Foreign articles

Fights start as thousands stuck in Moscow airports

Fights start as thousands stuck in Moscow airports

MOSCOW – Irate holidaymakers beat up Aeroflot staff at a Moscow airport on Tuesday as thousands were stranded with little food or information, after icy rain and blackouts disrupted traffic for a third straight day.
At Sheremetyevo where Russia’s flagship carrier is based, Aeroflot personnel were now scared of dealing with agitated passengers, saying the airport did not have enough security guards, state-run RIA quoted an airline employee as saying.
Police told Reuters

Israel says London home to Hamas hub

JERUSALEM – Israel’s defence ministry has accused a London-based Palestinian centre of “terror-affiliated activities” and being the organisational arm of the militant Islamic Hamas movement in Europe. Hamas,
which controls the Gaza Strip and advocates violent opposition to the Jewish state, is designated by the European Union as a terrorist organisation. An Israeli defence ministry statement issued on Tuesday said that the Palestinian Return Centre organises conferences in

US shakes off blizzard, but not travel misery

NEW YORK – The US northeast began Tuesday to shake off the icy grip of one of the biggest blizzards in years, but beleaguered travelers faced at least another day of headaches in New York airports.
After one last night of ferocious winds, the storm had moved fully out of New York by early Tuesday. The system, packing enormous snowfalls and gale force winds, churned up through Maine and into Canada, leaving a cold tail as far south down the US east coast as the Carolinas.

Spain, Russia in tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions: Madrid

MADRID – Spain has expelled two Russian diplomats in a move that triggered a tit-for-tat reaction from Moscow, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
The two Russian embassy staffers were asked to leave the country for having “engaged in activities incompatible with their status,” the ministry said in a statement.
In diplomatic language, the phrase is usually taken to mean spying.
The statement said the embassy was notified of the decision “about a month ago”. “In

Kuwait opposition grills PM in secret session

KUWAIT CITY – Kuwaiti opposition lawmakers on Tuesday began quizzing the oil-rich emirate’s prime minister behind closed doors over allegations of breaching the constitution and suppressing freedoms.
“I am ready to be questioned and I want the debate now,” Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, told parliament speaker Jassem al-Khorafi as the session opened.
But the government promptly demanded the questioning be held

Iran says no date set for N-talks

TEHRAN – Iran is yet to agree on an exact date for the next round of nuclear talks with world powers due to be held next month in Istanbul, foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday.
“There is an agreement on the venue of the meeting but the date has not been finalised yet. Consultations are ongoing to organise talks in Istanbul somewhere around the end of January,” Mehmanparast told reporters.
A senior Iranian official said in Damascus on Monday that next

Khodorkovsky found guilty in test for Russia

MOSCOW – Jailed Russian ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was found guilty of money laundering and theft of billions of dollars on Monday at a trial that has renewed doubts about the Kremlin’s commitment to the rule of law.
Khodorkovsky’s lead defence lawyer told Reuters he would appeal the verdict, which government critics say suggests longstanding Kremlin promises to reform a court system marred by corruption and political influence are insincere. Prosecutors are seeking an

21 dead, 25 injured in China road accidents

BEIJING – At least 21 people were killed — including 14 schoolchildren — and 25 injured in two car accidents in China on Monday, one of which involved over 100 vehicles, state press reported.
The 14 children died when the three-wheeled vehicle in which they were travelling plunged off a road in central Hunan province early Monday, Xinhua news agency said.
Xinhua earlier said nine children were killed and one was missing in the accident, in Hengnan county.
Later it

NATO disputes Afghan authorities over deadly raid

KABUL – The NATO-led force in Afghanistan disputed on Monday an Afghan government accusation that foreign troops had violated a security deal by conducting a night raid in Kabul in which two guards were killed.
Under the 2008 deal, Afghan authorities have to approve and lead all security operations in the capital. But the Ministry of Interior (MOI) has said that foreign forces ignored the security rules and it was unaware of Friday’s operation.
Raids by foreign forces,

Security boosted in central Nigeria after attacks

JOS – Riot police patrolled the central Nigerian city of Jos on Monday after Christmas Eve bombings killed more than 30 people and sparked clashes two days later between Muslim and Christian youths.
A series of explosions on Friday killed at least 32 people and wounded more than 100, triggering Sunday’s violence in which buildings were set alight and shots were fired. Aloysius Okorie, deputy inspector general of the police, said reinforcements had been sent to the scene of the

Bomb at Greek embassy in Rome linked to anarchist attack

ROME – A parcel bomb found at the Greek embassy in Rome on Monday was similar to packages that went off injuring two people at the Chilean and Swiss missions in a suspected attack by anarchists, police said.
The package was “similar to those that exploded last week in the Chilean and Swiss embassies,” Salvatore Cagnazzo, a police spokesman, told AFP.
“The mail worker at the embassy opened it but it didn’t go off,” he said, adding that the package was then de-activated by

Activists call on Putin to trade places with Khodorkovsky

MOSCOW – Youth activists in Russia’s Urals said powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin should trade places with Mikhail Khodorkovsky as a court found the jailed tycoon guilty in his second fraud trial.
Activists from youth movement Oborona said they had painted dozens of stencils depicting the faces of Putin and Khodorkovsky on Sunday night around the city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals to call attention to the trial seen as a watershed in Russia’s post-Soviet history.

Iraq twin bombings kill 7 in first test for Maliki

RAMADI – Twin bombings targeting Iraqi government offices in Ramadi Monday killed seven people and wounded dozens, in a first test for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki since he assumed the security portfolio.
Police said a car bomb exploded near the provincial headquarters in the heart of Ramadi city, 100 kilometres west of Baghdad, followed 15 minutes later by a suicide bombing which witnesses said occurred amid ambulances and rescue workers attending to victims of the first

France to recognise Ouattara’s Ivory Coast ambassador

PARIS – France on Monday dealt another blow to Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo by promising to recognise as the country’s Paris ambassador the envoy sent by his rival Alassane Ouattara.
Paris is in the process of recognising the envoy named by Ouattara, seen by the international community as the winner of a disputed presidential election last month, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.
Asked to confirm reports that the current ambassador named by

Religious clashes erupt in Nigeria

JOS – Clashes broke out between armed Christian and Muslim groups near the central Nigerian city of Jos on Sunday, a Reuters witness said, after Christmas Eve bombings in the region killed more than 30 people.
Buildings were set ablaze and people were seen running for cover as the police and military arrived on the scene in an effort to disperse crowds. This correspondent saw dozens of buildings on fire and injured people covered in blood being dragged by friends and family to

Four Turkish engineers abducted in Afghanistan

KHOST – Four Turkish engineers working for a construction firm and their Afghan driver were kidnapped Sunday in eastern Afghanistan, a senior local official told AFP.
The men were abducted in the restive Paktia province as they travelled from a building site in Dand Wa Patan district, which borders Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, to provincial capital Gardez.
“Four Turkish engineers and their Afghan driver were kidnapped by unknown gunmen and have been taken away to an

Egypt hopes for quick accord on Saddam-era debt

BAGHDAD – Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said in Baghdad on Sunday that Cairo hopes for a quick accord with Iraq on the hundreds of millions of dollars of Saddam-era debt.
“We have indications that there is confirmed intention (by Iraq) to resolve this issue, and we hope to reach a quick settlement,” Abul Gheit said at a joint news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Egypt has put the figure at double Iraq’s estimate of the amount.
Mufid Shehab,