Wednesday 22 November 2017

Taliban blamed for deaths of at least 10 in Afghanistan roadside bombs

A member of the Afghan security force looks into a car, which was damaged after a blast in the eastern city of Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province
A member of the Afghan security force looks into a car, which was damaged after a blast in the eastern city of Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province

Roadside bombs in Afghanistan killed at least 10 people yesterday, authorities said. The deadliest attack happened in southern Kandahar province when a bomb struck a civilian car killing eight people, Panjwayi district police chief Sultan Mohammad said. He blamed the Taliban for the bombing.

In eastern Nangarhar province, another bomb struck a vehicle in the city of Jalalabad, killing a civilian and a police officer, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial governor. No group immediately claimed responsibility for that blast.

The Taliban have intensified their spring offensive in a bid to undermine the Western-backed government as foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of the year. The attacks also come as US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Afghanistan in hopes of diffusing a crisis over the run-off presidential election to find a successor for outgoing President Hamid Karzai.

Iraq airlifts 4,000 volunteer troops

Iraq is airlifting some 4,000 volunteers to an embattled city west of Baghdad to help bolster government forces locked in a running battle with Sunni militants there, authorities said yesterday.

Around 2,500 of the volunteers arrived in Ramadi, located 115km west of the capital, on Friday and were to be joined by the remaining 1,500 yesterday, said General Rasheed Flayeh, the commander of operations in Anbar province. The men are being ferried out to Ramadi from Baghdad by helicopter, he added.

Britain calls for Gaza ceasefire

William Hague has called for immediate action to quell the crisis in Gaza during telephone calls to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. The British Foreign Secretary said Israel had a right to defend itself from rocket attacks but urged both sides to work to restore a ceasefire and said Britain stands ready to provide what support it can.

Palestinians have put the death toll at more than 125 after Israel widened its air strikes on the Gaza Strip as Hamas continued to launch hundreds of rockets.

Artillery fire kills four in Ukraine

Artillery fire has killed at least four people in a residential area in eastern Ukraine, spurring more people to flee the besieged city of Donetsk and its suburbs. 
Pro-Russian insurgents last week retreated from the strategic city of Slovyansk and holed up in Donetsk, a city of one million, and potentially the final frontier for the rebels.

The overnight artillery strike in Maryinka, a western suburb of Donetsk, hit four apartment blocks near a rebel base. It was unclear which side fired at the buildings. The 
attack in Donetsk came hours after Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko, vowed vengeance for the deaths of 19 troops in an insurgent rocket attack near the Russian border.

Work begins to tow shipwreck away

Italian authorities say work on the shipwrecked Costa Concordia so it can be towed away for scrapping can start tomorrow, weather-permitting.

The cruise liner struck a reef when it came too close to Giglio Island in January 2012 and capsized, killing 32 people. After a daring engineering operation set the Concordia upright in September, crews fastened huge tanks to its flanks like water wings to float it off underwater platforms for towing to Genoa, on the mainland, for scrapping.

£25m of cocaine found in plastic fruit

Police officers have found cocaine with an estimated street value of £25m (€31m) hidden in plastic fruit among a shipment of bananas from Colombia.

Officers from Britain's Met's Special Projects Team tracked a lorry carrying the consignment of bananas from when it arrived in Dover at 6am to a unit at the Oast Park Trading Estate in Hartlip, Kent. They also watched as a 48-year-old man unloaded it into a warehouse.

The warehouse was kept under surveillance while another team monitored three other men, who later met in an internet cafe in Stockwell, London, and are believed to have gained access to instructions relating to the shipment, the force said.

Turkey gas explosion injures eight

A gas explosion in a five-story building in Istanbul injured eight people yesterday, officials said. Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu ruled out any terrorist attack and said the blast was caused by a gas leak or a gas canister.

The explosion in a packaging workshop on the ground floor of the building caused a fire which was quickly extinguished, the private Dogan news agency reported. It is the second explosion caused by gas in as many days in Turkey. Last Friday, a blast in a bakery in the southwestern city of Denizli killed one person and injured 36 others.

Merkel doubts US will cease spying

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is doubtful the US will stop spying on Germany. The chancellor said in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF: "I think it's not that easy to convince the Americans . . . to completely change the way their intelligence services work."

Germany, on Thursday, demanded Washington's 
top spy in Berlin leave the country as a new round of allegations of US espionage worsened the friction between the two allies.

Egyptian row statue sells for £15m

A STATUE at the centre of a row between a council and the Egyptian ambassador to Britain has sold for more than £15m (€19).

The limestone statue of Sekhemka had been on display at Northampton Museum & Art Gallery but was sold at an auction by Christie's in London. In a statement, the council said it sold the statue to raise funds for an extension to the gallery and museum, but Egyptian Ambassador Ahsraf Elkholy condemned the move.

Adventurer beats 'Birdman' record

An adventurer has beaten the record for the furthest 
unassisted flight during a "birdman" competition. Ron Freeman soared 159.8 metres in the Worthing International Birdman competition yesterday, passing his 141.5-metre record set at the event last year, organisers said.

Freeman, the reigning champion, could now land the £10,000 top prize at the event, which sees people throw themselves off the Sussex seaside town's pier in machines and costumes of varying airworthiness. A spokesman for the event confirmed Mr Freeman's distance, adding that his adapted hang glider the Geordie Flyer had a large wingspan.

Sunday Independent

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