Monday 1 May 2017

Thousands protest over increase in violence against Iraq Christians

Several thousand people from across Europe gathered in Brussels yesterday to protest against a recent escalation of violence against Christians in Iraq.

"We want our voice to be heard by the European community," said Suleyman Gultekin of the European Syriac Union, which organised the march. "We are attacked systematically" in Iraq.

Syriac Christians have lived in the Middle East for centuries and now make up a small minority in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Turkey. The demonstration follows a string of violent attacks against the Christian community in Iraq, which has already dwindled from 1.5 million to about 400,000 over the past decade.

Gunmen stormed a Sunday Mass service in Baghdad on October 31, killing 68 people -- including two priests.

Taliban attacks airport military base

Taliban fighters attacked a foreign military base at the main airport in Afghanistan's east yesterday, one of four incidents in 24 hours that marked a sudden upswing in violence. Militants mounted attacks in Jalalabad and Kunar in the east and northern town Kunduz, as well as in the capital Kabul on Friday.

Five militants die in missile strike

A suspected US missile strike hit a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border yesterday, killing five alleged militants travelling in a vehicle, Pakistani officials said. At least three of the dead were believed to be foreigners.

The attack, the seventh this month, underscored the increasing US reliance on drone-fired missiles.

Middle East's Shia power bloc grows

Iraqi politicians yesterday approved an agreement that aims to bring all of Iraq's feuding political blocs into a new government led by Shiite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, although deep disagreements remain about the role to be played by the country's minority Sunnis.

Iran, also a Shiite majority country, has backed Mr al-Maliki's efforts to seek another term as a way to consolidate Shiite power. Iran also lobbied heavily to minimise the role of Sunnis in the new government.

The months of political jockeying after the inconclusive parliamentary elections of last March have left Iraqis disillusioned and fearful that sidelining the minority Sunni community could fuel more violence.

£2.7m to clean 'toxic' Olympic site

The UK government has spent £2.7m (€3.2m) cleaning up toxic and radioactive waste on part of the London Olympic site. The contamination, on the banks of the River Lea in east London, where the main Olympic stadium is being built, was discovered when the site's previous owners left the land in July 2006.

Higgins apology letter up for auction

A letter of apology written by Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins after he punched a press officer in front of the world's media is to be sold at auction.

Snooker champion Higgins, who died on July 24 at the age of 61, wrote the letter minutes before he appeared in front of a disciplinary panel after a bust-up with Colin Randle, who in 1990 was working as a press officer for the sport's governing body.

Written in upper and lower case, it contains remarks from Higgins including: "i was very upset at the time in respect of personal and financial matters". The letter was expected to fetch between £1,500 (€1,770) and £2,000.

Sunday Independent

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