Foreign articles

US war review claims gains against Taliban, Al Qaeda

US war review claims gains against Taliban, Al Qaeda

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama’s Afghan troop surge has made progress in curbing the Taliban and severely weakening Al Qaeda, but US gains are not yet durable and sustainable, a new policy review said on Thursday.
The long-awaited assessment says that some aspects of the high-stakes strategy are working well, after a year of record bloodshed, but many of the advances in the nine-year war remain fragile and reversible.
The report, which Obama is set to unveil today

Gunfire rings out across Ivory Coast’s Abidjan

ABIDJAN: Gunfire rang out across Ivory Coast’s main city Abidjan on Thursday as forces loyal to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo countered a protest by supporters of rival presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara, witnesses said.
Ouattara is recognised by the United Nations, the United States, African states and France as the winner of a Nov. 28 election but Gbagbo, backed by the nation’s top legal body, has held on to the presidency, alleging mass vote-rigging by pro-Ouattara rebels in

Putin calls for police action to curb extremism

MOSCOW: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday tough police action was imperative to stem extremism, saying that “liberal” criticism of the government threatened stability.
“It’s necessary to harshly suppress displays of extremism from all quarters,” Putin said in an annual question-and-answer session following outbreaks of nationalist violence in Moscow. Police have established a major presence in the capital, seeking to avert a repeat of last week’s riots. More

UK to aid citizens caught in terrorist attack

LONDON: The government will assist any British nationals affected by what it deems terrorist incidents abroad, reversing an earlier decision to only help those who had travel insurance, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
Assistance measures include medical evacuation, payment of immediate medical expenses and repatriation.
“Acts of terrorism are singularly heinous crimes, usually targeting innocent people at random. It is right that all British victims of terrorist

Kenyans march to protest ICC’s naming of suspects

NAIROBI: Several hundred people protested in Kenya’s capital on Thursday over the naming of suspects in election violence by the International Criminal Court (ICC), but a human rights group said those named should quit their posts.
The Hague-based court on Wednesday said three Kenyan cabinet ministers and a former police chief helped mastermind the deadly violence that rocked the east African country following disputed presidential elections in December 2007.
The news did

Girl killed gay man in ” attack

LONDON: An 18-year-old girl was facing jail on Thursday after being found guilty of a homophobic attack which one witness described as being like something out of the film “A Clockwork Orange”.
Former public schoolgirl Ruby Thomas was convicted of the manslaughter of 62-year-old Ian Baynham, who died 18 days after the drink-fuelled assault in London’s Trafalgar Square.
The court heard she smiled as she “put the boot into” Baynham after he was knocked to the ground by

Turkey tries military over alleged anti-govt plot

ISTANBUL: Nearly 200 Turkish military officers, including three top retired commanders, went on trial on Thursday charged with plotting to destabilise the government in a case likely to increase strains with the secularist armed forces.
Amid tight security the officers filed into a courtroom near Istanbul to answer accusations over an alleged 2003 conspiracy against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party government that was aimed at setting the scene for military intervention.

Afghan violence kills 18 as Obama reviews war

KABUL: A roadside bomb killed 14 civilians in western Afghanistan on Thursday and four Afghan soldiers died in a US air strike overnight, hours before a US strategy review reported progress in the Afghan war.
Violence is at its worst in Afghanistan since US-backed Afghan forces ousted the Taliban in 2001 after the September 11 Al Qaeda attacks on the United States, with record civilian and military casualties.
US President Barack Obama’s review said “notable operational

Suicide bomber kills 39 in Iran procession

TEHRAN: A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shia religious procession in the Iranian city of Chabahar on Wednesday killing at least 39 people in the latest violence to rock the southeastern border region.
A pathologist cited by the official IRNA news agency said 38 bodies had been brought to the town’s mortuary, among them women and children. A 39th casualty later succumbed to his wounds, the pathologist said.
The bomber struck in a central square where worshippers were

Greek anti-austerity strike turns violent

ATHENS: Athens police fired teargas at protesters who threw petrol bombs at two luxury hotels in the central Syntagma square outside parliament on Wednesday as Greek protests against government austerity measures escalated.
Hours earlier, parliament had approved reforms and spending cuts that are a condition of a 110 billion euro ($150 billion) EU/IMF bailout intended to dig Greece out of its debt crisis. Striking public and private sector workers had already grounded flights,

German cabinet agrees to ending compulsory army service

BERLIN: Reuters German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday to end the country’s compulsory military service, government sources said, in what is the largest reform of the postwar army since its founding. The plan envisages cutting the number of troops by 65,000 to 185,000, and from July of next year ending a draft that has conscripted generations of young men to the federal army formed after Germany’s defeat in World War II.
It was unclear what effect the

Ghana enters new oil era with Jubilee launch

TAKORADI: Ghana joined the ranks of Africa’s oil exporters on Wednesday, pledging to work to ensure lucrative new revenues further bolster one of the continent’s rising star economies. President John Atta Mills, wearing safety gear and blue overalls, opened the valves in a televised ceremony at the 330-metre-long floating platform some 40 miles off the West African country’s Atlantic coast.
Initial production of around 120,000 barrels per day will rank Ghana as sub-Saharan

Red Cross says Afghan conditions worst in 30 years

KABUL: Spreading violence in Afghanistan is preventing aid organisations from providing help, with access to those in need at its worst level in three decades, the Red Cross said on Wednesday.
“The proliferation of armed groups threatens the ability of humanitarian organisations to access those in need. Access for the ICRC has over the last 30 years never been as poor,” said Reto Stocker, Afghanistan head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which rarely makes

Nigeria army says 14 killed in Niger Delta raids

ABUJA: Soldiers and civilians were killed during an assault by Nigeria’s armed forces on militant camps in the oil-producing Niger Delta two weeks ago, the army chief said late Tuesday, highlighting the intensity of the violence.
Army chief of staff Onyeabo Ihejirika said eight soldiers and six civilians were killed during the army, navy and air force raids against camps believed to belong to notorious gang leader John Togo in Delta state on Dec 1. The Nigerian military rarely

Romanian govt to face fresh no-confidence vote

BUCHAREST: Romania’s opposition filed a no-confidence motion over the government’s IMF-backed wage reform on Wednesday, a move with only slim chances of success, just two months after a similar bid failed. The government of Prime Minister Emil Boc survived two no-confidence votes by the leftist opposition this year and its wider margin on the second occasion in October suggests it can remain in power and pass outstanding International Monetary Fund-mandated reforms.

Czech minister quits over corruption allegations

PRAGUE: Czech Environment Minister Pavel Drobil resigned on Wednesday following allegations that he tried to cover up corruption in his department.
His resignation came as parliament debated the 2011 budget and Prime Minister Petr Necas said he had asked Drobil to stay on for the final vote expected later in the day. Drobil is the first casualty for the centre-right coalition which took power in July after winning an election on promises to narrow the budget deficit and fight

Bulgaria PM wants to sack 45 envoys for police past

SOFIA: Prime Minister Boiko Borisov called on Wednesday for the sacking of 45 top diplomats identified by an historical commission as having been secret police agents under pre-1990 communist rule.
The commission said diplomats including the current Bulgarian ambassadors in London, Berlin, Rome, Tokyo and Moscow collaborated with the feared former Darzhavna Sigurnost security service when the Balkan country was a Soviet satellite.
Half of Bulgaria’s ambassadors to European