World News Quick Take

Agencies

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 - Page 7

SOUTH KOREA

Australia joins military drills

Australian combat troops have for the first time taken part in annual US-South Korea joint military drills, a defense ministry spokesman said yesterday. The 18-member army unit joined a landing drill held near the southeastern city of Pohang as part of the Foal Eagle US-South Korea joint military exercise, the spokesman said. Australia is a member of the 16-nation UN Command, and fought alongside the nation during the Korean War against North Korea and China. Australian casualties in the 1950-1953 war numbered more than 1,500, of whom 340 were killed, according to the Australian War Memorial’s official Web site. Participation in the recent drill marked the first time combat troops from a UN Command member state had joined a US-South Korea joint exercise since the Korean War, the spokesman said.

UNITED STATES

Biden renews defense vows

Vice President Joe Biden on Friday renewed the vow to staunchly defend Japan after days of threats and rhetoric from North Korea, as he met Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso at the White House. The two men held talks at the White House and also discussed the nascent talks on a region wide Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, Biden’s office said. “The vice president and deputy prime minister agreed that North Korea must end its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and comply with its international obligations,” a statement said. “They discussed ways to further deepen our security cooperation. In this context, the vice president reaffirmed that the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to Japan, including the extended deterrence offered by the US nuclear umbrella.”

INDONESIA

Grandma to appeal sentence

A British grandmother on death row for trafficking drugs into Bali will lodge an appeal with the highest court next week after losing a first bid to get the sentence lifted, her lawyer said on Friday. “We are going to send the notification that we are appealing to the Supreme Court next week, on Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Fadillah Agus, lawyer for Lindsay Sandiford. Sandiford was sentenced to death in January after cocaine with a street value of US$2.4 million was found in her suitcase as she arrived on the resort island in May last year, a shock verdict after prosecutors recommended 15 years. Police said she was at the center of a drugs-importing ring involving three other Britons — but the 56-year-old claimed she was forced to transport the drugs in order to protect her children whose safety was at stake.

MADAGASCAR

Kidnappers free Frenchman

Kidnappers have freed a French executive, who they said had been mistakenly targeted, in exchange for an undisclosed ransom, the victim said on Friday. Francois Raphael, director of construction firm Henri Fraise, was held for three days by four balaclava-clad, armed men who abducted him on Monday evening. “I was released yesterday night at about 9:30pm, I got home all right,” he said by telephone on Friday. “A ransom was paid, but you will understand that we do not want to disclose the amount.” He did not see the faces of his abductors as he was blindfolded, and was held 50m from his home. The kidnappers had contacted his wife on Tuesday and apologized, saying they had wanted to kidnap the company’s chairman who is currently in New York.

UNITED NATIONS

UN decries Darfur staff death

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is “appalled and saddened” by the fatal shooting of a Nigerian peacekeeper at an African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) base in Sudan’s Darfur region, he said on Friday. The attack, which came two days after the Sudanese government announced it had regained control of the area from rebels, also left two peacekeepers wounded, UN officials said. The UN statement said Ban was “deeply concerned” about restrictions imposed on UNAMID and humanitarian organizations by Sudan that are blocking the delivery of aid to civilians affected by recent clashes between the government and the Sudan Liberation Army’s Minni Minnawi faction. More than 40 peacekeepers have been killed in hostile action during UNAMID’s five-year history.

NIGERIA

‘Christmas bomber’ charged

The authorities on Friday charged a man with masterminding a 2011 Christmas Day bomb attack on a Catholic church in Abuja that killed 37 people. Security forces captured Kabiru Sokoto, the main suspect in the attack, in January last year. He escaped a day later, but was recaptured the following month. In court on Friday, he pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism. Justice Adeniyi Ademola adjourned trial to May 2. Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bombing of St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Abuja, which killed 37 people and wounded 57, in the deadliest of a series of attacks on Christmas Day.

TAJIKISTAN

Opposition leader attacked

A leader of the opposition Islamic Revival Party (IRP) was severely beaten on Friday evening in Dushanbe, a colleague said, in a sign of rising tensions ahead of presidential elections due in November. The IRP is the only opposition party represented in the parliament of the mainly Muslim nation of 8 million ruled for 20 years by President Imomali Rakhmon. “Several people attacked the deputy head of the IRP just outside his house. They beat him and kicked him, he was all covered in blood,” Khikmatullo Saifullozoda, another leading IRP member, told reporters. Mukhamadal Khayit was taken to hospital after sustaining moderate and severe wounds, Saifullozoda added. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack and what the motives were, but Saifullozoda linked it to politics. “The reason behind the beating is his active political activism, his civic opposition, his opposition to the current authorities,” Saifullozoda said.

YEMEN

Intelligence officer killed

Militants shot dead an intelligence officer on Friday night in Mukalla, capital of southeastern Hadramawt Province, a security official told reporters yesterday. “[Suspected] al-Qaeda gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on the officer Ibrahim Bameshel as he was on his way back home, killing him immediately,” the official said, adding that the assailants had fled. The authorities usually blame al-Qaeda for assaults on security officials carried out by gunmen on motorbikes. Al-Qaeda militants were driven out of most of their strongholds in the country’s south in June last year in an all-out offensive by government forces aided by local “resistance committees.” However, local sources say jihadists from the Ansar al-Sharia Islamist group have started distributing posters and leaflets in several towns across Hadramawt threatening members of the security forces and urging jihad. Some of their posters showed pictures of masked gunmen on motorbikes.

Agencies

UNITED NATIONS

UN decries Darfur staff death

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is “appalled and saddened” by the fatal shooting of a Nigerian peacekeeper at an African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) base in Sudan’s Darfur region, he said on Friday. The attack, which came two days after the Sudanese government announced it had regained control of the area from rebels, also left two peacekeepers wounded, UN officials said. The UN statement said Ban was “deeply concerned” about restrictions imposed on UNAMID and humanitarian organizations by Sudan that are blocking the delivery of aid to civilians affected by recent clashes between the government and the Sudan Liberation Army’s Minni Minnawi faction. More than 40 peacekeepers have been killed in hostile action during UNAMID’s five-year history.

NIGERIA

‘Christmas bomber’ charged

The authorities on Friday charged a man with masterminding a 2011 Christmas Day bomb attack on a Catholic church in Abuja that killed 37 people. Security forces captured Kabiru Sokoto, the main suspect in the attack, in January last year. He escaped a day later, but was recaptured the following month. In court on Friday, he pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism. Justice Adeniyi Ademola adjourned trial to May 2. Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bombing of St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Abuja, which killed 37 people and wounded 57, in the deadliest of a series of attacks on Christmas Day.

TAJIKISTAN

Opposition leader attacked

A leader of the opposition Islamic Revival Party (IRP) was severely beaten on Friday evening in Dushanbe, a colleague said, in a sign of rising tensions ahead of presidential elections due in November. The IRP is the only opposition party represented in the parliament of the mainly Muslim nation of 8 million ruled for 20 years by President Imomali Rakhmon. “Several people attacked the deputy head of the IRP just outside his house. They beat him and kicked him, he was all covered in blood,” Khikmatullo Saifullozoda, another leading IRP member, told reporters. Mukhamadal Khayit was taken to hospital after sustaining moderate and severe wounds, Saifullozoda added. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack and what the motives were, but Saifullozoda linked it to politics. “The reason behind the beating is his active political activism, his civic opposition, his opposition to the current authorities,” Saifullozoda said.

YEMEN

Intelligence officer killed

Militants shot dead an intelligence officer on Friday night in Mukalla, capital of southeastern Hadramawt Province, a security official told reporters yesterday. “[Suspected] al-Qaeda gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on the officer Ibrahim Bameshel as he was on his way back home, killing him immediately,” the official said, adding that the assailants had fled. The authorities usually blame al-Qaeda for assaults on security officials carried out by gunmen on motorbikes. Al-Qaeda militants were driven out of most of their strongholds in the country’s south in June last year in an all-out offensive by government forces aided by local “resistance committees.” However, local sources say jihadists from the Ansar al-Sharia Islamist group have started distributing posters and leaflets in several towns across Hadramawt threatening members of the security forces and urging jihad. Some of their posters showed pictures of masked gunmen on motorbikes.