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Islamic World News ( 16 Jun 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Harkat commander lives openly near Islamabad

Saudi women begin challenge to driving ban

Gaddafi’s son holds out offer of polls

Kayani fights to keep Pakisan army chief's job: NYT

US: We will kill Zawahiri just like bin Laden

India could be key target of new al-Qaeda chief

Al-Zawahri may not be able to revive Qaida, say experts

Bangladesh: Hearing on state religion issue begins

Sectarian killing: Boxing Olympian shot dead in Quetta

15 killed in cross-border attack in Bajaur Agency

Three dead in Israel blast: police

Mines kill 7 Iranian troops on Iraqi border

US fears Pak nuclear weapons falling into hands of terrorists

Bangladesh: 325 murdered during present govt’s tenure

Pak: Ties with US sink over intelligence wars

Duo arrested for abducting, assaulting Madinah woman

Jeddah’s rapist teacher faces execution

Two NATO tankers set ablaze in Notal, Balochistan

US to probe Bahrain labour rights under trade deal

Russian envoy heads for Tripoli, rebels take 3 villages

Pak SC judge to probe Shahzad's murder

Pakistan’s Taliban backs Zawahri as al Qaeda chief

US fears Pak nuclear weapons falling into hands of terrorists

Hillary Clinton accuses Gaddafi of using rape as a tool

Indian Army chief to visit Bangladesh

Obama hears from David Petraeus on Afghan troop options

Iran hopes India will revive IPI project

Tribesmen block road near Afghan border

Pakistan rules out change in agenda of talks with India

Pentagon wants to extend Afghanstan troop surge until 2012: report

 “Canada deeply concerned” over Sudan violence

Pak: Haripur case: Police arrest 4 members of jirga

Israeli forces arrest Hamas lawmaker

Tunisia risks controversy with travel advertisements

South Sudan Army says ready for more border attacks

Iraq’s Mehdi Army faces splits, wary of return to war

Young Pakistanis using the Web to push for change

Militants unleash more attacks in south Yemen

Five of a family die in Abu Dhabi fire

Cracks appearing in Syrian army

Blood money impasse hits Sharjah death row case

Wanted Egypt businessman arrested in Spain

Syria protest hate figure Makhlouf to quit business

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/harkat-commander-lives-openly-near-islamabad/d/4856

 

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Harkat commander lives openly near Islamabad

Jun 17, 2011

ISLAMABAD: On the outskirts of the Pakistani capital lives a militant considered so powerful that Osama bin Laden consulted with him before issuing a fatwa to attack American interests.

Fazle-ur-Rahman Khalil heads Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, a terrorist group closely aligned with al-Qaida and a signatory to bin Laden's anti-US fatwa in 1998. Khalil has also dispatched fighters to India, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya and Bosnia, was a confidante of bin Laden and hung out with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.

Pakistani authorities are clearly aware of Khalil's whereabouts. But they leave him alone, just as they tolerate other Kashmiri militant groups nurtured by the military and its intelligence agency to use against India.

Khalil is also useful to the authorities because of his unusually wide contacts among Pakistan's many militant groups, said a senior government official who is familiar with the security agencies and who spoke on condition he not be identified fearing repercussions. Khalil's presence in an Islamabad suburb, confirmed to The Associated Press by Western officials in the region, underscores accusations that Pakistan is still playing a double game — fighting some militant groups while tolerating or supporting others — even after the solo US raid that killed bin Laden on May 2.

Khalil's Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, blamed for a deadly attack on the American Consulate in Karachi in 2002, has links to the Haqqanis and is considered a terrorist organization by the US. Hundreds of militants are thought to belong to his organization, though the strength of these groups are the links they share with each other, say analysts.

Khalil himself is not on any US wanted list. In the Islamabad suburb of Golra Sharif, he lives in a nondescript two-story compound that includes a seminary or religious school, hidden behind a traditional high wall protected by barbed wire.

Reached by the AP on his cellphone last month, Khalil dismissed suggestions that he may have been in touch with bin Laden. "It is 100% wrong, it's rubbish," Khalil said. "Osama did not have contact with anybody." The Pakistani senior government official who spoke with AP said Khalil has been arrested twice but each time was released on orders from Pakistan's intelligence agency.

"He was significant for Osama bin Laden," the official said. "He has connections with all these groups in Waziristan but he is living here and we don't go after him. He is the one you go to when you need to get to these groups," tracking kidnap victims for example.

Like most of the militant groups that get a wink and a nod from Pakistan's security agencies, HuM's primary focus is Kashmir. AP learned from the same official that seven training camps are operating in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and most of them are run by Jamaat-ud-Dawwa, the name LeT took after being banned.

"There are seven jihadi camps working in Kashmir right now, giving them explosives training," the official said. He said military and intelligence agencies say the camps provide Pakistan with "strategic depth". "They say we need them, otherwise India will treat us like the rest of South Asia, like they can dictate," he said. "It is only the military and intelligence. The government has no say."

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Harkat-commander-lives-openly-near-Islamabad/articleshow/8883027.cms

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Saudi women begin challenge to driving ban

17 June 2011

Activists urging women in Saudi Arabia to defy a ban on driving say some have taken to the road in a planned challenge against the restrictions.

A protest organizer, Benjamin Joffe-Walt, says a Saudi women drove around the capital Riyadh before dawn Friday without incident. Web message boards set up by campaigners say other women also got behind the wheel.

The campaign follows the nine-day detention last month of a Saudi woman after she posted video of her driving. The plans on Friday do not call for mass protests, but encourage women in the Kingdom to begin defying the ban on their own.

There is no written Saudi law banning women from driving

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle09.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/June/middleeast_June497.xml&section=middleeast

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Gaddafi’s son holds out offer of polls

Jun 17 2011

Tripoli: Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi is willing to hold elections and step aside if he lost, his son said on Thursday, an offer unlikely to placate his opponents but which could test the unity of the Western alliance trying to force him out.

The proposal — which follows a string of concessions offered by the Libyan leader that Western powers have dismissed as ploys — comes at a time when frustration is mounting in some NATO states at the progress of the military campaign.

Four months into Libya’s conflict, rebel advances toward Tripoli are slow at best, and weeks of NATO airstrikes have failed to end his 41-year-old rule over the oil-producing country.

A series of explosions was heard from Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound in the early hours of Thursday and plumes of smoke rose into the sky, a Reuters reporter said.

“They (elections) could be held within three months. At the maximum by the end of the year, and the guarantee of transparency could be the presence of international observers,” Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

He said his father, who came to power in the same year that man first set foot on the moon, would be ready to step aside if he lost the election but would not go into exile.

“I have no doubt the overwhelming majority of Libyans stand with my father and sees the rebels as fanatical Islamist fundamentalists, terrorists stirred up from abroad,” the paper quoted Saif al-Islam as saying.

It was not clear what form the vote proposed by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi would take. Libya has never held elections under Gaddafi and has no elected institutions.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/804888/

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Kayani fights to keep Pakisan army chief's job: NYT

Jun 17, 2011

WASHINGTON: Pakistan's army chief is fighting to save his position in the face of "seething anger" in the army establishment over the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to the New York Times.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who has led the army since 2007, "faces such intense discontent over what is seen as his cosy relationship with the US that a colonels' coup, while unlikely, was not out of the question," the influential US daily said in a report from Islamabad citing Pakistani officials.

The Pakistani Army is essentially run by consensus among 11 top commanders, known as the Corps Commanders, and almost all of them, if not all, were demanding that General Kayani get much tougher with the Americans, even edging toward a break, the Times said

Washington, with its own hard line against Pakistan, had pushed General Kayani into a defensive crouch, along with his troops, and if the general was pushed out, the United States would face a more uncompromising anti-American army chief, it said citing a Pakistani source.

A long statement after the regular monthly meeting of the 11 corps commanders last week illuminated the mounting hostility toward the United States, even as it remains the army's biggest patron, supplying at least $2 billion a year in aid, the daily said.

The statement, aimed at rebuilding support within the army and among the public, said that American training in Pakistan had only ever been minimal, and had now ended, it said.

The statement said that the CIA-run drone attacks against militants in the tribal areas "were not acceptable under any circumstances."

Allowing the drones to continue to operate from Pakistan was "politically unsustainable," the Times quoted a "well-informed Pakistani who met with General Kayani recently" as saying.

As part of his survival mechanism, General Kayani could well order the Americans to stop the drone programme completely, the Pakistani said.

The anger at the Americans was now making it more difficult for General Kayani to motivate the army to fight against the Pakistani Taliban in what is increasingly seen as a fight on behalf of the US, the Times said citing former Pakistani soldiers.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Kayani-fights-to-keep-Pakisan-army-chiefs-job-NYT/articleshow/8874605.cms

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US: We will kill Zawahiri just like bin Laden

Jun 17, 2011

WASHINGTON: The United States Thursday dismissed new al Qaeda supremo Ayman al-Zawahiri as a pale imitation of Osama bin Laden and warned the Egyptian to expect a similar fate to his slain predecessor.

US officials painted the 59-year-old long-time number two as an “armchair general” with no combat experience, saying he not only lacked charisma and leadership skills but was also a divisive figure that could fracture al Qaeda.

Top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen told Zawahiri to expect the same treatment meted out to bin Laden, who was killed by US commandos in the dead of night in a May 2 raid on his hideout in Pakistan.

“As we did both seek to capture and kill – and succeed in killing – bin Laden, we certainly will do the same thing with Zawahiri,” said Mullen, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, giving his valedictory press briefing at the Pentagon, could barely disguise his scorn, but warned that the announcement should serve as a reminder of the continuing al Qaeda threat.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/17/us-we-will-kill-zawahiri-just-like-bin-laden.html

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India could be key target of new al-Qaeda chief

Praveen Swami

NEW HELMSMAN: Al-Qaeda, which has suffered a mortal blow in the death of Osama bin-Laden at the hands of the U.S. special forces, has selected its long-time No. 2, al-Zawahiri, to succeed him. In this file photo, al-Zawahiri (left) and Osama are seen at Khost in Afghanistan.

NEW DELHI: India could be one of several new theatres targeted by al-Qaeda's newly-appointed chief to establish his authority over the jihadist group and its allies, intelligence sources say.

The appointment of Osama bin-Laden's long-standing lieutenant to lead al-Qaeda was made public on Thursday, in a three-page online communiqué, which announced “the undertaking of responsibility of the amir [supreme leader] of the group by Sheikh Dr. Abu Muhammad Ayman al-Zawahiri.”

Perceived by many within the jihadist leadership as aloof, even arrogant, the 1959-born former Egyptian surgeon is under intense pressure to demonstrate that al-Qaeda has survived bin-Laden's killing by the United States special forces last month.

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2011/06/17/stories/2011061761760100.htm

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Al-Zawahri may not be able to revive Qaida, say experts

Josy Joseph

Jun 17, 2011

NEW DELHI: Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian physician who took over as the chief of al-Qaida in place of slain founder Osama bin Laden, may not be able to immediately recoup and rejuvenate the terror group for carrying out sensational attacks. However, he could end up providing a deeply ideological and violent argument for a new generation of fanatics, who could come out of the rising anti-Americanism in countries such as Pakistan and those who feel left out of the secular Arab revolutions.

"Sheikh Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, may God guide him, assumed responsibility as the group's amir," an al-Qaida statement, translated by western counter-terrorism watchdogs, said. The statement added that al-Qaida would continue its holy war under the new leader against both the US and Israel, until "all invading armies leave the land of Islam".

The Egyptian, who carries a bounty of $25 million, turns 60 this Sunday, and is believed to be living somewhere along the Pak-Afghan border. In a video-taped eulogy on Osama after the Saudi fugitive was killed, al-Zawahiri had said, "He went to his God as a martyr, the man who terrified America while alive and terrifies it in death, so much so that they trembled at the idea of his having a tomb."

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Al-Zawahri-may-not-be-able-to-revive-Qaida-say-experts/articleshow/8881917.cms

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Bangladesh: Hearing on state religion issue begins

17 June 2011

The hearing on a writ petition challenging the validity of the insertion of Islam as state religion by 8th amendment of the constitution began with deliberations by the amici curiae in the High Court on Thursday.

All the three amici curiae expressed the identical view that the issue be left for the parliament as it enjoys the sovereign authority to amend the constitution.

Since the parliament, now in session, is considering the proposed

amendment placed by the special committee on constitution amendment in the light of the recent Supreme Court judgments, it would not be prudent for the court to continue hearing on the rule, they told the court.

Admitting the submissions by the three amici curiae—  M Zahir, Yusuf Hossain Humayun and Abdul Matin Khasru — an HC division bench headed by Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury adjourned the hearing to July 14.

The impugned article 2A, inserted in the constitution in 1988, says:

The state religion of the Republic is Islam, but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in the Republic.

Full report at: http://newagebd.com/newspaper1/national/22799.html

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Sectarian killing:Boxing Olympian shot dead in Quetta

By Shehzad Baloch

June 17, 2011

QUETTA: Boxing Olympian and deputy director of Pakistan Sports Board Quetta centre Syed Abrar Hussain was shot dead on Thursday in what police termed an “apparent” case of sectarian killing.

Hussain, who was born on February 9, 1961 in Quetta, had represented Pakistan in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games. In addition, he had won several accolades for the country, including the 1985 South Asian Games gold medal in Dhaka, as well as the 1990 Asian Games gold in Beijing. The boxer was also the recipient of the Sitara-e-Imtiaz and was awarded the President’s Gold Medal in 1991. Overall, Hussain had won 11  gold, six silver and five bronze medals at national and international events during his illustrious career.

According to eyewitnesses, he was driving home after offering prayers when some men riding a motorbike opened fire on his vehicle. “It could be an incident of sectarian targeted killing, but investigations are under way to trace the culprits,” said DIG (operations) Hamid Shakil.

Full report at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/190025/former-olympian-abrar-hussain-gunned-down-in-quetta/

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15 killed in cross-border attack in Bajaur Agency

Manzoor Ali

June 17, 2011

Several hundred militants crossed the border from Afghanistan to Bajaur Agency on Thursday, resulting in hours of clashes that killed 15 people.

The dead included nine militants, three lashkar volunteers, a soldier and two women, sources said. However, government official Muhammad Ilyas Khan told AFP that 17 people had been killed, including three women, while three children had been injured.

The attack, close to Afghanistan’s Kunar province, occurred when around 300 militants attacked three villages at around 4:00am. “Tribesmen from the local lashkar (militia) joined paramilitary forces and the army artillery pounded shells,” Khan said. Following the attack, security forces were deployed in the area.

The militants eventually fled and the firing stopped around 1.00 pm, local government and security officials said. Security sources put the number of attackers around 200.

Afghan officials denied any cross-border attack and accused Pakistani troops of killing six people in a rocket strike on Wednesday.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2011.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/189970/cross-border-attack-five-people-killed-in-bajaur/

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Three dead in Israel blast: police

Jun 17, 2011

JERUSALEM: A gas explosion in the Israeli town of Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, killed at least three people and injured others overnight Thursday, an Israeli police spokesman said.

“An explosion occurred in a four-storey building in Netanya, killing at least three people and injuring others,” Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

“We have clearly determined after an inquiry that a gas canister caused the explosion,” he added.

Rosenfeld was unable to say whether the canister had exploded accidentally. Netanya has a history of settling of scores by the Israeli underworld.

Israeli public radio reported that the injured numbered 33, several in serious condition.

The radio said the powerful blast flattened the building on Independence Square in the town centre. There was a restaurant, the Yotvata, on the ground floor.

Residents were buried under the rubble and cranes were trying to get them out, witnesses told the radio station. One said there was a strong smell of gas hanging over the debris.

Dozens of ambulances were sent to the scene.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/17/three-dead-in-israel-blast-police.html

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Mines kill 7 Iranian troops on Iraqi border

17 June 2011

BAGHDAD - Seven Iranian soldiers were killed when they strayed into a minefield laid along their border with Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, a local Kurdish official said on Thursday.

Jabar Yawar, spokesman for the local Iraqi Kurdish forces, said the Iranian troops were new to the area and had accidentally entered a minefield laid by Iran along the remote frontier with Kurdistan.

Kurdish separatists are active in the mountains in the area and have clashed with Iranian troops in the past.

“The newly arrived forces were unaware of the existence of a minefield where they got trapped. The mines killed all of them. There were seven of them, according to the information we have obtained,” Yawar told Reuters.

Iran’s consul-general in Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan, said he had no information.

Security forces in the west of Iran sometimes clash with guerrillas from the PJAK, a Kurdish group seeking an autonomous homeland in Iran and that now shelters in Iraq’s remote northeastern border region.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/June/middleeast_June496.xml&section=middleeast

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US fears Pak nuclear weapons falling into hands of terrorists

Jun 17, 2011

WASHINGTON: US on Friday expressed apprehension that the nuclear weapons and technology of Pakistan might fall into the hands of terrorists and thus stressed on having the lines of communications open with Islamabad.

"It's a country with an awful lot of terrorists on that border," Admiral Mike Mullen Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a joint Pentagon news conference with the defence secretary, Robert Gates.

"Things that I fear in the future, it's the proliferation of that technology, and it's the opportunity and the potential that it could fall into the hands of terrorists, many of whom are alive and well and seek that in that region.

And that's of great interest, I think, to our country and certainly to the rest of the world," Mullen said in response to a question.

Gates argued the US strategy against terrorism is succeeding and Pakistan is playing a contributory role to that.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/US-fears-Pak-nuclear-weapons-falling-into-hands-of-terrorists/articleshow/8883498.cms

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Bangladesh: 325 murdered during present govt’s tenure

17 June 2011

The home minister, Sahara Khatun, on Thursday told parliament  that 325 persons were killed and 276 others were wounded in various violent incidents in the country during the tenure of the present government till May 30, 2011.

‘A total of 325 people were killed by gangsters, muggers and extortionists in the country till May, 30, 2011 after the alliance government assumed the state power,’ she said during the question-answer session, adding that 276 people were also injured in the incidents.

The minister said that 171 of the killings were committed in the city.

She said that most of the gangsters and assailants involved in the killings

had been arrested and the police patrols were strengthened in the mugging-prone areas.

‘A list of extortionists and snatchers has been prepared and the law enforcers are keeping watch on the suspects,’ she said.

Full report at: http://newagebd.com/newspaper1/frontpage/22815.html

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Pak: Ties with US sink over intelligence wars

By Manoj Joshi in New Delhi

US- PAKISTAN ties seem to be reaching a breaking point. The key actors in the current scenario are not so much the governments of the two countries, but their military and intelligence agencies.

Over the years, the Pentagon and the CIA have carefully cultivated the Pakistan Army, taking a large number of officers for training courses, providing Pakistan modern military equipment. In the last decade or so, the two had worked out an arrangement where the Pakistani expenses of operating in the tribal areas of the West were directly reimbursed by the Pentagon.

But things have changed, primarily because the Pakistan Army leadership itself feels threatened by an uprising from below by officers who are angered by the close ties between their country and the US. This is the reason that we have the bizarre spectacle of the army cracking down on those Pakistanis who helped to kill Osama bin Laden, rather than finding out who, among them, sheltered this most wanted terrorist in the midst of a cantonment town in Pakistan.

Full report at: Mail Today

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Duo arrested for abducting, assaulting Madinah woman

Jun 17, 2011

MADINAH: A man in his 30s was arrested in Madinah on Wednesday in connection with the kidnap and rape of a woman during the holy month of Ramadan last year, local Arabic daily Al-Watan reported Thursday.

Madinah police said the man, who has a criminal record, abducted the woman in front of her house in Madinah and took her to a rest house where he and a friend raped her.

The woman, who was in her 30s, was on her way home in the Al-Awali district from a relative’s house in the Al-Anbariyah district when a pickup truck stopped by her and offered her transport.

Police said the driver took a different route and told the woman that he was evading traffic congestion until he stopped at a rest house owned by one of his friends and forced her to enter. Police added the driver and his friend both raped the woman then dropped her off at a remote road.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article456200.ece

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Jeddah’s rapist teacher faces execution

Jun 17, 2011

JEDDAH: The Court of Appeals in Makkah has filed an urgent lawsuit against a 42-year-old Saudi teacher who allegedly raped 13 young girls, sister publication Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper reported Thursday.

The newspaper quoted Sheikh Abdullah Al-Othaim, member of the Court of Appeals and former chairman of the Summary Court as saying that the criminal would be tried for spreading corruption on earth, a charge which results in a sentence of beheading, crucifixion or dismemberment if proven, according to the Qur'an.

“This is a rare and unbelievable crime in our society,” Sheikh Al-Othaim said, calling on parents to protect their daughters against such criminals.

Meanwhile, Jeddah police spokesman Brig. Misfer Al-Juaid said all evidence collected since 2009 indicated that it was the suspect who committed the rapes. He said many of the victims have identified him.

A DNA test that proved beyond doubt it was the teacher who was responsible for the attacks meant another suspect who had spent six months in custody without charge was released.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article456199.ece

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Two NATO tankers set ablaze in Notal, Balochistan

June 17, 2011

Eight unidentified armed men opened indiscriminate fire at the two tankers and set them on fire. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Two oil tankers carrying fuel for Nato forces stationed in Afghanistan were ablaze in the Notal area of Balochistan on Thursday.

Eight unidentified armed men opened indiscriminate fire at the two tankers and set them on fire. No casualties were reported.

The attackers managed to escape from the scene.

Police have registered a case against the unidentified people. No person or group has yet claimed responsibly for the attack.

Nato supply trucks have been the target of frequent attacks in recent months.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/190789/two-nato-tankers-set-ablaze-in-notal-balochistan/

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US to probe Bahrain labour rights under trade deal

17 June 2011

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration said on Thursday it would investigate charges brought by the largest US labour organization that Bahrain has failed to meet its obligations to protect workers’ rights under a free trade pact with the United States.

Richard Trumka, president of the 12.2 million-member AFL-CIO labour federation, hailed the decision published in the US Federal Register, the official publication used by the US government to make public regulatory actions.

“The egregious attacks on workers must end, and the Bahraini government’s systematic discrimination against and dismantling of unions must be reversed. These actions directly violate the letter and the spirit of the trade agreement,” Trumka said in a statement.

The AFL-CIO has urged the US government to notify Bahrain it could withdraw from the five-year-old free trade agreement over human rights abuses in the kingdom’s crackdown on anti-government protests.

“The trade union movement in Bahrain is critical to democratic and peaceful coexistence in a pluralistic society and should be part of a national dialogue to solve Bahrain’s crisis,” Trumka said.

Full report at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/June/middleeast_June494.xml&section=middleeast

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Russian envoy heads for Tripoli, rebels take 3 villages

Jun 17, 2011

Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov was headed for Tripoli on Thursday seeking to mediate in Libya's conflict, as rebels made gains in the west and Nato insisted it needs no ground troops to back its mission.

Margelov, the Africa envoy of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, left Moscow for Tunisia on Wednesday evening, from where he will travel to the Libyan capital by car on Thursday, his spokeswoman Varvara Paal told AFP in Moscow.

During his visit, which will last only a day, he will meet the Prime Minister and foreign minister, but was not scheduled to meet Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Margelov, a senior lawmaker and the Kremlin’s representative to Africa, said in May it was becoming increasingly difficult to hold talks with Gaddafi.

Last week, Margelov travelled to the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi and Cairo where he held talks with Gaddafi’s cousin Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam and other people from his circle.

He said at that time that after his visit to Tripoli, Moscow would be prepared to offer a preliminary “roadmap” for settling the conflict.

Anti-Gaddafi rebels, meanwhile, seized three villages as they sought control of a key junction connecting the towns of Yafran and Zintan, west of Tripoli, an AFP correspondent reported.

Full report at: http://www.asianage.com/international/russian-envoy-heads-tripoli-rebels-take-3-villages-988

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Pak SC judge to probe Shahzad's murder

Jun 17, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government on Thursday gave in to pressure from journalists' organizations and announced the formation of a judicial commission headed by a supreme court judge to investigate the murder of reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad.

Pakistan information minister Firdous Ashiq Awan met journalists participating in a protest outside parliament shortly before dawn and said Justice Saqib Nisar of the supreme court would head the independent judicial commission to investigate the murder.

The government had on Tuesday formed a commission headed by Federal sharia court chief justice Agha Rafiq to investigate the abduction and killing of Shahzad, who went missing two days after he alleged in an article last month that the Pakistan Navy had been infiltrated by al-Qaida elements.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pak-SC-judge-to-probe-Shahzads-murder/articleshow/8883006.cms

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Pakistan’s Taliban backs Zawahri as al Qaeda chief

Jun 17, 2011

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Pakistan’s Taliban movement, regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous militant groups, said on Thursday it backed Ayman al-Zawahri as al Qaeda’s new leader and vowed to carry out attacks against Western targets.

A militant website said Zawahri has taken command of al Qaeda, after the killing of Osama bin Laden in a secret US raid in Pakistan last month.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan described Zawahri as an “capable person” and said the former Egyptian doctor would inspire the group to take on the West.

“We have been carrying out our activities which, inshallah (God willing), will gather more momentum. We will get revenge for the oppression by the West,” he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The Pakistani Taliban, which has close links with al Qaeda and other anti-Western militant organisations, has been blamed for many of the suicide bombings across Pakistan, a US ally seen as critical to American efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/16/pakistans-taliban-backs-zawahri-as-al-qaeda-chief.html

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Hillary Clinton accuses Gaddafi of using rape as a tool

Jun 17, 2011

WASHINGTON: US secretary of state Hillary Clinton accused the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi of using rape and violence against women as "tools of war."

Clinton said the United States was "deeply concerned" by reports of widescale rape in Libya and "troubled" by reports that governments across the Middle East and North Africa were using sexual violence to punish protesters.

"Rape, physical intimidation, sexual harassment, and even so-called 'virginity tests' have taken place in countries throughout the region," she said in a statement.

"Gaddafi's security forces and other groups in the region are trying to divide the people by using violence against women and rape as tools of war, and the United States condemns this in the strongest possible terms."

International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said last week that there was evidence the Libyan authorities bought "Viagra-type" medicines and gave them to troops as part of an official rape policy.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Hillary-Clinton-accuses-Gaddafi-of-using-rape-as-a-tool/articleshow/8884667.cms

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Indian Army chief to visit Bangladesh

Jun 17, 2011

NEW DELHI: Army chief General V K Singh will leave for Bangladesh on June 19 on a five-day visit to bolster bilateral defence cooperation, which will see a jump in joint exercises and training programmes.

Gen Singh, who as a young second lieutenant took part in the 1971 war to liberate Bangladesh, will call on President Mohammed Zillur Rahman and PM Sheikh Hasina as well as hold extensive talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Gen Mohammed Abdul Mubeen, who had visited India last year.

India remains wary of China's deep strategic inroads into Bangladesh, which include a direct rail-road link to the port city of Chittagong as well as in help in constructing the Sonadia deep-sea port at Cox's Bazaar.

India, on its part, has actively worked towards bolstering ties with Bangladesh over the last three-four years, with one of the main objectives being the need for both countries to 'resolutely' tackle terrorism together.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Army-chief-to-visit-Bangladesh/articleshow/8881996.cms

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Obama hears from David Petraeus on Afghan troop options

Jun 17, 2011

WASHINGTON: The top US commander in Afghanistan has laid out several options for President Barack Obama to reduce the number of troops there, the White House said on Thursday, signaling a plan would be announced soon.

General David Petraeus presented recommendations to Obama and the president's national security advisers in a meeting on Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"They discussed a range of options. As I think the general has said in the past publicly, this was a question of options plural and not option. That conversation will continue," Carney told a White House news briefing.

The Obama administration is seeking ways to curtail its military involvement in Afghanistan as US budget pressures grow and public support dwindles for the nearly 10-year-old war.

Carney restated on Thursday that an initial drawdown would begin in July and said Obama would announce "relatively soon" how quickly and how many troops would be withdrawn.

The White House had been awaiting recommendations from Petraeus before fixing that plan. Petraeus has been nominated to become the new chief of the CIA.

The number of US troops in Afghanistan has grown sharply since Obama took office, to 100,000 today from about 34,000 in early 2009.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Obama-hears-from-David-Petraeus-on-Afghan-troop-options/articleshow/8884046.cms

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Iran hopes India will revive IPI project

Sandeep Dikshit

NEW DELHI: After persistently denying that the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline was facing problems due to New Delhi's attitude, Tehran on Thursday admitted that this project was “stalled'' as far as India was concerned.

Although Iran has problems with its civil nuclear energy plans leading to four rounds of U.N. sanctions, it cited the accident at Japan's Fukushima plant to stress that the role of fossil energy had become even more important, thereby indicating the need for India to revive its enthusiasm for the project.

Iranian officials, here for talks with the Indian leadership, also put the security concerns regarding the IPI project in perspective. They wanted to know if the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline would not face security issues in not one (Pakistan) but two countries (Afghanistan as well). “The question is whether those concerns don't exist with respect to TAPI? The discussions on the IPI have been stalled. So Iran and Pakistan are bilaterally pushing the idea. The option for India to join is open,” said the officials.

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2011/06/17/stories/2011061765581400.htm

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Tribesmen block road near Afghan border

Jun 17, 2011

CHAMAN: About 300 Pakistani tribesmen have blocked Nato supplies and other traffic at an Afghan border crossing to protest an alleged shooting incident there, a security official said.

The blockade Friday followed a clash a day before between border guards and Pakistani and Afghan tribesmen — who live on both sides of the border — as they were being searched.

Residents said Afghan guards opened fire and wounded eight people.

Border guard spokesman Saeed Ahmed said officers had asked the tribesmen to end the protest as thousands of people on both sides of the border were suffering.

Much of the supplies for the Nato-led war in Afghanistan cross the border at the Chaman crossing.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/17/tribesmen-block-road-near-afghan-border.html

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Pakistan rules out change in agenda of talks

Jun 17, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday fresh evidence regarding the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008 should not be discussed at the upcoming talks between the Pakistani and Indian foreign secretaries and insisted that the agenda should be the same as agreed to by the two sides in Thimphu.

Answering a question at a media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said: “The agenda for the upcoming meeting is very clearly the three issues that have been indicated — peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir and friendly exchanges.”

She said the Mumbai attacks should be discussed by the interior secretaries of the two countries. “On counter-terrorism we have already had discussions under the interior/home secretary rubric where all these issues have been discussed. Whenever

India provides us fresh information, it is sent to the ministry of interior and it is examined by them.”

India handed over a dossier to Pakistan which is based on information provided by the US after the testimony of David Headley during Tahawwur Rana’s recent trial in Chicago. The dossier contains details of five suspects linked to the Mumbai attacks — Sajid Mir, Abu Qahafa, Major Iqbal, Mazhar Iqbal and a man identified only as “Lashkar member D”.

Earlier this week, Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said the “nexus between the ISI and the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks highlighted during the trial in Chicago” would be taken up at the forthcoming talks.The differences between India and Pakistan over the agenda of the talks may cause a stalemate and prevent the two sides from agreeing on the dates for the talks between their secretaries. Deadlock on the Siachen and Sir Creek issues has contributed to the deterioration in the

atmosphere before the crucial talks.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/17/pakistan-rules-out-change-in-agenda-of-talks.html

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Pentagon wants to extend Afghanstan troop surge until 2012: report

Jun 17, 2011

WASHINGTON: The US military is asking President Barack Obama to maintain its troop surge in Afghanistan until the fall of 2012, a month before a scheduled withdrawal, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The timeline would mean the president could promise large troop reductions to a war-weary public just ahead of the November 2012 presidential elections in which he seeks a second term, but military officials told the Journal that the electoral schedule had nothing to do with their proposal.

Instead, they said they were focusing on placing as much pressure as possible on the Taliban and the violent eastern provinces bordering Pakistan, especially during the next two warm-weather fighting seasons, usually the period of heaviest fighting from militants.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/17/pentagon-wants-to-extend-afghanstan-troop-surge-until-2012-report.html

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“Canada deeply concerned” over Sudan violence

Jun 17, 2011

OTTAWA: Canada’s chief diplomat on Thursday said he is “deeply concerned” by the upsurge of violence in South Kordofan, the embattled Sudanese state where fighting has raged since early June.

“Canada is deeply concerned by the recent violence in South Kordofan and its impact on civilian populations. Canada condemns the aerial bombings and attacks against civilians,” said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

“Canada calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and urges all parties to ensure the utmost protection of civilians, including by providing full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need,” Baird said in a statement.

Heavy fighting in the the strife-torn Sudanese state of South Kordofan, on the border between north and south Sudan, has raged since June 5. Khartoum forces are battling militia aligned to the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

In January south Sudan voted to become independent in a referendum which becomes effective July 9.

Tensions between north and south Sudan have been running high since the northern army overran the disputed border region of Abyei last month.

According to the United Nations, some 60,000 people have fled their homes due to the violence in the region.

“The issues at stake in South Kordofan must be resolved by consultation and negotiation, and not by violence,” Baird said.

Sudan is one of the top recipients of Canadian foreign humanitarian aid after Afghanistan and Haiti.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/17/%E2%80%9Ccanada-deeply-concerned%E2%80%9D-over-sudan-violence.html

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Pak: Haripur case: Police arrest 4 members of jirga

June 16, 2011

Police arrested four people who were allegedly involved in an incident where a woman was paraded naked in Haripur.

HARIPUR: Police arrested four more people on Thursday, who were allegedly involved in an incident where a woman was paraded naked in a village in Haripur.

The woman, *Shaheen, was made to walk naked on the streets of the village in the Upper Neelor area after a jirga decided that she was to be punished for her son’s alleged rape of another woman.

Police arrested the head of the jirga today (Thursday), Bashir, along with three other jirga members who have been identified as Imran, Arsalan and Sulaiman.

Seven people were suspected to be involved in the incident, out of which two were arrested earlier. One suspect remains at large, and the police team investigating the incident said they are searching the village to arrest him.

Shaheen was paraded naked in the streets of Neelor Bala village on the instigation of a jirga that found her son guilty of rape.

Four armed men, who belonged to the same village as that of the ‘raped’ woman, allegedly disrobed the middle-aged woman before making her parade naked.

Sadia*, 24, who had alleged Shaheen’s* son Karim* of rape, said the incident was the result of a mere ‘misunderstanding’.

*Names have been changed to protect identities

http://tribune.com.pk/story/189986/haripur-case-police-arrest-4-members-of-jirga/

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Israeli forces arrest Hamas lawmaker

By MOHAMMED MAR’I

Jun 17, 2011

RAMALLAH: Israeli security forces early Thursday arrested eight Palestinians in various West Bank areas, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.

The Palestinian sources said that the Israeli forces arrested Hamas lawmaker Sameer Al-Qadi from his home in the village of Soureef, to the north of Hebron.

The sources said that Al-Qadi was arrested in 2006 alongside dozens of Hamas officials following the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

According to the sources, Al-Qadi was released after serving three years term in Israeli jails. The Hamas officials were “bargaining chips” Israel hoped to use as leverage in the efforts to secure the release of Shalit. Israel is holding 14 Hamas legislators and 3 from other Palestinian factions.

Meanwhile, the Israeli forces arrested seven other Palestinians in Qalqilyah and Bethlehem areas. Israeli security sources said that they were handed over to Israeli intelligence for questioning.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article456129.ece

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Tunisia risks controversy with travel advertisements

By DAVID E. MILLER

Jun 17, 2011

TUNIS: Determined to regain its place as a Mediterranean tourist paradise, Tunisia is adopting an edgy approach by reminding potential visitors of the turmoil, detentions and deaths that brought down its ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali but hasn’t yet restored peace and quiet.

In the last few weeks, billboards have appeared in Paris and London depicting a smiling, sultry and apparently nude woman, enjoying the benefits of a massage. “They say that in Tunisia, some people receive heavy-handed treatment,” it says. Another shows ancient Roman ruins with the words: “They say Tunisia is nothing but ruins.”

The campaign has stirred controversy at home and abroad, but beset by a depressed tourism sector and an economy in the doldrums, Tunisia has little to lose in a go-for-broke strategy to bring back visitors. Like Egypt, its bigger neighbor to the east, the Arab Spring has garnered it a lot of Western admirers but has frightened sightseers and beach denizens.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article456107.ece

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South Sudan Army says ready for more border attacks

By JEREMY CLARKE

Jun 17, 2011

JUBA, Sudan: South Sudan’s army said on Thursday it was ready for more attacks by northern forces, accusing them of clashing with its troops in the disputed Abyei area, situated in an ill-defined border region.

A spokesman for the northern army told reporters in Khartoum the military had not engaged in fighting south of the Bahr Al-Arab river, known as the Kiir River in the south, and suggested internal southern rebels may have started the clashes.

The south is due to secede in less than a month, but tensions between the two sides have been high since Khartoum rolled tanks and troops into Abyei, a fertile, oil-producing region along the north-south border, on May 21.

Both sides agreed “in principle” to demilitarize Abyei and bring in Ethiopian peacekeepers after talks in Addis Ababa this week, the African Union said on Monday, but officials have yet to reach a final agreement.

Philip Aguer, spokesman for the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), said the south was preparing for more fighting.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article456105.ece

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Iraq’s Mehdi Army faces splits, wary of return to war

By SUADAD AL-SALHY

Jun 17, 2011

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s anti-US cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr is reviving fears of sectarian violence with a warning he will unleash his Shiite Mehdi Army militia again if US forces stay in the country beyond a year-end deadline.

But for Mehdi Army veterans like Ahmed, who once battled US troops on Baghdad’s streets, the fighting days are over as Sadr’s militia enters mainstream politics, struggles with splinter groups, and ex-combatants resist a return to war.

“All I need to do is stay away from any trouble for another three years,” said Ahmed, who wants to put his guerrilla days behind him to focus on college exams and becoming a lawyer. He asked that his surname not be used because of his militant past.

At the height of Iraq’s 2006-2007 sectarian slaughter, the Mehdi Army was seen by Washington as one of the biggest threats to Iraqi security with its young fighters toting rocket launchers and battling US and Iraqi troops in the streets.

Sadr disarmed his militia after Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s troops — backed by American forces — defeated them in Baghdad and southern cities in 2008. His movement has since become a potent force in mainstream politics.

Sadr’s anti-US rhetoric still inspires followers, and US and Iraqi security officials say Mehdi Army splinter groups still pose a security risk, emerging in the form of Shiite militia that Washington says are backed by Iran.

But former fighters and security officials say many Mehdi Army veterans have too much to lose to pick up the gun again.

Violence ebbed

Iraq’s violence has ebbed eight years after the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, but Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias still carry out daily attacks.

The United States still has 47,000 troops in Iraq, but their mandate expires at the end of this year and Iraq’s leaders are debating the divisive question of whether to ask some to stay.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article455996.ece

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Young Pakistanis using the Web to push for change

By NAHAL TOOSI

Jun 17, 2011

KARACHI: Meet Pakistan’s “Teeth Maestro,” a dentist who uses his blog to get to the root of the country’s many pains. One day it might be trigger-happy soldiers. Another day it’s corrupt bureaucrats. Sometimes, it’s US meddling.

The Teeth Maestro is among a growing group of bloggers, tweeters and others using the Web to influence Pakistani society and government.

These activists are providing a more nuanced perspective than Pakistan’s mainstream media, where right-wing TV talk shows tend to dominate the national discussion.

“Social media has actually created a dialogue of opposing thoughts and tries to bring them together to some sort of understanding,” said the Teeth Maestro, a 36-year-old whose real name is Awab Alvi.

There’s no revolution in the works like in Egypt, where young people used Facebook, Twitter and other Web tools to organize protests.

But the use of such Internet tools is rising so rapidly in Pakistan that even US officials have taken notice, recently co-sponsoring the country’s first international social media summit. Held in the port city of Karachi, it attracted some 200 people.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/world/article456135.ece

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Militants unleash more attacks in south Yemen

Jun 17, 2011

SANAA/ADEN: Masked gunmen attacked buildings in southern Yemen on Thursday, the latest of a wave of militant attacks in the region, as the first shipment of Saudi-donated oil arrived in the impoverished, restive state.

Gunmen who Yemen’s Army said were Al-Qaeda members briefly took over a security headquarters and government buildings in Masameer, a region of the southern Lahj province, residents told Reuters by telephone.

“There was a long battle with security forces,” one resident said. Attackers managed to free several inmates from a local jail after driving out government troops, they said. Three guards were killed on Wednesday when gunmen stormed other state buildings in the city of Al-Hota, about 65 km away from Thursday’s attack in Masameer.

Months of pro-democracy protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule have nearly paralyzed the country, leading to severe shortages of electricity, water and fuel.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article456111.ece

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Five of a family die in Abu Dhabi fire

17 June 2011,

It was a tragic dawn for an Egyptian family of six on Thursday when a fire broke out in their home and claimed the lives of five — the mother and four children.

Only the head of the family survived.

The fire erupted in the kitchen in the early morning when the entire family was asleep at home in Abu Samrah on Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Highway, about 65km from Al Ain.

According to the Civil Defence, the 28-year-old woman and her four children — two sons aged 10 and two, and two daughters aged five and three — died upon arrival at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain.

“They died of suffocation after inhaling heavy smoke that spread from the kitchen into the two bedrooms they were sleeping in. Immediately after receiving the news, fire-fighting, ambulances and paramedic teams were rushed to the site for the rescue and safety of the residents in the house,” said Colonel Mohammed Abdullah Al Nuaimi, Acting Director-General of Civil Defence and Director of Emergency Management and Public Safety at the Abu Dhabi Police.

He said the victims were rushed to Tawam Hospital but they breathed their last upon arrival due to heavy inhalation of thick smoke that engulfed the entire house. The head of the family, whose identity has not been disclosed, according to the Civil Defence, came out from a room window unhurt and tried to break the doors to rescue his wife and children as soon as he sensed heavy smoke in his home.

Full report at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle09.asp?xfile=data/theuae/2011/June/theuae_June470.xml&section=theuae

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Cracks appearing in Syrian army

17 June 2011

AMMAN - Syria’s military, spearheading assaults on cities and towns to crush a three-month uprising, is showing cracks along sectarian lines that could threaten President Bashar Al Assad’s political survival.

The 45-year-old president is relying increasingly on the army, whose command and many senior officers are drawn from his minority Alawite sect, in a military campaign seen as targeting protesters drawn mainly from the majority Sunni community.

Diplomats and military experts say mostly Alawite units have been implicated in the worst bloodshed in the unrest, angering many Sunnis and triggering some army desertions, but so far no major defection of troops.

“It is still unclear what threshold would have to be crossed in order for mass defections to start occurring (so) that other Sunni conscripts would view defection as a more viable option,” said W. Andrew Terrill, who has studied the Syrian army at the US Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

Full report at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle09.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/June/middleeast_June491.xml&section=middleeast

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Blood money impasse hits Sharjah death row case

Amira Agarib

17 June 2011

SHARJAH — Stalled negotiations over blood money have forced the Sharjah Court of Appeal to adjourn again its hearing to June 20, the case of 17 Indians who were sentenced to death by the Sharjah Sharia Court for the murder of a Pakistani man in a bootlegging rivalry.

Mohammed Ramadan,  who represents the family of the Pakistani victim, told the judge that the family would settle for Dh5.5 million as ‘diya’ (blood money).

He said they would seek death penalty (Qasas) if the said amount was not paid . Mohammed Salman, lawyer for the accused, told Khaleej Times: ‘‘We offered blood money of Dh442,000 during the last hearing and the judge at Sharjah Court of Appeal has asked the family to take a decision.’’

He said a year had passed and no settlement had been reached and this was the tenth hearing. “I think it is better to reach a negotiated settlement in this case. It will save legal costs,’’ said Salman

He said the victim’s family should accept the money and close the issue, or continue the court hearing.

Full report at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/theuae/2011/June/theuae_June462.xml&section=theuae

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Wanted Egypt businessman arrested in Spain

17 June 2011

CAIRO - A prominent Egyptian businessman wanted on suspicion of squandering public funds by selling gas to Israel below market prices has been captured in Spain, state news agency MENA reported on Thursday.

Egypt’s Interpol head Magdy el-Shafie told MENA that Hussein Salem, one of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s closest aides and a major shareholder in East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), a company that shipped gas to Israel, was captured in Majorca.

“Salem was captured in his villa in the Spanish city of Majorca ... and his file will be transferred to Spanish authorities to prepare for his extradition to Cairo to stand before the Egyptian judiciary,” MENA quoted Shafie as saying.

Spanish police said they had no information on the report.

The report said Salem fled Egypt on Feb. 3, eight days before Mubarak was forced to step down, without citing sources.

Egyptian opposition groups had long complained that EMG had been selling gas at preferential prices to Israel and other countries, which cost Egypt billions of dollars.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/June/middleeast_June495.xml&section=middleeast

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Syria protest hate figure Makhlouf to quit business

17 June 2011

BEIRUT - Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of the president, is quitting business and moving to charity work, state television said on Thursday, a move that would meet a demand of protesters seeking an end to Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

Makhlouf, a hate figure among protesters, controls several businesses, including Syria’s largest mobile phone operator, duty free shops, an oil concession, airline company and hotel and construction concerns, and shares in at least one bank.

Some critics call Makhlouf, in his 40s, the “the octopus of Syria’s economy”.

He has expanded his businesses during Assad’s rule and has been widely cited by protesters in their calls for an end to public corruption. One campaigner welcomed the move as a sign authorities were listening, but said protests would continue.

“As for his businesses, they will be directed so that they ... create jobs and support the national economy. He will not enter into any new project that (brings) him personal gain,” the television said of Makhlouf.

State news agency (SANA) quoted Makhlouf as saying he would put his 40 percent stake in Syriatel for initial public offering, and the profit would be allocated to humanitarian and charity work.

“Part of his humanitarian programme will be allocated for taking care of the families of Syria’s martyrs who were killed in the recent events,” it said.

Sanctions

Full report at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2011/June/middleeast_June493.xml&section=middleeast

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/harkat-commander-lives-openly-near-islamabad/d/4856


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