Monthly Archives: October 2012

Finnish eurosceptics gain local seats, keep pressure on PM

The anti-euro Finns Party has won around 12.8 per cent of votes in Finnish municipal elections held on Sunday, according to a preliminary count, keeping pressure on the pro-Europe government to take a tough stance on aid to euro zone states. The conservative National Party of Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen (photo), won the most seats with around 21.3 per cent of votes, closely followed by the Social Democrats with 20.8 per cent. The Finns Party finished fourth, behind another opposition party, the traditionally agrarian Centre Party, which won 20.2 per cent. While the election was for municipal seats, the slim lead of the top two parties showed government leaders must … Continue reading

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Israel drops bomb on Sudanese military arms factory

Sudan has accused Israel of bombing a military arms factory, threatening retaliation after a resulting fire killed two people and injured a third. “We think Israel did the bombing,” Culture and Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman told a news conference. “We reserve the right to react at a place and time we choose.” The minister said four “radar-evading” aircraft were involved in the attack, which occurred at about midnight (2100 GMT) on Tuesday at the Yarmouk military manufacturing facility in south Khartoum. It took troops several hours to contain the blaze. Evidence pointing to Israel was found among remnants of the explosives, Osman said, adding that the cabinet would hold … Continue reading

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Syria undecided on ceasefire proposal while rebels are divided

Syria said on Wednesday its military command was still studying a proposal for a holiday ceasefire with rebels – contradicting international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi’s announcement that Damascus had agreed to a truce. The statement threw Brahimi’s efforts to arrange a pause in the bloodshed in Syria into even more confusion, as divided rebel groups fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad gave mixed messages. The prominent Farooq Brigade, which operates out of the battered city of Homs, said it would cease fire. The Islamist militant Al Nusra Front rejected the truce, saying it is not a group “who accepts to play such dirty games.” A previous ceasefire arrangement in April collapsed … Continue reading

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Finnish PM ‘shaken but not stirred’ by knife-wielding stranger

Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen was unhurt after being confronted by a man with a knife during a pre-election rally in the western city of Turku, his aides said on Monday. A man talked to Katainen before pulling out a knife, Katainen’s spokesman Kari Mokko said. The man was immediately grabbed by Katainen’s security guards and taken away by police. “He pulled out a knife and he was close to the prime minister,” Mokko said. “The prime minister was unharmed and police in Turku are investigating.” Helsingin Sanomat’s online edition only described the attacker as a man with long hair. Public broadcaster YLE said the man dropped the knife on … Continue reading

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Day of mourning in Beirut translates into violence

Clashes have erupted outside government offices in the Lebanese capital Beirut after thousands attended the funeral of security chief Wissam al-Hassan who was killed by a car bomb on Friday. Protesters have been trying to storm the HQ, after a new call for Prime Minister Najib Mikat to resign. Police have fired warning shots and tear gas. Friday’s attack also killed one of Mr Hassan’s bodyguards and a woman nearby. Opposition figures have blamed neighbouring Syria for the attack. Many have protested against Syria and its Lebanese allies amid fears the Syrian conflict could spill over. “Really, we are waiting for the fall of the regime in Syria. Until that … Continue reading

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Brahimi in talks with President Assad over Eid al Adha ceasefire

UN Middle East and Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has met Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad. Mr Brahimi is in Damascus to press both the government and the rebels to observe a truce over the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. On Friday, he met Foreign Minister Walid Moualem and opposition leaders. In a statement after the talks with Mr Brahimi, Mr Assad said: “Syria is open to any sincere efforts for a political solution to the Syrian crisis based on respect for Syria’s sovereignty and the rejection of outside intervention.” Mr Brahimi said he had proposed a three-day ceasefire over the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which begins on … Continue reading

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11 arrested as Jordan uncoveres al-Qaeda plot

The authorities in Jordan say they have arrested 11 militants alleged to have planned attacks on Western diplomats and shopping centres in the capital. Government spokesman Samih Maayta said the suspects were arrested in the past few days and were in police custody. Mr Maayta said the men had brought in weapons from neighbouring Syria, and al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq had helped them manufacture home-made explosives. The plot was said to have been in preparation since June. The plotters “had planned to bring TNT explosives and mortar shells from Syria”, state news agency Petra said. The targets included “shopping centres, residential areas, diplomats and foreign nationals”. The aim of the … Continue reading

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Bomb blast kills official who implicated Syria in Hariri killing

Senior Lebanese intelligence official Wissam al-Hassan, who led the investigation that implicated Syria and Hezbollah in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, was killed by a huge car bomb in Beirut on Friday. Hassan was also the brains behind uncovering a bomb plot that led to the arrest and indictment in August of former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a setback for Damascus and its Lebanese allies including Hezbollah. Saad al-Hariri, the son of Hariri, accused Assad of killing the top intelligence official. The bomb, which exploded in a busy street during rush hour, killed seven other people and wounded about … Continue reading

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Change of guard in Pentagon as Africom gets new boss

US President Barack Obama has nominated General David M. Rodriguez as the new commander to as the commander of U.S. Africa Command, succeeding General Carter F. Ham. The appointment was announced by US Defence Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Thursday October 18, 2012. U.S. Africa Command is the newest combatant command, and its headquarters is in Stuttgart, Germany. The command encompasses all of Africa and its adjacent waters except for Egypt. Gen Rodriguez who enlisted in the US army elite command college as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1976, has been promoted on average every three years, his last promotion coming last year when his received his fourth star to become … Continue reading

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Brahimi heads for Syria to work out Eid ceasefire

The international mediator on Syria will go to Damascus in the next few days to try to broker a brief ceasefire in the war between President Bashar al-Assad’s government and rebels during the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival. Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League envoy, told reporters on Thursday after meeting Jordan’s foreign minister that a respite in hostilities could build confidence and help bring about a longer truce in the 19-month-old conflict. “Yes I am going to Syria. This appeal we made to our Syrian brothers, whether in the government or against the government, to stop fighting in the three or four days of the Eid next week,” Brahimi said. A … Continue reading

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