Kirkuk (Iraq) (AFP) - Security forces early Thursday ended an hours-long siege at a mall in the northern city of Kirkuk but not before militants killed nine people, security officials and medics said. Attacks by militants were also launched Wednesday in Baghdad, Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah, but the assault on the Jawaher Mall in Kirkuk was the deadliest.
Kirkuk (Iraq) (AFP) - A massive attack on a shopping mall in northern Iraq was the deadliest in violence that killed nine people nationwide on Wednesday amid fears of a slide into all-out conflict. The coordinated attack on the complex, which involved a car bomb, gunmen and would-be suicide bombers, came amid a surge in unrest that has claimed more than 6,200 lives this year. Officials have blamed a resurgent Al-Qaeda emboldened by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, but the government has itself faced criticism for not doing enough to address the concerns of Iraq's disaffected Sunni Arab minority. Attacks struck in Baghdad, Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah, but the ongoing attack on the Jawaher Mall in the ethnically divided northern city of Kirkuk was the deadliest.
Senior Hezbollah commander Hassan al-Laqis was assassinated early Wednesday in southern Beirut — a sharp blow to the Iranian-backed Shiite group. Hezbollah has no shortage of rivals eager to strike at its strongholds and leadership:
BAALBEK, Lebanon (AP) — The attackers waited in an olive grove around midnight. As the Hezbollah commander pulled into the garage of his nearby apartment building, they went in after him. Five bullets were pumped into his head and neck from a silencer-equipped pistol — an assassination that reverberated across the Middle East.
Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a police intelligence headquarters in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Wednesday, killing at least six people and wounding dozens more, a health official said. Hospitals in the city, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, counted six people killed and 47 wounded, said Sabah Amir Ahmed, head of the health directorate in Kirkuk. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Sunni Muslim insurgents linked to al Qaeda have regularly hit targets linked to the Shi'ite-led government and security services since the start of 2013. Areas around Kirkuk are strongholds of al Qaeda, according to security officials.
A man accused of hacking a soldier to death on a London street told police he was a "soldier of Allah" fighting a war against Britain but that the killing brought him little joy, a court heard Wednesday. Michael Adebolajo, who is on trial with Michael Adebowale for the brutal murder of Lee Rigby near his barracks in the south London district of Woolwich in May, made the comments during interviews with police after his arrest. Adebolajo has been asked to be referred to as Mujaahid Abu Hamza in court. In recordings of the interviews shown to the jury at the Old Bailey criminal court in London, 28-year-old Adebolajo blamed his actions on "wicked" leaders such as Prime Minister David Cameron and his predecessor Tony Blair.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki arrived in Iran on Wednesday, state television reported, for two days of talks that will also focus on the conflict raging in Syria. It is Maliki's first visit to Tehran since Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who champions engagement with the West, became Iran's president in August after defeating a pool of conservative candidates in a June election. Maliki's spokesman Ali Mussawi told AFP in Baghdad the premier's talks would focus on energy cooperation and "the necessity of fighting terrorism".
Iran indirectly challenged OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, announcing it plans to pump as much oil as it can once sanctions on its crude exports are lifted, even if its extra output drives prices ...
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Pope Francis called for prayers Wednesday for 12 Orthodox nuns reportedly taken by force from their convent in Syria by rebels. Religious officials in the region have said the women were abducted, but a Syrian opposition activist said they were merely removed for their own safety.
By Estelle Shirbon LONDON (Reuters) - A British army major disposed of a computer that contained original photographs of the bodies of Iraqis killed in disputed circumstances by throwing it into the sea from a ferry, a public inquiry heard on Wednesday. James Rands was appearing as a witness at the Al-Sweady inquiry into allegations that British troops executed and tortured Iraqis in the aftermath of a battle near the town of Majar al-Kabir in southern Iraq on May 14, 2004. Rands took photos of the bodies which are now key items of evidence in the inquiry. That act has become a sensitive issue because British lawyers for the Iraqis making the allegations have suggested that he got rid of the laptop to conceal that he had modified the original files to change the timing of the photos.
(Reuters) - Bombardier Inc said on Wednesday that Iraqi Airways has signed a firm purchase agreement to acquire five of its larger CSeries jetliners, ending a six-month order drought for the new plane. The $387 million agreement with Iraq's national carrier follows a letter of intent announced last month. It brings the total number of CSeries firm orders to 182. Iraqi Airways has options on 11 additional CS300s, making the potential value of the deal at $1.26 billion at list prices.
By Michael Holden LONDON (Reuters) - Britain announced new proposals to tackle political militancy on Wednesday following the murder of a British soldier in London this year, but some experts said measures to tackle radical Islamism were vague and could be counter-productive. Lee Rigby, 25, a veteran of the Afghan War, was hacked to death in broad daylight in the Woolwich district of London in May, a killing which prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to set up a taskforce on tackling 'radicalization'.
By Michael Holden LONDON (Reuters) - Britain announced new proposals to tackle political militancy on Wednesday following the murder of a British soldier in London this year, but some experts said measures to tackle radical Islamism were vague and could be counter-productive. Lee Rigby, 25, a veteran of the Afghan War, was hacked to death in broad daylight in the Woolwich district of London in May, a killing which prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to set up a taskforce on tackling 'radicalisation'.
OPEC agreed on Wednesday to hold its crude production ceiling at 30 million barrels per day despite oversupply concerns and competition from cheaper shale oil. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which pumps out about one third of the world's oil, failed again to decide on a new secretary-general amid group tensions, instead keeping Libya's Abdullah El-Badri as its administrative head for 2014. And Libya, where output of crude oil has fallen sharply on unrest in the country, will assume the cartel's rotating presidency for next year, OPEC added in a communique. The cartel, which could see higher production from its members Iran, Iraq and Libya in coming months, nevertheless faces competition from non-OPEC producers of shale oil.
By Estelle Shirbon LONDON (Reuters) - A British army major disposed of a computer that may have contained photographs of the bodies of Iraqis killed by the British in disputed circumstances by throwing it into the sea from a ferry, a public inquiry heard on Wednesday. James Rands was appearing as a witness at the Al-Sweady inquiry into allegations that British troops executed and tortured Iraqis in the aftermath of a battle near the town of Majar al-Kabir in southern Iraq on May 14, 2004. Rands, a captain at the time, was an intelligence officer based at Camp Abu Naji, a military base where 20 Iraqi bodies were taken after a fierce gunfight, the British say. The state of the bodies and the reason why they were at Camp Abu Naji are central issues in the inquiry because Iraqi witnesses say some of them were taken alive and later executed at the camp, and that some of the bodies were mutilated.
The editor of Britain's Guardian newspaper on Tuesday defended the publication of leaks by Edward Snowden, telling lawmakers under fierce questioning that the daily's staff were "patriots". Alan Rusbridger told a parliamentary committee that his newspaper had published just one percent of the files from former US National Security Agency contractor Snowden and the rest were secure. Britain's spy chiefs told parliament last month that the publication of the Snowden leaks by the Guardian and other papers including the New York Times had helped Britain's enemies. "We are not going to be put off by intimidation but nor are we going to behave recklessly," Rusbridger told the Home Affairs Select Committee, which summoned him as part of its counter-terrorism inquiry.
The long-term security pact between Washington and Afghanistan is in danger of falling apart, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai demanding more concessions and seemingly determined to extend negotiations to April’s Afghan presidential election. Now, experts are warning that the continued delay puts U.S. plans to withdraw the majority of its troops from the country within the coming year at risk. But this is a troubling assumption, according to Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute. “Even if the election is in April, that’s the first round [in Afghanistan],” Rubin said.
BRUSSELS (AP) — World diplomats issued a stern warning Tuesday to Afghan leaders in a new effort to help secure the war-torn nation's future with thousands of foreign forces after 2014. But officials backed off earlier U.S. threats to withdraw all troops if Afghan President Hamid Karzai doesn't agree to the offer before the end of the year.
NATO foreign ministers pressed Afghanistan Tuesday to sign an accord on the alliance's new role in Afghanistan and called for dialogue in Ukraine after Kiev ditched an accord with the EU, sparking violent protests. NATO said recent developments in the former Soviet state had been discussed and a declaration agreed, even though Ukraine was not formally on the agenda. "We condemn the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators in Ukraine," the declaration said. Ukraine is a partner of NATO, the military alliance formed in the Cold War to counter the Soviet Union, but Moscow jealously guards its influence in former Soviet states and trumped an EU association pact last week with a mixture of threats and inducements.
Iraq is optimistic about resolving a long-running dispute over plans by the country's autonomous Kurdish region to export oil to international markets through Turkey, its oil minister said on Tuesday. He said Iraq hoped to export 3.4 million barrels per day of crude oil next year, including 400,000 bpd from Iraqi Kurdistan, an area that remains relatively free of the upsurge in violence rocking other parts of the country. Turkey also voiced hope on Tuesday that an agreement would be hammered out to end the dispute, which centres on Baghdad's insistence that all energy sales should be via the central Iraqi government. "The ball is now in the court of northern Iraq and the central Iraqi government and I hope they reach agreement and give us good news," said Energy Minister Taner Yildiz whose government has offered to mediate in the dispute.
Attacks mostly targeting Sunni Arab areas of Baghdad as well as northern and western Iraq killed at least 23 people on Tuesday, the latest in a months-long surge in bloodletting. Officials have blamed a resurgent Al-Qaeda emboldened by the civil war raging in neighbouring Syria, but the government has itself faced criticism for not doing enough to address the concerns of Iraq's disaffected Sunni Arab minority. Shootings and bombings on Tuesday hit west Baghdad, as well as the predominantly Sunni cities of Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, Baquba, Tikrit, Samarra, Mosul and Tarmiyah. In the deadliest attack, twin roadside bombs exploded near municipal offices in Tarmiyah, a town just north of Baghdad that has seen multiple deadly attacks in recent weeks.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A new wave of Europeans is heading to Syria, their ranks soaring in the past six months as tales of easy living and glorious martyrdom draw them to the rebellion against Bashar Assad.