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Saturday 23 September 2017

Suicide car bomb among Iraq attacks killing nine in new wave of violence

A suicide car bomb and other militant attacks killed nine people in northern Iraq yesterday, officials said, the latest in a wave of violence that has killed nearly 2,000 Iraqis since the start of April.

The deadliest attack was in al-Athba village near the northern city of Mosul, when a suicide car bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a police patrol, an officer said. Three civilian by-standers and one policeman died while six other people were wounded.

In the city of Tuz Khormato, gunmen on motorcycles riddled a civilian vehicle carrying four off-duty policemen with bullets, killing three and wounding the other.

Another group of gunmen attacked a police checkpoint in the city of Samarra, killing two officers and wounding four others. Police also said that two civilians were killed and nine wounded when a bomb ripped through a marketplace in Baghdad.

MANDELA'S AMBULANCE 'BROKE DOWN'

Former South African president Nelson Mandela remains in a "serious but stable" condition in hospital, the government said yesterday.

The statement shows that the 94-year-old's health is little changed since his admission to hospital two weeks ago.

Mr Mandela, who became South Africa's first black president in 1994, was rushed to a Pretoria hospital early on June 8 with a recurring respiratory infection.

The presidency also confirmed that the intensive care ambulance carrying Mr Nelson Mandela to hospital broke down. Media reports said he was stranded in the vehicle for 40 minutes.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said Mr Mandela was transferred to another military ambulance for the remainder of the almost 50-minute journey between Johannesburg and the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria.

INVESTIGATION INTO EGYPTIAN ELECTION

Egypt's official news agency has said an election commission will look into complaints by presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq alleging irregularities and forgery in last year's vote, which he narrowly lost.

The Presidential Election Commission made its decision yesterday to re-open investigations into Egypt's first freely contested presidential election, held last summer, in which Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood scraped in ahead of Mr Shafiq. The latter, a Mubarak-era prime minister, is in self-exile in the United Arab Emirates. In Egypt he is being tried in his absence on corruption-related charges, which he says are politicised.

Earlier, Mr Shafiq had complained that some ballots were forged, invisible ink was used during voting and some Christians were prevented from casting ballots. He said the incidents favoured Mr Morsi.

The commission had earlier dismissed the same complaints from Mr Shafiq.

GERMAN AND TURKISH MINISTERS' EU ROW

Germany and Turkey's foreign ministers met yesterday for an "intensive exchange of opinions" in a row over Angela Merkel's criticism of a crackdown on protesters in Turkey and her reluctance to see the country join the European Union.

Germany and Turkey on Friday summoned each other's ambassadors for tit-for-tat reproaches after Ms Merkel said she was "appalled" by Ankara's response to the protests, and a Turkish cabinet minister accused her of blocking his country's accession to the EU because she was "looking for domestic political material for her elections".

Barring a last-minute change of heart by Germany, the EU looks set early next week to postpone or cancel plans to open a new "chapter" in Turkey's membership talks next Wednesday.

ROYAL NAVY FRESHENS UP ITS OLD TOASTS

BRITAIN'S Royal Navy has changed two of its oldest traditions to reflect "cultural changes" and "the fact that women have been at sea for over 20 years", the Ministry of Defence said.

Officers will no longer say the established Saturday night toast of "Our wives and sweethearts", which prompts the unofficial reply of "May they never meet!"

Instead, officers will say "our families", in accordance with an instruction from Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral David Steel.

The traditional Tuesday night toast to "Our men" has been changed to "Our sailors".

SWEDISH WAR HERO'S 'SECRET MISSION'

Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from Nazi-occupied Hungary, may also have had a secret military mission during World War II, a new book claims.

Citing documents from Hungarian archives, Swedish-Hungarian writer Gellert Kovacs says Wallenberg, whose fate remains shrouded in mystery, had closer links with Hungary's non-Communist resistance movement than was previously thought.

That, Kovacs said, could shed new light on why the Soviets arrested Wallenberg in Budapest in 1945.

Irish Independent

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