Deadly Bomb Blasts Kill More Than 110 in Pakistan

Posted January 10th, 2013 at 7:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Four separate bombings killed more than 110 people and wounded nearly 250 across Pakistan Thursday, including 92 deaths in Quetta.

Police in the capital of Baluchistan province say a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a crowded billiard hall, followed by a second bomber there minutes later. The twin blasts killed 81 people, including police and rescue workers. Police say most of the deaths came after the second blast caused the roof of the building to collapse

The billiard hall attacks came just hours after a bomb blast at the Quetta market killed 11 people. Authorities say paramilitary soldiers may have been the target.

The outlawed militant Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangive contacted local media to claim responsibility.

Baluchistan has grappled with a separatist insurgency, Islamic militancy, and sectarian violence for decades.

Elsewhere in Pakistan Thursday, at least 21 people were killed and more than 70 wounded in a bombing in the city of Mingora, where a crowd had gathered to hear a speech by a religious leader. Mingora is the largest city in northwestern Pakistan's Swat province.

No one has claimed responsibility for that attack.

Deadly Bomb Blasts Kill More Than 110 in Pakistan

Posted January 10th, 2013 at 5:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Four separate bombings killed more than 110 people and wounded nearly 250 across Pakistan Thursday, including 92 deaths in Quetta.

Police in the capital of Baluchistan province say a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a crowded billiard hall, followed by a second bomber there minutes later. The twin blasts killed 81 people, including police and rescue workers. Police say most of the deaths came after the second blast caused the roof of the building to collapse

The billiard hall attacks came just hours after a bomb blast at the Quetta market killed 11 people. Authorities say paramilitary soldiers may have been the target.

The outlawed militant Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangive contacted local media to claim responsibility.

Baluchistan has grappled with a separatist insurgency, Islamic militancy, and sectarian violence for decades.

Elsewhere in Pakistan Thursday, at least 21 people were killed and more than 70 dozens wounded in a bombing in the city of Mingora, where a crowd had gathered to hear a speech by a religious leader. Mingora is the largest city in northwestern Pakistan's Swat province.

No one has claimed responsibility for that attack.

Deadly Bomb Blasts Rock Pakistan

Posted January 10th, 2013 at 3:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Four separate bombings killed more than 110 people across Pakistan Thursday, including 92 deaths in Quetta.

Police in the capital of Baluchistan province say a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a crowded billiard hall, followed by a second bomber there minutes later. The twin blasts killed 81 people, including police and rescue workers. More than 100 people were wounded.

The billiard hall attacks came just hours after a bomb blast at the Quetta market killed 11 people. Authorities say paramilitary soldiers may have been the target.

Baluchistan has grappled with a separatist insurgency, Islamic militancy, and sectarian violence for decades.

Elsewhere in Pakistan Thursday, at least 21 people were killed and dozens wounded in a bombing in the city of Mingora, where a crowd had gathered to hear a speech by a religious leader. Mingora is the largest city in northwestern Pakistan's Swat province.

Deadly Bomb Blasts Rock Pakistan

Posted January 10th, 2013 at 2:40 pm (UTC-5)
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At least 56 people have been killed in a twin bombing in Quetta, just hours after a bombing at the southwestern Pakistani city's market killed 11.

Pakistani police said a suicide bomber detonated his explosives Thursday in a crowded billiard hall in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. About 10 minutes later, a second bomb went off outside the building. More than 100 people were wounded in the twin blasts.

Reports said the blast at Quetta's market earlier Thursday may have targeted paramilitary soldiers. That bombing injured 27 people.

Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, which has grappled with a decades-long separatist insurgency, Islamic militancy and sectarian violence.

Elsewhere in Pakistan Thursday, at least 21 people were killed and dozens injured in an explosion in Mingora, the largest city in northwestern Pakistan's Swat province. Police initially said the blast, which took place as people gathered to hear a religious leader speak, was caused by an exploding gas cylinder.

They later confirmed that it was a bombing.

Biden Meets with Gun Control Lobby

Posted January 10th, 2013 at 2:40 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says he will deliver to the president by Tuesday new policy proposals intended to curb gun violence.

Biden has been holding discussions with gun victims groups and gun safety advocates. He plans to speak later Thursday with a representative of the powerful U.S. gun lobby, the National Rifle Association.

The vice president says a set of recommendations is emerging from his talks likely including background checks for all gun buyers.

His talks come in the wake of the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Last month, a gunman killed 20 children, six school staff members and his mother before committing suicide.

Meanwhile Thursday, local police in California say two people were shot at a high school. Authorities say police have arrested the shooter, but they gave no other details.

C.A.R. Rebels Agree to Cease-fire

Posted January 10th, 2013 at 2:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Rebels in the Central African Republic say they have agreed to a temporary cease-fire deal with the government.

Representatives of the Seleka rebel coalition say they reached the agreement Thursday, during talks with the C.A.R. government and opposition leaders in Gabon's capital, Libreville.

The cease-fire is reportedly for one week. There was no immediate word from the government.

Negotiators began peace talks Wednesday aimed at ending a month-long rebellion in which Seleka has seized about one-third of the C.A.R.'s territory.

The rebel coalition is currently about 85 kilometers of the capital, Bangui. A multi-national African force of several hundred soldiers is standing between the group and the capital.

The rebels have been calling for President Francois Bozize's resignation. However, the president says he has already made large concessions and intends to finish out his term, which ends in 2016.

Seleka is made up of fighters from three rebel groups in the country's north. The coalition says the government did not uphold peace accords signed in 2007 and 2008.

Rebels in the northern C.A.R. have repeatedly risen up against Mr. Bozize since he was first elected in 2005, two years after he seized power in a coup.

Kremlin: Russia – US Adoption Agreement to Remain Valid Until 2014

Posted January 10th, 2013 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Russia says it will allow a bilateral adoption agreement with the United States to remain valid for the next year, despite Russia's recent passage of a law banning the practice.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that the adoption agreement will remain in force until early January 2014. He said that according to the document, the agreement remains valid for one year from the time one party notifies the other on its plans to change it.

The news agency says it is not clear whether the adoption of 46 Russian children by U.S. families, currently under way, will be allowed to proceed.

Last month, Mr. Putin signed a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children in what was widely viewed as a retaliatory measure against U.S. passage of the Magnitsky Act.

The Magnitsky Act imposes a visa ban and financial sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights violations. It is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian anti-corruption lawyer who died in jail in 2009, after alleging officials were involved in a multi-million-dollar tax scam.

80 Witnesses Planned in Kenya Violence Trials

Posted January 10th, 2013 at 12:20 pm (UTC-5)
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International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors are planning to call dozens of witnesses in their cases against four well-known Kenyans accused of organizing deadly post-election violence in 2008.

The four Kenyans include Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who is running for president in Kenya's March 4 elections, and Mr. Kenyatta's running mate William Ruto.

In documents submitted to the ICC on Wednesday, prosecutors said they would question 34 people in their case against Mr. Kenyatta and Cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura.

They said they plan to question 46 people in the case against Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang.

The four men face charges that include murder, forcible deportation, persecution and other acts that constitute crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors said they believe they will need a total of almost 1,400 hours of court time for the cases. The trials are set to begin in April — a month after the election.

Kenya erupted in riots and ethnic violence after the disputed presidential run-off in December 2007, in which President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner. More than 1,100 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands were displaced from their homes.

US: Associate of Russian Arms Dealer Arrested in Australia

Posted January 10th, 2013 at 11:55 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. officials say an associate of convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has been arrested in Australia.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and a U.S. prosecutor announced that Richard Ammar Chichakli was arrested Wednesday by Australian authorities at the request of the United States.

Chichakli has been charged with conspiring with Bout and others to buy aircraft from two companies in the United States. Such a purchase would violate economic sanctions. Chichakli holds U.S. and Syrian citizenship.

Last year, a U.S. judge sentenced Bout to 25 years in prison on terrorism charges for trying to sell missiles to Colombian rebels to shoot down U.S. helicopters.

U.S. agents posing as rebels arrested Bout in Thailand in 2008. He was extradited to the United States, tried and convicted in 2011.

Bout, who U.S. prosecutors have dubbed the “Merchant of Death,” insisted he was trying to sell cargo planes, not weapons, to the agents.

U.S. prosecutors have said Bout's weapons sales helped inflame wars in Africa in the 1990s.

Kenya MPs Vote Themselves Huge Bonuses

Posted January 10th, 2013 at 11:55 am (UTC-5)
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Kenyan lawmakers have voted to give themselves send-off bonuses of nearly $110,000 each — a payment that would take an average Kenyan worker more than 60 years to earn.

The 222-member parliament approved the payoff in a late night session on Wednesday but the vote did not become public until Thursday.

In addition to the bonus, lawmakers voted to give themselves perks that include armed guards, diplomatic passports and access to VIP lounges at Kenyan airports.

They also voted in favor of a hefty payout to retiring President Mwai Kibaki. Mr. Kibaki vetoed a similar bonus package for lawmakers in October, saying it was unconstitutional and untenable given the country's economic circumstances.

There was no immediate word on whether President Kibaki would support the new package, approved on one of the final votes by lawmakers before parliament was to dissolve Thursday.

Kenya holds national elections on March 4.

Kenyan lawmakers are among the best-paid in Africa, earning more than $120,000 a year.

The October vote angered Kenyan citizens and sparked protests against parliament.

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