Israeli High Court stops army from building barrier around historic West Bank village
Israel’s High Court has ordered the Defense Ministry to stop work on a security barrier around the Palestinian village of Batir in the West Bank. Palestinian villagers and environmentalists argued the structure would damage ancient agricultural terraces that are on the shortlist to be named a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, which sided with the villagers, suggested that instead a chain-linked fence be erected.
Indian ‘spy’ dies after being attacked in Pakistani prisonAn Indian man convicted of spying and sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan has died after being attacked last week by fellow inmates. Sarabjit Singh, 49, suffered severe injuries and fell into a coma after two prisoners beat him with bricks. His body is to be flown to India from Lahore in a special aircraft sent by New Delhi. The attackers have been swiftly charged with murder after calls from New Delhi for justice. While Singh was been serving his sentence, India unsuccessfully appealed for his release or transfer to his native country. The motive remains unclear, but police point to an alleged exchange of "hot words" with Singh and fellow inmates. Singh was accused of spying and involvement in the 1990 bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad in which 14 people died.
Irish Parliament backs down from Magnitsky list sanctions of Russian officialsThe Irish parliamentary committee has removed its initial demand of introducing visa and financial against Russian officials included in the Magnitsky list that the US endorsed on April 12. Eighteen people from the list are now banned from entering the US. Earlier the Foreign affairs and Trade Committee passed a resolution urging Irelands leadership to express concern over the prison death of Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitsky. Parliamentarians changed the decision after Russia warned the blacklist could “have a negative influence” on the pending adoption agreement between the two countries.
Israel’s PM concedes possible referendum on peace talksIsrael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that he would put any peace treaty with the Palestinians to a referendum. The statement has been considered as PM’s support for possible direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Meeting with Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter in Jerusalem, he added that would like to talk to Swiss officials “about your experiences with that.” Switzerland regularly holds referendums, while for Israel this isn’t a common practice. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen for more than two years.
At least 4 killed during coup attempt in Chad
At least four people have been killed in N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, Reuters reports citing local security forces. The African country’s authorities say it was a failed coup attempt against President Idriss Deby. "Between four and eight people were killed in fighting at a military barracks in the east of N'Djamena," according to one of the police sources said, requesting to remain unnamed. Other military sources claimed at least a dozen people were killed in separate clashes.
Two trains collide in Belgrade tunnel, Serbia, 22 injuredTwo passenger trains has collided in Tosin Bunar tunnel in Belgrade, leaving 22 people slightly injured, RTS, the Serbian national broadcaster, reported. "The ambulances are on both sides of the tunnel,” ambulance spokeswoman Nada Macura was quoted as saying. Macura added that increased ambulance assistance is due to the “increased concentration of carbon monoxide and poor visibility in the tunnel." Passenger trains operated on the Belgrade-Novi Sad and Belgrade–Sid routes when collided at 1:30pm local time (11:30 GMT).
Turkish border guards wounded in clashes on Syrian borderFive Turkish border guards have been wounded in clashes with an armed group at the Syrian border. Turkish media said a total of ten people, including civilians, were wounded in the violence. The Syrians had been waiting to cross at the border gate in Akcakale and opened fire when they were refused entry, NTV reported. A Syrian opposition activist said two rebel fighters were killed in the clash, although a Turkish official said the Syrians were smugglers and the five wounded were guards. Turkey has denied previous reports that it has stopped entry to Syrians trying to cross into Turkey, saying it operates an open door policy.
Floods kill 16 in Saudi Arabia, 4 still missingHeavy rains and floods killed 16 people, with four still missing in Saudi Arabia, AFP reports. Two more people disappeared in Oman. Heavy rains damaged houses and flooded farms, disturbing power supplies, officials said. Many residents were trapped in cars or inside their own homes. All agencies have been put on high alert. The country has not seen such heavy rainfall for 25 years.
Georgia opts not to boycott Russia’s Winter OlympicsGeorgia has decided not to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in the Southern Russian city of Sochi. Although the question of a possible withdrawal has been discussed in Georgia since the 2008 military conflict with South Ossetia, the country’s National Olympic Committee eventually unanimously voted in favor of taking part. The Games will be held near Russia’s border with Abkhazia, which Georgia claims as part of its territory. Had Georgia nonetheless chosen to boycott the Olympics, it would be the first country to do so since North Korea refused to take part in the Summer Olympics in Seoul, 1988, because of the war with South Korea.
Over 60 killed in gold mine collapse in Darfur, SudanMore than 60 have died after a gold mine collapsed at Jabel A’mer area in Sudan’s North Darfur State, local official said, AFP reports. According to Haroun Al-Hussein, commissioner of Al-Siraif locality, "efforts are underway to rescue the trapped," local Ashrouq net reported. The commissioner also warned that gold exploration at Jabel A'mer area might be dangerous and pose a threat to the lives of the explorers.
Taliban bomb kills 8 Afghan police outside Kabul
Eight members of the Afghan Local Police (ALP) who were on joint patrol with NATO-led coalition forces in Logar province outside the capital Kabul were killed on Thursday when their vehicle hit an IED (improvised explosive device). "One of the police vehicles hit an IED in which eight local police were killed and their pick-up truck was totally destroyed," Rais Khan Sadeq, Logar provincial deputy police chief, told Agence France Presse. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP the fundamentalist group was responsible for the attack. The attack occurred four days after the insurgency began their annual "spring offensive."
Over 250,000 people killed in Somali famineTwo hundred and fifty-eight thousand people, half of them children, died in the latest food crisis in Somalia, according to UN report. UN had admitted that more needed to be done to help to alleviate the famine. The death toll surpassed even the 1992 crisis during which 220,000 people starved to death. "The report confirms we should have done more before the famine was declared," AFP quotes UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Philippe Lazzarini as saying. "Warnings that began as far back as the drought in 2010 did not trigger sufficient early action.” Half of those affected were children under five. Somalia was hit the hardest during the drought in 2011 that affected over 13 million people across the Horn of Africa.
Bangladeshi mayor suspended as death toll rises to 430 in building collapseThe local mayor of the of the Bangladesh municipality where a factory complex collapsed, killing at least 430 people, was suspended from office for approving the construction of Rana Plaza, Reuters quotes Junior Minister for Local Government Jagangir Kabir Nanak as saying. "We won't spare anyone... actions will be taken against all who are responsible for the tragedy," Nanak said. Savar's Mayor Mohammad Refat Ullah did not refuse permission to approve a five-story building at the site, where three more floors had been added illegally, according to senior official from the state-run Capital Development Authority (CDA). So far eight people were arrested in connection with this case, including the building's owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, and his father, Abdul Khalek.
Two dead after mine collapses in south-central RussiaA mine has collapsed in the Chelyabinsk Region of Russia’s Urals, killing two people trapped underground, the Emergency Ministry reported. The mine has collapsed at 10:45am local time in the Korkinskom district of Chelyabinsk Region. “Rescuers found the dead body of the second miner who was killed. The search and rescue operation is continuing,” a source told RIA Novosti. Six miners were underground when the mine collapsed, according to local police. An Emergencies Ministry source, however, told Itar-Tass that only the two deceased miners were in the mine at the time of the accident.
S. Korea to offer financial aid to firms locked out of N. Korea complexSouth Korea’s Finance Ministry will provide more than US$270 million in emergency loans to local companies affected by the shutdown of a jointly operated factory park in North Korea, AP reported. The relief funds are to cover debts and operating costs of around 120 South Korean companies that had to stop production after the North blocked off the entry to the Kaesong industrial complex amid high tensions. The complex has been closed off since April 3.
Greece’s austerity undermines human rights – UN independent expertSome of Greece’s austerity measures are undermining citizen’s access to jobs, health, water and energy, a UN expert stated in a news release. “More than 10 per cent of the population in Greece now lives in extreme poverty, and unemployment amongst youth has reached an unprecedented rate of 59.3 per cent,” the UN independent expert on foreign debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina, said at the end of his week-long mission to the country. Lumina advised Greece and the international bailout lenders to apply a human rights-based approach to economic reform.
US points to Ukraine as new piracy centerThe US Trade Representative's office (USTR) selected Ukraine as a major center of intellectual property theft, stating that government itself was behind piracy growth, AFP reported. USTR designated Ukraine a ‘foreign priority country’, the worst label in its annual report that measures how well countries around the world protect US patents, copyrights and other forms of intellectual property rights. "This designation is the culmination of several years of growing concern over widespread IP theft, including the growing entrenchment of IPR infringement that is facilitated by government actors," the USTR said in the report. Also, China was pinpointed for rising theft of trade secrets.
US Attorney General’s Office finds Bout’s appeal groundlessThe US Attorney General’s Office is saying that the New York Court of Appeals should turn down an appeal against the guilty verdict of Russian citizen Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year term in prison in Marion, Illinois, over a conspiracy for weapons smuggling, Itar-Tass quoted the prosecutors as saying in reply to an appeal from Bout’s lawyer Albert Dayan. The Attorney General’s Office stated that the investigation was unbiased and completely legal and that Dayan’s statements regarding US alleged pressure on the Thai government to influence the court ruling for Bout’s extradition in the US are groundless. Viktor Bout was a successful businessman specializing on cargo transportation. In March 2008 he was arrested in Thailand charged with conspiracy to murder US citizens. In April 2012 the Federal Court of New York sentenced Bout to 25 years in a top security prison.
Bangladesh’s factories reopen after building collapse disaster that killed over 400Bangladesh’s textile factories have reopened after an eight-day shutdown caused by a collapse of a factory complex that killed at least 427 people, AFP quoted employees as saying. Millions of workers began returning to work on Thursday around the capital, Dhaka, to make clothes for Western retailers. "All factories have opened today and the workers have returned to work," Vice-President of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association Shahidullah Azim said. "We don't have any reports of protests or violence". Workers have staged protests last week over the conditions of garment workers and there had been reported attacks on factories as well. Seventeen more bodies were recovered from the rubble of the collapsed building overnight, raising the death toll to 427, army spokesman Major Mahmud confirmed.
Coup attempt in Chad foiled – ministerSecurity forces in Chad have foiled an alleged coup attempt on President Idriss Deby that had been planned for several months, according to the country’s communications minister. He revealed in a televised statement that "Today, May 1, a group of individuals with bad intentions sought to carry out an action to destabilize the institutions of the republic…They did not count on the valiant security forces who have tracked them since December 2012 and who, this morning, neutralized them," he added. The reported planners of the attack have since been apprehended and transferred to the state prosecutor. Their identities are not being revealed at this time. The West-African nation and former French colony has been a hotbed of coups and rebellions since gaining independence. President Deby himself had led troops into the capital N’Djamena in 1990, seizing power. He has been known to be a key ally of the West in the fight to eradicate al Qaeda-linked extremism in the vast region of the Sahel, and has won four elections since leading a rebellion. The president had deployed about 2,000 troops to Mali earlier in 2013, which earned him the gratitude of the French, who were in command of the military operation there.
Experts warn China's bird flu strain is 'serious concern'
The World Health Organization (WHO) is describing the current strain of H7N9, or bird flu, found in China as one of the most lethal forms of flu viruses. Of the 125 confirmed cases of H7N9 thus far, 20 per cent have died, another 20 per cent managed to recover and the remaining are still ill. Scientists have not yet found evidence that the bird flu is being transferred by humans, which would be a significant cause for concern. However, as Reuters reports, virology experts announced on Wednesday that this particular virus carries two genetic mutations that increase the chance that it will become human transmissible.