Foreign

Obama says Gaddafi must ‘leave now’: WHouse

Obama says Gaddafi must ‘leave now’: WHouse

WASHINGTON – US Persident Barack Obama has called on Moamer Gaddafi to “leave now,” declaring that the Libyan leader had lost his right to rule after attacking his own people to put down a popular uprising. Obama’s most direct demand yet that Gaddafi step down was made in a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to coordinate their response to the crisis, the White House said.
“The president stated that when a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass

Britain revokes Gaddafi’s diplomatic immunity

LONDON – Britain has revoked the diplomatic immunity of Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi and members of his family, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Sunday. He was speaking after the UN Security Council unanimously ordered a travel and assets ban on Gaddafi’s regime and a probe into potential crimes against humanity during the attempted crackdown on the revolt against his rule.
Hague also called on Gaddafi to stand down, saying it was the “best hope” for Libya. “We have here a

China protest call smothered in police blanket

BEIJING/SHANGHAI – An online call for anti-government protests across China on Sunday instead brought an emphatic show of force by police determined to deter any buds of the kind of unrest that has shaken the Middle East.
Lines of police checked passers-by and warned away foreign photo journalists in downtown Beijing and Shanghai after a US-based Chinese website spread calls for Chinese people to emulate the “Jasmine Revolution” sweeping the Middle East and stage gatherings in

Afghan parliament elects lower house speaker

KABUL – Afghan MPs elected a compromise candidate as speaker of the parliament’s lower house on Sunday following weeks of debate and political tension between the two front runners, MPs said. Abdul Raof Ibrahimi, who represents northern Kunduz province and is from the minority Uzbek ethnic group, was elected in a public vote by legislators present at the house, Daud Kalakani, another MP, told AFP.
Former speaker Mohammad Younus Qanooni and warlord Abdulrab Rasoul Sayaf were the

NZ quake city prays for miracles as toll reaches 147

CHRISTCHURCH – Grieving New Zealanders prayed in the earthquake-ravaged city of Christchurch on Sunday as rescuers pulled apart levelled buildings in their desperate search for survivors six days after the devastating tremor that killed 147 people.
Rescue teams from New Zealand and seven countries, including the United States, China, Japan, and Australia, scoured ruined buildings in the central city and suburban areas hardest hit by Tuesday’s 6.3 tremor – but found only the dead.

Suicide bomber at Afghan sports field kills three

MAZAR-I-SHARIF/KHOST – A suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body at a sports field in northern Afghanistan Saturday killing three and wounding 38, a provincial governor said.
Abdulhaq Shafaq, the Faryab governor, said the attack took place in Shirin Tagab district during a buzkashi game, a traditional sport involving grabbing a dead goat or calf from the ground while riding a horse at full gallop.
“A suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body

Key tribes abandon Yemeni president

SANAA – Pressure on Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign intensified on Saturday when the leaders of two of Yemen’s most important tribes abandoned the president and joined the anti-regime movement. The news came as an official denied reports that police killed four people on Friday in an assault on an anti-government protest in Aden, blaming a southern secessionist group for the attack.
Powerful tribal leaders, including those of the Hashid and Baqil, pledged to join protests against

Russia vows to sell missiles to Syria

MOSCOW – Russia announced on Saturday that it intended to fulfil its contract to supply Syria with cruise missiles despite the turmoil shaking the Arab world and Israel’s furious condemnation of the deal.
“The contract is in the implementation stage,” news agencies quoted Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as saying. Russia initially agreed to send a large shipment of anti-ship Yakhont cruise missiles to Syria in 2007 under the terms of a controversial deal that was only

Egypt army apologises for beating Tahrir protesters

CAIRO – Egypt’s ruling military council apologised after military police beat protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, but activists called for fresh protests to denounce violence by the authorities.
A security official and witnesses said that military police surrounded protesters shortly after midnight, beating them with batons and using tasers to disperse a crowd of several hundred that had gathered to push for reforms.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said that “what

Reigning party suffers huge defeat in Ireland

DUBLIN – Ireland’s ruling Fianna Fail party suffered a crushing defeat in the general election and the opposition Fine Gael party is set to lead the next government, according to an exit poll on Saturday.
Fine Gael, led by former teacher Enda Kenny, won 36.1 percent of the vote on Friday, its best result since November 1982 but not enough for a parliamentary majority, the Millward Brown Lansdowne poll for the RTE broadcaster showed. By contrast the Fianna Fail party of Prime

Bangladesh dog lovers protest culling

DHAKA – Scores of dog lovers shouting “Don’t kill, sterilise” marched through Dhaka on Saturday to protest Bangladesh’s brutal canine culling, which involves breaking the animals’ necks. Carrying banners with slogans, the protesters linked hands in front of the Dhaka City Corporation, the main government agency responsible for the culling thousands of dogs every year.
Organisers, who arranged the protest using media such as Facebook and Twitter, said they believed it was the

Iran to ‘remove fuel’ from Bushehr N-plant

TEHRAN – Iran said on Saturday it is removing the fuel from the reactor of a Russian-built nuclear power plant, a move seen as a big blow to its controversial nuclear programme.
The decision to remove the fuel from the reactor of the nuclear plant in the southern city of Bushehr comes just months before the facility – which has seen a roller-coaster ride since its construction began in the 1970s – was scheduled to generate electricity.
“Based on the recommendation of

Thousands of Bahrainis march against regime

MANAMA – Thousands demonstrators marched in Manama on Saturday to demand the Sunni ruling regime stand down, upping pressure on the government one day after tens of thousands flooded the streets.
“Leave Hamad, leave Hamad” and “Down Hamad, down Hamad,” chanted the flag-waving demonstrators as they poured out of Pearl Square, epicentre of the protests which began on February 14. “The people want to topple the regime,” they roared as they formed a procession towards a major

Militants attack southern Russian city

MOSCOW – Up to a dozen militants have staged a daring attack on the capital of a southern Russian republic popular with downhill skiers and budget tourists, news reports said on Saturday. The overnight attack on Kabardino-Balkaria came a week after three Moscow tourists were gunned down in the area while travelling to the Elbrus mountain resort, which is one of Russia’s most popular winter tourist destinations.
No one was reported killed in Friday night’s strike on the

Israeli jets hit militant camps in Gaza

GAZA CITY – Israeli warplanes bombed militant training camps in the Gaza Strip for a second time on Saturday, wounding one person, Palestinian officials said. The jets hit two training camps of the Ezzedine al-Qassem Brigades, the armed wing of Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement, in the southern city of Rafah, Hamas security officials said, adding that one bystander was lightly wounded. The raids came after pre-dawn strikes against two training camps of the hardline Islamic Jihad group.

US military pulls out of key eastern Afghan valley

WASHINGTON – The US military has begun pulling soldiers out of the Pech valley in eastern Afghanistan, a location once said to be vital to the war effort in the region, the Pentagon said on Friday.
The commander of US-led forces in eastern Afghanistan, Major General John Campbell, is “repositioning” forces “within the province to achieve greater effect and allow for more flexibility,” said Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins, a Pentagon spokesperson.
Campbell, “is moving

Germany, Britain back ‘severe’ sanctions on Libya

BERLIN – The leaders of Germany and Britain agreed on Saturday on the need for “severe” international sanctions to be imposed as quickly as possible on the Libyan regime, Berlin said. In a telephone conversation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed on the need for urgent United Nations sanctions, the German government’s deputy spokesman, Christoph Steegmans, said in a statement.
The two leaders believe “the United Nations Security

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