Tag Archives: correspondent

Top Pakistan Taliban commander Asmatullah Shaheen ‘shot dead’

A senior Pakistani Taliban commander has been shot dead in a militant stronghold near the Afghan border, security sources and relatives say. There have been reports of militant infighting in tribal areas in recent months Asmatullah Shaheen was ambushed as he drove through a village near Miranshah in North Waziristan, reports said. Three aides in the vehicle also died. It is unclear who killed them. There has been no word from the militants. Shaheen was briefly the TTP (Pakistani Taliban) interim leader after its chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed last year. Mehsud died in a US drone strike in November and was later replaced by a new leader, Mullah Fazlullah. Since then, there have been a series of attacks in which unidentified gunmen have targeted militants in the tribal areas, puzzling observers about who could be behind them. The attacks have taken place against a backdrop of continuing militant violence across Pakistan and a limited military operation against Taliban strongholds, despite attempts between the two sides to hold peace talks. Those talks broke down last week after a Taliban faction said it had killed 23 security force personnel in retaliation for the killing of militant fighters by the army.

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Deadly attack hits rally in Thailand

Gunmen have opened fire on an anti-government rally in eastern Thailand, killing a five-year-old girl and wounding dozens of other people. Attackers threw grenades and sprayed the crowd with bullets Attackers threw explosives and shot at demonstrators at a rally called by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee. The incident took place at a night market in the Khao Saming district of Trat province late on Saturday. Tensions across Thailand have escalated since a wave of anti-government protests began in November. The demonstrators want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign to make way for an appointed interim government, but she has refused. On Tuesday several people were killed in clashes that erupted in Bangkok, when police began clearing protest sites. The latest attack occurred about 300km (180 miles) south-east of the capital. Officials said the five-year-old girl had been standing at a noodle stall when the attackers, in two pick-up trucks, opened fire at the PDRC rally. She died from a gunshot wound to the head. At least 30 other people are believed to have been injured. Another child is said to be in a critical condition. PDRC spokesman Suwicharn Suwannakha said the attack happened during a speech by a party leader, Thai newspaper The Nation reported. He said he first heard the explosions and gunfire and then saw chairs in front of the stage scattered. “It was chaotic. I saw two pick-up trucks speed away,” he said. No group has so far said it carried out the attack

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Germany arrests three suspected Auschwitz guards

Three men aged 88, 92 and 94 have been detained by German authorities on suspicion of being guards at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. The homes of a number of men were raided in three German states, months after prosecutors investigating Nazi-era war crimes announced they were recommending charges against 30 people. The three men taken into custody have been sent to a prison hospital. More than 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, were murdered at Auschwitz. The three men detained all live in the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and are suspected of involvement in murders that took place between 1942-45. They were taken to Hohenasperg prison hospital in Ludwigsburg, reports say. Raids also took place in the states of Hessen and North Rhine-Westphalia, although none of the suspects was arrested. The decision to take action against alleged Nazi guards followed the conviction in May 2011 of John Demjanjuk. A court decided that by being a worker at a concentration camp he was guilty of being an accessory to murder. This meant that courts did not have to prove active participation in killing to find a suspect guilty of murder, BBC Berlin correspondent Stephen Evans reports. Demjanjuk, who died in 2012 aged 91, had denied being a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. He had been sentenced to five years in jail for being an accessory to the murder of 28,060 people but died in a home for the elderly while the case was pending appeal. Agencies

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KTLA anchor Sam Rubin confuses Samuel L. Jackson with Laurence Fishburne on live TV

Actor Samuel L Jackson has scolded a US TV host who mistook him for fellow movie star Laurence Fishburne. Blunder: Los Angeles entertainment anchor, Sam Rubin, pictured left, confused Samuel L. Jackson, right, with Laurence Fishburne on live TV Monday morning, making for an incredibly awkward interview KTLA reporter Sam Rubin began an interview with the actor by asking about his recent Super Bowl commercial. He was referring to an advert for the new Kia sedan – in which Fishburne reprised his role from The Matrix. “We don’t all look alike! We may all be black and famous but we don’t all look alike,” said Jackson. “There’s more than one black guy doing a commercial.” He continued: “I’m the ‘What’s in your wallet?’ black guy. He’s the car black guy. “Morgan Freeman is the other credit card black guy. You only hear his voice, though, so you probably won’t confuse him with Laurence Fishburne,” said the star, who was appearing live from Atlanta. Rubin, from his studio in Hollywood, apologised on numerous occasions and tried to steer Jackson onto a discussion about the revival of Robocop – the original reason for the interview. “Let’s talk about Robocop,” he said. “Oh hell, no,” replied Jackson. “There must be a very short line for your job,” he continued. The actor continued to rib Rubin for his mistake, asking if he would have trouble telling apart his co-stars Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton. “You do know who they all are though, right? Just in case they have some of them on the show. Do some work. Do some research. Make sure you don’t confuse them with those other white actors,” he said

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Egypt court acquits acquits pro-Morsi protesters

A court in Egypt has acquitted more than 60 supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi who were arrested during a violent protest last year. Al-Jazeera said cameraman Mohamed Badr had merely been reporting the protest Judges also cleared a cameraman working for the broadcaster Al-Jazeera. The men, most of whom have links to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, had been accused of attempted murder and rioting following deadly clashes in Cairo. They were demonstrating against Mr Morsi’s removal from power by the military in July 2013. Egypt’s first democratically elected president is currently facing four separate trials on various charges. Islamists have staged regular protests demanding his reinstatement, but have been met with a heavy crackdown in which hundreds have died. The interim government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation and arrested thousands of its members since last year. Media under attack Cameraman Mohamed Badr and 61 other people went on trial in December, accused of involvement in violence during the protest in central Cairo on 15 July. Hundreds of Morsi supporters gathered at Ramses Square and some overran a police station. Clashes between ensued, leaving seven dead and more than 260 injured. Al-Jazeera rejected the allegation that Mr Badr was a protester, and said he was merely covering the event. As the judge announced the acquittals on Sunday, defendants and their families shouted “Justice is done” and “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great). Prosecutors said they were considering an appeal. The media has increasingly become a target in the authorities’ crackdown on dissent, the BBC’s Bethany Bell, in Cairo, reports. Last week, Egyptian prosecutors filed criminal charges against 20 other Al-Jazeera journalists, accusing them of conspiring with the Brotherhood, our correspondent says. They include former BBC correspondent Peter Greste who was been held for more than a month with his producers, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. They were arrested on 29 December in Cairo for allegedly holding illegal meetings with the banned Muslim Brotherhood. In late January, Mr Greste sent a letter from Cairo’s Tora prison, calling the detentions an “attack on the freedom of speech”. Another Al-Jazeera staff member, Abdullah al-Shami, has been in detention since August. BBC

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Journalists ‘face charges in Egypt’

Twenty journalists are facing charges in Egypt, prosecutors have said. Al-Jazeera’s Heather Allen says the leaked accusations “don’t hold water” Sixteen are Egyptians accused of belonging to a “terrorist organisation” and four are foreigners accused of assisting it, or spreading false news. The defendants include two Britons, a Dutch national and an Australian – believed to be the al-Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste. Earlier, international news networks, including the BBC, called for the release of five al-Jazeera journalists. The 16 Egyptian defendants face several allegations including belonging to a terrorist group, harming national unity and social peace, and using terrorism as a means to their goals. The four foreigners are accused of collaborating with the Egyptians and providing them with information, equipment, and money as well as broadcasting false information and rumours to convince the international community that Egypt was undergoing a civil war. Eight of the defendants are in detention, while 12 are on the run with arrest warrants issued against them, according to the prosecutor’s statement. No names are mentioned. But it said the four foreigners were correspondents for the Qatari al-Jazeera news network. “We only know of five people in jail,” said al-Jazeera’s head of newsgathering Heather Allen. “We don’t know about the full charge. Things are not clear at the moment. We are still waiting for clarity.” Mr Greste’s appeal against his detention without charge was denied on Wednesday by a Cairo court.

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2 Sides in Syria Peace Talks Agree to Meet in the Same Room, Averting a Breakdown

Syria’s opposition and government are expected to meet “in the same room” in Geneva after the first day of a peace conference ended with no direct talks. The huge ambition of this project is to save Syria, no less than that One of the government team told the BBC “ending terrorism and violence” should be the top priority but said opposition members harboured “personal hatreds”. Delegates are aiming at small concessions – not a full peace deal. Diplomatic sources say the hope is they will focus on getting aid into besieged areas of the city of Homs. Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jafari – part of the government delegation – told the BBC that “item number one should be putting an end to the terrorism and to the violence”. “We should all have one agenda, how to serve the interests of the Syrian people, how to rebuild our country on a solid basis and how to go ahead, forward towards achieving the aspirations of the Syrian people,” he said. But he accused the coalition delegation of harbouring “personal hatreds towards the government for whatever reasons”. The envoy said the common ground between the parties “should be that we should talk about everything, everything, without any selectivity… and no preconditions and no hidden agendas”. However he said it was “too early” to talk of Mr Assad stepping down and that it was “not a priority”. The BBC’s Lina Sinjab, in Geneva, says diplomatic efforts are concentrating on trying to build confidence between the two sides with small achievements like localised ceasefires, release of detainees and the opening of humanitarian corridors. There is hope that such steps could pave the way for the discussion of wider issues like political transition, our correspondent says. In Homs – where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have surrounded rebel-held areas for more than a year – the practical steps needed to get humanitarian aid in have been worked out, and could take place quickly if agreed, Reuters news agency cited an official as saying. Syria’s civil conflict has claimed well over 100,000 lives since it began in 2011. The violence has also driven 9.5 million people from their homes, creating a major humanitarian crisis within Syria and for its neighbours. ‘Encouraging discussions’ The delegates are still not prepared to talk to each other directly, but are expected to communicate via UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, reportedly in two sessions during Saturday. Preliminary talks began on Wednesday in Montreux, and Mr Brahimi spent Thursday and Friday attempting to persuade both sides to agree to meet face-to-face. Friday was supposed to be the first day of official talks, but neither side would meet the other. Instead, Mr Brahimi met government delegates in the morning, and the opposition in the afternoon. On Friday, the government’s delegation reportedly threatened to quit the talks unless “serious” discussions were scheduled for Saturday. The opposition and government are fundamentally divided over the aims of the conference. The government delegation has said the main issue of the talks is finding a solution to foreign-backed “terrorism”, by which it means the whole of the armed opposition. The opposition, however, had insisted that the regime commit in writing to the 2012 Geneva I communique, which called for a transition process. The communique urged Syria to form transitional governing authority that “could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups”. BBC

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