New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 14 March 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

At Least 15 Dead, 78 Injured In Attack on Lahore Churches

 

 

 

 

Girls mourn over a family member who was killed by a suicide bombing attack near two churches in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, March 15, 2015. — AP

 

 

Pakistan

At Least 15 Dead, 78 Injured In Attack on Lahore Churches

Three TTP Militants Held In Qila Saifullah Raid

Pak High Commission to brief Hurriyat leader on talks with India

Pak Govt Not Serious About Prosecuting Lakhvi?

Altaf calls for open trial of party activist

‘Pakistan won’t rush to join anti-Iran alliance’

IDPs to start returning to their areas tomorrow

Imran launches dispute resolution committees

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South Asia

54 Militants Killed In Afghanistan

Afghanistan Reportedly Traded $1 Million from the CIA To Al Qaeda For A Hostage In 2010

Obama may not reduce troops in Afghanistan

General observes Afghanistan training mission

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Arab World

ISIL Executes 9 'Spies' By Headshots, Video Shows

IS Used Chemical Weapons, Claim Iraqi Kurds

Egypt Sacks 41 Judges for Supporting Brotherhood

Deadly bomb blast hits Cairo neighbourhood

Iraq forces brace to flush out ISIL dregs from Tikrit

Bomb blast leaves one dead in Egypt capital

Freed Saudi envoy recalls his ordeal in Al-Qaeda captivity

Syrian agent worked as courier to deliver money to ISIL: report

In Saudi Arabia, workers may now get fired over workplace harassment

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India

Denied Temple Access, Dalit Converts To Islam

Pakistan troops violate ceasefire along IB in Jammu

Pakistan Rangers violate ceasefire in Samba district

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia, Turkey to Cooperate in Battle against Extremism

Missing Indonesians still in Turkey, say cops

Indonesia’s Grand Old Party May Lose Stronghold

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Europe

ISIL threat may require use of force: Vatican

Jewish supermarket in Paris attacked by jihadist re-opens

Germany invites Egyptian president for state visit

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Mideast

GOP’s Iran Letter Undermined US Legal Standing: Larijani

Kerry Says ‘Important Gaps’ Remain In Iran Nuclear Deal

Yemen Houthi leaders divided over Riyadh talks

Hamas blames PA for Gaza violence

Israeli forces target Palestinian boats off Gaza coast

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Africa

Libya Dawn militia in rare clash with ISIS

Suspect in deadly Mali nightclub attack killed

Boko Haram can no longer take a town: minister

Nigeria acknowledges presence of foreign mercenaries

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North America

Obama ‘Committed’ To Two-State Solution for Israel and Palestinians

US to keep more troops in Afghanistan than planned: officials

Assad relative assassinated in Syria

Canada PM Stephen Harper's anti-Islam talk is Putin-like tactic – opposition

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/at-least-15-dead,-78-injured-in-attack-on-lahore-churches/d/101959

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Pakistan

 

At least 15 dead, 78 injured in attack on Lahore churches

IMRAN GABOL

March 15th, 2015

LAHORE: Twin blasts rocked the Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church in Lahore's Youhanabad area. Both churches have high attendance on Sundays on account of mass.

Initial reports suggest two suicide bombers carried out the attack.

Youhanabad is the country’s biggest Christian locality, housing at least one million people. The Christian community in Pakistan has long been the target of attacks and hate crimes carried out by extremist elements.

In 2013, twin suicide attacks were carried out at the All Saint’s Church in Peshawar’s Kohati Gate area, killing 80 and wounding over 100 others.

Major developments

Suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gate of two churches

At least 15 people have died in the attack and 68 others have been wounded

TTP splinter group Jamatul Ahrar claims responsibility for the attack

Two men, suspected of involvement in the attack, lynched by the enraged mob

Protesters take to the streets of Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Karachi

15:30pm - Death toll reaches 15

Another man, injured in the blasts near churches in Lahore, succumbed to his wounds while receiving treatment at the Lahore General Hospital, taking the death toll of the Taliban-claimed attack to 15.

The condition of 30 wounded people is reported as critical, who have been shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of LGH.

2:50pm – ‘Terrorists will be brought to justice’

PML-N leader Rana Mashood, says that the government resolve to tackle the issue of militancy is strong and added, “Terrorists will be brought to justice."

Talking about the victims of today's blasts he said "We have not looked at religion, they are our brothers and we have to deliver for them.”

“We are not separated by religion, this is an attack on Pakistan, and we feel their pain. Their pain is felt by everyone,” the Punjab education minister told media personnel.

He added, “We are making arrangements for the casualties, they will be taken care of. We will follow procedure in this regard.”

The Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leader said policemen had sacrificed their lives while performing their duties and had not allowed the attackers to enter the church premises.

“Police reports cannot confirm any details because they don’t have proper access to the site. People shouldn’t take law into their own hands,” he added.

2:15pm - Missionary schools closed tomorrow

Missionary schools in Karachi and across Punjab will remain closed tomorrow in protest of the attack on churches in Lahore.

1:55pm - Death toll of Lahore blasts reaches 14: LGH officials

Officials of the Lahore General Hospital confirmed that the number of people killed in the blasts in Youhanabad area has reached 14 while the number of wounded is 68, including several who are critically wounded.

Doctors at the provincial capital city's hospitals have also made appeals for blood donations.

Punjab Health Director General Dr Zahid Pervez also confirmed that 14 people have died and 78 others have been wounded in the Lahore attack.

A Punjab police spokesperson confirmed that two policemen are among those killed in the attack.

1:45pm - Christian community members stage protests in Karachi

Members of the Christian community took to the streets and staged protests in Karachi's Esa Nagri area against the bomb attacks on churches in Lahore.

The protesters blocked the route from Hasan Square to Liaqatabad area of the city.

Similar protests staged in Multan, Faisalabad and Sialkot cities.

1:40pm - Former Punjab law minister confirms death toll

Former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah confirmed that 10 people have been killed so far in the blasts near two churches in Lahore.

He added that the dead included six members of the Christian community, two policemen and two other men, who were beaten to death by the enraged mob on suspicion of involvement in the blast.

The former law minister said that five policemen were also wounded in the incident.

1:30pm - Christian community leader blames Punjab govt

A local leader of the Christian community told mediapersons that both the blasts took place at the entrance of the churches.

He added, “Had the attackers managed to enter the churches, the casualty figure would have soared as there were more than a thousand persons present at the place of worship at the time of attack.”

The community leader also accused the Punjab government of incompetence and blamed it for the attack.

Pastor David, a local cleric at the site, told AFP: “One blast took place at the entrance of one church where a congregation was going on. Another blast took place in the second church,” and added that the two buildings were 500 metres (1,600 feet) apart. 1:20pm - Protesters block metro bus route

Several protesters carrying sticks blocked either side of Lahore's Ferozepur Road and blocked the metro bus route disrupting the bus operation.

Television footage showed dozens of stick-wielding men, mostly belonging to the Christian community, ransacking the metro bus terminal.

1:10pm - Four policemen were held hostage

Enraged protesters held four injured policemen captive at a shop after the blast, for allegedly watching a cricket match instead of performing their duties at the time of attack.

The mob apparently held the injured policemen in the shop for nearly two hours before they were shifted to hospital.

One of the policemen succumbed to his injuries.

Meanwhile, protests continue against the government.

1:03pm - Eyewitness account

“I was sitting at a shop near the church when a blast jolted the area. I rushed towards the spot and saw the security guard scuffle with a man who was trying to enter the church, after failing, he blew himself up,” said witness Amir Masih.

“I saw his body parts flying through the air...the guard died as well", he said.

It was not clear if the first blast was also a suicide bomber, Masih said.

1:00pm - Protest against PM, CM

Protesters have launched a demonstration outside General Hospital against the Punjab government. Sloganeering continues against the PM and CM.

The enraged protesters demand accountability, and say proper security was not provided to the churches.

Images from inside the churches are coming in:

12:50pm - Death toll reaches 10

At least ten people have died and more than 50 wounded in the bomb attacks near two churches in Lahore's Youhanabad area.

12:37pm - 6 dead

The death toll has now climbed to six, while at least 50 are injured.

A young child and a policeman are among those killed. Four bodies received at the Lahore General Hospital while two bodies received at Jinnah Hospital.

Police have resorted to aerial firing to disperse the enraged mob.

12:35pm - Enraged mob in Youhanabad

Police is attempting to control the large, enraged mob in the Youhanabad area.

Members of the crowd have reportedly told the police not to approach, or face consequences. A massive protest is underway. People gathered in the area claim no adequate security was provided to them.

12:30pm - 5 dead

At least five people have died in the attack so far, while another 40 are wounded – some critically.

12:22pm - TTP-JA claim responsibility

Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Jamatul Ahrar group spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan says the militant outfit takes responsibility for the attack.

12:13pm - Cop among victims

Policeman among those killed in the blasts. The number of wounded rises to 40 and includes women and children.

The body of the man who was lynched by the enraged mob, after being snatched from policemen, has been set on fire.

12:09pm - Two arrested

Two suspects have been arrested from near the blast sites.

One young man, alleged to be involved in the attack, was earlier beaten to death by the enraged mob.

12:06pm - Young child killed

A young child, estimated to be 12 years of age is among those killed. At least 37 other wounded have been counted at one hospital so far.

A stream of wounded are still being brought into nearby hospitals.

12:03pm - Suicide bombers

Initial reports suggest two suicide bombers reached the gates of two churches and blew themselves up. The attackers attempted to enter the churches, but were successfully stopped at the gates.

Eyewitnesses said that the Sunday church ceremony was underway when two suspects approached the main gate and opened fire, before blowing themselves up.

12:00pm - 3 dead

At least three people have died in the blasts. Many wounded are being brought into the hospital.

11:57am - Young man killed

According to initial reports, the mob has beaten the young man to death.

Eye witnesses claim the individual was involved in the attack.

11:55am - Mob beats up individual

The enraged crowd has beaten up an unknown person at the site of the blasts. The young man is estimated to be 20-22 years old.

11:50am - Critically wounded

The condition of several wounded is reported as critical. A large number of people have gathered at the hospital.

11:45am - 20 injured

Initial reports suggest at least 20 people were injured in the blasts who were shifted to Lahore General Hospital where an emergency has been imposed.

11:30am - Emergency teams dispatched

Emergency and security teams were dispatched to the site of explosion. The nature and intensity of the blasts are yet to be ascertained.

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly

http://www.dawn.com/news/1169713/at-least-15-dead-78-injured-in-attack-on-lahore-churches

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Three TTP Militants Held In Qila Saifullah Raid

March 15, 2015

ZHOB - Security forces on Saturday arrested three Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants during a raid in Qila Saifullah near Zhob area and shifted them to an undisclosed location for investigation. According to media reports, security forces raided a hideout of the terrorists in Qila Saifullah near Zhob area. During the search operation, suspected militants opened fire on the forces which was retaliated. Three TTP terrorists were arrested during the operation.

The terrorists were allegedly involved in various terror activities in the province. A huge cache of explosives and ammunition were recovered from the militants.

The arrested terrorists were shifted to an un-disclosed location for further investigations.

http://nation.com.pk/national/15-Mar-2015/three-ttp-militants-held-in-qila-saifullah-raid

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Pak High Commission to brief Hurriyat leader on talks with India

March 15, 2015

SRINAGAR - After Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Pakistan High Commission in Delhi has invited Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for a briefing on the recent Indo-Pak talks, reported PTI. Mirwaiz, in a statement, said he has been invited by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit to apprise him about the recent meeting of the foreign secretaries that took place in Islamabad. However, the date for the meeting has not been finalised and the Hurriyat leadership will meet soon in this regard, Mirwaiz said.

http://nation.com.pk/national/15-Mar-2015/pak-hc-to-brief-hurriyat-leader-on-talks-with-india

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Pak Govt Not Serious About Prosecuting Lakhvi?

MALIK ASAD

March 15th, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The government’s legal team did not appear to be serious in securing the detention of Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi – the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks – as they did not produce the relevant records before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and also delayed referring the matter to the review board to extend his detention.

On Mar 13, the IHC set aside Lakhvi’s detention order, observing that the prosecution failed to produce the material “on the basis of which, it could be ascertained that the detention of the petitioner (Lakhvi) is justified”.

Lakhvi was detained under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) on Dec 18, 2014, the day the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) in Islamabad granted him post-arrest bail in the Mumbai attacks case.

The court, on Dec 29, hearing a petition filed by Lakhvi challenging his detention suspended the detention order. However, on Jan 7, the Supreme Court restored Lakhvi’s detention and directed the IHC to decide the matter after hearing the stance of the federal government.

Also read: Lakhvi back in detention on Punjab home dept's orders

During the hearing of the petition, the government’s lawyer disclosed that “the material (regarding Lakhvi’s detention) has been referred to the review board just two days earlier”.

These contentions have also been reproduced in the order released on Mar 13.

The court further noted that the government lawyer “admitted the legal requirement that it (the review board) could have been approached 15 days prior to the lapse of the last detention order issued by the district magistrate of Islamabad”.

Since Dec 18, the Islamabad district magistrate has issued three consecutive orders for Lakhvi’s detention.

The first was issued on Dec 18, the second on Jan 16 and the third was issued on Feb 13, which was going to expire on Mar 13. Under the law, this matter must be referred to the review board on or before Feb 28.

The review board is formed under Section 4 of Article 10 of the Constitution to examine cases.

According to Article 10, the district magistrate cannot extend the detention of a person for a period exceeding three months and only the review board can give further extensions, up to one year.

The IHC constituted a three-member review board, consisting of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Amir Farooq on March 12, a day before Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi set aside the detention order.

The IHC, during the hearing of Lakhvi’s petition on March 11, was informed that Lakhvi’s fate would be decided by the review board therefore the material related to this case was to be produced before the board.

Justice Qureshi, in his order of Mar 13, observed that the respondent – in this case, the federal government – did not place any material before the court which they intended to place before the review board.

“Nowhere [do es the] law prohibit placement of material before the high court while exercising constitutional jurisdiction. Such avoidance, by itself, shows mala fide on the part of respondents, who instead of deciding the issue expeditiously, wanted to prolong it for an indefinite period.”

A senior law officer, when approached comment, said that Islamabad Advocate General Mian Abdul Rauf was responsible for giving his legal opinion to the district administration regarding the extension in Lakhvi’s detention. “He was pleading this case in the IHC and it was his responsibility to place the record before the IHC.”

The law officer said that since Justice Qureshi has set aside the detention order, the IHC review board cannot take up the matter. The Punjab government has also issued a detention order for Lakhvi, therefore, this matter can be referred to the Lahore High Court review board if the government wanted to detain him for over next three months.

When reached for comment, Mr Rauf told Dawn that he could not comment on Lakhvi’s detention since he was representing the federal government in the matter.

Published in Dawn,

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play

http://www.dawn.com/news/1169690/govt-not-serious-about-prosecuting-lakhvi

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Altaf calls for open trial of party activist

March 15th, 2015

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain said on Saturday that he did not know Umair Siddiqui and demanded his ‘open-court trial’ so that the truth came out and any doubt that he had confessed under torture was cleared.

Reacting to Rangers’ allegation that Umair Siddiqui was an MQM activist, who was involved in killing 120 people, Mr Hussain said: “If he is guilty, hang him publicly.”

In an interview with Geo News, he said the MQM had experienced similar tactics in 1992. “In fact the Rangers authorities always adopt such tactics to hide their flaws and shortcomings, but these could not deprive the MQM of its support among the masses.”

When his attention was drawn to his own demand for an army operation in Karachi, the London-based MQM chief said it was his mistake to give such a call because his party wanted action against the growing influence of Al Qaeda and Taliban in the city, but the guns were turned on his party.

Also on Sunday, Mr Husain urged human rights organisations, civil society and the legal fraternity to raise voice against ‘torture of detained MQM workers’.

“It was MQM which demanded operation in Karachi but now we are being victimised in the name of anti-crime action,” he said while addressing members of the party’s legal aid committee at Nine Zero.

“The Rangers spokesperson did not provide facts regarding arrest of all the suspects from Nine Zero. More than 140 people have been picked up during the raid. Even my cousin and nephew who are government employees were arrested,” the MQM chief said.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1169666/altaf-calls-for-open-trial-of-party-activist

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‘Pakistan won’t rush to join anti-Iran alliance’

BAQIR SAJJAD SYED

March 15th, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided against taking sides in the emerging situation in the Middle East – at least for now.

“Pakistan would not rush to join the anti-Iran alliance that is being forged,” a senior government functionary told Dawn in a background interview.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week visited Saudi Arabia on what the government described as a special invitation of Saudi King Salman Bin Abulaziz.

The invitation for Mr Sharif was part of diplomatic consultations Riyadh started in view of the evolving situation. Other Muslim leaders that the King met over the past few weeks included the presidents of Palestine, Egypt and Turkey, the Jordanian king, emirs of Kuwait and Qatar and the UAE leader.

King Salman’s discussions with Mr Sharif in Riyadh centred on Saudi concerns about Tehran’s expanding influence in the region, the official, who had been briefed about the visit, said, adding that the threat from the self-styled Islamic State also came up in the talks.

Mr Sharif, while agreeing to strengthen relations with Saudi Arabia during the visit, also committed to intensifying security and counter-terrorism cooperation.

The government, however, after evaluating the pros and cons, the official claimed, decided on staying neutral and playing the “role of a unifier” in Ummah.

“We cannot afford to involve ourselves in the disputes among the Muslim countries,” he explained.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1169671/pakistan-wont-rush-to-join-anti-iran-alliance

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IDPs to start returning to their areas tomorrow

ZULFIQAR ALI

March 15th, 2015

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Abbasi unveiled on Saturday a programme for the return of internally displaced persons of three tribal agencies. The programme will be implemented from Monday.

Briefing reporters about the return process, he said in the first phase 40,500 families would go back to South Waziristan, Khyber and North Waziristan agencies. The government would pay Rs 25,000 in cash and Rs 10,000 as transportation cost to each household.

Read: Nawaz gives nod to initiate rehabilitation of IDPs

Corps Commander of Peshawar Lt Gen Hidayat ur Rehman was present in the briefing.

The governor said payment of cash grant to over 300,000 displaced families and compensation for damaged houses required Rs 80 billion, adding that some foreign donors had shown willingness to contribute in this regard.

Also read: Polio vaccine for returning IDPs sent to transit points

However, he said, the real issue was management of the return process, not provision of resources.

“Successful completion of the first phase of return of IDPs will shape the process of the return of remaining IDPs to Fata,” the governor said.

However, he said, the tribesmen would have to take steps to ensure that “such terrible situation is not repeated”.

“Tribal people should be very careful and should not allow people in their areas to put them in a nasty situation again,” he said.

Also read: Bara IDPs hesitant to return home

Sardar Mehtab termed the dislocation of a large number of people from Fata “a great human tragedy.”

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1169655/idps-to-start-returning-to-their-areas-tomorrow

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Imran launches dispute resolution committees

March 15th, 2015

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Saturday launched dispute resolution committees with a view to dispense quick and cheap justice through local notables to people in the province.

Speaking to media persons at the Gulberg police station in Cantonment where he launched the system, the PTI chief said that it was like a jury or jirga where the people took their disputes for resolution out of police stations and courts. The DRC will comprise people of good reputation and hear the warring groups to resolve their disputes without subjecting them to the police and courts hassles, he said.

“It saves the time and money of the people which they pay in lieu of hiring lawyers besides other expenses,” he said.

“We just saw a procedure where local DRC members sat with two parties who had feud over some matter for eight years, which was resolved quickly,” he said. The system has gained worldwide currency, especially in Pakistan where 110 million people didn’t have balanced food, he said.

Flanked by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and IGP Nasir Khan Durrani, Mr Khan said that the new system was very important for the rural people who were very poor and couldn’t afford expenses of court cases. “We want to benefit common people of the society through a transparent system,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1169698/imran-launches-dispute-resolution-committees

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South Asia

 

54 militants killed in Afghanistan

March 15, 2015

At least 54 Taliban militants were killed as the Afghan army pressed ahead with offensives in restive provinces, the Afghan defence ministry said on Sunday.

“Afghan National Army carried out cleanup operations in Ghazni, Kandahar, Laghman, Faryab and Sari Pul provinces in the past 24 hours, killing 49 armed militants, wounding several and detaining 18 others,” Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/54-militants-killed-in-afghanistan/article6995891.ece

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Afghanistan reportedly traded $1 million from the CIA to al Qaeda for a hostage in 2010

MICHAEL B KELLEY

MAR 15, 2015

A 2010 ransom payment by Afghan officials to al Qaeda shows just how dirty US cash can get when given to corrupt governments.

Mathew Rosenberg of The New York Times reports that about $1 million provided by the CIA to a secret Afghan government fund ended up in the hands of al Qaeda in 2010 when it was used to pay a ransom for an Afghan diplomat.

The reporting is based on letters found after the 2011 Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden thought the CIA cash was too good to be true: He feared the CIA knew about the money and had tainted it with poison, radiation, or a tracking device, the Times reported, and suggested it be converted to another currency.

The Times notes that the incident "was just another in a long list of examples of how the United States, largely because of poor oversight and loose financial controls, has sometimes inadvertently financed the very militants it is fighting."

Osama bin Laden

An al Qaeda official wrote bin Laden that the ransom money would be used for weapons, operational needs and payments to families of al Qaeda fighters held in Afghanistan.

The letters found in the bin Laden raid were submitted as evidence in the trial of Abid Naseer, who was convicted this month in New York of supporting terrorism and plotting to bomb a shopping center in Manchester, England.

The Times said Abdul Khaliq Farahi was the Afghan consul general in Peshawar, Pakistan, when he was kidnapped in 2008 and handed over to al Qaeda. He was released two years later after Afghanistan paid al Qaeda $5 million, a fifth of which was CIA money that came from an Afghan government fund that received monthly cash deliveries from the agency, the Times said.

Full report at:

http://www.businessinsider.in/Afghanistan-reportedly-traded-1-million-from-the-CIA-to-al-Qaeda-for-a-hostage-in-2010/articleshow/46568839.cms

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General observes Afghanistan training mission

March 15th, 2015

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE — Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Education and Training Command, visited the 81st Fighter Squadron recently to assess the day-to-day operations of the Moody’s tenant unit’s unique Afghan training mission.

The squadron reactivated in January to train 30 pilots and 90 maintainers who will become part of Afghanistan’s Air Force and training cadre.

“We don’t undertake (missions) like this very often,” said Rand. “We have brought people, whose country we have fought in, to our country to train them; so that they can go back and continue our collective fight for freedom.”

During his visit, Rand met with the Afghan pilots to learn why they volunteered to be part of the training and to address concerns.

Afghan pilots are in the general handling stage of the 11-month pilot course and were able to fly the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft recently.

Rand said, the date “will be memorable; whether or not your names are put into the books, you have made history.”

Rand also hosted an all call with 81st FS airmen where he emphasized his three priorities: mission, airmen, and family.

Full report at:

http://www.valdostadailytimes.com/news/local_news/general-observes-afghanistan-training-mission/article_36560334-cab3-11e4-a864-2789d3e230b7.html

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Arab World

 

ISIL executes 9 'spies' by headshots, video shows

Mar 15, 2015

A newly-surfaced video has shown the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group executing nine so-called spies by headshots after forcing them to confess to espionage.

The barbarity featured in the footage takes place in an unknown location in the Middle East, The Daily Mail reported on Saturday.

The victims are shown admitting spying on the terror group's location, movement, and armament beforehand.

They are then escorted outside by masked terrorists, who eventually carry out the killings.

The video starts with an ISIL commander, who says the group had succeeded in arresting an entire "cell' of spies who were tasked with monitoring their locations back to their commanding officer.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/15/401876/ISIL-executes-9-spies-by-headshots-Video

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IS used chemical weapons, claim Iraqi Kurds

March 15th, 2015

BAGHDAD: Kurdish authorities in Iraq said on Saturday they have evidence that the self-styled Islamic State group used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon against peshmerga fighters, the latest alleged atrocity carried out by the extremist organisation now under attack in Tikrit.

The allegation by the Kurdistan Region Security Council, stemming from a Jan 23 suicide truck bomb attack in northern Iraq, did not immediately draw a reaction from the IS group, which holds a third of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in its self-declared caliphate. However, Iraqi officials and Kurds fighting in Syria have made similar allegations about the militants using the low-grade chemical weapons against them.

In a statement, the council said the alleged chemical attack took place on a road between Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and the Syrian border, as peshmerga forces fought to seize a vital supply line used by the Sunni militants.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1169679/is-used-chemical-weapons-claim-iraqi-kurds

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Egypt sacks 41 judges for supporting Brotherhood

March 15, 2015

CAIRO - An Egyptian disciplinary court ordered 41 judges into compulsory retirement on Saturday for supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, judicial sources said, the latest move in a sweeping crackdown on political dissent.

The government has implemented a harsh crackdown on Islamists as well as secular political opponents since then army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule. The Disciplinary Council headed by judge Nabil Zaki did not immediately release the reason for its decision, but the judicial sources said 31 of the judges were sent into compulsory retirement for signing a statement that condemned the removal of Mursi.

Another 10 were removed from their posts for joining ‘Judges for Egypt‘ group which used to be supportive of the Brotherhood even before Mursi’s removal, the sources added. Egyptian law prohibits judges from engaging in politics, but critics and human rights groups say the judicial disciplinary court has turned a blind eye to judges who openly support the government of Sisi, who was elected president last year.

The government says the judiciary is independent and it never intervenes in its work. ‘The decision is shocking and it is a massacre of the judges,’ Ahmed El-Khatib, one of the punished judges told Reuters. He made no comment about whether he supported the Brotherhood.

The judges have the right to appeal against the decision. Separately, security forces arrested 63 middle-level Brotherhood leaders who face charges of attacking police headquarters and inciting violence, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/15-Mar-2015/egypt-sacks-41-judges-for-supporting-brotherhood

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Deadly bomb blast hits Cairo neighbourhood

15 March 2015

A small bomb killed a street cleaner in the Egyptian capital Cairo late Saturday, a security official said.

The blast occurred near a tram track in the working class neighborhood of Mattariya, a stronghold of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammad Mursi.

Since the military ousted Mursi in 2013, militants have repeatedly set off explosives in Cairo, mostly targeting police and soldiers.

The blast came amid heightened security for an investment conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of Cairo, which has attracted global leaders and businessmen.

The attack was a reminder of the lingering unrest President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has tried to stamp out since taking charge.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/15/Bomb-kills-one-in-Egypt-capital-.html

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Iraq forces brace to flush out ISIL dregs from Tikrit

Mar 14, 2015

The Iraqi Army, backed by Shia and Sunni volunteers, is preparing for the full liberation of the north-central city of Tikrit from the ISIL Takfiris' clutches.

Iraqi commanders have been plotting a strategy for siphoning out the remaining ISIL terrorists from the city, located 140 kilometers northwest of Baghdad.

Karim al-Nuri, a top leader of the Badr militia and spokesman of the volunteer Popular Mobilization units, said it would take no more than "72 hours" to liberate Tikrit from the ISIL, which seized it last summer. He said "their number is now 60 to 70".

The city fell into the hands of the ISIL last summer. Its liberation will pave the way for retaking the terrorists’ northern hub, Mosul.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/14/401866/Iraq-forces-brace-to-flush-out-ISIL-dregs

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Bomb blast leaves one dead in Egypt capital

Mar 15, 2015

Egyptian security officials say a bomb explosion in the capital, Cairo, has claimed the life of at least one person.

According to the officials, an improvised explosive device (IED) went off Saturday evening in the working class district of el-Matariya. The victim died after arriving at hospital.

The attack took place amid heightened security during a three-day conference on investment in the North African country which started on March 13. The gathering at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, located some 400 kilometers southeast of the capital, has attracted world leaders and businessmen.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/15/401924/Bomb-attack-kills-one-in-Egypt

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Freed Saudi envoy recalls his ordeal in Al-Qaeda captivity

15 March 2015

The Saudi diplomat who was abducted and freed recently in Yemen, Abdullah Al-Khalidi, is scheduled to appear on Saudi TV Channel 1 on Sunday night to share his painful experience at the hands of Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The program, titled “Humumuna" (Our Concerns), will feature his talk after the primetime news broadcast.

During the three years Al-Khalidi was in captivity, the diplomat relied on the Almighty Allah with the firm belief that his government would never be lax in resolving the issue. He hoped that the Kingdom would work silently without making any wrong move that would provoke the militants and put his life in danger.

Al-Khalidi’s duty as a Saudi consul was to help Yemenis trying to visit the Kingdom either to perform Umrah, or do business, and his tasks did not have any political or security implications.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/718456

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Syrian agent worked as courier to deliver money to ISIL: report

15 March 2015

An agent who helped three British schoolgirls cross into Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant  (ISIL) was also working as a courier to transfer money to jihadists, a Turkish newspaper reported on March 15.

Turkey announced on March 12 that it had arrested an intelligence agent working as a spy for an unidentified country in the US-led coalition and said he was a Syrian national.

Media reports in Turkey have said he was working for Canadian intelligence -- a claim rejected by Ottawa.

The Milliyet newspaper reported that the man, a dentist using the name "Doctor Mehmed Resid", told Turkish police during questioning that he received the money sent from abroad before it was delivered to ISIL.

The agent said he withdrew the cash from a branch of Western Union and delivered it to Syrian jewellers working in the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa close to the Syrian border, Milliyet reported.

The jewellers then contacted their colleagues in Syria and a middleman would come to their shops.

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/syrian-agent-worked-as-courier-to-deliver-money-to-isil-report-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=79687&NewsCatID=359

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In Saudi Arabia, workers may now get fired over workplace harassment

15 March 2015

Harassment at the workplace may lead to an employee’s immediate suspension without monetary benefits, according to the provisions of a Saudi draft charter for the private sector.

The charter is being finalized by the Lady Khadija Bint Khuwaylid Center, a wing of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).

The center’s executive director, Basmah Omair, said the charter includes penalties which can lead to the suspension of an employee for physical and verbal harassment.

“We are currently presenting the provisional charter to the private sector in order to get feedback on what we have put together so far,” said Omair.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/15/In-Saudi-Arabia-workers-may-now-get-fired-over-workplace-harassment.html

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India

 

Denied temple access, Dalit converts to Islam

MOHAMMAD ALI

March 14, 2015

A month ago, he called himself Shyam Singh. Now he declares himself “Azad” (liberated). The symbolic name not only sums up his situation, but is also his new identity.

Shyam, a member of the Dalit Valmiki community in Moga village of Meerut, converted to Islam two weeks ago.

A landless labourer, he didn’t convert only because the community was denied access to a prominent Valmiki temple, located in nearby Baghpat district, to perform the traditional puja.

He changed his faith also because of the “continuous threats and harassment” he and his fellow community members had to face from the local law and order officials after he persisted with his demand to have the right to perform puja at the temple.

The temple is controlled by the dominant Yadav community, and the priests had problems with the Valmikis performing puja. After their efforts to get equal rights failed, they announced that they would convert to Islam. Last week, the Meerut administration booked Shyam and his family for “disturbing peace and communal harmony” by persisting with their demand to perform puja at the temple and the announcement about converting to Islam.

In November last year, Shyam and his community members were told by the priest that they didn’t have any rights to perform puja.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/denied-temple-access-dalit-converts-to-islam/article6991578.ece

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Pakistan troops violate ceasefire along IB in Jammu

PTI | Mar 15, 2015,

JAMMU: Violating the ceasefire, Pakistani troops today fired on border out posts (BoP) along the International Border in Jammu district.

Pakistani Rangers fired four to five rounds on a forward BoP in Jughnuchak belt of RS Pura sector last night, a BSF officer said today.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pakistan-troops-violate-ceasefire-along-IB-in-Jammu/articleshow/46572435.cms

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Pakistan Rangers violate ceasefire in Samba district

IANS | Mar 15, 2015

JAMMU: Pakistan Rangers overnight violated the ceasefire in Samba district of Jammu region, resorting to unprovoked firing at a Border Security Force (BSF) picket.

A senior police officer told IANS in winter capital Jammu on Saturday that "Pakistan Rangers fired three rounds of automatic gunfire at the BSF border outpost from their Hussain border outpost in Ramgarh sector of Samba district overnight."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pakistan-Rangers-violate-ceasefire-in-Samba-district/articleshow/46570269.cms

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesia, Turkey to Cooperate in Battle Against Extremism

Mar 15, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia and Turkey have agreed to work closely to eradicate religious extremism, just two days after government officials confirmed that up to 32 Indonesians had been detained in Turkey or gone missing and were suspected of trying to cross into Syria to join Islamic State (IS) militants.

The two countries discussed the issue on the sidelines of the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction on Saturday, state-run news agency Antara reported.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who is representing Indonesia at the summit, met with Turkish officials where they discussed security operations, the exchange of information and how to deal with refugees that were displaced by IS in Syria and Iraq.

“Radicalism must be overcome together,” Kalla told Antara.

Full report at:

http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/indonesia-turkey-cooperate-battle-extremism/

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Missing Indonesians still in Turkey, say cops

March 15 2015

The National Police are saying that 16 Indonesians who went missing after separating from a tour group in Istanbul, Turkey, did not enter neighboring Syria.

Spokesman Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto said on Saturday that the latest information from Interpol confirmed that the missing Indonesians were still in Turkey, despite fears that they had crossed the border and joined the Islamic State (IS) movement.

“We are still waiting for information about their exact location from Interpol,” Agus told The Jakarta Post.

Last week, the group of 16 Indonesians reportedly separated from a tour party of 25 after passing through immigration in Istanbul.

Some members of the group claimed that they intended to arrange family affairs and did not rejoin the group as scheduled to return home on March 4.

Agus said the people were still in Turkey and had not been detained.

“We are working together with the country’s police force to monitor the borders to try to prevent them from entering Syria,” he said.

Security authorities have said that there has been an increase in the number of people traveling to the Middle East to join the IS.

National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief Comr. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution said earlier that the recruitment of IS fighters from Indonesia had jumped significantly between June and October, estimating that 514 Indonesians had gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with IS militants.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said recently that 600 Indonesians had joined the IS.

With the world’s largest population of Muslims, Indonesia is considered fertile ground for the growth of extremism, partly due to the absence of strict preventative measures put in place by the government.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/03/15/missing-indonesians-still-turkey-say-cops.html

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Indonesia’s Grand Old Party May Lose Stronghold

By Yustinus Paat

Mar 14, 2015

Jakarta. With no apparent resolution in sight, the prolonged rifts plaguing two major political parties could cause them to miss this year’s regional elections, activists warned on Friday.

The United Development Party (PPP) and the Golkar Party have been split with rivaling claims over their chairmanships.

Golkar, the second-biggest party in the House of Representatives, is now divided into two camps, those supporting the chairmanship of former minister Agung Laksono and those loyal to the incumbent chairman, Aburizal Bakrie, another former minister.

Meanwhile the PPP’s chairmanship is contested between former minister Djan Faridz and the party’s former secretary Muhammad Romahurmuziy.

Indonesia Corruption Watch researcher Abdullah Dahlan said the ongoing rifts have had a huge impact on the two parties’ future.

“Particularly with the upcoming regional elections,” he said. “It has implications on the parties at a local level.”

Gubernatorial, district head and mayoral candidates need the written consent of their respective parties’ national leadership board before they can register their bids to the local elections committee.  But with camps inside Golkar and the PPP yet to be legally recognized by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, candidates from both parties might have to sit out this regional elections until their disputes are resolved.

Full report at:

http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/indonesias-grand-old-party-may-lose-stronghold/

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Europe

 

ISIL threat may require use of force: Vatican

Mar 15, 2015

The Vatican says the protection of minority groups against attacks carried out by ISIL Takfiri militants operating in Syria and Iraq may require the use of military force if a political solution is not found.

During an interview with US Catholic website Crux released on Sunday, the Vatican’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Archbishop Silvano Tomasi stressed the need for containing the current “genocide” being perpetrated at the hands of the ISIL extremists.

“What’s needed is a coordinated and well-thought-out coalition to do everything possible to achieve a political settlement without violence,” Tomasi said, adding, however, “If that’s not possible, then the use of force will be necessary.”

The remarks by Tomasi come weeks after ISIL militants released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya on February 15.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/15/401932/ISIL-threat-may-require-use-of-force

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Jewish supermarket in Paris attacked by jihadist re-opens

15 March 2015

The Jewish supermarket in Paris attacked by a jihadist gunman linked to the shootings at Charlie Hebdo magazine in January re-opened on Sunday.

"We were stunned by the attack, but there was never any question that we would re-open," said one of the managers of the Hyper Cacher store, Laurent Mimoun.

Four Jewish men were shot dead at the supermarket by gunman Amedy Coulibaly on January 9, two days after brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi killed 12 people in an attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/15/Jewish-supermarket-in-Paris-attacked-by-jihadist-re-opens-.html

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Germany invites Egyptian president for state visit

14 March 2015

Germany's economy minister on Saturday invited the Egyptian president for a state visit to Germany, the newspaper Handelsblatt reported in its online edition.

Sigmar Gabriel handed over the invitation on behalf of German Chancellor Angela Merkel when he met Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Saturday morning.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/14/Germany-invites-Egyptian-president-for-state-visit-Handelsblatt.html

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Mideast

 

GOP’s Iran letter undermined US legal standing: Larijani

Mar 15, 2015

Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani says the letter by the US Republican senators shows the influence of the Zionist lobby on the country’s political scene, saying the move undermined the US’s legal standing in the global community.

The senators’ move in writing the letter explains the reason behind the international community’s growing “distrust” in the US administration, Larijani said on Sunday.

The top parliamentarian further slammed as “hollow” and “void” a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint session of the US Congress earlier this month, saying the American senators decided to send such a letter to Iran in another “thoughtless” move after the world ridiculed Netanyahu’s anti-Iran rant.

The letter dealt a heavy blow to the legal standing of the US on the international stage, Larijani stressed.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/15/401918/GOP-letter-harmed-US-legal-standing

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Kerry says ‘important gaps’ remain in Iran nuclear deal

March 15, 2015

SHARM EL SHEIKH - US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme have made progress, but there were still ‘important gaps’ to overcome.

Kerry, who is attending a three-day international investor conference in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, said the purpose of the Iran talks was ‘not just to get any deal, it is to get the right deal’. ‘We made some progress, but there are still some gaps, important gaps.’ The negotiations are entering their final phase, with Kerry due to meet his Iranian counterpart in Switzerland after the Sharm el-Sheikh conference ends.

Six world powers - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - aim by the end of this month to nail down the outline of a deal that would prevent Tehran from making a nuclear bomb. ‘The deadline is approaching. Time is critical,’ said Kerry. ‘We continue to remain focussed on reaching the right deal.’ The parties hope to reach a full accord by July 1.

But Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has criticised the negotiations, and is to give a closely watched Iranian New Year’s address on March 21. On Thursday Khamenei said the other side in the talks was ‘deceitful and stabs in the back,’ according to Iranian news agency ISNA. From Sharm el-Sheikh, Kerry will travel to the Swiss city of Lausanne to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/15-Mar-2015/kerry-says-important-gaps-remain-in-iran-nuclear-deal

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Yemen Houthi leaders divided over Riyadh talks

15 March 2015

Houthi leaders are divided over transferring the Yemeni national dialogue to the Saudi capital Riyadh, Yemeni sources revealed to Al Arabiya News Channel.

While the majority of Houthi rebels object to Houthi participation in the Riyadh talks and reject any change in venue for the talks, a moderate group of Houthi leaders is open to taking part in the talks.

Attending the meeting in Riyadh would enable the Houthis to gain regional and international recognition, and would drop their name from the terrorist organizations list that Saudi Arabia released in 2013, some in the Houthi political council suggested to top leader Abdelmalik al-Houthi, according to sources.

President Abderabbo Mansour Hadi, who has resumed power from second city Aden in the south after escaping from house arrest in Sanaa last month, has proposed the talks move to neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The six Sunni-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council members agreed to that request last Monday but have not set a date for the meeting.

A former Houthi leader, Ali al-Beikheiti, warned the Houthis against facing the fate that of late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

“Saddam Hussein was made to believe that his army was the third or fourth strongest army in the world. Today, the Houthis became arrogant….and began to throw threats here and there,” said al-Bekheiti.

“Their threats are no longer targeting their opponents inside only, but extended to include some Gulf states; with Saudi Arabia on top of the list,” he added.

Thousands of Houthi fighters held military exercises near the border with top oil exporter and Sunni power Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Al-Bekheiti warned against escalating the situation with Saudi Arabia and Gulf states, which are demonstrating “flexibility” in dealing with the Houthis.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/15/Yemen-Houthi-leaders-divided-over-Riyadh-talks.html

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Hamas blames PA for Gaza violence

14 March 2015

The Hamas-held Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip on Saturday accused security forces reporting to the rival Palestinian Authority of being behind a wave of violence in the coastal enclave.

Spokesman Iyad al-Bozum accused “members of the former security establishment in Gaza” of “exploiting the difficult conditions, especially since the last war, to spread chaos and confusion with explosions, car burnings and shootings.”

The war to which he referred was last summer’s conflict with Israel.

PA security forces were ousted from Gaza in 2007 by fighters from the Islamist Hamas movement's armed wing.

Bozum did not elaborate, but explosions have targeted vehicles used by Hamas in recent months, as well as some owned by members of PA President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party.

He told a news conference investigations had shown the incidents were “the result of plans by security chiefs in Ramallah,” headquarters of the PA in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Bozum said that they were aimed at “spreading chaos in Gaza in order to cover up the government's failure and absolve him [Abbas] from any responsibility.”

Since last spring, when Hamas signed a reconciliation deal with the PA, it has accused the government of independents created under the agreement of abandoning Gaza.

In return, the PA accuses Hamas of raising obstacles to the work of the government in the enclave, where it is reluctant to transfer power.

Relations between Fatah and Hamas have been further strained since November, when a series of blasts targeted the homes of a dozen Fatah officials in Gaza, causing damage but no casualties.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/14/Hamas-blames-PA-for-Gaza-violence-.html

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Israeli forces target Palestinian boats off Gaza coast

Mar 15, 2015

Israeli naval forces have once again opened fire on Palestinian fishermen off the northwest coast of the Gaza Strip in their latest act of aggression against the residents of the besieged sliver.

According to eyewitnesses, the fishermen were targeted four miles away from the coast of the al-Sudaniya area in Gaza City on Saturday morning.

The attack caused damage to one of the vessels, but no one was injured.

Israel had imposed a limit of three nautical miles on fishing in waters off the Gaza shore until last August. Israeli forces have frequently targeted Palestinian boats, well inside the radius.

In the latest incident, a 32-year-old Palestinian fisherman was shot dead and two others were arrested last week.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/15/401915/Israeli-forces-attack-Gaza-fishermen

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Africa

 

Libya Dawn militia in rare clash with ISIS

14 March 2015

Rare clashes between militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and fighters from the Fajr Libya militia coalition erupted Saturday in the central city of Sirte, security and militia officials said.

It was the first report of fighting between the two groups since February, when Fajr Libya said it had sent reinforcements to Sirte to restore security in the city.

That move came following reports that ISIS-affiliated militants had seized government buildings, the local university and a state radio station.

A local security official in Sirte said Saturday’s fighting broke out at midday in the eastern part of Sirte where the jihadists have positions. The official was unable to say what started it.

General Mohammed al-Ajtal, a military commander with Fajr Libya, spoke of “fierce fighting” and told AFP that one of his men had been killed.

Sirte, the hometown of Moamer Qaddafi 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of Tripoli, has been a bastion of Islamist extremism since the 2011 revolt that toppled and killed the dictator.

Libya has been plagued by chaos since Qaddafi’s death, with heavily armed militias battling for control of its cities and oil wealth and rival governments and parliaments vying for power.

Last summer the Fajr Libya alliance, which also comprises Islamist militia, overran the capital Tripoli where it installed its own government and parliament, emerging as a key player.

While it has regularly denounced “terrorism”, Fajr Libya maintains links with the radical Ansar al-Sharia, which is present in Sirte but does not recognise the Islamic State group’s presence in Libya.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/14/Powerful-Libyan-militia-alliance-in-rare-clash-with-ISIS-.html

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Suspect in deadly Mali nightclub attack killed

March 15, 2015

BAMAKO - Malian special forces on Friday killed a suspect in last week’s deadly jihadist attack on a nightclub in the capital, later identified as the flatmate of the heavily-armed gunman who stormed the venue.

Government sources said the accomplice, who died in a raid in a working-class area of Bamako, had been living with the gunman who opened fire in La Terrasse on Saturday, killing a Frenchman, a Belgian and three locals.

The accomplice had personally taken part in the nightclub assault, throwing a grenade from a motorbike in the street outside, security sources said.

‘During an operation launched on Friday, one of the perpetrators of the terrorist crime last Saturday was killed.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/15-Mar-2015/suspect-in-deadly-mali-nightclub-attack-killed

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Boko Haram can no longer take a town: minister

March 15th, 2015

ABIDJAN - Boko Haram are no longer in a position to seize a single town in Niger, a Niger government minister said on Saturday, following a regional effort to boost the fight against the Islamist group.

Thousands of troops from Niger and Chad, which had gathered in southeastern Niger, launched a major ground and air offensive against the Islamist group last Sunday and succeeded in retaking the northeastern Nigerian town of Damasak. ‘The situation is totally under control. There is no longer any chance that Boko Haram will take a city... The risks of attacks occurring are very much reduced by the elimination of all the potential actors,’ Mohamed Bazoum, Niger’s Minister of State at the Presidency, said during a visit to Ivory Coast.

‘It’s a feeling of total calmness that prevails with the idea that Boko Haram is rather a thing of the past,’ he said. He said the situation was a far cry from the ‘real, totally irrational panic’ that had gripped Niger after the first attack by the Nigeria-based Boko Haram on its neighbour in early February. More than 13,000 people have been killed and some 1.5 million made homeless in the Boko Haram conflict since 2009, while recent cross-border attacks launched from Boko Haram strongholds in Nigeria on neighbouring countries have increased security fears.

A regional coalition has claimed a series of successes in rebel-held territory in recent weeks, as part of an operation to clear and control northeast Nigeria in time for Nigeria’s general elections set for March 28.

There has not been a Boko Haram attack reported in Niger for nearly two weeks. Regional forces have been particularly active in the Gamboru area of Nigeria on the border with Cameroon. The borders of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon converge in the region around Lake Chad.

In recent weeks, previously poorly produced Boko Haram videos have taken on the look and feel of more polished IS propaganda and been posted directly online, guaranteeing a wider audience.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/15-Mar-2015/boko-haram-can-no-longer-take-a-town-minister

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Nigeria acknowledges presence of foreign mercenaries

14 Mar 2015

The Nigerian government has acknowledged it is getting technical and logistical support from what it calls foreign contractors in the fight against Boko Haram.

Nigerian government spokesman Mike Omeri said on Thursday that the government is not engaging in "any backchannel or unlawful recruitment".

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, Omeri noted that soldiers from neighbouring countries, including Chad and Niger, were participating in operations against the group.

Omeri said other "individuals" from the region "are on the ground in a capacity limited to training or technical support".

But sources have told Al Jazeera that mercenaries from South Africa and other countries are actually playing a decisive fighting role on the frontlines.

A senior Nigerian non-commissioned officer, who is on active duty and was wounded by Boko Haram, said foreign mercenaries are doing the bulk of the fighting in towns the Nigerian military says it has recaptured from Boko Haram.

The officer said that the Nigerian military still suffers from a lack of equipment and low morale, and that without the mercenaries' help, these towns would still be held by Boko Haram fighters.

'Hundreds of mercenaries'

Security forces and diplomatic sources say Nigeria has brought in hundreds of foreign mercenaries in recent weeks from South Africa and other countries.

The reported presence of foreign fighters, equipped with heavy weaponry, attack helicopters and armoured vehicles, adds to the already broad array of forces, including soldiers from Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin, engaged in the battle to defeat Boko Haram.

Nigeria confronts Boko Haram by rebuilding schools

Security operations have been stepped up as Nigeria prepares to hold general elections on March 28.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2015/03/nigeria-foreign-mercenaries-boko-haram-150313122039403.html

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North America

 

Obama ‘Committed’ To Two-State Solution for Israel and Palestinians

March 15th, 2015

SHARM EL SHEIKH: US President Barack Obama is “committed” to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday on the stalled Middle East peace process.

“The position of the United States with respect to our long expressed hope, the Republicans and the Democrats alike (and) many presidents of the last 50 years or more, has always been for peace and President Obama remains committed to a two-state solution,” Kerry said at a news conference in Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Kerry said that Obama was “hopeful that whatever choice people of Israel make... (they) will be able to move forward on those efforts”.

The top US diplomat said he would not like to comment more on the issue only a few days before an Israeli general election. Final opinion polls have put Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party four seats behind its centre-left rival the Zionist Union for Tuesday’s vote.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1169678/obama-committed-to-two-state-solution

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US to keep more troops in Afghanistan than planned: officials

March 15th, 2015

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is abandoning plans to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan to 5,500 by year's end, bowing to military leaders who want to keep more troops, including many into the 2016 fighting season, US officials say.

While no final decision on numbers has been made, the officials said the administration is poised to slow withdrawal plans and probably will allow many of the 9,800 American troops to remain well into next year.

There also are discussions about keeping a steady number of counterterrorism troops into 2015, including options under which some would remain in the country or be nearby beyond 2016.

Currently, about 2,000 US troops are conducting counterterrorism missions, and military leaders have argued that they will need to continue pursuing the remnants of al Qaeda and to monitor Islamic State militants looking to recruit in Afghanistan.

Officials say President Barack Obama probably will use a Washington visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani this month as the time to announce his decision on a new withdrawal timeline.

Also read: US not to abandon Afghanistan, says White House

US officials familiar with the debate said it's not clear yet whether the White House will agree to a small, symbolic decrease by the end of this year or insist on a larger cut.

They note that there is some stiff opposition to any change, largely from national security adviser Susan Rice.

In recent weeks, Pentagon leaders, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter, have acknowledged the discussions about slowing the pace of troop withdrawal.

But they increasingly are confident that the military will get its way and keep a robust force in Afghanistan beyond year's end.

The administration, however, has shown no inclination so far for going beyond 2016; that's a hard line drawn by the president when he announced the withdrawal plan.

The 2016 deadline is considered a politically crucial national security goal for Obama, who promised to get all troops out by the end of his presidency, ending America's longest war.

Obama, who also pledged to end the war in Iraq, has had to send troops back there to help Iraqi forces fight Islamic State militants.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1169709/us-to-keep-more-troops-in-afghanistan-than-planned-officials

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Assad relative assassinated in Syria

March 15th, 2015

BEIRUT: An influential relative of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, once infamous for smuggling, has been assassinated in a dispute over control of a key government stronghold, a monitor said on Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said Mohamed al-Assad was shot dead on Friday in Latakia province, the heartland of the president’s Alawite community.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1169674/assad-relative-assassinated-in-syria

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Canada PM Stephen Harper's anti-Islam talk is Putin-like tactic - opposition

14 March 2015

A Canadian opposition leader on Friday compared Prime Minister Stephen Harper's handling of Islam to Russian President Vladimir Putin's crackdown on gays, ratcheting up political rhetoric over the religion as Harper's ruling Conservatives seek re-election in October.

Harper said this week that the niqab, a face-covering veil worn by some Muslims, was "rooted in an anti-women culture" as he defended the government's desire to ban women from wearing a niqab during the oath of citizenship. While Canadians and Harper himself typically celebrate multiculturalism, the sudden furore over wearing the niqab comes as Harper's Conservatives warn Canadians they are under threat from "jihadist terrorism," a threat best met by new tougher security legislation Harper will campaign on.

Thomas Mulcair, leader of the left-of-center opposition New Democratic Party, on Friday told Ottawa radio station CFRA that Harper was pandering to Islamophobia. "It's not dissimilar to what we see with the president of Russia, who uses a minority there, the lesbian, gay, bisexual community ... and he goes after them with great relish because he knows that it's going to resonate with a part of the population," Mulcair said. Harper spokesman Rob Nicol said Mulcair was fearmongering. "The comparison to Putin is absurd. No Western leader has stood up to Putin's regime and called him out as strongly as Prime Minister Harper and our Conservative government," Nicol said.

Full report at:

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-canada-pm-stephen-harper-s-anti-islam-talk-is-putin-like-tactic-opposition-2068699

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/at-least-15-dead,-78-injured-in-attack-on-lahore-churches/d/101959

 

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