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7 July 2012
Libya – The Voice of America reported: Counting has begun as polls closed across Libya, many Libyans taking to the streets to celebrate even though results may not be announced for days. Voters streamed into polling stations in Tripoli and across Libya Saturday hoping the country’s first multi-party elections in 60 years mark the start of a new era. In some parts of the capital crowds began gathering more than an hour before polling places opened. The electoral commission said the turnout could exceed 60 percent. In Tripoli, voter Allah Agars was overjoyed by the prospect of a new Libya free of the dictatorship of Moammar Gadhafi.
Afghanistan – FOX NEWS reported: International donors pledged Sunday $16 billion in badly needed development aid for Afghanistan over the next four years when most foreign troops will leave as Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged the international community not to abandon his country. The major donors’ conference, attended by about 70 countries and organizations, is aimed at setting aid levels for the crucial period through and beyond 2014, when most NATO-led foreign combat troops will leave and the war-torn country will assume responsibility for most of its own security. “I request Afghanistan’s friends and partners to reassure the Afghan people that you will be with us,” Karzai said in his opening statement. Japanese foreign minister and U.S. officials traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the donors have made $16 billion available through 2015, which would be in line with the nearly $4 billion per year that the Japanese co-hosts had said they were hoping to achieve during the one-day conference.
Russia – The BBC reported: Flash floods caused by torrential rain have swept the southern Russian Krasnodar region, killing 144 people, officials say. The floods, the worst there in living memory, struck at night, reportedly without warning. TV pictures showed people scrambling onto their rooftops to escape. President Vladimir Putin has flown over the region by helicopter and has had emergency talks with officials in the worst-hit town of Krymsk. Most of those who died were in and around Krymsk, a town of 57,000 people. But nine deaths were reported in the Black Sea resort of Gelendzhik with a further two in the port town of Novorossiysk.
Syria – Reuters reported: Syria’s conflict spilled further into Lebanon on Saturday when mortar fire from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces hit villages in the north, killing five people after rebels crossed the border to seek refuge, residents said. Rebels fighting to unseat Assad have used north Lebanon as a base and his forces have at times bombed villages and even pursued insurgents over the border, threatening to stoke tension in Lebanon, whose sectarian rifts mirror those in Syria. Residents of Lebanon’s Wadi Khaled region said several mortar bombs hit farm buildings five to 20 km (3 to 12 miles) from the border at around 2 a.m. At midday villagers reported more explosions and said they heard gunfire close to the border. In the village of al-Mahatta, a house was destroyed, killing a 16-year-old girl and wounding a two-year old and a four-year old, family members told Reuters. A 25-year-old woman and a man were killed in nearby villages, residents said.
Pakistan – The Guardian UK reported: The death toll from a US drone strike in Pakistan rose to 19 on Saturday, increasing tensions ahead of a meeting between secretary of state Hillary Clinton and her Islamabad counterpart. Pakistani authorities increased the estimate from an initially reported 12 suspected militants who were killed in the attack in the Dattakhel region in North Waziristan on Friday. On Sunday, Clinton is due to meet with Pakistan’s foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, in Tokyo. That meeting, on the sidelines of a major conference on Afghanistan, will be given added pique as a result of the increased use of drones by the CIA in recent months. Friday’s strike came just days after Washington and Islamabad resolved a protracted dispute over the use of unmanned armed aircraft, with Clinton apologising for an air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.
United Kingdom – The Herald Sun of Australia reported: Police have arrested a seventh person in connection with a suspected plot to carry out a major terrorist attack on British soil. A 22-year-old woman was detained at an address in Hackney, east London. She was arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said. The arrest, by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, follows six others made on Thursday. The woman is in custody at a south-east London police station. On Thursday British Muslim convert Richard Dart, 29, was one of the six people arrested over the suspected terror plot. Dart, who changed his name to Salahuddin al-Britani after converting, is believed to have been one of three people detained in Ealing, west London, and was arrested in the street.
Iran – The boston.com via (AP) reported: Iran has a plan to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the passageway through which a fifth of the world’s oil flows, if its interests are seriously threatened, a senior Iranian military commander said Saturday. The comments by General Hasan Firouzabadi, chairman of Iran’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, were made days after the European Union enforced a total oil embargo against Iran for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program.
Romania – The Voice of America reported: Romania has been rocked by political turmoil after parliament suspended President Traian Basescu from office, paving the way for a referendum on his future later this month. The procedure comes despite European Union and U.S. concerns over the status of democracy in the former communist nation. Basescu was suspended from his job Saturday after 256 legislators voted in favor of a procedure that could lead to him being permanently removed from office. Only 114 lawmakers were against the action. Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu was appointed interim president. Reacting to the vote, Basescu said he will now prepare for the July 29 referendum when Romanians will get a final say on his fate.
Yemen – The Washington Post reported: Security forces exchanged gunfire with protesters in southern Yemen during rallies Saturday calling for the region’s secession, leaving at least four people dead, security officials said. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in cities across the country to mark the anniversary of the capture of the southern port city Aden by forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh during the country’s 1994 civil war, effectively ending the southerners’ bid to secede. South Yemen was a separate country before it merged with North Yemen under Saleh in 1990. Many in the south still complain of discrimination and unfair treatment by the government. There were conflicting reports about how the violence at Saturday’s rallies began.
Congo – Reuters reported: Rebels in Congo on Saturday called for negotiations with the government in Kinshasa to end violence in the east of the country, a day after seizing a minerals transit town near the border with Uganda, a senior rebel commander said. The so-called M23 movement, which seized the border town of Bunagana on Friday in fighting that has forced thousands to flee their homes, said it would not advance on other urban areas if talks went ahead. The new fighting in minerals-rich North Kivu province has dampened hopes of revival which began in the region after a short lull in fighting after two decades of instability. It risks dragging the vast, loosely governed central African state back into war and damaging fragile relations with Rwanda, which has repeatedly denied allegations that the rebels are receiving cross-border support.
Syria – Reuters reported: U.N. peace envoy Kofi Annan said he and President Bashar al-Assad agreed on Monday on an approach to Syria’s conflict that he would now take to the opposition, and flew on to Iran for talks with the main regional ally of Damascus. The former U.N. secretary general is trying to rescue his six-point peace plan, which was worked out with the Syrian government and rebels in April but faltered because the ceasefire it was supposed to begin with never took hold. Major powers agreed at a meeting with Annan on June 30 that a transitional government should be set up in Syria, but remain at odds over what part Assad might play in the process. “I just had a positive and constructive discussion with President Assad,” Annan said before leaving for Tehran.
8 July 2012
Afghanistan – Reuters reported: In what was an extraordinarily violent day even by Afghan standards, separate incidents on Sunday killed seven Western troops, including six Americans who died in a single blast, along with five Afghan police officers and at least 18 civilians, Western and Afghan officials said. The six Americans died in an explosion in eastern Afghanistan, where fighting has been on the increase. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization force confirmed the deaths late Sunday without disclosing the nationality of those killed, but a U.S. official said they were Americans. In recent months, the pace of military deaths caused by homemade bombs, had slowed, mainly because of better equipment and improved detection methods. Two other Western troops were killed over the weekend in southern Afghanistan, the military announced: one in an insurgent attack Sunday, making it one of the year’s deadliest days for NATO forces; and another in a bombing Saturday.
Afghanistan – The Sydney Morning Herald of Australia reported: The scene that Afghan officials say was caught on video last month near Kabul was as horrific as it was once common in Afghanistan: a Taliban fighter executing a woman with repeated shots to the back of her head as his compatriots and scores of villagers watched and then cheered. The crime the woman was accused of: adultery. The video, which has begun circulating in Kabul, recalls the Taliban’s five-year reign in Afghanistan, when public executions were advertised on the radio and people accused of crimes were shot in front of crowds that packed the capital’s stadium. Adultery was among the crimes punishable by death. Watching … this frame grab shows a gathering of people watching the execution by gunfire of a woman married to a member of a hardline Taliban militant group. The execution captured on the video took place in the Shinwari District of Parwan province, in central Afghanistan, less than a two-hour drive from Kabul. It occurred on or around June 23, said Colonel Masjidi, a senior provincial police official. Colonel Masjidi, like many Afghans, uses a single name.
Syria – The St. Louis Today.com reported: Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he is not afraid of meeting the same fate as the deposed and disgraced leaders of Libya and Egypt, saying he has nothing in common with them. In one of his rare interviews with Western media since the deadly uprising in Syria erupted last year, Assad brushed off a question about whether he feared for his family, including his wife and three children. “It’s a completely different situation,” he told German broadcaster ARD. “What’s happening in Egypt is different from what is happening in Syria. … You cannot compare,” he said. He also rejected any comparisons with Libya, where rebels helped by NATO airstrikes toppled the regime. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed while fleeing advancing opposition fighters. “Describing what happened to al-Gadhafi, this is savage, this is (a) crime,” he said in the interview, which was conducted in English.
Libya – Reuters reported: Wartime rebel prime minister Mahmoud Jibril took an early lead in Libya’s national assembly election, according to partial tallies released on Monday that pointed to a weaker than expected showing for Islamist parties. If confirmed that trend would set Libya apart from other Arab Spring countries such as Egypt and Tunisia where groups with overtly religious agendas have done well – although Jibril insists his multi-party alliance is neither secular nor liberal and includes sharia Islamic law among its core values. Saturday’s poll was the first free national vote in six decades and drew a line under 42 years of rule under former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. International observers said it went well despite violent incidents that killed at least two people. Jibril’s National Forces Alliance (NFA) was heading for landslide victories in the Tripoli suburb of Janzour and the western region towns of Zlitan, Misalata, Tarhouna and Khoms with over three-quarters of votes counted in those areas.
Nigeria – The Voice of America reported: Gunmen in northern Nigeria opened fire at a mass burial on Sunday, killing more than 20 people, including two politicians. The politicians “went for the burial, and then gunmen were there, and then they killed them,” said Hafsat Baba, the national women’s leader for the political party Action Congress of Nigeria. The two politicians who were killed, Senator Gyang Dantong and the Majority Leader of the Plateau State Assembly, Gyang Fulani, were attending the burial of about 50 who had been shot dead by armed gangs in two villages near Jos on Saturday. The Kaduna-based Baba said there are reports that different ethnic groups are blaming each other for the violence. There is tension in the region between Muslim Fulani herdsman and Birom agriculturalists. Though authorities suspect the gunmen were Fulani, the Fulani have accused local security forces.
DR Congo – The Voice of America reported: Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have taken control of an eastern town from fleeing government troops – their second such seizure since Friday. Representatives of the M23 rebel movement said they took Rutshuru around midday Sunday without any fighting. A rebel leader told reporters M23 will take more towns until the government agrees to negotiations. The group is made up of former soldiers who mutinied earlier this year. They are believed to be loyal to Bosco Ntaganda, a militia leader wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.