Self-defense forces, Ukraine agree on 150 for 225 prisoner exchange
An agreement has been reached with Ukraine on the exchange of prisoners on the ‘all for all’ basis, according to Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. “We succeeded in reaching agreement on the exchange of prisoners… 150 for 225,” TASS quoted him as saying after the meeting in Minsk. It is early to talk about any other agreements, he said.
Yemen’s second-highest intelligence official kidnapped
Suspected Shiite rebels have kidnapped Yemen’s second-highest intelligence official from his house in the capital Sanaa, security officials said. The gunmen went to Major General Yehia al-Marani’s house at dawn on Thursday, and demanded that he go with them, AP reported. The gunmen were identified as Shiite rebels known as the Houthis, who took control of Sanaa in September, challenging the central government.
Rebels in Somalia say attacking main African Union base
Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab attacked the main African Union (AU) peacekeeping base in the capital Mogadishu on Thursday, Reuters reported, citing the group’s military spokesman. “Our fighters have entered AU’s Halane base by force through the gate and now fighting is going on inside the base,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab said. Sporadic gunfire could be heard from inside the compound.
India deploys helicopters to hunt down militants in Assam after attacks
India deployed military helicopters on Thursday to hunt down tribal militants in the northeastern state of Assam after rebels killed 75 people this week, Reuters said. Suspected militants of a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland attacked four villages on Tuesday in the space of an hour. More than half of the victims were women and children of tea plantation workers from outside the state. Security forces launched an offensive against the Bodo faction a month ago that inflicted heavy losses.
EasyJet to cancel about 40 flights over strike in France
British budget carrier EasyJet said on Wednesday that about 40 flights would be canceled the day after Christmas, AFP reported. Flight attendants have begun a strike in France over scheduling and pay. Workers from the SNPNC-FO and UNAC unions said their strike will start on Christmas. No flights are scheduled for that day, and the walkout will affect only those flying on Friday.
US judge refuses to give Polanski chance to close rape case
A US judge has refused to reopen the case of filmmaker Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty in 1977 to raping a 13-year-old. He left the US before sentencing. Judge James Brandlin, from the superior court of Los Angeles, turned down a request from Polanski’s lawyers, who wanted a new hearing to try and close the case on procedural grounds, AFP said. The request had no constitutional basis, and the filmmaker had even less right to the procedural hearing than 37 years ago, according to Brandlin. US authorities have pressed for Polanski’s extradition regularly to no avail.
Death toll nears 80 after militant attacks in India’s Assam
Militants launched a fresh round of attacks on Wednesday in the Udalguri district of Assam, northeastern India, raising death toll to 76, the Times of India reported. Earlier on Tuesday, armed separatists of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland attacked Assam, killing 51 people in four attacks in the space of an hour. The Indian government imposed a curfew following the attack and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condemned the shooting. “Killing of innocent people in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar is an act of cowardice,” Modi tweeted. The militants have been waging a guerrilla fight for a separate homeland for indigenous Bodo people, as they complain that the tea-growing state has been flooded with outsiders.
Russia’s Soyuz-2.1b rocket launch a success – Defense Ministry
Russia launched a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with a communications satellite from Plesetsk space center, located in the north of the country, according to the country's Defense Ministry. "On Thursday, December 25, 2014, at 06:01 a.m. Moscow time (03:01 GMT)…a successful launch of a medium-class space rocket 'Soyuz-2.1b' was carried out," the Russian Defense Ministry's spokesperson for Aerospace Defense Forces, Col. Aleksei Zolotukhin, told RIA Novosti. Just a few minutes later, at 6:16 a.m. Moscow time (03:16 GMT), the satellite was successfully placed into orbit with all its functions working normally. This marks Russia’s sixth Soyuz-2.1b rocket launch in 2014.