News around world
US prepares for total troop pullout from Afghanistan after 2014
US President Barack Obama has instructed the Pentagon to acknowledge the likelihood that there will be no US troops remaining in Afghanistan after the year is over. According to Obama’s order, the Pentagon should “ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014,” the White House said in a statement seen by Reuters. The message was also delivered to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who has shied away from signing a much-debated bilateral security agreement that would allow the US to keep troops in the country for training and anti-terror purposes.
Suicide car bomb in Afghanistan kills 7
Seven people have been killed and a further 42 injured in a suicide car bombing at a busy restaurant in southern Afghanistan. The blast occurred Tuesday evening, and the death toll could rise due to the severity of the casualties, Gen. Matiullah Khan, police chief of Uruzgan province, told AP. No terrorist organization or militant group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
Turkey’s Erdogan calls tapes of talk with son ‘fabrication’
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused political enemies of fabricating an audiotape of him telling his son to dispose of large sums of money. After the 11-minute tape emerged on YouTube, Erdogan said his political enemies had penetrated encrypted state communications, referring to a network run by former ally, Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, Reuters reported. “The people don’t believe these lies,” Erdogan told the parliament. Opinion polls taken earlier show Erdogan’s popularity was little affected by the corruption scandal which broke on December 17 after the detention of businessmen close to him and three ministers’ sons.
Egypt’s outgoing housing minister, Ibrahim Mahlab, told state-run Al-Ahram newspaper Tuesday that he had been asked to form a new government. Mahlab is a civil engineer who was an official in deposed President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, Reuters reported. Army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is expected to run for the presidency, was the defense minister in the country’s government that resigned Monday.
Opposition activist Navalny sentenced to 7 days in prison for Moscow protest
Russian opposition activist Aleksey Navalny was sentenced Tuesday to seven days in prison after participating in a protest in Moscow. A court convicted him for resisting police orders during a protest Monday near Red Square over the trial of protesters accused of rioting on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012. Police said 420 out of about 500 demonstrators were detained. Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the RPR-Parnas liberal party and a deputy in the Yaroslavl Region parliament, was sentenced to 10 days in prison.
Iraq attacks kill 7 security personnel
Attacks in Iraq killed seven soldiers and police Tuesday, AFP reported, citing officials. A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near the provincial council headquarters in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. Three soldiers were killed and at least four wounded. In a village west of Baiji, a town north of Baghdad, gunmen attacked a police checkpoint, killing four police and wounding three more. The attacks came a day after violence in the country killed 35 people.
20 grenades explode at rally stage in Bangkok’s Lumpini, 3 injured
Three people were reportedly slightly injured when the anti-government rally stage in Lumpini Park was attacked for three hours shortly after midnight. About 20 grenades were used in the area, the Bangkok Post said. The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) guards reportedly caught a suspect.
Germany sees Iran as ‘potential threat’ to Europe – Merkel
Germany views Iran as a potential threat not just to Israel, but “as a general threat for Europe as well,” Reuters quoted Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying on Tuesday. Germany would pursue international talks with Iran on its nuclear activities, she said at a news conference with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Merkel, in Israel for joint consultations, added that that boycotts of Israeli products were not helpful for the peace process.
Nigerian militants kill 43 in boarding school attack – reports
Gunmen from Islamist group Boko Haram stormed a boarding school in northeast Nigeria overnight and killed 43 people, at least 29 kids among them. Many of whom died in flames as the school was burned to the ground, police and the military said on Tuesday. All those killed at the Federal Government college of Buni Yadi, a secondary school in Yobe state, near the state’s capital city of Damaturu, were boys, police Commissioner Sanusi Rufai said. Boko Haram’s name means “Western education is sinful” in the northern Hausa language. The sect has frequently attacked schools in the past.
4 Britons arrested, suspected of Syria terrorism offences
Police have arrested four UK nationals from the Birmingham area on Tuesday on terrorism charges related to Syria, Reuters reported. One of them, a 45-year-old man, is suspected of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas, according to the West Midlands police.
Turkish opposition party demands investigation into PM Erdogan over audio recordings
A Turkish opposition party leader on Tuesday called on the country’s prosecutors to launch an investigation into Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over alleged corruption. The previous day, audio recordings were published, purportedly of Erdogan ordering his son to dispose of vast amounts of cash amid a graft probe, AP said. Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the far-right Nationalist Action Party, on Tuesday urged prosecutors and other judicial bodies to intervene. The main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, at an emergency meeting late Monday called on Erdogan to resign, saying the government had lost its legitimacy.
Police fire bullets in clashes with anti-India protesters in Kashmir
Police fired bullets and tear gas as hundreds of pro-independence villagers tried to storm a police station in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Tuesday, AP reported. One protester was shot and wounded, police said. Government forces reportedly killed seven suspected rebels in the disputed region a day ago. The crowd shouted pro-independence slogans and demanded that authorities identify the suspected rebels and hand over their bodies for burial, according to officials.
Philippines summons China’s top envoy over water cannon attack in South China Sea
The Philippines government summoned China’s top envoy in Manila on Tuesday to protest what it said was the firing of a water cannon by a Chinese government vessel to drive away Filipino fishermen. The incident took place on January 27 at Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground claimed by China and the Philippines, AP reported. The shoal came under Chinese control after Philippine vessels backed off from a tense standoff with Chinese ships in the area in 2012.
UN to adopt sanctions against Yemen ‘obstructionists’
The UN Security Council is set to adopt a resolution ordering sanctions against figures seeking to undermine Yemen’s state-building drive, AFP reported, citing diplomats. Sanctions would be aimed at those who are found to be “obstructing or undermining the successful completion of the political transition” in Yemen. The measures will also concern those who commit “attacks on essential infrastructure or acts of terrorism” and who violate human rights and international humanitarian law. The draft resolution hits offenders with a travel ban and an asset freeze “for an initial period of one year.”
N. Korean patrol ship violates sea border – S. Korea
A North Korean patrol ship has violated the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a de facto maritime border with South Korea, several times on Monday night, according to Seoul’s Defense Ministry. The vessel sailed to a location about 23.4km west of South Korea’s Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea at around 10:46pm local time (13:46 GMT). However, after repeated South Korean military warnings, the ship retreated, added the ministry. The incident comes on the same day joint annual US-South Korea military exercises began.