No Sign French Suspect Had Al-Qaida Ties
Minorities bear the brunt in Pakistan
Pakistan: Low birth space kills a woman every three minutes
Nasheed first president summoned before Maldives Human Rights Commission
Al-Qaida says it killed American teacher in Yemen for 'spreading Christianity'
Zawahiri urges Afghans to rise against 'Crusader pigs'
Pak lawmaker suggests selling alcohol openly
'India is close to the hearts of Pakistanis'
'India committed to resolving issues with Pak': Minister of State for External Affairs
Malaysia security laws must uphold rights: Ban Ki-moon
US Army sergeant to face 17 murder counts in Afghan killings
Shelling in Yemen kills 29 Al-Qaeda militants
12 killed in operation against Kurdish separatist rebels in Turkey
Srinagar: Sufi Saint Ama Sahab passes away
French gunman was on 'no-fly' list, US official says
Gunmen execute Yemen official, three killed in clash
2 Killed, Primary School Bombed in North Nigeria
“Bhagat Singh Chowk in Lahore to become official this year”
Indian 'consulates' theory incorrect: Pakistan
Kayani visit to UK wrapped in mystery
Pak PM expected to meet Manmohan Singh in Seoul
Pak PM, Barack Obama to meet at Seoul nuclear summit
Iran oil sanctions: India tells West to appreciate its needs
Laden, Saddam had also featured in 'Time' magazine: Gujarat Congress
Six Bangladeshi infiltrators arrested
US refuse to revisit policy on drone attacks in Pak: report
No leads on French shooter in Afghan, Pakistan
Suspected Bali bomb maker downplays role
Chinese firm helps Iran spy on citizens
Questions mount over Toulouse killer
Toulouse shootings: in the line of fire
Five years’ jail for Qaeda Internet recruiter
Syrian Activists Say U.S. Journalist Is No Spy
Syrian Activists: Clashes Near Turkish Border
One killed, 15 injured in J&K car blast
Syria violence kills 62: NGO
Blast in South Waziristan army camp kills one soldier
Militant killed in Pattan encounter: Srinagar Police
Nineteen Prisoners Escape Jail in Iraq's Kirkuk
West Will Give Afghan Forces $4B Per Year: Karzai
UN rights council orders first probe of Israeli settlements
EU Will Slap Sanctions on Assad's Wife
General Allen Says Afghans Need Big U.S. Force Beyond 2012
French PM: New Anti-Terrorism Bill on Tap
Israeli hit: Interpol issues Red Corner notices to 4 Iranians
US attorney recommends reduction in Fai's offence level
Thousands mobilise against planned anti-Islam Denmark demonstration
NYPD and FBI tussle over turf, with consequences for terror cases as police expand role: report
India: Masood murder case: BJP MLA to undergo polygraph test again
Riyadh governor honors talented students
UN gets new backing to support Afghanistan
Iraq insists Vice President dead bodyguard not tortured
Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo Salman Taseer
Salman Taseer Awarded the Nishan-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan's Highest Civilian Award
Islamabad, March 23, 2012: Slain Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Interior Minister Rehman Malik were among those awarded the country's highest honours on Pakistan Day on Friday.
Taseer, who was gunned down by a policeman last year for his calls for reforming the controversial blasphemy law, was awarded the Nishan-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan's highest civilian award.
The award was received by his widow, Aamna Taseer. Other recipients of the Nishan-i-Imtiaz included late Begum Nusrat Bhutto, the wife of former President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
Nusrat Bhutto's award was received by her daughter Sanam Bhutto.
Chinoy, who recently won an Oscar for her documentary 'Saving Face' which deals with the survivors of acid attacks, was decorated with the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the country's second highest civilian award.
Other prominent figures recognised included actress Meera, musicians Sabir Hasan and Nafees Ahmed Khan, and sportsmen M Ashraf Tai and Mohammad Yousuf.
However, the government was criticised by the media for honouring some candidates who were described as "undeserving".
Salman Faruqui, a close aide of President Zardari, was awarded the Nishan-i-Imtiaz while Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi, who presided over the process of nominations for the honours, was conferred the Hilal-i-Imtiaz.
Several other aides of Zardari were among the recipients, including Sharmila Faruqui, former Senate Chairman Farooq Naek and Farzana Raja.
Media reports noted that some selections had violated a policy laid down by late premier Benazir Bhutto, which said that no holder of a public office should get any national award.
The awards were announced on the eve of Pakistan Day, which marks the adoption of the Lahore Resolution in 1940 and the adoption of the country's first Constitution in 1956.
President Asif Ali Zardari will give away some of the awards during an investiture ceremony later in the day.
Zardari approved a total of 189 civil awards and a large number of honours for armed forces personnel.
The President himself gave away 67 awards during a ceremony at the presidency.
Awards were presented to five foreign nationals, including Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, who was conferred the Hilal-i-Pakistan.
The Governors of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan too decorated awardees on behalf of the President in the provincial capitals.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman decorated 22 recipients of national awards at a ceremony held at the Joint Staff headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Mar 23, 2012
PARIS (AP) — French authorities have no evidence that al-Qaida commissioned a French gunman to go on a killing spree that left seven people dead, or that he had any contact with terrorist groups, a senior French official said Friday.
The official, who is close to the investigation into the attacks by 23-year-old Mohamed Merah, said there is no sign he had "trained or been in contact with organized groups or jihadists."
Merah was killed in a gunfight with police Thursday after a 32-hour standoff with police. Prosecutors said he filmed himself carrying out three attacks since March 11, killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three French paratroopers with close-range shots to the head.
He had traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and prosecutors said he had claimed contacts with al-Qaida and to have trained in the Pakistan militant stronghold of Waziristan. He had been on a U.S. no-fly list since 2010.
The official said Merah might have made the claim because al-Qaida is a well-known "brand." The official said authorities have "absolutely no element allowing us to believe that he was commissioned by al-Qaida to carry out these attacks."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
A little-known jihadist group claimed responsibility for the killings, but the official said the claim appeared opportunistic and that authorities think Merah had never heard of the group.
Investigators looking for possible accomplices decided Friday to keep Merah's older brother, his mother and the brother's girlfriend in custody for another day for further questioning, the Paris prosecutor's office said.
France's prime minister, meanwhile, fended off suggestions that anti-terrorism authorities fell down on the job in monitoring Merah, who had been known to them for years.
Some politicians, French media and Toulouse residents questioned why authorities didn't stop him before March 11, when he committed the first of the three deadly shooting attacks.
Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande said questions need to be asked about an eventual "failure" in counterterrorist monitoring. Other candidates did the same, and even French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said "clarity" was needed on why he wasn't arrested earlier.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told RTL radio Friday that authorities "at no moment" suspected Merah would be dangerous despite a long criminal record.
"The fact of belonging to a Salafist (ultraconservative Muslim) organization is not unto itself a crime. We must not mix religious fundamentalism and terrorism, even if naturally we well know the links that unite the two," Fillon said.
Merah told negotiators he killed them to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and to protest the French army's involvement in Afghanistan as well as France's law against the Islamic face veil.
In response to the slayings, Fillon said President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative government is working on new anti-terrorism legislation that would be drafted within two weeks.
Families of the victims, meanwhile, were frustrated that Merah was not taken alive.
"Imad's parents feel that the justice they were expecting was stolen from them," said lawyer Mehana Mouhou, lawyer for the family of the first paratrooper killed, Imad Ibn-Ziaten. "His mother wanted an answer to the question, 'why did he kill my son?'"
The lawyer also questioned why hours of negotiations between police and Merah failed Wednesday. Merah repeatedly promised to surrender, then eventually changed his mind.
"They could have very well not killed him. There were no hostages. The neighbors were evacuated," Mouhou said.
Cathy Fontaine, 43, who runs a beauty salon down the street from the building in Toulouse where Merah was killed, said France should have a "zero tolerance" policy for people who seek out training in Afghanistan and potentially refuse to let them back in the country.
"An individual who goes to be trained in Afghanistan, you have to follow him," she said.
Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.
March 23, 2012
In a telling statement on the growing intolerance, the State of Human Rights in 2011 report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) shows that 389 members of various Muslim sects were killed last year. This includes 100 Hazara Shias in targeted attacks in Balochistan alone.
By virtue of being the biggest non-Sunni Muslim sect in the country, Shias accounted for the largest number of those killed but, according to the HRCP report released here on Thursday, Ahmadis — declared non-Muslims by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto — remained the “target of hate speech, violence, discrimination and, when their faith was known, of social segregation”.
Billed by HRCP as the most vulnerable of all minority groups — Hindus included — the report noted with concern the inaction by the authorities to evident efforts to incite hatred toward Ahmadis. Referring to the posters and wall-chalking slamming Ahmadis and their faith, the report states: “This occurred to such an extent that it was impossible for the authorities to not notice these campaigns and yet they failed to act.”
As for the Hindus, several incidents of violence and intimidation were reported including abduction and subsequent forced conversion of girls. As per HRCP count, 151 Pakistani Hindus — often referred to as ‘Indians' — sought asylum in India claiming that their lives would be in danger if sent back. “They had been arrested for staying in India after their visas had expired. In December, the Delhi High Court sought a response from the Indian Government by the end of February 2012 and asked it not to deport the Hindus to Pakistan until then.”
What reflected a “new low in intolerance” in Pakistan, according to HRCP, was the case of a Christian class eight student being accused of blasphemy for a spelling mistake in her examination. “The spelling error led to her expulsion from school and had the local clerics howling for her blood.”
Besides flagging the incidents, the HRCP report laments the failure to do away with discriminatory laws including the constitutional provision barring non-Muslims from key government positions. Stating that the only voice on the blasphemy issue was that of the extremists, the Commission noted that instead of abandoning the promise of revising and improving the law, the government should create consensus on the need to reform it by highlighting the toll that the misuse of this law has taken on Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Another startling figure provided in the report pertained to honour killings. At least 943 women, including 93 minors, were killed in the name of honour. What's more, honour killings appeared to be religion-neutral as the dead included seven Christians and two Hindus.
LAHORE: In Pakistan, every three minutes a mother dies while giving birth; it is all due to the absence of birth spacing.
USAID Health Development Officer Nora Madrigal said this at seminar ‘Institutionalization of the Birth Spacing Paradigm in Punjab’ on Thursday.
The seminar was organised by the Population Council, a non-government organization, under aegis of FALAH Project with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Other speakers urged the government, religious and political leaders and civil society representatives to promote best practices relating birth-spacing for improving maternal and child health in Punjab and other provinces of the country.
She said mothers died because of the absence of birth spacing. The USAID-funded FALAH project aims to improve maternal and child health by introducing innovative concept of ‘Birth Spacing Saves Lives’ and promoting the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies’.
Birth spacing refers to the time interval from one child’s birth date until the next child’s birth date. There are many factors to consider in determining what is an optimal time interval between pregnancies. However, researchers agree that 2 ½ years to 3 years between births is usually best for the well being of the mother and her children.
She said the FALAH, a five-year project worth $60 million, was to provide reproductive healthcare solutions and train healthcare providers.
She said as the maternal and child healthcare were the priority areas under in the project, USAID would launch and support such projects in Punjab.
Punjab Population Welfare Department Secretary Javed Akhtar said the provincial government was committed to promoting the best reproductive health practices on birth spacing and promoting mother and child healthcare from pregnancy to birth.
“The innovative approaches and methods regarding birth spacing introduced by USAID and its partner organisations will help control increasing population and save lives of both the mother and the child,” he said.
Chief Minister’s Adviser Begum Zakia Shahnawaz acknowledged the services of USAID and health organisations.
FALAH Project’s communication consultant Javaid Jabbar said the mass media could change outdated and traditional approaches and methods being adopted in birth spacing since decades.
He said as the early marriages of girls and pregnancies between the ages of 14 to 17 were much dangerous to both mother and child health, the media should highlight such issues positively in order to create awareness among the masses.
“The role of ulema is very much important to teach people about birth spacing in our country. They (clerics) should tell the people that Almighty Allah narrated in Quran regarding minimum mothers’ milk-feeding to babies for two years. This is a natural process that ultimately creates two years of birth space,” he said.
Earlier the FALAH project’s Chief of the Party Dr Ali gave a presentation to the participants regarding programme objectives and implementation.
By Neil Merrett
Mohamed Nasheed has become the first Maldivian president to be summoned before the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), in connection to his role in the controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed earlier this year.
Nasheed had been requested to attend a HRCM hearing filed to try and understand who was responsible for taking the decision to arrest the judge. The former president attributed the initial arrest call to his Defence Ministry, on the grounds of “protecting” national security relating to alleged ethical concerns about the judge.
Today’s summons of the former president is said to be the first of three cases filed at the HRCM involving himself. These cases all relate to potential human rights abuses allegedly carried out both by and against Nasheed during the lead up and aftermath of a controversial transfer of power that saw President Mohamed Waheed Hassan installed as his successor.
The former president has since alleged that his resignation from the presidency was performed under duress.
Nasheed’s arrival today was heralded by a few hundred supporters who gathered around the HRCM building carrying banners alleging abuse at the hands of police earlier this week. Many of those gathered waited for the former president to deliver his account to the commission. Riot police arrived briefly at the area outside the commission, but the crowd later dispersed without confrontation.
The arrest of Judge Abdulla Mohamed itself occurred on January 16 in relation to a police request. The judges whereabouts were not revealed until January 18 however, leading to international condemnation of Nasheed as well as domestic criticism reflected in ongoing protests over several weeks that observers later suggested were partly linked to his eventual downfall on February 7.
HRCM spokesperson Jeehan Mahmoud told Minivan News that while additional cases relating to the former president would be focused on alleged human rights abuses against him after the build up and transfer of power, today’s hearing related to specifically identifying the party who placed the order to arrest the judge.
Jeehan added that the HRCM had previously unsuccessfully attempted to summon former defence and home minsters, as well as senior police officials who had served under Nasheed during the time the arrest decision was taken. However, today’s move was taken to request that the former president explain what had occurred himself.
“If these ministers and [police] representatives would have attended [the HRCM hearings], I think thing would have been a lot clearer,” she said. “We wanted to collect more responses on this as it hasn’t been clear where the order [to arrest the judge] had came from.”
The commission spokesperson said that the group had not yet decided on what methods it would look to take to readdress any potential abuses of the judge’s human rights. Therefore she said it was too early to say whether this could include filing a case against any of the decison makers involved at the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Malé MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, who formed part of nasheed’s legal team today, told Minivan News that the former president gave testimony alleging that the decision to arrest the judge was related to a number of possible misdemeanour’s that had been attributed to him dating back several years.
In November, the national court watchdog, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), was ordered to cease an investigation into Judge Abdulla Mohamed by the civil Court under an action he himself instigated.
Amidst developments such as these, Fahmy claimed that Nasheed used his testimony to claim that he had been informed by the Home Ministry that the judge had allegedly posed a “national threat” – prompting his eventual detention.
The MDP MP added that Nasheed then claimed that the Home Ministry had communicated with the Defence Ministry on the situation, which in turn led to the decision to arrest the judge after bodies like the Judicial Service Commission has raised alleged concerns over his ethical conduct.
“I was told Abdulla Mohamed would not comply with the police’s summons to investigate allegations [against him],” Nasheed later stated at a press conference following the meeting with the HRCM.
“The Home Minister wrote to the Defense Minister that Abdulla Mohamed’s presence in the courts was a threat to national security. And to take necessary steps. And that step, the isolation of Abdulla Mohamed, was what the [Defense] Ministry deemed necessary.”
Nasheed claimed additionally that he had sent representatives to Girifushi to check on Judge Abdulla Mohamed’s well-being during his detention, alongside allowing the HRCM to visit the judge.
Fahmy alleged that it was ironic that Nasheed, a leader he said who had openly discouraged the use of torture and actively campaigned against human rights abuses, had become the country’s first former leader to have been called in front of the HRCM.
However, HRCM spokesperson Jeehan said that Nasheed would be called back for two additional cases – expected to be sat at the same time – that would look into alleged abuses of human rights against the former president. The first case would be focused on the events of February 6 and February 7 this year, the two dates surrounding Nasheed’s “resignation” from office, a decision later claimed to have been part of a “coup d’etat” against him.
The third and final case would then concern any claims of human rights abuses against Mohamed Nasheed by police on February 8, the day after he tendered his presidency ended.
SANAA (YEMEN): Al-Qaida's Yemen branch said today that it killed an American teacher because he was trying to spread Christianity in the mainly Muslim Arab nation.
Joel Shrum, a 29-year-old native of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, was gunned down on Sunday in the central city of Taiz, where he had been living with his wife and two sons. He was studying Arabic and teaching English at a language institute.
The claim of responsibility, which was posted on a militant website, comes as the terror network increasingly has sought to exploit the political turmoil in the Arab world's most impoverished nation.
"It was God's gift for the mujahedeen to kill the American Joel Shrum who was actively proselytizing under the cover of teaching in Taiz," said the statement by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the terror network's Yemen branch is formally known.
Full report at:
WASHINGTON: Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Afghans in audio message Wednesday to rise up against “Crusader pigs” after US Marines were shown in an Internet video urinating on the corpses of Taliban militants.
The message, which the US-based SITE Intelligence Group said was posted on extremist forums, keyed on a series of scandals in Afghanistan that have sent US-Afghan tensions soaring.
The message from the Al Qaeda leader makes reference to the inadvertent burning of Qurans by US soldiers, which set off riots and attacks on Americans, and an earlier video showing Marines urinating on the bloodied bodies of insurgents.
March 23, 2012
Islamabad: A Pakistani legislator caused consternation among his colleagues when he suggested in the Sindh Assembly that alcohol should be as easily available as soft drinks in a country whose majority Muslim population is barred from drinking liquor.
Saleem Khursheed Khokhar, a leader of the Pakistan People's Party that is power at the centre and in Sindh, made the suggestion while Excise Minister Mukesh Chawla was answering questions in the Assembly yesterday.
"Either you ban alcohol, or it should be made as easily available as Coca-Cola and 7-Up," Khokhar said as Chawla almost burst into giggles, The Express Tribune
Mar 23, 2012
CHANDIGARH: Khursheed Khan, the man known to be close to minorities in Pakistan, feels that "India is the only country which is close to the hearts of people of Pakistan" and that it is "political compulsion that is presenting an entirely different picture of the relations between the two countries."
Khan was here on Thursday as part of a delegation of Supreme Court lawyers to promote peace and harmony between the two countries. Hailing from Peshawar and currently deputy attorney general of Pakistan, Khan said that strong bonding between legal fraternities of both countries can play an important role in bridging the gap.
India is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through dialogue but it is necessary to have an environment free of terror to move forward meaningfully, Government told the Rajya Sabha today. In a written reply to the House, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmad said, "India is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through dialogue in the interest of peace and prosperity of our people."
He said Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar during her recent visit spoke in favour of an "uninterrupted and uninterruptible" dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad and reiterated the same in her speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September.
KUALA LUMPUR: UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged Malaysia to observe international human rights standards when formulating new laws to replace a tough security act that is marked for abolition.
Prime Minister Najib Razak last year said he would replace Malaysia’s Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows detention without trial and has been widely criticised for decades as a tool to suppress dissent. “I hope the government will ensure that the replacement laws will be in full compliance with international human rights standards,” the UN secretary-general said in a speech in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur before meeting Najib.
Najib has been scrapping or amending a range of decades-old laws criticised as oppressive and outdated in an attempt to win back voters, who dealt the government its worst election results ever in 2008.
WASHINGTON: US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accused of killing Afghan civilians including women and children in a shooting rampage in Kandahar province last week, will be charged with 17 counts of murder, a US official said on Thursday.
Earlier accounts of the incident, which has damaged US-Afghan relations, had tallied 16 victims, including nine children and three women.
Bales, 38, a four-tour combat veteran, is being held at military detention center in Leavenworth, Kansas.
His civilian defense attorney, Seattle-based John Henry Browne, was not immediately available for comment.
Earlier this week, Browne said US authorities had no proof of what occurred on the evening in question, and said Bales had "no memory" of the incident.
Yemeni officials say navy ships have shelled coastal regions in the southern province of Abyan, killing 29 al-Qaeda militants.
Military and security officials say the rocket and artillery shelling was spread out over a 24-hour period that ended on Thursday.
They say the shelling targeted al-Qaeda positions around the city of Zinjibar, Abyan's provincial capital. Zinjibar is one of several southern towns captured last year by al-Qaeda militants seeking to profit from the country's political turmoil.
The officials also say the militants have executed a senior security officer who was kidnapped in the town of Mukkala in the southeast Hadramout province. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
DIYARBAKIR (Turkey): Six Kurdish rebels and six policemen have been killed during massive operation targetting PKK militants in southeastern Turkey, security sources said today.
Backed by helicopters and fighter jets, thousands of security forces, including police and the army, were participating in the largest anti-rebel operation so far this year which began on Tuesday, they told AFP.
The clashes were still continuing today on the outskirts of Mount Cudi in Sirnak province, near the Syrian and Iraqi border.
Special police forces have lately played a much bigger role in the fight against the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a task mostly handled by soldiers in the past.
The operation is the biggest since Turkish air strikes killed 34 Kurdish smugglers near the Iraqi border in December when commanders mistook them for PKK fighters.
Srinagar, Mar 22: Sufi Saint Ama Sahab Goshbug, who was in meditation for last 12 years in Beta Bagh Deduna Budgam, passed away this afternoon after a brief illness in SMHS hospital here.
The Nimaaz-e-Jinaaza of the deceased would be held at 2:30 PM on Friday.
He had, earlier, completed his first long time meditation in a cave at Goshbug Baramullah,
Ulema and religious heads besides people from all walks of life have expressed deep grief and shock over the demise of this religious devout which is an irreparable loss to the spiritual world. They said that saintly and divine oration of Ama Sahab always showed his devotees the righteous path of love, tolerance, brotherhood and communal harmony thus saving them from the impact of worldly evils.
WASHINGTON: The self-proclaimed al-Qaida militant who killed seven people in France, including three Jewish children, was on a US "no-fly" list, a US intelligence official said.
Mohamed Merah, who died on Thursday in a hail of bullets after a 32-hour standoff with elite French police in Toulouse, had been on the list for "some time," the official said asking to remain anonymous.
The list, which is put together by the US authorities, bans those named on it from boarding flights to or from the US.
ADEN: Unidentified gunmen abducted and killed an intelligence officer in southern Yemen, sparking a clash in which two of the attackers and a government soldier were killed on Thursday, a local official said.
The official blamed the killing on militant Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda. It was the most recent of a string of attacks targeting security officials in southern Yemen, swathes of which are controlled by Islamist fighters.
The gunmen snatched the officer from the provincial city of Mukalla on Wednesday and shot him dead several hours later, an official in the southern Hadramout province said.
Security forces and troops traded fire with the gunmen after discovering the body, the official said.
Mar 23 2012
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Authorities say suspected members of a radical Islamist sect have shot and killed an Islamic cleric and another man, while also planting a bomb at a local primary school in northeast Nigeria.
The military said the bomb detonated early Friday morning before pupils arrived at the school in Maiduguri, the spiritual home of the sect known as Boko Haram. No one was wounded in the blast.
Borno state police spokesman Samuel Tizhie said the cleric and a shoe cobbler died in the city in a Thursday night shooting blamed on the sect.
Boko Haram has been waging an increasingly bloody fight against Nigeria's weak central government. It also has been attacking schools in recent weeks.
CHANDIGARH: The Shadman Chowk of Lahore is likely to be officially named Bhagat Singh Chowk this year, two years after democratic, secular and socialistic organizations of Pakistan on their own named the place after the revolutionary martyr.
"Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharief's spokesman and senator Parvez Rashid during a meeting with members of the Bhagat Singh Foundation of Pakistan recently assured that a bill to name the chowk after Bhagat Singh will be passed in the House," the foundation's president and legal and human rights advisor to the Punjab governor, Abdullah Malik, told The Times of India over phone from Lahore.
One of senators Shaukat Basra along with others has already sent a bill to this effect before the house, but it has to be officially moved and adopted for the change to happen, Malik said.
Pakistan on Thursday described as “factually incorrect” the oft-repeated claim that India has 32 consulates in Afghanistan along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
That India is using these “consulates” to destabilise Pakistan is something that is frequently flagged by not just the religious right-wing parties but also some columnists.
Asked about a recent such claim made by a Pakistan Peoples Party legislator, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit first sought to be non-committal by stating that “it is not for me to tell how many Indian consulates are working there” but then added: “I don't think that is correct. It is not factually correct.”
London: Pakistan army chief general Ashfaq Kayani has concluded a hushhush visit to Britain.
General Kayani visited the UK as part of our ongoing defence engagement with Pakistan, British defence ministry said.Earlier,Pakistan military had said Kayani had called on UK chief of general staff general Sir Peter Wall on Tuesday.The meeting was followed by discussions on issues of professional interest.
The highlight of the visit reportedly was the briefing on transformation of UK army programme.The two generals also discussed areas of future dialogue on security and defence issues.
After British prime minister David Camerons criticism of Pakistan during his visit to India in July 2010,his officials appear to have reined him in,with the UKs foreign office clearly not sharing such sentiments.
In fact,in the past year,and when relations between Washington and Islamabad sharply deteriorated,Britain leaders have been silent and have opted to broaden and deepen their engagement with Pakistan.
Times of India
ISLAMABAD, Mar 23, 2012, Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani is expected to meet his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in South Korea next week, official sources said today.
"While the meeting with Obama has been finalised, Indian and Pakistani officials are in touch about arranging a meeting between Gilani and Singh," sources in the Pakistan government told PTI.
"We expect the meeting between the Indian and Pakistani Premiers to go ahead as considerable progress has been made in the peace process, especially the normalisation of trade ties. A Pakistani judicial commission also visited India recently as part of the probe into the Mumbai attacks," a source said.
ISLAMABAD, Mar 23, 2012, Pakistan's prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani will meet with US president Barack Obama on March 27 on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Seoul, the prime minister's office said on Friday.
Relations between the two uneasy allies have been frayed after the discovery and killing of al qaida chief Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani military town in May 2011 just two hours from Islamabad. Pakistan called that a violation of its sovereignty.
Ties plunged to a new low in November when NATO aircraft mistakenly attacked two Pakistani border posts and killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Details on the agenda for the Seoul talks were sketchy, but spokesman Akram Shaheedi said they would touch on issues of importance to both sides.
The Seoul summit will focus on measures to protect nuclear materials and facilities from militants and to prevent their illicit trafficking. Pakistan's nuclear weapons and their security are likely to be discussed.
NEW DELHI, Mar 23, 2012: India will continue to import oil from Iran without violating any international law and has requested the United States and the European Union to take into account the country's oil needs, oil minister Jaipal Reddy said on Friday.
"We have a systematic plan for receiving oil from Iran," Reddy told reporters at the Asia Gas Partnership Summit, but did not elaborate.
The United States gave exemptions on Tuesday from its crippling financial sanctions to Japan and 10 EU nations it said had cut purchases of Iranian crude, but left Asian economic giants India and China exposed to the risk of such steps.
"We continue to receive representations from the US and other countries. With respect to their sentiments, we have requested to appreciate our needs," Reddy said.
GANDHINAGAR, Mar 23, 2012, Commenting on the recent article on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the 'Time' magazine, the state Congress today said, not only Modi, but Osama Bin Laden and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain had also featured in the magazine earlier.
GPCC president Arjun Modhvadia said this during the state assembly here today.
The issue of Modi being featured in the 'Time' magazine was raised by the Water Resources minister Nitin Patel in the House during the question-answer hour.
While answering a question on the population covered under the Narmada drinking water scheme, Patel said, "Because of the incredible work done by Modi, the 'Time' magazine has featured him in its latest issue."
DHUBRI (Assam), Mar 23, 2012, Six Bangladeshi infiltrators have been arrested by security forces from two separate places in Assam, official sources said today.
According to official sources, BSF personnel today arrested two Bangladeshi nationals Ashraful Islam (29) and Hazrat Aali (33) from south Assam's Dhubri district.
The duo were intercepted while trying to cross the border. Rs two lakh cash was recovered from them.
In an another incident last night, four Bangladeshi infiltrators were arrested from a hotel in Silchar in Assam's Cachar district last night.
US refuses to revisit policy on drone attacks in Pak: report
Mar 23 2012
Islamabad : The US has apparently refused to revisit its policy on drone strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas as recommended by a Pakistani Parliamentary committee.
The stand of the US on drone strikes was conveyed by US Ambassador Cameron Munter during a meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar yesterday, 'The Express Tribune' reported today, quoting its sources.
The envoy met Khar to discuss the revised terms of engagement with the US tabled in Parliament earlier this week.
The Parliamentary Committee on National Security presented 40 recommendations to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate for revamping ties with the US.
The recommendations include the imposition of a tax on all US and NATO supplies passing through Pakistan on their way to Afghanistan, an unconditional US apology for a NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November and a halt to drone attacks.
No leads on French shooter in Afghan , Pakistan
KABUL — Officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan told AFP on Thursday that they could not immediately trace the Toulouse gunman as having visited either country or held by US-led forces as announced in France.
French prosecutor Francois Molins said Mohamed Merah claimed to have been trained by Al Qaeda in Waziristan, the most notorious hotbed of Islamist militancy on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Molins said the suspect went to the region twice and was on one occasion arrested by Afghan police and handed over to US troops, who put him on a flight back to France.
Suspected Bali bombmaker downplays role
Suspected Indonesian bomb-maker Umar Patek, on trial for the 2002 attacks on the resort island of Bali, on Thursday downplayed his role in the bombings that killed 202 people.
Prosecutors have accused Patek, who was arrested last year in the same Pakistani town where US commandos later killed former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, of building the bombs and loading them onto a van.
According to the indictment Patek was involved in assembling the bombs for the Bali attacks and strikes on churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve of 2000.
A Chinese telecommunications equipment company has sold Iran's largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and internet communications, interviews and contract documents show.
A Chinese telecommunications equipment company has sold Iran's largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and internet communications, interviews and contract documents show.
The system was part of a 98.6 million euro contract for networking equipment supplied by Shenzhen, China-based ZTE Corp (000063.SZ)(0763.HK) to the Telecommunication Co of Iran (TCI), according to the documents. Government-controlled TCI has a near monopoly on Iran's landline telephone services and much of Iran's internet traffic is required to flow through its network.
The ZTE-TCI deal, signed in December 2010, illustrates how despite tightening global sanctions, Iran still manages to obtain sophisticated technology, including systems that can be used to crack down on dissidents.
TOULOUSE: Questions mounted over how a known Islamic extremist managed to murder seven people, including three children, in three separate attacks before being killed in a fire fight.
Adding to pressure on security officials one veteran police officer asked how the gunman was not taken alive during the siege and final assault in the south western city of Toulouse, in which the gun man died on Thursday.
Officers from an elite unit moved in Thursday morning after a 32-hour siege, killing self-proclaimed al-Qaeda militant Mohamed Merah as he tried to shoot his way out of his apartment.
The siege had interrupted the hard-fought campaign for France’s April-May presidential vote, but Sarkozy resumed his re-election bid with a rally in the city of Strasbourg Thursday evening.
Nicolas Sarkozy reacted properly to a week's terrible events which ended in a hail of bullets in Toulouse. He condemned any attempt to denigrate the French Muslim community by associating it with the mad crimes of a terrorist. Neither caution nor authority had been much in evidence before Mohammed Merah's murderous rampage through the streets of Toulouse and Montauban. Mr Sarkozy and his ministers had wandered cynically into the terrain of the far right, with their nods and winks about immigrants, the ubiquity of halal meat, and France's superior civilisation. But when he needed them, Mr Sarkozy found the right words.
BERLIN: A German court jailed a Syrian-born militant for five years Thursday for posting jihadist propaganda on the Internet aimed at fishing for new members for Al-Qaeda.
The higher regional court in Koblenz, western Germany said it convicted the 26-year-old defendant identified only as Hussam S. on 44 counts of recruiting for “foreign terrorist networks” from September 2007 to December 2009.
He was also found guilty of two counts of supporting foreign terrorist groups, the court said in a statement. “He released 44 publications online calling for participation in violent jihad by Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic Jihad Union and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU),” it said. “The evaluation of the Internet postings found that the defendant not only called for armed jihad against foreign troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in particular but for the violent spread of Islam around the world.”
By ROBERT MACKEY
Video posted online by Syrian activists is said to show the Homs neighborhood of Khalidiyeh under attack by government forces on Thursday.
Syrian activists in the city of Homs, who are struggling to draw attention to what they describe as a continued assault by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad on rebellious districts, took time out from that work on Thursday to issue a statement defending an American journalist accused of spying on them for the government.
The journalist, Nir Rosen, has reported from Iraq for several American publications, including The New York Times Magazine, and he recently spent four months in Syria, writing and filming for Al Jazeera. Last week, when e-mails copied by activists from what was said to be Mr. Assad’s private account were published by The Guardian and Al Arabiya, some notes from and about Mr. Rosen were discovered among the correspondence.
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces fired machine guns and mortar rounds Friday in fierce clashes with rebel army defectors in a town near the Turkish border, a Syrian activist group reported, as a European Union official said the wife of Syria's president will be hit with a travel ban and have her assets in the EU frozen.
The EU official said a total of four members of President Bashar Assad's family, along with eight government ministers, will be targeted in the latest round of sanctions aimed at stopping the violent crackdown on the Syrian opposition. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision that will be taken later Friday by EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.
Asma Assad has British citizenship and the official said that probably meant she could not be banned from travel to the U.K.
International condemnation of Assad's regime and high-level diplomacy have failed to ease the year-old Syria conflict, which the U.N. says has killed more than 8,000 people.
One killed,15 injured in J&K car blast
M Saleem Pandit
Srinagar: A car carrying explosives placed by suspected militants exploded,killing its owner and injuring 15 people,besides damaging vehicles and houses around the police station at Bijbehara in Anantnag district on Thursday.
The blast was the first in three years and confirmed intelligence inputs on a possible increase in militancy in the state.The militants used IED and targeted the national highway.Inspector general S M Sahai said the blast took place in a Maruti car,killing Mohammad Abbas Dar of Avantipora instantly.Seven of the wounded are critical,he said.An intelligence officer said Dar was not linked to militancy.
The impact of the explosion ripped through a dozen vehicles and also damaged several houses.No militant group has owned responsibility for the blast.
March 23, 2012
BEIRUT: At least 62 people, more than half of them civilians, were killed in violence across Syrian on Thursday, a monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 35 civilians were killed in military operations in the central provinces of Hama and Homs, as well as in Idlib province in the northwest and in Daraa in the south.
Fierce clashes also killed 18 soldiers and nine army deserters across the country, the Britain-based Observatory said.
According to the Observatory the highest toll was in the Idlib province, where 17 civilians were killed by government forces, including 10 in an attack on a busload of civilians trying to flee across the border to Turkey.
Twelve civilians were killed by government troops in Homs province, five in Hama and one in Daraa, cradle of the uprising against the Syrian regime, the Observatory said.
A blast in an army camp located in South Waziristan, killed one soldier and injured two children on Friday.
Local government sources said that the bomb was fixed inside a radio set.
Earlier, at least four militants were killed in an attack on a security check post in Laddha district of South Waziristan.
The area is close to North Waziristan agency and a highly-rugged terrain influenced by the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP).
Srinagar, Mar 22: A Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant was killed in a gun-battle with police and army personnel in Baramulla district of north Kashmir today, police said.
The gunfight erupted in village Chanderhama in Pattan area, some 30 km from here.
On a specific information, a joint operation was launched by Baramulla Police and 29 RR at village Chanderhama Pattan during which militants fired at forces which was retaliated and in the ensuing gun-battle one militant, Nissar Ahmed Magray alias Shakti S/o Ghulam Qadir Magray R/o Kilwara Tangmarg, aged 23, got killed near the house of Ghulam Nabi Lone, a police spokesman said.
Arms and ammunition was recovered from the possession of the slain militant, he said.
KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - Nineteen prisoners, most facing terrorism charges, escaped from a temporary prison in Iraq's northern city of Kirkuk through a ventilation window on Friday, a senior local police official said.
Police patrols had been deployed around the city, which sits 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, and a search was on for the escapees, police sources said.
"Nineteen detainees escaped. They removed the ventilator in the bathroom and used blankets to jump from the opening," Deputy Police Chief Major-Gen. Torhan Abdulrahman Youssef told Reuters.
"Most of them are accused in accordance with article 4 (terrorism). Investigations are ongoing."
KABUL, Afghanistan — The West will subsidize Afghan security forces by more than $4 billion a year after U.S.-led troops leave in 2014, President Hamid Karzai said March 22, implicitly accepting a cut in the planned size of his military.
Western officials told AFP that no final agreements had been reached on funding or on the size of Afghanistan’s security forces after combat troops in NATO’s U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force withdraw.
But Karzai told a graduation ceremony at a military academy in Kabul: “It’s set that post 2014, for the next 10 years until 2024, the international community, with the U.S. in the lead and followed by Europe and other countries, will pay Afghanistan security forces $4.1 billion annually.”
Full report at: The Asian Age
GENEVA: The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday passed a resolution ordering a first probe into how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of the Palestinians.
The resolution was adopted by the 47-member council with 36 votes in favour and 10 abstentions. Only the United States voted against it.
Presenting the resolution, a Pakistani envoy criticised Israel for insisting on expanding settlements in the occupied territories, saying they are “in violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws.” “This resolution seeks to respond to the humanitarian and human rights challenges this illegal Israeli practice has created in the occupied territories,” he said.
Beyond ordering an investigation into the implications of settlements, the resolution also calls on Israel to “take and implement serious measures” such as confiscating arms to prevent acts of violence by Israeli settlers.
Condemning Israel’s announcements of new settlement homes, it demanded a reversal of the policy.
BRUSSELS (AP) — The wife of Syrian President Bashar Assad will be hit with a travel ban and have her assets in the EU frozen, a European Union official said Friday.
A total of four members of the Assad family, along with eight government ministers, will be targeted in the latest round of sanctions aimed at stopping the violent crackdown on members of the Syrian opposition, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision that will be taken later Friday by EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.
Asma Assad, 36, was born in London and has British citizenship, and the EU official said that likely meant she could not be banned from travel to the U.K.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was very important to increase pressure on the Syrian regime.
By THOM SHANKER
WASHINGTON — The senior allied commander in Afghanistan suggested on Thursday that he might not advocate any further drawdown of the American force in Afghanistan going into 2013 once the so-called surge forces ordered by President Obama leave this fall.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the commander, Gen. John R. Allen of the Marines, made his most direct comments to date about whether he might advocate a freeze on troop withdrawals despite political pressures for a quicker exit.
General Allen stressed, however, that he would not even begin his formal assessments until he could review the security situation on the scene at the conclusion of the summer fighting season. At that point, the 33,000-strong “surge” force is scheduled to withdraw, leaving about 68,000 American service members in Afghanistan.
PARIS (AP) — France's prime minister says the conservative government is working on new anti-terrorism legislation after a killing spree by a radical Islamist gunman who was later shot dead following a standoff with police.
Francois Fillon says a bill would be drafted within two weeks, and the government will consult with leaders of the Senate, which is controlled by the opposition.
Fillon told RTL radio Friday that authorities "at no moment" suspected Mohamed Merah would be dangerous despite a long criminal record.
Merah, 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent, was suspected in the killing of three paratroopers, a rabbi and three Jewish children in three shootings since March 11. He died Thursday following a shootout with police.
New Delhi : The Interpol has issued Red Corner notices against four Iranians wanted in connection with the bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat here last month.
The Interpol issued the look-out notices against Iranians – Houshang Afshar Irani, Syed Ali Mahdiansadr, Mohammadreza Abolghasemi and Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, who was arrested by the Malaysian police from Kuala Lumpur airport on the request of the CBI.
On the basis of request made by the Delhi Police, the CBI had requested the Interpol to issue Red Corner notices against them as they were believed to be behind the attack, sources said.
An Interpol Red Corner notice is the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant. It requests provisional arrest of wanted persons with a view to extraditing them.
Washington : An American prosecutor has approached a US court requesting it to grant reduction in offences level of Kashmiri separatist Ghulam Nabi Fai, convicted of illegally working for the Pakistani spy agency ISI, saying he assisted the authorities in the probe.
Moving a motion before a Virginia court in Alexandria, US Attorney Neil H MacBride argued that 62-yea-old Fai, who pleaded guilty of his charges last December, had assisted the authorities in the investigation and prosecution of his own misconduct.
The sentencing of Fai, who heads Washington-based separatist Kashmir American Council, (KAC) has been scheduled for March 30.
Mar 23, 2012
COPENHAGEN: Several thousand people turned out for an open-air concert in Denmark's second city of Aarhus on Wednesday to protest against a far-right anti-Islam rally planned for March 31, officials said.
Aarhus city officials said they organised the concert as a way of showing the city's tolerance and because "Aarhus does not want to be associated with extremist groups" that represent "everything we want to distance ourselves from."
Around 5,000 people attended Wednesday's concert, a spokesman for the mayor's office said.
Mar 23, 2012
NEW YORK — In the fall of 2010, the FBI and New York Police Department were working together on a terrorism investigation on Long Island. The cyber case had been open for more than a year at the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn. So, the Justice Department was surprised when, without notice, the NYPD went to federal prosecutors in Manhattan and asked them to approve a search warrant in the case.
The top counterterrorism agent at the FBI in New York at the time, Greg Fowler, hit the roof. When two agencies don’t coordinate, it increases the risk that the investigation and any prosecution could be compromised.
Masood murder case: BJP MLA to undergo polygraph test again
New Delhi : BJP MLA Dhruv Narayan Singh is likely to undergo lie-detection test again tomorrow in connection with the RTI activist Shehla Masood murder case as the previous attempt by the CBI to carry out the procedure on him did not prove conclusive.
Sources in the agency said Singh's physical parameters did not remain normal during the test on March 14 and, hence, it could not be completed.
They said the agency is likely to carry out the polygraph test on him tomorrow subject to his consent and his medical condition including blood pressure and body temperature remaining normal.
The CBI sources said the MLA is “not completly off-radar” in the case. However, the agency has not received any evidence so far which points to his role in the murder of the 38-year old activist.
Singh had given consent to undergo lie-detection test before a special court in Indore.
Riyadh Gov. Prince Sattam Wednesday honored winners of the National Olympiad for Scientific Innovation, which was organized by King Abdulaziz & his Companions Foundation for Giftedness & Creativity (KACGC) in cooperation with the Ministry of Education.
Functions of the winning ceremony were held at King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh.
Upon arrival, Prince Sattam was received by Minister of Education and Deputy Chairman of KACGC Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Mohammed, Deputy Minister of Education and KACGC Secretary General Khalid Abdullah Al-Sabti and other officials of the ministry and KACGC. General Supervisor of the Olympiad Ahmed Al-Blushi, addressing the ceremony, stressed that the Kingdom under the wise rule of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques used to care for the gifted students through the concerned bodies, particularly the Ministry of Education and KACGC.
UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council gave strong backing Thursday to the U.N.’s role in supporting Afghanistan as it takes over full responsibility for the country’s security, governance and economic and social development.
The council unanimously adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the U.N.’s political mission in Afghanistan until March 23, 2013, and reiterating its support for the transition process that will give the government “leadership and ownership” of its future.
The resolution was approved as President Barack Obama faces increasing political and public pressure to accelerate the timetable for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops after more than a decade of war. The calls to speed up the pullout from December 2014 have intensified following Afghan outrage over the burning of Qurans and a shooting spree that left 17 Afghan civilians dead, both blamed on Americans.
The Security Council emphasized “that there is no purely military solution to ensure the stability of Afghanistan.”
Iraq insists Vice Presidentt dead bodyguard not tortured
BAGHDAD — Claims by Iraq’s fugitive Sunni vice president that his bodyguard was tortured while in custody were denied on Thursday by authorities, who insisted he died of kidney failure.
Amir Sarbut Zaidan Al Batawi died earlier this month and his body was handed over to his family, with Vice President Tareq Al Hashemi, wanted by Baghdad on terror charges, releasing photographs he said showed the 33-year-old married father-of-three was tortured.
A senior Iraqi general and a judicial spokesman, however, said Batawi died of kidney failure and other conditions after refusing treatment.
‘He died because he had a serious disease in his kidney, and he refused to be tested and to be treated,’ Lieutenant General Hassan Al Baydhani, chief of staff of Baghdad’s security command centre, told AFP on Thursday.