launch site is expected to cost the North $400 million, while the rocket and its payload will cost $300 million and $150 million, respectively. The North says the rocket launch set for sometime between April 12 and 16 is designed to put an earth observation satellite into orbit. Pyongyang also says it has a sovereign right to fire the rocket for the peaceful exploration of space, though the launch is widely seen as a disguised test of international ballistic missile technology banned under a UN resolution. The Seoul official said that the rocket’s expenses of $850 million are enough to buy 2.5 million tons of corn from China and thus can feed 19 million of the North’s 24 million population for a year. "North Korea has suffered a deficit of 400,000 tons of food every year. So, the money could resolve the problem of food shortages for six years," the official said. [More>>koreaherald.com]
04.02.12 Satellite pictures show signs of North Korean rocket launch preparations
April 2 - US academics say Pyongyang's groundwork for launch more extensive than previously thought. Satellite images of a North Korean rocket launch site show a mobile radar trailer and rows of what appear to be empty fuel and oxidiser tanks, evidence of ramped-up preparation for what Washington calls a cover for a long-range missile test. An analysis of images that the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies gave to Associated Press on Monday shows Pyongyang "has undertaken more extensive preparations for its planned April rocket launch than previously understood." The images were taken on Wednesday.
A mobile radar trailer essential for any launch stands at the end of a new dirt road running from the entrance of the Tongchang-ri site; it has a dish antenna that is probably a radar tracking system, according to the institute's analysis. Radar tracking during a launch gives engineers crucial real-time information on the performance of the rocket's engines, guidance system and other details. "These pictures are new and important evidence that the north's preparations for its rocket launch are progressing according to schedule," said Joel Wit, visiting fellow at the institute and editor of its website on North Korea, 38 North. The images are from DigitalGlobe, a commercial satellite photography company. North Korea says the launch, set for some time between 12 and 16 April, will fire a satellite into orbit to study the country's crops and natural resources. It is also meant to honor what the Pyongyang regime sees as one of the country's most important days — the centenary of the 15 April birth of national founder Kim Il-sung. [More>>guardian.co.uk]
04.02.12 Aid pledged to Syrian opposition groups
April 2 - Gulf states to create fund to pay members of armed opposition, as contact group demands Assad comply with peace plan. An international coalition including the United States, the United Kingdom and several Arab states, has pledged to send millions of dollars in aid and equipment to Syria's opposition groups, signaling a deeper international involvement in the conflict there. In a communique issued after a meeting of the "Friends of the Syrian People" group in Istanbul on Sunday, world leaders called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to immediately comply with an earlier promise to abide by a United Nations-Arab League peace plan. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states, meanwhile, have pledged to set up a multi-million dollar fund to pay members of the armed opposition, known as the "Free Syrian Army," a move aimed at encouraging defections from the ranks of the Syrian armed forces. One delegate at the one-day meeting of representatives from 83 countries described the fund as a "pot of gold" to undermine Assad's army. Participants confirmed the Gulf plan on condition of anonymity because details had not been not finalized. One said the fund would involve several million dollars a month being earmarked for salaries, but it was not clear whether there would be any effort to prevent the diversion of money to weapons purchases, a sensitive issue that could prompt accusations of military meddling by foreign powers. [More>>aljazeera.com]
04.02.12 Afghan market bombs injure 24
KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (AFP) April 2 - Twin bomb blasts tore through a market in northern Afghanistan's Baghlan province on Monday wounding two dozen people, just over half of them school children, officials said. "Overall we have 24 admitted to the hospital, 17 civilians, 13 of them are school students," said Abdul Qahar Qanit, a doctor in the local hospital. He said seven security personnel, including two senior district police officials, were also among the casualties. The explosions occurred one after another, with the second coming after security forces arrived to investigate the first blast, local administration chief Amir Gul told. [More>>thenews.com.pk]
04.02.12 Small bomb in Istanbul wounds 2 near government office
ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) April 2 - A small bomb went off in Istanbul on Monday, injuring two people hours after police defused another device near a luxury hotel. The bomb that exploded was left inside a trash can near a government office in a low-income neighborhood, TRT television said. Earlier, police used a controlled explosion to destroy a homemade device found near the Swissotel's perimeter walls. There were no claims of responsibility and it was not known if the two incidents were connected. Kurdish rebels, who are fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey, have in the past launched attacks prior to their imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan's birthday on April 4. Militant leftist and Islamic groups are also active in the country. On Sunday, officials from more than 70 countries met in Istanbul to discuss ways of ending the uprising in Syria, but the hotel would not say if any of the officials had stayed at Swissotel. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
04.02.12 Humans used fire earlier than thought
April 2 - Humans used fire more than one million years ago - 300,000 years earlier than previously thought, new research suggests. A team led by the University of Toronto and Hebrew University of Jerusalem has identified the earliest-known evidence of the use of fire by human ancestors after microscopic traces of wood ash alongside animal bones and stone tools were found in a layer dated to one million years ago at the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa. The huge cave near the edge of the Kalahari Desert has been the scene of previous excavations which have uncovered an extensive record of human occupation. Analysis of sediment has revealed ashed plant remains and burned bone fragments, both of which appear to have been burned locally rather than carried into the cave by wind or water. [More>>news.com.au]
03.31.12 Sudan governor to troops: 'Take no prisoners'
March 31 - Al Jazeera obtains footage of governor of Southern Kordofan apparently condoning war crimes in orders to Sudanese army. The governor of Sudan’s Southern Kordofan has been filmed addressing troops before a battle with rebel fighters urging them to "take no prisoners." In footage obtained by Al Jazeera, Ahmed Harun, the state governor who has already been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in Darfur, is captured on camera telling his soldiers to take strong action against anyone who comes in their way. Southern Kordofan holds most of Sudan's remaining known oil reserves, after South Sudan seceded in July 2011, taking its oilfields with it. Southern Kordofan has become a strategic asset for Khartoum, but rebels there want to follow Juba and be granted independence from Khartoum. The footage shows Sudanese troops stationed in a captured base involved in a gun battle with rebel forces. Harun is addressing his soldiers before they enter rebel territory by saying: "You must hand over the place clean. Swept, rubbed, crushed. Don’t bring them back alive. We have no space for them." An army commander standing near Harun then says: "Don’t bring them back, eat them alive." [More>>aljazeera.net]
03.31.12 Secret Iran 'terror' squad unmasked
March 31- Intelligence agencies are searching for members of a secret Iranian network of assassins under orders to attack Jewish, Israeli and Western targets in Turkey. According to intelligence sources, the organization behind the attack is known as Unit 400, a secret part of the al Quds Brigade, which falls under the direct command of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader. "Unit 400 of the Qods Force has been developing in the last few months a standing operating procedure for carrying out an attack in Turkey against western targets as well as Israeli and Jewish. It is our firm assessment that these procedures are in a very advanced stage, and that the intention is to act on the plans very soon," an intelligence source told Sky News. There is also evidence that Unit 400 has been given instructions to carry out more frequent and more daring 'terror' attacks around the world as a demonstration of 'Iran's asymmetric power' - in the face of the growing threat of Israeli or American air strikes on its alleged nuclear weapons program, the sources said. The sources named a senior officer in Unit 400 as being a key Iranian agent who "has been working up plans for potential attacks in European countries." [More>>news.sky.com]
03.31.12 Clinton raises missile shield, efforts to end Syria violence
RIYADH, March 31 - In Riyadh, Clinton highlights US concerns about Iran and talks with Gulf foreign ministers. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here on Saturday promoted a missile shield to protect Gulf states from Tehran and sought to work with them to help end the violence in Iran's ally Syria. In a speech to a first multilateral Gulf-US security forum, Clinton stressed Washington's "rock solid and unwavering" commitment to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Oman, all longstanding US allies. In her prepared remarks, Clinton highlighted US concerns about Iran and talks with Gulf foreign ministers ahead of a broader international meeting in Istanbul aimed at ending President Bashar Al Assad's crackdown in Syria. Raising security ties from a bilateral to a multilateral level, Clinton is breaking new ground here in taking part in the first strategic cooperation forum between Washington and the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). She looked to taking "practical and specific steps to strengthen our mutual security, such as helping our militaries improve interoperability, cooperate on maritime security and missile defense, and coordinate responses to crises." US officials have said it is a US "priority" to help the GCC build a "regional missile defense architecture" against what they see as a looming ballistic missile threat from Iran. [More>>gulfnews.com]
03.31.12 U.A.E. closes down US-financed democracy group
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, March 31 - On the eve of a summit meeting here between the United States and Arab nations of the Persian Gulf to deepen security ties, one of those countries, the United Arab Emirates, announced that it had shut down an American-financed organization that promotes democracy, State Department officials said. The United Arab Emirates announced the shutdown on Friday of the office of the National Democratic Institute, State Department officials said, a day before the meeting on Saturday attended by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The country, which has good relations with the United States, did not explain the action, which seemed especially provocative with Mrs. Clinton in the region. Egypt’s recent prosecution of the group, along with the International Republican Institute and Freedom House, prompted a fierce debate in Washington over whether to continue providing military assistance to the Egyptian military. The Obama administration eventually allowed $1.3 billion in arms sales to move ahead, but only after Egypt allowed American employees of the groups to leave the country. [More>>nytimes.com]
03.31.12 Afghan policeman kills nine colleagues
KABUL, Afghanistan (AFP) March 31 - An Afghan policeman shot dead nine of his colleagues as they slept early Friday in the eastern province of Paktika, police and provincial government officials said. It was the latest in a series of shootings by Afghan security personnel of their local and foreign colleagues, deaths that have ramped up tensions between the allies even as NATO-led forces prepare to pull out by the end of 2014. Paktika provincial police chief Dawlat Khan said the shooting happened before dawn in Yahyakhil district on Friday. "A local policeman named Asadullah was persuaded by Taliban insurgents to carry out the firing inside the security check post," he said. "First he poisoned his colleagues and then later he woke up for night duty at 3:00am. Then he used his assault rifle to kill his nine colleagues. They were sleeping inside the post. Asadullah fled the scene after the shooting," he added. Mokhlis Afghan, spokesman for the Paktika governor, confirmed the attack and that one policeman had fled, adding that two others had been arrested. The killer and his victims belong to the so-called local Afghan police, militias that form part of the government's security forces but do not come under the national police set-up. [>thenews.com.pk]
03.31.12 Boy and girl killed in Afghanistan acid attack 'over friendship'
(AFP) March 31 - A 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy have been killed in an acid attack in Afghanistan, an official said Saturday, with witnesses claiming it was because of their friendship in what is an ultra-conservative country. The bodies were discovered on Friday in wasteland in the Esfandi area of Ghazni province in south central Afghanistan, provincial police chief Zorawar Zahid told AFP. "Their bodies and faces were burnt by acid," he said. The police chief said officers were investigating the motive for the attack, but witnesses who found the bodies told AFP the two were probably killed because of their friendship. No one has claimed the bodies, which are still in Ghazni hospital, police said. The attack is the latest incident to highlight the dangers still faced by many young men and women in Afghanistan 10 years after a U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban, notorious for their oppressive policies against women and conservative attitude towards relationships. On December last year, a 17-year-old Afghan girl and her family were sprayed with acid, apparently after rejecting a marriage proposal. The girl, Mumtaz, was seriously injured when several masked gunmen broke into her home in the northern city of Kunduz and sprayed acid in her face. [>alarabiya.net]
03.31.12 Bin Laden roamed Pakistan for 9 years, his widow says
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 30 - Osama bin Laden spent nine years as a fugitive in Pakistan, hopscotching among safe houses in big cities and small towns with his growing family before US forces killed him in his final hideout, according to an account one of his widows has given to investigators. A newly surfaced confidential police report summarizing the testimony of bin Laden’s youngest wife, who was taken into custody after his death, has renewed debate over how the world’s most notorious terrorist could have eluded detection by Pakistan’s powerful security services. "Who facilitated his movement and his stops, and were they ordinary citizens or members of law enforcement or intelligence agencies?" asked an editorial Friday in the English-language newspaper Dawn, which broke the story here. The report is based on the interrogation of Amal Ahmed al-Sadah, a Yemeni national and the last of bin Laden’s five wives — three of whom were living with the al-Qaeda chief at the time of the raid on his villa in the garrison town of Abbottabad last May. The women, who could be jailed for up to five years, face charges of illegally entering Pakistan.
They, their children and bin Laden’s grandchildren are among those now confined to a home in Islamabad provided by the government, officials have said. Sadah, who bore bin Laden five children and was shot in the leg during the Navy SEALS operation, has been the most cooperative of the widows, according to a security official familiar with the investigation. The others — Saudi nationals Siham Saber and Khairiah Sabar — said Islam does not permit women to talk to non-related men, the official said...Sadah's narrative, if accurate, reveals the extent of bin Laden’s travels in Pakistan before his six-year-long stay in Abbottabad. She said that starting in 2002, she lived with him in the country's northwest, including in the Swat Valley and Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. She said they also lived for more than two years in a village in the Haripur district, 20 miles from Abbottabad. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
03.31.12 Pakistan foils terror plot to attack Parliament: Rehman
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 31 - Pakistani authorities foiled a terrorist plot to attack Parliament during an address by President Asif Ali Zardari to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said today. Malik said an employee of the Foreign Ministry was involved in the conspiracy but did not give any other details. The terrorists had planned to attack Parliament when President Zardari was delivering his address on March 17, he told reporters here. However, he did not name any militant group. Authorities had put in place extensive security arrangements for the joint session of Parliament addressed by Zardari on March 17. [More>>indianexpress.com]
03.31.12 More than 100,00 flee clashes between Pakistani troops, Islamists
(AFP) March 31 - More than 100,000 people have fled the north-west Khyber tribal region since government troops launched a January offensive against Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants, the UN refugee agency said on Friday. Over 100,000 people have fled fighting between government troops and Taliban or al-Qaeda-linked militants in northwest Pakistan since January 20, the UN refugee agency said Friday. "An estimated 101,160 people, mostly women and children, have become displaced since January 20 when government troops began security operations against militant groups in the Khyber" tribal district, said the UNHCR in a statement. The agency warned that a recent increase in the intensity of combat was pushing even larger numbers of families to flee the region to Jalozai camp, located close to the western Pakistan city of Peshawar. An average of 2,000 families have been arriving daily at the camp since March 17, said the UNHCR. "New arrivals say that they have left their homes because of the proximity of fighting and due to instructions by the authorities to evacuate the area," it added. Pakistan's seven tribal districts near the Afghan border are rife with homegrown insurgents and are strongholds of Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives. Islamist militants have killed almost 5,000 people across Pakistan since government troops raided an extremist mosque in Islamabad in July 2007. [>france24.com]
03.31.12 Bombs in Thailand kill 11, wound 110
HAT YAI, Thailand (AP) March 31 - Suspected Muslim insurgents staged the most deadly attack in years in Thailand's restive south, killing 11 people and wounding 110 with car bombs that targeted Saturday shoppers just before lunchtime. A first batch of explosives planted inside a parked pickup truck ripped through an area of restaurants and shops in a busy area of Yala city, a main commercial hub of Thailand's restive southern provinces, said district police chief Col. Kritsada Kaewchandee. About 20 minutes later, just as onlookers gathered at the blast site, a second car bomb exploded, causing the majority of casualties. "This is the worst attack in the past few years," said Col. Pramote Promin, deputy spokesman of a regional security agency. "The suspected insurgents were targeting people's lives. They (chose) a bustling commercial area, so they wanted to harm people." More than 5,000 people have been killed in Thailand's three southernmost provinces — Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala - since an Islamist insurgency flared in January 2004. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
03.31.12 US drones raid al-Qaeda militants in southeast Yemen, 7 terrorists killed
ADEN, Yemen (Xinhua) March 30 - US drones raided al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa on Friday, killing at least seven terrorists and injuring several others, a security official told Xinhua. The air strike hit the al-Qaeda hideouts near the town of Azzan in restive Shabwa province, the local security official said on condition of anonymity, adding that several insurgents could be killed during the air bombing. The air raid also destroyed a vehicle carrying al-Qaeda fighters on the main road of Azzan, the official said. "The militants inside the destroyed vehicle were killed and all of them were local chiefs in the al-Qaeda network," he said. Medics told Xinhua anonymously that eight civilians were injured during the air strike and had been brought to treatment in a nearby hospital. [More>>xinhuanet.com]
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