New Age Islam
Fri Aug 14 2020, 03:24 PM

Islamic World News ( 17 March 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Allah’s 99 Names, Terror: What PM Modi Said at World Sufi Forum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: The Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa terrorist groups operating in the Northern province of Aleppo engaged in fierce clashes with each other after the death of a senior ISIL ringleader in Homs province.

 

Pakistan Should Not Live By ‘Islam in Danger’ Slogan: Husain Haqqani

Intense Infighting Reported between Terrorist Groups after ISIL Ringleader's Death

Cameroon Sentences 89 Boko Haram Fighters to Death

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India

Allah’s 99 Names, Terror: What PM Modi Said at World Sufi Forum

Some Muslims Say No Harm in ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ Chant

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Pakistan

Pakistan Should Not Live By ‘Islam in Danger’ Slogan: Husain Haqqani

Lal Masjid’s Slain Cleric’s Son Moves Court to Arrest Musharraf

‘Lack of substance’ preventing Putin’s visit to Pakistan, says Russian ambassador

Musharraf leaves for Dubai to 'seek medical treatment'

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Arab World

Intense Infighting Reported between Terrorist Groups after ISIL Ringleader's Death

Syrian Army, Hezbollah Kill Scores of ISIL Terrorists along Border

Saudi-Led Strikes on Yemen Market Killed 119, Says UN

Intelligence Source: Over 4,000 Saudi Mercenaries Killed in Yemen War

Iraqi Forces Infiltrate into Heart of ISIL Land in Kirkuk

ISIL Terrorists Fleeing Battlefields in Homs Towrad Palmyra

ISIL Commander Shishani Confirmed Dead

Iraqi Army Operation Starts East of Heet to Liberate Mohammadi Area

Iran Condemns Terrorist Attack in Nigeria

ISIL Arms Cargo Destroyed in Hama Province

ISIL Terrorists Fleeing Battlefields in Homs Towrad Palmyra

Syrian Army Reaches Key Oil-Rich Region in Deir Ezzur

Commander: Iran to Further Reinvigorate Naval Power Next Year

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Africa

Cameroon Sentences 89 Boko Haram Fighters to Death

Hundreds of Al-Shabab Fighters 'Surrounded' In Puntland

Niger election result may hit region's Boko Haram fight

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Southeast Asia

Philippine Jihadists Execute ‘Spy’ In Troubled South

Activists raise concerns over Indonesia's proposed anti-terrorism law

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South Asia

Mullah Rasool says will not participate in peace talks led by Mullah Akhtar Mansoor

Authorities Say Nearly 2,000 Militants Killed In Nangarhar in This Islamic Calendar Year

Delegation Representing Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Arrives In Kabul for Talks

NATO confirms no casualties as helicopter makes hard landing in Helmand

Afghan rights activist, entrepreneurs included in Young Global Leaders list

India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam irrigation sluice gate successfully tested

Militants planning attacks during Nowruz in Kabul, US embassy alert says

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Mideast

Erdogan says Europe 'dancing in a minefield' as EU seeks Turkey deal

US Embassy in Turkey warns its citizens on Nevruz, updates travel warning

Turkey on edge after car laden with explosives found near government building

Turkish PM says hopes will achieve migration goal with EU

Athens urges Turkey to ‘come to terms’ with history

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Europe

Brussels Shooting: Suspects on Run after ISIS Flag, Rifle Found In Apartment

Putin: Russia can build up forces in Syria in hours if necessary

Migrant crisis: EU leaders agree joint stance to present to Turkey

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North America

US Slaps Genocide Designation On ISIS

Pentagon chief praises Kurdish fighters in Syria

US man gets 22.5 years for recruiting FBI informants to IS

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/allah’s-99-names,-terror--what-pm-modi-said-at-world-sufi-forum/d/106696

 

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Allah’s 99 names, terror: What PM Modi said at World Sufi Forum

Mar 18, 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has praised Islam for its message of peace and harmony and described Sufism as one of its greatest contributions.

He said this while addressing a global audience on the opening day of the World Sufi Forum in New Delhi on Thursday.

Terrorism dominated the discussion at the three-day event in which Sufi scholars from around the world are taking part.

“Of the 99 names of Allah , none stand for force and violence and the first two names denote compassionate and merciful. Allah is Rahman and Raheem…Those who spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious,” Modi said.

“When the spiritual love of Sufism, not the violent force of terrorism, flows across the border, this region will be the paradise on earth that Amir Khusrau spoke about,” Modi added, referring to the 13th century Sufi poet.

Read the full text of PMModi’s speech

Here are the top 10 quotes from PM Modi’s speech:

1.Of the 99 names of Allah, none stand for force and violence and the first two names denote compassionate and merciful. Allah is Rahman and Raheem…Those who spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious.

2. When the spiritual love of Sufism, not the violent force of terrorism, flows across the border, this region will be the paradise on earth that Amir Khusrau spoke about.

3. Sufism became the face of Islam in India, even as it remained deeply rooted in the Holy Quran, and Hadis. Sufism blossomed in India’s openness and pluralism. It engaged with her spiritual tradition, and evolved its own Indian ethos. And, it helped shape a distinct Islamic heritage of India.

4. It is this spirit of Sufism, the love for their country and the pride in their nation that define the Muslims in India. They are steeped in the democratic tradition of India, confident of their place in the country and invested in the future of their nation; And, above all, they are shaped by the values of the Islamic heritage of India. It upholds the highest ideals of Islam and has always rejected the forces of terrorism and extremism.

5. As a nation, we stood against colonialism and in our struggle for freedom. At the dawn of independence some chose to go away. The tallest of our leaders, such as Maulana Azad, and important spiritual leaders, such as Maulana Hussain Madani, and millions and millions of ordinary citizens, rejected the idea of division on the basis of religion.

6. Terrorism divides and destroys us. Indeed, when terrorism and extremism have become the most destructive force of our times, the message of Sufism has global relevance.

7. Terrorism uses diverse motivations and causes, none of which can be justified. Terrorists distort a religion whose cause they profess to support. They kill and destroy more in their own land and among their own people than they do elsewhere.

8. The fight against terrorism is not a confrontation against any religion. It cannot be. It is a struggle between the values of humanism and the forces of inhumanity.

9. We must reject any link between terrorism and religion. Those who spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious.

10. We need just not constitutional provisions or legal safeguards, but also social values to build an inclusive and peaceful society, in which everyone belongs, secure about his rights and confident of her future.

hindustantimes.com/india/from-99-names-of-allah-to-terrorism-top-10-quotes-of-pm-modi-s-speech/story-CGa4d00lIuFYh2TxmdtY3J.html

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Pakistan should not live by ‘Islam in Danger’ slogan: Husain Haqqani

March 18, 2016 in Indian Muslim

New Delhi, March 18 : Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani said the country should not live by the slogan ‘Pakistan in Danger’ and it should focus on friendly relationship with India.

Haqqani’s speech on Thursday was played as a recorded video message at the ongoing Penguin Spring Fever Literary festival as he could not make it to the event.

Clarifying his absence, Haqqani said that he could not avail the visa as he applied late and it takes very long for a Pakistani to get an Indian visa.

“In 1948, Bengali leader Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy said that Pakistan will not prosper if the leaders try to run it on the basis of fear, just as the country was formed on the creation of the fear that Islam is in danger,” Haqqani, who has written the book ‘Pakistan – Between Mosque and Military’, said.

He also said that Pakistan has to overcome the baggage of partition, that is manifested in the forms of militancy and militarism .

“The debate on partition has been going on for long and it was debilitating for the country. It divided the country and led to the formation of Bangladesh. Pakistan can become plural and modern society if we shed the baggage of partition,” said Haqqani.

The author also argued that Pakistan’s militarism is a result of the difficult relationship between India and Pakistan.

“In my book, I have argued that how mosque and military have shaped the idea of Pakistan,” he said.

Stressing on the need for friendly ties with India, he said that the country has to accept criticism in the right earnest.

“People of Pakistan need to understand that the criticism of the policy are not questioning the right of the people of Pakistan to live in peace. It is important to come to terms for Pakistan that progress is important and that modus operandi with India is important,” he noted.

“The country is young, 100 million are below the age of 22 and are talented people whose potential is yet to unleash. It is up to the world to see Pakistan as that of poets, of artists, of small and battled liberals, of landed aristocracy or that of an establishment,” he said.—IANS

muslimmirror.com/eng/pakistan-should-not-live-by-islam-in-danger-slogan-husain-haqqani/

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Intense Infighting Reported between Terrorist Groups after ISIL Ringleader's Death

Fri Mar 18, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa terrorist groups operating in the Northern province of Aleppo engaged in fierce clashes with each other after the death of a senior ISIL ringleader in Homs province.

After a senior ISIL ringleader in Homs province who was dispatched to assist other terrorists in Aleppo succumbed to death hours after receiving deadly wounds in clashes with the Syrian Army on Thursday, the Jund al-Aqsa terrorist group sought to hold a ceremony for his death but Ahrar al-Sham opposed it which resulted in heavy clashes.

The clashes happened in Sarmin village in the Southeastern part of Aleppo province.

Hessan Aboud al-Sarmini was died of his lethal wounds in Khanasser region Southeast of Aleppo after being seriously wounded in clashes with the Syrian army and its allies.

Another top militant commander was killed during clashes between terrorists and Syrian Kurdish fighters in a neighborhood in the Northern city of Aleppo on Monday.

"The Thuwar al-Sham terrorist group's field commander called Umar Sanda was eliminated as the terrorists tried to open their path into Sheikh Maqsoud district in the Northern areas of the city of Aleppo," the well-informed source on the ground said.

Sheikh Maqsoud is a neighborhood in the city of Aleppo. The neighborhood is controlled by the Kurdish fighters of the People's Protection Units, YPG

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941228000113

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Cameroon sentences 89 Boko Haram fighters to death

17 March 2016

Cameroon has sentenced 89 members of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram to death, local media report.

They were convicted on terror charges by a military court for their roles in several attacks in Cameroon's northern region which borders Nigeria.

Cameroon passed an anti-terror law in 2014 which introduced the death sentence.

This is the first time the death sentenced has been used since that law was passed.

The 89 are among 850 people arrested in Cameroon on charges of links to Boko Haram.

Following the death sentences, a local human rights group has called for reforms to Cameroon's justice system.

Hundreds of people have been killed in a spate of attacks in Cameroon since it joined a regional force set up to tackle the militants last year.

More on this and other African stories

Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language

Launched military operations in 2009

Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, abducted hundreds, including at least 200 schoolgirls

Joined Islamic State, now calls itself "West African province"

Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate

bbc.com/news/world-africa-35831432

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India

Allah’s 99 names, terror: What PM Modi said at World Sufi Forum

Mar 18, 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has praised Islam for its message of peace and harmony and described Sufism as one of its greatest contributions.

He said this while addressing a global audience on the opening day of the World Sufi Forum in New Delhi on Thursday.

Terrorism dominated the discussion at the three-day event in which Sufi scholars from around the world are taking part.

“Of the 99 names of Allah , none stand for force and violence and the first two names denote compassionate and merciful. Allah is Rahman and Raheem…Those who spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious,” Modi said.

“When the spiritual love of Sufism, not the violent force of terrorism, flows across the border, this region will be the paradise on earth that Amir Khusrau spoke about,” Modi added, referring to the 13th century Sufi poet.

Read the full text of PMModi’s speech

Here are the top 10 quotes from PM Modi’s speech:

1.Of the 99 names of Allah, none stand for force and violence and the first two names denote compassionate and merciful. Allah is Rahman and Raheem…Those who spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious.

2. When the spiritual love of Sufism, not the violent force of terrorism, flows across the border, this region will be the paradise on earth that Amir Khusrau spoke about.

3. Sufism became the face of Islam in India, even as it remained deeply rooted in the Holy Quran, and Hadis. Sufism blossomed in India’s openness and pluralism. It engaged with her spiritual tradition, and evolved its own Indian ethos. And, it helped shape a distinct Islamic heritage of India.

4. It is this spirit of Sufism, the love for their country and the pride in their nation that define the Muslims in India. They are steeped in the democratic tradition of India, confident of their place in the country and invested in the future of their nation; And, above all, they are shaped by the values of the Islamic heritage of India. It upholds the highest ideals of Islam and has always rejected the forces of terrorism and extremism.

5. As a nation, we stood against colonialism and in our struggle for freedom. At the dawn of independence some chose to go away. The tallest of our leaders, such as Maulana Azad, and important spiritual leaders, such as Maulana Hussain Madani, and millions and millions of ordinary citizens, rejected the idea of division on the basis of religion.

6. Terrorism divides and destroys us. Indeed, when terrorism and extremism have become the most destructive force of our times, the message of Sufism has global relevance.

7. Terrorism uses diverse motivations and causes, none of which can be justified. Terrorists distort a religion whose cause they profess to support. They kill and destroy more in their own land and among their own people than they do elsewhere.

8. The fight against terrorism is not a confrontation against any religion. It cannot be. It is a struggle between the values of humanism and the forces of inhumanity.

9. We must reject any link between terrorism and religion. Those who spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious.

10. We need just not constitutional provisions or legal safeguards, but also social values to build an inclusive and peaceful society, in which everyone belongs, secure about his rights and confident of her future.

hindustantimes.com/india/from-99-names-of-allah-to-terrorism-top-10-quotes-of-pm-modi-s-speech/story-CGa4d00lIuFYh2TxmdtY3J.html

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Some Muslims say no harm in ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ chant

Mohammed Wajihuddin | TNN | Mar 18, 2016

MUMBAI: Many Muslim community leaders assert that there's nothing wrong with saying 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', because it's a slogan hailing one's country and Islam doesn't prohibit its followers from expressing love for one's motherland.

Many prominent community members also allege there might be a tacit understanding between the BJP and the MIM to keep bringing up contentious issues.

"There was no reason for Asaduddin Owaisi to respond to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's comments on 'Bharat Mata ki jai'. Again, MIM MLA Waris Pathan should not have said he would not utter the slogan, which, in other words, means salutation to the country, something Islam sanctions," says Ghulam Peshimam, a local Muslim leader.

Many also say the BJP and MIM are feeding off of each other.

"The BJP needs a Muslim party like MIM to polarise votes in the states which will soon go to polls. India is our motherland and there is nothing wrong in praising the motherland or saluting it even if our Constitution doesn't make it binding on the citizens," says Parvez Lakdawala, head of the Indian Union Muslim League Mumbai.

MIM MLA suspended for not saying 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'

Revoke citizenship of those not chanting 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai': Sena

All India Milli Council (Maharashtra) general secretary M A Khalid says he would like to remind all Indians of Urdu poet Allama Iqbal's couplet in the poem, 'Naya Shivala (New Temple)'.

"Pathar ki mooraton mein samjha hai tu khuda hai/ khaake watan ka mujhko har zarra devata hai (for you, an idol of stone is a god/every particle of the country's sand is a deity to me.)"

"Can Owaisi and Pathan call Iqbal a 'kafir' for penning such a patriotic line? Love to madre watan or motherland is a popular expression and Muslims' patriotism cannot be doubted," Khalid says.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Some-Muslims-say-no-harm-in-Bharat-Mata-ki-jai-chant/articleshow/51450171.cms

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Pakistan

Pakistan should not live by ‘Islam in Danger’ slogan: Husain Haqqani

March 18, 2016 in Indian Muslim

New Delhi, March 18 : Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani said the country should not live by the slogan ‘Pakistan in Danger’ and it should focus on friendly relationship with India.

Haqqani’s speech on Thursday was played as a recorded video message at the ongoing Penguin Spring Fever Literary festival as he could not make it to the event.

Clarifying his absence, Haqqani said that he could not avail the visa as he applied late and it takes very long for a Pakistani to get an Indian visa.

“In 1948, Bengali leader Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy said that Pakistan will not prosper if the leaders try to run it on the basis of fear, just as the country was formed on the creation of the fear that Islam is in danger,” Haqqani, who has written the book ‘Pakistan – Between Mosque and Military’, said.

He also said that Pakistan has to overcome the baggage of partition, that is manifested in the forms of militancy and militarism .

“The debate on partition has been going on for long and it was debilitating for the country. It divided the country and led to the formation of Bangladesh. Pakistan can become plural and modern society if we shed the baggage of partition,” said Haqqani.

The author also argued that Pakistan’s militarism is a result of the difficult relationship between India and Pakistan.

“In my book, I have argued that how mosque and military have shaped the idea of Pakistan,” he said.

Stressing on the need for friendly ties with India, he said that the country has to accept criticism in the right earnest.

“People of Pakistan need to understand that the criticism of the policy are not questioning the right of the people of Pakistan to live in peace. It is important to come to terms for Pakistan that progress is important and that modus operandi with India is important,” he noted.

“The country is young, 100 million are below the age of 22 and are talented people whose potential is yet to unleash. It is up to the world to see Pakistan as that of poets, of artists, of small and battled liberals, of landed aristocracy or that of an establishment,” he said.—IANS

muslimmirror.com/eng/pakistan-should-not-live-by-islam-in-danger-slogan-husain-haqqani/

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Lal Masjid’s Slain Cleric’s Son Moves Court to Arrest Musharraf

MALIK ASAD,March 18th, 2016

ISLAMABAD: A petition was on Thursday filed with a local court seeking the arrest of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf in the murder case of a Lal Masjid cleric.

Advocate Tariq Asad submitted the petition to the court on behalf of Haroon Rashid, a son of slain cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi.

Arguing before Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Pervaizul Qadir Memon, Mr Asad said after the recent decision of the Supreme Court, the government was likely to remove Gen Musharraf’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

He contended that if allowed to go abroad, the former president would not come back to face cases pending against him in different courts, including the murder case of the Lal Masjid cleric in the additional district and sessions court.

Petitioner says if allowed to go abroad, Musharraf will never come back to stand trial in Abdul Rashid Ghazi murder case

The counsel requested the court to direct the ministry of interior to circulate among all the exit points the warrants of arrests it (ADSJ) issued against Musharraf on February 20. ADSJ Memon on February 20 issued the non-bailable arrest warrants against Gen Musharraf after his repeated absence from the trial proceedings.

Haroon Rashid, the complainant in the case, had nominated Gen Musharraf as the sole accused in the murder case.

The Aabpara police in September 2013 registered an FIR against Gen Musharraf under the direction of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after Mr Rashid filed a petition seeking legal action against the former military ruler for launching a military operation against Lal Masjid in 2007. His father Rashid Ghazi and grandmother Sahib Khatoon were killed in the operation.

ADSJ Memon, after hearing the arguments on Thursday, issued notices to the secretary ministry of interior and the Federal Investigation Agency and adjourned the proceedings till April 2.

The former president, on the other hand, has already challenged the issuance of the non-bailable arrest warrants in the IHC.

Justice Aamir Farooq of the IHC would take up the petition on Friday.

Malik Tahir Mehmood, a legal counsel for Musharraf, on Thursday submitted the documents that the court had asked for during the last hearing. The documents included detailed order of the additional district and sessions judge and the medical reports of Musharraf.

The petition filed by Musharraf with IHC contended that the local court had issued the warrants despite the fact that he had submitted medical certificates to the court with a request to grant him an exemption from the personal appearance due to his health conditions. The petition requested the IHC to annul the arrest warrants.

dawn.com/news/1246435/clerics-son-moves-court-to-arrest-musharraf

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‘Lack of substance’ preventing Putin’s visit to Pakistan, says Russian ambassador

BAQIR SAJJAD SYED  March 18th, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Moscow believes that there are still not enough reasons to justify Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Islamabad.

“The problem is that usually the purpose of the visit is not participation in ceremonies. The visit should have some substance,” Russian Ambassador Alexey Dedov said at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), where he was delivering a lecture on Pak-Russia relations.

“As soon as the substance is ready we can discuss the visit,” he said.

Mr Dedov defined the substance as “signing of documents” for cooperation, “preparation of plans” for expanding ties, and “declarations”.

No Russian or even Soviet president has ever visited Pakistan. President Putin had planned a visit to Islamabad in October 2012 for attending a quadrilateral summit between Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan, but cancelled it at the eleventh hour.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was then hastily dispatched to Islamabad to explain the cancellation.

Lately, there was renewed talk of Mr Putin visiting Islamabad after Russia agreed to invest in the $2 billion North-South gas pipeline project for carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Karachi to Lahore. It was being speculated that he could visit Pakistan for performing the groundbreaking ceremony of the project.

Despite the perceived lack of incentive for taking the relationship to a higher plane, Moscow has, nevertheless, kept Pakistan engaged because of strategic and political compulsions, particularly the evolving situation in Afghanistan, terrorism concerns and anti-narcotics collaboration.

The ambassador rued the “unrealised potential” of the ties, but noted that Pakistan was “seen (in Russia) as an important and reliable partner with whom relations could be developed”.

He cited the geostrategic position of Pakistan and challenges and interests shared by the two countries as the motivation for Moscow to work for better and stronger bilateral relations.

Over the past few years, the two countries have signed important agreements for military-to-military cooperation, and technical military cooperation, besides regularising meetings of the Inter-Governmental Commission and initiating a business and investment forum.

The two countries are also close to resolving a longstanding economic dispute that led to freezing of Russian assets worth $120 million in Pakistan. A draft agreement has been initialled and a final accord is likely soon. The row was a major obstacle to economic cooperation between the two countries.

“Pre-requisites have been met.… the foundation has been laid and there are chances of success,” Mr Dedov observed.

In a landmark defence deal, Russia last year agreed to sell Mi-35 helicopters to Pakistan.

“Technical issues related to delivery of helicopters are being discussed now, which may require time,” Mr Dedov said about the helicopters’ sale describing it as a “pilot deal”. He hoped that the cooperation (military hardware export) would develop. Russia is also supporting Pakistan’s entry into Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The diplomat said that Moscow was also focusing on creating a positive atmosphere in South Asia (in a reference to India-Pakistan ties) and believes that the SCO could provide the platform for fostering confidence and cooperation between Delhi and Islamabad.

Mr Dedov said that the upcoming SCO meeting in Tashkent would provide a good opportunity for a meeting between President Putin and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The two leaders last met on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Ufa in July 2015.

dawn.com/news/1246419/lack-of-substance-preventing-putins-visit-to-pakistan-says-russian-ambassador

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Musharraf leaves for Dubai to 'seek medical treatment'

DAWN.COM | IMTIAZ MUGHERI,March 18th, 2016

KARACHI: Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf left for Dubai early Friday morning, hours after the interior ministry issued a notification to remove his name from the exit control list (ECL).

Before leaving, Musharraf told a DawnNews correspondent, "I am a commando and I love my homeland. I will come back in a few weeks or months."

Editorial: Musharraf’s latest coup

The former president, vowing to face all pending cases against him, said he was keeping himself abreast with developments in the country and will actively take part in politics after his return.

Musharraf said he was going abroad to seek "medical treatment of a decade-old illness which has now developed several complications."

On Thursday, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan announced at a press conference that the government had decided to allow Musharraf to travel abroad for treatment after the Supreme Court lifted a ban on Musharraf's foreign travel a day ago.

According to the minister, Musharraf had committed to facing all cases against him in court and had "promised to return in four to six weeks."

Dr Amjad, the senior vice-president of All Pakistan Muslim League, the political party founded and led by Musharraf, insisted that the former president was leaving the country "just for medical treatment."

Farogh Naseem, Musharraf’s counsel, had also earlier said his client needed to go abroad to "undergo a surgery for a fractured vertebra," treatment for which he said "is not available in Pakistan."

Musharraf, who is facing a treason trial for clamping emergency in the country on Nov 3, 2007, was barred from travelling abroad after his name was placed on the ECL on Apr 5, 2013.

The former dictator is scheduled to record his statement to a special three-judge court on Mar 31 in the treason case against him.

dawn.com/news/1246225/musharraf-leaves-for-dubai-to-seek-medical-treatment

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Arab World

Intense Infighting Reported between Terrorist Groups after ISIL Ringleader's Death

Fri Mar 18, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa terrorist groups operating in the Northern province of Aleppo engaged in fierce clashes with each other after the death of a senior ISIL ringleader in Homs province.

After a senior ISIL ringleader in Homs province who was dispatched to assist other terrorists in Aleppo succumbed to death hours after receiving deadly wounds in clashes with the Syrian Army on Thursday, the Jund al-Aqsa terrorist group sought to hold a ceremony for his death but Ahrar al-Sham opposed it which resulted in heavy clashes.

The clashes happened in Sarmin village in the Southeastern part of Aleppo province.

Hessan Aboud al-Sarmini was died of his lethal wounds in Khanasser region Southeast of Aleppo after being seriously wounded in clashes with the Syrian army and its allies.

Another top militant commander was killed during clashes between terrorists and Syrian Kurdish fighters in a neighborhood in the Northern city of Aleppo on Monday.

"The Thuwar al-Sham terrorist group's field commander called Umar Sanda was eliminated as the terrorists tried to open their path into Sheikh Maqsoud district in the Northern areas of the city of Aleppo," the well-informed source on the ground said.

Sheikh Maqsoud is a neighborhood in the city of Aleppo. The neighborhood is controlled by the Kurdish fighters of the People's Protection Units, YPG

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941228000113

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Syrian Army, Hezbollah Kill Scores of ISIL Terrorists along Border

March 18th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Army forces and their allied Hezbollah fighters carried out several attacks against the ISIL terrorists in the Western regions neighboring the Qalamoun Mountains, killing several militants at the Syrian-Lebanese border.

"The Syrian Army soldiers and Hezbollah carried out attacks at Jarod Qarah in Syria and Jarod Arsal on Lebanese soil near the border, disrupting an ISIL gathering near the Arsal border-crossing," a battlefield source said.

The source added that the Syrian army troops and Hezbollah also targeted ISIL positions at Zamrani and Qusira border-crossings Northwest of the Qalamoun Mountains.

After the Syrian jets heavily pounded ISIL positions, Hezbollah and the Syrian Armed Forces continued their offensive on ISIL positions, attacking several ISIL hideouts at the Qalamoun Mountains’ Western slopes near the Lebanese border.

"Clashes are still ongoing," sources said, and added, "However, ISIL is under attack from several directions, including the Quaryatayn region of Homs province."

Earlier on Thursday, scores of ISIL terrorists, including their ringleaders, were killed and many more were wounded after their gathering centers in the Northwestern part of Damascus were attacked by the Syrian army and popular forces.

The Syrian artillery units, supported by their allies, opened heavy fire at the ISIL concentration centers in Jarod Flitah in the Western Qalamoun, which claimed the lives of many terrorists, including their leaders.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000527

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Saudi-Led Strikes on Yemen Market Killed 119, Says UN

AFP — PUBLISHED, Mar 17, 2016

SANAA: Saudi-led air strikes on a market killed 119 people this week in northern Yemen's rebel-held Hajja province; the United Nations said Thursday, nearly three times the previously reported death toll.

Among those killed in Mastaba district on Tuesday were 22 children, while another 47 people were wounded, the UNICEF children's agency said.

It is one of the highest death tolls since the Saudi-led coalition launched a bombing campaign in support of the internationally recognised government against Huthi rebels and their allies in March last year.

Medics and tribal sources had previously reported 41 people killed in the strikes, and a health official in Hajja said the dead were civilians.

But a tribal chief close to the rebels on Wednesday told AFP that 33 of those killed were fighters of the Iran-backed Huthis.

A coalition spokesman said the strikes targeted “a militia gathering” in a place for buying and selling qat, a mild narcotic that is chewed throughout Yemen.

“We strongly deplore the deadliest attack in Al-Khamees market in Mastaba district of Hajja governorate,” Unicef said in a statement.

The UN agency urged all parties “to fully respect their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights laws”.

More than 2,000 children have been killed and wounded in the past year in Yemen, it added.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday demanded an investigation into the bombing, calling it “one of the deadliest — reportedly killing and wounding scores of civilians, including women and children — since the start of the conflict”.

Alleged humanitarian law violations

Rights groups have repeatedly urged the coalition to avoid causing civilian casualties.

Last month, Human Rights Watch accused the coalition of using US-supplied cluster bombs.

In November, the New York-based watchdog estimated 2,500 Yemeni civilians had died in coalition strikes since March.

The alliance has said that an independent inquiry would examine charges of possible abuses against civilians in the conflict.

A panel of UN experts says the coalition has carried out 119 sorties that violated humanitarian law, and called for an international probe.

In February, a coalition air strike on a market northeast of rebel-held capital Sanaa killed at least 30 rebels and civilians, according to witnesses.

Loyalists backed by the coalition regained control of four southern provinces last summer, including Aden, the temporary base of the government.

But forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi have struggled to maintain security in these provinces as militants have taken advantage of the conflict to gain ground in the south.

On Thursday, Al-Qaeda fighters shot dead three people accused of witchcraft in a public execution in Hadramawt, said an official in the southeastern province.

Coalition warplanes targeted jihadists in Aden at the weekend for the first time since March last year.

The Iran-backed rebels have controlled Sanaa since September 2014.

The World Health Organisation says more than 6,200 people have been killed in the conflict since March 2015 and the United Nations has warned of a “human catastrophe unfolding in Yemen”.

dawn.com/news/1246295/saudi-led-strikes-on-yemen-market-killed-119-says-un

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Intelligence Source: Over 4,000 Saudi Mercenaries Killed in Yemen War

Thu Mar 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Over 4,000 Saudi mercenaries, including 178 commanders, have been killed during the year-long Riyadh-led war against Yemen, a Yemeni intelligence source said on Thursday.

"At least, 4,000 Saudi mercenaries have been killed during the savage aggression of the Saudi-led Arab coalition against Yemen in the past one year," the source told FNA.

He said that tens of the Saudi mercenaries killed by the Yemeni army and popular forces have been Sudanese, Djiboutian, and even Chechnian nationals, adding that 178 commanders are seen among the Saudi death toll in Yemen war, "a fact that has always been kept secret the Saudi media".

His remarks came after the Yemeni army and popular forces destroyed the Saudi military positions and bases in Ma'rib province with a ballistic missile, killing tens of the kingdom's forces.

The Qaher-I ballistic missile hit Saudi Arabia's Tadavin military base in Ma'rib province in Yemen on Wednesday, Arabic-language media outlets reported.

Early reports indicate large casualties on the Saudi forces in the missile attack. The Saudi army and its coalition members have lost, at least, over a hundred troops each time they have come under a ballistic missile attack by Yemen.

The Yemeni forces have fired tens of missiles on the military positions and gathering centers of Saudi-led coalition so far, killing hundreds of Saudi forces and injuring many more.

In a relevant development last week, the Qaher-I missile hit al-Khanjar military base in al-Jawf province, destroying their military hardware and equipment.

The Saudi-led forces' armored vehicles were destroyed during the Yemeni missile attack.

Scores of Saudi forces were killed and injured in the Yemeni missile strikes.

In late February, a Yemeni Tochka missile hit the Saudi-led coalition's military base in Ma'rib province, killing tens of coalition servicemen, including 8 senior Saudi and UAE officers.

A Commander of Yemen's Ansarullah Movement confirmed firing of the ballistic missile at the Ma'as military base in Ma'rib in Central Yemen.

He noted that at least 48 Saudi forces were killed in Yemen's Tochka missile attack.

Also on February 3, the Yemeni forces rained down a barrage of missiles at the Saudi forces' military tower in Al-Dokhan region in Jizan province in Southern Saudi Arabia.

Al-Dokhan tower was reportedly destroyed in the Yemeni missile attacks in Jizan as eyewitnesses said that they had seen smoke rising from it.

The Yemeni army and popular forces regained control of Al-Khurma region in Asir province after they destroyed two arms depots and other military hardware of the Yemeni forces in the region.

Meantime, the Yemeni army's artillery units pounded Malhama military base in Jizan province. The Saudi troops started fleeing their base as soon as they came under the missile attack.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000523

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Iraqi Army Operation Starts East of Heet to Liberate Mohammadi Area

March 17th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Security sources said on Thursday Iraqi security forces helped by the country's Special Forces were heading toward al-Mohammadi to liberate the key region from ISIL's grip.

"While the operation is underway, the Iraqi police force will keep an eye on the routes leading to the Mohammadi region," the sources said.

Mohammadi is the only region under ISIL's control in Eastern regions near the key city of Heet now.

As the Iraqi forces continue their push against ISIL positions in Iraq, Iraqi military sources mention that after Mohammadi area, Heet would be the prime target to be liberated.

The battle for taking back the Anbar province is one of the fiercest battles in Post-Saddam Iraqi security force's history.

The Iraqi security forces would be assisted by local tribesmen and Iraqi warplanes during the operation, moreover, International coalition also would be involved in assisting the Iraqi army hitting targets in the area.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000544

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ISIL Terrorists Fleeing Battlefields in Homs Towrad Palmyra

March 18th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Military sources reported on Thursday that tens of terrorists were fleeing Homs battlefields Eastward to the ISIL stronghold city of Palmyra (Tadmur) as Syrian army troops alongside the popular forces continued to smash the terrorists in the Eastern part of province.

"The ISIL Takfiri terrorists left behind several dead and several more wounded members and fled their positions in Palmyra (Tadmur) desert in the Western swathes of the ancient city of Palmyra," the battlefield sources said.

The Syrian soldiers and their allies are capturing the ISIL fortifications and strongholds in Homs one by one, moving toward the ancient city Palmyra.

Earlier, Syrian Army’s elite Tiger Forces repelled a surprise attack launched by the terrorists of ISIL on the recently-liberated point in the Hayal Mountains in the Western areas just outside the ancient city of Palmyra.

"The ISIL group's militants sought to recapture Point 900 of the Hayal Mountains after losing it to the Syrian Armed Forced just yesterday, an attempt which led to fierce clashes in the battlefield where the two sides used heavy weaponry," sources on the ground said.

"Contrary to what has been recently circulated by some media outlets claiming the unexpected withdrawal of active Russian forces from Syria and its absence in combat actions in support of the Syrian Army, Russian warplanes actively conducted multiple airstrikes and helped thwarting the offensive through bombarding the group's positions in the region," they added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000573

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ISIL Commander Shishani Confirmed Dead

March 18th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Omar al-Shishani, a top ISIL commander who was a magnet for fighters from the former Soviet Union, died of wounds suffered in an airstrike in Syria, different sources confirmed.

Shishani, whose real name is Tarkhan Batirashvili, was wounded this month and died on Monday outside the ISIL's main stronghold of Raqqa, in Syria, the sources told the AP news agency.

A US military spokesman confirmed the reports, al-Jazeera said in another report.

A US air strike targeted Shishani on March 4 near Eastern Syrian town of Shaddadeh, Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said last week.

Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said after Shishani was wounded, ISIL "brought a number of doctors to treat him, but they were not able to".

The spokesman for the US-led coalition, Army Colonel Steve Warren, said on Tuesday the coalition was able to "assess that he is dead" and that it "got the word Monday morning".

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000553

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Iraqi Army Operation Starts East of Heet to Liberate Mohammadi Area

March 18th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Security sources said on Thursday Iraqi security forces helped by the country's Special Forces were heading toward al-Mohammadi to liberate the key region from ISIL's grip.

"While the operation is underway, the Iraqi police force will keep an eye on the routes leading to the Mohammadi region," the sources said.

Mohammadi is the only region under ISIL's control in Eastern regions near the key city of Heet now.

As the Iraqi forces continue their push against ISIL positions in Iraq, Iraqi military sources mention that after Mohammadi area, Heet would be the prime target to be liberated.

The battle for taking back the Anbar province is one of the fiercest battles in Post-Saddam Iraqi security force's history.

The Iraqi security forces would be assisted by local tribesmen and Iraqi warplanes during the operation, moreover, International coalition also would be involved in assisting the Iraqi army hitting targets in the area.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000544

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Iran Condemns Terrorist Attack in Nigeria

March 18th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian foreign ministry deplored the suicide attacks on a mosque in Nigeria which killed over 20 people.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari condemned the attacks, and extended his condolences to the Nigerian nation and government over the death of the country's citizens.

"Continued terrorist operations in different parts of the world shows the necessity for adopting necessary policies and measures for effective and all-out confrontation against terrorism and extremism," he added.

Two female suicide bombers attacked a mosque in the Northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing 22 worshippers, the army said on Wednesday.

The first bomber struck inside the mosque, while the second blew herself up outside as survivors tried to flee, eye witnesses said.

Eighteen other people were wounded in the attack, the army added.

Maiduguri is the birthplace of Boko Haram's insurgency which has killed 20,000 people since 2009.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000538

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ISIL Arms Cargo Destroyed in Hama Province

March 18th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army and its allies ambushed ISIL terrorists in the Eastern part of Hama province, killing a number of them and destroying their ammunition, a field source said on Thursday.

According to the source, the ambush resulted in the destruction of a truck loaded with weapons and ammunition intended to be sent to ISIL terrorists in al-Sheikh Hilal village in Hama's Eastern regions and the killing of several terrorists.

"The Syrian army soldiers who were tipped off by intelligence agents managed to ambush the vehicle fully laden with mines and artillery shells in Hama province and killed all militants escorting the cargo," the military sources added.

Yesterday, the Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) thwarted the al-Nusra Front's attempts to prevail over the government forces' lines of defense in the Southern battlefields in Hama province.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front's militants attacked the government forces' positions in the outskirts of Arrnailyah and Zur Hanifa and temporary seized three military outposts, but the government forces regrouped and in a counter-attack pushed the terrorists back from the battlefield.

The Syrian army’s 4th Division, an al-Baath Battalion and many soldiers of the NDF restored control over the outposts.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000592

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ISIL Terrorists Fleeing Battlefields in Homs Towrad Palmyra

Thu Mar 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Military sources reported on Thursday that tens of terrorists were fleeing Homs battlefields Eastward to the ISIL stronghold city of Palmyra (Tadmur) as Syrian army troops alongside the popular forces continued to smash the terrorists in the Eastern part of province.

"The ISIL Takfiri terrorists left behind several dead and several more wounded members and fled their positions in Palmyra (Tadmur) desert in the Western swathes of the ancient city of Palmyra," the battlefield sources said.

The Syrian soldiers and their allies are capturing the ISIL fortifications and strongholds in Homs one by one, moving toward the ancient city Palmyra.

Earlier, Syrian Army’s elite Tiger Forces repelled a surprise attack launched by the terrorists of ISIL on the recently-liberated point in the Hayal Mountains in the Western areas just outside the ancient city of Palmyra.

"The ISIL group's militants sought to recapture Point 900 of the Hayal Mountains after losing it to the Syrian Armed Forced just yesterday, an attempt which led to fierce clashes in the battlefield where the two sides used heavy weaponry," sources on the ground said.

"Contrary to what has been recently circulated by some media outlets claiming the unexpected withdrawal of active Russian forces from Syria and its absence in combat actions in support of the Syrian Army, Russian warplanes actively conducted multiple airstrikes and helped thwarting the offensive through bombarding the group's positions in the region," they added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000573

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Syrian Army Reaches Key Oil-Rich Region in Deir Ezzur

March 18th, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army soldiers backed by the National Defense Forces (NDF) reached the key oil-rich region of Thayyem in the Southeastern province of Deir Ezzur after a 48-hour battle with the militants of the ISIL terrorist group, battlefield reports said.

Along with reaching the Thayyem Oil Fields, the Syrian forces also advanced to the Gas Company Technical Institute after pushing thier way into nearby regions Southwest of the recently-liberated Tharda Mountains in Deir Ezzur province.

Thayyem Oil Fields no longer produce oil, but are still deemed of high value due to their closeness to the Deir Ezzur-Mayadin Highway.

As the Syrian Army forces are attempting to capture the Thayyem Oil Fields and Gas Company Technical Institute, a brigade of the Syrian elite Republican Guards forces backed by the local tribesmen are pushing Southward along the Deir Ezzur-Mayadin Highway in order to take up positions for an eventual assault on the city of al-Muhassan.

Recently, Syrian Army forces carried out an offensive to recapture parts of the international highway to the ancient city of Palmyra, blocking ISIL's supply routes from Deir Ezzur.

Earlier on Thursday, the Syrian army units in the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur blew up a tunnel dug by terrorist groups, killing all militants stationed in the tunnel and other nearby positions.

The 33-meter-long tunnel was dug in al-Jabilah district in the Southwestern parts of Ferdous mosque whose detonation led to the destruction of a two-story base and a house occupied by the terrorists.

All militants inside the base, house and tunnel were killed as a result of the blast.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000475

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Commander: Iran to Further Reinvigorate Naval Power Next Year

Thu Mar 17, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced the country's plans to further bolster its naval power in the new Iranian year (starting on March 20).

"We are after increasing our military and combat power by training human resources in the new year," Sayyari said, addressing a ceremony in the Southern city of Khorramshahr on Thursday.

He also said that upon an order of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, building different state-of-the-art weapons and equipment as well as continued deployment in the international waters are also on the Iranian Navy's agenda.

In relevant remarks earlier this month, Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Gholam Reza Khadem Biqam announced that Iran is moving ahead with a large scale navy modernization program for wider presence in the high seas.

Speaking to FNA in the Northern city of Rasht, Khadem Bigham said the new warships will be self-sufficient, bigger, and equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology.

“Iran plans to improve its naval resources in order to have a bigger presence in international waters,” he added.

Khadem Biqam further said Iran’s strong presence in the North and West of the Indian Ocean is in line with the country’s plans to help improve international peace and security.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941227000481

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Africa

Cameroon sentences 89 Boko Haram fighters to death

17 March 2016

Cameroon has sentenced 89 members of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram to death, local media report.

They were convicted on terror charges by a military court for their roles in several attacks in Cameroon's northern region which borders Nigeria.

Cameroon passed an anti-terror law in 2014 which introduced the death sentence.

This is the first time the death sentenced has been used since that law was passed.

The 89 are among 850 people arrested in Cameroon on charges of links to Boko Haram.

Following the death sentences, a local human rights group has called for reforms to Cameroon's justice system.

Hundreds of people have been killed in a spate of attacks in Cameroon since it joined a regional force set up to tackle the militants last year.

More on this and other African stories

Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language

Launched military operations in 2009

Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, abducted hundreds, including at least 200 schoolgirls

Joined Islamic State, now calls itself "West African province"

Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate

bbc.com/news/world-africa-35831432

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Hundreds of al-Shabab fighters 'surrounded' in Puntland

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

 18 Mar 2016

The authorities in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland say the military has surrounded 250 fighters from the Islamist group al-Shabab.

Puntland's Vice President Abdihakin Abdullahi Haji Omar Amey told BBC Somali that the militants were trapped in a valley, with no food to eat.

He said some had tried to escape but had been either killed or captured.

Al-Shabab has had bases in Puntland for several years.

Last year, a splinter group in the area declared allegiance to so-called Islamic state.

Most of al-Shabab is allied to al-Qaeda.

bbc.com/news/live/world-africa-35783488

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Christians, Muslims Unite Against Extremism as Nigeria's President Calls Islamic Radicalism a 'Tragic Paradox'

March 18, 2016

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, said at a major peace conference that the teachings of Islam forbid extremism in all forms, making the wave of radical Islamic attacks worldwide a "tragic paradox."

"The tragic paradox of the global insurgency situation is that most of the atrocities committed by various insurgents all over the world today, are being carried out mainly by people who pretend to be Muslims, yet most of the victims and casualties are equally Muslims," Buhari said Thursday at the opening of the International Islamic Conference on Peace and Nation Building in Abuja, according to Nigeria's Daily Trust.

"To underscore their cruelty and godlessness, they particularly target the most vulnerable members of the society: children, women and the elderly."

Buhari added that any group that preachers lawlessness and extremism is 'irreligious and unacceptable' to Islam, and urged religious leaders to stand up and oppose false teachings that motivate violent insurgents.

"No religion approves of such heinous crimes against humanity; definitely not Islam nor Christianity, the two to which most Nigerians belong. This is a tragedy which all normal people must rise up against," Buhari added.

"Islam does not permit lawlessness. It frowns at extremism even in normal acts of worship. The emergence of any group advocating the contrary is therefore irreligious and unacceptable."

While Nigeria's population, divided roughly between Christians and Muslims, has for years coexisted peacefully, radical Islamic groups have risen up, carrying out massacres against Christians and attempting to tear the country apart.

The Islamic State-aligned Boko Haram has captured much of international news with its suicide bombings, mass shootings and kidnappings of thousands of women and children across Nigeria, but Christian farmers have also been killed by the thousands at the hands of radical Islamic Fulani herdsmen.

Close to 500 Christians were recently killed in the space of one month alone by Fulani herdsmen, prompting Buhari to order an investigation, and express his "deep shock" at the level of violence that has been committed.

Persecution watchdog groups, including International Christian Concern, have urged the Nigerien government to do more to protect citizens against violent threats to life and property, and to recognize the religious targeting that is happening in the country, rather than to attempt to explain it away through the lens of resource wars and historical tribal tensions.

In his speech on Thursday, Buhari called on all religious, community and political leaders to steer their followers away from corruption and crime, and instead teach them to be more tolerant of one another and to recognize the religious freedom rights of others.

The Nigerian President admitted that his country has suffered from neglect and corruption for years, but he vowed to do everything possible to protect the lives of his citizens and to ensure even development across the nation.

christianpost.com/news/christians-muslims-nigeria-islamic-extremism-muhammadu-buhari-peace-conference-159498/

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Niger election result may hit region's Boko Haram fight

18 March 2016

Niger's incumbent president Mahamadou Issoufou delivers a speech at the presidential palace in Niamey on Febuary 26Image copyrightGetty Images

The second round of the Niger presidential election takes place on Sunday 20 March, and the result may have implications for regional stability and the fight against Islamist terrorism in West Africa.

Incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou looks set to secure a second term in office, as opposition candidate Hama Amadou has been evacuated from prison to France for specialized medical treatment just days before the run-off, raising concerns over the poll.

The former parliamentary speaker and prime minister has been in detention in the south-western town of Filingue since November 2015 over allegations of baby trafficking. He has dismissed the charges as politically motivated.

Niger is seen as a key ally in the fight against Boko Haram, and President Issoufou has been praised in the West for rallying neighbouring countries to fight the group.

What is the likely outcome?

President Issoufou seems poised for victory in the run-off, having narrowly missed outright victory in the first round with 48% of the vote.

Having garnered only 17%, it will be difficult for Mr Amadou to bridge the gap despite the opposition alliance backing him. Mixed messages about a poll boycott are also likely to weaken his chances.

It is still unclear if the Opposition Coalition for Change (COPA 2016) - an alliance formed to back Mr Amadou - will take part in the vote, having announced a boycott.

The opposition has said it will not recognise the outcome, saying Mr Amadou's imprisonment prevented him from campaigning, among other complaints; while the government's handling of his medical condition is a sensitive issue that could inflame tensions.

What is Hama Amadou's current condition?

The nature of Mr Amadou's illness is not clear, but the government says he has "a chronic illness which he has suffered from for three years". The 66-year-old received medical treatment for an eye condition recently.

On 14 March, he reportedly lost consciousness before being revived at the prison clinic, his doctor telling a local TV station that he had fainted.

The doctor was later arrested for "revealing medical confidentiality and spreading false news".

On 16 March, it was reported that Amadou had been flown to France for "specialist treatment", with the government claiming that he was suffering from "general fatigue".

Hama Amadou during his spell as Prime MinisterImage copyrightGetty Images

Will the opposition take part in the run-off?

The opposition has made conflicting statements about their participation. On 8 March, COPA 2016 announced its withdrawal on account of "irregularities and massive fraud".

However, the coalition reportedly did not consult Mr Amadou about the boycott, and his camp later asserted that he would take part in the vote.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) says the opposition candidate's name will be on the ballot because he had not formally withdrawn his candidacy by the cut-off date of 10 March.

The governing Niger Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) says the vote will proceed with or without the opposition, accusing its rivals of fearing "dismal defeat".

A campaign poster for presidential candidate Hama Amadou ouside Amadou party's headquarters in NiameyImage copyrightGetty Images

What are the key issues facing the country?

Niger is fragile and its stability is at stake as one of the poorest countries in Africa.

It also finds itself on the frontline in the fight against jihadist group Boko Haram, and Mr Issoufou has been active in rallying a regional force against the group.

The president claimed to have foiled a coup against him in December, and military officers and opposition leaders were subsequently arrested.

Seen as a key ally of the West in ongoing counter-terrorism operations in the vast Sahel region, the incumbent president has been described as one of French President Francois Hollande's "most loyal African partners".

It has also been attacked by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

bbc.com/news/world-africa-35832560

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Southeast Asia

Philippine jihadists execute ‘spy’ in troubled South

 17 Mar 2016

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Jihadists allied with the Islamic State (IS) militant group have beheaded a man they accused of being a police spy in the southern Philippine province of Sarangani, reports by an international research organization and foreign media said Thursday.

The SITE Intelligence Group said members of the Ansaru’l Khilafah (Supporters of the Caliphate) Philippines captured Tuesday the 43-year-old man and was immediately beheaded.

A video of the gruesome killing was also uploaded on IS channel with accompanying statement, saying, “This jāsūs (spy) was roaming and sniffing around the area of the Ansaru’l Khilafah Philippines in Sarangani Province.”

The man was said to be a resident of General Santos City, according to the news website NT News (ntnews.com.au). The clip could not be independently confirmed, and police and military authorities have not issued any statement about the brutal execution.

There was also no other information about the man released by the jihadist group, which, along with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM), had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), which burst on to the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq.

The radical militants in Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as the Southeast Asian terror group Jema’ah Islamiyah also pledged allegiance to the IS last year.

Last year, the jihadists also released a video of the IS’s Alhayat Media Center, which shows the Philippines as among countries in Southeast Asia where they were planning to expand the “Khilafah” (caliphate).

Most of the Ansaru’l Khilafah members are based in Sultan Kudarat province and operate in nearby areas of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, where the BIFF and KIM are active.

They now use the black IS (Daesh) flag, just like what the Abu Sayyaf does, in the provinces of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu – all in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) – to which Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur belong.

Basilan also has become the bastion of power of the Abu Sayyaf after its leaders pledged allegiance to the IS. And in a propaganda video released this year by the Abu Sayyaf and picked up by international media, more than two dozen gunmen – including child warriors – led by rebel leader Isnilon Hapilon, were seen hiking in the hinterlands of Basilan while chanting “Dawlah Islamiyah (Islamic State)” after which they recited an Arabic script of  bayah, or pledge of allegiance.

Hapilon, alias “Abu Abdullah,” was named as the new leader of the “Harakatul Islamiyah” (Islamic Movement), the name given to the Abu Sayyaf by its founder Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani – who was slain in a police shootout in Basilan in Dec. 1998.

The Abu Sayyaf evolved to a notorious group known for having carried out kidnappings, bombings and other criminal activities in southern Philippines.

The US government has offered a $5 million bounty for Hapilon’s head – dead or alive.

In the video, Hapilon was shown with Abu Harith Al-Filibbieni, who is reported to be deputy commander of the al-Ansar Infantry Division of the IS, and Mohd Najib Husen (Hussein), alias “Abu Annas Al Muhajir,” a division head of the Ansar al-Sharia of the IS.

The rebels explained in the video that they had previously done the bayah, but did it again in front of their new leaders. It was unknown when the video was recorded, but it was released just after Philippine authorities claimed that Husen was killed during offensive operations against the Abu Sayyaf in the troubled province of Basilan in December.

Husen was with other Malaysian jihadists – Mahmud Ahmad, Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee, Amin Baco and Jeknal Adil – who fled to southern Philippines reportedly to recruit militants and send them to “Dar al-Harb” (Place of War), referring to Syria and Iraq, where the IS established its own caliphate state. AL JACINTO and MOH SAADUDDIN

manilatimes.net/philippine-jihadists-execute-spy-in-troubled-south/250974/

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Activists raise concerns over Indonesia's proposed anti-terrorism law

Rights activists on Friday called on Indonesia's parliament to reject government proposals designed to tighten the country's anti-terrorism laws.

Posted 18 Mar 2016

JAKARTA: Rights activists on Friday called on Indonesia's parliament to reject government proposals designed to tighten the country's anti-terrorism laws.

The revisions to the law, proposed in the wake of a militant attack in the capital Jakarta in January, include detention without trial for up to three months and allow the arrest of people "if they assemble to discuss terrorist and radical acts".

International Commission of Jurists and other rights groups said in a joint statement that the proposed amendments are "an attack on human rights".

"The proposed amendments would authorise unnecessarily prolonged detention of suspects, putting them at risk of torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, and arbitrary detention," said the statement.

Other rights NGOs raised concerns over a proposal to strip Indonesians of citizenship if they join overseas militant organisation, arguing such a move would leave people stateless.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

The legislation is pending parliamentary approval and government officials have urged MPs to pass revisions as soon as possible, citing a persistent security threat from militants in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

January's attack in Jakarta, which killed eight people including four attackers, announced the arrival of Islamic State in Southeast Asia. Since then, Indonesian police have rounded up dozens of suspected militants across the island of Java island.

Earlier this week, Indonesian anti-terror forces killed two ethnic Uighur Chinese men on Sulawesi island where they had joined the country's most high-profile Islamic State supporter.

Indonesia's proposed counter-terrorism measures are not as harsh as those in neighbouring countries.

Malaysia last April reintroduced a law under which individuals can be detained without trial for up to two years with two-year extensions thereafter.

Australia has in recent years passed measures banning its citizens from returning from conflict zones in Syria and the Middle East, while making it easier to monitor domestic communications.

channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/activists-raise-concerns/2614878.html

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South Asia

Mullah Rasool says will not participate in peace talks led by Mullah Akhtar Mansoor

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 17 2016

The dissident Taliban leader Mullah Rasool has said he will not participate in peace talks with the government which is led by the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

In an interview with the UK-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Mullah Rasool has said he is not opposed to reconciliation in principle, insisting that he opposes with Mansoor’s hegemony over the process as far as the Taliban are concerned.

“Earlier we were thinking that the Afghan Government wanted peace talks with all Taliban, but when we saw that it is interested only in making peace with Mullah Mansur because of the dictates of the Pakistani Government, we decided we cannot start peace talks with the Afghan Government,” Rasool added.

Rasool further added that he will not sit in the same reconciliation meetings with Mansoor, whose claim to leadership he considers spurious, nor will he start a separate reconciliation track.

He said he will negotiate only when Mansoor abandons plans for reconciliation or is excluded from them.

Meanwhile, Rasool favoured the inclusion of neighboring Iran in the Afghan reconciliation process, saying the quadrilateral approach (involving US, Chinese, Pakistani and Afghan diplomats working together to re-launch negotiations with the Taliban) does not sufficiently represent the variety of regional interests.

He said excluding Iran, in particular, will in his view result in the failure of reconciliation efforts.

The remarks by Mullah Rasool comes as the Afghan government was expecting to start face to face talks with the Taliban group at the first week of this month following the conclusion of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) meeting last month where calls were made for direct talks.

However, the Taliban group rejected to participate in the talks and once again reiterated the group’s preconditions for the revival of peace process.

khaama.com/mullah-rasool-says-will-not-participate-in-peace-talks-led-by-mullah-akhtar-mansoor-0370

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Authorities Say Nearly 2,000 Militants Killed In Nangarhar in This Islamic Calendar Year

By ZABIHULLAH MOOSAKHAIL - Thu Mar 17 2016

Authorities in eastern Nangarhar province say nearly 2,000 militants have been killed in the ongoing Solar year which is going to be ended in few days.

Gen. Fazal Ahmad Shirzad, the provincial police chief said during a press conference at Nangarhar Media and Information Center on Thursday that more than 700 militants were also wounded in the year 1394.

General Fazal Ahmad Shirzad added that 319 security operations were conducted during this period in which 1979 fighters of Daesh and Taliban were killed and 762 others wounded.

“960 suspects were also arrested during these raids,” Gen. Shirzad said. “After initial investigations, the innocents were set free but others alleged of different crimes were referred to prosecutor’s office.”

He further said that security forces have also arrested 319 drug dealers red handed with 12,000 kilograms of drugs in different parts of the province.

The police chief added that 12 kidnappers and 56 land-grabbers were also arrested during this period.

khaama.com/authorities-say-nearly-2000-militants-killed-in-nangarhar-in-year-1394-4750

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Delegation representing Gulbuddin Hekmatyar arrives in Kabul for talks

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 17 2016

Gulbuddin HekmatyarA delegation of Hezb-e-Islami party arrived in Kabul today to hold talks with the Afghan High Peace Council, nearly a week after the group announced to participate in reconciliation process.

In a brief press conference, the delegation told reporters that Hezb-e-Islami party is keen to resolve issues with the Afghan government through peaceful negotiations.

The delegation also called on other militant groups to join talks and peace process with the Afghan government.

The Hezb-e-Islami party led by the notorious warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar announced Sunday that the group is prepared to participate in peace talks with the Afghan government.

The party in a statement said they are prepared to participate in the peace talks in a bid to show to the nation that Hezb-e-Islami wants peace.

The statement further added Hezb-e-Islami party condemns the inclusion of the group’s two members in the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) by the United States, saying the move by the US government comes amid calls by the Afghan government to start reconciliation process.

The visit by Hezb-e-Islami delegation to Kabul for peace talks comes as the Taliban group has rejected to participate in the talks.

The Afghan government was expecting to start face to face talks with the Taliban group at the first week of this month following the conclusion of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) meeting last month where calls were made for direct talks.

khaama.com/delegation-representing-gulbuddin-hekmatyar-arrives-in-kabul-for-talks-0369

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NATO confirms no casualties as helicopter makes hard landing in Helmand

By KHAAMA PRESS - Fri Mar 18 2016,

NATO helicopterA helicopter belonging to the NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission made a hard landing in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan today.

The alliance the confirmed the incident and said there were no casualties as the helicopter was recovered from the incident area.

“We can confirm a Resolute Support helicopter made a hard landing in Helmand province on 18 March 2016. Initial reports indicated that there was no enemy activity in the area,” Resolute Support public affairs director, U.S. Army Col. Michael Lawhorn said.

He said “All personnel on the aircraft have been recovered with no casualties. The incident is currently under investigation.”

A local security official earlier said the helicopter made hard landing in Jami area of Nad-e-Ali district where heavy clashes continue.

The officials further added that the helicopter made hard landing due to technical problems and additional choppers were deployed to assist the personnel on board.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in its various districts and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

The Taliban militants have repeatedly launched coordinated attacks to capture key districts in Helmand province during the past several months.

khaama.com/nato-confirms-no-casualties-as-helicopter-makes-hard-landing-in-helmand-0376

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Afghan rights activist, entrepreneurs included in Young Global Leaders list

By KHAAMA PRESS - Fri Mar 18 2016

A prominent women’s rights activist and ex-member of the parliament Farkhunda Zahra Naderi has been included along with two prominent entrepreneurs among the 2016 class of the Young Global Leaders by World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum is a Geneva-based non-profit foundation which selects the most enterprising, innovative, socially minded, and exceptional leaders under the age of 40, each year.

Miss Naderi has been selected among the 2016 class of Young Global Leaders for her role as one of the youngest elected members of the Afghan parliament and well regarded social activist.

The foundation recognized her for advancing women’s rights in Afghanistan and participation in politics.

The two other young Afghan entrepreneurs included in the list are Fahim Hashimy, the Chief Executive Officer of Hashimy Group, and Hassina Syed, the owner of Syed Group.

Hashimy has been recognized as a successful businessman despite challenges he faced in an extremely volatile environment in Afghanistan where has has risen from a boy who was beaten by the Taliban.

He is running a powerful conglomerate of Afghan businesses, including a TV channel, an airline, and a supplier of fuel and boots to the Afghan National Army.

Meanwhile, Hassina has been recognized for her role in as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Afghanistan who found the Afghan National Women’s Organization.

“She is the only female member of the 3,000-strong Afghan Chamber of Commerce and she runs her business despite threats made against her and time spent in a crowded Kabul jail for failing to pay protection money to the police,” according to a brief introduction of Hassina listed by World Economic Forum among the 11 Young Global Leaders.

The Geneva-based foundation introduced the 2016 class of the Young Global Leaders in a release on Wednesday, saying “As global industry, government and civil society evolve to confront a world defined by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, these new members of the Young Global Leaders (YGL) include scientists opening up their data to the world, a member of parliament fighting for gender equality in Afghanistan, an entrepreneur who is redefining nuclear energy production with circular economy models, pioneers from the sharing economy, and an actor who gives a damn and puts his money behind it.”

Women represent a majority in this year’s class, and with over half the intake coming from emerging economies, the world’s future leadership is becoming more broad-based in terms of both gender and geography. Alongside 28 selected from North America and 26 from Europe, the YGL class of 2016 includes 15 YGLs from East Asia, 10 from South Asia, 10 from Greater China, 10 from Sub-Saharan Africa, 12 from the Middle East and North Africa, eight from Latin America, and four from Eurasia.

khaama.com/afghan-rights-activist-entrepreneurs-included-in-young-global-leaders-list-0375

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India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam irrigation sluice gate successfully tested

By KHAAMA PRESS - Fri Mar 18 2016

The irrigation sluice gate of the major Salma Dam, Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam, was successfully tested as the construction work of the dam is close to completion.

The Indian authorities called the successful test of the irrigation sluice gate as ‘another milestone’ achieved in India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam.

The project is scheduled to be completed by June, 2016. by M/s. WAPCOS, a central public sector unit under the Ministry of Water Resources, which is executing the construction work.

The Indian cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the reconstruction and completion of Salma dam at a revised cost of INR 1,775.69 crore which is equivalent to around $268,050,296.

The revised cost was approved shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kabul late last year for the inauguration of the India-built parliament building in Afghanistan.

Built on Harirod river, the dam is expected to produce 42 megawatt of electricity and will irrigate around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land.

India has played a crucial role by participating in the rebuilding of Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

Since 2002, the Government of India has committed USD 2 billion dollars to the socio-economic rebuilding of the Afghan state and society in accordance with the development priorities of the Government and the people of Afghanistan.

khaama.com/india-afghanistan-friendship-dam-irrigation-sluice-gate-successfully-tested-0374

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Militants planning attacks during Nowruz in Kabul, US embassy alert says

By KHAAMA PRESS - Fri Mar 18 2016

Kabul suicide attackThe US Embassy in Kabul has issued alerts to its citizens in the country regarding possible attacks planned by insurgents to target Nowruz celebrations in Kabul.

“The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has received reports that due to Nawruz, the Afghan New Year (20-21 March) insurgents are planning disruptive activities aimed to target celebrations in Kabul City, Kabul Province, Afghanistan,” the alert by the embassy said.

The alert further added “In response to this potential threat, there may be a significant increase in security throughout Kabul City.”

“As a reminder, in accordance with the Travel Warning for Afghanistan, the Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan. The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely unstable, and the threat to all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan remains critical. U.S. citizens currently visiting or residing in Afghanistan may wish to consider departing,” it said.

The alert by the US embassy is issued amid deteriorating security situation across the country including capital Kabul with the rampant Taliban-led insurgency.

Nowruz marks the first day of the Persian New Year, an event tht has been celebrated for more than 3000 years.

Thousands of people participate in a traditional flag hoisting ceremony in the capital and other cities of the country including Mazar-e-Sharif city which is normally performed in Hazrat Ali shrine.

Scores of people from the regional countries are also visiting country specifically the northern province to mark and celebrate the start of the new persian year.

khaama.com/militants-planning-attacks-during-nowruz-in-kabul-us-embassy-alert-says-0372

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Mideast

Erdogan says Europe 'dancing in a minefield' as EU seeks Turkey deal

March 18, 2016

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Europe should look at its own record on migrants before telling Turkey what to do and accused it of "dancing in a minefield" by supporting terrorist groups.

In combative comments made as Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu meets European Union leaders in Brussels, Erdogan also said Turkey would only listen to external criticism on its rights record when it was justified.

"At a time when Turkey is hosting three million (migrants), those who are unable to find space for a handful of refugees, who in the middle of Europe keep these innocents in shameful conditions, must first to look at themselves," Erdogan said in a speech broadcast on television.

He accused some countries of directly or indirectly supporting terrorism, in apparent reference to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey's southeast. A PKK offshoot has claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings that killed 66 people in Ankara in the last month.

European leaders have expressed concern about the loss of civilian life in the southeast amid Turkey's military operations to flush out the PKK, urging it to use proportional force.

"Our struggle against terrorism is measured and legitimate ... Every terrorist organization active in our region and in Turkey has unified against Turkey. Many states, primarily Western countries, still cannot display a principled stance against these groups," he said.

He complained that Belgian authorities had allowed a pro-PKK tent to be put up outside the summit venue in Brussels, although he said its flag and posters had later been taken down.

European Union leaders are trying to convince Turkey's prime minister to help end Europe's migration crisis in return for financial and political concessions, but they remain unsure if Friday's Brussels summit can clinch a deal.

(Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall)

reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-turkey-erdogan-idUSKCN0WK0XB

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US Embassy in Turkey warns its citizens on Nevruz, updates travel warning

March 18, 2016

[US Embassy in Turkey warns its citizens on Nevruz, updates travel warning]

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara has warned its citizens over the upcoming Nevruz celebrations in the country, citing increasing terrorist attacks and threats in Turkey.

“[The] U.S. Embassy Ankara informs U.S. citizens that in light of recent events and the upcoming Nevruz holidays, citizens should be mindful of their security precautions. Nevruz celebrations are anticipated in various locations throughout Turkey on March 17-21. Local authorities have banned large gatherings during select dates over the Nevruz period citing security concerns. Celebrations in Ankara, Istanbul, [the Aegean province of] İzmir, and [the southern province of] Adana are expected to take place Sunday, March 20. The celebration in [the southeastern province of] Diyarbakır, traditionally the site of the largest Nevruz festivities, is currently scheduled for March 21. The entire period is expected to see festivities that could be large and/or spontaneous,” the U.S. Embassy said in its security message for U.S. citizens which was posted on the official website of the embassy on March 17, days after a suicide car bomb ripped through Kızılay Square in central Ankara on March 13, killing at least 35 people and wounding 125, in the latest deadly attack to hit Turkey.

“Nevruz has political as well as social connotations, and in some recent years has been a flashpoint for spontaneous demonstrations. Demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. We advise U.S. citizens to continue to avoid political gatherings, protests, and demonstrations and to exercise caution if you are in the vicinity. Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings and local events, monitor local news stations for updates, and follow local authority instructions,” the embassy said. “The U.S. Embassy also reminds individuals that terrorist organizations have targeted transportation hubs, Turkish government facilities, and public spaces in the recent past,” it noted.

The Diyarbakır Governor’s Office approved a Nevruz celebration in the city on March 17, while celebrations planned in other provinces in the country’s east and southeast were banned due to security reasons.

Nevruz celebrations have been banned in many provinces amid security forces’ operations against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the country’s eastern and southeastern region including Erzurum, Erzincan, Muş, Batman, Bingöl, Tunceli, Şırnak, Kars, Hakkari and Mardin.

In the Turkish capital Ankara, Nevruz celebrations have been also banned between March 19 and March 21.

The Istanbul Governor’s Office also did not approve the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) event registration for Nevruz celebrations in Istanbul on March 16.

Nevruz marks the first day of spring and is celebrated across much of central Asia on March 21.

The U.S. Embassy also updated its travel warning on March 17.

“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey and to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey. Due to threats from international and indigenous groups, U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling throughout the country,” the Embassy said.

“Travel restrictions remain in place for U.S. government employees to southeastern Turkey for the provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Şırnak, Diyarbakır, Van, Siirt, Muş, Mardin, Batman, Bingöl, Tunceli, Hakkari, Bitlis, and Elazığ. Additionally, the following neighborhoods in Adana: Şakirpaşa, Gülbahçesi, Dağlioğlu, Barbaros, Anadolu, Ondokuzmayıs,” it said.

The March 13 attack was the third to strike Ankara in five months, in an area close to the prime minister’s office, parliament and foreign embassies, as Turkey grapples with twin security threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the PKK.

hurriyetdailynews.com/us-embassy-in-turkey-warns-its-citizens-on-nevruz-updates-travel-warning.aspx?pageID=238&nID=96611&NewsCatID=510

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Turkey on edge after car laden with explosives found near government building

March 18, 2016

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, March 18 (Reuters) - Turkish bomb-disposal experts disabled an explosive device in a vehicle found overnight near a government building in southeast Turkey, security sources on Friday as a recent spate of bomb attacks prompted security warnings in major cities.

The vehicle was found with 150 kg (331 lb) of explosives in the town of Hani in the mainly Kurdish region's Diyarbakir province, the sources said. Police were examining security cameras in the area as part of the investigation.

Kurdish militants on Thursday claimed a suicide bombing in Ankara that killed 37 people this week and warned of further attacks, while Germany shut down its diplomatic missions and schools in Turkey.

The US embassy in Ankara issued a statement overnight saying its citizens "should be mindful of their security precautions," noting Kurdish New Year (Newroz) celebrations taking place this weekend and saying large events can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.

"The US Embassy also reminds individuals that terrorist organizations have targeted transportation hubs, Turkish government facilities, and public spaces in the recent past," it said.

Last Sunday's suicide bombing was the second in a month in the heart of Ankara claimed by the TAK militant group, opening a dangerous new phase in Turkey's war with Kurdish militants as deadly attacks spread to its biggest cities well beyond the southeast where conflict is usually focused.

Also on Friday, an unidentified gunman killed a police officer and a civilian in a shootout in central Ankara, Cumhuriyet newspaper said.

The attack occurred in the Dikmen area of the Turkish capital, it said, without giving further details.

The German Foreign Ministry released a statement on Friday saying it will close all diplomatic missions and German schools in Turkey until the weekend due to a highly credible security threat.

"How long the danger remains, I can't say. But the fact is that due to the current assessment of the situation, we have decided to keep the embassy and schools closed until the weekend," the spokeswoman told a government news conference.

jpost.com/Middle-East/Turkey-on-edge-after-car-laden-with-explosives-found-near-government-building-448398

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Turkish PM says hopes will achieve migration goal with EU

March 18, 2016

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on March 18 in Brussels that he hoped to achieve an agreement with the EU leaders who are seeking to convince Ankara to help stem the influx of migrants into Europe.

“Of course the EU and Turkey have the same goal, the same objective to help Syrian refugees especially and also to have a new feature in our continents in a right manner. This is our purpose,” Davutoğlu was quoted as saying by Reuters on arrival for talks in Brussels.

“I am sure, I hope, we will be achieving our goal.”

Davutoğlu was arriving for talks with EU leaders who are hoping to convince Turkey to help end Europe’s migration crisis in return for financial and political concessions.     

He also warned EU leaders that Ankara’s offer to curb the refugee flow to Europe is a humanitarian rather than a “bargaining” issue.

“For Turkey, the refugee issue is not an issue of bargaining but an issue of values, humanitarian values as well as European values,” Davutoğlu said.

Apart from the 3 billion euros the EU had pledged October 2015 to give Turkey to help improve the living conditions of the Syrian refugees in the country, Turkey demanded an extra 3 billion euros in order to share the burden of the migrant crisis.

Before departing for Brussels, Davutoğlu said that Turkey would not allow for any deal aiming to turn the country into an open prison for refugees.

Speaking during a news conference before leaving for the summit, Davutoğlu said Turkey was exerting diplomatic efforts to stop human trafficking.

“We will not be deterred by any proposal that will turn Turkey into an open refugee prison,” said Davutoğlu late March 17.

“We have submitted a clear and humanitarian offer to Europe [over the refugee deal], but Turkey will not be a transit country for human trafficking or a depot of refugees,” Davutoğlu said, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Davutoğlu is due to meet EU Council President Tusk, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for breakfast on March 18, before EU leaders meet again for final consultations expected around noon, EU officials told AFP.

Under Turkey’s proposal to the EU, the country wants the 28-nation bloc to “share the burden.” That means “for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU member states.”

Ankara also wants visa liberalization by June, the speeding up of Turkey’s accession talks and an additional three billion euros.

Davutoğlu said that with the proposed plan, Turkey aims to help people who want to migrate to Europe through legal ways by instituting a method that would prevent illegal crossings from Turkey to the EU.

He called the final aim of the method “humanitarian,” but added that the aim’s costs needed to be shared by the EU and Turkey.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-pm-says-hopes-will-achieve-migration-goal-with-eu.aspx?pageID=238&nID=96606&NewsCatID=510

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Athens urges Turkey to ‘come to terms’ with history

March 18, 2016

Greece has reacted to “unacceptable comments” by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic who on Thursday criticized Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for their remarks on the Armenian Genocide.

“Turkey appears to believe that if history does not agree with its claims, so much worse for history. But this is too precarious a time for cheap and hypocritical rhetoric,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Constantinos Koutras said on Friday.

“Obviously, the Republic of Turkey must abandon its obsessions and come to terms with its historical record. Greece will be on Turkey’s side in this difficult task,” he added.

Bilgic had slammed Pavlopoulos and Tsipras for their comments on the Armenian Genocide when Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian visited Athens on Wednesday.

"The statements in question are the product of a pathetic mentality," Bilgic said.

ekathimerini.com/207099/article/ekathimerini/news/athens-urges-turkey-to-come-to-terms-with-history

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Europe

Brussels shooting: Suspects on run after ISIS flag, rifle found in apartment

By Faith Karimi and Greg Botelho, CNN

March 17, 2016

(CNN)Belgian authorities are searching for two suspects who escaped when police raided a Brussels apartment linked to last year's terror attacks in Paris.

The apartment raid turned up an ISIS flag, a Kalashnikov rifle and ammunition.

But two people escaped after an intense, prolonged firefight, according to a spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor's office.

During the raid Tuesday, authorities killed suspect Belkhaid Mohammed, 35. The Algerian had not been on authorities' radar before, spokesman Eric Van der Sypt said in a statement.

A sniper for the Belgian special forces killed Mohammed when he tried to open fire on police from a window.

His body was found next to a rifle and a book on Salafism, a puritanical branch of Islam that dictates only the followers of the Prophet Mohammed practice the correct Islam.

Authorities also discovered 11 loaded Kalashnikov magazines "and innumerable shell casings," but no explosives, according to Van der Sypt.

An intense manhunt followed Tuesday's operation in the southern Brussels neighborhood of Forest. Authorities connected it to the investigation of the Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people in November.

What happened

The raid Tuesday started when four Belgian and two French police officers arrived at what they thought was an empty residence in Forest, according to a senior Belgian counterterrorism official.

"From the moment that the door of the flat was opened, at least two persons ... opened fire toward them," Van der Sypt said.

Three officers -- including a Frenchwoman -- were hurt in the initial exchange of gunfire before managing "to retreat safely," he said. A fourth officer from Belgium suffered a slight injury to the head in a later exchange.

Reinforcements arrived, with bullets flying back and forth for several hours.

There's no change in Belgium's threat level, now at its second highest. But Prime Minister Charles Michel acknowledged the raid underscored the need to be on guard.

"The terrorist threat level is maintained at level three as yesterday's events confirm the threat is still real," he said.

Belgium a focus

It's unclear what connection Tuesday's raid has to the November 13 carnage in Paris. Belgium has long been a focal point for investigators.

Two terrorist operatives phoned in orders from Brussels to those directly involved in the Paris attacks, according to a senior Belgian counterterrorism official.

These two had an even more integral role than Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man long identified as the ringleader of the attacks, according to the official.

Abaaoud was killed during a raid that collapsed an entire floor of an apartment building in Paris.

Yet others with Belgian connections and ties to the November attacks remain at large.

They include Salah Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national who lived and spent time with Abaaoud in a Belgian prison. The trail for Abdeslam, one of the few alleged Paris attackers to escape alive, went cold in December, according to a senior European counterterrorism official.

French sources close to the investigation said Abdeslam was not the target of Tuesday's raid.

Many of those tied to the Paris massacre lived in Belgium, and they're believed to have met there before planning attacks.

edition.cnn.com/2016/03/17/europe/brussels-raid-paris-attack/index.html

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Putin: Russia can build up forces in Syria in hours if necessary

By ZABIHULLAH MOOSAKHAIL - Thu Mar 17 2016

PutinPresident Vladimir Putin has said that Russia can build up forces again in Syria in a few hours if necessary.

“Of course, if such a need arises, Russia can, in several hours, build up its forces in Syria to a size capable of dealing with an escalating situation and use the entire range of means at its disposal,” according to RT news, Putin said while honoring the military personnel who took part in the mission in Syria.

However, he added that Russia does not want escalation of war in that country and that it wants both a peace process will work out.

“We wouldn’t like that. A military escalation is not our choice. We hope the parties involved would show common sense and that both the government and the opposition will stick to the peace process,” he said.

“We have created the conditions for a peace process. We have established constructive and positive cooperation with the US and a number of other countries, with respectable opposition forces in Syria, which really want to end the war and find a political solution of the conflict. You, Russian soldiers, paved that way.”

The announcement comes as the Russian forces have started leaving the country after a decision was made to find a political solution for the crisis in Syria.

khaama.com/putin-says-russia-can-redeploy-force-to-syria-in-hours-if-necessary-4749

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Migrant crisis: EU leaders agree joint stance to present to Turkey

March ,18,2016

EU leaders have agreed on a common position to present to Turkey on Friday on how to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

Ankara is set to receive financial and political concessions in return for stopping migrants from reaching Greek shores.

And in draft proposals, for every Syrian being returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian would be resettled legally from Turkey to the European Union.

Speaking after the first day of an EU summit in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the need to support Greece “not only with respect to the return of illegal migrants to Turkey but also with regard to the situation in which Greece finds itself right now. Funds will be necessary in order to provide shelter for refugees in Greece,” she said.

Europe must now try to convince Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Euronews correspondent in Brussels, James Franey, said: “EU officials may seem pretty confident that they have an agreement that will be acceptable to the Turkish government but doubts remain as to whether it is compliant with international law.”

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has denounced the draft deal as ‘abhorrent’, saying that ‘EU-Turkey refugee-trading plans’ would empower people smugglers.

The campaign group Human Rights Watch also opposes the deal.

euronews.com/2016/03/18/euleadersagreeoncommonpositiontoofferturkeymigrationdeal-luxembourg/

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North America

US slaps genocide designation on IS

March/18/2016

WASHINGTON: The US administration joined Congress on Thursday in accusing the militant Islamic State (IS) group of committing genocide. If also approved by the UN, the charge will require all states to catch IS militants if they enter their territory.

The US House of Representatives passed the designation (terming the atrocities genocide) by 393-0 votes, making it only the second such designation in US history. The unanimous, and overwhelming, support even surprised the movers who said they expected it to pass but not so convincingly.

The house sent it to US Secretary of State John Kerry, along with another measure, requiring him to inform Congress by March 17 if reported atrocities by IS — also known by the Arabic acronym of Daesh, ISIS and ISIL — constitute genocide.

Secretary Kerry responded, but not by a letter. Instead, he appeared on public television to share the Obama administration’s stance on the issue with the international community.

“Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions,” he said in his address. “We must recognise what Daesh is doing to its victims,” committing genocide of Yazidis, Christians and Shias, he added.

This was also one of those rare occasions when Republicans and Democrats spoke the same language.

“What is happening in Iraq and Syria is a deliberate, systematic targeting of religious and ethnic minorities,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said. “The House unanimously voted to call ISIS’s atrocities what they are: a genocide,” he added.

The measure is before the US Senate now, which also is expected to pass it unanimously.

Although both Congress and the administration appear to be on the same page on the issue, there is a deep division on what the US government should do to stop this genocide.

The last time the house voted for such a resolution was in 2004, designating Sudanese military actions in Darfur genocide. The Bush administration endorsed the designation but decided that it did not mandate a change in its policies for that region.

In 1994, president Bill Clinton refused to categorise the mass murder, rape and displacement of Rwandan Tutsis at the hands of Hutus as genocide. It took the United Nations more than 10 years to make a genocide designation, which came on Dec 23, 2003.

This time there is another concern — thousands of refugees from the designated areas flocking to the West to escape the genocide. A genocide designation also prevents governments from sending back refugees from the designated areas.

But after the first influx of Syrian refugees, there is little appetite in the Western world for more refugees. In the United States, this also has become an election issue.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has not only pledged not to take more refugees but has also promised to prevent Muslims from visiting the United States.

Such concerns, however, did not prevent Secretary Kerry from declaring on Thursday he had judged that the IS was committing genocide.

“The determination to act against genocide, against ethnic cleansing, against the other crimes against humanity, must be pronounced among decent people all across the globe,” he said.

dawn.com/news/1246402/us-slaps-genocide-designation-on-is

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Pentagon chief praises Kurdish fighters in Syria

WASHINGTON – Agence France-PresseMarch/18/2016

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on March 17 praised the fighting of Kurdish groups in Syria that have declared a federal region in areas of the country under their control.

The Kurds “have proven to be excellent partners of ours on the ground in fighting ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant],” Carter said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“We are grateful for that, and we intend to continue to do that, recognizing the complexities of their regional role.”

He spoke the same day Syria’s Kurds declared a de facto federal region in areas under their control in the north of the conflict-riven country, a move the United States opposes.

The three Kurdish-controlled regions agreed at a conference in Rmeilan in northeast Syria to establish the self-administered “federal democratic system of Rojava - Northern Syria,” officials announced. Rojava is the Kurdish name for north Syria.

Officials said at a news conference they intended to begin preparations for a federal system, including electing a joint leadership and a 31-member organizing committee which would prepare a “legal and political vision” for the system within six months.

A document seen by Reuters, issued at the meeting, said the aim was to “establish democratic self-administered regions which run and organize themselves ... in the fields of economy, society, security, healthcare, education, defense and culture.”

state Department not supportive of federal system

The U.S. State Department said it did not recognize self-governed zones inside the war-torn country and was working for a unified, nonsectarian state under different leadership.

“We don’t support self-ruled, semi-autonomous zones inside Syria. We just don’t,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby on March 17.

“What we want to see is a unified, whole Syria that has in place a government that is not led by [President] Bashar al-Assad that is responsive to the Syrian people. Whole, unified, nonsectarian Syria, that’s the goal,” Kirby said, adding that other countries supported that aim as well.

Kurdish groups say declaring a federal region along Syria’s northern border with Turkey is aimed only at formalizing a semiautonomous zone they have already established during five years of war and create a model for decentralized government across Syria.

But Washington believes any Syrian federalism should develop from United Nations-sponsored talks over a political settlement of the conflict currently underway in Geneva.

However, none of the groups representing the Kurdish minority are participating in the talks because of opposition from Turkey.

The Syrian government and the main Arab-led opposition group oppose federalism in Syria.

So does Turkey, which fears Kurds’ ambitions in Syria are fuelling its Kurdish citizens at home.

Kurds have played a crucial role in the U.S.-led fight against ISIL in Syria, providing the backbone of the forces that have pushed back the jihadist group in the country’s northeast.

The Kurds play a dominant role in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDS), an Arab-Syrian coalition the United States supports.

However, the Pentagon believes more Arab fighters will join the group.

“One month ago I would have said there are about 2,500 Arabs inside Syrian Democratic Forces,” said Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, who spoke alongside Carter. “Today, I can tell you we have 5,000.”

More coalition victories would have a “snowball effect,” he added.

“More people now are willing to join us because they see the level of support that we are providing and more importantly the level of success that these forces are having.”

SDS fighters aided by U.S. special forces recently took control of Al-Shadadi, a town in northeastern Syria previously considered a strategic ISIL stronghold.

The SDS has a total of 10,000 to 15,000 fighters, Dunford said, adding that they have an estimated reserve of 20,000 to 30,000 men.

hurriyetdailynews.com/pentagon-chief-praises-kurdish-fighters-in-syria.aspx?pageID=238&nID=96609&NewsCatID=352

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US man gets 22.5 years for recruiting FBI informants to IS

AFP ,March 18th, 2016

NEW YORK: An American man was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison Thursday after trying to recruit FBI informants to the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

Mufid Elfgeeh, 32, from Rochester in upstate New York, pleaded guilty in December to attempting to provide material support to the extremists and was described by prosecutors as "one of the first" IS recruiters captured in the United States.

Prosecutors said Elfgeeh spread IS propaganda on social media, sought funds for extremists and attempted to recruit and send two individuals -- both of whom were cooperating with the FBI -- to Syria to fight with IS.

He was sentenced on the same day that US Secretary of State John Kerry said the IS group's slaughter of Christians, Yazidis and Shias amounts to genocide.

"While we are confident that keeping Mr Elfgeeh in prison for the next two decades will keep us safer, there continues to exist a pervasive, persistent and ever-changing terrorism threat," said Adam Cohen, FBI chief in Buffalo, New York.

"This threat remains among the highest priorities for the FBI and the intelligence community."

Prosecutors said he sent IS propaganda videos to one would-be fighter, arranged for an English-speaking contact in Iraq to communicate with that person via Facebook and paid $240 to help the individual obtain a passport.

Elfgeeh also bought the pair of FBI informants a laptop and a camera to take to Syria, offered them tips on how to travel without being detected and arranged for a contact overseas to coordinate the logistics of the trip.

Prosecutors say Elfgeeh sent $600 to a third person in Yemen also destined to help them travel to Syria to join the IS group.

dawn.com/news/1246462/us-man-gets-225-years-for-recruiting-fbi-informants-to-is

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/allah’s-99-names,-terror--what-pm-modi-said-at-world-sufi-forum/d/106696

 

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