22 killed in Islamist attack on UN compound in Somalia
An assault on a UN compound in Somalia has left at least 22 people dead. Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the assault in which a car bomb exploded outside the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) center. A fierce battle erupted with security personal as gunmen tried to force themselves into the compound. Soldiers from the African Union force were sent in armored vehicles to take control of the territory after a 90 minute gunfight. Local guards and insurgent fighters were also among those killed in Wednesday’s attack, including seven civilians.
Dolce&Gabbana sentenced to prison for tax dodge
The founders of the famous fashion house Dolce&Gabbana have been sentenced to one year and eight months in jail for tax evasion of 200 million euros ($268 million), an Italian court ruled on Wednesday. The court in Milan also ordered the fashion house to pay a fine of 500,000 euros to Italian national tax agency. The lawyers for the duo immediately said they would appeal. Dolce&Gabbana fashion house was accused of having transferred control of their brands to a shell company, located in Luxembourg, in 2004 and 2005 to avoid paying taxes in Italy.
2 injured as protests continue in Brazil
At least two demonstrators are reported to be injured in clashes with police near the stadium in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza on Wednesday. About 10,000 protesters threw stones at the security forces, who used tear gas and rubber bullets in return. One person suffered an eye injury and another was taken away on a stretcher. The protesters march against government spending on the World Cup and the Olympics. Brazil was to play a Confederations Cup match with Mexico later in the stadium.
Friends of Syria to meet in Doha on Saturday
The foreign ministers from eleven countries, which form the core group of the Friends of Syria, will meet on Saturday in Doha to discuss help for the Free Syrian Army, a French foreign ministry official reported Wednesday. The meeting will be held after recent successful operations performed by government forces. Representatives of France, the United States, Britain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia will take part in the discussion, the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Elderly woman killed by floods in southwestern France
An elderly woman has been killed in flash floods in southwestern France. A woman in her seventies was washed away overnight by floodwaters after getting out of her submerged car at Saint Beat near Lourdes. Her husband was rescued by firefighters. Lourdes is a popular tourist destination that attracts millions of visitors every year. Due to the flooding, the Roman Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes has been closed, and tourists in the town were relocated from hotels to higher ground.
Reports that US is ready for war in Syria ‘exaggerated’ – Obama
Reports that the US is readying to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war have been called ‘exaggerated’ by US President Barack Obama. “Some of the stories that have been out there publicly have gotten a little overcranked in terms of the idea that somehow the United States is preparing to go all in and participate in another war. What we want to do is end a war,” he stated publicly on Wednesday. He also confidently reiterated US claims that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, noting Russia’s skepticism on account of the lack of evidence in the public sphere.
N. Korea slams ‘Mein Kampf’ accusation
North Korea has harshly criticized a report that its leader Kim Jong-un handed out copies of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ to senior officials on his birthday in January. The report was posted on News International, a website run by North Korean defectors, which cited an anonymous but supposedly ‘trusted source.’ Pyongyang threatened that it is “determined to take substantial measures to physically remove” the report’s writers, who they labeled “human scum.” The report has been called a “smear campaign,” with the aim of holding back the country’s progress. Hitler wrote the book in the early 1920s, chronicling his early life and political ideology, including his nascent anti-Semitism.
48 dead in a militant attack in northern Nigeria
Unidentified gunmen have killed 48 people in an attack on the small town of Kizara in northern Nigeria, AFP reported. Further details are not available at this time. Earlier on Tuesday, nine students were killed in Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri when suspected Islamist militants belonging to Boko Haram opened fire in the second such deadly attack on schools in three days.
Russia urges West to pressure Syrian rebels to join talks
Western nations must use their clout with the Syrian rebels to convince them to participate in the planned peace conference in Geneva, just as Russia did with the Syrian government, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said. Unlike Damascus, the rebels did not agree to attend, to present their negotiators or to unveil a platform that they would bring to the table, Gatilov stressed. “The ball is in our partners’ court now and we expect them to actively work with the opposition,” he said.
Syrian rebels claim Lebanon attack
A Syrian rebel group has claimed responsibility for killing four Shiites in Lebanon this week. The men were killed as they attempted to enter Syria, the group said in a video statement, adding that the four were Hezbollah fighters. Another video posted by the same group showed IDs and weapons that the four were allegedly carrying. Hezbollah voiced public support for the Syrian government last month and sent fighters to aid in their battle against the rebels.
Gunmen, suicide bomber attack UN office in Somalia
A suicide bomber and several gunmen attacked an office of the United Nations Development Program in the Somali capital Mogadishu, a senior police officer and a witness told Reuters. "A suicide bomber blew himself up at the gate of the UNDP and then several armed fighters went in and opened fire inside," police official Abdikadir Mohamed said. The UNDP compound is only several hundred meters from the city's fortified airport that serves as the main base for an African peacekeeping force battling Islamist militants in the country.
Singapore air pollution hits 16-year high
Singapore's main indicator of air quality moved into the ‘unhealthy’ range after smoke from fires on Indonesia's Sumatra Island wafted across the sea and cast a gray pall over the city-state's skyline. The readings on the Pollutant Standards Index held steady between 104 and 123 on Tuesday. An ‘unhealthy’ measurement is between 101 and 200. The index hit 155 on Monday night, the worst pollution reading since it soared to 226 in late 1997. Smoke haze is an annual headache for Singapore, often beginning midyear when farmers in Indonesia clear land by igniting fires. This sometimes causes diplomatic strains, with Singapore calling on Indonesia to do more to prevent illegal burning.
Afghan Taliban claim killing of 4 US troops
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an attack in Afghanistan that killed four US soldiers, just hours after the militant group said it would hold talks with the US on finding a political solution to ending the country’s nearly 12-year war. Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said on Wednesday that the insurgent group launched two rockets into the Bagram Air Base late Tuesday, AP reported. US officials confirmed the military base had come under attack by indirect fire and that four US troops were killed. The attack highlights the challenges ahead, after the Taliban and the US announced they would hold talks in Qatar as early as this week in an effort to end the violence while Washington prepares to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan next year.
Body of Todashev flown to Russia after FBI slaying
The body of Ibragim Todashev, a man of Chechen origin who lived in the US and was killed by FBI agents while being questioned about the Boston Marathon bombings, was flown home to Russia almost a month after he was fatally shot. Todashev, 27, lived in Orlando and was a friend of accused Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Globe reported. During a final interview about their relationship, Todashev was shot multiple times and killed by an agent who said the man attacked him. The details of the incident remain classified. Todashev’s family has faced delays in shipping his body back to Russia as the FBI has yet to release his green card and passport, which made booking a flight difficult.
9 students killed in suspected Islamist attack in Nigeria
Nine students were killed in Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri when suspected Islamist militants opened fire in the second such deadly attack on schools in three days. "I saw five students sitting the exams killed on the spot. Four others were killed as they were entering the school premises," witness Ibrahim Mohammed told Reuters. Boko Haram, whose name means ‘Western education is sinful,’ has attacked several schools in the past. Seven students, two teachers and two insurgents were killed when the militants attacked a school in the town of Damaturu on Sunday. Although Nigerian forces claim their month-long offensive has helped them wrest control of the country’s remote northeast from Boko Haram, the two latest attacks raise concerns that the offensive has only pushed the militants into hiding.
Blasts at Russian ammo depot end
Russian emergency services have reported that a string of blasts at an ammunition depot in the Samara region have ended, after the base first caught fire on Tuesday. The assessment was made after no blasts were reported for about two hours. There are two sites where the fire continues, but both have been contained by firefighters.
Indian high court rules couples who engage in premarital sex are ‘married’
The Madras High Court with jurisdiction over more than 70 million Indian residents living within the states of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry has determined that any unmarried couples of the proper legal age that “indulge in sexual gratification” will be considered married. According to the court’s ruling, if an unmarried man of at least 21 years of age and an unmarried woman of 18 consummate their relationship it will become “a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow, except on certain exceptional considerations.” Justice CS Karnan passed the order on Monday while overseeing the appeal of an unmarried woman who was seeking financial support from the man who had fathered two children with her.
US House passes late-term abortion bill with incest, rape exception
The US House of Representatives has adopted legislation that would ban late-term abortions. The bill is designed to make it illegal to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks after fertilization, but would exempt victims of rape or incest on the condition that they first report the crime to authorities. With the Democrat-controlled Senate and the threat of a White House veto, the Republican-designed bill, observers argue, is likely to fail.