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DUBAI (AFP) June 14 - An alliance of Sunni groups headed by Al Qaeda in Iraq executed 14 soldiers and police in a video posted on the Internet on Thursday. The recording, posted on an Islamist website by the Islamic State of Iraq, shows the security men kneeling and blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs. A masked militant then shoots each one in the head with a pistol.
The militant group said it killed the men because a demand issued on June 11 for Sunni Muslim women prisoners to be released was not met. Iraq's interior and defence ministry officials were unavailable for comment on the footage. The Al Qeada linked group has made similar demands after previous kidnappings, and has also claimed to have captured and killed three US soldiers recently. The latest footage was posted on a site that jihadist groups in Iraq typically use to transmit messages. [>khaleejtimes.com]
06.14.07 Control order fugitive named as 7/7 associate
June 14 - A man who escaped from a control order by climbing out of the window of a mental health unit last September can now be identified as Zeeshan Siddiqui, a 27-year-old Briton accused of links to the July 7 bombers and al-Qaeda in Pakistan. Until a judge lifted an anonymity order this morning, Mr. Siddiqui could only be referred to as "AD", despite being on the run for eight months and named in the fertiliser bomb terror trial as an associate of the gang that planned a string of attacks in the UK in 2004.
Scotland Yard greeted the news by publishing a photograph of Mr. Siddiqui and telling members of the public not to approach him if they saw him but to call 999 instead. A police spokesman defended the decision to keep his identity secret because there had been a “clear operational advantage” in doing so during the early months of the investigation into his escape. [MOre>>timesonline.co.uk]
06.14.07 Iraq surge a failure, top Democrats tell Bush
WASHINGTON (AFP) June 14 - Top US congressional Democrats bluntly told President George W. Bush Wednesday that his Iraq troop "surge" policy was a failure, as the Pentagon submitted a report saying early results of the strategy were mixed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged the president over Iraq by sending him a letter ahead of a White House meeting later on Wednesday. The Pentagon report, delivered to Congress, is a quarterly report on progress on the war in Iraq mandated by law. [More>>turkishpress.com ; See related story, nytimes.com, June 14, "Several mosques attacked, but Iraq is mostly calm."]
06.14.07 Foreclosures up on certain mortgages
June 14 - The number of US mortgages entering foreclosure reached an all-time high in the first three months of the year, led by homeowners with blemished credit histories, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report today.
The rate of loans entering foreclosure was 0.58 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, up from the previous record 0.54 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006. So-called subprime loans, made to risky borrowers, entered foreclosure at a rate of 2.43 percent, up from 2 percent the previous quarter. There was also an uptick in new foreclosures on prime loans, those made to people deemed more creditworthy - from 0.24 percent last quarter to 0.25 percent this quarter, the association reported. Falling housing prices have driven the spike in foreclosures by making it difficult for borrowers who cannot make their payments to sell their homes or refinance their loans, said Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Washington-based association. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
06.14.07 Hamas seizes intelligence service building in Gaza City
June 14 - Hamas fighters captured the second of four major Fatah command centers in Gaza City on Thursday, bringing the militant group closer to their goal of complete conquest of the Gaza Strip. Hamas gunmen planted the Islamic group's green flag on the roof of the intelligence services building shortly after taking control over the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Earlier in the day, Hamas overran the Preventive Security building, and witnesses, a doctor and Fatah officials said several Fatah fighters were shot in the head. [More>>haaretz.com]
06.14.07 Turkey seeks Iraq, US help in dealing with Kurdish insurgents
ANKARA (RIA Novosti) June 14 - Turkey's foreign minister has urged Iraq and the U.S. to assist Ankara in cracking down on the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). "At present, between 3,500 and 3,800 PKK militants are based in the north of Iraq," Abdullah Gul said, adding that the Iraqi authorities are taking no action against the PKK. He said that if Iraq is unable to protect its own borders, then that should be done by coalition forces. "Turkey has no territorial claims against any country, nor does it have border issues with Iraq. But we are resolved to ensure the security of our citizens and will do all that is necessary," he said. [More>>rian.ru]
06.13.07 26 dead bodies found in Baghdad
BAGHDAD, June 13 - Twenty-six dead bodies were found in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. All of them were killed after being tortured. According to the police, 26 dead bodies were found in different areas of the capital. There were signs of torture and bullets on all bodies. Two of them were found wrapped by the explosive material which blasted when the police tried to lift one of the bodies. Many policemen were injured in the incident. [>thenews.com.pk; See related story, thestar.com.my, June 13, "Minarets blown up at revered Iraq Shi'ite shrine." and xinhuanet.com, June 13, "Iraq imposes indefinite curfew in Baghdad."]
06.13.07 Police say Yusron is Abu Dujana
JAKARTA, June 13 - Police said Wednesday that a terror suspect arrested on Saturday, who was initially known as Yusron is Abu Dujana the alleged leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian terror group. The group was blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings and a series of other attacks, a police officer said Wednesday. National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto said Dujana, most wanted Islamic militant, was detained Saturday along with seven other suspected terrorists in raids in a number of areas in Central Java. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
06.13.07 32,000 Iraq police 'lost,' more on payroll
WASHINGTON (UPI) Juine 13 - About 32,000 Iraqi police who have been trained and equipped are no longer on the job, having left for various reasons over the last 18 months. And as many as 12,000 police not on the job are drawing salaries anyway, said US Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who has just returned from more than two years in Iraq overseeing the development of Iraqi security forces.
The United States has overseen the training and equipping of more than 194,000 Iraqi police. But a data check in January revealed that over the last 18 months, 32,000 of them are no longer coming to work. Between 8,000 and 10,000 Iraqi police have been killed in action. Another 6,000 to 8,000 have been severely wounded, Dempsey told a House Armed Services subcommittee Tuesday. At least 5,000 Iraqi police have deserted and the rest are unaccounted for.
06.13.07 15 Taleban, young girl killed in Afghan clashes
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) June 13 - Fifteen Taleban and a young girl were reported killed Wednesday in clashes in Afghanistan as US defence officials said NATO needed more soldiers and equipment to fight the insurgents. Twelve militants were killed in the southern province of Zabul in fighting Tuesday to which the Afghan army called in foreign warplanes, the army's southern commander, Rahmatullah Raufi, said. Four more were arrested.
Another battle erupted in the province overnight when Taleban attacked a police post nearby, the Mizan district chief said. The fighting lasted two hours and three Taleban were killed and five wounded, Mohammad Younus said. A rocket-propelled grenade landed on a civilian house during the battle, killing a girl aged about seven, he said.
A Taleban spokesman, Yousuf Ahmadi, confirmed both clashes but not the death tolls. The battles came amid almost daily clashes in southern Afghanistan between militants and troops from the Afghan security forces, a US-led counterterrorism coalition and a separate NATO-led contingent.
There are around 50,000 foreign troops assisting Afghanistan's efforts to put down the Taleban-led insurgency and stabilise the fractured country, about 37,000 of whom are with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. But the unrest has grown steadily. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
06.13.07 Car bomb in Beirut kills six, including Lebanese lawmaker
June 13 - An explosion, apparently from a bomb-rigged car, rocked Beirut's seafront Wednesday, killing an anti-Syrian lawmaker and five others, a TV station aligned with anti-Syrian parties reported. Future TV said lawmaker Walid Eido, his son and two bodyguards had been killed. The attack had apparently targeted the parliament member. Security officials had reported that the explosion killed at least eight people and wounded 10 others.
06.13.07 Panels issue Subpoenas to former Bush aides
June 13 - The House and Senate Judiciary panels issued subpoenas today for former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former White House political director Sara M. Taylor, escalating the legal showdown between Democrats in Congress and the Bush administration over the Justice Department's firing of nine US attorneys last year.
The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for testimony and documents from Miers, while the Senate Judiciary panel demanded the same from Taylor. Both panels also issued separate subpoenas for White House documents related to the dismissals. "By refusing to cooperate with congressional committees, the White House continues its pattern of confrontation over cooperation," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate panel. "The White House cannot have it both ways - it cannot stonewall congressional investigations by refusing to provide documents and witnesses while claiming nothing improper occurred." [More>>washingtonpost.com]
06.13.07 Landmark ruling on torture in UK military custody
June 13 - The Government is facing a damaging lawsuit and demands for a public inquiry into its policy on torturing detainees in Iraq after a law lords ruling today. The UK's top judges ruled that the death of Baha Musa in British military custody in Iraq fell under the remit of the Human Rights Act. Musa, a hotel receptionist in Basra, died 48 hours after his arrest by British soldiers. He was apparently beaten to death, suffering 93 separate injuries to his body.
The most expensive court martial in British military legal history however failed to find anyone directly responsible for the killing. Today's verdict by the UK's highest appeal court enables Mr. Musa's family not only to sue the Government in High Court - lawyers have already said that they will be seeking exemplary damages - but to insist on a public inquiry into his death.. Phil Shiner, a lawyer for the Musa family, reeled off a list of questions he felt should now be answered by the Government. [More>>timesonline.co.uk]
06.13.07 Hamas launches Gaza City assault; 24 dead in day of clashes
June 13 - Hamas militants launched an assault Wednesday evening on the three main security forces compound in Gaza City, in a final push to seize control over the entire Gaza Strip. At least 24 Palestinians, including two United Nations aid workers, were killed in the fighting throughout the day.
06.13.07 UN Middle East policy 'failing'
June 13 - A former UN envoy to the Middle East has condemned its policy in the region for focusing too closely on the interests of the US and Israel, according to a leaked document. Alvaro de Soto, who quit in May, suggested that the UN should withdraw from the Quartet of Middle East negotiators calling it a "sideshow." [More>>aljazeera.net]
06.12.07 Judges say US can't hold man as 'combatant'
June 12 - The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled yesterday that the president may not declare civilians in this country to be “enemy combatants” and have the military hold them indefinitely. The ruling was a stinging rejection of one of the Bush administration's central assertions about the scope of executive authority to combat terrorism.
The ruling came in the case of Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar now in military custody in Charleston, S.C., who is the only person on the American mainland known to be held as an enemy combatant. The court said the administration may charge Mr. Marri with a crime, deport him or hold him as a material witness in connection with a grand jury investigation. "But military detention of al-Marri must cease," Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the majority of a divided three-judge panel.
The court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, said a fundamental principle is at stake: military detention of someone who had lawfully entered the United States and established connections here, it said, violates the Constitution. [More>>nytimes.com]
06.12.07 Deadly explosion hits Nairobi rush hour
NAIROBI, Kenya, June 12 - A suspected suicide bomber blew himself up in Nairobi's business district during rush hour in the Kenyan capital yesterday, killing one other person and leaving more than 30 people injured as shards of glass flew through the air. Initial reports suggested the attack was a suicide bombing, although police were unable to confirm it. "It looks like it was a terrorist attack," said one Western diplomat who had spoken to senior police officials.
The explosion happened at about 8am outside the Ambassador Hotel on Nairobi's busy Moi Avenue. Witnesses reported seeing a man try to get on a packed bus before turning and running towards the hotel. A local media outlet, KTN, reported that the bus had been heading for Nairobi's international airport. The blast took place outside the City Gate restaurant, on the ground floor of the Ambassador Hotel. The force of the blast ripped the clothes off those nearest to the explosion. [More>>independent.co.uk]
06.12.07 Iran to decide fate of detained Ameriicans within days
June 12 - Iran will complete its investigation of the Americans imprisoned or detained in Tehran this week and decide whether to try them for "crimes against national security" or free them, the spokesman for Iran's judiciary said today. Alireza Jamshidi told a news conference that Iran's prosecutor for security affairs expects to issue "judicial orders" in the cases of Washington scholar Haleh Esfandiari, New York social scientist Kian Tajbakhsh and California businessman Ali Shakeri in the next two or three days. All three have been held in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin Prison since early May. A fourth American facing similar charges, Parnaz Azima of US-funded Radio Farda, is out on bond. All are dual US-Iranian citizens.
All three have been held in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin Prison since early May. A fourth American facing similar charges, Parnaz Azima of US-funded Radio Farda, is out on bond. All are dual US-Iranian citizens. In a sign of the strain between the two nations over detention of their nationals, Iran also warned the United States today that it would "regret" its detention of five Iranians last January in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil. The five were picked up in a US military raid on Iran's liaison office. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
06.12.07 UN chief says he may consider bigger UN role in Iraq
UNITED NATIONS, June 11 - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would consider an expanded UN role and presence in Iraq if possible, according to a UN report released Monday. The quarterly report, submitted by the UN chief to the UN Security Council on the UN mission in Iraq, said the situation in that country remains precarious, with insurgent attacks persisting and civilian casualties continuing to mount.
06.11.07 Suicide bomber destroys bridge in Iraq's Diyala
BAGHDAD (Reuters) June 11 - A suicide car bomber struck a major bridge in Iraq's volatile Diyala province on Monday, police said, cutting the span over the Diyala River. Police said they did not know if there were any casualties. The bridge, normally guarded by Georgian troops, links the provincial capital Baquba with villages in the north of Diyala. No other details were immediately available.
Three US soldiers were killed and another six wounded when a suicide car bomber attacked a checkpoint near a bridge spanning a major north-south artery south of Baghdad on Sunday. The explosion near Mahmudiya, in the notorious ‘triangle of death’ area, brought down part of the bridge. Insurgents have been targeting major bridges in Baghdad and surrounding areas as part of a new tactic. In April, part of the popular Sarafiya bridge over the Tigris River in Baghdad was destroyed. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
06.11.07 Suicide attack in Afghanistan, 5 hurt
KHOST, June 11 - A suicide attacker detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at a police check post in Afghanistan's southeastern city of Khost Monday, wounding at least five people, officials said. The attacker drove a car into the police post about three kilometers (two miles) south of Khost, provincial criminal police chief Mohammad Ayob said. "It was a suicide attack," Ayob said. He was not immediately able to say what casualties were caused.
06.11.07 Three Qaeda suspects arrested near Iran border
ISLAMABAD, June 11 - Security forces in Pakistan have nabbed three militants suspected to be al-Qaeda activists from southwestern Balochistan region bordering Iran, a news report has said. Fake identity cards and passports along with large amount of foreign currency were recovered from the arrested suspects from a checkpoint near the Iranian border from Balochistan's Taftan region on Saturday, the Online News agency said quoting a private TV channel.
The Interior Ministry has confirmed the report of the arrests, the agency said. Sources said that the security agencies were investigating the arrested suspects including foreign nationals belonging to Khyrgistan and Germany. Pakistan, a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, has deployed at least 90,000 troops in its northwestern tribal areas to flush out remnants of the al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, and their local supporters. [>expressindia.com]
06.11.07 One killed, four wounded in Egyptian election-day violence
June 11 - One man was shot dead and four injured in Egypt on Monday in clashes between supporters of rival candidates in elections for the upper house of parliament, police sources said. Ahmed Abdel Salam Ghanem, a supporter of independent candidate Mohamed Dia Mahmoud, was killed in the Nile Delta province of Sharkia in fighting with supporters of the ruling National Democratic Party, they said. The Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition force in the country, had no candidate in that area and was not involved.
06.11.07 Suspected suicide blast rocks Kenyan capital
NAIROBI (AFP) June 11 - At least one person was killed and dozens injured Monday by a morning rush hour blast in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, suspected to be the work of a suicide bomber. The explosion occurred a few hundred metres from where a massive bomb ripped through the US embassy in 1998, killing 213 people in an attack claimed by Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network. Police and aid officials said they believed Monday's blast in front of a restaurant near the Ambassador Hotel in central Nairobi was carried out by a suicide bomber who was the only fatality. [More>>turkishpress.com]
06.11.07 The wrath of 2007: America's great drought
June 11 - America is facing its worst summer drought since the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. Or perhaps worse still. From the mountains and desert of the West, now into an eighth consecutive dry year, to the wheat farms of Alabama, where crops are failing because of rainfall levels 12 inches lower than usual, to the vast soupy expanse of Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida, which has become so dry it actually caught fire a couple of weeks ago, a continent is crying out for water.
In the south-east, usually a lush, humid region, it is the driest few months since records began in 1895. California and Nevada, where burgeoning population centres coexist with an often harsh, barren landscape, have seen less rain over the past year than at any time since 1924. The Sierra Nevada range, which straddles the two states, received only 27 per cent of its usual snowfall in winter, with immediate knock-on effects on water supplies for the populations of Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The human impact, for the moment, has been limited, certainly nothing compared to the great westward migration of Okies in the 1930 - the desperate march described by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath. [More>>independent.co.uk]
06.11.07 Two Red Cross workers killed in Lebanon
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) June 11 - A mortar shell fired from inside a besieged Palestinian refugee camp struck a Red Cross vehicle on Monday, killing two of the aid agency's workers and critically injuring a third, Lebanon's state-run news agency and security officials said. The National News Agency said the two local aid workers were killed near the northern edge of Nahr el-Bared camp by shelling from Fatah Islam militants holed up inside.
Security officials said the workers were killed when their vehicle was struck by what appears to be a mortar shell fired from inside the camp. A third Red Cross worker was seriously wounded. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to give official statements to the press, said there were army casualties as well. [More>>nytimes.com]
06.11.07 Serbian outrage over Bush remarks
SOFIA, Bulgaria, June 11 - US President George W. Bush was returning home Monday after an eight-day European tour dominated by concerns over American plans for a Europe-based missile defense system and the future status of the Serbian province of Kosovo. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said Monday that his country was "rightfully embittered" by Bush's remarks in support of Kosovan independence made during a brief stopover Sunday in Albania, adding that the United States "has no right to give away Serbia's territory to Albanians," according to a government news release.
"America must find another way to show its affection and love for the [Kosovan] Albanians, without offering them Serb territories," Kostunica told Serbian national television. "Serbia is rightfully outraged at the American policies on the issue of Kosovo." Kostunica's comments came after Bush said: "At some point in time - sooner rather than later - you've got to say "Enough is enough. Kosovo is independent and that's the position we've taken." (Full story)
During a visit to Bulgaria on Monday, Bush reiterated his backing for Kosovan statehood, adding: "As we seek independence for Kosovo, we've also got to make it clear to Serbia that there's a way forward, maybe in NATO, maybe in the EU, and definitely in better relations with the United States." [More>>cnn.com]
06.10.07 Afghan operations kill 157 insurgents
KABUL, June 10 - Afghan army-led operations supported by NATO troops killed 157 Taliban militants in the past 10 days, with six Afghan soldiers also dead, the defence ministry said Sunday. The army this month launched four operations in southern and southeastern Afghanistan aimed at clearing the area of militants fighting for the Taliban movement that was toppled from government nearly six years ago.
06.10.07 Six people hurt in Istanbul blast - TV
ISTANBUL (Reuters) June 10 - At least six people were wounded on Sunday in an explosion outside a store in Istanbul, Turkey's CNN Turk private television said. The blast occurred in the Bakirkoy district of Turkey's largest city, the state Anatolian news agency said. Police were not immediately available to comment on what may have caused the blast.
CNN Turk showed ambulances rushing to the scene and taking away some of the injured. It also showed passers-by rushing away from the area of the explosion. Explosions are not uncommon in Turkey, where radical groups ranging from Kurdish separatists to militant Islamists and far-leftists are all active. [More>>thestar.com.my]
06.10.07 Iran warns US: Your Mideast bases in our range
TEHRAN (AFP) June 10 - Iran has warned that US military bases in the Middle East are within the range of its missiles, amid increasing tensions with Washington over the Iranian nuclear programme, media reported Sunday.
"All the American bases in the region are within the reach of our weapons," said Mohammad Baqer Zolghadr, the deputy interior minister in charge of security issues.
"If the United States attacked Iran, US interests would be in danger everywhere in the world," added Zolghadr, a former deputy chief of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards. Iran has an array of medium range missiles and claims that its longer-range Shahab-3 missile has a reach of 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles), which would put US bases on the Arabian peninsula within reach. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
06.10.07 Taliban 'radio boss' joins Afghan peace scheme
KABUL (AFP) June 10 - The former head of the Taliban regime's radio station and spokesman for its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, met the media Sunday after surrendering to the Afghan government under an amnesty scheme. Mullah Mohammad Is'haq Nizami, who returned to Afghanistan this week from Pakistan, told reporters, "It's a matter of pride for me to be back in my country." Nizami had been in Pakistan running an underground magazine called Sirek (Shine) for the Taliban, who are now waging an insurgency against the US-backed administration of President Hamid Karzai, a government spokesman said. [More>>metimes.com]
06.10.07 Syria facing Iraqi refugee crisis
DAMASCUS, June 10 - A major and growing refugee crisis is developing in Syria. More than 1.4 million Iraqis have fled there since the 2003 invasion, with about 30,000 more arriving every month. The influx is putting a massive strain on Syrian society, triggering inflation and overburdening social services. Relief agencies are struggling to handle the crisis. With only a quarter of the £30m allocated for Iraqi refugees by the United Nations used in Syria, UN relief agencies are now appealing for further funds and assistance.
"We are looking for more funding," said Laurens Jolles, a UNHCR representative. "We encourage other agencies to come, and bilateral funding for Syrian governmental departments most affected." The problem is particularly acute as Syria is a poor country that faces US economic sanctions and is under international pressure to cooperate over Iraq and Lebanon. There are also some 400,000 Palestinian refugees who have lived in Syria since the creation of Israel in 1948.
Around 80 per cent of the Iraqis in Syria are believed to live in Damascus, according to the UNHCR, adding to the capital's water and housing shortages. Schools and hospitals are struggling with the influx, with some schools reporting more than 60 students per class instead of the usual 30. With the Iraqi refugees costing the state £500m over the past four years, according to a recent government statement, Damascus tried to tighten entry regulations a few months ago. The decision sparked protests in the capital and the government eventually capitulated, realizing the issue could cause significant problems domestically. [More>>independent.co.uk]
06.10.07 Bomber kills 7,wounds 45 in Tikrit
BAGHDAD (AP) June 10 - A suicide truck bomber struck an Iraqi police agency in northern Iraq on Sunday, killing at least seven people and wounding 45, police said. Meanwhile, police and witnesses in Baghdad said overnight clashes between US troops and Shiite militiamen left at least five Iraqis dead and 19 wounded in an eastern district. The US military had no immediate comment on the reports. The explosion occurred about 10:30 a.m. and devastated a building housing the local highway police headquarters in the Albu Ajil village on the eastern outskirts of Tikrit, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
06.09.07 Army pounds militants in north Lebanon camp
NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon (Reuters) June 9 -Lebanese troops shelled al Qaeda-inspired militants in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp on Saturday, almost three weeks after fighting broke out. Sporadic machinegun fire reverberated and artillery shells rocked the edges of the camp in north Lebanon, where the Fatah al-Islam fighters have vowed to fight to the death.
The camp, short of food, water and electricity, has been abandoned by most of its 40,000 residents. At least 115 people, including 47 soldiers and 38 militants, have been killed since the fighting began, making it Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war. The latest mediation efforts by Lebanese Islamists to try to convince the militants to surrender have had no success. But Lebanese sources said the Islamic Action Front, which includes Sunni politicians and clerics, and a grouping of Palestinian clerics, would continue efforts to find a solution. [More>>thestar.com.my]
06.09.07 Egyptian girl dies of bird flu
CARO (AFP) June 9 - A 10-year-old Egyptian girl has died of bird flu, the health ministry announced on Saturday, bringing to 15 the number of Egyptians who have succumbed to the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus. The girl, from the southern province of Qena, was found to be ”very critical” and hospitalized “too late,” health ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahin told AFP. Other officials had earlier said the girl had been in contact with poultry.
The highly pathogenic virus has killed 15 people out of the 35 cases reported to date in Egypt, with children the worst affected. The disease was first diagnosed in the country in February 2006. Egypt's geographical location on major bird migration routes and the widespread practice of keeping domestic fowl near living quarters have led to it being the hardest-hit country outside of Asia. [>khaleejtimes.com]
06.09.07 Turkish shelling draws Iraq protest
June 9 - Iraq's foreign ministry has accused Turkey of "intensively shelling" northern Iraq this week. The ministry said in a statement on Saturday that it had handed the Turkish envoy in Baghdad an official protest letter. The statement said the shelling caused "huge damage" in an area between Dohuk and Erbil, 350km north of Baghdad. "This attack caused wide fires and huge damage in the area and made citizens fearful," the foreign ministry statement said, without precisely identifying the damage. A ministry spokesman said the shelling took place over three hours late on Wednesday and early Thursday. [More>>aljazeera.net]
06.09.07 Death from Gonu rises to 70; Iranian villages devastated
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) June 9 - The death toll from Cyclone Gonu rose to 70 on Saturday when Iranian state media reported nine new deaths from the storm. Residents of deep southern Iran reported massive devastation in some small desert villages, with one man saying every house in his hometown had been swept away by floods. "Twelve people have been killed and nine injured as a result of Cyclone Gonu battering southern Iran," Farzad Panahi, the head of National Emergency Relief Committee, said on state radio. He did not provide details.
Iranian officials had reported three previous deaths, with one person killed in a car crash due to low visibility and two government workers drowned in a truck overturned by floodwaters. The storm killed at least 49 in Oman - with more than two dozen missing. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
06.09.07 Iraqi troops die in Hilla bombing
June 9 - The tide of violence remains unabated in Iraq, with a suicide truck bomber killing 12 soldiers and wounded 30 more in an attack on an Iraqi army checkpoint south of Baghdad, according to police. The incident happened on Saturday in the Jurf al-Sakhar neighbourhood of the predominantly Shia city of Hilla, 100km south of the capital. Earlier, an apparent rocket attack at a US-run detention facility in southern Iraq killed at least six detainees and wounded 50, the military said. No American casualties were reported. [More>>aljazeera.net]
06.09.07 Top Jemaah Islamiyah leader 'caught'
JAKARTA, Indonesia June 10 - Indonesian police say they have captured a terrorist suspect who may be the current leader of southeast Asia terror network Jemaah Islamiah. An officer at the National Police counterterrorism unit known as Detachment 88 told Kyodo News that a man named Yusron Ahmahmud, alias Mahfud, alias Abu Dujana, was arrested in the village of Kebarongan Kemrajenan in Central Java Province's Banyumas Regency earlier in the day...It was not immediately clear whether the captured terrorist suspect was Abu Dujana, who is believed to be the current JI leader and has been hunted by police. Terrorist suspects in Indonesia usually have many aliases. [Full story>>theaustralian.news.com.au]
06.09.07 The G8: What they said and what they meant
June 9 - Leaders of the world's richest nations were accused of watering down pledges to help the poorest countries after they failed to get back on track to deliver aid promises they made two years ago at Gleneagles. The G8 summit in Germany agreed a $60bn (£30bn) package to relieve suffering from Aids in Africa. But the leaders angered aid campaigners by merely reaffirming their 2005 pledges, which are already $8bn behind schedule, without taking action to bridge the gap.
The $60bn headline figure amounts to $12bn to be spent annually on Aids, TB, malaria and reinforcing health systems. Of that $12bn, up to $9bn has either been pledged already, according to Oxfam estimates, or is part of existing aid packages. So, the total annual increase in Africa spending amounts to just $3bn. Adding to the frustration, the leaders' declaration set no specific timetable, saying the money would flow "over the coming years." Max Lawson, senior policy adviser at Oxfam, said: "The headlines sound impressive but ultimately mean precious little..." [More>>independent.co.uk]
06.09.07 Environmental disaster fears after freighter runs aground
June 9 - There were fears of an environmental disaster last night after a coal freighter ran aground in massive seas off a beach north of Sydney and threatened to break up, spilling its fuel. Three other ships issued distress calls as ferocious storms, with torrential downpours and waves of up to 65ft, lashed Australia's east coast yesterday. The wild weather, caused by the worst low-pressure system in 30 years, washed away cars, leaving at least seven people missing. Ferries and international flights were cancelled, and 60,000 homes blacked out.
The 40,000-ton bulk carrier, Pasha Bulker, was queuing to load off Newcastle, one of the country's largest coal export terminals, when a storm surge ripped her from her moorings and swept her on to a sandbank. Two rescue helicopters winched the 21 Filipino crew to safety. The ship, which is carrying 700 tons of oil and 38 tons of diesel, was still being pounded by huge breakers last night, 300ft off a popular surf and swimming spot, Nobbys Beach. Police said she appeared to be buckling "and may break up". Marine pollution teams were on stand-by. But Chris Oxenbould, chief executive of the New South Wales maritime authority, said that conditions were still too dangerous for preventive measures to be taken. [More>>independent.co.uk ; See also theaustralian.news.au, June 9, "Disaster feared as seas pound freighter."]
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