Thursday 18 January 2018

Labourers and market-goers targeted as blasts across central Iraq kill 15

A series of blasts in central Iraq killed 15 people yesterday. Street vendors, market-goers and day labourers appear to have been the targets.

The first of the bombs exploded in the early morning at a place where day-labourers gather in the mostly Sunni village of al-Zaidan, west of Baghdad. They killed seven people and wounded 11 others.

Hours later, three bombs exploded at a market selling CDs and military uniforms in central Baghdad, killing eight people and wounding 19 others.

Violence has ebbed across Iraq, but bombings and shootings still occur almost daily as US troops prepare to leave by the end of the year. Iraqi security officials maintain that they are fully prepared for the withdrawal.

Belgian government-free status ends

Belgian political parties negotiating a fresh coalition reached a deal on the 2012 budget yesterday, clearing the last major obstacle to the formation of a new government.

The deal came hours after ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Belgium's credit to AA from AA+, piling pressure on the country to act.

Belgium has set a modern-day record for being without a formal government. It has been nearly 19 months since elections were held in June 2010.

Syrian rebels try to get Libyan arms

Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya's new authorities last week, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, saw Syrians request "assistance" from the Libyans. They were offered arms and potential volunteers.

"There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria," said a Libyan source. "There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see."

NZ prime minister wins second term

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key won a second term in office yesterday after his National Party secured its best result in 60 years, giving him the mandate to sell state assets and help eliminate a budget deficit.

The 50-year-old multi-millionaire and former foreign exchange head at Merrill Lynch now faces the task of steering a recovery from New Zealand's worst natural disaster in 80 years amid global economic turmoil.

Yemeni planes kill 80 rebel tribesmen

Yemeni planes have killed 80 anti-government tribesmen who overran a military camp north of the capital Sana'a.

Warplanes and artillery pounded the armed tribesmen for 48 hours after tribesmen overran it several days ago, killing about about 20 government soldiers.

Sarkozy's party dismisses DSK claim

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party yesterday dismissed allegations of a political plot to bring down former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, following an investigative report by a US journalist.

The article in the New York Review of Books raised the question of whether a Blackberry phone belonging to DSK might have been being tapped by his political opponents at the time he was arrested in May on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid.

Prosecutors in New York later dropped criminal charges against Mr Strauss-Kahn, citing doubts about the credibility of the maid, who continues with a civil case.

Giant space rover seeks life on Mars

THE world's biggest extraterrestrial explorer, Nasa's Curiosity rover, rocketed toward Mars yesterday on a search for evidence that the red planet might once have been home to itsy-bitsy life.

It will take almost nine months for Curiosity to reach Mars, following a journey of 570 million kilometres.

Sunday Independent

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