|Standoff persists in
ABIDJAN (AFP) – Ivory Coast’s UN-recognised President
Alassane Ouattara enforced a blockade around his rival
Laurent Gbagbo’s Abidjan residence, as the United Nations
said it had found more than 100 bodies in the west of the
Reports of massacres in west Ivory Coast emerged as
Ouattara’s forces swept through the region on their way to
confronting Gbagbo in the economic capital, where the
humanitarian situation was dire Friday, with bodies lying on
the streets and shortages of food, water and medicines.
“The human rights team investigating... in west Cote
d’Ivoire found more than 100 bodies in the past 24 hours in
three locations,” Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva.
“All the incidents appear to be ethnically motivated,” he
said, while adding that “one has to be a little bit cautious
of assigning responsibilities”.
Ouattara promised in a televised address that “light will be
shed” on reports of massacres and other crimes.
“The authors of the crimes will be punished,” he said,
calling on his troops “to be exemplary in their behaviour
and to abstain from any crime, any violence against the
population or any act of pillage.”
Several hundred people were reportedly massacred in the
western town of Duekoue last week, with forces loyal to
Gbagbo and Ouattara blaming each other and the International
Criminal Court in The Hague announcing a formal probe.
In Abidjan, residents reported gunfire and explosions.
Gbagbo was still holding out in a bunker in the presidential
residence after Ouattara’s forces failed to remove him in an
aborted assault on Wednesday.
French forces later bombarded Gbagbo’s positions in a bid to
destroy heavy weaponry, and a Western source said the aim
was “to hit a maximum of objectives in order to reduce the
potential for resistance”.
“We have entered the post-Gbagbo era. The end is now in
sight,” French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero
told journalists in Paris. “The Gbagbo era is now over.”
Valero said Foreign Minister Alain Juppe had spoken with
Ouattara, the man deemed to have won a November presidential
In Washington US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN
chief Ban Ki-moon issued an alert on a potential
humanitarian crisis while denouncing attacks on UN
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme and other UN relief
agencies on Friday called for humanitarian corridors to
allow safe access to thousands of people who have fled the
|Clashes erupt around
Cairo’s Tahrir Square
Hundreds of protesters
demanding that Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president,
be put on trial for alleged corruption, have retaken Cairo’s
iconic Tahrir Square, hours after security forces attempted
to disperse them.
By 7a.m. (local time) on Saturday morning, army and central
security troops appeared to have withdrawn, leaving the
square to protesters who set vehicles on fire and began
setting up barricades made of furniture and left-behind
Hundreds of army and security forces troops had stormed the
square earlier, in an attempt to disperse the thousands of
In scenes reminiscent of the violent 18-day uprising that
ousted longtime President Mubarak in February, protesters
and riot police threw rocks at each other, and security
forces responded by firing tear gas, witnesses said.
Groups of protesters rallying around the southeast corner of
the square threw bottles and possibly petrol firebombs at
riot police, Michelle May, a freelance journalist, told Al
One of the main roads running east from Tahrir Square
towards Talaat Harb Square was virtually empty, and gunfire
seemed to have subsided, a witness said.
The military in a statement released through the state MENA
news agency, said that security forces were attempting to
enforce a 2am to 5am (local time) curfew.
“Elements from the interior ministry along with some noble
citizens confronted the riotous actions and enforced the
curfew without any losses,” the statement read. “The armed
forces stress that they will not tolerate any acts of
rioting or any act that harms the interest of the country
and the people.”
A separate statement carried on the military’s Facebook page
blamed “remnants” of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party for
the clashes, and ordered the arrest of four party members it
accused of “thuggery” during the sit-in.
|Death toll mounts in
Three Hamas militants have been
killed in an Israeli air strike on the southern Gaza Strip.
The deaths bring the toll from several days of Israeli
strikes to at least 17, including several civilians. Dozens
of people have been wounded.
Israel says it is responding to a Hamas missile fired at a
school bus, an attack it said had “crossed the line.”
The military wing of Hamas said that attack had been in
response to the killing of Hamas leaders last week.
Israel’s strikes and the dozens of rockets and mortars fired
by militants across the border represent the worst violence
in Gaza in two years.
Israel’s early morning attack on a vehicle in the south of
Gaza killed a senior Hamas commander and two of his aides,
both Hamas and Palestinian medical workers said.
Hamas named the commander as 29-year-old Tayser Abu Snima, a
leader of the militant group in Rafah.
The Israeli military also said it targeted a smuggling
tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border and a lorry carrying
|Blast kills leading
SRINAGAR (AFP) – A leading Muslim cleric and moderate
separatist was killed by a powerful explosion outside a
mosque in revolt-hit Indian Kashmir, police said.
Moulvi Shoukat Ahmad Shah was entering a mosque in Kashmir’s
main city of Srinagar for Friday prayers when the blast took
place, leaving him critically injured, a police officer told
Shah, who had survived several previous attempts on his
life, was rushed to hospital where doctors pronounced him
dead on arrival.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility but police
blamed the killing on Islamic rebels fighting New Delhi’s
rule in the Himalayan territory. Police said the killing had
sparked tension in Srinagar, summer capital of Kashmir and
known as the urban hub of the rebel movement.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah announced heightened security
in Kashmir following the attack.
|Libya rebels want
Not apology from NATO
BENGHAZI, Libya (AFP) – Libya’s rebels are “not seeking
an apology but an explanation” from NATO after a friendly
fire incident that killed four of their members, a spokesman
“We are not questioning the intention of the NATO,”
Shamsiddin Abdulmolah, told AFP.
“It appears that there has been a breakdown of
communication, perhaps due to the visibility on the
ground... and that the positions of our tanks have not make
clear to the NATO,” he said.
A NATO air strike hit rebel tanks west of the town of
Ajdabiya, killing two rebel fighters and two medics in the
second friendly fire incident in a week.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rassmussen expressed regret over the
deaths caused in the “very unfortunate incident.”
But the deputy commander of the alliance’s mission over
Libya, British Rear Admiral Russell Harding, refused to
apologise for the incident, saying NATO was unaware the
tanks belonged to the rebels.
Yet, General Abdelfatah Yunis, the rebel commander, said in
Benghazi that the insurgents had informed NATO that they
were moving T55 and T72 heavy tanks from Benghazi to Brega.
A source close to key Western envoys in Benghazi who are in
regular contact with the opposition Transitional National
Council said, “The problem is there are no official direct
links” between the rebel military leadership and NATO.
“It would make sense to get a NATO situational awareness
team on the ground” to gather information that would “cut
down the chances of situations like yesterday (Thursday),”
the source said.
The source added that com
|African leaders set
for key visit
A team of African leaders, headed
by South African President Jacob Zuma, is heading for Libya
on a key diplomatic mission.
The five heads will visit both Tripoli and the rebel-held
city of Benghazi to push for a truce between the forces of
Col Muammar Gaddafi and the opposition.
The EU is pressing for a humanitarian mission to be allowed
into the city of Misrata, which has seen heavy fighting.
Clashes are continuing between the two sides near Ajdabiya
in the east.
Mr Zuma will head an African Union team that will also
include leaders from DR Congo, Mali, Mauritania and Uganda.
The South African foreign ministry said: “The committee has
been granted permission by Nato to enter Libya and to meet
in Tripoli with the Libyan leader.
“The AU delegation will also meet with the Interim
Transitional National Council in Benghazi on 10 and 11
It added: “Key on the agenda of both meetings will be the
immediate implementation of a ceasefire from both sides and
the opening of a political dialogue between the two
parties.” (BBC News)
refuelling Iran nuclear plant
MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia resumed loading fuel into Iran’s
first nuclear power plant after it had to be removed because
of an apparent technical fault, news reports said.
The Atomstroyexport agency which oversaw the Bushehr plant’s
construction said in a statement that the refuelling
operation began after the plant had been re-checked and its
various pieces “washed through,” news agencies reported.
It was not immediately clear from the statement when the
Bushehr plant would be commissioned.
Russia last month blamed the delay on internal wear-and-tear
at the plant, whose construction was initially launched with
the help of Germany’s Siemens company in the 1970s.
It also blamed Iran for forcing Russian engineers to work
with outdated pieces in the plant, whose construction has
been bitterly opposed by Iran’s arch-foe Israel.
|Teen says 400 Pakistan
suicide bombers in training
ISLAMABAD (AFP) – A
teenager arrested as an accomplice to Pakistan’s deadliest
suicide bombing of the year has said that up to 400 suicide
bombers are being groomed to wage carnage in the
Umar Fidayee, 14, said the would-be bombers were being
trained in North Waziristan, the premier Al-Qaeda and
Taliban fortress in Pakistan’s tribal belt where US
officials want Pakistan to flush out militant strongholds.
He made the remarks in an interview from his hospital
bedside, where he is being treated after detonating a hand
grenade in the April 4 attack that killed 50 people at a
13th century Sufi shrine.
It was Pakistan’s deadliest bomb attack since November.
Police arrested Fidayee as an alleged accomplice and said
they removed his own suicide vest, which he failed to
detonate in a crowd of hundreds in Dera Ghazi Khan just
minutes after two other bombers blew themselves up.
Shown covered in tubes and bandages, the teen appeared to
express remorse and lifted the lid on harrowing details of
his training at the camp in the Mir Ali district of North
Waziristan, which lies on the border with Afghanistan.
“Three hundred and fifty to 400 would-be suicide bombers are
getting training in Mir Ali in North Waziristan,” he said in
the interview broadcast by Pakistani television channels
Samaa, Express, ARY and Geo.
“I was trained for two months and saw many boys being
trained there,” he said, going on to appeal on Pakistanis to
“please forgive me”.
“God has given me a new life but I am sad that we killed
innocent people, innocent children,” he said.
Fidayee said he was initially recruited on the understanding
that he would be smuggled into Afghanistan to kill