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UK terror threat is raised as Al-Qaeda in Yemen train 'non-Arab' women

Al-Qaeda terror cells have trained a group of female suicide bombers to attack western targets, officials have warned.

The women, who may have a 'non-Arab' appearance and travel on western passports, have been prepared for their missions by the Yemeni group responsible for the failed operation to blow up an airliner over the United States on Christmas Day, according to a report in the Telegraph.

Details of the bombers emerged hours after British spy chiefs raised the UK threat state to 'severe' amid fears that al-Qaeda was planning attacks against western targets.

British war death toll hits 250

A soldier has been killed on foot patrol in Afghanistan, bringing the British death toll in the conflict to 250.

The number of UK dead is now five short of the total who died in the Falklands in 1982, after the death of a member of 4 Rifles, in an explosion in Helmand province.

Pakistan forces kill 22 militants

MILITANTS ambushed Pakistani security forces at checkpoints in two regions close to the Afghan border yesterday, sparking gun battles that left 22 insurgents and two troops dead.

Elsewhere in the northwest, a suicide bomber killed a police officer and three passers-by. Government officials said two soldiers were wounded in clashes in the Orakzai and Kurram tribal regions. A subsequent search and clearance operation seized 25 suspected insurgents.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle laden with explosives into a police station near South Waziristan yesterday. One officer and three passers-by died in the assault, police chief Farid Khan said.

Iraqi stabber allowed stay in Britain

AN Iraqi immigrant who stabbed two UK doctors to death has won the right to stay in Britain, the British Home Office confirmed last night. Laith Alani, 41, a paranoid schizophrenic, was allowed to stay after a judge ruled he would pose a danger to the public in his homeland of war-torn Iraq.

An immigration tribunal decided that he should not be deported to Iraq because it would breach his human rights and also put people there at risk.

Zelaya bound for Dominican Republic

OUSTED Honduran president Manuel Zelaya confirmed yesterday he will leave Honduras for the Dominican Republic next week after a new president is sworn in.

Zelaya, who was ousted in June 2009, will leave Honduras as a private citizen, thanks to an accord signed by president-elect Porfirio Lobo and Dominican president Leonel Fernandez. He re-entered the country in September to finish his term as president, but has been under siege in the Brazilian Embassy since then, facing the threat of arrest if he leaves.

US to appeal Blackwater dismissal

The US will appeal a court decision dismissing manslaughter charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security contractors involved in a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting, which killed 17 people including women and children, US vice-president Joe Biden said.

After an investigation, the US charged five of the contractors with manslaughter and took a guilty plea from a sixth. But the case fell apart after a judge found that the US Justice Dept violated constitutional rights. Prosecutors now face difficult odds getting an appeals court to reinstate the case.

Contaminated heroin kills eight users

EIGHT people have died of anthrax after using suspected contaminated heroin, European health authorities said yesterday Authorities believe a batch of heroin circulating in Europe is contaminated with anthrax.

Seven heroin users in Scotland have died. The eighth victim was a 42-year-old man in Germany who died in December after injecting opiates. Humans are rarely infected with anthrax, but by the time symptoms develop, it usually is too late to be treated.

UN climate boss refuses to step down

The head of the UN's panel of climate scientists dismissed talk he should resign over an erroneous projection, in a 2007 report, from the Intergovernmental Panel, that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035.

Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the panel, told reporters in New Delhi that he regretted including the forecast in the report but said the mistake should not obscure mounting evidence that climate change was a real threat.

Italian senator jailed for Mafia links

An Italian appeals court yesterday convicted Sicily's former governor Salvatore Cuffaro, currently a senator, of aiding and abetting the Mafia and sentenced him to seven years in prison. The court upheld a 2008 conviction and added two more years to an initial five-year sentence.

Cuffaro denies all charges against him and said he will make a final appeal to Italy's highest court.

Blog for God's sake, Pope tells priests

Pope Benedict told priests worldwide to blog yesterday, saying they must learn to use new forms of communication to spread the gospel message.

In his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Communications, the Pope, who is 82 and known not to love computers or the internet, acknowledged priests must make the most of the "rich menu of options" offered by new technology.

Sunday Independent