Bangladesh War Tribunal Sentences Cleric to Death

Posted January 21st, 2013 at 2:20 am (UTC-5)
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Bangladesh's war tribunal has sentenced an Islamic cleric to death for what court calls crimes against humanity for his actions during the country's 1971 war for independence from Pakistan.

Abul Kalam Azad, tried in absentia because he has been on the run for about a year, is the first person to be convicted by the controversial tribunal created by the country's government to try suspected war criminals.

Three million people were killed and hundreds of thousands of women were raped during the nine-month war. Authorities say the Islamist leaders collaborated with the Pakistani army in committing atrocities during the conflict.

The Jamaat-e-Islami party is demanding authorities halt the trials of its top leaders on war crimes charges. The party and its ally, the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, have said the ruling Awami League party set up the special war crimes tribunal to target political opponents.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has said legal procedures used by the tribunal fall short of international standards.

Suspected North Korean Spy Arrested in South Korea

Posted January 21st, 2013 at 12:50 am (UTC-5)
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South Korean officials say a man who defected from North Korea nearly a decade ago has been arrested and charged with spying for Pyongyang.

Authorities say the man, who was not identified, had a job with the Seoul city government supporting North Korean defectors.

He is accused of sending Pyongyang a full list of the defectors living in Seoul and details concerning their resettlement and living conditions.

Intelligence officials say the man is known to have visited North Korea via China several times. He defected from the North in 2004 and is believed to have family living there.

Bombing, Gunfire in Afghan Capital

Posted January 21st, 2013 at 12:00 am (UTC-5)
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Afghan officials say a suicide car bombing followed by other explosions and gunfire has rocked the capital.

Authorities say the attack targeted a traffic police complex in Kabul early Monday.

Police say two of the assailants were killed at the entrance. They say at least one other attacker has entered the building.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

It is the second insurgent attack inside Kabul in less than a week. On Wednesday, six Taliban militants attacked the Afghan intelligence agency in downtown Kabul, killing one guard and wounding dozens. Security forces killed all the attackers.

UN Welcomes Burma’s Peace Efforts

Posted January 20th, 2013 at 11:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The United Nations has welcomed Burma's latest efforts to bring peace to rebel-controlled areas in northeastern Kachin state.

A UN statement Sunday said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been following various reports from the ground on the implementation of a cease-fire that was supposed to have gone into effect on Saturday. The statement said Mr. Ban called on both sides to make serous efforts to create conditions for sustained peace in Kachin.

In a speech in Rangoon Sunday, Burmese President Thein Sein said government forces are within an “arm's length” of the main Kachin Independence Army base in the town of Laiza, on the border with China. He said he has ordered troops not to attack the base as a show of good will.

A Thailand-based spokesman for the Kachin rebel group said Burmese troops raided a rebel position Sunday several kilometers from Laiza, despite the unilateral government cease-fire. The rebel official said the government offensive involved artillery and ground troops.

Mr. Thein Sein's government had no immediate comment on the rebel claim about the fighting near Laiza.

The Burmese president called Sunday for the Kachin Independence Army to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible to develop what he called a “sustainable peace.”

Burmese troops and Kachin rebels have been fighting since 2011, when a 17-year cease-fire broke down. It is the last active civil war in Burma. Other ethnic groups have signed peace deals with the government.

The fighting in Kachin state has displaced tens of thousands of people and overshadowed major political reforms introduced since Burma ended decades of military rule in 2011.

Bombing, Gunfire in Afghan Capital

Posted January 20th, 2013 at 10:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Afghan officials say a suicide bombing and gunfire have rocked the capital.

Authorities say the attack targeted a police complex in Kabul early Monday.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

It is not immediately clear if there are any casualties.

China Rejects Clinton’s View of Islands Dispute

Posted January 20th, 2013 at 10:15 pm (UTC-5)
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China says it is strongly dissatisfied with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks concerning disputed islands claimed by both China and Japan.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Monday that it “resolutely opposes” the U.S. stance and warns the United States to be “careful in words and cautious in action.”

Clinton said after a Washington meeting with Japanese Foreign Minster Fumio Kishida Friday that the United States opposes any unilateral actions that would undermine Japan's administration in the islands. She did not directly refer to China.

A treaty obligates the United States to come to Japan's aid if the islands are threatened.

Japan calls the islands the Senkakus while China calls them the Diaoyu. The United States siezed control of the islands during World War II and turned them over to Japan in 1972, The islands are uninhabited but the waters around them are rich in natural resources.

Bombing, Gunfire in Afghan Capital

Posted January 20th, 2013 at 10:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Afghan officials say a suicide bombing and gunfire have occurred in the capital.

Authorities say the attack targeted a police complex in Kabul early Monday.

It is not immediately clear if there are any casualties.

16 Al-Qaida Operatives Killed in Yemen

Posted January 20th, 2013 at 7:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Tribal and official sources in Yemen say an explosion has killed more than 10 suspected al-Qaida militants, and at least six others died in two airstrikes by unmanned aircraft.

A bomb that ripped through a house owned by a known al-Qaida operative in southern Bayda province appeared to be an accidental explosion. Militants barred local residents Sunday from approaching the scene.

Meanwhile, separate strikes by suspected U.S. drone aircraft killed three people Saturday and another three on Sunday in two parts of central Maarib province.

One raid successfully targeted a car carrying suspected members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

U.S.-backed Yemeni government forces have been fighting al-Qaida militants in the country for years.

Al-Qaida took control of parts of southern Yemen in 2011 during an uprising that ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Suspected militants have carried out suicide bombings and other attacks targeting Yemeni officials.

Opposition Wins German State Election

Posted January 20th, 2013 at 6:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Germany's center-left opposition has won a razor-thin victory in a regional election that is seen as a test for Chancellor Angela Merkel, eight months before nationwide legislative elections.

With most of the votes counted in the northern state of Lower Saxony Sunday, German media reported the opposition Social Democrats and Greens had a one seat majority over Ms. Merkel's center-right coalition.

The election is the last test before September, when polls for Bavaria will take place followed by national elections, which will determine whether Ms. Merkel will win a third term.

Algeria Says 80 Dead at Gas Complex

Posted January 20th, 2013 at 5:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Algerian officials now say the Islamist takeover and military raid of a desert natural gas complex killed at least 80 people, including a large number of foreign hostages.

Officials combing through the complex found 25 more bodies Sunday, but they say the remains are so disfigured, it is hard to tell if they are militants or hostages.

Algerian forces captured five militants alive during Saturday's raid. Algeria's official news agency said the militants killed seven hostages during the raid, while Algerian troops killed 11 of the kidnappers. A number of militants and hostages were also killed earlier during the crisis. while other hostages escaped unharmed.

Militants seized the In Amenas gas complex Wednesday.

Islamist militant leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for the attack. In an Internet video posted on Sunday. He said he was acting in the name of al-Qaida and that 40 militants from Muslim and Western nations carried out the raid.

Belmokhtar said the attack was an answer to the French military operation against other al-Qaida-linked militants in Mali.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday that responsibility for the killings “lies squarely” with what he called the “terrorists who launched this vicious and cowardly attack.” French President Francois Hollande welcomed what he described as Algeria's “most appropriate” response to “coldly determined terrorists.”

Algerian Communications Minister Mohamed Said said the Islamist assailants came from six nations. He said said Algerian experts are tying to clear away landmines the militants laid around the gas complex.

The foreign hostages included Americans, Austrians, Belgians, Britons, Colombians, French, Japanese, Malaysians, Norwegians and Romanians. The complex is jointly run by Algerian, British and Norwegian firms.