Over 40 killed in S Sudan clashes

Over 40 killed in S Sudan clashes

KHARTOUM – Clashes between the southern army and a rebel militia group in south Sudan’s Upper Nile state have left more than 40 people dead, including seven soldiers, southern army spokesman Philip Aguer said on Monday. “There was fighting on Sunday between the SPLA and a former militia group under Ulony, a militia commander who had been in the service of Khartoum for a long time,” the spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army told AFP.
The militiamen attacked a group of

Kuwait braces for pro-democracy rallies

KUWAIT CITY – Kuwait braced for demonstrations against the government on Tuesday as youth groups promised to take their campaign to oust the prime minister to the streets of the oil-rich emirate. The Fifth Fence youth group has been using microblogging website Twitter to urge its supporters to join a rally coinciding with parliament’s first meeting after a six-week break.
Opposition blocs representing Islamists, liberals and nationalists have separately demanded Prime Minister

Pro-democracy rally staged in Morocco

RABAT – A few hundred people, mainly youths, attended a quickly improvised pro-democracy rally in front of the Moroccan parliament on Sunday, calling for the rule of law and radical political reform. The demonstration, called on social networking site Facebook, was backed by human rights activists who gathered in central Rabat before heading for the parliament building.
They gathered for a few just minutes, many making the V for victory sign, before dispersing. Another

Angola arrests 5 ahead of planned protest

LUANDA – Opponents of Angola’s long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos vowed to push through with a planned protest on Monday despite several arrests, including those of three journalists. Three reporters of the Novo Jornal daily, their driver and a rapper famed for his inflammatory lyrics against dos Santos were arrested overnight in Luanda, said one of the organisers, Mangovo Ngoyo, speaking by telephone from London. Following the arrests, organisers pushed back the

Iran, Syria in focus at N-watchdog moot

VIENNA – Iran and Syria found themselves in the spotlight on Monday as the UN nuclear watchdog convened for its traditional week-long spring meeting. The International Atomic Energy Agengy’s 35-member board of governors was set to discuss two new reports showing little or no progress in the watchdog’s long-running investigations into Iran’s controversial atomic programme and allegations of illicit nuclear activity on the part of Syria.
In his opening address to the closed-door

Fierce fighting in Libya leaves 18 dead

TRIPOLI – At least 18 people, including a baby, were killed in the fighting in the Libyan town of Misrata on Sunday, a doctor in the embattled country said. “We have 18 martyrs but the figure is not final. We also have many people wounded, I cannot even count them,” said the doctor, who worked at Misrata main hospital, adding that the dead included rebels and civilians. Troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, meanwhile, launched counter-offensives against rebel-held towns, increasing fears

Yemen opp pledges to intensify protests

SANAA – The Yemeni opposition has called for an escalation in anti-regime demonstrations to force President Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave after the embattled leader refused to quit, a spokeman said on Sunday. “We have called upon the people to widen demonstrations, and escalate the peaceful struggle in all regions until he (Saleh) is left with one option, that is to leave,” said Mohammed Sabri, a leading member of the Common Forum opposition alliance.
The veteran leader, who has

Thousands protest at Bahrain government HQ

MANAMA – Thousands of demonstrators massed Sunday at Manama’s Al-Qudaibiya Palace, where Bahrain’s cabinet meets, chanting slogans against the tiny but strategic Gulf state’s government. White-helmeted police with riot shields stood behind one gate, looking on as the flag-waving demonstrators chanted “Down Hamad! Down Hamad!”, in reference to Bahrain’s King Hamad. “The people want to topple the regime!” the protesters roared, shaking their fists towards the light pink palace with its

Special US prison units filled with Muslims

WASHINGTON – US federal prisons for the past three years have housed special units filled disproportionately with Muslim inmates whose every communication with the outside world is strictly monitored. Known as “Guantanamo North,” the so-called Communication Management Units (CMU) were secretly opened in 2007 in maximum security prisons in Terre Haute, Indiana and Marion, Illinois and currently have 71 prisoners, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) told AFP. The US public radio

Ireland set for coalition govt

DUBLIN – Ireland is set for a coalition government after the two parties that topped last month’s elections, Fine Gael and Labour, agreed Sunday to share power and work together on slashing a massive deficit.
“I am happy to tell you that we have concluded an agreement,” Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny told RTE state radio, adding: “Some of the final details are now being worked out for presentation to both parties.”
The February 25 election has redrawn the political map of

Thousands march in Hong Kong over budget

HONG KONG – There were minor scuffles between police and protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday as up to 10,000 people demonstrated over the government’s budget plan, with some calling it a “Bauhinia revolution”. At least one protester and one policeman were slightly injured in confrontations between the two sides, an AFP photographer said.
The demonstration came days after a U-turn by Financial Secretary John Tsang on the budget, with protesters demanding he use more of a huge

Palestinian state good for Israel: Chilean president

JERUSALEM – Chile’s president on Sunday sought to mollify Israel over his country’s recognition of Palestinian statehood, saying that the move was ultimately for the good of the Jewish state. Speaking to journalists after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his Jerusalem office, Sebastian Pinera echoed a phrase often used by his host, saying that any lasting peace must be based on security. “Chile has just recognised the Palestinian state because we have always

Magnitude 6.2 quake hits Chile

SANTIAGO – A magnitude 6.2 earthquake jolted northern Chile on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, but there were no reports of any damage and the linchpin copper mining sector was not affected. The quake struck about 67 miles (108 km) northeast of Arica, Chile, at a depth of 55 miles (88 km), it said. It originally reported the quake was magnitude 6.3. “There are no reports of any injuries or damage to infrastructure,” a spokesman for state emergency office ONEMI told Reuters.

New Egypt minister takes over after offices stormed

CAIRO – A new Egyptian interior minister took office on Sunday pledging to restore public confidence in the police a day after protesters stormed several state security buildings. The authorities meanwhile urged the return of documents taken by the protesters when they stormed the buildings in raids on Friday and Saturday, saying it was important they be returned to preserve “national security.”
In an acceptance statement carried by the state MENA news agency, Mansur al-Issawi

Chinese state media slams calls for protests

BEIJING – China’s state media stepped up its criticism of calls for anti-government rallies on Sunday, saying stability was key amid concern that unrest sweeping the Middle East could spread to the Asian nation. The reports came a day after a similar comment piece was published for the first time in a state-run newspaper, amid renewed online calls for citizens to gather in dozens of cities to participate in “strolling” demonstrations Sunday.
“Firstly we must recognise that some

Six killed, 12 injured in south Iraq blast

BASRA – A roadside bomb killed six people and wounded 12 aboard a bus in Iraq’s southern port city of Basra on Sunday, a provincial official said. The blast targeted a passing US military convoy but instead struck the bus and wrecked it, the head of Basra provincial council’s security committee, Ali al-Ghanimi, said. Women and children were among the casualties of the 10:00 am (0700 GMT) attack near a train station in the al-Maakal district of north Basra, Ghanimi said, but it was

Japanese FM resigns over donation row

TOKYO – Japan’s Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara announced his resignation on Sunday over donations received from a foreign resident in violation of the country’s laws. Maehara — who had been seen as a likely successor to embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan — said he would step down after admitting he received several hundred dollars from a restaurant owner of Korean ethnicity.
“I apologise to the Japanese people for stepping down after only six months and provoking distrust over