US to reopen 18 of 19 Middle East embassies and consulates as terror threats subside
The US State Department announced Friday that 18 of the 19 American embassies and consulates closed in the past week as a safety precaution against potential terrorist attacks will reopen on Sunday. The US embassy in Sanaa, Yemen will remain closed “because of ongoing concerns about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks emanating from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. Citing a “separate credible threat,” Psaki added that the US consulate in Lahore, Pakistan – which was evacuated Thursday night due to possible terrorist activity - will also remain closed.
Small plane crashes into Connecticut house
A small plane has crashed into a house near a Connecticut airport, a local fire department dispatcher told AP. The accident occurred on Friday morning in the town of East Haven, located near Tweed New Haven Regional Airport. The pilot and two children – aged one and 13 years – were reported missing following the crash.
Israeli drones kill at least 5 militants in Egypt's Sinai – report
At least five Egyptian militants were killed in an airstrike in Sinai on Friday as they prepared to launch shoulder-fired missiles at Israel, Egyptian military sources told Palestinian news agency Ma'an. The officials said that an Israeli drone fired a missile in the northern Sinai Peninsula, destroying one or more launchers and provoking a large explosion. The Israeli military did not provide comment.
Federal Reserve Bank bomb plotter gets 30 years
A 22-year-old man from Bangladesh has been sentenced to 30 years behind bars after attempting to blow up New York’s Federal Reserve Bank. Quazi Nafis drove a van loaded with 1,000lbs of fake explosives up to the door of the bank and tried to detonate them last fall. However, it had been part of a federal undercover sting operation. Nafis pleaded guilty in February. He told the judge in a letter that he was extremely sorry for his actions.
Russian, US foreign and defense ministers meet in Washington
Moscow hopes for “constructive character” in consultations between Russian foreign and defense ministers and their US counterparts that started in Washington on Friday, Deputy Director of the Information Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova said. The Russian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, and Defense, Sergey Shoigu, will hold talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The foreign policy and defense chiefs of the two countries last participated in consultations in the 2+2 format in 2008.
Czech PM Rusnok to resign with govt after losing confidence vote
Czech Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok will submit his cabinet's resignation to President Milos Zeman on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing a government spokesman. The government lost a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday. The cabinet will stay in office in a caretaker capacity, possibly for more than two months. Deputies of parliament plan to dissolve the lower house late August, paving the way for an early election in the autumn.
Eiffel Tower completely evacuated due to bomb scare
The Eiffel Tower was completely evacuated on Friday afternoon following a bomb alert, a police official told Reuters. The 324-meter-high iron tower was evacuated around 2:30pm (12:30 GMT) and had not reopened to tourists by 4pm. The official could give no further details.
Pro-Morsi supporters stage 28 marches from mosques across Cairo
Supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi are expected to stage 28 marches in Cairo and suburbs on Friday from mosques after afternoon prayers. Massive ‘AntiCoup Marches’ were also planned in Sinai, Alexandria and other cities. Thousands were reported on Twitter gathering for rallies and marches, including one to Rabaa Square in Cairo. The Anti-Coup Alliance said in a statement the days will increase protesters’ “determination to persist in their peaceful struggle until the country returns to the democratic path.
Greece hit by 4.9-magnitude
A 4.9-magnitude aftershock on Friday hit an area of central Greece where a quake damaged homes two days earlier. The quake struck at 11:49 GMT near the town of Amfiklia, 123km northwest of Athens, and was felt in the capital, the Athens Observatory said. A 5.1-magnitude quake on Wednesday damaged scores of homes in the area around Amfiklia, but no casualties were reported. Aftershocks of up to 5.0 in magnitude could hit during at least two more weeks, observatory research director Thanassis Ganas said.
Putin, Rouhani to meet at SCO summit on September 13
The presidents of Russia and Iran are due to meet for the first time on September 13, Russian presidential foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said Friday. Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani will meet during a planned summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. After Rouhani was elected president, “a proposal came from our Iranian partners for a Rouhani-Putin meeting during the SCO summit in Bishkek,” Ushakov said. “We were quite grateful to the Iranian side for this initiative, and we naturally took it up,”he added.
Kremlin was prepared for cancellation of Obama visit
The Kremlin was prepared for the cancellation of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow, so its reaction to the news was quiet, the Russian president’s aide Yury Ushakov said Friday. “We were prepared, given the discussions in the press and the political background created in the US in connection with the Snowden problem,”Interfax quoted him as saying. “We were equally prepared for the visit and for its cancelation,” he added. “We take all this easily, aware that contacts will most likely be continued sooner or later.”
Oil spills across 20km of Philippines capital's coastline
A huge oil spill shut down parts of the Philippines capital's vital fishing industry Friday. Dead fish floated on the water and some residents fell ill from the fumes as an estimated 500,000 liters of oil cast a slick across 20km of the coastline. “Many of our young and elderly residents are getting sick,” Marcos Solis, the captain of a fishing village, told AFP. The price of fish and shellfish has collapsed. The slick was caused by either a leak at an oil terminal on the bay or a ship that had unloaded diesel, authorities say.
Norwegian neo-Nazi singer Vikernes to sue France over terror arrest
Norwegian heavy metal musician Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes arrested by French police last month for allegedly preparing a terrorist attack, plans to file a lawsuit over his detention. “We want to sue the authorities for arresting us for no good reason whatsoever, doing so in the most brutal way possible,” Vikernes wrote on his website. “We cannot afford to sue them,” he added, asking supporters to help fund the lawsuit. The musician and his pregnant wife Marie were arrested in July in central France, on suspicion of planning a “mass terrorist act” after she legally bought four rifles.
Rogge ‘uncertain’ how ‘gay propaganda’ law may affect 2014 Olympics
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has asked Moscow for clarification on how Russia’s controversial “gay propaganda” legislation might affect athletes and spectators at the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Rogge said Friday that “uncertainties” still remain, and the IOC will present its official stance after such a clarification. Rogge confirmed however that the IOC has received “all assurances” from Russian Olympic supervisor Dmitry Kozak that Sochi athletes and visitors will be exempt from the law, RIA Novosti said. The law levies stiff fines for individuals or organizations who promote homosexuality to minors.
Italy beefs up security in Rome due to terror threats
Italian law enforcement agencies are taking steps to boost security in Rome after US authorities warned about possible terror attacks, local media reported Friday. Special attention was paid to foreign embassies and important facilities in the Italian capital. The Foreign Ministry has described the terror threat as ‘reality’, but gave no specific information on possible risks for Italy.
8 British police officers hurt in N. Ireland violence
Eight officers were hurt after a crowd threw paint bombs, bottles and masonry at police in Belfast early on Friday. Sectarian violence began on Thursday night, emanating from a bonfire in the Divis Street area, a Catholic-dominated part of Belfast. Two officers required hospital treatment for head injuries. There were eight arrests for public order offences, Reuters reported. In another area of Belfast, a man attacked police with a sword and officers fired two plastic bullets in response. Police did not specify what triggered the violence.
Ukrainian aircraft carrying chickens burned down at Leipzig Airport
An An-12 aircraft burned down at the Leipzig-Halle Airport early Friday, aero.de reported. The fire broke out after 2am local time in the middle of the aircraft. The aircraft was completely incinerated despite the efforts of about 60 people and 15 fire engines. No one was hurt. The aircraft reportedly belonged to the Joint Stock Company Ukraine Air Alliance Airlines, and was performing a charter flight from Leipzig, Germany, to Mineralnye Vody, Russia, transporting chickens. The incident temporarily disrupted operations at Germany’s second-largest cargo hub.
US drone strike kills 3 Al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen
A US drone killed three suspected Al-Qaeda militants in east Yemen, a local official said. The men were traveling in a vehicle in the province of Hadramout in Ghail Bawazeer area, 45km from the provincial capital Mukalla, when they were targeted by the drone on Thursday night, he told Reuters. The strike was the third within 24 hours, after recent warnings of possible terror attacks.
UK Royal Navy to send 4 warships to Gibraltar
The British Royal Navy will send four warships to Gibraltar on Monday en route to the Middle East to take part in “pre-planned exercises.” The navy vessels will visit the outpost as part of an annual deployment known as ‘Cougar’, Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) said. The forthcoming visit by ships including HMS Westminster and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Lyme Bay and Mounts Bay, is “business as usual,” an MoD statement said. A spokesman said the visit was not related to the border issues. Late July, boats from Gibraltar dumped concrete blocks into the sea to make a reef, and Spain created long delays at the border days later.
Bloodhound Gang barred from entering Russia for 5 years – official
The members of the US rock group Bloodhound Gang who desecrated the Russian flag will not be able to enter Russia for the next five years, Oleg Molodyevsky, the head of the Russian Federal Migration Service department for Moscow Region, said Friday. “Our colleagues from the border guard service have barred them from entering the Russian Federation,” Interfax quoted him as saying. The musicians will not be able to give any concerts in Russia for five years, he added.
2 Turkish pilots abducted in Lebanon’s capital
Gunmen kidnapped two pilots working for Turkish Airlines early on Friday on Beirut’s airport road. “A kidnapping operation took place at 3am targeting a bus carrying several members of a Turkish Airlines crew going from the airport to the hotel,” Lebanon’s Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told AFP. Gunmen kidnapped two passengers from the bus, the pilot and co-pilot, and seven other passengers on the bus were not targeted. Four gunmen were involved in the kidnapping, sources say.
Military plane crash-lands in Somali capital airport
A cargo plane full of weapons has reportedly run off the runway in the Somali capital on Friday. Black smoke was seen rising over Mogadishu Airport. It was not immediately clear if the accident was a full-scale crash. The plane involved was a cargo plane carrying weapons from Ethiopia, AP reported, citing an airport official.
US Secretary of State and Russian FM to discuss Snowden on Friday
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry are set to meet in Washington, DC on Friday along with defense ministers from both countries. A spokesperson for the US State Department said that Kerry intends to cover the issue of Edward Snowden’s Russian asylum as well as a number of other topics, including cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. The State Department has also said the US is interested in discussing existing differences on the topics of anti-missile defence, arms control, and human rights. Kerry and Lavrov will also be addressing the ongoing situation in Syria, as efforts to prepare for the Geneva-2 conference have so far been delayed, reportedly due to an uncoordinated Syrian opposition and Washington’s refusal to invite Iran to participate.