New Age Islam
Fri Nov 27 2020, 02:31 PM

Islamic World News ( 16 Aug 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Taliban storm Pak air base that stores nuke warheads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan

Taliban storm Pak air base that stores nuke warheads

Base attacked to avenge Osama death: Taliban

Army will not launch a joint operation in NW: Kayani

Shia killing: TTP claims responsibility for Mansehra attack

No worry about nukes: Pakistan

Why Taliban targeted Minhas base

Karachi violence claims three more lives

Blast reported in Karachi; over 10 wounded

President Zardari grants prisoners special Eid remission

Kamra attack shows need for North Waziristan offensive

Amid myriad questions Jinnah remains a figure of unity

3 Hazaras shot dead in Quetta

Christians thanked for working toward Pakistan’s betterment

Kamra attack, Hindu migration part of conspiracy against Pakistan: Altaf Hussain

Parts of Gilgit-Baltistan shut down to protest Shia killings

 

India

SIMI hand in Azad Maidan mayhem

Curfew relaxed in Assam, 100 people detained

Eight sentenced to life for burning alive farmer, son in Muzaffarnagar

Samajwadi Party expels Shia Waqf Board chief

118 Pakistani Hindus arrive in India

BSF trooper killed in cross border firing in Jammu and Kashmir

Love triangle not motive behind Shehla's murder: Father

 

South Asia

Another Afghan Police Attack Kills 2 US Troops

Taliban say they have infiltrated Afghan forces

NATO brands Taliban leader’s Eid message ‘insane’

Myanmar moderates risk ire to calm sectarian rift

 

Mideast Asia

Israel preparing to attack Iran: Report

Iran: Israel's Existence 'Insult to All Humanity'

Iran charges Gulf royals with hypocrisy

Iran's Ahmadinejad Says No Place for Israel in New Middle East

Is Israeli economy under threat in case of Iran war?

Turkish ambassador hopes for expansion of trade with India

Israel 'will disappear,' Iran says ahead of rallies

Palestinian taxi hit by fire-bomb in West Bank

Iran: Amnesty Granted to 130 Prisoners Arrested After 2009 Election

Yemen: Members of Elite Force Face Mutiny Charges

 

Arab World

Wave of attacks in northern, central Iraq kill 100

In Lebanon, Sunnis Threaten Shiites as Kidnappings of Syrians Rise

UN ends observer mission in Syria as Aleppo under renewed attack

Syria activists 'find 60 bodies in Damascus suburb'

As Diplomatic Efforts Stall in Syria, U.N. Says It Will End Its Observer Mission

In Paper, Chief of Egypt Army Criticized U.S.

UN monitors quit, saying Syrians choose 'path of war'

 

North America

Time and CNN revoke Fareed Zakaria's suspension

Ex-CIA officers accuse Obama of leaking details of Laden raid

If Muslims Ran Wall Street, America Could Have Avoided the 2008 Economic Crisis

Attacking Shariah, Attacking Religious Freedom

Sikh shot dead in Wisconsin in an attempted robbery

Unattributed quote? American paper says sorry to Zakaria

Tehran a strange and inappropriate choice for NAM meeting: US

White House offers prayers to Afghan crash victims

 

Europe

Berlin court allows Prophet (PBUH)’s cartoons to be displayed at rally

Assad butchering Syrians, must go: France

British Muslims in danger of being radicalized by Syrian conflict

UN chief ‘appalled’ by Pakistan sectarian killings

Britain refuses Julian Assange safe passage to Ecuador

 

Africa

More than 30 killed in South Africa mine violence

No peace in Sudan's Darfur despite costly peacekeeping force

Salafists vs 'un-Islamic' culture: who will win battle in Tunisia?

West Africa: Ecowas Is Focusing On the Wrong Front in Mali

Uganda prime minister hacked 'over gay rights'

Sudanese refugees face 'humanitarian disaster'

 

South ast Asia

Indonesian Islamic Sect Tarekat Naqshabandiyah Observes Idul Fitri on Friday

On Intolerance, Jakarta Could Be Worse: Indonesian Council of Churches

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Taliban storm Pak air base that stores nuke warheads

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/by-new-age-islam-news-bureau/taliban-storm-pak-air-base-that-stores-nuke-warheads/d/8305

 

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Pakistan

 

Taliban storm Pak air base that stores nuke warheads

Aug 17, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Less than 48 hours after the US defence secretary reiterated that Washington's biggest fear was that Pakistan's nuclear weapons would fall into the hands of terrorists, heavily-armed Taliban fighters stormed a high-security airbase, where some of the country's 100 nuclear warheads are believed to be stored, near Islamabad on Thursday. A five-hour gunfight left nine attackers and a soldier dead and the base commander among the many wounded.

One aircraft was damaged earlier when the attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades from outside the Minhas base in Kamra town, about 40km northwest of Islamabad. It is home to US-built F-16s and a factory that builds Mirage fighter planes and China-made JF-17 fighter jets .

"All militants involved in the attack were killed. One soldier lost his life while Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the operation against the attackers, was injured," the Pakistan air force spokesman said. "The terrorists, wearing military uniforms, were armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. The bodies of the six dead militants were found strapped with suicide jackets."

The raid underscored US defence secretary Leon Panetta's concerns. The great danger, he said on Tuesday, was that Pakistan's N-weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Taliban-storm-Pak-air-base-that-stores-nuke-warheads/articleshow/15523344.cms

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Base attacked to avenge Osama death: Taliban

Aug 17, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Taliban raid on the Minhas air base on Thursday underscored US defence secretary Leon Panetta's concern about Pakistan. "The great danger we've always feared is that if terrorism is not controlled in their country, then those nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands," Panetta said in Pentagon on Tuesday.

He was responding to queries on a recent congressional report on Pakistan's increasing India-centric nuclear capabilities. PAF spokesman Tariq Mahmood said the attackers scaled the base's walls covered with barbed wires but were shot dead before they could reach the hangars there. Mahmood denied reports about nukes being stored at the base. Local journalists, who were at the scene, said they heard the bang of the rockets that hit the aircraft.

The attack was similar to the one that the Taliban carried out on a naval complex in Karachi days after al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was killed in a US raid in May last year.Pakistan defence minister Syed Naveed Qamar lauded the "preparedness" at the base, saying the death toll of the militants and minimal damage caused to the base were proof enough. Officials said they were investigating the possibility of insider collaboration as in the attack on the Karachi naval base.

Tehrik-e-Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said only four suicide bombers attacked the base to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden and their chief Baitullah Mehsud. "Our men succeeded in giving a lethal blow to the armed forces and achieved their targets," he said, adding that the attack showed they could strike at will and would target other installations as well.

He rubbished claims that just one soldier had died in the attack, saying dozens of security personnel were killed. "We specifically targeted the Minhas base as fighter planes used against us are built there." This was the third attack on the base. Eight people were killed after a suicide bomber blew himself up near a checkpost outside the base on October 23, 2009.

Five kids were injured in a similar attack on a school bus near the base in December 2007. The latest attack came amid speculation that Pakistan plans an anti-Taliban operation in their stronghold of North Waziristan bordering Afghanistan. The dreaded Afghan insurgent Haqqani network is also believed to be holed up in the area. Pakistan had earlier carried out largely successful operations in South Waziristan and Swat.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Base-attacked-to-avenge-Osama-death-Taliban/articleshow/15526100.cms

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Army will not launch a joint operation in NW: Kayani

17 AUGUST 2012

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday said that Pakistan’s Army will not launch a joint operation with US army in North Waziristan, DawnNews reported.

Moreover, he said that any kind of joint operation would not be acceptable for Pakistan and its army.

He said that North Waziristan’s operation will not begin on any external pressure.

“Country’s interest will be given first priority in case of any operation” said Gen Kayani.

http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/army-will-not-launch-a-joint-operation-in-nw-kayani/

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Shia killing: TTP claims responsibility for Mansehra attack

August 16, 2012

PESHAWAR / DI KHAN: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility of pulling 20 Shia from a bus and killing them at point blank range in Mansehra on Thursday.

In a message, TTP Dara Adam Khel/ Khyber Agency spokesman Muhammad Afridi said that the people killed were Shias who are involved in killing Sunnis against the will of Islam. “We will target them in the future,” he said.

Earlier during the day, gunmen pulled 20 Shias from a bus and shot them dead in the third such incident in six months, officials confirmed.

The incident happened in the northwestern district of Mansehra as the bus was travelling between Rawalpindi and Gilgit.

Officials said it was ambushed in the hills of Babusar Top, around 100 miles (160 kilometres) north of Islamabad, although they differed over details of the incident.

“Ten to 12 people wearing army uniform stopped the bus and forced some people off the bus,” said Khalid Omarzai, administration chief in Mansehra.

“After checking their papers, they opened fire and at least 20 people are reported to have been killed. This is initial information and the final toll may go up. They are all Shias,” he said.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/422907/sectarian-attack-16-sunnis-gunned-down-near-gilgit/

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No worry about nukes: Pakistan

August 16, 2012

Pakistan on Thursday said that the country’s strategic nuclear assets were safe under a robust command and control system. Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Moazzam Khan told a weekly news briefing that the world should not have concerns about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear assets.

Elaborate measures are in place to secure these assets, he said.

Khan’s remarks came hours after a group of terrorists stormed the Kamra airbase in Punjab, which is believed to house nuclear weapons. Nine terrorists and a soldier were killed during the attack.

Khan was also reacting to recent comments made by US defence secretary Leon Panetta that Pakistan’s nuclear  weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.

During a news conference in Washington on Tuesday, Panetta had said: “The great danger we’ve always feared is that if terrorism is not controlled in Pakistan, then those nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands”.

Avenging Osama

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/Pakistan/No-worry-about-nukes-Pakistan/Article1-914714.aspx

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Why Taliban targeted Minhas base

Shishir Gupta

 August 16, 2012

By carrying out a terrorist strike against the Minhas Air Base, the Tehreek-e-Taliban targeted perhaps the most important base-cum-aeronautical complex of Pakistan Air Force.

“It is like having Ambala air base with HAL Nashik and HAL Kanpur thrown in together. It is the most

important PAF facility,” said a recently retired Indian Air Force chief.

Among other things, said another retired Indian air chief, the base serves as the place for preparing Pakistan’s nuclear aerial delivery platforms and systems.

The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex adjacent to the base is the site for the fighter upgrade programs for Pakistan’s F-16s, Mirage IIs, Chengdu FC-10s and the Chengdu F-6 fighters and Shenyang FT-6 trainers.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Why-Taliban-targeted-Minhas-base/Article1-914709.aspx

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Karachi violence claims three more lives

17 AUGUST 2012

KARACHI: Three people were killed in incidents of violence in Karachi, DawnNews reported on Friday.

Moreover, a religious scholar Maulana Saleem Abbas Naqshbandi, who had been injured during a firing incident 10 days ago, died during treatment. The scholar had received injuries when an unidentified person had opened fire near the Chiragh Hotel in Lyari.

On hearing the news of the scholar’s death, several people staged a protest in front of the Landi Police Station demanding strong action against the culprits.

In another firing incident, an unidentified person killed a man in Orangi Town. Police described the incident as resistance during robbery.

Another man was killed by firing in Baldia Town.

A dead body was also found in a flat from Naya Abad, area of Lyari. According to the police the victim was killed by knife and he was a teacher in a school.

http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/karachi-violence-claims-three-more-lives-2/

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Blast reported in Karachi; over 10 wounded

17 AUGUST 2012

KARACHI: Over 10 people were wounded in a blast that took place near Karachi’s Safari Park on Friday, DawnNews reported.

Two cars were also reported to have been destroyed in the explosion.

Contingents of police and Rangers had reached the site of the blast had cordoned off the area.

Preliminary reports said the bomb appeared to have targeted a bus transporting participants of today’s Al Quds rally. However, some television channels have been quoting police officials as saying that a CNG cylinder of a car had exploded causing the damage.

However, sources told DawnNews that the explosion was caused by a roadside bomb which also damaged the shops located in the area.

http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/blast-reported-in-karachi/

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President Zardari grants prisoners special Eid remission

17 AUGUST 2012

ISLAMABAD: On the occasion of Eidul Fitr, President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday approved the granting of special remission in the jail terms of prisoners convicted under different cases, DawnNews reported.

Special remission of 90 days has been announced for the prisoners sentenced for life imprisonment except those convicted for murder, espionage, anti-state activities, sectarianism, zina, robbery, dacoity, kidnapping or abduction and terrorist activities.

Special remission for 45 days has been allowed to all other convicts, except condemned prisoners and those convicted of murder, espionage, subversion, anti-state activities, terrorist activities, zina, kidnapping or abduction, robbery, dacoity and those undergoing sentences under the Foreigners Act 1946.

Special remission for all such cases will be admissible provided the convicts have undergone two-thirds of their substantive sentences of imprisonment.

http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/president-zardari-grants-prisoners-special-eid-remission/

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Kamra attack shows need for North Waziristan offensive

17 AUGUST 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban’s brazen attack on a major air force base near the capital underscores the need for the Pakistani army’s planned offensive against the group in its last major sanctuary along the Afghan border.

But the operation in the remote, mountainous North Waziristan tribal area is fraught with danger, both in terms of battling the Taliban and avoiding combat with other militants who are not viewed by the state as a threat because they have focused their attacks on Nato and Afghan forces inside neighbouring Afghanistan.

The United States has repeatedly pressed Pakistan to attack this latter group of militants in North Waziristan, especially the so-called Haqqani network. But the offensive is likely to disappoint on that front and is shaping up to be much less dramatic than the type Washington has long wanted.

The major perceived threat for Islamabad is definitely the Taliban’s Pakistani branch, which has waged a bloody insurgency in the country for years that has killed over 30,000 people.

A team of nine Taliban militants armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked a Pakistani air force base near Islamabad with possible links to the country’s nuclear program before dawn Thursday, killing two security officials. Security forces managed to retake the base after two hours of heavy fighting in which all nine militants were killed.

Asad Munir, a retired army brigadier who served as an intelligence officer in Pakistan’s tribal region, said the attack reinforced the need for an operation against the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/attack-shows-need-for-pakistani-taliban-offensive/

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Amid myriad questions Jinnah remains a figure of unity

By Fatima Mujtaba

17 AUGUST 2012

ISLAMABAD, Aug 16: As Pakistan celebrates its independence, a sort of gloom mires the festivity.

The attack in Kamra yesterday was another reminder for Pakistanis that questions of identity, state and power are as explosive, as they were in 1947.

Speaking at the second anniversary of Jinnah Institute, aptly on Jinnah, prolific writer and historian Ayesha Jalal revisited these questions in Islamabad.

It was a small gathering at Islamabad Club that she addressed. One can only hope that the travails of fasting kept a larger crowd away.

The greatest hero for most Pakistanis, Mohammad Ali Jinnah is somewhat of an elusive figure even for those who inhabit the nation he carved out on the map of sub-continent, she pointed out.

“It is interesting that a country with loopholes in its legal system was founded by a constitutional lawyer,” she said, while attempting to make sense of the politics, past and present, which haunts Pakistan.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/amid-myriad-questions-jinnah-remains-a-figure-of-unity/

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3 Hazaras shot dead in Quetta

17 AUGUST 2012

QUETTA: As many as three Shias were shot dead on Thursday on Arbab Karam Khan Road in the Sariab police precincts.

According to police, the three men belonging to Hazara community were going somewhere in a rickshaw when unidentified assailant(s) opened fire on the vehicle near the Farooq Mill area of Arbab Karam Khan Road. As a result, one of the men died on the spot and two others sustained serious injuries. The two injured died on their way to the Civil Hospital Quetta. Two of the deceased were identified as Khadim Hussain and Abdul Ali, both in their mid-twenties. The third body could not be identified so far.

“The victims belong to the Hazara community and the incident is a sectarian target killing,” a police official told Daily Times.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\17\story_17-8-2012_pg7_3

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Christians thanked for working toward Pakistan’s betterment

17 AUGUST 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Christian community has given a considerable contribution in every field of life. Commendable services rendered by the Christians and other minorities shoulder-to-shoulder with their Muslim brethrens is a glorious chapter in the history the Pakistan Movement, PPP leader Faisal Sakhi Butt said while addressing a gathering of Christians in Sector G8/1 on Thursday. The ceremony was attended by a large number of Christians of the city.

In his address, Butt said that minorities have full rights vis-à-vis practicing their religious rituals.

They also enjoy full social rights across the country. The Christian community, especially those living in and near Islamabad, is playing an important role for making the capital clean and neat city, he added.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\17\story_17-8-2012_pg11_5

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Kamra attack, Hindu migration part of conspiracy against Pakistan: Altaf Hussain

August 17, 2012

Political leaders should focus on solving the problems faced by Pakistan rather than fighting for power, said Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain on Friday.

Commenting on the PAF Kamra base attack and Hindu migration to India, MQM chief said that the events appear to be a part of a conspiracy hatched against Pakistan.

Hussain requested intellectuals, columnists and various political, religious and social leaders to address these issues faced by the country.

Members of the MQM have been meeting representatives of political parties in an effort to hold a roundtable conference on national security, featuring stakeholders – including military leadership, religious and political leaders and intellectuals.

They had also met President Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi, the Jamaat-e-Islami in Lahore and the Awami National Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid in Islamabad in July for this purpose.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/423352/kamra-attack-hindu-migration-part-of-conspiracy-against-pakistan-altaf-hussain/

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Parts of Gilgit-Baltistan shut down to protest Shia killings

August 17, 2012

SKARDU: A second day of complete shutter-down was observed in certain areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, with demonstrations and rallies being held in different areas in protest of the killing of 25 people by terrorists, Express News reported on Friday.

Following protests and a call by Shia clerics of Anjuman-e-Imamia Baltistan against the delay in the arrest of the perpetrators, the local government also announced three days of mourning, with educational institutions and offices being closed for the period.

Protests and demonstrations were held in different areas and it has been said that Eidul Fitr will be observed in mourning as well.

Earlier, gunmen pulled more than 20 Shias from a bus and shot them dead in the third such incident in six months, officials confirmed.

Officials said that the bus was ambushed in the hills of Babusar Top, around 160km north of Islamabad.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/423357/parts-of-gilgit-baltistan-shut-down-to-protest-shia-killings/

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India

 

SIMI hand in Azad Maidan mayhem

17 AUGUST 2012

 RAKESH K SINGH

Banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) had a role in the violence at Azad Maidan in Mumbai in which two persons were killed and scores of others injured.

Security agencies have pinpointed SIMI operative Saquib Nachan to be the mastermind of the attack against the police, media personnel and civilians at a protest rally by Muslims against the ongoing violence in North-East between the Bodo tribals and the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

Nachan is an accused in the 1985 Kanishka plane crash and a prime accused in 2003 suburban train bombings at Mulund in Mumbai. He has undergone eight years judicial custody in both the cases and is presently out on bail. In the Kanishka plane bombing, he is accused of providing logistics and hideout to the prime accused of the case, Lal Singh and other accomplices including CM Bashir and Sheikh Hussain Fareed alias ‘Bilal’.

The revelation of his involvement in the latest terror attack came after interrogation of 23 persons accused of rioting in Mumbai this month. The arrested accused have revealed that he had instructed the participants to target media personnel and their OB vans outside the venue of the protest by the Muslims.

Nachan is known to harbour a vindictive attitude toward the media and his lawyers have in the past been sending legal notices to media houses for carrying reports against him.

The agencies have swung into action to ascertain if Nachan and his cohorts have a role in the sustained hate campaign against people of the North-East across the country and the larger design behind the subversive campaign.

Nachan has been an active operative of the SIMI in Mumbai and has extensive links with other operatives of the outfit, particularly in Maharashtra. He is suspected to have been acting in close coordination with Abdul Subhan alias ‘Tauqeer’ and Faisal besides Abrar of Kolhapur in Maharashtra and Kaleem Akhtar (who handles finance for the banned outfit).

The agencies have launched a manhunt to trace the notorious terror mastermind and teams have fanned out to various locations in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Armed protesters at the Azad Maidan had hit as many as 45 police personnel and two dozen civilians including media OB vans.

Former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had on July 31 said the operatives of SIMI are carrying forward the subversive agenda through associations with different outfits in different States. Chidambaram had also said that the Centre is keeping a track of such outfits and suitable action would be taken against them.

SIMI was banned in September 2001 but a series of attacks between 2003 and 2008 across the country were linked to the outfit notwithstanding arrest of its top leadership including the group’s president Safdar Nagori in 2008 by Madhya Pradesh police.

The outfit had organised arms training camps at various locations in Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka from 1999 to 2008 and aims at overthrowing the democratic set up with an Islamic state.

The Mumbai police have termed the incident as an act of terror and accordingly probing the case.

“A probe is on to unravel if the attack at Azad Maidan and subsequent hate campaign against people of the Northeast are part of any larger conspiracy against the state so that corrective measures are taken well in time. The probe will also ascertain if the sleeper cells of terror outfit have been activated and who are the conspirators,” an official said.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/home/online-channel/360-todays-newspaper/87824-simi-hand-in-azad-maidan-mayhem.html

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Curfew relaxed in Assam, 100 people detained

Aug 17, 2012

GUWAHATI: Curfew was partially lifted in Assam's Rangiya sub-division of Kamrup (Rural) district on Friday even as 100 people have been picked up for violence, police said. There were no reports of fresh violence during the past 24 hours.

"Curfew has been relaxed in Rangiya from 9am to 3pm. The situation is totally under control," said LR Bishnoi, inspector general of police (Law & Order).

He, however, said that night curfew would continue in the sub-division to prevent unwanted elements of taking advantage of the situation. "Security forces would continue to keep a strict vigil in Rangiya and other adjoining areas, as also in riot-hit areas of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Dhubri and Baksa districts," Bishnoi said.

He said 100-odd people have been picked up in connection with torching of seven vehicles, including a bus going to Guwahati at Bhatkuchi on National Highway No.31, and also burning of a wooden bridge under Kekahati police station, police said.

Thursday's violence in Rangiya was retaliatory for the Wednesday night incident when a car was set ablaze at Gandhibari in Baska district and its driver, Sahidul Hussain, reportedly went missing. On Thursday, police were forced to fire rubber bullets at Tamulpur area in Baksa district to disperse a violent mob that made attempts to break into the Tamulpur police station.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Curfew-relaxed-in-Assam-100-people-detained/articleshow/15529889.cms

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Eight sentenced to life for burning alive farmer, son in Muzaffarnagar

Aug 17, 2012

MUZAFFARNAGAR: A local court on Friday convicted eight people and sentenced them to life imprisonment for burning a farmer and his minor son.

Additional district sessions judge Sham Kumar held Shehzad, Abuless, Nazakat, Nafis, Islam, Farman, Sharaf and Mohsin guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

He also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on each of the accused.

According to government prosecutor Syed Muzammil Haider, the accused set a cottage on fire burning alive farmer Rafeek (45) and his son Javed (14) in Jalalpur village of the district on March 19, 2004.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Eight-sentenced-to-life-for-burning-alive-farmer-son-in-Muzaffarnagar/articleshow/15529732.cms

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Samajwadi Party expels Shia Waqf Board chief

Aug 17, 2012

LUCKNOW: The Samajwadi Party on Thursday expelled former SP corporator Wasim Rizvi on charges of anti-party activities and indiscipline. Rizvi, who at present is the officiating head of Shia Waqf Board, has also been suspended for six years from the party's primary membership. His expulsion is being seen as an attempt by the SP to please Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, who has been at loggerheads with Rizvi. The most publicised clash of the two was on the issue of alleged encroachment of Waqf land.

The two had come out in the open with their daggers drawn after Rizvi joined the BSP and later appointed the chairman of the waqf board. This resulted in unceremoniously dislodging the then chairman of the board Kamaluddin Akbar (a relative of Kalbe Jawwad). Wasim switched his political loyalties to SP a few months before UP elections only to ensure that he was on the right side of the power. As a result, Wasim managed to retain his post as chairman of the Waqf board.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Samajwadi-Party-expels-Shia-Waqf-Board-chief/articleshow/15524180.cms

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118 Pakistani Hindus arrive in India

Aug 16, 2012

ATTARI, PUNJAB: With uncertainty writ large on their faces, 118 Pakistani Hindus arrived in India on board the Samjhauta Express, the peace train between India and Pakistan, here on Thursday.

Though most of the people arriving from Pakistan remained tight-lipped about their stay and future in India, some of them said that they were not sure whether they will return to Pakistan.

The Pakistani Hindus are under a cloud of fear following recent incidents of being forced to convert to Islam by Islamists in Pakistan. The Pakistani Hindus have complained that they were being subjected to threats, kidnappings and murders for refusing to convert to Islam.

"We have still not decided whether we will go back or stay here," said Anil Kumar, who arrived on Thursday with his family.

Authorities in Pakistan have been forcing Hindus there, who are coming to India, to sign documents assuring that they (Hindus) will return to Pakistan.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/118-Pakistani-Hindus-arrive-in-India/articleshow/15520075.cms

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Undecided Pakistan's Hindu nationals arrive India

Aug 16, 2012

ATTARI: Pakistani Hindu national, Anil Kumar, who arrived India on board Samjhauta Express on Thursday along with his wife and three children and three trolley's full of luggage is yet to decide whether to return or stay back.

Only 7 Hindu nationals arrived India from a total of 118 passengers of Samjhauta Express.

According to sources, many Pakistani Hindus had returned to their native places from Wagah (Pakistan) railway station as they didn't want to give any written undertaking to Pakistan immigration officials assuring them of their return.

Resident of Quetta, Anil Kumar, said he had come here to participate in a relatives marriage at Indore.

When quizzed by media about his travel plans, he said, "We have spent a long time in Pakistan and there is no reason that we should not return."

However at the same breath, he said, "We will learn to live in Indian style in a month's time and then If we like we might stay back."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Undecided-Pakistans-Hindu-nationals-arrive-India/articleshow/15518789.cms

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BSF trooper killed in cross border firing in Jammu and Kashmir

Aug 17, 2012

JAMMU: A Border Security Force (BSF) trooper was killed when Pakistan resorted to "heavy unprovoked firing" on a border post in Jammu and Kashmir, an official said on Friday. The firing by Pakistan Rangers took place on Thursday night, spreading panic in the area, and continued till Friday morning.

Violating ceasefire, the Rangers opened fire at Abdullian post on the international border (IB), 35 km west of Jammu, with small and heavy arms and also fired mortars killing a soldier identified as Chander Rai from Assam.

"This was one of the heaviest instances of firing by Pakistani Rangers since the ceasefire was agreed to by India and Pakistan in November 2003," a BSF official said.

"BSF returned the fire to silence Pakistani guns but they (Pakistan Rangers) opened fire in adjoining areas too."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/BSF-trooper-killed-in-cross-border-firing-in-Jammu-and-Kashmir/articleshow/15528240.cms

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Love triangle not motive behind Shehla's murder: Father

Aug 17 2012

Bhopal : After one year of her killing, RTI activist Shehla Masood's father Sultan Masood has refuted claims that she was eliminated because of an alleged "love triangle" involving her and hinted at a "larger conspiracy" behind the crime.

"The theory of a love triangle (allegedly involving Shehla, BJP MLA Dhruv Narayan Singh and an accused – Zahida Pervez) is totally implausible in my view," Sultan said on Shehla's first death anniversary last evening.

Shehla was shot dead on August 16 last year when she was sitting in her car just outside her house in the posh Koh-e-Fiza locality of Bhopal.

The CBI had so far arrested Zahida, her close confidant Saba Farooqui, and alleged killers – Irfan Ali, Tabish and Shaqib Danger - in the case which is under trial at a court in Indore.

Sultan said Shehla used to spend most of her time in New Delhi since two years before her killing and would come here only for short trips for her RTI work, while Dhruv and Zahida were in Bhopal.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/love-triangle-not-motive-behind-shehlas-murder-father/989483/

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South Asia

 

Another Afghan Police Attack Kills 2 US Troops

17 AUGUST 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A newly recruited Afghan village policeman opened fire on his American allies on Friday, killing two U.S. service members minutes after they handed him his official weapon in an inauguration ceremony. It was the latest in a disturbing string of attacks by Afghan security forces on the international troops training them.

Later Friday, an Afghan soldier turned his gun on foreign troops in another part of the country and wounded two of them, a spokesman for the NATO coalition said.

The attacks in the country's far west and south brought to seven the number of times that a member of the Afghan security forces — or someone wearing their uniform — has opened fire on international forces in the past two weeks.

Such assaults by allies, virtually unheard of just a few years ago, have recently escalated, killing at least 36 foreign troops so far this year. They also raise questions about the strategy to train Afghan national police and soldiers to take over security and fight insurgents after most foreign troops leave the country by the end of 2014.

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/08/17/world/asia/ap-as-afghanistan.html?ref=asia

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Taliban say they have infiltrated Afghan forces

17 AUGUST 2012

KABUL: The Taliban’s reclusive leader said Thursday that his fighters have infiltrated the Afghan police and army and were successfully killing a rising number of US-led coalition forces.

Mullah Mohammad Omar, the one-eyed chief of the Afghan insurgency, emailed his eight-page message to news organizations ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.

Omar said Afghan security forces were assisting Taliban fighters who infiltrate their ranks, kill foreign troops and then carry their government-issued weapons back to insurgent camps.

“They are able to (safely) enter bases, offices and intelligence centers of the enemy,” he said. “Then, they easily carry out decisive and coordinated attacks, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy.”

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/taliban-say-they-have-infiltrated-afghan-forces/

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NATO brands Taliban leader’s Eid message ‘insane’

August 17, 2012

KABUL: The Taliban’s reclusive leader Mullah Omar has issued a bellicose Eid statement swiftly denounced by the commander of Nato troops in Afghanistan Friday as a message of hate from a deranged man.

The rare statement by the militants’ one-eyed leader claims victories on the battlefield against Nato and defends as tactical the Taliban’s initial contacts, now suspended, with the United States.

General John Allen pilloried the statement as “an unmistakable message of death, hate and hopelessness for the Afghan people” on the eve of Eidul Fitr celebrations marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.

Calling Omar a “deranged man” using “insane language”, Allen scoffs at his call on Taliban militants to avoid killing civilians, pointing to the deaths of dozens of civilians in a series of suicide and bomb attacks this week.

“Either Omar is lying, or his henchmen are not listening to him, but it is clear that innocent Afghan civilians are paying the price for his corrupt leadership,” Allen said in a statement.

In an apparent move to allay fears among some Taliban factions, Omar said in his seven-page statement that initial talks with the United States “had not meant submission or abandoning our goals”.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/423358/nato-brands-taliban-leaders-eid-message-insane/

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Myanmar moderates risk ire to calm sectarian rift

August 17, 2012

YANGON: A Myanmar blogger who was a poster boy for online resistance to the former junta has become the target of a backlash by social media users for speaking out against hatred aimed at Rohingya Muslims.

The case of former political prisoner Nay Phone Latt, a rare moderate voice on recent fighting between Muslims and Buddhist Rakhine, underscores the level of anger sparked by the unrest which erupted in western Myanmar in June.

The 32-year-old has faced the ire of social networkers for publishing an article warning of “genocide” if anti-Muslim sentiment spreads around the Buddhist-majority nation.

“I try to be neutral in this case but most of the Facebook (users) criticise me for being neutral. They want me to be on the side of the Rakhine,” he told AFP.

The blogger was sentenced to two decades in prison in 2008 for his links to the “Saffron Revolution” monk-led protests against the junta the previous year.

While detained he won the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in New York for showing the “strength of the creative spirit” in the face of repression. He was released in January as part of a political prisoner amnesty.

Recently, however, a photograph used during the campaign to free him – showing his friends with “Nay Phone Latt” written on their palms — has been circulated online with his name crossed out and replaced with the word “kalar”, a derogatory term for Muslims in Myanmar.

But he said some people realised the situation could lead to “endless fighting” if left unresolved and he had no regrets about speaking out.

Fellow blogger Nyi Lynn Seck, who has challenged one government official for posting controversial Facebook comments on the Rakhine violence, said anger was being stoked by misinformation.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/423331/myanmar-moderates-risk-ire-to-calm-sectarian-rift/

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Mideast Asia

 

Israel preparing to attack Iran: Report

Aug 17, 2012

LONDON: Israel is preparing for a ground attack on Iran before Christmas, after conducting commando dry runs in the Iraq desert, a media report said.

Top military officials in Tel Aviv believe they have until the end of the year to strike at Iran's nuclear programme, The Sun reported.

The main target would be a heavily fortified uranium enrichment plant at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom.

Israeli leaders have reportedly made it clear they are ready to launch military action alone - if the US does not help.

Late October or early November have been identified by intelligence analysts as a likely time because of the US elections Nov 6.

"We know the Israelis have been active in the Iraq desert, it would appear preparing forward bases for a ground assault. Bombing Iranian nuclear installations will most likely be a part of their plan, but the only way to confirm they have destroyed what they need to is to put boots on the ground," an unnamed British official was quoted as saying.

"It is a very big concern. Iran would have to retaliate, putting the region into an extremely dangerous situation," he said.

An "anonymous senior Israeli politician" -- believed to be defence minister Ehud Barak -- made it clear to The Sun that Israel had already decided to act alone.

"We can't wait to find out one morning that we relied on the Americans but were fooled because the Americans didn't act. Israel is strong and Israel is responsible, and will do what it has to do," the minister said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Israel-preparing-to-attack-Iran-Report/articleshow/15530617.cms

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Iran: Israel's Existence 'Insult to All Humanity'

17 AUGUST 2012

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Israel's existence is an "insult to all humanity," Iran's president said Friday in one of his sharpest attacks yet against the Jewish state, as Israel openly debates whether to attack Iran over its nuclear program.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said confronting Israel is an effort to "protect the dignity of all human beings."

"The existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to all humanity," Ahmadinejad said. He was addressing worshippers at Tehran University after nationwide pro-Palestinian rallies, an annual event marking Quds (Jerusalem) Day on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.

Israel considers Iran an existential threat because of its nuclear and missile programs, support for radical anti-Israel groups on its borders and repeated references by Iranian leaders to Israel's destruction. Ahmadinejad himself has repeatedly made such calls, as has Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran has denied allegations that it is seeking to build nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at producing electricity and radioisotopes used to treat cancer patients.

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/08/17/world/middleeast/ap-ml-iran-

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Iran's Ahmadinejad Says No Place for Israel in New Middle East

17 AUGUST 2012

DUBAI (Reuters) - Many thousands of Iranians shouted "Death to America, death to Israel" during state-organized protests on Friday and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told them there was no place for the Jewish state in a future Middle East.

Iran, penalized by tough Western sanctions, faces the threat of an Israeli or U.S. military strike on its disputed nuclear facilities. With popular uprisings reshaping the region, the Islamic Republic is also trying to prevent the overthrow of its closest Arab ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"You want a new Middle East? We do too, but in the new Middle East ... there will be no trace of the American presence and the Zionists," Ahmadinejad told worshippers at Tehran University in an event broadcast live on state television.

The Iranian leader, whose own authority is under challenge from hardliners as well as reformers, was restating Tehran's familiar goals as the Middle East undergoes a very different upheaval from the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah and brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power.

"Saving the existence of the Zionist regime (Israel) is a joint commitment by most arrogant Western governments," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to mark the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day decreed by Khomeini and held on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/08/17/world/middleeast/17reuters-iran-

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Is Israeli economy under threat in case of Iran war?

17 AUGUST 2012

Some Israelis fear ensuing conflict with arch-foe Iran jitters could deal costly blow to Jewish state's struggling economy.

If Israel were to mount a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, some fear the ensuing conflict could deal a costly blow to the Jewish state's struggling economy, despite claims by bank officials.

Talk of an imminent strike has dominated the press in recent weeks, but the Israeli establishment has remained tight-lipped, with only Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer speaking publicly on the issue.

He insisted the central bank had contingency plans.

"One could imagine a situation of a wide-scale war with which it could be very difficult to deal," he said in a recent TV interview.

"We are ready to deal with the consequences of any event. We are prepared for all kinds of crises, we are prepared for a major crisis, for a far worse security situation," Fischer said, without elaborating.

Full report at:

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=53931

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Iran charges Gulf royals with hypocrisy

ATUL ANEJA

17 AUGUST 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rapped the Gulf Arab monarchies for seeking reforms in Syria without applying the same standards of openness for themselves.

Iran’s Press TV quoted Mr. Ahmadinejad as saying in Makkah on the sidelines of a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that he “was surprised in this summit [to see] that the kings of some countries were speaking against Syria while the majority of their own people do not want them [to rule].”

The Iranian President made the comment on Wednesday during a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul. Rejecting double standards, Mr. Ahmadinejad said that he was “of course waiting to see when these reforms will reach the other countries in the region”.

During the conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad warned fellow Muslim countries in the 57-nation OIC not to fall in the trap that had been laid out for them by the region’s “enemies”.

“Today, all of us have entered into a plan without realising it; a plan that has been devised by the enemy. We are showing hostility toward each other without any clear reason and perhaps based on false information and under various personal, ethnic, historical, and even religious pretexts.”

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article3781163.ece

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Turkish ambassador hopes for expansion of trade with India

Tanmoy Mookherjee | Aug 15, 2012

NEW DELHI: Turkish ambassador to India Burak Akcapar has said India needs to "liberalise trade and remove artificial barriers" in order to expand trade between the two countries.

Speaking at an Iftar dinner organized by Turkey-based Education Endowment Trust here, Akcapar greeted Muslims on the holy month of Ramadan and was positive about the future of India-Turkey trade ties. "Commerce is quickly developing and the trends are looking positive. Trade was up to $7 billion last year between Turkey and India, but I still feel our business is very much below potential," he said.

"As members of the United Nations' G20, there is big potential in both countries," the ambassador said. "Turkish exports and Indian imports are complimentary to each other; we need a comprehensive economic agreement. India doesn't know how big an economy Turkey has become."

The Turkish ambassador also put great emphasis on the increasing focus on education, with the Education Endowment Trust's plan to open its 10th school in India, to be based in New Delhi. "Education is one of the key tools towards commerce between the nations. Not only does it help in establishing contemporary trade, but it also puts a lot of emphasis on the common heritage the two countries share between them."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Turkish-ambassador-hopes-for-expansion-of-trade-with-India/articleshow/15519691.cms

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Israel 'will disappear,' Iran says ahead of rallies

Aug 16 2012

Tehran : Israel is an artificial "outgrowth" in the Middle East that "will disappear," Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said ahead of rallies tomorrow against the Jewish state and supporting the Palestinians.

The annual Quds Day marches were started in 1979 after the founding of the Islamic republic. The protests use the word Quds, derived from Arabic, to designate the city of Jerusalem.

Khamenei, in a speech late on Wednesday, said the "star of hope" that shined on Iran during its Islamic revolution, and in its 1980-1988 war with Iraq "will also shine for Palestine and its Islamic land will definitely be returned to the

Palestinian nation."

He railed against Israel, saying: "This bogus and fake Zionist outgrowth will disappear off the landscape of geography."

Tomorrow's rallies, he said, would be "a blow to the enemies of Islam and Palestine" and added that Iran views supporting the Palestinian cause "a religious duty."

This year's Quds Day marches will take place amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel.

The Jewish state has greatly raised bellicose rhetoric threatening air strikes against the Islamic republic's nuclear facilities, which Israel believe are being used to develop atomic weapons that could destroy it.

Iran denies its nuclear programme is anything but peaceful.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/israel-will-disappear-iran-says-ahead-of-rallies/989097/

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Palestinian taxi hit by fire-bomb in West Bank

17 AUGUST 2012

Six people have been injured after a fire-bomb was thrown at a Palestinian taxi in the West Bank.

Israeli officials said there were indications that Israeli civilians were behind the attack, which took place near the Jewish settlement of Bat Ayin.

Palestinian medics said those hurt were all members of one family, among them the driver and two young children.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said those responsible for the "grave incident" would be caught.

An Israeli police spokesman said police and soldiers were searching the area for suspects, and that security had been increased on local roads.

Israeli media report that tracks were found from the scene of the attack to Bat Ayin, which is located south of Jerusalem.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19293301

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Iran: Amnesty Granted to 130 Prisoners Arrested After 2009 Election

17 AUGUST 2012

Iran’s top leader has granted amnesty to 130 prisoners related to the 2009 post-election turmoil, a state-run newspaper reported Thursday. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered immediate releases for some of the 130 and reduced prison terms for the rest on the occasion of the coming holiday ending the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the Iran Daily quoted Tehran’s chief prosecutor as saying. The prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, called the prisoners “security convicts,” a term used for those detained in the wave of unrest that followed the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran arrested hundreds of political figures and activists in the turmoil and many were sentenced to prison. Mr. Dowlatabadi did not identify any of the prisoners or say how many of the 130 were granted release. But the opposition Kaleme Web site said 60 would be released immediately, including Hamza Karami, a political adviser to former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Ghasem Shole Sadi, a former lawmaker and a critic of Ayatollah Khamenei.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/middleeast/iran-amnesty-granted-to-130-

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Yemen: Members of Elite Force Face Mutiny Charges

17 AUGUST 2012

Sixty-two officers and soldiers loyal to the son of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh were charged with resisting the authorities and mutiny after trying to storm the Ministry of Defense, a senior Yemeni security official said Thursday. The 62 will be referred to a military tribunal for joining a force of 200 in the attack on the ministry two days earlier, which left one attacker, two ministry guards and two civilians dead. The soldiers charged belong to the elite Republican Guard units led by Ahmed Saleh, the former president’s son, who were protesting a presidential decree that put some of the force’s units under presidential oversight. The decree was part of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s moves to restructure the army and purge it of former Saleh loyalists. Since he stepped down in February and handed power to Mr. Hadi, Mr. Saleh has been accused of meddling in the country’s affairs and retaining power behind the scene by moving his loyalists around to disrupt life in Yemen.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/middleeast/yemen-members-of-elite-force-face-mutiny-charges.html?ref=middleeast&gwh=AAA3DA2DA7C4A07AF799B1676AF54216

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Arab World

 

Wave of attacks in northern, central Iraq kill 100

ADAM SCHRECK SINAN SALAHEDDIN

August 16, 2012

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Insurgents in Iraq unleashed a wave of attacks from before dawn until late in the evening Thursday, killing 100 people and wounding dozens, the latest in a series of persistent strikes aimed at undermining the government's authority.

The bomb and shooting attacks made for the country's deadliest day in more than three weeks, rattling nerves as families prepared to gather for a holiday weekend. More than 130 people have been killed in violence across the country since the start of August, showing that insurgents led by al-Qaida's Iraqi franchise remain a lethal force eight months after the last U.S. troops left the country.

Three of the attacks accounted for more than half of the casualties.

A morning car bomb in Baghdad's northeastern and mostly Shiite neighborhood of Husseiniyah killed seven people and wounded 31.

Around midday, another car bomb struck near the headquarters of local security forces in the northern city of Daqouq. As police rushed to the scene, a roadside bomb exploded, killing seven policemen. Another 35 people were hurt, police said.

Then, shortly before sunset, gunmen in cars opened fire on an Iraqi army checkpoint near the town of Mishada, killing seven soldiers and wounding eight. Mishada is 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Baghdad.

Iraqi officials are tightening security ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this weekend. Authorities are seeking to thwart a possible upsurge in violence as crowds gather in public places such as parks, shrines and mosques to mark the occasion.

"Our security forces have received intelligence that terrorist groups are planning and preparing for attacks during and after Eid," said Abdul-Karim Tharib, head of the Baghdad provincial council security committee. "We ... have taken all necessary measures to foil any terrorist activities during Eid."

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/middleeast/at-least-39-killed-in-wave-of-

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In Lebanon, Sunnis Threaten Shiites as Kidnappings of Syrians Rise

By DAMIEN CAVE

17 AUGUST 2012

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Sectarian tensions escalated across Lebanon on Thursday as Sunnis in border towns threatened Shiites after several Shiite families who had already abducted more than 30 Syrians added several more to their hostage total.

The expanded kidnapping wave occurred as the war in Syria staggered on — with battles in Aleppo and dozens of bodies found in a landfill outside the Syrian capital, Damascus, according to activists — and it suggested that the threat of regional chaos was increasing.

Lebanon has long been a country where international rivalries play out, and Lebanese security officials said Thursday that Syria’s 17-month-old conflict had pushed Beirut and the border regions closer to civil strife.

“It’s a very critical moment,” said one senior security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the heightened tensions. “We are open to the fact that there are going to be surprises.”

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/middleeast/Syria.html?ref=middleeast

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UN ends observer mission in Syria as Aleppo under renewed attack

 Aug 17, 2012

AAZAZ (SYRIA): The United Nations on Thursday called an end to its observer mission in Syria, while activists reported more bloodletting in an attack on civilians in the main battleground of Aleppo.

The UN decision was announced as the international community piled the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's embattled regime to end 17 months of fighting that is now threatening to entangle neighbouring Lebanon.

"The conditions to continue UNSMIS were not fulfilled," France's UN ambassador Gerard Araud said after a New York meeting on the conflict, referring to the mission whose mandate is due to end at midnight Sunday.

Major powers have long been at odds how to end the increasingly brutal battle for Syria, and the withdrawal of the observers follows the collapse of a peace plan drawn up by outgoing peace envoy Kofi Annan.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/UN-ends-observer-mission-in-Syria-as-Aleppo-under-renewed-attack/articleshow/15527837.cms

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Syria activists 'find 60 bodies in Damascus suburb'

17 AUGUST 2012

At least 60 bodies have been found in a suburb of Damascus, activists say, following what the opposition described as a "massacre" by government forces.

A poor-quality video posted online showed what appeared to be the charred remains of dozens of people, many with their hands tied behind their backs.

Activists said the bodies were found on Thursday at a rubbish dump outside Qatana, south-west of the capital.

The discovery came as the UN announced the formal end of its observer mission.

The current president of the UN Security Council, Gerard Araud, said the conditions required to extend the mission's mandate beyond midnight on Sunday - a halt to the government's use of heavy weapons and a significant reduction in violence - had not been met.

Kidnappings

Mr Araud also said the Security Council had agreed to back UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's proposal for a liaison office in Syria to support further efforts to end the conflict, which activists say has left at least 21,000 people dead since March 2011.

Russia's permanent representative, Vitaly Churkin, said that in New York on Friday the five permanent members of the Security Council would meet key regional players and international organisations, who agreed on guidelines for a political transition in Geneva in June as part of the so-called Action Group for Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19293304

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As Diplomatic Efforts Stall in Syria, U.N. Says It Will End Its Observer Mission

By RICK GLADSTONE

17 AUGUST 2012

The United Nations Security Council decided on Thursday to terminate the United Nations observer mission in Syria, where the increasingly violent rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad’s government has left diplomatic peacemaking efforts paralyzed. But the Security Council agreed to keep a much smaller United Nations office in the country, holding out hope that a political solution was still possible.

France’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gérard Araud, the Security Council’s current president, announced the decision after a meeting on the future of the observer mission, three days before its mandate expires. He said all 15 members had agreed that the conditions for extending the mission — reduced violence and an end to the Syrian government’s use of heavy weapons — had not been met.

“If you don’t renew the mandate, the mandate is over,” Mr. Araud said afterward. He said the dismantling of the mission, which at its peak had 300 unarmed observers, “will start in a few days.”

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/middleeast/united-nations-observer-mission-in-

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In Paper, Chief of Egypt Army Criticized U.S.

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and KAREEM FAHIM

17 AUGUST 2012

As a student at the National War College in Washington, the chief of staff of Egypt’s armed forces argued in a paper that the American military presence in the Middle East and its “one-sided” support of Israel were fueling hatred toward the United States and miring it in an unwinnable global war with Islamist militants.

The paper, written seven years ago by Gen. Sedky Sobhi, offers an early and expansive look into the thinking of one member of the new generation of military officers stepping into power as part of a leadership shake-up under Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

His sharp rebuke of American policy is especially striking because he now oversees the military institution that has been the closest United States ally in the Arab world, relied on by American officials as a critical bulwark in support of Israeli security and against Iranian influence. Despite decades of military collaboration, he urged a full pullout of American forces from the region.

Scholars say his paper is even more significant in part because many of its themes reflect opinions widely held by Egyptians, their new president and people throughout the region — an increasingly potent factor in regional foreign policy, as Egypt and other countries struggle toward democracy.

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/middleeast/in-paper-chief-of-egypt-army-

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UN monitors quit, saying Syrians choose 'path of war'

Aug 17 2012

BEIRUT/ALEPPO : Syria's government and rebels have "chosen the path of war", a U.N. peacekeeping chief said as the world body ended its doomed monitoring mission to Damascus and deadlock persists among world powers over how to contain the spreading conflict.

Two weeks after former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan quit as mediator in frustration with the failure of a four-month-old truce, military observers have no peace on the ground to monitor and U.N. officials said on Thursday the last of the few dozen remaining team members would quit Damascus by August 24.

"It is clear that both sides have chosen the path of war, open conflict, and the space for political dialogue and cessation of hostilities and mediation is very, very reduced at this point," said deputy U.N. peacekeeping chief Edmond Mulet.

At a time when fighting is raging around Syria's biggest city, Aleppo, and tit-for-tat sectarian kidnappings have spread the Syrian conflict into fragile neighboring Lebanon, Western powers and Russia remain resolutely at odds in the Security Council over the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/un-monitors-quit-saying-syrians-choose-path-of-war/989480/

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North America

 

Time and CNN revoke Fareed Zakaria's suspension

Aug 17, 2012

WASHINGTON: The Time magazine and CNN on Thursday announced to revoke the suspension of Fareed Zakaria, the noted Indian-American writer and journalist, who was suspended last week by both outlets for alleged plagiarism.

Following a review of the allegations of plagiarism, for which Zakaria has apologized, CNN and Time in separate statement termed it as a "journalistic lapse" and unintentional error and announced that his popular column and the Sunday talk show would now resume.

"We have completed a thorough review of each of Fareed Zakaria's columns for Time and we are entirely satisfied that the language in question in his recent column was an unintentional error and an isolated incident for which he has apologized," Time's statement read.

"We look forward to having Fareed's thoughtful and important voice back in the magazine with his next column in the issue that comes out on Sept 7," it said.

The CNN followed suite.

"CNN has completed its internal review of Fareed Zakaria's work for CNN, including a look back at his Sunday programs, documentaries, and CNN.com blogs. The process was rigorous. "We found nothing that merited continuing the suspension.

Zakaria has apologized for a journalistic lapse. CNN and Zakaria will work together to strengthen further the procedures for his show and blog," the news channel said. "Fareed Zakaria's quality journalism, insightful mind and thoughtful voice meaningfully contribute to the dialogue on global and political issues.

"His public affairs program GPS will return on Sunday, August 26 on CNN/International," CNN said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Time-and-CNN-revoke-Fareed-Zakarias-suspension/articleshow/15527916.cms

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Ex-CIA officers accuse Obama of leaking details of Laden raid

Aug 17 2012

Washington : A group of former special operations and CIA officers have accused US President Barack Obama of “recklessly” leaking information about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan to gain political advantage.

In a video, the group has made accusations against the President saying he took too much credit for killing the al-Qaeda leader and has recklessly leaked information about the raid.

The group, called the Special Operations Opsec Education Fund describes itself as non-partisan, but some of its leaders have been involved in Republican campaigns and Tea Party groups, the New York Times reported.

“As a citizen, it is my civic duty to tell the president to stop leaking information to the enemy,” Benjamin Smith, identified in the video as a former Navy SEAL said.

Another former Navy SEAL, Scott Taylor, said: “If you disclose how we got there, what we did...it’s going to hinder future operations.”

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/excia-officers-accuse-obama-of-leaking-details-of-laden-raid/989258/

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If Muslims Ran Wall Street, America Could Have Avoided the 2008 Economic Crisis

Murray Hunterin

August 17, 2012

With the coming Muslim festival of Eid, this is perhaps a good week to see what lessons Islam can teach us about business.

Most of what we read about Islam in business is about finance and morals. However, did you know that many parts of the Qur’an are actually written in the metaphor of business? This is supported by the Hadiths made up of lessons taken from the life of the Messenger Muhammad. Yes, Islam is the only religion that directly guides us about how we should conduct our business.

Islam recognizes that humankind is both capable of reaching great spiritual heights and disintegrating into total immorality. Consequently, humans in a moral society need a guide to assist them in being less materialistic and more spiritual. The absence of spirituality within us will most likely lead a business into immoral activities such as stealing, lying, fraud, and deceit, etc. Without this moral bedrock within society, others will see that the only way to get ahead is by following others with these bad practices. Islam urges individuals to strive their utmost to earn large monetary rewards and spiritual profits, while at the same time being inspired to be successful and honest people. Islam encourages people to strive for success and it is certainly the responsibility of the individual to do so. However, involvement in business should also carry with it benevolent intentions for others while seeking success for oneself.

Full report at:

http://www.policymic.com/articles/12819/if-muslims-ran-wall-street-america-could-have-avoided-the-2008-economic-crisis

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Attacking Shariah, Attacking Religious Freedom

 2012-08-17

The idea that Muslim Americans are trying to instate “Shariah Law” across the nation was contrived by hate groups. The truth is that outlawing Shariah is akin to outlawing the Ten Commandments, Talmudic law or the gospels of Jesus Christ, argues Dr. Zahid Bukhari.

This is the season of Ramadan, one of the holiest times of the year for practicing Muslims. For one month, we fast from dawn until dusk, increase our charity work and deepen our faith through the Quran. This year, as Ramadan comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the many ways this faith is being misrepresented.

Muslim Americans are in the midst of a profound crisis. Our faith is under assault. Radical groups abroad are using Islam as a justification for wanton violence, which is strictly forbidden in the Muslim faith. And at home in the United States, Islam is being criminalized, turned into an object of suspicion and threat. In New York City, the police department has made a practice of spying on Muslims in their restaurants, book stores and places of worship. Conspiracy theorists continue to ‘accuse’ President Obama of being Muslim, as if this were a bad thing, capable of disqualifying him from leading the nation. And throughout the country, a movement to ban US courts from considering Shariah in their legal decisions has been sweeping the legislatures in one state after another.

This anti-Shariah movement is one of the most profound, and dangerous, expressions of the effort to criminalize Islam. Though it is often paired with the word “law,” Shariah is, in fact, a set of observances that guide all aspects of a Muslim’s day-to-day life such as moral codes of conduct, diet and the drafting of our wills. During Ramadan, it is Shariah that guides our prayer and daily activities. It is impossible to find a practicing Muslim who does not follow Shariah.

Full report at:

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=53908

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Sikh shot dead in Wisconsin in an attempted robbery

Aug 17, 2012

WASHINGTON: Barely 12 days after the shooting at a Gurdwara that killed six worshippers, an elderly Sikh man has been shot dead in an attempted robbery incident in the same Wisconsin state.

A manhunt has been launched to nab the assailant, police said. The death of another Sikh has sent shock waves among the Sikh community members here, even though the police have termed it as a robbery incident and ruled out any link to the August 5 shootout inside the Oak Creek Gurdwara that killed six Sikh worshippers.

The deceased Dalbir Singh, 56, assisted his nephew Jatinder Singh in running a grocery store in Milwaukee city, Wisconsin. The incident happened Wednesday night when some unidentified men entered the shop and put a gun to Jatinder Singh head. Jatinder Singh said he and his uncle made it back into the store and pushed the side door shut, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. But one of the men fired a shot through the door, killing Dalbir Singh, it said.

Dalbir Singh was a regular visitor to the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, but was not present when the tragic incident happened on August 5. Jatinder Singh had gone to the Gurdwara, but had left its premises before the shootout began.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Sikh-shot-dead-in-Wisconsin-in-an-attempted-robbery/articleshow/15526336.cms

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Unattributed quote? American paper says sorry to Zakaria

Aug 17, 2012

WASHINGTON: Washington Post has apologized for incorrectly stating that columnist and TV host Fareed Zakaria in his 2008 book 'The Post-American World' , failed to cite the source of a quotation taken from another book.

According to the Washington Post, in fact, Zakaria did credit the other work by Clyde V Prestowitz. Endnotes crediting Prestowitz were contained in hardcover and paperback editions of Zakaria's book, the report said. The Post said that it should have examined copies of the books and should not have published the article, and apologized for the same.

The Post had accused Zakaria , who had acknowledged plagiarizing parts of a magazine article last week, for also having published without attribution a passage from a 2005 book. The earlier report had said that Zakaria's 2008 book contains a quote from former Intel Corp chief executive Andy Grove about the nation's economic power.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Unattributed-quote-American-paper-says-sorry-to-Zakaria/articleshow/15526008.cms

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Tehran a strange and inappropriate choice for NAM meeting: US

Aug 17 2012

Washington : The Obama Administration has publicly expressed its displeasure over world leaders attending the summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran.

"This is an organization that we're not a member of. Our point is simply that Tehran, given its number of grave violations of international law and UN obligations, does not seem to be the appropriate place," the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters at her daily news conference Thursday.

Responding to questions on the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon traveling to Tehran to attend the NAM Summit, Nuland said: "We've made our views known that we think that this is a strange place and an inappropriate place for this meeting."

NAM is being attended by several global leaders including the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and the Pak President, Asif Ali Zardari.

Iran, which is at loggerheads with the US and other western countries, is building this meet as a major diplomatic achievement.

According to the FARS news agency over 30 heads of States have announced their readiness to attend the 16th NAM Summit in Tehran from August 26 to 31.

Nuland said if the UN Secretary General does choose to go to Tehran to attend the NAM Summit, the US hopes that he would go in the context of all of the violations of UN obligations that Iran is engaged in now.

"The fact that the meeting is happening in a country that's in violation of so many of its international obligations and posing a threat to neighbors sends a very strange signal with regard to support for the international order, rule of law.

"We have made that point to participating countries. We've also made that point to (the UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon," Nuland said in response to a question.

"If he does choose to go, we hope he will make the strongest points of concern," she stressed.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/tehran-a-strange-and-inappropriate-choice-for-nam-meeting-us/989490/

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White House offers prayers to Afghan crash victims

17 AUGUST 2012

WASHINGTON: The White House offered prayers on Thursday for 11 people, including seven US soldiers, who were killed when a Nato Black Hawk helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those American and Afghan families who lost loved ones in that incident,” spokesman Jay Carney said.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation after the Taliban claimed responsibility, he said.

Four Afghans, including three members of the security forces and one civilian interpreter, were also killed in the crash, according to Nato’s US-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

A Nato Black Hawk helicopter came down in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing seven American soldiers and four Afghans, the military said, as Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility.

The four Afghans included three members of the security forces and a civilian interpreter, Nato’s US-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said.

“The cause of the crash is under investigation,” it said, adding that the helicopter was a UH-60 Black Hawk. The statement gave no further details.

Full report at:

http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/white-house-offers-prayers-to-afghan-crash-victims/

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Europe

 

Berlin court allows Prophet (PBUH)’s cartoons to be displayed at rally

August 16, 2012

BERLIN: A far-right group won the right from a Berlin court Thursday to display provocative caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during planned demonstrations outside mosques this weekend.

The administrative court in the German capital ruled that the group, Pro Deutschland, could brandish copies of Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) first published in 2005 which sparked violent protests around the globe.

Islamic law prohibits depictions of the Prophet (PBUH).

The court said it “rejected the urgent complaint filed by three Islamic mosque congregations to prevent the ‘citizens’ movement Pro Deutschland from showing so-called Mohammed caricatures in front of their premises during demonstrations on Saturday”.

It said the cartoons were protected as “artistic freedom” and could not legally be considered as abuse of a religious group.

“Simply showing the Mohammed cartoons does not qualify as a call to hatred or violence against a specific segment of the population,” the court said.

Police are bracing for clashes at the Berlin demonstrations after violence during similar protests by the extreme right against the Islamic Salafist community earlier this year in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/422966/berlin-court-allows-prophet-pbuhs-cartoons-to-be-displayed-at-rally/

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Assad butchering Syrians, must go: France

Aug 16, 2012

ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP, JORDAN: French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday that President Bashar al-Assad was "butchering his own people" as Syrian refugees urged Paris to help them fight.

"France's position is clear: We consider Assad to be butchering his own people. He must leave, and the sooner he goes the better," Fabius told reporters in a tent at the UN-run Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan, which houses around 6,000 Syrians.

"We are, at the international level, encouraging the Syrians to find a political transition. I stress that a political transition must come soon -- this is the obvious solution," he added as dozens of Syrian refugees gathered outside the tent, chanting "Allahu akbar (God is greatest).

Fabius and his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh toured the seven-square-kilometre (two-square-mile) camp, outside the city of Mafraq, before meeting King Abdullah II in Amman for talks on the Syrian conflict.

Several camp residents spoke to Fabius as he walked about, urging weapons for the rebels to topple Assad.

"We do not need refugee camps. We need weapons, RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and anti-aircraft rockets to fight Bashar," said Mohammed Hariri, 51, of Daraa, the cradle of the revolt that erupted 18 months ago.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Assad-butchering-Syrians-must-go-France/articleshow/15518528.cms

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British Muslims in danger of being radicalized by Syrian conflict

Aug 17 2012

Washington : Young British Muslims are in danger of being radicalised by the conflict in Syria, an MP in the UK has warned.

According to the Daily Star, Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, expressed concerns after ‘dozens’ of Britons travelled from London and the Midlands to join the uprising against President Bashar al Assad with some linking up with militant Islamist groups. Mahmood said that the situation had the potential to radicalize a new generation of jihadists, the report said.

“I am extremely concerned at the moment because I see similar things to what happened at the original stages of the Afghanistan war where we were supporting the mujahideen against the Russians,” the report quoted Mahmood as saying.

“We wanted to get the Russians out and we armed people, we encouraged people to go out there and fight in the jihad,” he added.

According to the report, Noman Benotman, of the anti-extremist Quilliam Foundation, said the numbers of foreign fighters in Syria were still relatively small. However, he said that ‘activists’ were exploiting the Islamic concept of umma or community to encourage young people to join jihadi groups, the report added.

"It is the issue of belonging. Some people don't believe that they belong to this society, this country," he said, adding: "It is very, very powerful, beyond the imagination, the concept of umma, especially when it comes to the extremists and the jihadists."

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/british-muslims-in-danger-of-being-radicalized-by-syrian-conflict/989605/

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UN chief ‘appalled’ by Pakistan sectarian killings

17 AUGUST 2012

UNITED NATIONS: UN leader Ban Ki-moon was “appalled”by the sectarian killing of 20 Shia Muslims who were dragged off a bus in Pakistan on Thursday, his spokesman said.

“The secretary general expresses his outrage over such deliberate attacks on people due to their religious beliefs in Pakistan,” said a statement released by UN spokesman Martin Nesirky which strongly condemned the attack.

Terrorists ambushed four buses, pulled out the passengers and shot at least 20 of them dead in the Babusar Top area of Mansehra district on Thursday.

Before killing the passengers, the assailants had checked their identity cards and shot them because they were Shia.

“More than 50 terrorists wearing commando uniform intercepted a convoy going from Rawalpindi to Gilgit-Baltistan before 7am, hauled off passengers from four vans, identified them through their national identity cards and shot 19 of them dead,” District Coordination Officer Dr Amber Ali Khan said.

He said several CNICs had been found at the place in the mountain range where the attack had taken place.

“This attack appears to be similar to the one carried out in Harban area of Kohistan in February and almost all the victims belonged to the Shia community,” he said.

It was the third attack of its kind in six months.

http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/un-chief-appalled-by-pakistan-sectarian-killing/

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Britain refuses Julian Assange safe passage to Ecuador

Aug 17, 2012

LONDON: Britain will not allow Julian Assange safe passage out of the country, foreign secretary William Hague said after Ecuador granted the WikiLeaks founder political asylum. British authorities will continue to seek Assange's extradition to Sweden, Hague said on Thursday.

"Assange having exhausted all options of appeal, the British authorities are under a binding obligation to extradite him, Xinhua quoted the foreign secretary as saying.

"We must carry out that obligation and, of course, we fully intend to do so," Hague said at a press conference.

We will not allow Assange safe passage out of the UK, nor is there any legal basis for us to do so," Hague added.

He argued that Britain is not a party to any legal instruments that require it to recognize the grant of diplomatic asylum by a foreign embassy in the country.

The British Foreign Office expressed disappointment after Ecuador announced its decision to grant Assange political asylum earlier on Thursday.

Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino said the country believed Assange's fears of receiving unfair trial and eventually being extradited to the US are legitimate.

Hague said Britain does not accept the principle of diplomatic asylum and has "painstakingly explained the extensive human rights safeguards built into our law."

"It is important to understand that this is not about Assange's activities at Wikileaks or the attitude of the United States of America. "He is wanted in Sweden to answer allegations of serious sexual offences," Hague said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Britain-refuses-Julian-Assange-safe-passage-to-Ecuador/articleshow/15526912.cms

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Africa

 

More than 30 killed in South Africa mine violence

 Aug 17 2012

Johannesburg : South African police officers killed more than 30 miners who charged them at a Lonmin PLC platinum mine, authorities said on Friday, as a national newspaper warned that a time bomb ticking over poor South Africans has exploded.

Thursday's shootings are one of the worst in South Africa since the end of the apartheid era and came as a rift deepens between the country's governing African National Congress and an impoverished electorate confronting massive unemployment and growing poverty and inequality.

They “awaken us to the reality of the time bomb that has stopped ticking - it has exploded,” The Sowetan newspaper said in an editorial. “Africans are pitted against each other, fighting for a bigger slice of the mineral wealth of the country. In the end the war claims the very poor African – again,'' it further stated.

Police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi told The Associated Press on Friday that more than 30 people were killed on Thursday in the police volleys of gunfire during the strike, now a week old. The Star, a Johannesburg newspaper, said another 86 people were wounded. People were gathering at hospitals in the area, hoping to find missing family members among the wounded.

Makhosi Mbongane, a 32-year-old winch operator, said mine managers should have come to the workers rather than send police. Strikers were demanding salary raises from $625 to $1,563. Mbongane vowed that he was not going back to work and would not allow anyone else to do so either.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/more-than-30-killed-in-south-africa-mine-violence/989497/

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No peace in Sudan's Darfur despite costly peacekeeping force

17 AUGUST 2012

Billions of dollars spent on African Union-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, but peace remains elusive.

More than four years after an African Union-UN peacekeeping force costing billions of dollars arrived in Sudan's restive western region of Darfur, peace remains elusive and some question the mission's value.

Critics say the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the world's largest peacekeeping operation, is too close to the Sudanese government and not aggressive enough in fulfilling its core mandate of protecting civilians.

"It may be better than nothing," one analyst said, asking for anonymity. "But they are really focused on protecting themselves."

The concern comes as Darfur suffers a surge in violence.

More than 700 people have already been killed this year in clashes between rebels and government troops as well as in tribal unrest and criminal incidents, more than for the whole of 2011, UNAMID data show.

Rebels drawn from black African tribes rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003. The conflict peaked years ago, killing at least 300,000 people, according to UN estimates. The government said 10,000 died.

Overall, there has been a "drastic decrease" in the number of people killed in clashes, and things would have been worse without UNAMID's roughly 16,700 troops, the force commander says.

Full report at:

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=53941

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Salafists vs 'un-Islamic' culture: who will win battle in Tunisia?

By Antoine Lambroschini

  2012-08-17

Tunisian artists, media raise alarm at Salafists’ assault on 'un-Islamic' culture amid government’s failure to rein them in.

Tunisia's resurgent Salafists have succeeded in disrupting a string of cultural events deemed un-Islamic, with artists and opposition media increasingly blaming the Islamist-led government for failing to rein them in.

The hardline Islamists on Wednesday prevented an Iranian group from performing at a Sufi music festival in Kairouan, south of Tunis, saying their Shiite chanting amounted to an attack on sacred Muslim values.

Although it did not trigger any violence, as happened when Salafists attacked a Tunis art gallery in June, it was at least the third such incident in just 10 days, coming in the middle of the festival season and the holy month of Ramadan.

Last week, the director of a festival at Gboullat, in the northern Beja region, announced he was cancelling the event under pressure notably from the Salafists -- who adhere to a strict interpretation of Islam similar to the one practised in Saudi Arabia.

Another festival had been cancelled at the end of July, in Sejnane, with the organisers again blaming radical Islamists, who interrupted the event, saying it was unacceptable during the month of Ramadan.

Full report at:

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=53940

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West Africa: Ecowas Is Focusing On the Wrong Front in Mali

BY SIMON ALLISON

17 AUGUST 2012

Johannesburg — Forget Al Qaeda, for now. Forget the militants destroying Timbuktu and rebels imposing their Taliban-style Sharia law across northern Mali.

None of these problems will go away until Mali has a credible government, with the political legitimacy to address them. This is where Ecowas should be concentrating its attention and influence, not on half-hearted military interventions in a hostile desert.

In the latest development in Mali, the army has opened the door to a possible military intervention-but only just a crack, and reluctantly at that. "There is no question of soldiers from Ecowas bloc in Bamako but (they could send) some to the North. We could have 600-800 Ecowas troops in support of ours," said Colonel Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele, army chief of staff.

Ecowas wanted more. The West African regional bloc has taken the lead in trying to figure out a solution to Mali's problems-both the government crisis in the south, precipitated by a military coup that toppled the elected president earlier this year, and the rebellion in the north, which has seen a chaotic coalition of nationalist and Islamist forces take control of huge swathes of the Sahel.

Ecowas envisaged a 3,000-strong regional force based in Bamako, which would be able to guarantee the stability of the interim government. It would be appointed by the coup leaders after intense diplomatic pressure and launch a serious assault on the north, to save the country from those Al Qaeda-aligned, Timbuktu-destroying rebels that everyone's so worried about, including the African Union and France, both of which have called for military solution of some kind.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201208170494.html

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Uganda prime minister hacked 'over gay rights'

17 AUGUST 2012

The Ugandan prime minister's website was attacked by hackers on Tuesday and Wednesday, a government official has confirmed to the BBC.

Screen grabs showing the website with messages from gay activists are being circulated on social media sites.

In one, the prime minister apologises to all homosexuals living in Uganda and gives his support to a gay pride march.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda and gay people have faced physical attacks and social rejection.

Earlier this year, a controversial anti-gay bill, which proposes to increase the penalties for homosexual acts from 14 years in jail to life, was re-tabled in the Ugandan parliament.

The bill was first introduced in 2009 but never debated - and the MP backing the legislation says a clause proposing the death penalty will be dropped.

It originally said those found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality" - defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a "serial offender" - would face the death penalty.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19281664

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Sudanese refugees face 'humanitarian disaster'

17 AUGUST 2012

People are dying in large numbers in a refugee camp in South Sudan, Medecins Sans Frontieres has warned.

The medical charity says as many as four young children die at the Batil camp every day - twice the established emergency threshold.

The rainy season makes it impossible to bring food in by road, and the only way to deliver aid is by air.

Some 170,000 refugees have fled to camps in South Sudan from Sudan following fighting north of the border.

"What we are seeing here in this camp in nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe," MSF's medical co-ordinator Helen Patterson said.

The majority of those who have died in the camp are children under five, and MSF says that diarrhoea seems to be the biggest cause.

It adds that malnutrition is a contributing factor, calling for urgent help.

The medical charity says some 28% of children in Batil are malnourished, with 10% severely affected.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19292250

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesian Islamic Sect Tarekat Naqshabandiyah Observes Idul Fitri on Friday

August 17, 2012

Around 100 members of the Islamic sect Tarekat Naqshabandiyah in Padang celebrated Idul Fitri on Friday, two days earlier than most Indonesian Muslims, who expect to observe the holiday on Sunday.

They performed the Eid prayer at 8 AM on Friday in their mosque, Baitul Makmur, which is situated in the Pasar Baru village in the sub-district of Pauh.

Upon performing the brief prayer, the small congregation chanted the long version of the takbir (the name for the phrase “God is Greatest”) for a half-hour, after which they listened to a sermon by Syafri Malin Mudo, the leader of the congregation.

Syafri told the press that the sect had calculated that Idul Fitri fell on Friday using a method called “hisab Munjid,” based on the Javanese calendar, which, like the Islamic Hijri calendar, is based on a lunar cycle.

He claimed that the sect had roughly 8,000 adherents across West Sumatra, all of whom celebrated Idul Fitri on Friday.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/indonesian-islamic-sect-tarekat-naqshabandiyah-observes-idul-fitri-on-friday/538814

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On Intolerance, Jakarta Could Be Worse: Indonesian Council of Churches

SP/Natasia Christy Wahyuni | August 17, 2012

Jakarta is, at heart, a pluralistic city despite the occasional flare-up of hard-line Islamic sentiment, the Indonesian Council of Churches said on Wednesday.

Andreas Yewangoe, chairman of the council known as PGI, said the city’s ethnic and religious diversity, coupled with a higher level of education than residents in many other regions of the country, made Jakarta a reasonably tolerant place.

“We have to accept the reality that Jakarta is a city with high diversity, and the only problems with regard to tolerance are those that are engineered,” he said.

He blamed recent hard-line tendencies, including calls not to vote for non-Muslim candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial runoff election, on deep-seated social woes that were given a religious or ethnic spin by unscrupulous parties.

“There are a lot of problems that appear to be based on religion, but that in fact aren’t,” Andreas said.

“The roots lie elsewhere. Religion just happens to be a convenient outlet for channeling these grievances, which is why Jakartans need to be aware of these issues and address them rationally.”

He warned that unless the underlying problems were resolved, they could threaten Jakarta’s cherished pluralism.

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/on-intolerance-jakarta-could-be-worse-indonesian-council-of-churches/538577

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/by-new-age-islam-news-bureau/taliban-storm-pak-air-base-that-stores-nuke-warheads/d/8305

 

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