16/04/2014

Benghazi hit by blast on anniversary

Posted by MereNews On September - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(CNN) — A car bomb exploded outside a Foreign Ministry building in the Libyan city of Benghazi Wednesday, state media said, on the anniversary of an assault on the U.S. Consulate there that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The blast did not cause any casualties but blew away large parts of the building’s facade, said Col. Abdullah Al Zaydi, spokesman for the Joint Security Task Force in Benghazi, according to Libya’s state news agency, LANA.

Al Zaydi said the explosion was very powerful and destroyed the vehicle used for the bombing, which contained a large quantity of explosives, the news agency said.

The blast also damaged a branch of the Central Bank of Libya and slightly injured one of its security guards, the bank said.


Video wrongly blamed for Benghazi attack


Paying the political price for Benghazi

The branch director, Abdel Qader Mohammed, said the explosion caused “material damage” to the building, but its computer systems were not affected.

Fast facts: The Benghazi Consulate attack

Benghazi resident Sami Berriwen told CNN he heard the blast in the eastern city at about 7 a.m.

Berriwen, a university student, said that if the explosion had happened just an hour later, the street would have been full of people. He said most Benghazi residents walk the street to get to school and to work, but because it was early, no one was out yet.

Berriwen said he saw a fire truck but no casualties or ambulances at the scene.

Diplomatic missions and security officials have repeatedly been the targets of attacks in Benghazi, leading most Westerners to leave.

In January, gunmen targeted the car of the Italian consul general in Benghazi, but no one was injured. Bomb attacks also occurred last year on a U.N. convoy, as well as on a convoy carrying the British ambassador. In November, unknown gunmen assassinated the city’s temporary security director.

Other towns and cities, including the capital, Tripoli, have also seen frequent attacks.

In recent days, scores of U.S. Marines were moved closer to Libya to help beef up security before of the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States and the first anniversary of the attack on the Benghazi consulate.

Two U.S. officials told CNN on Monday that 250 combat-ready Marines had moved from their base in Moron, Spain, to the U.S. naval installation at Sigonella, Italy. That would enable them to reach Tripoli in three to four hours in the event of a crisis.

Other U.S. forces are helping boost security at various embassies in the region, since the period around September 11 is seen as a time of greater threat to U.S. interests.

The attack at the Benghazi compound has been a political flashpoint in a long-running battle between the administration and Republicans, who accuse it of not bolstering security before the attack, of botching the response to it and of misleading the public for political gain before the November 2012 election.

A report by the U.N. secretary-general on the U.N. Support Mission in Libya, released this month, highlights the continuing security concerns and political polarization in Libya following the overthrow of strongman leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

The status of the revolutionary fighters who helped to oust Gadhafi remains unclear, the process of transitional justice is almost stalled, the country’s borders are leaky and there are many unsecured weapons, adding to the instability, it said.

“The continuing volatile security situation in Libya in general, and in the eastern and southern parts of the country in particular, is a source of grave concern,” it said.

“Targeted political assassinations, criminal activity and attacks and threats against the diplomatic community continue to plague the country, including Tripoli. The protection of the civilian population and the enforcement of law need to be reaffirmed as a national priority.”

CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.



Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_world/~3/ijfsb_BvfeQ/index.html

Mugabe to continue takeover policy

Posted by MereNews On September - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS


President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF got more than a two-thirds majority in parliament in the July 31 elections.

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) — Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe swore in his new government Wednesday and confirmed that the new 26-member Cabinet, mainly composed of allies from his previous appointments, will not abandon his controversial policy of seizing the majority stake of foreign-owned firms.

The 89-year-old leader told journalists after the Cabinet’s installation that Zimbabwe’s economic recovery will be anchored on mining, manufacturing and agriculture industries.

“We want to see the drive and we want to see indigenization done,” Mugabe said at State House after he had been asked if a change of personnel in the Indigenization Ministry, which oversees the takeover policy, meant a change of stance.

Zimbabwe had had no functioning Cabinet since the July 31 elections when Mugabe was re-elected. Between 2009 and this year, Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party shared power.

The new Cabinet retains the Ministry of Indigenization, the policy of seizing the majority stake of foreign owned firms and giving them to black Zimbabweans. Critics of the policy have said it mainly benefits a few elites.


Mugabe win leaves Zimbabwe prospects dim


Was Zimbabwe’s vote free and fair?


Mugabe’s rival speaks about election

On Wednesday, Mugabe said most African countries like Sudan and Gabon are lagging behind as “whites” exploit the continent’s resources.

“That is exploitation. That is theft by using crook-ish means to steal the wealth of Africa. Ah. Lets reject that,” said Africa’s oldest leader, who will finish his new term when he is 94 and will be able to stand for another term

The Cabinet also includes Jonathan Moyo as media, information and broadcasting services minister. He was the one who drafted tough media laws in 2002 that have resulted in the deportation of foreign journalists and the closing of some media organizations.

Mugabe tossed him out of Zanu PF after Moyo stood as an independent in the 2008 elections.

Former Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa is now the finance minister, taking over from Tendai Biti, who was from the MDC party under the 2009-2013 coalition government.

On Wednesday, the opposition described the Cabinet as “dead wood.”

Mugabe and Zanu PF got more than a two-thirds majority in parliament in the July 31 elections.



Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_world/~3/ue16xelfQpE/index.html

Alleged kidnapping leader arrested

Posted by MereNews On September - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Chile still divided, 40 years after coup

Posted by MereNews On September - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(CNN) — Forty years have passed since the military coup in Chile that ushered in a 17-year dictatorship, and a divide remains between those who want to investigate the past and those who want to focus on the future.

September 11 is a day that has cast a shadow in Chile since 1973, when the military attacked the presidential palace and put an end to the presidency of socialist leader Salvador Allende.

Chilean court confirms Allende suicide

Competing memorials held this week by the government and opposition leaders are a reminder of the lack of unity over how to commemorate the past.

This picture taken circa 1971 in Santiago, shows Chilean President Salvador Allende testing a Kalashnikov machine gun given to him as a gift by the then-Cuban President Fidel Castro. This picture taken circa 1971 in Santiago, shows Chilean President Salvador Allende testing a Kalashnikov machine gun given to him as a gift by the then-Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Armed guards watch out for attackers as Allende leaves the Moneda Presidential Palace during the military coup in which he was overthrown and killed in the palace on September 11, 1973. This is said to be the last photo of the president.Armed guards watch out for attackers as Allende leaves the Moneda Presidential Palace during the military coup in which he was overthrown and killed in the palace on September 11, 1973. This is said to be the last photo of the president.

Chileans watch a military tank make its way to the Presidential Palace in Santiago, on June 30, 1973. This revolt against President Allende was crushed, before Allende died in the military coup on September 11, 1973. Chileans watch a military tank make its way to the Presidential Palace in Santiago, on June 30, 1973. This revolt against President Allende was crushed, before Allende died in the military coup on September 11, 1973.

General Augusto Pinochet, standing in a white jacket, a career army officer, led the military coup and established himself as the head of the ensuing government. He waves from the motorcade on September 11, 1973 in Santiago, accompanied by the Chilean defense minister, Vice-admiral Patricio Carvajal. A year later, in 1974, Pinochet signed a decree naming himself Chilean president.General Augusto Pinochet, standing in a white jacket, a career army officer, led the military coup and established himself as the head of the ensuing government. He waves from the motorcade on September 11, 1973 in Santiago, accompanied by the Chilean defense minister, Vice-admiral Patricio Carvajal. A year later, in 1974, Pinochet signed a decree naming himself Chilean president.

Chilean soldiers burn Marxist books in Santiago on September 26, 1973. Chilean soldiers burn Marxist books in Santiago on September 26, 1973.

Chilean soldiers patrol the streets in Santiago on October 4, 1973. Chilean soldiers patrol the streets in Santiago on October 4, 1973.

The Puchuncavi concentration camp near Valparaiso, Chile on October 15, 1975. The government of Allende built Melinka as a popular beach resort, owned by the central labor confederation. Following the coup, it was taken over and lasted from July 1974 to 1975 as a concentration camp.The Puchuncavi concentration camp near Valparaiso, Chile on October 15, 1975. The government of Allende built Melinka as a popular beach resort, owned by the central labor confederation. Following the coup, it was taken over and lasted from July 1974 to 1975 as a concentration camp.

A man is arrested and carried by Chilean riot policemen as hundreds of students protest on September 11, 1993 in Santiago, Chile, during a march organized by leftists parties on the 20th anniversary of the military coup. Police stopped the marchers from reaching the La Moneda Presidential Palace.A man is arrested and carried by Chilean riot policemen as hundreds of students protest on September 11, 1993 in Santiago, Chile, during a march organized by leftists parties on the 20th anniversary of the military coup. Police stopped the marchers from reaching the La Moneda Presidential Palace.

Pinochet is greeted by a supporter on August 23, 1995 after leaving his house in Santiago to celebrate his 22nd anniversary as commander with military ceremonies. Pinochet is greeted by a supporter on August 23, 1995 after leaving his house in Santiago to celebrate his 22nd anniversary as commander with military ceremonies.

Pinochet celebrates his 80th birthday on November 26, 1995 in Santiago. Hundreds of Chileans disappeared during the 17 years that Pinochet ruled Chile.Pinochet celebrates his 80th birthday on November 26, 1995 in Santiago. Hundreds of Chileans disappeared during the 17 years that Pinochet ruled Chile.

Pinochet listens to a military band playing before his residence in Santiago on September 11, 1997 to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the coup.Pinochet listens to a military band playing before his residence in Santiago on September 11, 1997 to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the coup.

Thousands of Chileans poured into the streets of Santiago on October 6, 1988 to celebrate the defeat of Pinochet in a Yes or No' vote that would have extended the dictator's 15-year rule. Thousands of Chileans poured into the streets of Santiago on October 6, 1988 to celebrate the defeat of Pinochet in a “Yes” or “No’” vote that would have extended the dictator’s 15-year rule.

The top of this photo shows the Chilean Army troops firing on the La Moneda Palace in Santiago on September 11, 1973. Below is the same place almost 30 years later.
The top of this photo shows the Chilean Army troops firing on the La Moneda Palace in Santiago on September 11, 1973. Below is the same place almost 30 years later.

A man lights a candle at the gates of the National Stadium on September 11, 2002 in Santiago bearing pictures of those who disappeared under the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Pinochet. A man lights a candle at the gates of the National Stadium on September 11, 2002 in Santiago bearing pictures of those who disappeared under the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Pinochet.

A thousand people lay down on the sidewalk along Alameda main avenue during a commemorative action in Santiago, on September 10, 2013. The protest represents the people missing during the dictatorship. A thousand people lay down on the sidewalk along Alameda main avenue during a commemorative action in Santiago, on September 10, 2013. The protest represents the people missing during the dictatorship.


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Chilean military coup of 1973Chilean military coup of 1973

There is agreement that the abuses committed under Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship — nearly 2,300 people disappeared and 40,000 were tortured — should be remembered so that history will not repeat itself.

Family of slain Chilean singer Victor Jara seeks justice in U.S.

But in an election year, there is a political divide over what it means to remember.

President Sebastian Pinera, the first leader from the right since the end of Pinochet’s rule, wants to focus on the future.

“The past has already been written,” he said at the government’s official memorial. “We can recall it, we can study it, we can debate it, but we cannot change it. Because of that, we should not remain prisoners or hostages of that past.”

Three out of five Chileans were not born when the coup happened, and the strong feelings of blame that some hold on to should not be passed on to the younger generation, he said.

“We should also ask, ‘Why do we want to remember?’ To relive the same divisions, violence and hate that caused us so much pain in the past, or to the contrary, to light the path to the future?” Pinera said.

Opposition leaders refused the president’s invitation to the event and instead held their own observance at nearly the same time.

Among the speakers was Michelle Bachelet, a former president who is running for the highest office once again.

“There is still today a large division between those who justify the dictatorship and those of us who trust in democracy,” she said.

Rather than move on, more investigations are needed to clarify the responsibilities for the abuses under the dictatorship, she said.

Reconciliation is not possible, Bachelet said, without an accounting of truth and justice.

“Truth, because we need to know what the victims experienced and what happened to them. And justice, because where justice is denied, impunity fills the void, deepening the divisions,” she said.

The divide was apparent this week.

“Chile should not remain in the past” and “should advance toward the future with a solid democracy,” government spokeswoman Cecilia Perez told reporters.

Former President Ricardo Lagos, who also belongs to the center-left coalition that led Chile after the dictatorship, said it was a shame that the current government was unable to host an event that all parties would be willing to attend.

Judges weigh in

Outside of the politics, other government bodies sought to publicly make amends.

The country’s Supreme Court last week offered a mea culpa, saying the judicial system should have done more to protect people’s rights in the aftermath of the coup.

The high court accepted that it fell short of its responsibilities by not pushing back on the coup government’s campaign to arrest and punish opponents.

“I’m proud because the Supreme Court has offered a guarantee that this will not happen again — that’s the significance of this statement,” Maria Francisca Zapata, vice president of Chile’s Association of Judges, told CNN Chile.

The court assumed a historic responsibility with its statement, former Justice Minister Luis Bates told CNN Chile.

That said, the court was limited in what it could have done under a dictatorship.

“The institutions of the state that have to aid the judges in the investigations of their cases are severely weakened under a dictatorship,” Bates said.

Chilean judge indicts former U.S. military official in 1973 killings

Public opinion continues to shift

As time passes, the views of who was responsible for the coup continue to evolve.

A poll by the Chilean Center for Studies of Contemporary Reality found that 41% of respondents blame Pinochet for the coup, an increase of 17 points in 2003. Nine percent of those polled blamed Allende, the socialist president.

A small number of Chileans allege that Allende was creating a doomed Marxist system and that there was no option but to overthrow him.

Some 16% of those polled said the military did the right thing. In a similar poll 10 years ago, a full 36% said the military was in the right.

As the views on the cause of the 1973 coup shift, so do the views of Pinochet. His image gets worse as the years go by, according to the poll.

According to the pollster, 1,200 Chileans were surveyed, and the study has a margin of error of 3%.

CNN Chile contributed to this report.



Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_world/~3/P5Eklz1G_Wk/index.html

Hostage standoff reaches Day 4; dozens still held

Posted by MereNews On September - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS


Government soldiers take cover from rebel sniper fire during heavy fighting in Zamboanga City on September 12, 2013.

(CNN) — Sporadic and intermittent gunfire rang out in Zamboanga City for a fourth day on Thursday as armed forces continued to clash with Muslim Moro National Liberation Front rebels holding as many as 180 hostages on the Philippine island of Mindanao.

Lt. Colonel Ramon Zagala, spokesman for the Philippines Armed Forces (AFP), told CNN that government troops currently had “contained” an estimated 180 MNLF rebels in five districts of the mainly Christian city.

“Right now we went to ensure that we keep them in those locations so they can’t get in and they can’t get out,” he said. “But unfortunately they are holding between 160 and 180 hostages.”

He said their original plan had been to land by sea and march on Zamboanga’s city hall and raise the MNLF flag.

“We stopped that but now our immediate concern is the safety and the security of the hostages,” Zagala said, adding that Philippines troops were under orders to contain the rebels and were not engaged in what he called “offensive operations.”


Landmark peace deal in Philippines

He said the intermittent gunfire that could be heard across the city was a part of the containment operation.

READ: Rebel leaders, Filipino officials sign landmark peace deal

“Sometimes these elements (rebels) are trying to punch out and they fire at us so we also fire at them,” Zagala said. He said the condition of the hostages was not known, but crisis managers were concerned about a lack of food and water.

Zagala said rebels had killed two government troops — one during the first encounter at sea and the second was killed by sniper fire on Tuesday — and wounded 17 more.

AFP forces had recovered one rebel body.

“We can’t verify the rebel body count because we don’t have the bodies but the best figure that we have is that AFP has killed 14 MNLF,” he said.

Almost 13,000 people have been evacuated from the districts of Talon-Talon, Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina, Kasanyangan, Canela and Mampang in Zamboanga, government sources said.

Zamboanga’s mayor, Isabelle Climaco Salazar, told a press briefing that she had been in direct contact with the head of the MNLF rebels, Nur Misuari, and the leader of the hostage takers, Habier Malik.

“Last night I was able to talk to Chairman Nur Misuari hoping that it would pave the way for the peaceful end of this crisis,” Climaco said. “What is of interest is that Misuari disowned the actions of Habier Malik, the leader of the hostage-takers with whom I communicated separately.”

Zagala said that while Misuari had disavowed the actions of Malik, saying that the commanders in the MNLF were free to carry out actions as they wished, he said it was the government’s belief that Misuari was behind the current rebel action.

The MNLF, a separatist movement founded in 1971 by Nur Misuari with the aim of establishing an autonomous region for Muslims in this mainly Catholic country, signed a peace deal with the central government in Manila in 1996, though some of its members have broken away to continue a violent campaign.

READ: Philippine rebels agree to wealth-sharing deal

Last month, Misuari issued a “declaration of independence” for the Moro nation — referring to Mindanao’s indigenous Muslim population — after complaining that the MNLF had been left out of a recent wealth-sharing agreement with another insurgent group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or MILF, which has fought for decades to set up an independent Islamic state on the resource-rich island of Mindanao.

Under the agreement signed this year, Muslims will get a 75% share of income derived from the exploitation of metallic minerals in the area — reported to include gold and copper. The current stand-off is believed to be linked to the terms of the agreement.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s plan is to achieve lasting peace in the region by 2016 when his term ends.

Agreements have yet to be reached on power-sharing and normalization, which means giving up arms. A report published last year by the International Crisis Group warned that the peace process needed to find ways to support insurgents as they build normal, civilian lives.



Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_world/~3/Ds2YwlqH9PE/index.html


This undated photo shows Moktar Belmoktar, an Algerian who has long been a target of French counter-terrorism forces.

(CNN) — The one-eyed jihadist commander known as “Mr. Marlboro” is back in action.

Moktar Belmoktar, whose group was responsible for the deadly attack on the BP oil facility in southern Algeria last January, appears in a new video released by his group — the al-Mulathameen Brigade, which translates as the “Signatories in Blood Brigade.”

More than 30 foreign workers at the In Amenas facility in Algeria were killed during a three-day occupation of the plant.

Belmokhtar is an Algerian but was more recently based in northern Mali, where he had combined kidnapping and smuggling (hence the nickname) with audacious terror attacks. He got his nickname for smuggling cigarettes across borders.

Thought to be about 40, Belmokhtar was rumored to have been killed or wounded in March during the French military intervention in Mali. But in the new 51-minute video he is shown training fighters and paying tribute to another jihadist commander who was killed earlier this year.

Belmoktar shows no sign of having been wounded.

The video shows a group of jihadists preparing for two deadly raids in neighboring Niger in May, which targeted a French-owned uranium mine and a Nigerien military academy.

“My brothers, all you should do is strive and make efforts with all determination and power to bring down their sites and harm their troops,” Belmoktar says before embracing the group. At one point, he appears to be instructing recruits in using a rocket-propelled grenade.

The government of Niger sent troops to join the French-led operation in Mali.

Commanders from the al-Mulathameen Brigade, which is linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), also appeal in the video to Muslims in Europe and America to carry out attacks.

One of them, Omar Ould Hama, a top Belmoktar deputy, is filmed standing in front of a pickup truck in the desert flanked by half a dozen masked armed fighters, and issuing a direct threat in heavily accented French.

“This message is sent to France especially, to the USA and to all NATO countries. Like we have said since the beginning, the jihadists are ready to go on the offensive at any moment. We need to transmit this message to the whole world. We need to complete our mission at any price. We have told you that we will hit you in the middle of the Quai D’Orsay in France, and we will target you like we have done before — all the French interests, both military and economic in the whole world.”

The Quai D’Orsay is the site of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2008, Hama kidnapped Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler on Belmoktar’s orders and held him for 130 days, Fowler told CNN after his release.

French minister: Islamists’ heavy weapons found in Mali

Analyst: Focus likely will be on Sahara

“Such threats have been made before by Belmoktar and his commanders and associates but they have not yet demonstrated a capacity to launch attacks in the West. For the time being, it’s more likely they will focus on hitting Western targets in the Sahara region,” Andrew Lebovich, an analyst who closely tracks the group, told CNN.

Belmoktar himself is seen providing encouragement to the jihadists about to attack the French mine and Nigerian military academy in May.

Another commander, Abu Usama al-Masri, appeals for ‘lone wolf’ attacks in France. He talks of the young French-Algerian man — Mohammed Merah — who carried out a string of gun atttacks in the French city of Toulouse last year, killing seven people.

Merah was later cornered and killed by French police in his apartment.

“To every Muslim brother,” says al-Masri, “whether his nationality is Algerian or Tunisian or Moroccan … I believe they walk on the street and make the French people scared…..So the Muslim youth inside France have a great duty, even if it is with a stone or knife” to hit a Frenchman, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence group.

The video was made available to CNN by Flashpoint Partners, an outfit tracking jihadist websites. It has since appeared on YouTube.

It shows jihadists operating in the northern Mali cities of Gao and Konna earlier this year, and the application of strict Shariah law. And it shows an interview with a man described of French-Mauritanian origin, who was detained by Belmoktar’s group for drinking alcohol. He says he will be judged by Shariah law and will never drink alcolohol again.

The French intervention in Mali, which began in January and was aimed at defeating jihadist groups that had seized much of the north of the country, has subdued, but not eliminated, the threat from Belmoktar and allied jihadist groups.

One source briefed by Western and regional intelligence officials told CNN Belmoktar is believed to have moved to the triangle regions straddling the borders of Algeria, Niger and Libya in late 2012 after signs that an international intervention in Mali was growing more likely.

Known as the “Salvador pass,” the area is a key transit points for drug traffickers and international criminal groups. Some counterterrorism analysts believe Belmoktar may have relocated in southern Libya, where an absence of state authority gives him room to regroup.

CNN previously learned that Belmoktar had visited to Libya after the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi and established ties with the emerging jihadist groups there. Intelligence sources told CNN earlier this year that he may also have had a role in the attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi exactly a year ago.

According to one source, militants in the area called him up in Northern Mali shortly after the attack and offered congratulations. The call, which was intercepted, did not however provide proof of his involvement.

Working with other al Qaeda affiliates

According to analysts, the new video, which includes computer animations of attacks, is one of the most sophisticated yet produced by al Qaeda fighters in the region and should be seen as part of Belmoktar’s pitch to have Zawahiri recognize his group as the stand alone al Qaeda affiliate in the Sahara.

The video also confirms the presence in Mali of fighters from Nigeria, where Boko Haram and Ansar al-Muslimeen have been involved in a campaign of sabotage and suicide attacks against police, government officials and Christians. There were reports earlier this year that Nigerian jihadists had joined AQIM in the city of Gao, in eastern Mali.

A fighter in a black and yellow headscarf who calls himself Abu al-Nigiri says: “To my mujahedeen brothers everywhere and in Nigeria in particular, I say to you: Wherever you find them, attack them and kill them.”

Last year, simmering tension between Belmoktar and AQIM’s paramount leader Abdelmalek Droukdel, who is based in northern Algeria, burst into the open — leading to Belmoktar’s dismissal from the North African al Qaeda affiliate’s leadership.

But this video suggests Belmoktar’s group is again joining forces with other al Qaeda affiliates across the region. The video features clips from speeches by Qasim al Raymi, a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as well as from Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri.

Belmoktar has a deep file of jihadist contacts across the region because of the time he spent fighting with other Arab fighters in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, which analysts say he is likely to continue to leverage.

On his way back to fight in the Algerian civil war he spent time in Yemen, where he made contacts in militant circles.

Since the Arab Spring, according to western counter-terrorism sources, North African and Yemeni jihadists have consolidated their connections. Those officials say three Yemeni fighters who belonged to AQAP participated in the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi and then fled to northern Mali where they connected with Belmoktar’s group.

And, this month, three Libyans were arrested in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, suspected of belonging to AQAP.

There appears to be a growing effort by al Qaeda’s leadership — and not just by individual jihadists — to improve co-operation among the various arms of the group. In 2012 AQAP leader Nasir al Wuhayshi, who was recently appointed al Qaeda’s global No, 2, sent several letters to AQIM emir Droukdel which were subsequently discovered by the Associated Press in northern Mali.

They indicated that Wuhayshi had emerged as a bridge for communications between al Qaeda figures in Pakistan and the North African group.

al Qaeda document sheds light on attack plans



Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_world/~3/1bi2vMEWgVk/index.html

Vital underground water found in arid north Kenya

Posted by MereNews On September - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS


Community members gather at a selected drilling site at Nawaitarong village Kenya in a photo provided by UNESCO.

(CNN) — Call it a watershed moment for Kenya.

Scientists found massive underground water supplies in the arid northern region.

The discovery of the reserves could improve the lives of generations and halt long-running conflicts over natural resources.

The United Nations said it identified five aquifers in parched Turkana, two of which have been verified.

“Two aquifers … were identified using advanced satellite exploration technology,” its cultural agency, UNESCO, said in a statement Wednesday.


Saving Africa’s Lake Turkana


Turkana’s climate crisis


Turkana’s climate catastrophe

“Their existence was then confirmed by drilling conducted recently by UNESCO, but there is need for further studies to adequately quantify the reserves and to assess the quality of the water,” UNESCO said.

An additional three aquifers have been found in the same area, but have not been confirmed by drilling and will need further assessment, it said.

In a country where water is scarce, the revelation is crucial. Kenya has a population of about 41 million, with nearly 17 million lacking access to safe water, according to the United Nations.

More than half the population — about 28 million — lack adequate sanitation.

“The news about these water reserves comes at a time when reliable water supplies are highly needed,” said Judi Wakhungu, the nation’s cabinet secretary for the environment, water and natural resources.

“This newly found wealth of water opens a door to a more prosperous future for the people of Turkana and the nation as a whole. We must now work to further explore these resources responsibly and safeguard them for future generations.”

In addition to replenishing scarce water supplies in the nation, the underground resources will boost agriculture in the region, which has long battled arid conditions. The nation faces water insecurity exacerbated by erratic rainfall patterns, triggering battles for natural resources among various communities.

Deadly cattle raids and conflicts over grazing land are common in the area.

The underground supplies will also provide irrigation and livestock needs, drinking water, and help ward off malnutrition in the region.

The project between UNESCO and the Kenyan government was funded by Japan. Kenya will conduct more studies to determine the quantity and the quality of the water.



Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_world/~3/v1pl7dPMxCM/index.html

American jailed in Iran says confession made under duress

Posted by MereNews On September - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(CNN) — A 29-year-old former U.S. Marine who has been jailed in Iran since 2011 and accused of being a CIA spy says in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that his confession was made under duress.

“For over 2 years I have been held on false charges based solely on confessions obtained by force, threats, miserable prison conditions, and prolonged periods of solitary confinement,” Amir Hekmati says in the letter, which was obtained and published by the Guardian and whose authenticity the family vouched for to CNN. “This is part of a propaganda and hostage taking effort by Iranian intelligence to secure the release of Iranians abroad being held on security-related charges.”


The letter Amir Mirza Hekmati wrote to Secretary Kerry.  The letter Amir Mirza Hekmati wrote to Secretary Kerry.


The letter Amir Mirza Hekmati wrote to Secretary Kerry. The letter Amir Mirza Hekmati wrote to Secretary Kerry.

Hekmati adds that Iranian intelligence told his court-appointed lawyer that he could be released in exchange for two Iranians being held abroad.

“I had nothing to do with their arrest, committed no crime, and see no reason why the U.S. Government should entertain such a ridiculous proposition,” writes Hekmati, who has dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship. “I do not wish to set a precedent for others that may be unlawfully (obtained) for political gain in the future. While my family and I have suffered greatly I will accept nothing but my unconditional release.”

Father fears he may never see his son imprisoned in Iran

Though Hekmati has been able to send and receive letters, it was not clear how this letter — dated September 1 — was sent. The newspaper reported Wednesday that the letter had been smuggled out.

Born in Arizona and raised in Nebraska before settling with his family in Flint, Michigan, Hekmati joined the Marines in 2001 out of high school. He finished his service four years later as a decorated combat veteran with tours in Iraq.

Afterward, he translated Arabic as a contractor and helped train troops in cultural sensitivity.

Hekmati’s family said he had gone to Iran to visit his grandmother but was arrested in August 2011, accused by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry of working as a CIA agent.

In December 2011, Hekmati appeared on Iranian state television maintaining that he had been sent to Iran by the CIA.

Family pleads for his release

At trial, whose proceedings were not public, prosecutors accused him of trying to infiltrate Iran’s intelligence system in order to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorist activities, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

In January 2012, he was convicted and sentenced to death. Two months later, an Iranian court dismissed the lower court’s death sentence and ordered a retrial.

In Washington, spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said the State Department had received a copy of the letter from Hekmati’s family.

But, she added, “We have not had any communication with Iran on the issue of a prisoner exchange.”

In a statement issued last month, Kerry said the espionage charges were false and urged the Tehran government to release him “safely and as soon as possible.”

Hekmati’s mother has visited her son in Tehran’s Evin Prison; she says his father has terminal cancer.

Diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran have been broken since 1980, during the hostage crisis that followed the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran claims it hanged CIA, Mossad spies



Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_world/~3/A5-Oayx9jjM/index.html

Prince William to leave military service

Posted by MereNews On September - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

“Prince William’s Passion: New Father, New Hope” premieres on CNN on September 15 at 10:00 p.m. ET

(CNN) — After more than seven and a half years of military service, Prince William is leaving the armed forces to focus on royal duties and charity work, Kensington Palace said Thursday.

William was a pilot with the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Force. Known to his RAF comrades as Flight Lt. Wales, he had been stationed at a search-and-rescue base on the remote Welsh island of Anglesey since 2010, and lived there with Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince William: I dream of Africa

In the next few weeks, the pair will move into their official residence at Kensington Palace. The palace statement said that William is considering a “number of options” for public service.


Prince William talks fatherhood


Max Foster on Prince William interview


Back to work for Prince William

As the first-born child to the late Princess Diana and the Prince of Wales and second in line to the British throne, Prince Wiliiam has never been far from the public eye. He's seen here in 2004. Click through the gallery for a look back at every year of his life so far.As the first-born child to the late Princess Diana and the Prince of Wales and second in line to the British throne, Prince Wiliiam has never been far from the public eye. He’s seen here in 2004. Click through the gallery for a look back at every year of his life so far.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana leave St. Mary's Hospital in London with Prince William on June 22, 1982. A bulletin announced that the royal baby weighed 7 pounds, 1 1/2 ounces.Prince Charles and Princess Diana leave St. Mary’s Hospital in London with Prince William on June 22, 1982. A bulletin announced that the royal baby weighed 7 pounds, 1 1/2 ounces.

Prince William takes his first steps in public with his parents in the walled garden at Kensington Palace on December 14, 1983.Prince William takes his first steps in public with his parents in the walled garden at Kensington Palace on December 14, 1983.

Accompanied by his nanny Barbara Barnes, Price William waves as he leaves St. Mary's Hospital after visiting his mother and his newborn brother, Prince Harry, on September 16, 1984.Accompanied by his nanny Barbara Barnes, Price William waves as he leaves St. Mary’s Hospital after visiting his mother and his newborn brother, Prince Harry, on September 16, 1984.

From the balcony of Buckingham Palace, a young Prince William watches the Trooping of the Color in 1985 with Lady Gabriella Windsor, left, and Lady Zara Phillips.From the balcony of Buckingham Palace, a young Prince William watches the Trooping of the Color in 1985 with Lady Gabriella Windsor, left, and Lady Zara Phillips.

Prince William waves from a carriage en route to the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on July 23, 1986.Prince William waves from a carriage en route to the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on July 23, 1986.

Wearing a regulation school uniform, Prince William waves to the press on his first day at Wetherby School on January 15, 1987.Wearing a regulation school uniform, Prince William waves to the press on his first day at Wetherby School on January 15, 1987.

In 1988, Prince Charles and Princess Diana visit Palma De Mallorca, Spain, with their two sons.In 1988, Prince Charles and Princess Diana visit Palma De Mallorca, Spain, with their two sons.

Prince William and Prince Harry ride bicycles with their parents in 1989 while on holiday in the Scilly Isles.Prince William and Prince Harry ride bicycles with their parents in 1989 while on holiday in the Scilly Isles.

On a private beach in 1990, Prince William shovels sand onto his mother. Photos of the young prince with his adoring mother were common as media interest swelled.On a private beach in 1990, Prince William shovels sand onto his mother. Photos of the young prince with his adoring mother were common as media interest swelled.

Prince William and Prince Harry wave from the deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1991.Prince William and Prince Harry wave from the deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1991.

Princess Diana and Prince William wait for Prince Harry after attending the annual Easter Sunday church service in 1992 at St. Georges Chapel inside Windsor Castle.Princess Diana and Prince William wait for Prince Harry after attending the annual Easter Sunday church service in 1992 at St. Georges Chapel inside Windsor Castle.

Prince William grimaces after riding Splash Mountain at Disney World's Magic Kindom in Florida. He was with friends of the royal family on a three-day vacation in 1993.Prince William grimaces after riding Splash Mountain at Disney World’s Magic Kindom in Florida. He was with friends of the royal family on a three-day vacation in 1993.

Accompanied by Prince William, Princess Diana arrives at Wimbledon before the start of the women's singles final in 1994.Accompanied by Prince William, Princess Diana arrives at Wimbledon before the start of the women’s singles final in 1994.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William and Prince Charles attend a service commemorating VJ Day outside Buckingham Palace in August 1995. The event was in honor of the day Japan surrendered to Allied forces, effectively ending World War II.Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William and Prince Charles attend a service commemorating VJ Day outside Buckingham Palace in August 1995. The event was in honor of the day Japan surrendered to Allied forces, effectively ending World War II.

Prince Charles and Prince Harry, at left, stand for anthems as Prince William, right, looks around during the Wales-Scotland game in the 1996 Five Nations rugby championship.Prince Charles and Prince Harry, at left, stand for anthems as Prince William, right, looks around during the Wales-Scotland game in the 1996 Five Nations rugby championship.

At age 15, Prince William and his brother Harry, 12, bow their heads after their mother's funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 6, 1997. Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris that August.At age 15, Prince William and his brother Harry, 12, bow their heads after their mother’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 6, 1997. Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris that August.

Prince William receives flowers from an adoring crowd in Vancouver on March 24, 1998. He was on a weeklong vacation with his father and brother, though they also made time for official engagements.Prince William receives flowers from an adoring crowd in Vancouver on March 24, 1998. He was on a weeklong vacation with his father and brother, though they also made time for official engagements.

Britain's Queen Mother joins Prince Charles and his sons during an occasion marking her 99th birthday at her London residence in 1999.Britain’s Queen Mother joins Prince Charles and his sons during an occasion marking her 99th birthday at her London residence in 1999.

Prince William hammers a log while helping construct walkways in a remote village in Chile during his Raleigh International expedition in 2000.Prince William hammers a log while helping construct walkways in a remote village in Chile during his Raleigh International expedition in 2000.

In 2001, Prince William, left, and Prince Harry take part in an exhibition polo match in Gloucestershire, England.In 2001, Prince William, left, and Prince Harry take part in an exhibition polo match in Gloucestershire, England.

The royal family stand vigil besides the Queen Mother's coffin at Westminster Hall on April 8, 2002. Prince William, right, stands alongside Prince Harry, Princess Anne and Sophie of Wessex.The royal family stand vigil besides the Queen Mother’s coffin at Westminster Hall on April 8, 2002. Prince William, right, stands alongside Prince Harry, Princess Anne and Sophie of Wessex.

A London officeworker licks a first-class stamp that was issued to mark Prince William's 21st birthday in 2003. Commemorative coins were also minted for the occassion.A London officeworker licks a first-class stamp that was issued to mark Prince William’s 21st birthday in 2003. Commemorative coins were also minted for the occassion.

Prince William makes his water polo debut for the Scottish national universities squad in the annual Celtic Nations tournament in 2004.Prince William makes his water polo debut for the Scottish national universities squad in the annual Celtic Nations tournament in 2004.

In 2005, Prince William graduates from St. Andrews University in Scotland with a degree in geography.In 2005, Prince William graduates from St. Andrews University in Scotland with a degree in geography.

Queen Elizabeth glances up at her grandson, right, as she inspects the parade at the Royal Military Academy in 2006. Prince William graduated as an Army officer and later went on to receive his Royal Air Force pilot's wingsQueen Elizabeth glances up at her grandson, right, as she inspects the parade at the Royal Military Academy in 2006. Prince William graduated as an Army officer and later went on to receive his Royal Air Force pilot’s wings

Prince William and Prince Harry speak on stage with Sir Elton John, far left, during a concert they put on to celebrate Princess Diana on July 1, 2007. The event fell on what would have been their mother's 46th birthday and marked 10 years since her death.Prince William and Prince Harry speak on stage with Sir Elton John, far left, during a concert they put on to celebrate Princess Diana on July 1, 2007. The event fell on what would have been their mother’s 46th birthday and marked 10 years since her death.

Prince William sports a beard for the first time in public at a Christmas Day church service in 2008. He was clean-shaven by early January.Prince William sports a beard for the first time in public at a Christmas Day church service in 2008. He was clean-shaven by early January.

Prince William walks with a group of homeless people during a 2009 hike with Centrepoint, the United Kingdom's largest youth charity for the homeless. William became the patron of the organization in 2005.Prince William walks with a group of homeless people during a 2009 hike with Centrepoint, the United Kingdom’s largest youth charity for the homeless. William became the patron of the organization in 2005.

During his first official overseas visit, Prince William is welcomed to Sydney with a traditional smoke ceremony by local Aboriginal elder Uncle Max in 2010.During his first official overseas visit, Prince William is welcomed to Sydney with a traditional smoke ceremony by local Aboriginal elder Uncle Max in 2010.

After their wedding service, Prince William kisses his wife, Kate Middleton, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on April 29, 2011.After their wedding service, Prince William kisses his wife, Kate Middleton, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on April 29, 2011.

Prince William throws a foam javelin as the Duchess of Cambridge stands at his side during a visit to Nottingham, England, on June 13, 2012. The couple were in the city as part of Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee tour, marking the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne.Prince William throws a foam javelin as the Duchess of Cambridge stands at his side during a visit to Nottingham, England, on June 13, 2012. The couple were in the city as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee tour, marking the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge depart St. Mary's Hospital in London with their newborn son on July 23. Prince George was born a day earlier, weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces.The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge depart St. Mary’s Hospital in London with their newborn son on July 23. Prince George was born a day earlier, weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces.


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Photos: Prince William through the yearsPhotos: Prince William through the years

For now, he will focus on his royal duties. He will also expand on his conservation work, dealing particularly with endangered species.

Kensington Palace announced he will become president of a new collaboration among seven environmental groups. The group, United for Wildlife, will focus on fighting the illegal wildlife trade.

William will also focus on charities that deal with children, veterans and service members.

CNN’s Max Foster: Tired, elated Prince William could be any new dad

William’s final search and rescue duty was Tuesday. “He and his crew had an uneventful 24 hour shift,” the defense ministry said.

“Throughout his tour his airmanship, often in the most demanding of conditions, has contributed directly to saving lives in the mountains of North Wales and from the ravages of the Irish Sea. He has earned the respect of all who have worked with him as a highly professional and competent pilot,” the ministry said.

Last year, he helped save a teenage girl who was in danger of drowning off the coast of Wales.

The 16-year-old girl was caught in a rip current and rapidly losing strength. William, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, had just landed a Sea King helicopter nearby, after going out on a routine exercise, when the alert was radioed through.

In less than a minute, he and the crew had reached the scene and a paramedic was winched down into the sea to assist the exhausted girl, who had just gone under water.

Royal baby photos: Cozy or just bad?

There’s no suggestion that William, 31, would ever drop out of public life, but he does crave normality. The prince gets some of that from his role in the military where he’s treated as “one of the guys,” but he also gets it from Africa.

Dreaming of Africa is one way that William escapes from the stresses he faces, he said.

“I regularly daydream,” The Duke of Cambridge reveals in the CNN documentary, “Prince William’s Passion: New Hope, New Father,” which airs later this month.

“Africa is definitely one of the places I go to … I have hundreds of animals on my iPhone. So if I am ever having quite a stressful day … you can put a buffalo on in the background or a cricket,” he says.



Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_world/~3/22ducVGtBLw/index.html


Empty coffins are transported to collect victims killed during the Algeria hostage crisis on January 21, 2012 in In Amenas.

(CNN) — Inadequate security measures and an unprepared military are two factors that allowed a group of Islamists to attack and take hostages at a gas field in Algeria in January, a report says.

The report by Statoil, whose employees were among those taken hostage, says the companies that ran the gas field never anticipated a scenario where a large force of attackers hit the facility.

The companies were too dependent on the Algerian military, which was “not able to detect or prevent the attackers from reaching the site,” the report says.

At least 37 hostages were killed in the four-day ordeal.

The plant is run by In Amenas Gas, a joint venture between oil giant BP, Statoil, and Sonatrach.


Algeria hostage family tells tale


Man blamed for Algeria attack killed


Islamist militants attack oil field

Among the victims were five Statoil employees, which led the company to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attack.

“The terror attack against In Amenas was an unprecedented attack,” lead investigator Torgeir Hagen said in a statement. “It clearly demonstrates that also companies like Statoil today face serious security threats.”

Algeria attack changes terror landscape in North Africa

The investigation team concluded that a different response to the attack would not have changed the outcome.

But the lesson is that the site was not designed with security measures that would stop or slow an attack on that scale, the report says.

The militant siege caught the world’s attention as it ensnared citizens from several nations and dragged on for days.

Algerian authorities said they believe the attack was revenge for allowing France to use Algerian airspace for an offensive against Islamist militants in neighboring Mali.

A group led by the jihadist commander known as “Mr. Marlboro,” Moktar Belmoktar, was responsible for the deadly attack.

The plant in southern Algeria employed about 790 people, including 134 foreign workers.

Algeria hostage crisis shows jihadists on rise



Article source: http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/edition_world/~3/KkM1IYAu5eY/index.html

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