Foreign articles

Afghan election watchdog disqualifies 21 winners

Afghan election watchdog disqualifies 21 winners

KABUL: Nearly one in ten of the politicians who won a place in the Afghan parliament in a September poll have been disqualified for fraud, the country’s election watchdog said on Sunday.
The latest blow to a vote already plagued by allegations of widespread corruption comes a day after NATO wrapped up a major summit in Lisbon where Afghanistan topped the agenda, particularly an exit plan for foreign troops there.
Twenty-one candidates who had earned a winning number of votes

‘World’s most beautiful’ Italian minister to quit

ROME: One of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s best known ministers said on Sunday she will resign after confidence votes next month that could trigger elections.
Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna told Il Mattino newspaper that she would back the government in the December 14 votes but resign the next day from the cabinet and also from 74-year-old Berlusconi’s party.
She said she had been sidelined in the government and criticised Berlusconi for losing control of

India PM denies ‘inaction’ over $40b telecom scam

NEW DELHI: India’s prime minister on Saturday denied accusations of inaction in a 40-billion-dollar telecoms scandal and promised that anyone found guilty of wrongdoing in the case would be punished.
Manmohan Singh is accused of failing to probe allegations that his telecoms minister sold second-generation (2G) mobile phone licences for a fraction of their value in 2008.
The scandal is seen by Indian commentators as the most serious crisis to be faced by the Congress-led

Bicycle bombers kill 4, injure 31 in east Afghanistan

MEHTAR LAM: Suicide bombers on bicycles killed four people and wounded 31 others in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, the latest attacks coinciding with plans by NATO members to gradually end their presence.
Two bombers struck in Laghman province, provincial Governor Mohammad Iqbal Azizi told Reuters, with the first bomber detonating his explosives at a police checkpoint in the capital Mehtar Lam, and the second struck several hundred metres away. The attacks come after a spike in

Nigerian army arrests militant gang behind abductions

PORT HARCOURT: The Nigerian army has arrested a militant gang leader and more than 50 of his followers believed to be behind the kidnapping of 19 people in the oil-producing Niger Delta, a spokesman for the military taskforce said on Saturday.
The hostages, two Americans, two Frenchmen, two Indonesians, one Canadian and 12 Nigerians, were freed late on Wednesday after being held by a gang leader known as Obese at a camp in Rivers state.
“We have arrested Obese and some of

‘No evidence of Myanmar atom bomb aim’

VIENNA: A former senior UN nuclear official has voiced doubt about allegations that Myanmar was trying to develop atom bombs, saying available evidence did not support the claim.
“It doesn’t look like … this is a kind of nuclear weapons programme which is steaming ahead,” said Olli Heinonen, who stepped down in August as head of the UN nuclear watchdog’s inspections worldwide.
“There is no evidence but it would be good to clarify whatever is taking place,” Heinonen, now a

Pope elevates 24 new cardinals

VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday elevated 24 new cardinals from around the world, bringing them into an elite club which will eventually elect his successor.
The giant St Peter’s Basilica rang with the cheers and applause of the congregation as Benedict read out each of the cardinals’ names before they filed in their scarlet robes through the church.
The 83-year-old pontiff praised them as “pastors who rule with zeal important diocesan communities” and those who

France rejects Al Qaeda’s ‘talk to bin Laden’ demand

PARIS: France on Friday rejected demands from an Al Qaeda cell holding five French hostages in northern Africa that it negotiate their freedom with Osama bin Laden and pull its troops out of Afghanistan.
“France cannot accept that its policy be dictated by anyone outside,” new Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said after Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) head Abdelmalek Droukdel made the demands in an audio recording on Thursday.
His message said that France would

US to deploy tanks in Afghan war

KABUL: The United States is sending battle tanks to Afghanistan next month for the first time in the drawn-out war against Taliban-led insurgents, the US military and NATO-led forces said on Friday.
A company of 14 M1A1 Abrams tanks and about 115 Marines is set to deploy in Helmand province in Afghanistan’s southwest, long a Taliban stronghold, an official with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.
The 68-ton tanks will give Afghan and US-led

At least 27 missing after New Zealand mine explosion

WELLINGTON: Desperate efforts to reach at least 27 coal miners missing after an explosion tore through an underground mine in New Zealand stalled Friday as fears of another blast frustrated rescue attempts.
Police said the explosion at the coal mine on the South Island’s west coast appeared to have crippled the mine’s ventilation system but locals said they were were drawing hope from the rescue of 33 miners in Chile last month. Two miners survived the blast at the Pike River

US forces will stand by Afghans after 2014 handover

LISBON: President Barack Obama pledged on Friday that US forces would stand by Afghanistan even after NATO-led troops hand control of the fight against Taliban insurgents to Afghan forces in 2014.
Far from the dusty battlefields of Afghanistan, where more than 2,200 Allied troops have fallen in a vicious nine-year-old war, Obama and NATO leaders flew in to Lisbon for a two-day summit to set a handover date.
“We’ll announce that the transition to Afghan responsibility is

Taliban should join Afghan peace talks, says Karzai

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday urged the Taliban to join talks to bring peace to the war-torn country, despite the insurgents’ leadership ruling out negotiations.
“On this holy day of Eidul Azha I once again call on those compatriots who are unhappy, I request them to join the peace efforts,” Karzai said in a statement to mark the festival.
Karzai has previously appealed to the Taliban to come to the negotiating table and low-level commanders are said to

Nepal reinforces peacekeepers after Haiti riots

KATHMANDU: The Nepalese army on Tuesday said it had reinforced protection of its peacekeepers in Haiti after they were attacked by crowds angry over a cholera outbreak blamed by some on the soldiers.
Two people were killed in the riots on Monday.
Nepal, which has more than 1,000 soldiers working with the United Nations mission in Haiti, said “false rumours” that its soldiers were to blame for the cholera could have been the reason they were targeted.
“We are concerned.

UK’s Prince William to marry long-term girlfriend

LONDON: Britain’s Prince William is to marry his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton next year, Buckingham Palace said on Tuesday.
William, 28, the elder son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, and Middleton, 28, became engaged while on holiday in Kenya. “The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton,” Charles’s office said in a statement. “The wedding will take place in the spring or

Over 100 dead foetuses found in Thai temple: police

BANGKOK: The bodies of more than 100 human foetuses, apparently from an illegal abortion clinic, were discovered inside a Buddhist temple in central Bangkok, Thai police said on Tuesday.
The corpses, wrapped in plastic bags and newspaper, were found by a member of temple staff in a mortuary storage area.
“There are more than 100 plastic bags with foetal corpses inside hidden in the storehouse of a temple,” said Police Colonel Metee Rakphan.
“We assume that they were

Newly freed Suu Kyi ‘ready for dialogue’

YANGON: Myanmar’s newly freed Aung San Suu Kyi was “ready for dialogue” with the regime, her lawyer said Monday, as the democracy icon knuckled down to the task of rebuilding her weakened party.
The 65-year-old spent several hours at her National League for Democracy (NLD) headquarters in meetings with regional party members, ending her first day back at work in years with a trip to a Yangon monastery.
Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest on Saturday, less than a week after

Berlusconi government hit by resignations

ROME: Four ministers resigned from the Italian government on Monday, escalating a political crisis in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition that could last for weeks.
The four — Europe Minister Andrea Ronchi, Deputy Economic Development Minister Adolfo Urso and two junior ministers – are supporters of speaker of parliament Gianfranco Fini, a former ally of Berlusconi turned rival.
Fini’s Future and Freedom movement announced the pull-out in a statement.