Saturday 23 September 2017

Turkish troops kill scores of Kurdish rebels as military pursues fighters

Turkish troops killed 49 Kurdish rebels in a valley near the Iraqi border, state-run television reported yesterday, as hundreds of troops also pursued Kurdish fighters within northern Iraq.

The rebels were killed in clashes in the Kazan Valley region, in Turkey's Hakkari province that borders Iraq.

Turkey last week launched massive anti-rebel offensives involving 10,000 troops in southeastern Turkey and across the border in Iraq. The military operations began hours after 24 soldiers were killed by the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in the deadliest one-day toll against the military since the 1990s.

British couple drown in Spanish rains

An elderly British couple drowned after being swept away by a flash flood that coursed through a street market in southeastern Spain, officials said yesterday. Twenty-five minutes of heavy rain inland of the town of Finestrat caused a torrent to rush downhill on Friday through the area in which the market had been set up, regional interior ministry representative Jose Perez Grau said.

Vendors and visitors alike were caught by surprise because it had not been raining in the town itself. The married couple's ages were given as 70 and 72 but they were not identified.

Thousands protest cuts to education

Several thousand teachers and parents from all around Spain marched in downtown Madrid to protest austerity measures they say treat education as an expense and will lead to fewer teachers.

Teachers went on strike in Madrid on Thursday, the sixth day of stoppages since classes began last month.

The protests have been triggered by local authority orders requiring teachers to teach an extra two hours of class per week, a measure that will lead to fewer teachers being hired this year.

Phone licence sale 'involved bribes'

An Indian court yesterday charged former federal minister Andimuthu Raja and two other officials with bribery, forgery and conspiring to cause financial loss to the government in a case related to the sale of phone licences in 2008.

Mr Raja, a former telecommunications minister, his personal secretary and former telecom secretary will be tried under Indian criminal law for allocating mobile phone permits to companies in return for bribes.

India's chief auditor said the cut-price, first-come, first-served permit sale three years ago at "unbelievably low" prices may have reduced government revenue by €22bn.

Saudi's heir apparent is a young 77

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has died, setting in motion succession plans for the world's largest oil exporter.

Prince Nayef, born in 1934, is the most likely candidate for the crown prince position. King Abdullah, who is 87, underwent surgery earlier this month to relieve back pain after travelling to the US for medical care.

Wall collapses at ancient Pompeii site

Officials at Pompeii's archaeological site say part of a wall has collapsed due to heavy rains in recent days.

Spokeswoman Daniela Leone said yesterday an external layer of a roughly two-metre section of wall collapsed at the northern end of the ancient ruins. Ms Leone said it was of no artistic value and stressed that the wall itself remained standing. The area was closed to the public.

There were two collapses at the 2,000-year-old archaeological site last year, emphasising concerns about the state of Italy's cultural treasures. Some three million people a year visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii, a teeming Roman city destroyed in AD 79 by a volcanic eruption.

Afghan ministers 'embezzling millions'

At least two Afghan cabinet ministers have embezzled millions of dollars of public money, the country's anti-graft chief said this weekend, adding to Western pressure on President Hamid Karzai to clean up his government.

Donor countries say corruption in Mr Karzai's administration is endemic, and a fundamental threat to their efforts to stabilise the country ahead of the end-2014 deadline for foreign combat troops to quit the country.

Billions of dollars in foreign aid have flowed into the country since a US-led military operation threw the Taliban out of government 10 years ago, but the cash has paid for only limited infrastructure and development work, while violence is at its worst since 2001.

"There are former ministers too, but two or three current cabinet ministers have embezzled millions of dollars," said Azizullah Ludin, a Karzai appointee who heads the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption.

Latin American music pioneer dies

The man responsible for popularising Latin American music in the UK has died at the age of 100.

Edmundo Ros passed away last night at his home in Spain two months short of his 101st birthday. The musician, who made his career in Britain, died of old age.

Identical joy as twins give birth

TWO identical twins in the US now have another birthday in common: they delivered babies on the same day, at the same hospital.

Both 21-year-old Jessica and Jennifer Patterson gave birth last Wednesday. Jennifer gave birth first to a girl, Adalynn Rose Patterson, who was born with a collapsed lung but is now doing fine.

Eight-and-half hours later, Jessica gave birth to a boy, Mason Douglas Patterson, by Caesarean section.

Both women live in Judah, a tiny town in Lawrence County, Indiana.

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