US embassy in Yemen closes to public
The US embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, was closed to the public over security concerns amid turmoil in the Arabian Peninsula state. The embassy “will resume consular operations as soon as our analysis indicates we are able to do so safely,” it said in a statement. On January 22, Yemeni President Hadi submitted a resignation letter to the parliament under pressure from advancing Shia militias.
5 killed as passenger pick-up hits landmine in SW Pakistan
At least five people were killed and one injured when a pick-up truck hit a landmine in the southwestern province of Baluchistan on Monday, Pakistani officials said. The incident happened in the Chattar area of Dera Murad district, around 257 kilometers southeast of the provincial capital of Quetta, AFP reported. No group has claimed responsibility, but separatists in the area have regularly attacked security personnel and state infrastructure.
Fight for Nigeria’s Maiduguri leaves over 100, mainly militants, killed
More than 100 people, mainly insurgents, died in fighting on Sunday in Nigeria’s Maiduguri, Reuters said, citing a local journalist as saying on Monday. The local reporter, Bello Dukku, said the dead also included at least 15 soldiers and a few civilians. Another 50 people were wounded in the fighting, according to the reporter.
Turkey orders Facebook to block pages insulting Mohammad
A Turkish court has ordered Facebook to block a number of pages deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammad, Reuters reported. The court also threatened on Sunday to stop access to the whole social network if it doesn’t comply, according to local media. The court order followed a request by a prosecutor, TRT said.
Ukraine govt declares ‘high alert regime’ nationwide – PM
The Ukrainian government has introduced “an emergency situation regime” on the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, and “a high alert regime” nationwide, TASS quoted Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk as saying on Monday. This decision was made to “coordinate the activities of all state bodies to ensure citizens’ security and public order,” he said. The PM will also head a new commission on emergency situations.
34 airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria, Iraq – US military
The US and its allies launched 21 airstrikes in Syria and 13 in Iraq against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) over a 24-hour period, Reuters reported. The Combined Joint Task Force said Monday that 17 of the strikes since Sunday targeted Kobani, a contested city on the border with Turkey. The strikes in Iraq targeted near Mosul, Tal Afar, Haditha and Fallujah.
Kurds fighters expel ISIS militants from Syria’s Kobani
Kurdish fighters have expelled jihadists from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) from the Syrian border town of Kobani after more than four months of fighting, AFP reported, citing a monitor. Fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had “expelled all Islamic State fighters from Kobani and have full control of the town,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Kurds are pursuing some jihadists on the eastern outskirts of Kobani, “but there is no more fighting inside now,” Rahman said.
Italian prosecutors seek 26 years prison for Costa Concordia captain
Italian prosecutors called Monday for the captain of the doomed Costa Concordia, to serve 26 years and three months in jail for the 2012 shipwreck which left 32 people dead, AFP said. “This is not an exaggerated sentence,” prosecutor Maria Navarro told the court in Grosseto, Tuscany. The prosecutor said Francesco Schettino, dubbed ‘Captain Coward’ by the media was guilty of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before all the passengers were safe.
3 killed in first US drone strike in Yemen this year
The US has carried out its first drone strike in Yemen since its president resigned, AP reported, citing tribal leaders and security officials. The first strike this year on a vehicle in an area called Hareib, located between the provinces of Marib and Shabwa, killed three suspected Al-Qaeda militants on Monday. It was also the first since Shiite Houthi in control of the capital, Sanaa, put President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his ministers under house arrest.
Japan seeks help from Jordan, other states to save hostage
Japan sought help from Jordan and other countries Monday in its race to save a hostage held by Islamic State militants, AP said. No details of the talks with Jordan, where a Japanese envoy is coordinating regional efforts to save hostage Kenji Goto, were reported. Japanese officials have indicated they are accepting the likelihood that the second hostage, Haruna Yukawa, a 42-year-old adventurer captured in Syria last summer, had been killed.
West uses Ukraine tragedies to impose new sanctions on Russia – Lavrov
The tragedies in Ukraine are used by the West to stir anti-Russian hysteria and impose new sanctions, TASS quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying on Monday. “We are well aware of the cynical use of such tragedies to pervert the truth” without waiting for results of unbiased investigations, the minister said.“The West should understand how they will build policy both on Russia and Ukraine, as well as on the security situation on our continent,” according to Lavrov. He added he hopes that common sense and objective national interests will prevail.
Number of Philippines police officers killed in clash with Muslim rebels rises to 49
At least 49 Philippines police commandos have been killed in a clash with Muslim rebels in the south, AFP said. An 11-hour gun battle broke out after police entered the remote town of Mamasapano, held by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. There was reportedly no coordination with the rebels as required under their ceasefire agreement. The bodies of 49 police have been recovered from the town on Mindanao Island and moved to an army camp, according to regional police spokeswoman Judith Ambong.
‘No threat’ as Secret Service recovers ‘device’ at White House
A “device” has been found on the grounds of the White House, AP quoted a spokesman for President Barack Obama as saying. Secret Service agents recovered the object but early indications are that it doesn’t pose a threat to anyone in the building, according to Josh Earnest. Obama and his wife, Michelle, are on a three-day visit to India.
Houthi rebels disperse demonstrators in Yemen capital
Houthi Shiite rebels armed with knives and batons attacked and detained demonstrators on Monday, who were protesting against their power grab in Yemen’s capital, AP reported. Militiamen attacked protesters and journalists who had converged on Sanaa’s Change Square – the epicenter of Yemen’s 2011 uprising. The violent dispersal came as Sanaa University students staged a demonstration inside the campus. The Houthi rebels seized Sanaa in September. Days of gun battles last week ended with rebels placing the president, prime minister and top officials under house arrest.
Turkey opens biggest camp for 35,000 Kobani refugees
Turkey opened its biggest refugee camp on Sunday to house 35,000 people fleeing fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamist militants in Kobani, Syria, Reuters reported. The tent camp in the southeastern border town of Suruc has two hospitals, seven medical clinics and classrooms for 10,000 children, according to national disaster management agency AFAD. Turkey has some 24 camps housing 265,000 Syrian refugees with another set to open in Mardin next month. The majority of 1.7 million refugees in Turkey live on the streets and in shanty towns, and authorities have begun to transfer them to camps.
The sons of Egypt’s ex-President Mubarak freed from prison
Two sons of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have been released from prison, AP reported, citing officials. Wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent Gamal were first arrested along with their father nearly four years ago. The two walked free from Torah Prison in a southern Cairo suburb shortly after daybreak on Monday and were believed to have headed to their homes in the capital. They separately face trial on insider trading, and had been acquitted of other charges. Mubarak and his sons face a retrial on corruption charges.
Philippines police recover 43 bodies of commandos killed by Muslim rebels
Philippine police have recovered at least 43 bodies of the dozens commandos who were mown down by Muslim rebel gunfire in a far-flung southern village, AP reported. The national police’s elite Special Action Forces moved in the village over the weekend to hunt down one of Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorists, officials said Monday. The government reportedly suffered its biggest single-day combat loss in many years in the battle scene in and around the village of Tukanalipao in Mamasapano township. The commandos had apparently had a “misencounter” with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the main Muslim insurgent group.
Syrian govt officials, opposition to meet in Moscow
Representatives of Syrian opposition are meeting in Moscow on Monday, and they will be joined by Syrian government officials later in the day, TASS reported. Both sides will be able to meet Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to Russian President’s special Middle East and Africa envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. “If they all gather, then representatives of both sides will be able to meet the minister,” he said.
Syria rebels fire rockets at central Damascus, 7 killed
Seven people were killed when rebels fired a barrage of rockets and mortar rounds Sunday in central Damascus, AFP reported, citing a monitoring group. “Five civilians and two soldiers have been killed and dozens more wounded,” according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Rebels in the Eastern Ghouta area fired more than 43 locally-made rockets and mortar rounds at several areas of central Damascus, it added. The attack came two days after militants threatened to retaliate for fatal air raids by the Syrian government forces against an opposition-held area on the edge of the capital.