Fighting between Myanmar army, ethnic insurgents leaves at least 20 killed

Clashes between Myanmar soldiers and ethnic insurgents this week has killed at least 20 people near the northeastern border with China, Reuters reported. Myanmar’s Information Ministry said on Thursday that nine soldiers and 11 rebels were killed in a series of clashes from Monday in northern Shan and Kachin states. Various rebels groups have fought the central government in Myanmar since independence in 1948. Clashes often flare up despite ceasefires struck by the government with almost all of the factions.

Eight wounded in rocket attacks on Damascus

At least eight people were wounded in a rocket attack on residential areas of the Syrian capital on Thursday, state news agency SANA said. Shells fired from the east of Damascus could be heard landing in the center of the city, Reuters quoted a witness as saying. The projectiles were fired by Islam Army, an insurgent group based in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of town, according to Lebanon’s Hezbollah-run al-Manar television.

​32 dead, 11 missing, 15 rescued in TransAsia plane crash

The death toll in the crash landing of TransAsia plane in northern Taiwan rose to 32 as of Thursday, with 11 others remaining missing, and 15 people rescued, local officials said, warning that the number of victims could yet rise. TransAsia Airways flight GE235 was carrying 58 passengers when it slammed into a river in Taipei on Wednesday. Thirty one of the passengers were tourists from mainland China. Rescuers have pulled out the bodies of the jet’s pilot and co-pilot, both of whom died in the crash. A black box of the plane has also been retrieved.

Russia files UN initiative to cut off Islamic State’s funding

Russia has introduced a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that focuses on cutting off the Islamic State’s funding. “The draft resolution has already been presented and is currently being discussed. We hope that it will be adopted by the Security Council in the coming days,” spokesman of the Russian Mission to the UN, Aleksey Zaytsev said. The announcement comes a day after the 15-nation Security Council condemned the Islamic State’s execution of the Jordanian pilot, who was being held captive. In November, Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said that the Islamic State makes around $3 million per day by selling Syrian and Iraqi oil.

​Suspected ISIS gunmen attack Libya oilfield, kill 12

Twelve people have been killed in an attack by gunmen on a Libyan oilfield, Reuters quoted a local official as saying. Four of the victims were foreign nationals – two Filipino and two Ghanaian. “Most were beheaded or killed by gunfire,” said the commander of a security force in charge of protecting the al-Mabrook oilfield, Abdelhakim Maazab. Islamic State (formerly ISIS / ISIL) is said to be behind the attack, which took place on Tuesday night, according to French diplomatic and Libyan sources. The oilfield is located about 170 km (105 miles) south of Sirte. The latest attack comes after an assault on a hotel in Tripoli that killed at least nine people.

​Over 100 killed in Boko Haram attack in Cameroon

More than 100 people have been killed in a northern Cameroon town in the latest attack by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, Reuters quoted a local civic leader as saying. Residents of Fotokol were murdered inside their homes and in the local mosque on Wednesday. “Boko Haram entered Fotokol through Gambaru early in the morning and they killed more than 100 people in the mosque, in the houses and they burned property,” according to a man who lost one of his sons in the attack.

Greece’s Golden Dawn party members to stand trial on criminal charges

A Greek judicial panel ruled on Wednesday that the leader and members of the extreme right Golden Dawn party, totaling 72 people, will stand trial on accusations of having participated in a criminal group. The party came third in the elections last month with 6.3 percent of the votes. Thirteen members of the party were re-elected to the parliament and were due to be sworn on Thursday, but it is still unknown how the ruling will affect the situation. The party insists the charges are a part of political conspiracy against them.

Russia denounces ISIS murder of Jordanian pilot

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the execution of Jordanian pilot Muadh al-Kasasbeh who was brutally killed by Islamic State militants. The ministry offered its condolences to the family of al-Kasasbeh and the population of Jordan. The statement on the ministry’s official website called for a consolidation of efforts in the fight against terrorism. “Such brutal crimes once more emphasize the necessity to consolidate the efforts of the whole world community in the fight against absolute evil,” the statement said.

Machete attack in NE Congo leaves at least 21 killed

Machete-wielding attackers killed at least 14 men and seven women overnight in the town of Mayangose in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Reuters reported. Ugandan militants from the Allied Democratic Forces group that operates along the Congo border “this time… spared the young children,” Kavota said. Martin Kobler, head of the UN peacekeeping mission to Congo (MONUSCO), said that over 20 people had been killed in the attack.

No demands yet from Sudan captors of 2 Russians – airline

The captors of two Russian citizens in Sudan have not yet announced any demands for their release, TASS quoted UTair airline officials as saying on Wednesday. The Russian embassy earlier said it was working to free a manager of UTair airline, and a technician of UTair-Engineering, who were reportedly kidnapped in Sudan’s Central Darfur state on January 29 by unknown men.

Jordan ready to intensify role in anti-Islamic State coalition

Jordan will intensify its efforts in cooperation with an international coalition fighting the Islamic State, Reuters quoted a spokesman for the government as saying on Wednesday. The meeting with top security officials was headed by King Abdullah. The statement came a day after militants released a video purporting to show the brutal killing of a captured Jordanian pilot. “We are talking about a collaborative effort between coalition members to intensify efforts to stop extremism and terrorism to undermine, degrade and eventually finish Daesh,” Mohammad al-Momani said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

German govt approves draft law to prevent jihadist recruitment

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government approved a draft law on Wednesday aimed at preventing radical German Muslims from traveling to Iraq and Syria, Reuters said. The bill, when approved by parliament, will make Germany the second EU member state after France to implement “foreign fighters” measures sought by the UN in a resolution last year, according to Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert.

Australian reporter Greste freed in Egypt arrives in Brisbane

Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste arrived home in Australia on Thursday after his release from Egypt, AFP reported. The award-winning correspondent was deported from Cairo on Sunday. Greste was detained for more than 400 days for allegedly aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.

EU criticizes Jordan for execution of jihadists after pilot killed

The EU has issued a statement of solidarity with Jordan over the killing of one of its military pilots by Islamist fighters, but criticized Amman’s immediate execution of two Iraqi jihadists, Reuters reported. “While all efforts must be made to counter terrorism and hold the perpetrators accountable, our reaction to the threat posed by [the Islamic State] needs to be consistent with our common values on justice and the rights of prisoners,” foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Wednesday.

Egypt court sentences 230 anti-Mubarak activists to life

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced 230 activists from the 2011 revolt against Hosni Mubarak to life imprisonment, France 24 TV said, citing judicial sources. They included leading campaigner Ahmed Douma. Thirty-nine other defendants, all minors, were sentenced to 10 years in prison. All the defendants were reportedly found guilty of taking part in clashes with security forces near Cairo’s Tahrir Square in December 2011.

Ukraine parliament complains about Russian officials to Hague Tribunal

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovnaya Rada, on Wednesday recognized the jurisdiction of the Hague Tribunal. MPs also reportedly asked the court to bring Russian officials to justice for alleged crimes against Ukraine. The parliament also asked Ukrainian security services to collect evidence against officials in Russia and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics in eastern Ukraine about their alleged crimes.

Nearly 1,000 Iraq Kurdish fighters killed battling Islamic State since June

Nearly 1,000 Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have been killed fighting the Islamic State jihadist group since June, AFP reported. Jabbar Yawar, the secretary general of the ministry responsible for the Peshmerga, said on Wednesday that 999 Kurdish fighters were killed and 4,569 wounded between June 10 and February 3. Previous casualty figures released on December 10 put the toll at 727 killed and 3,564 wounded.

Amnesty International urges wealthy nations to accept Syrian refugees

Amnesty International says wealthy nations should agree to accept hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, maintaining they cannot safely remain within the region, AP said. About 380,000 of the 4 million Syrians sheltering in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey should be relocated abroad, the humans rights watchdog said in a report on the Syrian refugee crisis. The report published on Wednesday found that about 80,000 had been offered new homes as refugees overseas, while 300,000 more remain in legal limbo.

US-led forces launch 11 airstrikes on Syria’s Kobani

The US and its allies launched 11 airstrikes near the Syrian city of Kobani, Reuters said. The strikes were conducted since early Tuesday morning, according to the Combined Joint Task Force. They hit 10 tactical units of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), destroyed three staging positions and a fighting position. In Iraq, tactical units were targeted, as well as a facility that made improvised explosive devices and checkpoints near the cities of Bayji, Tal Afar, al Asad, Rawa, al Huwayja and Mosul.

Islamic State kills 50 captives in Syria this year

The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) has killed 50 people this year in Syria, accusing them of spying or being enemy fighters, Reuters said, citing a monitor. The ultra-hardline group killed the people mainly through beheadings and shootings, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Al-Qaeda’s Syria wing Al-Nusra Front killed six captives, while around 20 others were put to death by other insurgents or pro-government groups, the Observatory said.

Riots in northern Guinea leave 50 injured

Around 50 people were injured in riots in the town of Labe in northern Guinea, Reuters said. People protested a shake-up in the civil service and clashed with security forces, officials said on Wednesday. Labe is a stronghold of opposition to President Alpha Conde, who came to power in 2010 as the country’s first democratically elected leader. Around 24 members of the security forces and 25 civilians were hurt in the riots that started on Monday.

Armed men storm Libya’s al-Mabrook oilfield

Four local employees were possibly killed after an armed attack at the al-Mabrook oilfield in Libya this week, Reuters quoted a French diplomatic source as saying on Wednesday. The oilfield is run by Libyan state-run oil company NOC and France’s Total owns a stake in it. It was closed when the Es Sider oil port shut down in December due to clashes. Total had already withdrawn staff from the site in 2013. “The site was subcontracted to a Libyan firm,” according to the source.

9 Chadian soldiers, 200 Boko Haram fighters killed in clashes

Clashes between Chadian troops and Boko Haram fighters during a raid in neighboring Nigeria on Tuesday killed 200 Islamists and nine soldiers, AFP reported, citing Chad’s military. The military said on Wednesday the clean-up operations in the Nigerian town of Gamboru were continuing.

Minibus carrying Ukrainians collides with truck in SW Russia

A minibus reportedly carrying Ukrainian citizens smashed into a truck in southwest Russia’s Belgorod region on Wednesday, killing 11 people, TASS reported, citing the Interior Ministry. The Mercedes Benz minibus with Ukrainian plates, transporting 14 passengers, was reportedly heading from Kharkov, Ukraine, to Belgorod. It is thought the driver might have fallen asleep at the wheel. The minibus veered into the lane of oncoming traffic and collided with a truck, according to initial reports.

Syria urges Jordan to cooperate in fighting ISIS after pilot killing

Syria urged Jordan to work with it to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Qaeda’s Syria wing, condemning the “heinous” killing of a Jordanian pilot by militants, Reuters said. The Syrian Foreign Ministry called on Jordan, “to cooperate in the fight against terrorism represented by the organization Daesh and Al-Nusra Front… and other terrorist organizations associated with them in Syria and the region,” Syria’s news agency SANA said on Wednesday.

Russia won’t insist Ukrainians use passports for entry

The Russian Foreign Ministry regrets Ukrainian decision to close the border to Russian citizens with domestic IDs, or passports, TASS reported. However, Moscow will not introduce similar measures for Ukrainians, due to humanitarian reasons, the ministry said. It added that Russia has not yet received official notification from Kiev that starting on March 1, Russian citizens will be able to enter Ukraine only with an international travel passport.

Turkish regulator seizes control of bank linked to president’s rival Gulen

Turkey’s banking regulator has taken over control of Bank Asya, affiliated with a moderate Islamic movement which is locked in a feud with the government, AP said. The Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency said that the saving deposit insurance fund had seized control of Bank Asya’s management, appointing a new CEO and board, citing a violation of banking regulations on transparency. The move comes amid a government crackdown on the movement led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey has issued an arrest warrant for Gulen accusing him of plotting against the government.

‘Security reasons’ behind new Ukraine border rules for Russians – Poroshenko

Russian citizens will be required to present international passports when crossing into Ukraine starting from March 1 due to “security reasons,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told reporters on Tuesday. “The decision to tighten policy was solely based on security concerns,” Poroshenko said. The new passport rule was signed into law on Tuesday by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk. Prior to the new rule’s implementation, Russian citizens have qualified for visa-free entrance into Ukraine that required only a domestic passport. Earlier, Yatsenyuk reportedly attributed the new travel rule to an idea produced by Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was dismissed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday. “In reference to the international passport requirement for Russian citizens, if I heard correctly, the Prime Minister Yatsenyuk said that this initiative was initially Putin’s, who at one point expressed this idea…what Yatsenyuk said is not true,” Lavrov stressed. Ukrainian citizens are still exempt from the need to have international passports when crossing the Russian border. Media agencies


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