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Found 108 results

  1. KIRKUK: At least 25 civilians and members of government forces have been killed in northern Iraq since late Sunday in attacks by Daesh, officials said. The attacks came despite Baghdad´s declaration of victory over the militant group late last year. "Islamic State (IS) terrorists who had set up a fake roadblock on a major road have killed 15 people," a police officer told AFP. That attack took place on the outskirts of Amerli in the province of Kirkuk, about 200 kilometres from Baghdad. In a separate attack, three people were killed while driving a car further north near the city of Daquq, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The attackers then burned the car," he said. In a village of Niniveh province, seven others including the mayor were killed by armed men in military uniform, local official Ali al-Hamdi told AFP. Hamdi blamed Daesh, saying members of the militant group were hiding out in the surrounding desert and making incursions into populated areas. The mayor of Mushirfa village and two of his children were killed in the attack on his home, Hamdi said, as well as two tribal fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary units that played a leading role in the fight against Daesh. In mid-February, Daesh claimed responsibility for killing 27 people in the Hawija area of Kirkuk province, also setting up a fake checkpoint and disguising themselves as soldiers. It was the deadliest attack on Iraqi forces since they retook control last October of Hawija, the militants´ last bastion in northern Iraq. In December, Baghdad announced the "end of the war" against the Daesh and that government troops - army, police and Hashed al-Shaabi - were in control of the long and porous Iraqi-Syrian border. Experts and officials, however, believe that militants hiding out in the desert still have the ability to strike and even to seize areas of Iraq, especially near the Syrian border.
  2. Sri Lanka's Special Task Force and Police officers stand guard near a burnt house after a clash between two communities in Digana, central district of Kandy. -Reuters COLOMBO: Mobs torched Muslim-owned businesses in a central Sri Lanka district on Wednesday as hundreds of police and troops struggled to restore order after days of rioting. The soldiers poured into Kandy to reinforce police but arson attacks persisted even though the government has imposed a nationwide state of emergency and suspended the internet locally to quell attacks by mobs from the majority Sinhalese community. An evening curfew was extended till Thursday evening in the troubled hill district popular with tourists, officials said. Telecommunication providers were instructed to block Facebook nationwide and suspend internet services in the district after police warned that rioters were using social media to urge violence against Muslims. Schools were shut across Kandy, a hill resort famed for its tea and Buddhist relics, as rioters defied curfews and clashed with police who used tear gas to disperse them. Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne vowed those responsible for the lawlessness would be punished. "This is organised violence," Senaratne said in Colombo. "We have identified four individuals behind the riots and they will be arrested soon." He said police were also ordered to detain those accused of spreading messages fomenting hate against Muslims via social media. At least three police officers were wounded overnight at Menikhinna, a suburb of Kandy which has been a focus of the new trouble, said police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera. Foreign governments issued travel warnings after Sri Lankan authorities granted sweeping powers to police and troops to arrest and detain suspects. "The state of emergency may include curfews in specific locations," the UK government said on its website. "You should exercise caution, avoid protests and rallies and comply with local security requirements." The US State Department said further violence was possible and advised visitors to monitor local media for updates. The United Nations condemned the violence and urged Colombo "to ensure that appropriate measures are swiftly taken to restore normalcy in affected areas". Trouble brewing More than 150 homes, shops and vehicles belonging to Muslims were set ablaze by mobs of Sinhalese rioters Monday and Tuesday. The violence began after a man from the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority died at the hands of a Muslim mob last week. The trouble escalated when a Muslim man was found dead in a burned building on Tuesday. The Sinhalese are the majority ethnic group in Sri Lanka, making up 75 percent of its 21 million people. Muslims make up 10 percent. There was no immediate estimate of the damage from Wednesday's arson attacks. Parliament Tuesday issued an apology to the Muslim minority for the violence. City planning minister Rauff Hakeem described the riots as a "monumental security lapse" and recommended disciplinary action against those responsible. But the trouble in Kandy is just the latest violence targeting Muslims in the Indian Ocean island. Mobs set fire to Muslim-owned businesses and attacked a mosque in the east of the country last week after a Muslim chef was accused of adding contraceptives to food sold to Sinhalese customers. Last November, riots in the south of the island left one man dead and homes and vehicles damaged. In June 2014 riots between Buddhists and Muslims left four dead and many injured. That bout of violence was instigated by a Buddhist extremist group whose leaders are on trial, accused of fostering religious conflict.
  3. Umar Ahmed Haque is seen in this undated custody photograph received via the Metropolitan Police, in London, Britain on March 2, 2018. Photo: Metropolitan Police/Handout via Reuters LONDON: A British supporter of Daesh was found guilty on Friday of trying to recruit children he was teaching into an?army? of jihadists to help carry out a wave of attacks across London. Umar Haque, 25, showed the children beheading videos and other violent militant propaganda, forced them to re-enact deadly attacks on the British capital and made them role-play attacking police officers. ?His plan was to create an army of children to assist with multiple terrorist attacks throughout London,? said Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police?s Counter Terrorism Command.?He tried and he did, we believe, radicalise vulnerable children from the ages of 11 to 14.? Although he had no qualifications and was employed as an administrator, police say Haque used the guise of teaching Islamic studies to groom 110 children into becoming militants at the Lantern of Knowledge, a small private Islamic school, and at a madrassa connected to the Ripple Road Mosque in east London. Abuthaher Mamun is seen in this undated custody photograph received via the Metropolitan Police, in London, Britain on March 2, 2018. Photo: Metropolitan Police/Handout via Reuters Of those children, 35 are now undergoing long-term safeguarding measures involving social services and other authorities. Six of the group gave evidence at Haque?s trial, detailing how he taught them fighting was good and had given them training such as doing push-ups to build their strength. His intention was to use them to attack London targets such as the Big Ben tower, soldiers from the Queen?s Guards, a large shopping centre, banks, and media stations, prosecutors said. Believed to have been self-radicalised online, Haque was inspired by an attack in March last year when Khalid Masood ploughed a rented car into pedestrians on London?s Westminster Bridge, killing four, before stabbing to death a police officer in the grounds of parliament. He had discussed with Abuthaher Mamun ? a 19-year-old who also taught at the mosque ? carrying out a similar attack using guns and a hire car packed with explosives. He had made the children re-enact Masood?s assault and told another co-defendant the public deserved to be annihilated. Role-playing ?He tried to prepare the children for martyrdom by making them role-play terrorist attacks. Part of that role-playing was re-enacting attacking police officers,? Haydon said. ?He had shown them graphic terrorist videos - beheading videos and frightening terrorist activities overseas. He described himself as a loyal follower to IS.? Haydon said the children had been?paralysed by fear? into not telling their parents or teachers, with Haque saying he was part of IS and threatening that they would suffer the same fate as those in the militant videos he showed them. Muhammad Abid is seen in this undated custody photograph received via the Metropolitan Police, in London, Britain on March 2, 2018. Photo: Metropolitan Police/Handout via Reuters However, Haque?s?ambitious?, long-term plans were in an early stage, he said. No issues had been raised at the school - rated outstanding by government inspectors - prior to Haque?s arrest and when it came to light what was going on, police initially met a wall of silence from the children. ?He shouldn?t have been teaching, so that?s a concern,? Haydon said.?We have had challenges with both the local community and some of these institutions.? Haque was found guilty at London?s Old Bailey Court of a number of offences including preparing terrorist acts, having previously pleaded guilty to four charges. Mamun, who police said was involved in fundraising and attack planning, and Muhammad Abid, 27, were also convicted of helping him. They will all be sentenced at a later date.
  4. Afghan security forces keep watch at a checkpoint near the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A series of militant attacks in Afghanistan killed more than 20 people, officials said on Saturday, ahead of an international meeting next week aimed at building diplomatic support for hoped-for peace talks with the Taliban. Taliban militants attacked an Afghan army post overnight on Friday, killing 18 government soldiers, while a suicide bomber in the capital killed three people and wounded five, and separate attacks in Helmand killed at least three others. The attacks came as a high-level NATO delegation visited Afghanistan, pledging support for President Ashraf Ghani?s government, which on Wednesday hosts the latest in a series of diplomatic meetings aimed at laying the groundwork for a possible political process involving the Taliban. Violence has intensified in Afghanistan since U.S. President Donald Trump in August unveiled a more aggressive strategy, with U.S.-led forces carrying out more air strikes, and the Taliban responding with bombs, ambushes and raids. The Taliban, fighting to drive out foreign forces and re-impose its version of strict Islamic law, said in a statement it had attacked a government army post overnight on Friday in the western province of Farah. Government officials confirmed the attack. ?A large number of Taliban attacked an army outpost and we lost 18 soldiers and two were wounded,? said government spokesman Dawlat Waziri. On Saturday a bomber blew himself up on a road in Kabul near an office of the Afghan intelligence services, the latest in a spate of attacks in the city in which hundreds of people have been killed and wounded. Islamic State claimed responsibility in a message carried by its Amaq news agency. The capital has been on high alert since a Taliban suicide bomber blew up an explosive-packed ambulance on a busy street on Jan. 27, killing more than 100 people and wounding at least 235. A week earlier, militants had killed more than 20 people, including four Americans, in an attack on one of the city?s top hotels. The Taliban claimed that attack too. Soft Targets General John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said NATO would help authorities improve security in the capital as well as aiding Afghan forces in pressuring the insurgents with air strikes. ?We expect the enemy to continue with these horrendous attacks,? Nicholson said, but added there had been a ?lowering of ambition? by the Taliban which he said had given up trying to seize cities or whole provinces in favour of soft civilian targets. ?The Taliban cannot win and their best hope for the future is to engage in reconciliation,? Nicholson told reporters at a news conference in Kabul. Although there appears to be no immediate prospect of any negotiations with the insurgents, officials say low-level contacts, aimed at establishing the basis for future talks, have been going on behind the scenes. ?Talks about those - beginning talks are certainly in the works in different forms,? Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, said. ?So don?t think that nothing is happening. A lot is happening in a very beginning stage ... of a way forward.? Islamic State?s Afghan affiliate, which first appeared near the border with Pakistan in 2015, has become increasingly active and has claimed several recent attacks, although Nicholson said its strength had been severely diminished and the movement had only between 1,500 and 2,000 fighters. ?We have cut their numbers in half over the last two years,? he said. Most fighters were Pakistani militants, with no sign of the flood of foreign fighters seen in Syria and Iraq.
  5. GUJRANWALA: Three brothers died Friday night here in Ilyas Colony after one of them committed suicide and the other two, consequently, had heart attacks, Geo News reported. Zahid Ali, 35, committed suicide on Friday for unknown reasons by shooting himself, a statement from the Saddar police station said. He was a welder by profession and left behind a daughter. His two brothers ? one younger, the other older ? passed away when they suffered heart attacks after hearing the news of Zahid's death. Abbas Ali, 40, became unwell following the news of his younger brother's suicide and was being moved to the hospital when he suffered a heart attack and passed away en route. As the two brothers' bodies were brought back to their residence, Saddam Ali, 28, the third and youngest brother, also suffered a stroke and died. The tragic news put the entire neighbourhood in mourning as the bereaved family prepared for three funerals.
  6. US Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand speaks at a summit about combating human trafficking at the Department of Justice in Washington, US, February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/Files WASHINGTON: The US Justice Department?s third-ranking official, Rachel Brand, will resign and take a senior job at Walmart Inc, with sources familiar with her decision saying on Friday that she had grown increasingly uncomfortable with President Donald Trump?s attacks on her department and the FBI. The department said Brand will be leaving her post in the coming weeks. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, himself repeatedly criticized by Trump, praised her ?critical role in helping us accomplish our goals as a department.? Brand, 44, was next in line of succession to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller?s investigation into potential collusion between Trump?s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia and whether the Republican president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the ongoing probe. She became the latest senior law enforcement official to either resign or be fired since Trump took office in January 2017, a list that includes a Federal Bureau of Investigation director and deputy director, and an acting attorney general. Trump also ousted all remaining US attorneys, the chief federal prosecutors in each state, who had served under Trump?s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama. Brand?s resignation is different in that she was hand-picked for the job by Trump, assuming her post just five days after Mueller?s appointment in May 2017. News of Brand?s departure came a week after Trump approved the release of a previously classified memo written by Republican lawmakers that portrayed the Russia investigation, initially handled by the FBI and now headed by Mueller, as a product of political bias against Trump at the FBI and Justice Department. After just nine months on the job, Brand had become more and more uneasy with Trump?s escalating attacks on the Justice Department and the FBI, which she and other law enforcement professionals feared was beginning to undermine the rule of law, according to sources familiar with her thinking. In a statement, Brand defended her department, saying, ?The men and women of the Department of Justice impress me every day.? The attacks have escalated in recent weeks as Republicans in Congress have criticized the handling by the Justice Department, FBI and the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court of warrants for surveillance of a Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page, who had ties to Russia. Trump called the matter ?a disgrace.? In a statement, Walmart said Brand will join the company as executive vice president for global governance and corporate secretary. ?We are fortunate to have a leader of Rachel Brand?s stature join the company,? President and CEO Doug McMillon said. ?Block out the turmoil? Mary McCord, who served as acting head of the Justice Department?s National Security Division from October 2016 until April 2017 and helped oversee the FBI investigation into the collusion matter, said Brand?s resignation would further shake morale at the department. ?When the associate attorney general steps down after just nine months in the midst of a barrage of attacks on the department from the White House and Capitol Hill, it is another blow to the career women and men of the department who have been doing their jobs diligently while trying to block out the turmoil around them,? said McCord, now a visiting professor at Georgetown University?s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. The department is also facing a major backlog on leadership positions that still need confirmation by the US Senate. Rosenstein oversees Mueller?s investigation because Sessions recused himself from the matter last year. Trump also has criticized Sessions for recusing himself. Brand on Friday lauded Sessions? ?commitment to the rule of law.? Rosenstein is the only official with legal authority to fire Mueller, and it is widely believed he would resign if ordered to do so without good cause. If Rosenstein resigned, that authority would have fallen to Brand under the department?s succession line. With her gone, the next person in line is Solicitor General Noel Francisco. Any permanent replacement for Brand would have to be confirmed by the Senate and would likely face tough questioning about their willingness to preserve the Russia probe?s independence. Trump could use a 1998 law on executive branch vacancies to appoint a temporary replacement of his choice, as long as that person was an experienced Justice Department employee or another administration official already confirmed by the Senate. Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the agency?s Russia investigation, in May 2017, saying he took the action because of ?this Russia thing.? The FBI?s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, stepped down in January after Trump repeatedly criticized him on Twitter. McCabe?s wife previously ran as a Democrat for a seat in Virginia?s state Senate and received donations from then-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton. Brand oversees the Justice Department?s civil, antitrust, tax and environmental and natural resources divisions. She played a crucial role in helping push for Congress to reauthorize the National Security Agency?s warrantless internet surveillance program after it faced opposition from some privacy-minded lawmakers in both parties. The measure passed, and Trump signed it into law in January. A Justice Department official said that Jesse Panuccio, the Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General, will temporarily take over Brand?s job until a replacement is named. He previously served as acting associate attorney general until Brand was confirmed and sworn in.
  7. Neighbours gather outside the house of Asma's family-Geo News MARDAN: A relative of a suspect in the rape and murder case of minor Asma terrorised her family after barging into their home. The man, wielding a knife, also harassed the women present in the house. The man was subsequently caught by neighbours and handed over to the police. Asma was reported missing from the Gujjar Garhi area in Mardan on January 13 and recovered dead the next day from the nearby sugarcane fields. Speaking at a press conference early today, Mardan Regional Police Officer (RPO) Dr Mian Saeed announced the arrest of prime suspect, 15-year-old Muhammad Nabi, and another suspect. KP police arrest 15-year-old relative for murder of minor Asma KP Police says that the case was resolved by tracing a drop of blood on a leaf in the sugarcane field where the minor was killed Nabi, with his face covered, was also presented before the media. Dr Saeed said that the case was resolved by tracing a drop of blood on a leaf in the sugarcane field where the minor was killed. The RPO said that fingerprint traces of the suspect were found on the neck of the deceased, and the weapon used for the crime has also been recovered. Dr Saeed said that the suspect attempted sexual assault on the four-year-old in the sugarcane field but the minor resisted by shouting for help. In reaction, Nabi killed the minor by strangulation.
  8. Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect of the November 2015 Paris attacks-AFP BRUSELLS: Paris terror attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam has refused to return to his trial in Belgium this week over a shootout with police in Brussels that led to his capture, the court said Tuesday. The fresh show of defiance comes after Abdeslam berated judges for being anti-Muslim, refused to stand and said that he put his "trust in Allah" on the first day of the trial on Monday. It appears to dash any lingering hopes that Abdeslam might answer questions about the March 15, 2016, gun battle or about his suspected ties to the cell linked to both the 2015 Paris and 2016 Brussels attacks. "The court has received notice from the defendant to tell us that he will not take part in his trial on Thursday. It´s obviously his right not to appear," Luc Hennart, the court´s administrative head, told AFP. "It will not change how the trial unfolds," Hennart added. One of Abdeslam´s defence lawyers, Romain Delcoigne, told AFP: "We duly note it." Laura Severin, lawyer of Abdeslam´s co-defendant Sofiane Ayari, declined to comment when reached by AFP. Abdeslam had originally requested to attend his trial at the Palais de Justice in Brussels despite being held in France, where he has been in solitary confinement since April 2016. The Belgian-born French national of Moroccan descent is the only surviving suspect in the Paris attacks on November 13, 2015, that left 130 people dead. Abdeslam has refused point-blank to speak to investigators since his arrest in Brussels three days after the gun battle. Trial ´not finished´ Hennart said he still expected Ayari, a 24-year-old Tunisian arrested with Abdeslam three days after the shootout, to appear when the trial resumes. Both Abdeslam and Ayari face charges of attempted murder of three police officers who were wounded in a gunfight during a raid on the apartment where the two suspects were hiding out, and on charges relating to banned weapons. A third extremist, from Algeria, was killed in the shootout. In the early hours of Monday Abdeslam was transferred under tight security from a jail near Paris to Brussels for the trial, and then taken to another prison in northern France on Monday night. He had refused to stand for the court or answer questions about the Belgian case, alleging that Muslims were treated "mercilessly" as he explained why he would not cooperate despite having asked to attend the trial. "I am not afraid of you, I am not afraid of your allies," said a defiant Abdeslam, who has grown long hair and a beard during his nearly two years behind bars. "I put my trust in Allah and that´s all." Prosecutor Kathleen Grosjean recommended the pair be sentenced to 20 years in prison, what she said is the maximum sentence for an attempt to murder police officers. Several people had said on Monday night that they had hoped Abdeslam would speak. "The trial is not yet finished," Maryse Alie, who is representing five of the six police officers who came under fire in March 2016, said late Monday. "He could still decide to speak, all the more so, I think, as everyone expressed his point of view calmly," Alie added.
  9. Salah Abdeslam. Photo: AFP Belgium will be on high alert today as the last surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, stands trial in Brussels over a shootout that led to his capture. Elite forces will guard the 28-year-old's transfer from a jail near the French capital to the trial, while hundreds of Belgian security forces will protect the court building. Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national of Moroccan descent, is charged with "attempting to murder several police officers in a terrorist context" and of "carrying prohibited weapons in a terrorist context". The charges concern a gunbattle in the Belgian capital on March 15, 2016, four months after the Paris attacks, which led to his capture days later. Three police officers were wounded and a fellow terrorist was killed. Abdeslam and the man arrested with him, Tunisian national Sofiane Ayari, 24, could serve up to 40 years in prison if convicted. The trial is the prelude to a later one in France and prosecutors hope the Brussels trial will yield clues not only about the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris but also the suicide bombings months later in Brussels. Blasts rock Brussels airport, metro; at least 37 killed Belgian capital under lockdown; Attacks trigger security alerts across western Europe, bring some cross-border transport to a halt Abdeslam has refused point-blank to speak to investigators throughout the nearly two years since his arrest, which capped a four-month hunt for Europe's most wanted man. But he has insisted on attending the Brussels trial, which is expected to last four days, raising the question of whether he will use it to break his silence. Belgium's federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said "it is important for the victims" that the trial yield clues behind the two attacks. Massive security Tight secrecy surrounds the plans for transferring Abdeslam from Paris to the Palais de Justice in Brussels, and then back to a prison just across the border in northern France every night. French and Belgian forces will take joint responsibility for escorting the defendant from France's Vendin-le-Vieil prison. He will be taken either by road or by helicopter but a decision will not be made until the last moment. Security forces are leaving no scenario to chance ? escape bids, suicide attempts and even another attack ? for the first public appearance of the boyish former bar owner. French investigators name plotter of Paris, Brussels attacks PARIS: French investigators have identified a Syria-based extremist of dual Belgian and Moroccan nationality who is thought to have plotted the attacks in Paris and Brussels, sources close to... In Brussels, police will have to guard a building with a surface area greater than that of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. Investigators believe Abdeslam's capture caused members of his terrorist cell to bring forward plans for the attacks in Brussels. Suicide attacks on March 22, 2016, killed 32 people at Brussels airport and a metro station near the EU headquarters. The same cell is believed to have been behind both the Paris and Brussels attacks, which were claimed by Daesh or ISIS. Abdeslam has spent nearly 20 months in isolation under 24-hour video surveillance at Fleury-Merogis prison near Paris, after being transferred to France after his arrest. Shot in the leg Police say Abdeslam and Ayari were holed up at a flat in the Brussels district of Forest when it was raided by French and Belgian police in a routine operation after the Paris attacks. A third suspect, 33-year-old Algerian Mohamed Belkaid, died while providing covering fire for their escape through a back door. Belgium holds four over 2015 train attack Prosecutors said that following a series of raids around Brussels, 'four people were taken in for questioning' Police say they found Abdeslam's fingerprints in the flat, confirming they were on the trail of the last suspect in the rifle and bomb attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, bars, restaurants and the national stadium in the French capital on November 13, 2015. Abdeslam is reported to have disposed of a suicide belt before fleeing. He is also suspected of being the driver in the attacks, in which his brother Brahim was one of the suicide bombers. Armed officers shot in the leg and captured him and Ayari just yards from Abdeslam's home in Molenbeek, a gritty Brussels immigrant neighbourhood. Ayari entered Europe in September 2015 via the Greek island of Lesbos at the height of a migration crisis gripping the continent, and was one of dozen suspected terrorists ferried around Europe by Abdeslam.
  10. WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump ruled out on Monday quick talks with the Taliban, following a wave of bloody large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital, Kabul. ?I don?t think we are prepared to talk right now,? Trump said, throwing into question Washington?s strategy of pushing the group towards the negotiating table. ?We don?t want to talk with the Taliban,? Trump said. ?They are killing people left and right, innocent people.? He added: ?There may be a time but it?s going to be a long time.? On Monday, Kabul suffered its third major assault in recent days, as the Taliban and Daesh escalate their offensives. The militants have stepped up their attacks on beleaguered Afghan troops and police in recent months, sapping morale already hit by desertions and corruption. A suicide attack on an Afghan army battalion Monday killed at least 11 soldiers and wounded 16, a defense ministry spokesperson said. Last Saturday a Taliban suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed ambulance blew it up in a crowded area of the capital, killing at least 103 people ? mainly civilians ? and wounding 235 in one of the worst bombings in the city in recent years. And on January 20, Taliban fighters stormed Kabul?s landmark Intercontinental hotel and killed at least 25 people, the majority of them foreigners, in an assault lasting more than 12 hours. In August, Trump concluded a months-long review of America?s strategy to win the brutal war in Afghanistan, now entering its 17th year. The strategy called for an increase in the tempo and intensity of strikes against the Taliban. The aim is to persuade some Taliban factions to enter talks with the government in Kabul. This month?s spate of bombings and Trump?s comments indicate that end game may further away than the White House would like.
  11. DUBAI: Clashes in the Yemeni rebel heartland of Saada province have killed 40 rebel fighters, Saudi media said Wednesday, while the rebels reported nine civilians among 22 dead in Saudi-led air strikes. The rebels were killed in clashes over the past 24 hours with a pro-government alliance backed by Saudi Arabia, which controls several pockets of the province along the Saudi border, the kingdom's state-run Al-Ekhbariya television reported. An official of the province's rebel-run health department said four children were among the nine civilians killed in air strikes over the past 24 hours. The rebels' Al-Masirah television said a single strike on the province on Tuesday night killed nine people, four of them civilians. A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The uptick in fighting came as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir held talks on the conflicts in Yemen and Syria with his British, US and United Arab Emirates counterparts in Paris on Tuesday. "There can be no military solution to either conflict, only peaceful and carefully negotiated political solutions will truly end the suffering," said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who organised the meeting. Saudi Arabia and its allies have come under mounting international pressure over the humanitarian impact of their nearly three-year military intervention. Despite the coalition's superior firepower, the rebels remain in control of the capital Sanaa and much of the northern highlands and Red Sea coast. More than 9,200 people have been killed in Yemen since the intervention began, most of them civilians, according to World Health Organization figures. More than three-quarters of Yemen´s 29 million population are in need of humanitarian aid, with some 8.4 million at risk of famine, the UN humanitarian affairs office has said. The Saudi-led coalition this week pledged $1.5 billion in new aid for Yemen after the United Nations launched a record appeal to address what it says is the world´s worst humanitarian crisis.
  12. Sadiq Khan ? the Mayor of London ? speaks at the Fabian Society New Year Conference, in central London, Britain, January 13, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Files LONDON: Mayor Sadiq Khan joined a chorus of protest on Friday against a government decision not to block the release from jail of a former black-cab driver suspected of assaulting dozens, possibly hundreds of women. Khan said it was ?extremely disappointing? that the government was not challenging a decision by the Parole Board to free John Worboys, 60, after nine years in prison. The opposition Labour Party, of which Khan is a member, also called it deeply regrettable. Worboys ? one of Britain?s most prolific *** offenders ? was convicted in 2009 of raping or sexually assaulting 12 women. However, police fear he may have had more than 100 victims. On Friday, justice minister David Gauke told parliament he had received legal advice that suggested launching a judicial review of the Parole Board decision would not be successful. Mayor Khan ? who has previously said Worboys should not be allowed to set foot in London ? said he had instructed lawyers to explore the possibility of a legal challenge from him. The decision to release Worboys is ?astonishing and it is extremely disappointing that the government is accepting this without challenge,? Khan said in a statement. Worboys? release has provoked outrage from campaigners against sexual violence and exposed failings in the justice system after some of his victims were not informed of the decision to release him. Gauke declined to explain his decision further, saying that publishing the legal advice could harm attempts by other groups to challenge his release. Worboys ? a licensed London black-cab driver ? used alcohol and drugs to incapacitate his victims between 2002 and 2008. He told some women he had won money at a casino or lottery and offered them spiked champagne, laced with sedatives in an invitation to celebrate with him. He then pounced on the victims in the back of his black cab and many were left with little memory of their ordeals and could only recall falling asleep in the back of the vehicle before waking up at home. In 2009, the former male stripper was convicted of 19 offences of drugging and sexually assaulting women and ordered to serve at least eight years in jail. Worboys spent just under 10 years in custody, including a period on remand. A three-member panel of the Parole Board decided at the end of last year Worboys could be released as he no longer presented a risk to the public.
  13. US Senator Jeff Flake departs the Senate floor after delivering a speech in which he was critical of his fellow Republicans at the US Capitol, Washington, US, January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst WASHINGTON: Republican US Senator Jeff Flake castigated President Donald Trump on Wednesday for his attacks on the media, saying Trump had embraced the despotic language of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and inspired modern-day authoritarians. In a rare intra-party rebuke from the Senate floor, Flake said Trump?s portrayal of the press as ?the enemy of the people? and repeated White House references to ?fake news? and ?alternative facts? had spurred copycats such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Stalin ? who led the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until he died in 1953 ? used the phrase ?enemy of the people? to describe those he wanted annihilated. Trump?s use of the phrase ?should be a source of great shame,? Flake said. 55-year-old Flake ? an Arizona conservative who has frequently feuded with Trump ? described himself in October as out of step with his party and said would not seek re-election. His term ends in January 2019. ?Not only has the past year seen an American president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he has in turn inspired dictators and authoritarians... This is reprehensible,? Flake said. Responding to Flake?s speech, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the senator was an attention-seeker. ?He?s not criticizing the president because he?s against oppression,? Sanders said at a White House briefing. ?He?s criticizing the president because he has terrible poll numbers and he is, I think, looking for some attention.? Trump?s attacks on the media in response to critical stories about him have been a staple of his Twitter feed and he tweeted in February 2017 that ?The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people!? That same month, Assad was quoted as dismissing charges of human rights violations at a military prison as ?fake news.? In the Philippines, Duterte lashed out on Tuesday at a ?fake news outlet? known for challenging his government. Noting that Trump had said he will give out awards for ?the most corrupt and dishonest? media, Flake said, ?It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle.? Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday evening that his ?FAKE NEWS winners? could be found on the Republican National Committee website. The link ? which was broken for 90 minutes ? listed 10 stories by news outlets. An 11th item was coverage of ?RUSSIA COLLUSION!? that Trump called a ?hoax?. In a second Twitter post, Trump said there were also ?many great reporters I respect?. Criticism from McCain John McCain ? the other Republican senator from Arizona ? aimed similar criticism at Trump on Wednesday in an opinion piece in the Washington Post. ?Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets,? wrote McCain, who is fighting aggressive brain cancer. ?This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit.? In his clashes with Trump, Flake has called his behaviour sometimes ?reckless, outrageous and undignified? and criticized the president in a book that made the New York Times best-seller list last year. On Twitter, Trump has referred to the senator as ?Flake(y)? and said Flake dropped his re-election bid because he was doomed to lose. He also has called Flake ineffective, ?toxic?, and weak on issues such as crime and border security. Still, Flake has voted for Trump?s policies. He supported Republican tax overhaul legislation last month and voted for unsuccessful bills to repeal and replace Obamacare, both efforts backed by Trump. Flake laid some ?official untruths? at Trump?s door on Wednesday and said the most vexing was his labelling as a ?hoax? the investigation of alleged ties between Russia and Trump?s presidential campaign. ?To call the Russia matter a ?hoax? ... is a falsehood,? Flake said. ?We know that the attacks orchestrated by the Russian government during the election were real and constitute a grave threat,? he said. ?It is in the interest of every American to get to the bottom of this matter.?
  14. KARACHI: Over 1800 Ulema from different schools of thoughts in Pakistan issued a Fatwa (Islamic ruling) declaring suicide attacks to be Haram (forbidden). Details of the Fatwa signed by 1829 clerics emerged on Monday. The ruling states that those who commit suicide attacks, those who order such attacks, those who train such people are all considered rebels against the true spirit of Islam. The ruling further states that the State of Pakistan is in the right to act against such people. It outlined clearly that the act of waging war and bloodshed in the name of Jihad can only be initiated by the State. Those who impose their viewpoints on by force are responsible for spreading mischief on earth (Fasad fil Arz). The ruling also states that in Pakistan, armed conflict in the name of Islamic Law (Shariyat) is forbidden (Haram). Speaking to Geo News, senior analyst Saleem Safi said that after the Constitution of Pakistan the Fatwa a sacrosanct document that provides answers to the questions faced by Pakistan and the Islamic world in light of the Holdy Quran and the Sunaat. The document, signed by the clerics from all schools of thought, will be presented under the title Peghaam-e-Pakistan at a ceremony which will be held at the Presidency on Tuesday.
  15. Yet another year has come to an end, leaving behind traces of terror attacks that took place mostly in vulnerable pockets of the country, where people were and still are unable to get proper treatment for critical wounds. Eidgah Market, Parachinar - January 21 The beginning of 2017 saw a deadly attack in Eidgah Market of Parachinar city of Kurram Agency. geo_embedgallery People had gathered to buy and sell fruits and vegetables in the agency's major town when a powerful explosion struck leaving more than 25 people dead and over 60 injured. The wounded were rushed to Agency Headquarters Hospital, but those with critical injuries had to be shifted to Peshawar as the facility in Parachinar lacked the material required for proper treatment. However, the state of the hospital in Parachinar remained the same during emergency situations in the explosions that followed. Charring Cross, Lahore - February 13 In February, Lahore fell target to terrorist designs when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest near the Punjab Assembly as hundreds of people gathered for a protest. geo_embedgallery The Lahore blast claimed the lives of at least 14 people, including senior police officers. The protest near the Punjab Assembly was being held by chemists and owners of medical stores against the drug rules imposed by the provincial government. Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine, Sehwan - February 16 Hardly three days had passed since the Lahore incident when another powerful explosion took place in Sehwan city of Jamshoro district in Sindh. Devotees react as they gather outside the closed gate of the shrine of 13th century Muslim Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar a day after the terrorist bombing. Photo: AFP On the evening of February 16, hundreds had gathered at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar for the dhamaal ? the place was jam-packed when a loud blast occurred. A milk feeder lying on the ground in the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander after the blast on February 16. Photo: AFP The incident left at least 90 people dead and over 300 injured. Just like Parachinar, in Sehwan too, there was no proper health facility where blast victims could be treated, compounding the agony of the victims and their families. Parachinar imambargah - March 31 On March 31, terror returned to the tribal areas of the country. The target was yet again Parachinar. People stand by a building damaged in the explosion. A busy marketplace outside an imambargah was targetted by a powerful bomb explosion, killing at least 24 people and leaving 90 others injured. This time too, locals said the injured persons and their attendants were faced with difficulties at the Agency Headquarters Hospital Parachinar due to the dearth of medical facilities and staff. Bedian Road, Lahore - April 5 In April, Lahore was once again targetted by terrorists, this time a census team, escorted by Pakistan Army was the target. Security officials collect evidence from the scene of a suicide bomb attack on a census team in Lahore on April 5, 2017. Photo: AFP At least six people were killed and 15 others were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated its explosives on Lahore?s Bedian Road. A forensic team arrives at the scene of a suicide bomb attack on a census team in Lahore on April 5, 2017. Photo: AFP While speaking to Geo News, a spokesperson for the Punjab government, Malik Ahmed Khan, had said the target seemed to be the census team and the soldiers accompanying them. Mastung, Balochistan - May 12 In May, it was Balochistan that became the target of terror attacks not once, but multiple times in the months which followed. On May 12, a suicide bomb blast targetting the convoy of a senior politician in Balochistan killed at least 27 people while 30 others were injured. Vehicle damaged in the explosion. The incident occurred in Mastung district of the province ? not very far from the provincial capital ? where a vehicle carrying Senate Deputy Chairperson Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri was struck by the blast. The targetted person, Haideri, escaped the attack with light injuries but his driver and an aide were killed. Turi Bazaar, Parachinar - June 24 For the third time in the year, another major attack took place in Parachinar, Kurram Agency. This time, twin blasts occurred in the bustling Turi Bazaar area of Parachinar, where people were shopping for iftar and Eid, which was to be celebrated in most parts of the country the following day. Ambulance near the site of the explosions. At least 45 people were killed and 300 others were wounded in the explosion. While speaking about the incident, a local official, Nasrullah Khan, had said the first explosive device detonated when the market was crowded with shoppers. He added the second blast took place when people rushed to the site to rescue the wounded. The twin blasts hit Parachinar just a day before Eid despite security arrangements being in place in the area. Kot Lakhpat Sabzi Mandi, Lahore - July 24 In July, it was Lahore again, when an explosion in a busy vegetable market claimed lives of at least 26 people, including nine policemen. Site of the explosion in Lahore, in which 26 people were killed. Photo: File The attack was a suicide blast, the bomber detonated his explosives amid a crowd in Kot Lakhpat Sabzi Mandi near Arfa Karim Software Technology Park on July 24. The explosion came a few days after the Army started its operation, Khyber IV, in Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Pishin bus stop, Quetta - August 13 After Eid celebrations were marred by violence, an attempt was also made ahead of Independence Day, with a huge suicide explosion targetting Pakistan Army personnel in Quetta. Smoke billows from near a building after the explosion. At least eight army men were martyred and seven civilians killed in the blast that took place in a vehicle at Pishin bus stop on August 13. The subsequent fire caused by the explosion took the surrounding vehicles into its folds. Jhal Magsi shrine, Balochistan - October 5 After a month?s lull, the people of Balochistan witnessed terrorism once again, a suicide blast at Fatehpur shrine in Jhal Magsi district of the province on October targetted worshippers as they visited a Sufi shrine. Moments after the Fatehpur shrine blast in Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan on October 5. At least 20 people were killed and 33 others were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up after he was intercepted by police guards on duty outside the shrine. It was said that the shrine was packed with people at the time of the incident ? many had gathered to attend the anniversary celebrations of Syed Cheesal Shah. Directorate of Agriculture Extension, Peshawar - December 1 As the year neared its end, a students hostel was targetted in Peshawar, leaving nine dead and more than 30 injured. Early in the morning on December 1, Directorate of Agriculture Extension on University Road, Peshawar was attacked by terrorists. SSP Operations Sajjad Khan said five attackers wearing suicide jackets reached the compound in a rickshaw. geo_embedgallery They were said to be wearing burqas in the rickshaw so as to avoid detection. The police official said the attackers' first target was the security guard of the premises, following which they made their way inside towards the students' hostel of the Agriculture Training Institute, attacking whoever crossed their path. Behtel Memorial Methodist Church, Quetta - December 17 A church in Quetta was attacked in the week leading upto Christmas, killing nine and injuring at least 50 others. geo_embedgallery Bethel Memorial Methodist Church was hit by terrorists when a service was underway with at least 400 people in the hall for prayers. Although the security personnel managed to stop the terrorist from wreaking havoc inside the church, families who lost their loved ones were left devastated regardless, not being able to celebrate Christmas the way they would have wanted to.
  16. Supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro hold placards that read "CNN, out of my country. For lying and manipulating" ? during a gathering to support Maduro?s government order of suspension of CNN's Spanish-language service ? outside the National Commission of Telecommunications (CONATEL), Caracas, Venezuela, February 16, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello/Files CARACAS: Venezuela saw almost 70 newspapers, TV, and radio stations close in 2017 while attacks on journalists rose, the main union representing the media said Wednesday, accusing the socialist government of trying to "silence" the press. The National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) said 46 radio stations, three television channels, and around 20 newspapers had been shuttered in the past year. The union also recorded 498 attacks on journalists as well as 66 arrests. It ascribed this to efforts by the government of President Nicolas Maduro to "silence -- at whatever price -- the discontent about the ever-worsening economic and social situation," which includes hyperinflation and scarcities of basic goods such as food and medicine. The number of attacks on members of the press was up 26.5 percent on 2016, when 360 acts of aggression against media workers were recorded, the union said. Most of the attacks took place during deadly anti-government street protests between April and June, which left 125 people dead, according to the union, which said that around 70 percent of those deaths were at the hands of the police or armed forces. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued an "urgent call" this year for the resumption of broadcasts by radio and TV stations that had been taken off the air. Maduro and his aides have denounced local and international media for what they term a "smear campaign" and "war-time propaganda" aimed at the government. Broadcasters have been forced to close down after their licenses expired and were not re-issued, while many newspapers have been unable to buy paper, whose distribution is managed by a government-controlled company. Those newspapers that did manage to remain in operation have had to cut the number of pages and print runs, the union said. International media have also had their operations impacted: CNN´s Spanish-language broadcasts, as well as channels from neighbouring Colombia, have been removed from cable packages at the government´s behest.
  17. CAIRO: Egyptian authorities on Tuesday executed 15 prisoners convicted of attacks on security forces in the restive Sinai Peninsula, police officials said. The men were hanged in two jails where they had been held since military courts sentenced them for the attacks in the Sinai, where militants are waging an insurgency, the officials said. It was the largest mass execution carried out in the North African country since six convicted militants were hanged in 2015. The hangings come a week after Daesh attacked a helicopter with an anti-tank missile at a North Sinai airport as the country's defence and interior ministers were visiting. The ministers were unhurt in the attack but an aide to the defence minister was killed along with a pilot. Daesh's Egypt affiliate has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in attacks in the Sinai and also targeted civilians in the mainland. Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds to death over unrest since the military ousted divisive Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. But most defendants have appealed and won retrials. Egypt has struggled to defeat the militants in Sinai. While their attacks have become less frequent, But they have increasingly targeted civilians over the past year. In November, suspected Daesh gunmen massacred more than 300 worshippers at a mosque in Sinai. The militants have killed more than 100 Christians in church bombings and shootings since December last year. After the mosque massacre, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi instructed his military chief of staff to quell the attacks in three months using "brutal force".
  18. Smoke bellows after a suicide car bomb blast attacked a military convoy in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, Afghanistan November 15, 2015 Reuters/File KANDAHAR: A car bomber attacked a NATO convoy in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Sunday, killing one civilian and wounding four others but without causing casualties among international forces, officials said. Qudratullah Khushbakht, a spokesman for the Kandahar governor, said the attack happened on the airport road, killing a woman and wounding four other people. However a spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said there had been no injuries among troops in the convoy. ?We can confirm a suicide bomber attempted an attack on a patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan, earlier today. However, there were no fatalities or injuries sustained by coalition forces,? the spokesman said in an emailed statement.
  19. Police officers stand guard outside the closed New York Port Authority Subway entrance following a reported explosion, in New York City, US on December 11, 2017. ? Reuters The online video?s message was clear: Supporters of Daesh (Islamic State) who could not travel overseas to join the militant group should carry out attacks wherever they were in the United States or Europe. Bangladeshi immigrant Akayedullah, 27, followed those instructions on Monday when he tried to set off a homemade bomb in one of New York?s busiest commuter hubs, in an attack that illustrates the difficulty of stopping ?do-it-yourself? attacks by radicals who act alone. While harder to stop than attacks coordinated by multiple people - whose communications may be more easily monitored by law enforcement or intelligence agencies - they also tend to do less damage. Akayedullah was the person most seriously wounded when his bomb ignited but did not detonate in an underground passageway linking the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the Times Square subway station; three others sustained lesser injuries. ?They tend to be less organised and less deadly,? said Seamus Hughes, a former adviser at the US government?s National Counterterrorism Centre. ?That?s because you?re dealing with more, for lack of a better word, amateurs.? The do-it-yourself style of attack is on the rise in the United States, according to research by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, where Hughes is deputy director. The United States has seen 19 attacks perpetrated by Daesh-inspired people since the group declared a ?caliphate? in June 2014 after capturing broad swathes of land in Iraq and Syria. Of those, 12 occurred in 2016 and 2017, almost twice as many as in the two preceding years. ?You?re going to see continued numbers of plots and, unfortunately, attacks,? Hughes said. Akayedullah began immersing himself in Daesh propaganda as early as 2014, three years after he arrived in the United States as a legal immigrant, according to federal prosecutors who charged him with terrorism offenses. They said in court papers that his computer records showed that he viewed Daesh videos urging supporters of the group to launch attacks where they lived. Experts said the success of Western allies in retaking most of Daesh?s territory could inspire more attacks out of anger or vengeance. ?No group has been as successful at drawing people into its ideology as Daesh,? Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray said in congressional testimony last week. ?Through the internet, militants overseas now have access into our local communities to target and recruit our citizens.? National security analysts generally divide such perpetrators into three broad categories. Some attackers act at the direction of a group, like the Daesh-backed militants who carried out coordinated attacks in Paris in 2015, killing 130; others have some limited contact with an organisation but act largely on their own. A third type has no communication with a group but engage in violence after being radicalised by online propaganda. It is easier for trained, battle-hardened Daesh fighters to travel from the Middle East to Europe than for them to reach the United States. That helps explain why US attacks have largely been the work of ?self-made? militants, said Brandeis University professor and radicalisation expert Jytte Klausen. ?In these recent cases, we?ve seen very few indications that there was any type of direct training,? Klausen said. Self-directed perpetrators are the hardest for investigators to identify. Their ranks appear to include Akayedullah, as well as two other recent New York attackers: Ahmad Rahimi, the man who injured 30 with a homemade bomb in Manhattan in September 2016, and Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight by speeding a rental truck down a bike lane in October. While that type of attacker typically is less destructive, there are important exceptions. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 people, and Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando last year. ?A single individual or two can still create a lot of damage,? said Max Abrahms, a professor at Northeastern University who studies terrorism. ?But they?re not able to wage sustained terrorist campaigns.?
  20. File photo/Reuters The US Department of Justice has caught one of the people involved in creating the Mirai botnet, a network of infected electronics equipment used to knock major websites offline in massive 2016 cyber attacks, according to court papers. Paras Jha has agreed to plead guilty to computer-crimes charges in the case, according to federal court documents unsealed in Alaska on Tuesday. The Mirai botnet was used to infect large numbers of internet-connected devices including webcams and video records, which were then turned into a digital army of bots that launched a series of attacks on websites and Internet infrastructure. Those attacks included one in October 2016 on an internet infrastructure firm known as Dyn that disrupted access to major Internet firms including Twitter, Paypal and Spotify.
  21. ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described on Saturday Israel as a ?state of occupation? which used ?terror? against the Palestinians, as he stepped up his criticism of the US recognition of Jerusalem as its capital. Erdogan has been bitterly opposed to the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has called a summit of Islamic countries on December 13 in Istanbul. ?Israel is a state of occupation,? Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul, referring to Israel?s continued occupation of the West Bank and settlement building. ?And now they are making use of terror and are bombing young people and children.? Retaliatory Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip killed two militants from Palestinian group Hamas before dawn, bringing to four the number killed since Trump announced the move. Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and an opponent of any perceived global injustice against Muslims, described Jerusalem as the ?apple of our eye? and a ?red line? for Muslims. He said that the American decision was ?null and void? for Ankara. ?Trump seeks to move forward by saying ?there we go, I did it, it?s done!?. I?m sorry but... being strong does not give you such a right.? ?The leaders of major countries have a mission to make peace. Not unleash conflicts. On Saturday, Erdogan continued to play a central role in diplomatic efforts in the crisis, telephoning French President Emmanuel Macron and Lebanese President Michel Aoun, the presidency said. Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel?s storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties. The two sides have since stepped up cooperation, particularly in energy, but Erdogan has repeatedly been bitterly critical of Israeli policy. Last week he warned that Turkey?s reaction ?could go as far as? cutting relations with Israel, but he made no reference to this in his latest speech.
  22. US President Donald Trump with British Prime Minister Theresa May/File photo WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump publicly upbraided British Prime Minister and ostensible ally Theresa May late Wednesday, rebutting her criticism of anti-Muslim propaganda in a diplomatic row between the two leaders. Plunging headlong into a high-profile spat with one of America´s closest international partners, Trump suggested May focus on defending the United Kingdom rather than criticizing him. "@theresa_may, don´t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!" he tweeted, after an earlier tweet with the same message used the wrong Twitter handle for May. Trump had drawn fierce condemnation at home and abroad earlier in the day for retweeting three incendiary anti-Muslim videos posted by the deputy head of a British far-right group who has been convicted of a hate crime. May said through a spokesperson that Trump was "wrong" to promote the "hateful narratives" of the group, British First. Trump´s interventions in British politics have strained the so-called "special relationship." He has infuriated British authorities with his tweets on terrorism in Britain, including highly publicized run-ins with London´s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan. Khan on Wednesday described Britain First as "a vile, hate-fuelled organisation whose views should be condemned, not amplified." Before Trump´s latest missive, the White House had scrambled to limit the fallout, saying that even if the anti-Muslim videos were misleading, the president was pointing out a real problem. "The threat is real, and that´s what the president is talking about," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders. ´Never the wrong time´ Deputy spokesman Raj Shah also defended Trump´s actions: "It´s never the wrong time to talk about the security and safety of the American people. Those are the issues he was raising in his tweets this morning." One of the videos falsely claims to show a Muslim beating up a Dutch boy on crutches. The Dutch embassy in Washington took the unusual step of publicly criticizing a sitting US president on Twitter. "@realDonaldTrump Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law." Another video is described as showing a mob pushing a teenager off a rooftop, without any context -- it appears to be footage filmed during unrest in Egypt in 2013. A man was executed for his role in the teen´s death. The third video allegedly depicts a Muslim smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary. All three videos were originally posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First, which hailed Trump for his support. "THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, DONALD TRUMP, HAS RETWEETED THREE OF DEPUTY LEADER JAYDA FRANSEN´S TWITTER VIDEOS!" the group tweeted in triumph. "DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS! GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA!" Fransen was found guilty last year of a hate crime after hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. Britain First, which was formed in 2011 and is known for picketing outside mosques, has run and lost in several British and European parliament elections. ´Abhorrent, dangerous´ Brendan Cox, widower of MP Jo Cox who was murdered by a right-wing extremist last year, said: "Trump has legitimized the far right in his own country, now he´s trying to do it in ours. "Spreading hatred has consequences & the president should be ashamed of himself," he said. Trump´s behavior renewed calls for May to revoke an invitation for the American president to make a state visit. David Lammy, a lawmaker for Britain´s opposition Labour Party, said: "The president of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted. "He is no ally or friend of ours," he said. Trump 'wrong' to retweet anti-Muslim videos: Downing Street 'British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right' Conservative Minister Sajid Javid said Trump had "endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing." Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said the retweets were "abhorrent, dangerous and a threat." Added Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: "UK has a proud history as an open, tolerant society & hate speech has no place here." Trump´s Twitter posts Wednesday were part of an early morning burst in which he again dismissed CNN as "Fake News" and insisted the US economy was in "record territory" by many measures.
  23. A civil defence member wears an oxygen mask following a sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, Syria, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah/Files UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council will vote Friday on a last-ditch bid to salvage a UN-led investigation tasked with identifying those behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria, diplomats said. The council will vote at 6:15 PM (2315 GMT) on a Japanese draft resolution that would extend the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) for 30 days, to allow time for negotiations on a compromise.
  24. United Nations headquarters in New York. Photo: File NEW YORK: The UN Security Council was expected to vote, probably on Friday, on a 30-day extension of a UN-led investigation of chemical weapons attacks in Syria to allow for negotiations after Russia vetoed a renewal of the probe. Japan on Thursday presented a draft resolution that would give the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) another 30 days as the United States and Russia work to reach a compromise on the future of the panel. Russia earlier cast its 10th veto on Syria at the council, blocking the one-year extension of the JIM as proposed in a US-drafted resolution that won 11 votes. A Russian-drafted resolution fell short of the nine votes required for adoption, garnering just four votes in favour. The joint UN-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) panel was set up by Russia and the United States in 2015 and unanimously endorsed by the council, which renewed its mandate last year. The expert team is tasked with determining who is responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Russia has sharply criticised the JIM after its latest report blamed the Syrian air force for a sarin gas attack on the opposition-held village of Khan Sheikhun that left scores dead. The attack on April 4 triggered global outrage as images of dying children were shown worldwide, prompting the United States to launch missile strikes on a Syrian airbase a few days later. Syria has denied using chemical weapons, with strong backing from its main ally Russia. US Ambassador Nikki Haley assailed the veto as a "deep blow", saying: "Russia has killed the investigative mechanism which has overwhelming support of this council." "By eliminating our ability to identify the attackers, Russia has undermined our ability to deter future attacks." The Japanese move, however, revived hope that the JIM could be salvaged. The draft text obtained by AFP would renew the JIM mandate for 30 days and task UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with submitting to the council in 20 days "proposals for the structure and methodology" of the panel. Japan had requested a vote for Thursday, but diplomats said it was more likely that the council would consider the measure on Friday. A resolution requires nine votes to be adopted at the council, but five countries ? Russia, Britain, China, France and the United States ? can block adoption with their veto power. United Nations Security Council. Photo: File Flawed probe Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the investigation of the Khan Sheikhun attack suffered from "fundamental flaws" and that the US-drafted resolution was "geared toward entrenching the inherent flaws of the JIM." In its draft, Russia had insisted the panel's findings on Khan Sheikhun be put aside to allow for another "full-scale and high-quality investigation" by the JIM. The Russian veto came as the United Nations was preparing to convene in Geneva on November 28 a new round of talks to end the six-year war and underscored deep divisions over Syria. Eleven of the council's 15 members voted in favor of the US-drafted resolution, while Egypt and China abstained. Bolivia joined Russia in voting against the measure. Russia, China, Bolivia and Kazakhstan voted in favour of the Russian draft, while seven countries opposed it. Four countries abstained: Ethiopia, Senegal, Egypt and Japan. French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the Russian veto was a blow to international efforts to curb the use of chemical weapons. "Let there be no doubt: we have unleashed a monster here," said Delattre. Previous reports by the JIM have found that Syrian government forces were responsible for chlorine attacks on three villages in 2014 and 2015, and that the Islamic State group used mustard gas in 2015.
  25. CENTCOM Commander General Joseph L Votel and army chief General Qamar Bajwa on Thursday - ISPR RAWALPINDI: United States Central Command (CENTCOM) chief General Joseph L Votel called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday. According to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the discussion of the two commanders focused on the regional security situation with regards to Afghanistan, Pak-Afghan border management and Pakistan?s positive contributions towards peace and stability in the region. "COAS said that peace in Afghanistan is more important for Pakistan than any other country," stated the ISPR, adding that the army chief also reiterated that Pakistan has done its best despite constraints and shall continue efforts for the sake of its future, in line with aspirations of Pakistani people. "However, the same was not being reciprocated as evident from the continued attacks from across the border," the army said in its statement. The CENTCOM chief appreciated and acknowledged Pakistan Army's contributions and Pakistan?s sacrifices in the war against terror, the ISPR concluded.