Photo: Geo TV Owner, 3 Others Booked For ‘Blasphemy’
Syria Islamists Pledge 'State Of Law, Freedom, and Justice’
Clashes between ISIL, Nusra Eastern Syria Intensify: Dozens Kiled
30,000 Lawsuits on Acts of Terrorism Brought to Syrian Court
After Islamist rule, Egyptian Copts view Sisi as bulwark
4 killed in army shelling of Iraq's Fallujah, medics flee
Syria general killed in combat near Damascus
Egypt court jails 126 Brotherhood supporters
Saudi Arabia to introduce marriage training program
Geo TV Owner, 3 Others Booked For ‘Blasphemy’
Part of government for greater interest of nation: Fazl ur Rehman
Sindh cabinet decides establishment of Counter-Terrorism department
Modi will take along Muslims, neighbours: Pakistani daily
Liaquat Baloch urges preference of Pakistani investors to foreign ones
PTI urges govt to resume talks with Taliban
Modi Keen to Deepen Ties with Israel: Netanyahu
India and Maldives cultural ties go from “strength to strength”
Pakistan keen to engage Modi in ‘sustained, meaningful’ dialogue
Iranian Parliament Advisor: Boko Haram's Behaviour Not Related to Islam
Mideast Quartet expected to recognize Palestinian gov't
Palestinian unity govt. to be unveiled in days: Hamas
Netanyahu: P A incitement makes West Bank world's most anti-Semitic region
Army says killed five militants in S. Yemen
Boko Haram to abduct boys to marry Chibok girls- official
Africa leaders declare ‘total war’ on Nigeria’s Boko Haram
Libya Ex-General ’Regroups Forces’ in Benghazi
Benghazi death toll rises to 70 as Libyan forces battle militias
Mali "at war" with northern Tuareg separatists: Prime minister
Warplanes strike Somali Islamist stronghold
Around 30 civil servants "kidnapped" by separatists in Mali
Nigeria, neighbours ‘declare war’ on Boko Haram
Terrorist attack plot foiled in capital Kabul
4 Afghan soldiers martyred following roadside blast
Maldives Police suspend investigations into Supreme Court judge’s sex scandal
Facebook urged to open office in Bangladesh
Speaker Shirin expects Teesta water solution
Awami League: Modi’s majority will help Bangladesh’s cause
China blames Xinjiang rail attack on separatist group
Scotland Mosques lead prayers for girls abducted by extremists
Russia ask for anti-narcotic HQ to combat in Afghanistan
EU will not monitor Egypt vote after equipment blocked
Anti-terrorism amendments in Jordan will threaten rights: HRW
Terrorist Cell Destroyed in West Azarbaijan Province
US Officials Tell Jarba: Defeating Syrian Army Forbidden
Liberman: US 'dead wrong' to blame Israeli settlements for collapse of Mideast peace talks
A First for Indonesia, Ethnic Chinese Leader Takes Charge in the Capital
Bekasi’s Embattled Ahmadiyah Mosque Sealed Once Again
Chauvinistic non-Muslims offended us first, says Isma
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
May 18, 2014
Syria's biggest Islamist rebel groups promised Saturday "a state of law, freedom and justice," just months after the largest among them had flatly rejected democratic principles.
"The Syrian revolution is committed to the respect of human rights that are also encouraged by our religion," said the covenant, which all but revoked a November denunciation of democracy by the Islamic Front, which had also called for the establishment of an Islamic state.
"The Syrian revolution is a revolution based on morals and values with the objective of achieving freedom, justice and security (for) the entire Syrian society, with its diverse multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian social fabric," added the statement, posted by the Islamic Front on Twitter.
The document was co-signed by the Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union, the Army of Mujahideen, Failaq al-Sham and the Furqan brigades -- all important rebel groups.
It also said the revolt's goal is "to overthrow the current regime and all its symbols.... and to bring them to justice in fair trials, (steering) away from any acts of revenge or retaliation."
The rebels said they are committed to fighting both President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has been in open war with rival opposition factions and jihadists since January.
It said decisions should be "entirely Syrian", rejecting jihadist bids to influence the revolt.
The covenant said the signatories welcome "the opportunity to communicate and cooperate with regional and international" powers in the bid to overthrow Assad.
After Assad unleashed a brutal crackdown on protesters in March 2011, Syria's rebellion grew from rag-tag groups of army defectors and civilians taking up arms to a massive array of Islamist and moderate rebel groups of different sizes, ideologies and international backers.
A car bomb exploded in the area of Shehel, which is considereClashesd a stronghold for Nusra group in Deir Ezzor, leaving dozens killed, including one of al-Nusra commanders.
The opposing UK-based Syrian Observatory accused ISIL of carrying out the detonation, yet the group denied its responsibility and noted that the car bomb was planned to target its militants.
In Asharna in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezour, ISIL also detonated a car bomb, targeting a main FSA garrison.
In Raqqa, the commanders of ISIL legislated murdering Nusra and FSA members. As a result, ISIL detonated a number of houses in the province, claiming that their owners cooperate with Nusra and FSA.
ISIL also killed an Islamic State commander in the southern countryside of Hamah.
A Syrian court has brought aboard some 30,000 lawsuits in connection with acts of "terrorism" in the past two years, a newspaper in the war-torn country said Sunday.
Among those accused were around 300 citizens of Arab countries other than Syria, said Al-Watan newspaper, Al-Alam reported.
"Some 30,000 lawsuits are being heard by the court, including 300 cases (involving) Arab citizens," the daily said, adding the charges were related to carrying out terrorist acts.
Since March 2011, the Syrian government has been fighting with a multinational foreign-charged insurgency.
The government has been insisting that the ongoing war is far from an uprising and the country has become victim of extensive terrorism which is killing scores of civilians.
It was not clear from Al-Watan's report how many people were being accused in each lawsuit before the anti-terror court.
The daily quoted the court's chief prosecutor, Ammar Bilal, as saying a law issued by Syrian president in July 2012 "allowed the public prosecutor to bring a case against anyone if there are any links between the person and crimes of terror".
Bilal also said the court had released 1,500 people since the start of 2014.
"Some 30,000 lawsuits on terrorism are being heard by a Syrian court, including 300 cases (involving) Arab citizens. "
Among the charges that the court was dealing with were murder, financing "terrorism" and giving such attacks publicity.
Bilal said the prosecution "plays the role of the plaintiff" in these cases, "given that it is the protector of society against these crimes".
Syria sank into war in March 2011 when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of western and regional states.
The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.
CAIRO: Hailed as a savior for overthrowing an Islamist president, former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi can count on the vote of Egypt's Coptic Christians who view him as a bulwark against fundamentalists.
The Copts are the Middle East's largest religious minority, and have long suffered sectarian violence that culminated in attacks on churches by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammad Morsi last year.
The Islamists have been crushed following Morsi's overthrow by the army in July. Many of the Christians hope Sisi, the leading candidate in the May 26-27 election, will keep it that way.
"He is the country's savior. During the (Muslim) Brotherhood's rule, Christians were persecuted," said Maged Sabri, as he attends a Mass at a church in the working class neighbourhood of Shubra.
For decades, Egypt was ruled by strongmen from the military who often rounded up members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.
Copts "are hoping that with Sisi they will see a reinstatement of a security system that ensures they become less vulnerable to assault," said Mariz Tadros, a fellow at the University of Sussex's Institute of Development Studies.
The Copts have complained of discrimination by the government and sectarian violence, but Morsi's Islamist rhetoric and his supporters' incitement during his year in power sent a chill through the minority.
"Without (Sisi) the Brotherhood would have taken control of the state," said Amir Bessaly, another worshipper at Cairo's Virgin Mary church.
The Coptic Pope Tawadros II has hailed Sisi for "saving" the country from Morsi, but has stopped short of explicitly backing his candidacy.
When Sisi announced in a televised address Morsi's overthrow on July 3, he was flanked by Tawadros II along with Muslim religious leaders and opposition figures.
The pope's appearance fuelled Islamist allegations that the Copts played a central role in ending Morsi's elected government, although millions of mostly Muslim Egyptians had taken to the streets demanding his resignation.
On August 14, when police killed hundreds of pro-Morsi protesters in Cairo, the Islamist's backers attacked churches across the country.
The attacks by the Islamists, seen as enemies by the state and many Muslim Egyptians, have fuelled a new found sense of ecumenism in a country where sectarianism has run deep for decades.
Sisi himself was not always a hero for the Copts.
He was a member of the ruling military council following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, when 26 Copts were killed in clashes with soldiers outside the headquarters of state television.
One protester's skull was crushed by a military armored vehicle as it ran over Christians. Three soldiers were also killed in the clashes. "They attacked us. Christian sons of dogs," a soldier told state television at the time.
The Copts had been protesting over a church arson in southern Egypt, and after sporadic and deadly sectarian clashes in the months following Mubarak's overthrow.
For many Copts, those events have been overtaken by more violence under Morsi, such as when police attacked the papal headquarters in Cairo during clashes in 2013, and after his ouster.
Not all, however, wish to throw their lot in with a potential strongman hailing from the military, and many who do say they will continue to push for more rights and access to senior state position.
While the Coptic Church represents perhaps a majority of the Christians, youths and dissidents may cast their ballot for Sisi's only rival, left wing politician Hamdeen Sabbahi.
Under Mubarak, who ruled for three decades, the Church was often treated as the only institution allowed to speak for the community, a tradition likely to continue under any president.
"The new political power is looking to use the traditional religious authorities... because it wants popular support and those institutions can provide it," said Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher with the rights group the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
Four Iraqi civilians were killed and five others injured in a mortar attack by the Iraqi army on residential areas in Fallujah, a local hospital official said Sunday.
"The injured victims were brought to the hospital, but the bodies of the victims were taken to the forensic department," Wessam al-Essawi, the spokesman of Fallujah General Hospital, added.
Medics had fled Fallujah General Hospital in western Iraq on Sunday because of continued Iraqi army shelling of the medical facility, according to the hospital spokesman.
"The army continues to fire mortars and rockets at the hospital, prompting many medics to leave," Wessam al-Essawi told Anadolu Agency.
"Only three doctors and few nurses decided to stay behind to help the wounded civilians," he added.
Al-Essawi called on the Iraqi Health Ministry to intervene to stop "indiscriminate attacks on medical facilities and the homes of innocent citizens in Fallujah."
Iraqi army officials were not immediately available to comment on the accusations.
Since last December, the Iraqi army has been battling militants in the western Anbar province, of which Fallujah is a key city.
Since the offensive began, hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured, according to government officials.
18 May 2014
The chief of Syria's air defence forces, General Hussein Isaac, has been killed in a key battleground near Damascus, in what was described Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as an "important psychological blow" to the regime.
The general had been fighting at Mleiha, a key battleground southeast of the capital. He is of the few top-ranking officers whose deaths have been announced during Syria's three-year war, according to Agence France-Presse.
"The regime's air defense force is to face a possible U.S. attack, but in this war it is using its firepower against the rebels," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Full report at:
An Egyptian court sentenced 126 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to 10 years in prison each on Sunday, state TV reported.
They were sentenced in a case related to violence in the Nile Delta province of Kafr el-Sheikh last August after the overthrow of President Mohammad Mursi.
The defendants chanted “down with military rule” as Judge Hassan Fareed read out the sentences at the court convened at a police academy in Cairo, a witness said, according to Reuters news agency.
A further 37 people received 15-year sentences in a second case related to an alleged attempt to blow up a Cairo metro station.
Brotherhood leader Mohammad Badie, who was among 683 people sentenced to death last month, made a rare address in court, rejecting the accusations leveled against his group.
“We have never responded to any attack against us with violence,” Badie said, addressing the judge in footage uploaded to Youtube.
Saudi Arabia is set to introduce a mandatory marriage training program to reduce the rising levels of divorce in the kingdom, London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Friday.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice revealed plans to introduce the training and rehabilitation program across all cities in the kingdom.
“No one can deny the importance of training for married life, and its impact on reducing the rates of divorce cases,” Fouad al-Jugaiman, coordinator for the pre-marriage rehabilitation program told the newspaper.
Geo TV owner, 3 others booked for ‘blasphemy’
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Margalla Police Station on Saturday registered an FIR under sections 295-C and 298-A against owner of the Geo Network Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, morning show host Dr Shaista Lodhi, actress Veena Malik and her husband Asad Basheer Khatak for allegedly committing blasphemy.
Islamabad Additional Sessions Judge Jahangir Awan ordered police to register blasphemy case against the accused for airing ‘blasphemous’ content in a morning show hosted by Dr Shaista and participated by Veena Malik and her husband as guests.
Arshad Butt, a resident of Sector F-8, Islamabad, had filed the petition.
Meanwhile, the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) chief Sahibzada Hamid Raza filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the administration of Geo Television for airing ‘blasphemous’ content.
In his application, the petitioner pleaded to the court to take action against the accused under Article 20 of the constitution and requested the court to constitute a larger bench to hear the case.
ISLAMABAD- Chief of his faction of Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Fazal ur Rehman today revealed that the aim of occupying treasury benches in the National Assembly was for the greater interest of the nation.
Talking to sources, Maulana said that JUI-F had been strengthening the democracy in the country by sitting on the treasury benches in the Parliament and they did not have any personal interest as a part of the government.
He advised Nawaz government to widen their hearts, he further added that the governments did not sustain just with majority but wisdom also has a great role while running the country.
Lashing out at the government for ‘Pakistan Protection Bill’, Maulana termed this bill as ‘Black Law’ added that JUI-F has differences with the Nawaz government on various issues including ‘Pakistan Protection Bill’. He said if the government imposes this bill in the country then how it can criticize similar bill adopted by Indian government in occupied Kashmir.
KARACHI- The Sindh cabinet has decided that a separate Counter-Terrorism Department would be established and legislation would be made to purge police of black-sheep, besides providing advanced training to the personnel of Rapid Response Force.
The Sindh cabinet in a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, at the CM House on Saturday, also acceded the decisions of the meeting chaired by the Prime Minister in Karachi on May 14, 2014 to expedite the ongoing targeted operation and maintain law and order situation in the city.
IANS | May 18, 2014
ISLAMABAD: Given Narendra Modi's substantial experience as chief minister, it is unlikely that he will overtly antagonize either India's sizeable Muslim minority, or its neighbours, a Pakistani daily said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party also has a history of engaging with Pakistan more than the Congress and, therefore, only time will tell whether the new Indian prime minister follows the legacy, the Daily Times editorial said.
"The Indian Prime Minister (PM) in waiting has overcome the stain of communal violence, accusations of religious fundamentalism and the withering attacks of secular Indians to storm into power after netting the first full majority for any party since the 1984 elections put Rajiv Gandhi in power," the newspaper said.
LAHORE- Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Secretary General Liaquat Baloch today said he feared the formation of a new East India Company with the handing over of the national enterprises to the multinational companies.
Addressing pre-budget seminar, Liaquat Baloch said that Pakistan economy would have to be run in an innovative manner. He urged upon preferring Pakistani investors to the foreign ones for denationalization of the state enterprises. Liaquat Baloch said that the wedge among the government, army and media spurring political uncertainty in the country and advised the government to play its role for the restoration of peaceful environment.
May 18, 2014
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) called on the government on Saturday to break the deadlock in the talks with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), saying that there had been a respite in terrorist attacks since initiation of the dialogue.
“The PTI reiterates its support for dialogue and wants the government to break the current deadlock,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the party’s vice chairman, said. He termed the resumption of talks as “the only way towards peace”.
Talking to Dawn after attending a PTI core committee meeting at the Bani Gala residence of party chief Imran Khan, Mr Qureshi said that Rustam Shah Mohmand – the party’s representative in the government committee holding talks with the Taliban – had briefed the members on the progress made so far.
India’s Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi has expressed his desire to “deepen and develop” ties with Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
“On Friday, I spoke with the Prime Minister-elect of India. There too there is a clear expression of the desire to deepen and develop economic ties with the State of Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu told his cabinet at its weekly meeting.
Mr. Netanyahu, who is looking to strengthen economic ties with Asia which is likely to overtake the Jewish state’s close ally United States as the largest export destination, has recently put a lot of emphasis on promoting bilateral trade with India, China, Japan and other Asian countries.
By Lucy Lovell | May 18th, 2014
India and Maldives cultural ties go from “strength to strength” as cultural centre expands activities thumbnail
The relationship between India and Maldives has been going from “strength to strength” over the past year, stated officials from the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC)
According to the ICC, the centre will increase its outreach with the new services on offer in order to reinforce the positive relationship.
Speaking at the inauguration of a new Library at the ICC yesterday (May 17), the High Commissioner of India H.E Rajeev Shahare stated that the recently completed elections would aid the good relations.
“The people of India have spoken,” remarked Shahare, “it has happened in the entire South Asian region. We’ve had elections, including in the Maldives. I think the trend, what we see is, very well entrenched in democratic practices,” reported Haveeru.
Sachin Parashar,TNN | May 18, 2014
NEW DELHI: Despite the reservations expressed internally about Narendra Modi's ascension to power, Pakistan is looking to engage the Indian PM-designate in a "sustained, meaningful and result-oriented" dialogue. It was in this spirit that Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif called Modi on Friday and invited him to Pakistan.
Diplomatic sources here said though that the initiative for any forward movement will have to come from Modi himself as "the ball is in his court".
Pakistan feels let down by the UPA-2 government in the manner in which PM Manmohan Singh repeatedly spurned invites from the neighbouring country. Diplomats across the border accuse Singh of shifting the goal posts time and again in formulating conditions for resumption of dialogue and not showing enough regard for Pakistan's judicial system vis-a-vis the Mumbai attacks.
The Iranian Parliament Speaker's Adviser for International Affairs, Hossein Sheikholeslam, deplored the recent abduction of more than two hundred Nigerian school girls by Boko Haram, a Wahhabi Al-Qaeda affiliate in Nigeria, and said such behaviour is not Islamic.
"The behaviour of this group is very horrible and has not been witnessed even in the Medieval ages and I clearly state that such behaviour isn’t related to Islam at all," Sheikholeslam said on Sunday.
He blamed the British for creating such groups to prevent the spread of religious populism by displaying an extremist image of the compassionate religion of Islam.
His remarks came after the British daily, Independent, reported said that a British-born man suspected of masterminding the recent Boko Haram bomb attacks in Nigeria that left around 100 people dead became radicalized during his years at a Welsh university.
Experts warned that his case could signal the start of a new wave of British-Nigerian extremists travelling to fight for Boko Haram, attracted by its global notoriety following the kidnapping of more than 270 girls.
The international Quartet on the Middle East is likely to recognize the new Palestinian government, now in the making, provided that Hamas is not directly represented in this cabinet, according to Israeli sources.
Israel Radio on Sunday quoted Israeli source as saying that the Quartet will likely issue a statement in the coming days that would hinder Israel's attempt to convince the international community to boycott the new Palestinian government.
They also expected the Quartet to ask the new Palestinian cabinet to recognize Israel and reiterate commitment to previously signed agreements with Israel.
Made of the U.S., the E.U., the U.N. and Russia, the Quartet makes it necessary for any Palestinian government to recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous agreements to win its recognition.
GAZA CITY: A new Palestinian "consensus government" to be named by the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Islamist movement Hamas is to be finalized within days, a senior Hamas official said Sunday.
Bassem Naim, an advisor to Hamas's premier for the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, said a senior member of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement, which dominates the PLO, would meet with Hamas officials in Gaza this week to conclude negotiations.
Azzam al-Ahmad is "arriving in Gaza on Wednesday and Thursday to meet with the Hamas reconciliation delegation to hold consultations," Naim told AFP.
"We expect the government to be announced by (Abbas) early the following week," he said, and will then be presented to the Palestinian parliament for a vote of confidence.
Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last month with the PLO in a surprise move which aims to overcome a years-long intra-Palestinian split.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the West Bank, as noted in the Anti-Defamation League's global survey of the phenomenon released last week, is the result of the Palestinian leadership's incitement.
Ranking anti-Semitic sentiments by region, the ADL determined that the most anti-Semitic regions were found to be the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Palestinian anti-Semitism is “pervasive throughout society,” the ADL found, with 93% of respondents affirming anti-Jewish stereotypes.
The Yemeni army said Sunday that five "terrorists", including a senior leader of Al-Qaeda, were killed in the southern province of Shabwah.
"The army managed to kill senior Al-Qaeda leader al-Meqdad along with his four aides in the southern province," the army-affiliated 26 September website quoted a military source as saying.
The source, however, did not provide further details about how the five men were killed.
"Al-Qaeda remnants can no longer hide," the source said, adding that Yemeni army forces are now hunting down Al-Qaeda fugitives.
Yemen recently launched an offensive against suspected Al-Qaeda elements in the south, where the group continues to stage sporadic attacks on army and police personnel.
The country has been dogged by turmoil since pro-democracy protests in 2011 forced autocratic president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after 33 years in power.
World Bulletin/News Desk
Boko Haram militant group has allegedly threatened to attack two boys-only schools in Benue State, in the mideast region of Nigeria, to marry them off to schoolgirls abducted last month.
The Nigerian news agency on Sunday quoted the principal of the Government College Makurdi as saying that the insurgents had sent two letters threatening to invade the school to abduct boys.
"It is true that we saw two letters informing us of the intention of the sect to invade our school on Friday (May 16) or Monday (19)," Godfrey Ugudu was quoted as saying.
"The two letters, which were written in pidgin English, were sighted inside one of the classrooms and the second one was slipped into the staff room," he added.
According to Ugudu, the militants had also threatened to attack another nearby school, the Mount Saint Gabriel Secondary School.
"The sect stated that they were coming on either of the two days to abduct our boys whom they would marry to the secondary school girls abducted in Chibok," he suggested.
PTI | May 18, 2014
PARIS/LONDON: Nigeria and four neighbouring countries have declared a "total war" on Boko Haram saying the dreaded Islamist militant group holding over 220 schoolgirls must be crushed as it had become a "regional al-Qaida" that threatened all of them.
Under a "global and regional action plan" firmed up to face the challenge posed by Boko Haram, the governments of Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad will share intelligence and border surveillance in the hunt for the girls still held by the militants.
Western nations will provide technical expertise and training to the new regional African effort against the extreme Islamists.
"Boko Haram is no longer a local terror group. It is clearly operating as an al-Qaida operation" in central Africa, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said while speaking at a summit hosted by French President Hollande in Paris yesterday.
Libya securityA retired Libyan general prepared Sunday to renew an offensive against Islamist former rebels in the eastern city of Benghazi, after being accused by the authorities of an attempted coup.
Khalifa Haftar appeared determined to pursue his campaign after saying late on Saturday that his withdrawal from the city the day before was so his forces could regroup before attacking again.
Overnight, an explosion hit the offices of a radio channel run by the Ansar al-Sharia group, the main target of attacks on Friday by Haftar's self-described "National Army" that killed at least 79 people.
Associated Press | Tripoli | May 18, 2014
The death toll from fighting over the weekend in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi between troops loyal to a rogue general and Islamist militias has risen to 70, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.
It said 141 people were also injured in the fighting, which broke out on Friday.
Benghazi, birthplace of the 2011 uprising that toppled Libya’s late dictator Moammar Gadhafi, was quiet on Sunday, but its airport remained closed for the second successive day.
Libya’s weak central government describes the offensive, which began Friday by Gen. Khalifa Hifter, and included air support, as tantamount to a coup. The violence there showed how precarious government control remains three years after the 2011 civil war that toppled Gadhafi.
Mali is at war with armed Tuareg separatists, Prime Minister Moussa Mara said, after officials reported the rebels attacked the governor's office in the northern town of Kidal on Saturday, abducting around 30 civil servants.
"Taking into account this declaration of war, the Republic of Mali is henceforth at war," he told Reuters overnight inside a military base in the town where he sought refuge from the fighting. "We are going to formulate the appropriate response to the situation."
Fighter jets pounded a key base of Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shebab Sunday, in the latest push by African Union troops against the insurgents, the Islamists and witnesses said Sunday.
The air strikes on the town of Jilib are understood to be part of the offensive by the 22,000-strong UN-backed AU force, who launched in March a fresh bid to wrest remaining towns from the Islamists.
"I heard two heavy explosions, military jets were flying over the city," said Osman Mohamed, a resident of Jilib.
The impoverished town is a key Shebab hub in southern Somalia's Middle Juba region, some 320 kilometres (200 miles) southwest of Mogadishu.
Senior Shebab commander Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Hamze said war planes had struck the town, but denied any casualties.
Around 30 civil servants were abducted by Tuareg MNLA separatists in Mali's northern town of Kidal during fighting on Saturday that also wounded 23 government soldiers, the governor of the region said on Sunday.
Fighting erupted early on Saturday ahead of the arrival of Prime Minister Moussa Mara, who was visiting Kidal for the first time since his appointment last month. He is seeking to revive long-delayed peace talks with northern armed groups.
"Some 30 of our civil servants were kidnapped by the assailants who attacked the governor's office. There were 23 wounded, including three seriously who were evacuated by helicopter," Adama Kamissoko told Reuters.
PARIS - Nigeria and its neighbours vowed Saturday to join forces against Boko Haram under an accord described as a declaration of war on the militants holding more than 200 schoolgirls.
Meeting in Paris, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his counterparts from Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger approved an action plan to counter an organisation that has been blamed for 2,000 deaths this year as well as last month’s abduction of the schoolgirls from northeastern Nigeria.
“We have seen what this organisation is capable of,” French President Francois Hollande said. “They have threatened civilians, they have attacked schools and they have kidnapped citizens of many countries. France in particular has been a victim of it. “When more than 200 young girls are being held in barbaric conditions with the prospect of being sold into slavery, there are no questions to be asked, only actions to be taken,” Hollande added.
May 18 2014
Afghan security forces foiled a terrorist attack plot in capital Kabul by arresting a group of terrorists.
The interior ministry of Afghanistan following a statement said Sunday that the group was looking to carry out terrorist attack in Kabul city.
The statement further added that the group was looking to plant remote-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) in the 7th district of Kabul city and were arrested by security forces before they succeed in their plan.
The detained militants were recognized as Nangialai, Izatullah, Farhad, Enayatullah and Habibullah, interior ministry said, adding that the militants are residents of Wardak province.
Interior ministry in its statement also added that the detained militants have confessed to their crime and are in custody of the security forces for further investigation.
The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.
At least four Afghan national army soldiers were martyred following improvised explosive device (IED) explosion.
Defense ministry spokesman, Gen. Zahir Azimi confirmed that four Afghan soldiers were martyred following the blast; however he did not disclose further information regarding the exact location of the incident.
Azimi further added that ten militants were also killed during military operations conducted by Afghan national army soldiers in the past 24 hours.
There have been a spike rise in Afghan national security forces casualties after taking lead in security responsibilities from the NATO-led coalition forces.
According to the defense officials, Afghan army casualties in 1392 were 3.8 percent daily on average basis which is mainly caused due to improvised explosive device (IED) attacks.
By Zaheena Rasheed | May 18th, 2014
The Maldives Police Service has suspended investigations into Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed’s alleged appearance in a series of sex tapes.
“We have filed the Ali Hameed case. We do not have enough evidence to proceed further and it will only be opened again if we receive additional information,” a police media official told Minivan News today.
In December, Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz told the media the police had been unable to determine if the man seen fornicating with three different foreign women was Ali Hameed. The incident reportedly occurred in a hotel room in Colombo.
Nawaz at the time pledged to continue with the investigations with assistance from a foreign country. The police press conference followed local media reports that the investigations had stalled due to the Criminal Court’s failure to provide a warrant to take a facial photograph of the judge and a separate warrant to search his residence.
Facebook authorities have been urged to set up a research, development and training centre in Bangladesh at the US-Bangladesh Tech Investment Summit 2014. A Bangladeshi delegation, led by the State Minister for Information and Communication Technology, proposed the idea.
Shameem Ahsan, president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services posted a message on Facebook on Friday (Bangladesh time Saturday) following a meeting with the social media giant authorities at the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. The delegation was led by State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak. BASIS Secretary General Russell T Ahmed and several others attended the meeting.
Our Correspondent, Sylhet
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury is hopeful that good relation with India will continue and Teesta water sharing issue will be resolved.
Noting that Bangladesh has good relation with India, Speaker said: "In continuation of the relation, I hope the water sharing issue of the common rivers between the two countries including Teesta will be resolved.”
She expressed the hope after paying respect to the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) on Saturday afternoon.
She further said there would be no impact on the bilateral relation between Bangladesh and India for the change in government in India.
Although the Awami League appears to be uncomfortable with BJP’s win, some of its leaders are saying it will now be easier for India to decide on some of the outstanding issues with Bangladesh because the party has landslide majority.
Awami League, especially its chief and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has always been known for having close ties with Congress, who have done the worst in the recent polls since independence.
Some ruling party leaders said Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) result was highly unexpected; they thought BJP would win only a meagre majority at best and form a fragile coalition government like the one it formed in 1997.
AFP | May 18, 2014
EIJING: Chinese authorities blamed an April railway attack in Xinjiang on an Islamic extremist group, state media said on Sunday, reinforcing Beijing's claims that separatist militants are provoking domestic unrest.
The far-west Xinjiang region, home to the mainly Muslim Uighur minority, has seen periodic violence.
Beijing says it faces an increase in terrorism from a violent separatist movement there, driven by religious extremism and foreign groups.
"Notorious terrorist group the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was behind the fatal attack," the official news agency Xinhua reported, citing police.
China's top security official previously described ETIM as "behind-the-scenes supporters" of a deadly October attack on tourists in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Critics claim the threat posed by such groups is exaggerated to justify hard-line measures, and instead point to cultural and religious repression and resentment that economic development has mostly benefited an influx of ethnic Han.
On April 30, the final day of a visit by President Xi Jinping to the region, assailants armed with knives and explosives carried out an attack at a railway station in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi, killing one person and wounding 79.
MUSLIMS across Scotland have offered up prayers for the 300 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists in Nigeria.
Mosques elders had been given guidance from the Muslim Council of Scotland for their Friday sermon to make mention of the Nigerian schoolgirl abductions and to reiterate that they are against the teachings of Islam.
The sermons also stated that education, in particular of women, was a virtuous act and not one contrary to Islam. Mass prayers were also said for the safe return of the schoolgirls and peace in Nigeria.
Concern was expressed at Friday prayers about the so-called "invasions" of Glasgow Central Mosque and the Cumbernauld mosque by far-right paramilitary group Britain First.
The group handed out British Army bibles to Muslims as part of the stunt.
Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram on April 15 abducted more than 300 students from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School. Police say 53 managed to escape and 276 remain in captivity.
Afghan anti- heroin combat needs a new phase of regional and international cooperation.
Various programs aimed at resolving the problem of massive production of heroin in Afghanistan should be merged into an internationally-supervised office, suggests Russia’s chief drug officer.
“We suggest the creation of an international headquarter or an office for combating the planetary center of drug production in Afghanistan. The goal of the HQ would be to consolidate the currently separate anti-narcotic programs in Afghanistan and to create an effective, internationally-supervised mechanism to eradicated drug production,” Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russian Federal Drug Control Service, told on Sunday.
He added that such a global effort should include not only direct attack on opium poppy field and drug trafficking, but also a large investment program for Afghanistan.
The European Union will not be able to monitor the Egyptian presidential election this month because Cairo has not given permission for it to bring essential security and safety equipment, an EU official said on Saturday.
"Unfortunately, for administrative reasons, despite our best efforts and repeated requests, it proved impossible to have the telecommunication equipment and medical kits essential to ensure the security and safety of observers released on time," the official said.
The EU had planned to start deploying election monitors in late April, with observers stationed throughout Egypt. It will now only have an "elections assessment team" in the capital, which will have a more limited role in scrutinising the vote.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Jordan must not broaden its definition of terrorism or else it threatens freedoms of expression.
In a report released by HRW Sunday, the rights group said King Abdullah II should reject proposed amendments to Jordan's anti-terrorism law.
The amendments propose broadening the definition of terrorism to include such acts as “disturbing Jordan’s relations with a foreign state.” That offence is already in Jordan’s penal code and is regularly used to punish peaceful criticism of foreign countries or their rulers. The proposed amendments would also stiffen associated penalties.
The amendments would replace four articles in Jordan’s 2006 Anti-Terrorism Law. Government spokesman Mohammed Al-Momani stated that the amendments are crucial to helping the government deal with Jordanian fighters returning from the war in Syria.
Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, believes that the new amendments will threaten freedoms of expression.
The Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced on Sunday that it has disbanded a terrorist cell which had conducted sabotage missions in various parts of the country.
According to the Intelligence Ministry's public relations, members of the terrorist team affiliated to the foreign countries have been arrested in the Northwestern West Azarbaijan Province.
The terrorists have killed 12 citizens and injured more than 40 others who had come to see the Iranian Army's parade in Mahabad city in West Azarbaijan, said the ministry.
The captured terrorists have already confessed that they received financial aid, training and equipment from foreign countries and Komeleh terrorist group.
"The terrorists planned to carry out bombings and sabotage operations in some sensitive locations and centers and also conduct surveillance and terror operations to spread an atmosphere of intimidation and insecurity in the region under the support of the spy agencies of the enemies of the Iranian nation," the ministry added.
The US military leadership is no longer interested in the Obama - Jarbae victory of the militant groups in Syria.
Head of the Syrian opposition bloc Ahmad al-Jarba failed to radically change the American stance, and Washington still rejects providing the militant groups in Syria with air defense systems, fearing the possibility that the migh fall into terrorists' hands.
Syrian opposition can only expect raising its political representation in Washington and London as well as sending weaponry batches that will not change the battlefield situation, yet aim at reaching a minimum level of the balance which would impose on the Syrian government a political process.
American officials also told al-Jarba that the regular armies in the Middle East has become a strategic American necessity in the context of the anti-terror war.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Saturday that while he acknowledges the special relationship between Israel and the United States, he is convinced that “the Americans have erred in the past regarding settlements, and they are erring big time today.”
Liberman’s remarks to Channel 2’s main political talk show “Meet the Press” came against the backdrop of more reports regarding Washington’s dissatisfaction with Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. One report by a US-based online newspaper quoted a source as saying that Martin Indyk, the State Department’s envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, placed full responsibility for the failure of the negotiations on Israel.
“Israel and the United States are the truest of friends,” the foreign minister told Channel 2. “This cooperation has yielded tremendous results to this day. [But] the Americans have been wrong in the past, and they are dead wrong today because Jewish settlement activity has never been an obstacle to peace, neither in the agreement with Egypt or in the peace treaty with Jordan.”
Indonesia’s presidential race isn’t until July. But there’s already one winner.
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has taken over as acting governor of Jakarta, the first ethnic Chinese to do so.
A Christian, Basuki succeeds Joko Widodo who has stepped aside to run for the presidential election on July 9, which opinion polls suggest he will win. Basuki will automatically take over to complete Joko’s five-year term if he does win.
Indonesia’s Chinese make up only about 2 percent of the 240 million population.
Resented for their wide control over trade and business, and suspected of loyalty to China, Indonesian-Chinese have been deliberately kept out of the political and military hierarchy for most of the country’s almost 70 years of independence.
The resentment, which has burst into bloody riots in the past, appears to be on the wane, although it’s not over.
Even critics of Jakarta’s acting governor complain mostly about what they see as his abrasive style of governance, not his background.
“People are voting for a track record today,” Basuki told Reuters in an interview in his office in April. “It’s not about the race or religion…or some primordial idea of who should run [the country].”
Jakarta. The municipal government of Bekasi, West Javay resealed a mosque belonging to members of the beleaguered Ahmadiyah religious movement after officials noticed the entrance had been unblocked.
“We sealed it again because the lock and seal which were put there had been damaged,” municipal attorney Sugianto said.
The Al-Bismah mosque was closed by the city on Feb. 14, 2013, but its members continued to pray there until Bekasi Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers sealed the entrance on March 8, forcing members who were still inside to use a ladder to climb out.
“They said that they referred to the gubernatorial regulation, Indonesian Ulema Council edict and mayoral regulation that forbid Ahmadiyah, while clearly the regulations only forbid spreading Ahmadiyah teachings and no regulation prohibits activities,” Iman Rahmat Rahmadijaya told the Jakarta Globe at the time.
Controversial Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) has called on the "chauvinistic non-Muslims" to stop hurting the feelings of Malay Muslims in the country.
Isma Deputy President Aminuddin Yahaya (pic) said non-Muslims should not be offended by any remarks Malays made against the community, and insisted it was done to defend themselves.
He claimed that the non-Malays "started it" by offending the Malays, who would in return respond to the alleged attacks.
"My advice to phantom writers, opportunist ulama and video actors is to please advise those other chauvinistic races.
"Stop hurting the feelings of Muslim Malays. Why are you angry with statements we make in self-defence, but keep silent when other races act extreme?" he was quoted saying on Isma's website.