Friday 26 December 2014

News in Brief: Syria faces humanitarian disaster if allies do not send aid - rebel leader

Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30

Pope Francis has encouraged people to spend Sundays with family and friends

The military chief of Syria’s main Western-backed rebel group warned yesterday that the country risked a “humanitarian disaster” if allies do not send more aid to help his moderate forces halt the advance of Islamic militants.

Extremist fighters of the Islamic State group control a swathe of land straddling Syria and neighbouring Iraq. In recent days, fighters from the group have been pushing into rebel-held territory around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, close to the Turkish border.

“We call on urgent support for the FSA with weapons and ammunition, and to avoid a humanitarian disaster that threatens our people,” said Brigadier General Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir, commander of the Free Syrian Army. His

statement underscored the distress facing many rebel

fighters, whose battle to overthrow President Bashar Assad has been overshadowed by the advance of Islamic State fighters. ­Meanwhile, Syrian activists said yesterday that a father, mother and their six children were killed in a

government airstrike in the southern town of Dael.

Seven revellers injured in US shooting

Seven people were shot and injured yesterday in Indianapolis, police in the US have said.

One man is in critical condition at a local hospital, police spokesman Chris Bailey said. Five other men and a woman were also shot in the incident in Broad Ripple, but do not have life-threatening injuries.

“I’m told there were quite a few people out walking down Broad Ripple on a typical Friday night, bouncing from bar to bar. Someone opens fire in a crowd like that, we are lucky there weren’t more people hurt,” said Mr Bailey. No one has been arrested and a motive isn’t known, he added.

Ten Islamists given death sentence

A Cairo court has upheld death sentences against 10 members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and sentenced 38 others to life, including the spiritual leader of the Islamist group, Egyptian judicial officials have said.

All 10 Brotherhood members whose death sentences were confirmed were tried in absentia. The 48 were found guilty of inciting violence, attacking security forces and blocking a main road last year, said the officials. Yesterday’s verdicts are part of an ongoing crackdown against Islamists that began after the military ousted President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood, last year.

Parliament blast leaves four dead

Four people were killed when a car laden with explosives blew up near the parliament building in the Somali capital, a police official said.

The Somali terror group al-Shabab, which has recently targeted parliamentarians, claimed responsibility for the attack in Mogadishu. Seven children were also injured. Captain Mohammed Hussein said the car exploded at a checkpoint where it had been stopped by Somali troops. Troops had ordered the driver to get out of the car out for a search when he detonated the explosives. Somali legislators were holding a meeting at the parliament at the time of the attack.

Al-Qa’ida-linked al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an attack on the Kenyan coast that left 65 people dead last month. The group also claimed responsibility for an attack that left 67 people dead at a shopping centre in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, last year.

Head of Orthodox church dies, aged 78

The head of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church has died at the age of 78 after leading it for more than two decades.

Metropolitan Volodymyr, who has been credited with stabilising the church during the post-Soviet period, died yesterday “after a long illness”, the church said. In his more than 20 years as head of the country’s largest church, Mr Volodymyr weathered the breakaway of two groups that declared themselves independent of the Moscow Patriarchate that incorporates the Ukrainian church. Observers say he succeeded in preventing even more splits.

Pope issues warning on Sunday work

Pope Francis has warned that abandoning the Christian practice of not working on Sundays is not a good change.

While poor people need employment to have dignity, he disagreed with opening stores and other businesses on Sundays as a way to create jobs, he said during a visit to Molise, in southern Italy. Francis said the priority should be “not economic but human”, adding “maybe it’s time to ask ourselves if working on Sundays is true freedom”. He also said that spending Sundays with family and friends is an “ethical choice” for faithful and non-faithful alike.

Stranded nurses fly home from Iraq

Dozens of Indian nurses stranded in territory held by Islamic extremists in Iraq have returned home to southern India, officials said. The 46 nurses had been holed up for more than a week in Tikrit, where fighters of the Islamic State group have taken over.

The nurses had been moved to a new area under the extremist group’s control, and finally crossed over on Friday into Irbil, in Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdish region. The nurses were flown home to Kochi, in Kerala state, yesterday.

Greece orders strikers back to work

The Greek government is forcing employees of a state electricity utility company back to work by issuing a “civil mobilisation decree” usually reserved for national emergencies.

Public Power Corporation unions launched rolling 48-hour strikes on Thursday in protest at plans to privatise the company, forcing it to resort to short regional blackouts. An Athens court found the strike “illegal and abusive” on Friday. Striking PPC employees will be served mobilisation papers this weekend. Those who refuse to report to work can be dismissed.

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