April 29, 2007

Kidnapped Chinese workers freed in Ethiopia

Seven Chinese oil workers and two Africans were released yesterday by an Ethiopian rebel group that attacked a Chinese oil exploration facility last week.

"We have released the Chinese at 2:00 pm (1630 IST) today to the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross)," said Abderahmane Mahdi, the London-based spokesman for the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

One of the civilians released was believed to be Ethiopian, while the nationality of the other African was not immediately known. The rebel group, the ONLF, said all of the Chinese citizens were in good health and had been treated well.

The Ethiopian Information Ministry confirmed their release and again accused arch-foe Eritrea, with whom they have a long-running border dispute, of being behind the raid.

April 22, 2007

Falluja council chairman shot dead

The Fallujah city council chairman, Sami Abdul-Amir al-Jumaili, a critic of al-Qaida who took the job after his three predecessors were assassinated, was killed on Saturday.

Abdul-Amir al-Jumaili was gunned down by attackers in a passing car as he was walking outside his home in central Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, according to police.

The 65-year-old Sunni sheikh was the fourth city council chairman to be killed in some 14 months as fighters target fellow Sunnis willing to co-operate with the US and its Iraqi partners.

His assassination came a month after he raised his hand to take the dangerous job, promising to improve services and to work with the Americans to ease traffic-clogging checkpoints in the city with a population of an estimated 150,000 to 200,000.

April 15, 2007

Protesters and police clash in Moscow

Riot police clashed with opposition supporters at the end of an anti-Kremlin protest in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, beating some and hauling them into police buses.

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and several hundred other anti-Kremlin activists were detained after hundreds of riot police sealed off Moscow's Pushkin Square and clubbed some protesters to prevent a banned opposition rally and march.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the violence after the rally, which authorities in St. Petersburg had authorized and took place under a heavy police presence.

At the square earlier, lines of police, including undercover officers pointing out vocal demonstrators, quickly moved in on anyone who began to chant slogans or tried to galvanize people milling around the police cordon.

No information was immediately available on how many people were injured.

April 8, 2007

Palestinians want 1,000 freed in return for one Israeli soldier

A list of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners wanted in exchange for long-term hostage Corporal Gilad Shalit has been presented to the Israeli government in the biggest sign of progress towards securing his release for nearly a year.

Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian politician, headed the list of hundreds of prisoners the Palestinian authorities want released in exchange for Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was seized in a cross-border raid from Gaza in June last year by militants allied to the Hamas faction.

For many Israelis, the idea of letting the elder Barghouti go free is an abomination.

Freeing Shalit has also been cited by some European countries as one of the steps the coalition cabinet must take if it wants the crippling sanctions imposed after Hamas took office last year, to be eased.

April 1, 2007

People missing after tsunami

Several people were missing on Monday after a powerful earthquake in the South Pacific hit the Solomon Islands, triggering a small tsunami, officials said.

Robert Iroga, editor of the Honiara-based Solomon Star newspaper, said three people had been confirmed dead, with fears for two more people missing.

A tsunami warning was also issued for other Pacific Rim countries, including Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia, after the shallow quake, which had a magnitude of at least 8.0.

There were unconfirmed reports an entire village had been washed out to sea, prompting fears the casualty count could rise during the day, Iroga said.

From the capital Honiara, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp. said residents on Simbo Island had reported waves traveling up to 200 meters (220 yards) inland, damaging homes.

March 25, 2007

Iran Seizes British Troops

Iran seizes 15 sailors and marines at gunpoint and do not know of their location, British officials said.

Iran has claimed the sailors confessed to illegally entering Iranian waters, but British Prime Minister Tony Blair disputed the claim that the 15 were in Iranian territorial waters at the time they were seized on Friday.

"It simply is not true that they went into Iranian territorial waters," Blair told reporters in Berlin.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted during a trip to the Middle East that the Britons be released, saying "we all fully trust the British" account.

March 4, 2007

Ambush in Afghanistan, eight civilians killed.

Eight Afghan civilians were killed and 25 others wounded Sunday in Kabul, Afghanistan, when suspected Taliban gunmen attacked a convoy of the U.S.-led military coalition, the U.S. military said.

According to the coalition, the attack was a "complex ambush" with the convoy coming under small-arms fire from several directions after the initial bombing in Nangarhar province, near Jalalabad.

The civilian death toll was revised down from 16, the Combined Joint Task Force 76 said, according to the Defense Department Web site.

"We regret the death of innocent Afghan citizens as a result of the Taliban extremists' cowardly act," said Lt. Col. David Accetta.

February 25, 2007

Iraqi President ill

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani fell ill and was flown to Jordan unconscious on Sunday for an immediate medical checkup, medical and government officials said.

Talabani's son, Qubad Talabani, said his father was suffering from fatigue and exhaustion.

The longtime Kurdish leader's departure from Iraq for Jordan's capital Amman should not be interpreted as an indication that his health is grave, Talabani’s son said.

Talabani "is in stable condition, and we hope he will come back to this country in a safe and healthy way," said a written statement from Talabani’s office.

February 18, 2007

Afghan helicopter crash leaves 8 U.S. troops dead

A military helicopter crashed Sunday in southeastern Afghanistan, killing eight U.S. service members and injuring fourteen.

The incident occurred near Kandahar Airfield, in Kandahar province after an unexplained loss of power and engine failure was radioed in.

The helicopter, CH-47 Chinook, was transporting 22 people, including crew, at the time of the crash.
Officials immediately ruled out enemy fire as a cause of the crash.

The crash was the deadliest single incident this year for the 47,000 U.S.-led coalition and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

February 11, 2007

Howard attacks Obama on Iraq policy

Australian Prime Minister John Howard slammed Senator Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq. Howard made the remarks on Sunday, a day after Obama announced his plans to run for president in 2008.

Obama said the country’s first priority should be to end the war in Iraq and to remove U.S. troops from the country by March 31, 2008.

“If America pulls out of Iraq in March 2008. It can only be in circumstances of defeat…,? Howard said.

January 23, 2007

If we are killed, you will be killed.

A video released Monday by al Qaeda showed Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s chief aide, threatening American troops.

The treat comes after President George W. Bush’s plan to increase troop involvement in Iraq by 20,000.

"If we are secure, you might be secure, and if we are safe, you might be safe. And if we are struck and killed, you will definitely -- with Allah's permission -- be struck and killed," al-Zawahiri said.