Turkey tries military over alleged anti-govt plot

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

Holbrooke passes away

WASHINGTON: Richard Holbrooke, the veteran US diplomat who was tasked with bringing peace to Afghanistan, has died in Washington after suffering a torn aorta. He was 69.
President Barack Obama led the tributes to his special envoy, calling him “a true giant of American foreign policy”. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meanwhile described him as one of the country’s “most dedicated public servants”. In his latest role as special US envoy, Holbrooke was tasked with pushing

Taliban say Holbrooke’s death should prompt troop withdrawal

KANDAHAR: The Taliban hoped on Tuesday that the death of Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, would prompt the withdrawal of American troops. Holbrooke’s death in Washington after suffering a torn aorta “could have a didactic effect on the American strategists, teaching them many things to learn”, a spokesman for the Afghan insurgents said in a statement emailed to AFP.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls on the American powers that be to

Prosecutors to appeal UK bail for Assange

LONDON: Prosecutors said on Tuesday they would appeal against a British judge’s decision to grant bail to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been arrested in Britain on Swedish allegations of sex crimes. Prosecution lawyer Gemma Lindfield announced the decision at a court hearing, without giving reasons.
Judge Howard Riddle, who had earlier granted Assange bail under stringent conditions, said Assange must remain in custody until the appeal was heard within 48 hours.


Berlusconi barely survives no-confidence vote

ROME: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi narrowly survived a no-confidence motion on Tuesday that left his struggling centre-right government clinging to power by a handful of votes.
The result reinforced Berlusconi’s reputation as one of the great survivors of Italian politics but left him badly weakened, without the numbers in parliament to ensure stability at a time of big economic challenges and a menacing euro zone debt crisis.
Berlusconi’s survival was ensured

Sudan police arrest women protesting at flogging video

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police arrested dozens of women protesting on Tuesday against laws they say humiliate women after a video of a woman being flogged in public appeared on the Internet.
Floggings carried out under Islamic law are almost a daily punishment in Sudan for crimes ranging from drinking alcohol to adultery. But vague laws on women’s dress and behaviour are implemented inconsistently. One case sparked international furore when Lubna Hussein, a Sudanese UN official,

Police arrest Nepal’s ex-crown prince over gunshot

KATHMANDU: Police arrested Nepal’s former crown prince Paras Shah on Tuesday for firing his gun during a drunken late-night argument at an upmarket resort.
Shah, who as crown prince was notorious and unpopular for his playboy lifestyle, fired into the air on Saturday evening after an altercation with two male guests at the resort. Witnesses said he had been drinking heavily. The 38-year-old has admitted firing his gun in anger at insults to Nepal’s monarchy, which was abolished