In the world | Africatime
Thursday 23 March 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Three people were killed in an "Islamist-related" attack in the heart of London on Wednesday when a man mowed down pedestrians on a bridge, then stabbed a police officer outside parliament before being shot dead.

Here is what we know about the deadliest attack in Britain since 2005.

- What happened? -

At around 2:40 pm (1440 GMT), the attacker rammed a car along the pavement on Westminster Bridge, a busy traffic route that is also a popular tourist spot with its views of parliament and its Big Ben clock tower.

(AFP )

The prohibition on carry-on electronics for certain flights to the US and Britain shows both the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda remain able to mount potent threats to civil aviation despite tighter airport security, experts say.

On Tuesday, US authorities ordered a ban on laptop computers, tablets, cameras and other items larger than cell phones in passenger cabins of direct US-bound flights from certain airports in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan.

(AFP )

More and more Gazans are falling ill from their drinking water, highlighting the humanitarian issues facing the Palestinian enclave that the UN says could become uninhabitable by 2020.

The situation has already reached crisis point in the war-scarred, underdeveloped and blockaded territory, says Monther Shoblak, general manager of the strip's water utility.

"More than 97 percent of the water table is unfit for domestic use because of salinisation never before seen," he said.

(AFP )

Ten Egyptian soldiers were killed in two roadside bombings as they clashed with Islamic State group jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula, the military said on Thursday.

Fifteen jihadists were also killed in the fighting, the military said in a statement, without saying when the incidents took place.

The military said the clashes broke out when soldiers raided "an extremely dangerous" jihadist hideout.

The Islamic State group had said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon that it blew up two army vehicles during clashes south of the Sinai city of El-Arish.

(AFP )

A series of explosions hit a munitions depot in eastern Ukraine overnight, the military said Thursday, blaming the incident on an "act of sabotage".

"A fire broke out ... as a result of an act of sabotage at a depot in the town of Balakliya where missiles and munitions were kept," Ukraine's Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoliy Matios said in a statement. "The fire led to the detonation of munitions."

(AFP )

President Donald Trump faces a reckoning Thursday as US lawmakers vote on his presidency's biggest legislative test, the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, as conservatives vowed to kill it unless important last-minute changes are made.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives votes on the controversial measure despite challenges over whether Trump and ally House Speaker Paul Ryan have enough backing to get the measure over the finish line.

(AFP )

Huddled in makeshift shipping container homes on a South Korean waterfront, the relatives of the missing from the Sewol ferry disaster have endured a harrowing wait to recover their dead children.

Nearly three years ago Lee Keum-Hui's daughter Eun-Hwa went on a school trip and never returned.

Lee rushed to Jindo, a five-hour drive from the family home in Ansan, on the day the Sewol sank, hoping to bring her frightened daughter home. She has lived at Paengmok harbour, the closest port to accident, ever since, unable to begin mourning.

(AFP )

British police arrested seven people in armed raids Thursday linked to the deadly "Islamist-related" attack outside parliament in which three people were killed and the assailant was shot dead.

Britain's top anti-terror officer Mark Rowley also said 29 people were treated in hospital, including seven who are still in critical condition, following Wednesday's assault on the symbol of the country's democracy.

"We have searched six addresses and made seven arrests," Rowley told reporters, adding that the raids included locations in London and the central city of Birmingham.

(AFP )

Deadly fighting, a rise in jihadism, the threat of famine -- two years after Saudi Arabia intervened against Iran-backed rebels, Yemen is more unstable than ever.

The chaos has also seen fighting erupt in vital Red Sea shipping lanes, and Riyadh's ally the United States stepping up its involvement.

The war has become "a quagmire", Peter Salisbury, a research fellow at London's Chatham House, said ahead of the March 26 anniversary of the intervention of the Saudi-led coalition.

(AFP )

Injuries rocked New Zealand and South Africa Thursday, two days out from the start of the third and final Test in Hamilton with Tim Southee ruled out and Quinton de Kock doubtful.

New Zealand, under pressure to win if they are to level the series, were already sweating on their firepower and the availability of Trent Boult when his new-ball partner Southee was sidelined by a hamstring injury.

(AFP )

Syrian rivals were to resume UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva on Thursday, with escalating violence and deadlock on key issues dimming hopes of a breakthrough.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura tried to strike an optimistic note when the previous round ended last month.

He insisted government and rebel negotiators had agreed on a "clear agenda" and that "everything is ready" for the talks to move forward.

(AFP )

Josleidy Ramirez, a FARC guerrilla, never had a chance to raise the son she gave birth to 15 years ago in the middle of Colombia's civil war.

Now, with peace on the horizon, she is four months pregnant and looking forward to the chance to finally be a mom.

A baby boom has swept the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as the leftist rebel group has embarked on a historic peace process with the government.

Dozens of babies have been born to guerrilla parents since peace talks opened in 2012.

(AFP )

A house clad in mirrors pops out of the California desert. It blends into the landscape, reflecting a kaleidoscope of the urban grid and arid valley of Palm Springs -- to the delight of photographers and selfie-seekers.

This is Doug Aitken's "Mirage," one of the showstoppers of Desert X, an exhibition of 16 site-specific monumental works by international artists that spans southern California's Coachella Valley.

(AFP )

New Zealand and South Africa were both hit by injuries Thursday, two days from the start of the third Test, with Tim Southee ruled out and Quinton de Kock in doubt.

New Zealand bowling spearhead Southee has a torn hamstring while de Kock is nursing a ligament injury to the index finger on his right hand.

Southee's injury left New Zealand sweating on the fitness of his new-ball partner Trent Boult who missed the second Test, won by South Africa by eight wickets, because of leg soreness.

(AFP )

South Korea’s sunken Sewol ferry emerged from the waters Thursday, nearly three years after it went down with the loss of more than 300 lives and dealt a crushing blow to now-ousted president Park Geun-Hye.

Television pictures showed one side of the 6,825-tonne vessel, its white structure rusted and filthy, above the waves between two giant salvage barges.

The complex operation -- one of the largest raisings of an entire ship ever attempted -- comes as the third anniversary approaches of one of the country's worst-ever maritime disasters.

(AFP )

World leaders unanimously condemned the attack in the heart of London by a man who was shot dead by armed police, with many saying they stand with Britain.

At least three people were killed and more than 40 wounded in the attack outside parliament Wednesday when a man mowed down pedestrians with a car then leapt out and stabbed a police officer.

Prime Minister Theresa May described the attack as "sick and depraved" saying the assailant chose the site as an assault on Britain's democratic values.

- Germany -

(AFP )

Amnesty International on Thursday condemned the United States and Britain for transferring arms to Saudi Arabia to use in its war in Yemen.

The rights group said the two countries had together sent more than five billion dollars (4.6 billion euros) worth of arms to Riyadh since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015.

That was more than 10 times their humanitarian aid to Yemen during the same period, it said.

The London-based watchdog described the alleged arms transfers as a "shameful contradiction" of aid efforts by the United States and Britain.

(AFP )

Donald Trump's communications may have been swept up in intelligence gathering on suspected foreign agents, according to explosive allegations made by the Republican head of the House intelligence committee.

Devin Nunes -- who worked on Trump's transition team and is now leading an investigation into possible links between that campaign team and Russia -- said Trump's communications may have been intercepted late last year.

(AFP )

Four people were killed and 40 injured after being run over and stabbed in a lightning attack at the gates of British democracy attributed by police to "Islamist-related terrorism".

The attack unfolded on Wednesday across Westminster Bridge in the shadow of Big Ben, a towering landmark that draws tourists by the millions and stands over Britain's Houses of Parliament -- the very image of London.

(AFP )

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Thursday he may impose martial law and suspend elections for tens of thousands of local posts, fuelling concerns about democracy under his rule.

Duterte said he was considering both measures as part of his controversial campaign to eradicate illegal drugs in society, and that martial law would solve a range of other security threats.

"If I declare martial law, I will finish all the problems, not just drugs," Duterte told reporters in a pre-dawn briefing after returning from neighbouring Thailand, which is under military rule.

(AFP )

Tens of thousands of Argentine public school teachers protested Wednesday for higher salaries, the latest salvo in an increasingly nasty dispute with President Mauricio Macri's government.

A sea of teachers and students marched on the Plaza de Mayo, the square in front of the presidential palace, many waving signs reading "I got stuck in public school, but I'm learning."

That was a reference to a gaffe by Macri on Tuesday, when he lamented the fate of those "stuck" in Argentina's public schools.

"Argentine teachers are angry," said protest leader Sonia Alesso.

(AFP )

Brazil's government fought Wednesday to save the country's meat industry from getting burned in a corruption scandal that has prompted several countries to pull Brazilian beef and chicken from the menu.

Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi did not mince his words.

"What we are suffering now is a blow, a punch to the stomach," he told the Senate.

"We have to recover, to reorganize our forces, to travel around the world and to show that what happened here was that a few people did wrong but that the system or the industry was not at fault."

(AFP )

The United Nations has raised less than a third of the funding needed to prevent famine in Somalia, a spokesman said Wednesday, ahead of a Security Council meeting on the crisis in the drought-hit country.

The humanitarian crisis is worsening in Somalia with more than 300 deaths from cholera and diarrhea since the beginning of the year, according to UN figures.

About $864 million is needed for Somalia this year and so far only 31 percent has been pledged, said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

(AFP )

A new vaccine that is cheap to make and does not require refrigeration has shown promise in preventing rotavirus, a contagious and fatal disease that disproportionately strikes children in Africa, researchers said Wednesday.

A trial in Niger found that the new vaccine was almost 67 percent effective in preventing gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus, which is the most common cause of severe diarrheal disease in the world.

(AFP )

A Luxembourg court on Wednesday denied a demand by Tehran to repatriate $1.6 billion of Iranian assets claimed by the US as compensation for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The judge ruled that the assets could remain frozen in the small EU nation for now, awaiting a separate judgment on the details of the case.

In 2012, a New York judge ordered Iran to pay $7 billion in damages to the families and estates of victims from the attacks, arguing that the country had aided Al-Qaeda by allowing the group's members to travel through its territory.

(AFP )

Three French pupils on a school trip were among those hurt in Wednesday's deadly car ramming attack near the British parliament in London, two seriously.

French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said three students were hurt in the assault that claimed three lives and left around 20 others injured.

Local officials in the western region of Brittany, where the French students are from, said two of them were in serious condition.

French President Francois Hollande sent a message of "solidarity" and "support" for Britons and Prime Minister Theresa May.

(AFP )

Britain must reach a deal on what it owes the EU and on the fate of European citizens post-Brexit before talks can start on a future trade deal, EU negotiator Michel Barnier said Wednesday.

Frenchman Barnier's comments were the first major statement of intent from Brussels since Britain announced on Monday that it will trigger the two-year divorce process on March 29.

He set out what he said were the key areas including the exit bill, the rights of 4.5 million EU nationals living in Britain and vice versa, and what will happen to the border in Northern Ireland.

(AFP )

Austria said on Wednesday it would double the amount of money paid to migrants who voluntarily return home, as part of a campaign to speed up the repatriation of around 50,000 asylum seekers.

They would be offered 1,000 euros ($1,080) instead of 500 euros, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said.

The scheme, run in collaboration with pro-refugee groups, is primarily aimed at "those who are not likely to be granted the right to long-term residence", he told a press conference in Vienna.

(AFP )

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres travels to Jordan next week to attend an Arab summit following a row over the release of a UN report accusing Israel of being an apartheid state.

Guterres arrives in Amman on Monday for talks with King Abdullah II and to visit a refugee camp ahead of the Arab League's annual summit near the Dead Sea on Wednesday, said a UN spokesman on Wednesday.

Last week, Jordanian diplomat Rima Khalaf resigned in protest after Guterres asked her to withdraw a report accusing Israel of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians.

(AFP )

A lengthy strike at the world's largest copper mine, BHP Billiton's Escondida in Chile, forced the Anglo-Australian mining giant to suspend plans Wednesday for two major investments there.

BHP Billiton, which owns a 57.5 percent stake in the mine, said its plans to build new desalination and concentration plants there were on hold because of the strike.

The company said in a statement the strike had made it impossible for contractors to resume work on the two facilities.

(AFP )

Travellers across the Middle East expressed frustration Wednesday at a ban on large electronic devices for flights to the United States and Britain that has sparked confusion and speculation.

From Saturday, passengers on flights to the United States and Britain from major hubs in Turkey and the Arab world will have to check in any device larger than a smartphone, including laptops and tablets.

The United States and Britain have cited intelligence indicating passenger jets could be targeted via explosives planted in electronic devices.

(AFP )

Seven people were injured Wednesday when a train travelling from the Italian city of Milan to Basel in Switzerland derailed, police and railway officials said.

The Eurocity train, which was carrying 160 passengers and was operated by Trenitalia, had just left the station when several carriages overturned and fell across the track near the central Swiss city of Lucerne.

"Five of the injured have been taken to hospital," a Lucerne police spokesman said.

(AFP )

Three people were killed and 20 injured in a "terrorist" attack at the gates of British democracy Wednesday when a man mowed down pedestrians, then stabbed a policeman in front of parliament before being shot dead.

The attack unfolded in the shadow of Big Ben, along the broad walkway across Westminster Bridge which draws tourists by the millions for its iconic view of the towering landmark that stands over Britain's Houses of Parliament -- the very image of London.

(AFP )

While their American and European peers twisted and shouted to The Beatles in the 1960s, in Cuba childhood sweethearts Gisela and Hector kept their Beatlemania a naughty secret.

Now, still Beatles-crazy after all these years, but with the communist island's Cold War-era censorship of rock music a thing of the past, they are making up for lost time.

"We are very happy that Cuba is becoming reconciled to the Beatles," says Gisela, 64.

She and Hector, 65, have decorated their home with pictures, posters and souvenirs dedicated to the British band.

(AFP )

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Wednesday expressed "regret" over his comments that southern European countries blew their money on "drinks and women" but rejected calls to resign.

Dijsselbloem faced a firestorm with Portugal's prime minister and former Italian premier Matteo Renzi calling for his immediate departure, and the head of the European Parliament condemning the "racist and sexist" remarks.