Japan Coast Guard sends plane, ship for rescue of China crew off disputed area
Japan’s Coast Guard said on Friday it has sent a plane and patrol ship after a Chinese fishing boat sank some 120km north of a group of disputed islets. They are controlled by Japan, but claimed also by China. Five of the crew were rescued while the other five remained missing, Reuters quoted a Coast Guard official as saying.
India pipeline explodes, killing at least 14
A state-owned gas pipeline exploded early Friday in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, killing at least 14 people, AP reported. Fifteen people were injured in the fire following the explosion in the village of Nagaram in the state’s East Godavari district. The blast sparked a massive fire that forced the evacuation of neighboring villages. Rescue operations began after the fire was extinguished. It was not immediately clear what could have caused the blast.
Thousands of Afghans protest elections results at presidential palace
Thousands marched on the Afghan president’s palace on Friday as protesters supported candidate Abdullah Abdullah’s allegations of mass fraud during the presidential election by state officials. Last week, Abdullah dropped out, and the run-off pitting the former Northern Alliance leader against ex-Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani on June 14 has fallen into a deadlock. It revives ethnic tensions in Afghanistan as Abdullah’s base of support is with the Tajiks, the second largest ethnic group while Ghani is Pashtun, the largest group.
Central Africa Rep. death toll nearly 70 in 4 days
The death toll in the Central African Republic has risen to nearly 70 in just four days, AFP quoted a peacekeeping officer as saying. The deaths have all happened since Monday near the central town of Bambari, which has seen a series of bloody clashes between mainly Muslim ex-Seleka rebels and Christian militias. The clashes followed a surge of sectarian violence in the crisis-hit country.
Indian gas pipe blast kills at least 13
A gas pipeline has exploded in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, killing at least 13 people and injuring 15, say local officials. The blast happened in the early hours of Friday morning and caused a massive fire. The authorities have yet to establish the cause of the explosion.
Spain’s new king proposes Catalan ‘collaboration’
Spain’s new King Felipe VI has proposed a process of “collaboration” to Catalonia – the region whose independence wave has raised tensions with Madrid. “Sincere and generous collaboration is the best way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of each person and achieve great collective goals for the common good and the general interest,” he said in a speech on Thursday. Catalan leaders have scheduled a referendum on independence from Spain on November 9. Felipe highlighted “coexistence” in his speech. The monarch mentioned that he had been making more visits to the region before becoming king “to make the Crown more present in this land, to send messages of respect, understanding and coexistence which… are inseparable from our parliamentary monarchy.”
Benghazi consulate attack suspect set to arrive in US this weekend
Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the man accused of orchestrating the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, is expected to arrive in the United States this weekend, US officials told Reuters on Thursday. A team of US Army Delta Force commandos captured Khatallah during a raid on the outskirts of Benghazi on June 15, after months of coordination with agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Washington Post reported. After the capture, the suspect was spirited out of the country by the special operations unit and held aboard the USS New York, an amphibious transport ship. He is expected to be prosecuted in the US criminal justice system, as opposed to being held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. President Barack Obama has said he would close the prison at the naval base in Cuba during his presidency.
Over 100,000 South Sudan refugees overwhelming UN bases
For the first time in the six-month conflict in South Sudan, a record 101,000 civilians have sought shelter at United Nations bases, the UN said on Thursday. Over 45,000 South Sudanese citizens have fled violence in Unity state to a makeshift camp in the state capital of Bentiu. Refugees there are facing squalid conditions and flooding from torrential rains, and famine is on the horizon, AFP reported. The people in the camps are fleeing ethnic violence and widespread atrocities from battles between rebels loyal to ousted Vice President Riek Machar, from the Nuer tribe, and forces who support President Salva Kiir, from the larger Dinka tribe. “People are voting with their feet, many do not feel safe,” the UN chief in South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, said after visiting Bentiu this week, according to a statement. “People are hungry, there is severe malnutrition and civilians are also coming to the UNMISS base for food.”
NATO pushing for escalation of military tensions in Ukraine – Moscow
NATO is pushing for the escalation of military-political tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, commenting on the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. NATO “apparently does not consider it necessary” to urge the Kiev authorities to “reject ultimatums in the search for ways that would stop the violence,” she said. NATO has set a “provocative course to build up Ukraine’s military potential which has been used, as we know, against civilians in the southeast of the country,” Zakharova added. “Under the pretext of the events in Ukraine, [they] are pushing for the escalation of military-political tensions near the Russian border,” while still being seized by “Cold War-era stereotypes and the distorted ‘us and them’ logic.”
US, Philippines launch joint navy drills in S. China Sea
The US and the Philippines launched annual joint six-day naval drills in the South China Sea on Thursday amid tensions in the disputed waters which are claimed by China and Southeast Asia region countries. Five warships, including a US guided-missile destroyer, and about 1,000 troops are to take part in the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises. The drills are to take place off the main Philippine island of Luzon, around 180 nautical kilometers from the disputed Scarborough Shoal, near a patrol of Chinese coastguard ships. China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Taiwan have asserted claims of the territory, which is believed to harbor vast deposits of minerals, oil, and gas. Control is shared between the countries.
UN human rights chief asks Iran not to execute woman for crime as a teenager
The UN human rights chief appealed to Iran on Thursday not to execute a woman convicted of murdering her husband when she was 17. Razieh Ebrahimi, imprisoned in Ahwaz, is among some 160 people thought to be on death row in Iran for crimes committed before they turned 18, Reuters quoted UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay as saying. More than 250 people are believed to have been executed in Iran this year, according to Pillay.
Saudi king orders measures to protect state against ‘terrorist threats’
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah ordered “all necessary measures” on Thursday to protect the kingdom against potential “terrorist threats,” Reuters reported. The monarch ordered the unspecified measures after he chaired a meeting of the country’s national security council, according to state news agency SPA. Fallout from security developments in the region, apparently the crisis in neighboring Iraq, was discussed at the meeting.
Sudanese Christian woman freed after re-arrest on forgery charges
A Sudanese Christian woman has been freed again after being detained on accusations of forging travel documents. Mariam Ibrahim, 27, was released on Thursday from a police station after foreign diplomats pressed the government to free her, AP quoted Eman Abdul-Rahman, a lawyer, as saying. Her death sentence for apostasy had been overturned earlier.
WHO calls for urgent action on Africa’s Ebola outbreak
The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that dramatic steps were needed to fight a deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa. “As the number of deaths and cases of Ebola virus continue to rise in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the WHO is warning that drastic action is needed,” the UN agency said. It called a meeting of health ministers from 11 countries to address the crisis, AFP reported.
Chief of Britain’s foreign intelligence service MI6 to step down
The chief of Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service, John Sawers, will step down in November after five years in the job, Reuters reported, citing a government source. Sawers, 58, a peer, is believed to have wanted to relinquish his sensitive role as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service before a national election next year. He served as Britain’s permanent representative to the UN, a foreign policy adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair and in a variety of diplomatic posts.
Libyan human rights activist Bugaighis shot dead in Benghazi
Human rights activist Salwa Bugaighis has been shot dead by assailants at her home in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, AFP reported. “Unknown hooded men wearing military uniforms attacked Mrs Bugaighis in her home and opened fire on her,” a security official said. She was taken to hospital in critical condition, where she died shortly afterwards. Her husband, who was in the family home at the time of the attack, has since been reported as missing. Bugaighis, a lawyer, played an active part in Libya’s 2011 revolution. She was a member of the National Transitional Council, the rebellion’s political wing, and vice president of a preparatory committee for national dialogue.
Google begins removing search results after EU ruling
Google is starting to remove some search results to comply with an EU ruling, Reuters said. The ruling by Europe’s top court on May 13, which was called the “right to be forgotten,” upheld citizens’ rights to have objectionable personal information about them hidden in search engines. “This week we’re starting to take action on removals requests that we’ve received,” a Google spokesman said on Thursday.
Poroshenko to start implementing EU association agreement after signing on June 27
Ukraine will start implementing an association agreement with the EU immediately after signing it on June 27, ITAR-TASS quoted President Petro Poroshenko as saying on Thursday. He was speaking at a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. All the reforms that Ukraine plans to start are in the document on the agreement with the EU, he added.
Kenya police arrest governor of coastal district after attacks
Kenyan police have arrested the governor of the coastal Lamu district after three recent attacks in which over 60 people were killed, officials said Thursday. Governor Issa Timamy was arrested late Wednesday in connection with killings last week over two consecutive nights in the town of Mpeketoni and a nearby village, AFP said. Another attack this week reportedly left at least five dead.
Jordan court clears Abu Qatada of 1998 terrorist bomb plot
Jordan’s state security court acquitted radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada on Thursday of charges of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism in 1998, Reuters said. The cleric, who was extradited from Britain last year, will continue to be held on separate charges related to a plot to attack tourists during Jordan’s New Year celebrations in 2000. He had previously been sentenced in absentia by a Jordanian court to life imprisonment for conspiracy to carry out attacks against US and other targets inside Jordan.
N.Korea fires short-range projectiles into Sea of Japan – report
Pyongyang has test-fired three short-range projectiles into the Sea of Japan, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday. The South Korean Defense Ministry did not immediately confirm the report. The tests come during a tense period between the two Koreas.
Sudanese ‘apostate’ woman charged with forgery, family wants out
A Sudanese Christian woman who was cleared by a court of apostasy has now been charged with forgery, after trying to leave the country, AFP said, citing a lawyer, Mohanad Mustafa. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 26, was stopped from leaving Sudan on Tuesday. The incident took place in the presence of US diplomats who were escorting her and her family, according to her American husband Daniel Wani. He insisted there was nothing wrong with the travel documents. “We want to get out of here as soon as possible,” Wani said, citing death threats against his wife.
Suicide bomber attacks Yemen army base, kills 2 soldiers
Two soldiers were killed after a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden car into the entrance of army base in the central Yemeni city of Seiyun on Thursday, Reuters reported. Soldiers also clashed with suspected Al-Qaeda militants at the city’s nearby airport, security officials said. Yemen’s army earlier launched an offensive against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), pushing it out of many positions in the south.
Search for missing Malaysia Airlines jet shifts further south
The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will shift south along an arc identified as the most likely resting place of the plane, Reuters quoted Australia’s deputy prime minister as saying on Thursday. “The new priority area is still focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite,” Warren Truss said. “We are now shifting our attention to an area further south along the arc based on these calculations.” The Boeing 777, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared on March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing. Australian officials are confident that the plane was flying on autopilot when it crashed.