Foreign articles

Frankfurt attack was ‘Afghanistan revenge’

Frankfurt attack was ‘Afghanistan revenge’

BERLIN – German prosecutors on Friday said an alleged Islamic radical accused of shooting dead two US airmen at Frankfurt airport did so in revenge for Afghanistan but had no links to international extremists. The 21-year-old carried out the attack on Wednesday “because he wanted to take revenge for the US intervention in Afghanistan,” federal prosecutor Rainer Griesbaum told reporters.
The shooter, originally from Kosovo but living in Germany, arrested immediately afterwards in

Pro-regime forces control Libyan border with Tunisia: UNHCR

GENEVA – Heavily armed pro-regime forces are now manning the Libyan side of the border with Tunisia, and fewer than 2,000 people fled across on Thursday, the UN refugees agency said on Friday. “On previous days, between 10,000 and 15,000 fled every day into Tunisia. Yesterday less than 2,000 made it across the border,” said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “UNHCR is very concerned that the security situation in Libya may be preventing people

Double-digit rise for China’s military spending

BEIJING – China announced a renewed double-digit hike in military spending on Friday after funding slowed last year, but insisted the nearly $92 billion outlay posed no external threat despite concerns abroad. The defence budget will rise 12.7 percent in 2011 to 601.1 billion yuan ($91.7 billion), said Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for China’s national parliament, citing a budget report to be submitted to the rubber-stamp legislature.
“China has always paid attention to controlling the

India opposes no-fly zone, use of force in Libya

NEW DELHI – India is opposed to a no-fly zone or the use of force in Libya, and other major developing nations have “reservations”, a top Indian foreign ministry official said in remarks published on Friday. “As of now we are not in favour of a no-fly zone. We are opposed to use of force,” foreign secretary Nirupama Rao told The Hindu newspaper. “Among BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries, questions have been raised and reservations expressed,” she said. India is a temporary

Suicide bomb attack kills nine at Iraq bank

RAMADI – A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a bank in the northwestern Iraqi city of Haditha on Thursday, killing nine people including three policemen, the town’s mayor said. Eight other people, all civilians, were wounded in the midday blast at a branch of the state-owned Al-Rafidain bank in Haditha, 210 kilometres (130 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Mayor Bassim Naji said.
“Nine people have been killed in the suicide attack at Al-Rafidain bank,” Naji told reporters. A

Mubarak ally quits as Egyptian PM

CAIRO – Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq unexpectedly resigned on Thursday, sparking celebrations from protesters who demand a purge of the remnants of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
The country’s military rulers said he would be replaced by Essam Sharaf, a former transport minister who joined the rallies in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that led to Mubarak’s resignation on February 11. Strongman Mubarak appointed Shafiq in the dying days of his rule in a bid to quell the

Embattled Yemen president offered ‘smooth exit’

SANAA – Yemen’s opposition and clerics have offered President Ali Abdullah Saleh a smooth exit from power this year, but protesters staged a new demonstration Thursday to demand his immediate ouster. The proposal calls for a “peaceful transition of power” from Saleh, insists anti-regime demonstrations that broke out over two weeks ago will go on, and demands a probe be launched into a deadly crackdown on the protests.
“We’ve agreed on a settlement proposal including a roadmap for

Campaign starts for ‘preordained’ Kazakh polls

ASTANA – The campaign started Thursday for Kazakhstan’s presidential election with a victory by strongman President Nursultan Nazarbayev so certain he has decided not even to bother campaigning. Nazarbayev, whose rule over Kazakhstan dates to before its independence from the Soviet Union, faces a challenge from only three relatively obscure candidates in the April 3 polls.
The president called the snap elections after scrapping a plan to hold a referendum on extending his term

Gaza banks protest after gunmen break in

GAZA CITY – Banks in the Gaza Strip closed on Thursday for a day of protest after gunmen allegedly protected by Hamas police twice robbed one bank of tens of thousands of dollars. Officials at the Palestine Monetary Authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah said armed men forced their way into a branch of the Palestine Investment Bank in Gaza City on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) and the day before, a group of armed men wearing military clothing and

Church offers 5,000 euros to child abuse victims

BERLIN – Germany’s Roman Catholic Church on Thursday offered 5,000 euros in compensation to victims of child abuse, a figure dismissed as ‘stingy’ by victims’ representatives. Germany’s Bishops’ Conference said 5,000 euros would be offered although in some cases the figure could go higher.
“In especially serious cases, other payments are possible,” a statement said. It said it had already informed a government panel set up to combat child abuse concerning the plan and victims

Talks on ‘Green Climate Fund’ postponed

PARIS – A first meeting to set down the ground rules of a fund to channel hundreds of billions of dollars to poor countries exposed to climate change has been postponed, a UN official said on Thursday. Representatives from 40 countries had been scheduled to meet in Mexico City on March 14 and 15 for the maiden meeting of a panel designed to breathe life into the Green Climate Fund (GCF) established last December.
“The meeting has been postponed,” a spokesman for the UN Framework

Iraq to delay Arab League summit

BAGHDAD – Iraq has agreed to postpone an Arab League summit scheduled for March 29 in Baghdad at the request of Arab foreign ministers because of turmoil in some countries in the region, a government official said on Thursday. Countries in the Middle East and north Africa have been rocked by protests against political repression and economic hardship which resulted in the ousting of long-serving rulers in Tunisia and Egypt. “It has been agreed to postpone holding the Arab summit for a

WikiLeaks founder lodges extradition appeal

LONDON – Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have lodged an appeal against a British court ruling that he should be extradited to Sweden over rape accusations, the court said Thursday. A court official confirmed that it had received the request for an appeal, but no date has yet been set for a hearing. Assange said after last week’s ruling that he was prepared for a lengthy legal battle after judge Howard Riddle rejected defence arguments that the 39-year-old would face an

Islamist rebel urges ‘total war’ with Russia

MOSCOW – The Chechen Islamist rebel leader who is Russia’s most wanted man has issued an appeal for recruits for a “total war” against the Russian state, in a new video message posted on Thursday. “A total war is in progress, fight the enemy where ever you can,” Doku Umarov said standing alongside two other militants in a snow-covered forest in a video posted on militant website
As well as repeating calls for women to join the rebellion, Umarov called on Russian

Pope lifts blame from Jews for Christ’s death

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI exonerates the Jewish people as a whole from responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in a new book due to be published this month, prompting praise from Jewish groups.
The pope wrote that the condemnations of Jesus Christ came from the “aristocracy of the temple” in Jerusalem and from the “masses” who acclaimed Barabbas instead of Jesus — not from “the Jewish people as a whole”.
Extracts from the book, the second volume of a

Karzai condemns foreign forces for civilian deaths

ASADABAD – Afghan President Hamid Karzai angrily criticised foreign forces Wednesday on civilian deaths, warning against daily killing after officials said nine children died in an air strike. Karzai told the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which has 140,000 troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, that it could face “huge problems” if mistaken civilian deaths did not stop.
His statement came after an Afghan police chief said nine children died in an air

Bahraini opposition continues protests

MANAMA – Protests in Bahrain are starting to make forays away from the central square in Manama and into different parts of the city, pressing the Sunni-led government for swift democratic reform.
Since thousands of protesters took to the streets two weeks ago there has been no formal dialogue between the government and the opposition, mainly majority Muslim Shi’ites, who say they are shut out of good jobs, decent healthcare and housing.
The king has pardoned political