Kenya arrests hundreds after deadly blasts

Kenyan police have arrested more than 650 suspects a day after six people were killed in bomb attacks in the capital Nairobi, the interior minister said.

“This act of cowardice perpetrated against innocent and peace-loving Kenyans who were going about their normal activities is barbaric,” Joseph Ole Lenku said in a statement on Tuesday.

“So far 657 suspects have been apprehended,” he added.

Kenyan police regularly arrest scores of people after similar attacks in sweeping security operations, but later release most after questioning.

The three blasts on Monday evening targeted two small restaurants and a local clinic in a particularly densely populated area of Eastleigh, an area often known as “Little Mogadishu” because of its predominantly Somali population.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Church attack

Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, reporting from Nairobi, said the city had grown more tense in the last week after the government ordered all refugees, most of whom are Somali, to leave urban areas and head to two designated refugee camps.

The order followed the deaths of six people in a gun attack on a church service a week ago in the port city of Mombasa.

“The government says that’s because some of the people responsible for recent attacks have been refugees,” our correspondent said. 

“The people of Eastleigh argue they are suffering collective punishment for the actions of a few,” she added.

Six people were killed when assailants burst into the church near the port city of Mombasa and opened fire on worshippers.

Kenya has been hit by a series of attacks since sending troops into southern Somalia in October 2011 to battle al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab rebel group.

The armed group claimed responsibility for the most deadly attack, in which they laid siege to Nairobi’s upmarket shopping mall Westgate in September, killing at least 67.



Hundreds of Kurds in Syria Flee After Jihadist Threat: NGO

Hundreds of Kurds in Syria Flee After Jihadist Threat: NGO

Posted 2014-03-20 18:57 GMT

BEIRUT — Some 600 Kurdish residents of villages in Syria’s Raqa province have fled after an ultimatum from the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an NGO said Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 600 Kurds from the villages of Tal Akhdar, Tal Fandar and the town of Tal Abyad had abandoned their homes after warnings from ISIL.

The NGO said ISIL had also detained dozens of Kurds in the area, releasing them with a warning to leave their village in the northern province, where the jihadist group has a strong presence.

It said more than 500 had entered Turkey, with others fleeing to the nearby town of Ain al-Arab.

ISIL has fought bloody battles against Syria’s Kurds, who have otherwise largely stayed out of the Syrian conflict, focusing on building autonomy in majority Kurdish areas.

It considers them infidels and has also sought to take control of oil resources in Kurdish areas.

The jihadists’ stronghold is in Raqa’s provincial capital of the same name, the only capital to fall from regime hands.

ISIL has been consolidating its hold in the province and its capital since earlier this year when it was forced to withdraw from other parts of rebel-held territory when moderate and Islamist opposition groups turned against it.

The group, which began in neighbouring Iraq, is accused by the opposition of carrying out abuses against civilians and rival rebels and imposing its harsh interpretation of Islam by force.

Assyrian International News Agency

Turkmen President Pardons Hundreds Of Inmates

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has signed an amnesty decree for 859 prisoners.

Turkmen media reports said on February 14 that the clemency was granted “in accordance with the noble tradition of our nation, based upon teachings of our great ancestors, and due to State Flag Day observed on February 19.”

No other information on the pardoned inmates was given.

Before Berdymukhammedov’s presidency, his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, issued similar amnesty decrees once a year, in the holy month of Ramadan.

Berdymukhammedov has issued such decrees several times a year, usually on the eve of state holidays.

Berdymukhammedov’s last clemency, announced two months ago, pardoned 630 inmates on the eve of the Day of Neutrality, marked in Turkmenistan on December 12.

With reporting by Interfax

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds evacuated from Homs in Syria

Six hundred people – mostly women, children and the elderly – have been evacuated from the Syrian city of Homs, according to non-governmental organisations.

They were brought out by humanitarian assistance teams on Sunday despite mortar attacks and shooting.

More civilians may be rescued as rebels and the Bashar al-Assad government have extended the ceasefire for another three days.

The evacuation of about 600 of the 3,000 trapped people came as representatives from both sides converged on Geneva, Switzerland, for new peace talks.


In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

Sunday’s evacuation was the second after 83 people were brought out on Friday – the first day of the truce.

The Syrian Red Crescent said on Facebook “around 600 people evacuated today, registration is still ongoing. We managed to get 60 food parcels & 1500Kg of flour inside old city”.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 611 were brought out – “210 women, 180 children, 91 men over 55 years old and 130 young men who surrendered to Syrian authorities under UN supervision”.

It said the men “will be released soon”.

Television footage showed women, children and elderly men getting off the evacuation buses.

They appeared visibly exhausted and frail, in a video broadcast by the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV channel.

Homs, much of which has been reduced to rubble, was dubbed “the capital of the revolution” by activists before an offensive in 2012 by regime forces recaptured much of the city.

Trading blame

The civilians evacuated from Homs on Sunday were aided by UN staff and Syrian Red Crescent volunteers amid a strong Syrian army presence.

State television said the operation took place under fire from “armed terrorist groups” – regime terminology for rebels.

But the Syrian Observatory echoed claims by activists that at least five people were killed in shelling that targeted the besieged Homs district of Qarabis.

Activists accused pro-government fighters in neighbourhoods bordering the besieged districts who opposed the truce, of firing the mortar rounds.

Shelling also targeted a Homs aid convoy on Saturday in an attack that killed five residents and wounded 20 others, the Syrian Observatory said.

Elsewhere on Sunday, at least 25 members of Assad’s Alawite sect were killed by fighters in the Maan area of Hama province, the Syrian Observatory said.

It said most of the dead were pro-regime fighters, but state television reported a “massacre” of 10 women.

And in the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk in southern Damascus, besieged since last June, a man and a woman died of malnutrition, it said.

Since the blockade began, up to 80 people have died because of food and medical shortages, the Syrian Observatory estimates.

On the diplomatic front, the government delegation and members of the opposition National Coalition arrived for the second round of Geneva II, sources close to the delegations told AFP news agency.

Walid Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, again heads the government delegation.

It was not yet clear if Ahmed al-Jarba, the National Coalition head, will be in the opposition delegation.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy, is scheduled to hold separate sessions on Monday, with the opposition in the morning and the regime delegation in the afternoon.

It will then be decided whether to hold a joint session on Tuesday or not, an AFP journalist said.

The warring sides seem far from compromise, however.

While the regime insists that the talks focus on fighting “terrorism”, the opposition demands the priority be agreement on a transition that excludes Assad.

The nearly three-year civil conflict in Syria has killed about 136,000 people and displaced millions more.



Homs evacuation allows hundreds to leave city

More than 600 people have been evacuated from central Syrian city of Homs, with aid agencies battling mortar shells and gunfire to reach stricken civilans trapped by 18 months of fighting between rebels and government forces.

Aid teams have helped 611 people to flee the besieged city since Friday, with the majority exiting on Sunday, and delivering much needed food and medical supplies to those preparing to leave or wishing to stay.

But the evacuation has come at a cost, with the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights saying that five people were killed by mortar shells and two from gunfire in the Old City on Sunday.

Violence broke out on Saturday and threatened to altogether scupper the humanitarian access that had been eked out during peace talks in Geneva two weeks ago. The explosions and gunshots also violated a three-day ceasefire that began on Friday.

The ceasefire has been extended for another three days, the governor of Homs Talal Barzai told Al Jazeera.

Khaled Erksoussi, head of operations at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, told Associated Press news agency that Saturday’s attacks left one aid worker wounded. At least nine Red Crescent and UN vehicles were trapped in Homs for several hours, but the team managed to escape shortly before 8:00pm GMT, leaving behind two damaged lorries.

According to its Twitter feed, SARC workers were able to get 60 food parcels and 1500kg of flour inside the Old City on Sunday. Its workers also provided medical assistance and food to evacuees.

Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have prevented the entry of food and medical aid into parts of Homs for more than a year.



Hundreds drown in South Sudan ferry sinking

At least 200 South Sudanese civilians have drowned in a ferry accident on the White Nile river, an army spokesman said.

Army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP news agency on Tuesday that the boat had been overloaded with people trying to escape the violence.

“The reports we have are of between 200 to 300 people, including women and children,” he said.

“They all drowned. They were fleeing the fighting that broke out again in Malakal.”

Meanwhile, battles raged in several cities in South Sudan on Tuesday.

Heavy fighting was reported in Malakal, the capital of oil-producing Upper Nile state, as rebel forces staged a fresh attack to seize the town.

Control of Malakal has already changed hands twice since the conflict in South Sudan began on December 15.

“There is fighting anew in and around Malakal,” United Nations aid chief for South Sudan Toby Lanzer said, adding that the peacekeeping base had been swamped with almost double the number of people seeking shelter, rising from 10,000 to 19,000.

Marching on Bor

The army reported heavy fighting south of Bor, as the government sought to retake the town from rebels, the largest in their control.

“We are marching on Bor, there was very heavy fighting late on Monday,” Aguer said.

However, he rejected rebel claims to have captured the river port of Mongalla, situated between Bor and the capital Juba.

“We are north of Mongalla, we remain in full control there,” Aguer said.

According to the United Nations, about 400,000 civilians have fled their homes over the past month.

The fighting is between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.



Hundreds of Iraqi merchants protest in Basra on application of tariff

1-4-14 Shafaq News / Hundreds of Iraqi traders and residents in Basra province protested on Saturday, against the application of the tariff law , demanding to cancel the law.

“Hundreds of traders and residents protested today in front of Safwan border port in Basra and demanded to cancel the tariff law ,” A local official in Basra province who asked not to be identified told “Shafaq News”.

He added that this event comes one day after the announcement of the deputy Minister of Finance , Safah al-Deen al-Safi during a visit to Basra yesterday to apply the tariff law at all border crossings .

Iraqi ports announced on 28 December of 2013 , that it will begin to apply the new tariff system at early 2014.

The General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers has announced earlier , that the Council of Ministers decided to apply the tariff law No. 22 for 2010.

However, the economic and investment commission in the parliament announced that the tariff will be applied partly in 2014 .


Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Italy navy saves hundreds off Sicily coast

Italian and Maltese rescuers have searched for three boatloads of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, after earlier rescuing more than 300 on stricken vessels.

The naval forces rescued more than 120 migrants onboard four other boats struggling in rough seas in just one hour late on Thursday, as the immigration crisis that killed hundreds in shipwrecks in 2013 showed no signs of letting up in the new year.

Hours earlier, they rescued 233 mostly African migrants from one overcrowded 10m boat near Sicily.

The first boat had been sighted by a navy helicopter on Wednesday night as it ran into difficulty off the southern island of Lampedusa.

The fiberglass vessel was packed to overflowing as it tried to make the crossing of the Mediterranean waters near Lampedusa, south of Sicily.

Italy sea arrivals triple

The migrants were transferred on to the navy ship Zeffiro on Thursday morning and they were to be taken to a port near Syracuse, on Sicily’s eastern coast, a statement said.

On board were men and women from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia and Mali as well as from Pakistan, the navy said.

Sea arrivals to Italy from Northern Africa more than tripled in 2013, fuelled by refugees from Syria’s civil war and
political strife in the Horn of Africa.

Figures from the Italian Interior Ministry show about 25,000 migrants arrived by boat in 2013, 10,000 of them fleeing conflict in Syria.

In October, 366 Eritreans drowned in a shipwreck near the shore of the Italian island of Lampedusa.



Maliki: oil wealth can cover the budgets of Iraq for hundreds of years

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said his government made ​​strides in the development of the agricultural sector and support workers in this field, and was able to get closer to achieving self-sufficiency through the cultivation and harvesting of some of the major crops in the country.

Maliki said in a speech during the opening of the union laborers and agricultural cooperative Arabs held in Baghdad that “Iraq, which was exported agricultural products turned into the first importer of all kinds of crops.”

He pointed out that agriculture has grown in Iraq and we were able to take back our farm, but he also said he was “still a long road ahead to restore full capabilities of Iraq and increase the product by supporting farmers modern agricultural methods and not traditional.”

He added that in the past year closer to self-sufficiency in grain and in vegetables as well, and this makes us to provide more support for farmers, noting that the Ministry of Agriculture has headed the development of this sector, but we have not only the submissions and stood with her through the activation of the agricultural initiative.

Maliki said that “some Arab countries ask for this agricultural initiative and the achievements and how they started,” stressing that this initiative was a simple idea, but have had a significant impact on all the increase in production in all agricultural wealth

And rejected al-Maliki said Iraq depends on oil wealth cam, saying, “We do not want do not want to keep oil countries but we do not want to be a farmer and the farm parallel to the oil wealth.”

He pointed out that the country that can not secure its food remains a prisoner in the event enable us to secure it, and we try life in this country, “stressing that” we do not want to drain our wealth of oil even though it is enormous and can cover the budgets in the tens of years or even hundreds of years, “.


Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Hundreds reported dead in CAR violence

The Red Cross said it has collected the bodies of 281 people killed during two days of violence in the capital of the Central African Republic.

Pastor Antoine Mbao Bogo, the president of the aid organisation, said on Friday that staff found the dead before night fell and the toll was likely to rise significantly when they resumed work at the weekend. 

They are slaughtering us like chicken.

A man who hid with his family as former rebels searched house-to-house

“Tomorrow is going to be a monster of a day, We’re going to work tomorrow and I think we’re going to need a fourth day too,” Bogo said.

The bloodshed started on Thursday as armed Christians raided Muslim neignbourhoods in a country that has been seeing tit-for-tat violence since mainly Muslim rebels, called Seleka, seized power in March and toppled President Francois Bozize.

“They are slaughtering us like chicken,” said Donoboy, a Christian whose family remained in hiding as former rebels searched house-to-house.

French troops rumbled into their former colony on Friday, trying to stop violence in the capital and to stabilise the country.

French ambassador discusses CAR mission

However, French officials insisted the mission’s aims were limited to bringing a minimum of security to Bangui, where people now fear to leave their homes, and to support an African-led force.

“You have to secure, you have to disarm,” Jean-Yves Le Drian, French defence minister, told Radio France Internationale. “You have to ensure that the vandals, the bandits, the militias know they can’t use the streets of Bangui for their battles.”

The streets of Bangui were deserted on Friday morning, with the only vehicles on the road belonging to either international security forces or the rebel fighters who claim control of the government.

There was no repeat of the clashes, Le Drian said.

“Thanks to France and the United Nations who want to save the Central Africans, soon the Seleka attacks on civilians will stop. We have had enough of Seleka killing, raping and stealing,” said Abel Nguerefara, who lives on the outskirts of Bangui.

However, Joanna Mariner, part of an Amnesty International team in Bangui, said that she had reports of pillaging and killing in the third district. “The French are patrolling on the main axes, but the city isn’t yet secure,” she added.

Since 2011, France has intervened in four African countries, in Ivory Coast, on a joint mission in Libya, in Mali and now in Central African Republic.



Hundreds rescued after Canada child-porn bust

A child pornography bust in Toronto two years ago has led to the arrest of 341 people and rescue of 386 sexually abused children around the world, police have announced.

William Blair, Toronto Police Service chief, on Thursday told a press conference that undercover officers made contact in October 2010 with a Toronto man suspected of sharing child pornography.

Their investigation led to a company believed to be producing and distributing “child exploitation videos and images over the Internet,” said a police statement.

The 42-year-old’s home and business were raided seven months later and he was charged with operating a website that sold and distributed child pornography.

Police said the man “paid various people to film children for the purpose of creating movies for sale on his website”.

The website allegedly earned him $ 3.8m annually.

Over 45 terabytes of data were seized. And police subsequently tracked down the website’s customers.

The United States Postal Inspection Service was involved in the probe, as were authorities in Sweden, Spain, Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong, among others.



Iran Has ‘Hundreds Of Troops’ In Syria

Iranian lawmaker Javad Ghoddusi Karimi has reportedly confirmed there are “hundreds” of Iranian troops in Syria fighting on the side of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

Iran’s ISNA news agency reported on November 4 that Karimi, a member of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that “Syrian commanders, backed by Iranian forces, are announcing the army’s victories against rebel fighters.”

Reports about Karimi’s comments came the same day Iran’s Mehr news agency reported the death of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander Mohammad Jamalizadeh Paghaleh.

Iranian media reported that Paghaleh was killed last week in Syria by “Wahhabi terrorists.”

IRGC spokesman General Ramazan Sharif rejected Karimi’s statements, saying “Iran has only advisers in Syria to transfer its military experience to the Syrian army.”

Based on reporting by ISNA,, and Mehr news agency

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Bangladesh convicts hundreds in mutiny case

A Bangladeshi court has convicted more than 300 soldiers at the start of a mass verdict over a 2009 military mutiny in which scores of senior officers were massacred.

At a special court in Dhaka on Tuesday, Judge Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman sentenced 152 people to death – and another 157 to life in prison – for their role in the 30-hour mutiny.

At least 200 soldiers were acquitted.

“The atrocities were so heinous that even the dead bodies were not given their rights,” Akhtaruzzaman said as he started to read out the verdicts.

Up to 823 soldiers allegedly took part in the killing of 74 people including senior army officers who were hacked to death or tortured and burnt alive before their bodies were dumped in sewers and shallow graves.

Security was tight at the specially built court in Dhaka, with police and elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) officers deployed outside, before the verdict’s announcement.

“We have deployed around 2,000 police and RAB officers in and around the court compound,” Harunur Rashid, deputy police commissioner for Dhaka, told AFP news agency.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for many of the 823 soldiers who are charged with murder, torture, conspiracy and other offences over the 30-hour uprising that started at the paramilitary Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR) headquarters in Dhaka.

Nearly 6,000 soldiers have already been jailed by dozens of special courts over the mutiny that spread to other BDR bases around the country.

In civilian court

The 823 soldiers were singled out for prosecution in a civilian court after they were found guilty in military courts over their role in the mutiny.

Twenty-three civilians have also been charged with criminal conspiracy.

Baharul Islam, lead prosector, said the case was the largest of its type in the world with hundreds of witnesses taking part in the trial that started in January 2011 and finished in October this year.

“So far as we know it’s the largest case in the world’s history. There were 654 prosecution witnesses,” Islam said before the verdict.

The verdict was delayed last week after the judge said he needed more time to finish writing it.

During the uprising, the mutineers stole an estimated 2,500 weapons and broke into an annual meeting of top BDR officers before shooting them at point blank range.

As the mutiny spread, it briefly threatened the new government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which had been elected only one month previously.

The cause of the violence is uncertain but pent-up anger over poor benefits and resentment by soldiers against BDR senior officers, who do not come from within the BDR, is widely seen as the main factor.



Russia race riot leads to hundreds of arrests

More than 380 people have been arrested after Russian nationalists rampaged for hours in Moscow over the murder of a local man blamed on a migrant.

Crowds on Sunday chanted slogans, including “Russia for Russians” and “white power” in the protest in Biryulyovo, an industrial district of southern Moscow.

Police ordered a city-wide security alert and began making arrests after rioters smashed shop windows, set a shopping centre on fire and assaulted security guards. 

Witnesses said the protesters threw empty beer bottles, clubs and even hammers at a riot police force that rushed to the scene in about a dozen buses.

“I cannot believe this is happening in our city,” one woman told Russian state television. “I am afraid to let my children out on the street,” said another.

A police spokesman told Russian media that the city’s entire active security force had been mobilised several hours into the riot. Five police officers were injured, according to a police spokesman.

Clubs and hammers

The riot broke out in the afternoon when a group of several hundred youths dressed predominantly in black attacked a vegetable market where they thought the suspected killer was hiding.

They were outraged over the murder on Thursday of a 25-year-old local man named Yegor Shcherbakov.

Police said he was stabbed by an unknown assailant in unclear circumstances while his fiancee, identified only by her first name Ksenya, watched.

The killer fled the scene but was caught on surveillance cameras that suggested he could have been from Central Asia or the Caucasus.

“Every measure will be taken to stop the criminal,” Alexandre Polovinko, the district police chief, said at the scene of the protest. “The best investigators have been assigned to the case.”

Ethnic tensions have simmered for years in Moscow and other major Russian that have been flooded by migrant labourers from predominantly Muslim regions of the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Sunday’s riot was the largest since 5,000 football fans and nationalists protested on Moscow’s central Manezh Square in December 2010 over the killing by a man from the Caucasus of an ethnic Russian supporter of a local club.



Hundreds Of Stray Dogs Put Down In Dushanbe

DUSHANBE — Tajik authorities in the capital, Dushanbe, say some 500 stray dogs were caught and destroyed last month amid a wave of residents’ complaints over the growing number of feral canines roaming the city.

City officials said on October 4 they had recorded at least 80 cases of stray dogs attacking people in 2013.

According to official figures, some 2,500 stray dogs were destroyed in Dushanbe between January and October this year. Authorities say the stray dog population is on the rise in Dushanbe as packs of dogs searching for food have moved from nearby villages to the city’s garbage pits.

Dogs abandoned by owners have also been a cause for the increase of the capital’s feral animal population. There are no animal shelters in Dushanbe.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds unaccounted for in Colorado floods

More than 200 people remain unaccounted for and four people have been confirmed dead after the worst floods for decades hit the US state of Colorado, authorities say.

More than two months’ of rain fell in less than two weeks, cutting off communities from power and clean water. More heavy rain was expected on Saturday across the state.

Search-and-rescue teams used boats and helicopters to pull stranded residents to safety and to try to find residents still missing.

Patrick Von Keyserling, an emergency official in Boulder County, an area heavily affected by flooding, said 218 people were unaccounted for.

“That number will fluctuate as families start locating people and as we pick up people that have been stranded with our helicopter operation,” he told Al Jazeera. “We will continue throughout the day as long as the weather is permitting.

“Certainly the intent is to find all unaccountable people. Some may be at rescue centres or staying with relatives,” Von Keyserling said.

Power cut off

Two small farming communities in eastern Colorado were under evacuation orders as a surge from the flooding was headed in their direction on the plains, the Colorado Office of Emergency Management said on Twitter.

“The town of Orchard is in immediate danger. EVACUATE NOW,” it said. “The town of Goodrich is under an evacuation order.”

Motorists were trapped in their cars with emergency crews scrambling to reach them.  

“Many, many communities in our western mountains are completely isolated. There is no road access, no telephone information, no power, no water, no sewer”, said Sheriff Joe Pelle of Boulder County.

In Lyons County, many residents have had no access to clean water or power for two days. The area lies near the meeting point of two rivers, and days of flash floods have made it resemble an inland sea.

At least four people have been killed, including a couple swept away in floodwaters after stopping their car northwest of

Also killed was a resident whose body was found in a collapsed building near Jamestown, an evacuated enclave north of Boulder, and a man whose body was discovered during flood-watch patrols in Colorado Springs, about 160km to the south, officials said.

The floods are the worst to hit Colorado for more than 30 years, and have prompted President Barack Obama to approve a federal disaster assistance request.



Hundreds Clash With Police In Turkey After Protester Dies

Hundreds of protesters have clashed with police is southeastern Turkey after the funeral of a protester who died in unclear circumstances.

The outbreak of violence between protesters and police started on September 10 just hours after 22-year-old protester Ahmet Atakan was buried.

Atakan died in the early hours of September 10 in the city of Antakya at a demonstration against the police handling of nationwide antigovernment protests this summer, but the cause of his death was in dispute.

News of the protester’s death sparked protests in other Turkish cities.

Police in Istanbul fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred protesters rallying in the city center.

A wave of violent and at timse deadly protests, which started over plans to build a shopping center in an Istanbul park, spread through Turkey in June.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds Protest Iraqi Lawmakers’ Pensions

Hundreds of protesters have demonstrated in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities against generous pensions received by lawmakers.

The protests on August 31 show the widespread anger over monthly payments of thousands of dollars and benefits that go to lawmakers and parliamentary officials in a country where many are struggling to get jobs and basic services.

Police in Baghdad closed most bridges connecting the two sides of the capital on August 30.

On August 31, they blocked demonstrators from reaching their declared protest sites.

Security forces also stopped journalists from covering the demonstrations.

Protests also were reported in Basra, in Nasiriyah and in Hillah.

“They promised us a share of the oil revenue for every citizen, but they did not do so. They promised to enact a legislation to allocate a monthly payment for students, but they did not do so,” one protester in Iraq said.

“They promised to compensate us 25,000 Iraqi dinars [about $ 21] as a replacement for our monthly food basket, but they did not do so. The parliament in Iraq is a business, we call on the president to disband the parliament.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan Ibrahim said increased security was aimed at protecting demonstrators.

He said the authorities were concerned suicide bombers might try to attack the rallies.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Police Fire Tear Gas To Disperse Hundreds In Istanbul

Turkish police have fired tear gas in Istanbul to disperse several hundred people protesting against the police crackdown on last month’s antigovernment demonstrations.

Police blocked at least 500 protesters in a busy street near Istanbul’s Taksim Square from marching in support of a teenage boy who is said to be in a coma after being hit in the head by a tear-gas canister during the unrest.

An initially small protest against the planned redevelopment of the city’s Gezi Park snowballed into nationwide demonstrations last month against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accused by his critics of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

Five people died and thousands were injured in the unrest, which posed the biggest threat to Erdogan’s decade-long rule.

Some isolated demonstrations have persisted in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Turkish Police Fire Teargas to Disperse Hundreds in Istanbul

ISTANBUL (Reuters) — Turkish police fired teargas in Istanbul on Wednesday to disperse several hundred people protesting against the police crackdown on last month’s anti-government demonstrations, local media reported.

Police blocked several hundred protesters in a busy street near Istanbul’s Taksim Square from marching in support of a teenage boy who is said to be in a coma after being hit in the head by a teargas canister during the unrest.

TV footage showed police vehicles firing water cannons and protesters running into side streets.

What started as a small protest against the planned redevelopment of the city’s Gezi Park triggered nationwide protests last month against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, accused by his critics of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

Five people died and thousands were injured in the anti-government unrest, which posed the biggest challenge to Erdogan’s decade-old rule.

While the protests have largely died down across the country, some isolated demonstrations have persisted in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.

Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall.

Assyrian International News Agency

Police Detain Hundreds In Moscow Market Raids

Moscow police have detained hundreds of mostly migrant workers in raids on city markets in the wake of an attack in which a police officer was injured.

A police spokesperson said some 470 people were detained at three markets.

On July 27, a group of police officers was attacked by two dozen people at the Matveyevsky market in western Moscow as they were detaining a man suspected of raping a 15-year-old girl.

One police officer sustained a severe head injury.

In response, police launched sweeps to check people working at city markets for involvement in crimes and offenses.

The rape suspect and a man suspected of attacking the police officer were detained.

Moscow’s markets employ many migrants from other former Soviet republics and Russia’s Muslim-populated North Caucasus.

Based on reporting by RIAN, Interfax, and Reuters

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Pakistan Taliban prison raid frees hundreds

Taliban fighters armed with mortars and grenades have attacked a prison in northwest Pakistan, escaping with about 250 prisoners after a gunfight with security forces, officials have said.

At least 12 people, including six police. were killed and eight others wounded in the assault, staged by fighters disguised in police uniforms, officials said.

The attack in the town of Dera Ismail Khan began late on Monday with a huge explosion, intelligence officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to reporters.

The fighters then detonated a series of smaller bombs to destroy the prison’s boundary wall.

Security forces engaged the attackers, who were chanting “God is great” and “Long live the Taliban”.

“Police and other law enforcing agencies are busy in clearing the jail,” senior government official Mushtaq Jadoon said, adding authorities have imposed a curfew in the city and asked residents to stay at home.

Pakistan’s military confirmed that it had deployed forces to respond to the raid.

Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from the capital, Islamabad, said: “I would describe it [the attack] as extremely calculated.”

Some of the Taliban fighters were using loudspeakers and calling the individual names of inmates to come out of the badly damaged prison, he said.

Officials have said that 40 to 45 so-called high-profile or high-value prisoners were freed, our correspondent added.

Taliban claim responsibility

Provincial prisons chief Khalid Abbas said the attackers escaped after three-hour long gunfight with security forces.

“Security forces have entered the prison and cleared the building after which we have started counting prisoners with flashlights as there is no power in the prison and it is making our job difficult,” Abbas told AFP news agency.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a spokesperson. The group said that “over 100 fighters” had attacked the prison.

The Taliban have been waging a deadly uprising against the government for years that has killed thousands of security personnel and civilians.

Dera Ismail Khan, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is located on the edge of Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal area, the main sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.

The jail, which housed about 5,000 prisoners, is near the bordering town of Tank and adjacent to volatile the South Waziristan Agency, the main area of influence of the outlawed TTP.

In April 2012, Taliban fighters armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades battled their way into a prison in the city of Bannu in northwest Pakistan, freeing close to 400 prisoners, including at least 20 described by police as “very dangerous” fighters.



Hundreds escape after Iraq prison attacks

A manhunt is under way for hundreds of inmates, including four high-ranking al-Qaeda members, who escaped two Iraqi prisons following deadly attacks.

Fifty-six people were killed in Sunday’s attacks on Taji prison, north of Baghdad, and the Abu Ghraib facility, west of the Iraqi capital.

The dead include 26 members of the security forces and 20 inmates. Ten of the attackers also died.

Most of them were convicted senior members of al-Qaeda and had received death sentences.

Hakim al-Zamili, Senior member of the security and defence committee 

Gunmen fired mortar rounds at the prisons.

Four car bombs were also detonated near the entrances to the jails, while three suicide bombers attacked Taji prison, a police colonel said. Several roadside bombs also exploded near the prison in Taji.

Fighting continued throughout the night as the military deployed aircraft and sent in reinforcements around the two facilities.

“The number of escaped inmates has reached 500, most of them were convicted senior members of al-Qaeda and had received death sentences,” Hakim al-Zamili, a senior member of the security and defence committee in parliament, told Reuters.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said that this was the most serious challenge from al-Qaeda the government has faced in years.

“This is a group they thought they had dismantled,” our correspondent said.

“There has been surprisingly little public reaction from the government, one would think they would try to reassure their citizens.”

‘Pursuing terrorists’

The situation was eventually brought under control on Monday morning, according to the colonel.

“The security forces in the Baghdad Operations Command, with the assistance of military aircraft, managed to foil an armed attack launched by unknown gunmen against the… two prisons of Taji and Abu Ghraib,” the interior ministry said in a statement late on Sunday night.

“The security forces forced the attackers to flee, and these forces are still pursuing the terrorist forces and exerting full control over the two regions,” it said.

The attacks on the prisons came a year after al-Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate announced it would target the justice system.

“The first priority in this is releasing Muslim prisoners everywhere, and chasing and eliminating judges and investigators and their guards,” said an audio message attributed to the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in July last year.

Prisons in Iraq are periodically hit by escape attempts, uprisings and other unrest.

Abu Ghraib became notorious after photographs showing Iraqi detainees being humiliated and abused by their US guards were published in 2004. It also served as a torture centre under Saddam Hussein’s ousted regime.

Deadly violence also hit security forces in northern Iraq on Monday. A suicide car bomber attacked an army patrol in the city of Mosul, killing 12 people and wounding 16, while a roadside bomb wounded a soldier and a civilian near the city.



Overnight Egypt Clashes Leave Several Dead, Hundreds Wounded

A least seven people have been killed in overnight clashes between the police and supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Muhammad Morsi.

Senior Health Ministry official Khaled el-Khateib said on July 16 that more than 260 people were injured in the violence that broke out late on July 15.

He said the clashes continued early on July 16 in many parts of Cairo.

Muhammad Sultan, head of the capital’s emergency services, told Reuters news agency that two people were killed at a bridge in central Cairo and five more in the Giza district.

Thousands of supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement are protesting to demand his reinstatement.

He was ousted by the military on July 3 after days of mass opposition protests.

On July 15, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns held talks with Egypt’s interim government and military leaders.

Burns also said during a visit to Cairo on July 15 that Washington is “deeply committed to Egypt’s democratic success and prosperity” and that “only Egyptians can determine their future.”

Burns made the remarks after talks with Egypt’s interim president, Adli Mansour, and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the architect of the military ouster of Islamist President Muhammad Morsi.

Burns is the first senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since Morsi’s ouster on July 3.

Burns told journalists in Cairo that Washington would “stand behind certain basic principles” for Egypt, including the protection of “human rights and the rule of law.”

“The United States remains deeply committed to Egypt’s democratic success and prosperity,” Burns said.

“We want a strong Egypt — an Egypt which is stable, democratic, inclusive, and tolerant; an Egypt which addresses the needs and respects the rights of all of its citizens. That is the Egypt that Egyptians deserve, that is the Egypt that can lead the rest of the region into a better future.”

Burns also said the United States would not favor any particular personalities or parties.

He was scheduled to stay in Cairo on July 16 for more talks with Egyptian officials.

There was no word on whether he would meet with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of the ousted Morsi.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds of Families Feared to Be Trapped in Damascus

(AFP) — The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported a car bomb detonated outside a police station in Damascus province, causing an unknown number of casualties.

“The toll from shelling on Qaboon rose to 13 people,” the Observatory said, adding three civilians and seven rebels were among the dead, and that three bodies had not yet been identified.

The deaths came after the Observatory warned that hundreds of families were trapped in the northeastern district by fierce fighting between troops and rebel fighters.

“There is a siege because regime snipers are posted on the outskirts of Qaboon and this makes any attempt to leave difficult,” said the group. “The area has also been bombed by the army.”

Regime troops have been trying for months to dislodge rebels from rear-bases they have established in parts of the outskirts of Damascus.

Footage filmed by activists in Qaboon showed smoke rising from the area as the sound of non-stop artillery and mortar fire rings out.

The Observatory said residents of the area were facing a “stifling” siege.

“There’s a major shortage of food and some families have nothing to feed their children with,” it said.

The Observatory also reported that dozens of people detained in an underground makeshift prison near a mosque in Qaboon escaped when regime forces guarding the site left to join the fighting.

Overnight, the opposition National Coalition had urged the international community to act to free “200 people” they say are being held in the mosque.

Rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s government control several neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Damascus from which they are able to shell areas in the city centre, which is still in regime control.

Forces loyal to Assad have for months been trying to uproot those rear-bases, including in Qaboon and Barzeh, in northern Damascus.

Nearby, in Damascus province, the Observatory reported a car bomb detonated outside a police station in the town of Deir al-Attiya.

“There are casualties, dead and injured, including from the police, but we don’t know yet what the details are,” Observatory director Rami Abdul Rahman told AFP.

The explosion caused heavy damage to the police station.

The Observatory meanwhile reported that the Red Cross delivered 5,000 rations of food to Aleppo’s central prison, which has been under siege by rebel forces for three months.

“Rebels allowed them to bring in rations for the Muslim month of Ramadan,” the Observatory said.

At least 120 prisoners died in the facility in May alone as a result of shelling and food and medical shortages, according to the Observatory.

Rebel forces have been seeking to capture the prison and free around 4,000 people inside, who include political prisoners as well as common criminals.

The Observatory reported continued fighting throughout Syria on Sunday, including in the northwestern province of Idlib, where a man and his three children were killed by a helicopter gunship raid.

Assyrian International News Agency

Brazil Death Reported As Hundreds Of Thousands Take To Streets

At least one person has been reported killed as hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets for antigovernment rallies.

The male protester was reported killed in Sao Paulo state after a car hit a crowd of demonstrators on June 20.

Elsewhere, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters in Rio de Janeiro.

In the capital, Brasilia, security forces fought off protesters who tried to break into the Foreign Ministry.

President Dilma Rousseff called an emergency cabinet meeting for June 21.

The protests began over a raise in transit fares but have escalated into a movement against official corruption and the high costs to Brazilians of hosting international sporting events such as the 2014 World Cup.

Protesters say more funds should be spent on education and health care.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds Of Illegal Migrant Workers Found In Underground ‘Town’ In Moscow

Moscow police have detained more than 200 illegal migrant workers found in an underground “town” hidden beneath the capital’s Cherkizovsky Market.

The workers were apparently locked inside the vast complex to produce clothing.

Russia’s Interior Ministry released a video of the raid on June 4 later the same day.

The footage showed a subterranean factory containing work rooms filled with sewing machines, along with living quarters, a cafe, a cinema, a casino, and a chicken coop.

The migrant workers appeared to be Asian.

In another raid on June 4 in the city of Obninsk near Moscow, police found 450 immigrants from Vietnam in an abandoned hangar, where they lived and worked on sewing clothing.

Last week, Moscow police carried out an operation that resulted in the detention of 952 suspected illegal migrant workers, the majority of whom were from Central Asia.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and RIA-Novosti

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

EU Report Reveals Hundreds Of Problems With European Nuclear Reactors

BRUSSELS — A draft report produced by the European Commission says almost all of Europe’s nuclear reactors have safety shortcomings.

A copy of the report, which will be published on October 4, was obtained by RFE/RL.

It notes hundreds of problems in a majority of Europe’s 143 licensed nuclear power plants.

It estimates that bringing every plant up to a safe standard could cost 25 billion euros ($ 32 billion).

Stress tests of the reactors were carried out in recent months to see how the they might cope with extreme events such as earthquakes, floods, or terrorist or cyber attacks.

France, Europe’s largest nuclear power, fares badly in the report.

None of its 58 nuclear power plants reportedly meets the standards outlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Ukraine is cited as having inadequate evaluation standards in case of earthquake or extreme weather conditions.

An earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the Japanese east coast in March 2011 in the worst nuclear disaster since Chornobyl, prompting many states to reassess their nuclear safeguards.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds In Crimea Protest Anti-Islam Film

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Hundreds of people have rallied in Simferopol — the capital of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea, to protest a U.S.-made video denigrating the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

The protesters, mainly Crimean Tatars, chanted, “There is No God, but God and Muhammad is His Messenger!”

They were holding placards, one of which read, “America, Muhammad is Clean, You Are Humiliated!”

A similar protest was held by Tatar activists in the capital of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan, Kazan, on September 26.

The privately produced film, “Innocence of Muslims,” sparked widespread protests, some of them deadly, in some predominantly Muslim countries this month.

Based on reporting by UNIAN,, and RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds killed in Karachi factory inferno

Factory fires in two major cities in Pakistan have killed more than 240 people and injured dozens more, including some who had to leap from windows to escape the flames, officials and survivors have said.

The most deadly blaze broke out on Tuesday night in a garment factory in the southern port city of Karachi, where more than 212 bodies have been recovered so far, according to Roshan Ali Sheikh, a senior government official.

At least 25 others were killed hours earlier in a shoe factory in the eastern city of Lahore.

Firefighters continued to battle the blaze in Karachi on Wednesday.

Most of the deaths were caused by suffocation as people caught in the basement were unable to escape when it filled with smoke, said the top firefighter in Karachi, Ehtisham-ud-Din. There were no fire exits, and the doors leading out of the basement were locked, he said.

Such safety issues are common throughout Pakistan, where buildings also lack emergency equipment like alarms and sprinklers and municipal rules are rarely enforced.

Workers on higher floors of the five-story building struggled to make it out of windows that were covered with metal bars.

Mohammad Ilyas, a factory worker who was injured as he jumped out of the building, said he was working with roughly 50 other men and women on one of the floors when suddenly a fireball came from the staircase.

“I jumped from my seat as did others and rushed towards the windows, but iron bars on the windows barred us from escaping. Some of us quickly took tools and machines to break the iron bars,” he said. “That was how we managed to jump out of the windows down to the ground floor.”

Managers run

Sheikh said the factory’s managers had fled and were being sought by police. Authorities have placed the name of the factory’s owner on a list of people who are not allowed to leave the country, he said.

“The owners were more concerned with safeguarding the garments in the factory than the workers,” said employee Mohammad Pervez, holding up a photograph of his cousin, who was missing after the fire.

“If there were no metal grilles on the windows a lot of people would have been saved. The factory was overflowing with
garments and fabrics. Whoever complained was fired.”

Pakistani television showed a video of the factory with flames leaping from top-floor windows and smoke billowing into the night sky.Firefighters could be seen pounding on the metal grates covering some of the windows and pulling out smoke-covered bodies.

In Lahore, the fire swept through a four-storey shoe factory and killed 25 people, some from burns and some from suffocation, said senior police officer Multan Khan. The factory was illegally set up in a residential part of the city.

The blaze broke out when people in the building were trying to start their generator after the electricity went out. Sparks from the generator made contact with chemicals used to make the shoes, igniting the fire. Pakistan faces widespread blackouts, and many people use generators to provide electricity for their houses or to run businesses.

A firefighter at the scene, Numan Noor, said the reason most of the victims died was because the main escape route was blocked.

“The people went to the back side of the building but there was no access, so we had to make forceful entries and … rescue the people,” said Noor.

Firefighters broke holes in the factory’s brick walls to reach victims inside. At the morgue, bodies were lined up on a hallway floor, covered with white sheets.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Pakistani prime minister, in a statement expressed his shock and grief over the deaths in both cities.



Scores Killed In Chinese Earthquake, Hundreds Injured

Chinese officials say that at least 63 people have been killed and some 700 injured in earthquakes that have struck the southwest part of the country.

The quakes centered near the borders of the Yunnan and Guizhou provinces on September 7.

Yunnan’s civil affairs department reported 6,650 houses were destroyed and 100,000 people evacuated.

The death toll was expected to rise as there are still remote communities that rescuers have not been able to reach because of the destruction to roads.

Health officials were also warning of disease outbreaks since thousands of farm animals were killed in the earthquake.

China’s CCTV said authorities were sending thousands of tents, blankets, and coats.

The station also said that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was going to the area.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds March In Kyiv As Tymoshenko Appeal Hearings Resume

Hundreds of supporters of Yulia Tymoshenko have marched in Kyiv as Ukraine’s Specialized Supreme Court resumed hearings on the appeal by the former prime minister of her conviction for abuse of power.

The demonstrators demanded Tymoshenko’s immediate release from the seven years in prison that she was sentenced to in October following her conviction in connection with natural gas deals wth Russia when she was prime minister in 2009.

Tymoshenko’s supporters, as well as the European Union and United States, say she is a victim of persecution by her political enemies.

The chairman of the opposition Front of Changes party, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said that Tymoshenko also plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

A second trial of Tymoshenko, for alleged tax evasion, is due to resume September 11.

Based on reporting by UNIAN and Interfax

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds Of Human Fetuses Found In Russia’s Ural Mountains

Authorities in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region have ordered an inquiry after local residents discovered four plastic barrels holding some 248 human fetuses dumped in a forest in Russia’s Ural Mountains.

Officials said the remains, discovered on July 22, appeared to have come from at least three hospitals in Yekaterinburg, the capital of the Sverdlovsk region.

Photographs from the site showed tags with names and numbers — apparently the numbers of hospital wards — attached to the fetuses.

A local resident told state television the remains were found by a fisherman.

Regional officials said it appeared that a company responsible for the disposal of biomedical waste “did not carry out its duties.”

Based on reporting by Reuters, the BBC, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds Of Ukrainians Rally Against Russian Language Bill

Opposition supporters and other opponents of a bill upgrading the status of the Russian language in Ukraine were rallying in Kyiv and other major cities on July 5 to protest the bill’s apparent approval.

The majority Party of Regions rushed the bill through parliament two days earlier, sparking scuffles among lawmakers and between protesters and police.

Opposition figures have claimed the vote was conducted improperly and is therefore void.

Parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn has tendered his resignation in protest at the bill’s passage, which would allow the use of Russian in courts, education, and other government institutions in Russian-speaking regions.

The bill must be signed by the speaker of parliament as well as President Viktor Yanukovych, the head of the Party of Regions, to become law.


A rally against the bill’s passage in Dnepropetrovsk on July 5.

There were hundreds of protesters in the capital, Kyiv, but smaller numbers at demonstrations against the bill in cities like Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Dnepropetrovsk, according to RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service.

Language is a sensitive subject in Ukraine, whose state language is Ukrainian but where a significant number of people speak Russian as their mother tongue.

Yanukovych has said new parliamentary elections scheduled for October 28 may be called if the dispute is not resolved.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds Protest Mubarak Verdict In Egypt

Hundreds of demonstrators are occupying Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a protest against sentences handed down the day before to former President Hosni Mubarak and his security chiefs.

Some of the demonstrators slept in tents or out in the open overnight in the square, epicenter of an antiregime revolt that ousted Mubarak in 2011 after three decades of rule.

Around 20,000 people filled to Tahrir on June 2 after a judge sentenced Mubarak, 84, and his interior minister, Habib al-Adly, to life for their role in the deaths of more than 800 protesters during last year’s revolt, but acquitted six security chiefs on the same charges.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Security Forces Pull Down Hundreds Of Baghdad Blast Walls

Iraqi security forces have pulled down hundreds of concrete blast walls in central Baghdad.

The walls, which were demolished on April 28, were first erected in 2003 after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. They multiplied during 2006 and 2007 at the height of sectarian violence.

Standing as symbols of ongoing insecurity, some walls divided communities and blocked already heavy traffic.

The first blast walls were taken down in August 2009 as U.S. troops began to withdraw.

But hundreds stayed to help protect a capital under constant attack.

Although violence has dropped since 2007, it surged again immediately after the December 2011 final U.S. troop withdrawal, when about 72 people were killed in a wave of bombings.

At least thirty people were killed in Baghdad bomb blasts on April 19.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Pakistani Taliban Free Hundreds Of Prisoners

An early morning attack on a jail in northwest Pakistan has freed nearly 400 prisoners.

Militants armed with guns and rocket propelled grenades launched the attack on the central jail in the northwest Pakistani town of Bannu.

Pakistani officials told Radio Mashaal the militants appeared to be trying to free Adnan Rasheed, who was jailed for being part of a plot to assassinate former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Police said 384 prisoners escaped from the jail.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Asim Mehsood told Radio Mashaal his group was responsible for the attack.

He said some 150 “suicide bombers” attacked the Bannu jail.

The town of Bannu has seen several attacks in recent years, usually bombings.

Radio Mashaal

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hundreds Of Anti-NATO Activists Detained In Brussels

Reports say that more than 480 activists protesting NATO have been detained outside the military alliance’s headquarters.

The Belga news agency reported that the protest ahead of the alliance’s May summit was supposed to include activists entering the headquarters and symbolically shutting it down.

However, it appears the activists weren’t successful. 

Roel Stynen of the “Vredesactie” peace organization accused NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of wanting to turn the alliance into “a military intervention apparatus,” pointing to its missions in Afghanistan and Libya.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa 

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iraq’s Maliki Accused of Detaining Hundreds of Political Opponents

BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s security services have locked up more than 1,000 members of other political parties over the past several months, detaining many of them in secret locations with no access to legal counsel and using “brutal torture” to extract confessions, his chief political rival has charged.
Assyrian International News Agency

* Hundreds of foreign companies participating in the exhibition of oil and gas in the Basra

opened a Turkish company to organize international exhibitions, Friday, an exhibition of oil and gas in Basra, with the participation of 475 companies from 36 countries, as shown participating companies rush to strong for the implementation of projects in the province, announced that the Southern Oil Company for near organize a similar exhibition. The head [...]
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