Saturday 27 May 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Tens of thousands of people rallied in Madrid on Saturday for a "march of dignity" to demand better wages and job security as Spain's economy improves.

Demonstrators from all over the country marched down Madrid's main avenue, the Gran Via, behind a banner reading "bread, work, homes and equality." Dozens of trade unions and leftwing groups joined the protest.

Organisers put the turnout at 200,000, while the local prefecture put it at only 6,000. An estimate by AFP journalists put it in the tens of thousands.

(AFP )

Britain on Saturday lowered the terror threat level which was hiked after this week's carnage in Manchester as police released CCTV footage of bomber Salman Abedi on the night of the attack.

The move to scale back the threat level from critical to severe was announced by Prime Minister Theresa May who said there were now 11 suspects in custody over Monday night's bombing targeting young fans at a pop concert.

(AFP )

The grave of General Charles de Gaulle, France's World War II hero and post-war president, was vandalised on Saturday, police said.

A man aged in his thirties stepped onto the grave and kicked the base of a 1.5-metre (4.9-feet) -high stone cross at its head, causing the cross to topple over and break, they said.

The gravestone itself was undamaged, they said.

The simple grave, located in the village of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises in the northern French department of Haute-Marne, draws tens of thousands of visitors each year.

(AFP )

Police on Saturday released security camera images of Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi on the night he massacred 22 people at a pop concert.

Investigators also gave details of the 22-year-old's last hours as they appealed to the public for any information about his movements in the days running up to Monday night's attack.

The photographs taken from CCTV footage show a bespectacled Abedi, who has a small moustache, in trainers, jeans, black sleeves, a black cap and a black puffer waistcoat, over which the straps of his backpack can be seen.

(AFP )

South Africa captain AB de Villiers insisted his side had done nothing wrong after they found themselves caught up in a fresh ball-tampering row on Saturday as they lost their one-day international series against England.

The hosts somehow managed to win by two runs at Southampton to go 2-0 up when it seemed South Africa were on the brink of levelling matters ahead of Monday's third and final ODI at Lord's.

As if that was not bad enough for the tourists, de Villiers thought he might be accused of ball-tampering during England's innings

(AFP )

A French photojournalist held in Turkey for nearly three weeks has ended a week-long hunger strike, press freedom body Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Saturday.

Photographer Mathias Depardon was detained on May 8 while working on a report in Hasankeyf in the southeastern Batman province for National Geographic magazine.

He has been held ever since despite reports that he would be deported and began his hunger strike on May 21.

(AFP )

Ben Stokes struck a superb century before pacemen Josh Ball and Mark Wood helped England seal a dramatic and series-clinching two run-win over South Africa in the second one-day international at Southampton on Saturday.

Victory put England 2-0 up with one to play ahead of Monday's finale at Lord's.

Stokes made South Africa pay dearly for dropping him off both first and second balls after the all-rounder had been passed fit to play following a knee injury.

(AFP )

Demonstrators clashed with Venezuelan police again Saturday as they descended on the offices of the state media regulator, the latest in nearly two months of often-violent protests demanding the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro.

Youth with their faces covered blocked the main motorway running through Caracas, cutting it off with trucks that they then set on fire. They also erected barricades of rubble.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the rally, and demonstrators fought back by hurling Molotov cocktails and stones.

(AFP )

Donald Trump's first trip overseas was supposed to be about building bridges and clarifying his administration's intentions to friends and foes alike.

And the US president flew home Saturday boasting he had "scored a home run" everywhere he'd been, saying he had forged bonds with friends old and new in the fight against terrorism.

But behind him he left some of Washington's allies as bewildered as ever over his abrasive, unpredictable style and the substance of his policy plans.

(AFP )

Bomb squads and repeated police raids have rattled Manchester residents, who find themselves caught up in a fast-moving terrorism investigation to find those behind Monday's suicide bomb attack.

As a bomb disposal van drove out of their neighbourhood, residents in the city's southern Moss Side area were dumbfounded that a terror probe had come thundering into their streets.

"Everyone's just worried aren't they, everyone, no matter where they are... it's scary stuff," said David Bailey, 29, who manages a property one street away from where the bomb squad was brought in.

(AFP )

It's a powerful symbol: Seven of the world's richest countries gathered in Sicily, a Mediterranean island on whose shores rickety migrant boats from northern Africa regularly wash up.

But while migration and the vast continent on Sicily's southern doorstep got a mention Saturday in the final statement of G7 leaders gathered in the hilltop town of Taormina, the summit itself was dominated by trade, climate change and security threats.

(AFP )

Peace talks between the Philippine government and communist insurgents broke down on Saturday after a dispute over the rebels' ordering their fighters to step up attacks.

But communist negotiators remained hopeful that the discussions being held at a seaside resort town in the Netherlands would continue, despite the suspension announced by government negotiators.

(AFP )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Angela Merkel of his displeasure over Germany's reportedly giving asylum to troops accused of links to last year's failed coup, he said in an interview published Saturday.

As he met the German chancellor on the sidelines of Thursday's NATO summit in Brussels, Erdogan said he raised the issue of "the putschist soldiers whose asylum applications have been accepted, and gave a firm reaction."

"We asked: 'How can you do this?'" Erdogan said, quoted by the Hurriyet newspaper.

(AFP )

The world's 1.5 billion Muslims began observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan on Saturday, blighted by conflict and bloodshed in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Libya.

Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam during which Muslims are supposed to devote themselves to praying, giving to charity and fasting from dawn to dusk.

It is sacred because tradition says the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed during that month.

(AFP )

British Airways cancelled all its flights out of major London airports Heathrow and Gatwick on Saturday after a computer systems failure, causing chaos for thousands of passengers on a busy holiday weekend.

"We have experienced a major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide," BA said.

BA flights out of Heathrow and Gatwick were initially cancelled until 6.00 pm (1700 GMT) but the airline later said there would be no flights for the rest of the day.

(AFP )

A civilian was killed after clashes broke out between protesters and government forces following the death of a top rebel commander in Indian-administered Kashmir, police said Saturday.

Authorities imposed a curfew in many parts of the main Srinagar city as violence spread across the restive region after Sabzar Ahmad Bhat's death on Saturday.

Bhat, head of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group, was killed in a gunfight with government forces in Tral area, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Srinagar.

(AFP )

More than 3,400 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya on Friday, bringing to about 10,000 the total number rescued over four days, according to Libyan and Italian officials.

At least 10 bodies were also found by the Italian coastguard, officials said. No vessels were reported in distress on Saturday.

On Friday, more than 1,200 migrants were rescued by Libyan ships and taken to Tripoli or Zawiya, about 50 kilometres (31 miles) west, while the Italian coastguard and commercial boats rescued 2,200 others and took them to Italy.

(AFP )

Pope Francis earned a rapturous reception on a visit to a struggling steel factory in northern Italy on Saturday as he denounced financial speculators and demanded dignity for working people.

"Without work for all there will not be dignity for all," the pontiff told several thousand uniformed and hard-hatted workers at the Ilva plant in the northwestern city of Genoa.

(AFP )

Iraqi forces have launched a broad assault on parts of battleground second city Mosul still held by the Islamic State group, the military announced on Saturday.

The offensive is the latest push in the more than seven-month battle to retake Mosul, a linchpin in IS's now crumbling attempt to establish a cross-border jihadist "state".

Multiple security forces units are attacking "what remains of the unliberated areas" on the west bank of the River Tigris, the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.

(AFP )

A total of 13 people are in detention in Britain and Libya over Monday's suicide bombing on a pop concert in the English city of Manchester by a British-born man of Libyan origin.

A teenage boy and a woman arrested by British police this week have since been released without charge, leaving 11 in custody on UK soil who were arrested "on suspicion of offences contrary to the terrorism act".

In Libya, the father and brother of the bomber, Salman Abedi, are in detention.

(AFP )

"I'm Muslim and I trust you. Do you trust me enough for a hug?" asks a blindfolded man, arms out wide, to mourners at the focal point of tributes to victims of the Manchester bombing.

The request has had Mancunians stopping in their tracks at the city's St Ann's Square, which has become covered in flowers, balloons and cuddly toys in honour of the 22 people, many of them children, killed in Monday's blast at a pop concert.

(AFP )

Militants fighting under the black flag of the Islamic State group have turned a southern city into a battleground, and triggered warnings by President Rodrigo Duterte of a potential IS caliphate.

The violence is the latest in four decades of conflict across the southern third of the mostly Catholic Philippines, where a Muslim separatist rebellion has claimed more than 120,000 lives.

Here is what we know about the latest violence, the factors behind it and what will happen next:

- Who are the militants? -

(AFP )

India joined Sri Lanka's relief operation Saturday as 230,000 people were driven from their homes after an intense monsoon deluge killed at least 103 people.

Rainfall on Friday triggered the worst flooding and landslides in 14 years in the southern and western parts of the island, authorities said.

The Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said 103 people were confirmed killed while another 113 were missing.

(AFP )

France's new President Emmanuel Macron will hold delicate talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday with the two countries harbouring longstanding differences over Ukraine and Syria.

Coming just three weeks after an election in which the Kremlin was widely seen as backing centrist Macron's far-right rival Marine Le Pen -- with Putin hosting her during a surprise visit to Moscow -- the encounter in Versailles, near Paris, has an added personal edge.

(AFP )

A Taliban car bomber killed 13 people in Afghanistan's Khost city on Saturday, in the first major attack at the start of the holy month of Ramadan that targeted a CIA-funded militia group.

The powerful explosion in the eastern Afghan city, which also wounded six people including children, left the area littered with charred debris, shattered glass and mangled vehicles.

(AFP )

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17 have ended their mass protest after Israel agreed a deal following weeks of refusing to negotiate, sources on both sides said on Saturday.

Some 30 of the more than 800 hunger strikers had been hospitalised in recent days, raising fears of an escalation of clashes with Israeli security forces in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians hailed the deal as a victory for the hunger strikers after Israeli authorities repeatedly vowed not to negotiate with convicted "terrorists".

(AFP )

Indian medical teams and emergency relief arrived in Sri Lanka Saturday as the monsoon-related death toll reached 100 and authorities warned of more flooding in low-lying areas.

A ship carrying medical supplies docked in Colombo, sent by India to help deal with the worst flooding in the island's western and southern regions in 14 years after record rainfall.

(AFP )

Philippine security forces dropped more bombs Saturday on a southern city where they have been battling Islamist militants for five days, vowing no let up despite the start of Ramadan.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern third of the Philippines in response to the clashes, which have claimed at least 48 lives and he has said are part of a campaign by the Islamic State group to establish a local caliphate.

(AFP )

Armed police looked on as thousands watched the Great CityGames in the centre of Manchester on Friday just days after a suicide bomb at a pop concert claimed 22 lives and wounded dozens.

Similar robust security measures will be a feature of English football's showpiece event the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday and several other high profile sporting events in the weeks to come.

The reinforced measures have been put in place with the terror alert raised to its highest level of 'critical' meaning another attack is believed to be imminent.

(AFP )

Teenaged Kenyan star Celliphine Chespol recovered from a lost shoe to win the 3000m steeplechase with the second fastest time in history at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on Friday.

Chespol, still just 18, stormed to victory after a thrilling duel with Olympic champion and world record holder Ruth Jebet and fellow Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech over the closing laps at Eugene's Hayward Field.

(AFP )

President Donald Trump said Saturday he would decide next week whether the United States would abide by the 2015 Paris agreement on cutting global carbon emissions.

His announcement came as a summit of G7 leaders in Sicily wrapped up in deadlock on the issue, with US partners voicing frustration at the president's failure to commit to the deal aimed at stemming global warming.

"I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!" Trump tweeted.

(AFP )

Australian Schapelle Corby will on Saturday finally return home from Bali 12 years after she was convicted of drug trafficking, in a long-awaited return that has triggered a media frenzy.

The beauty school dropout was arrested in 2004 at the Indonesian resort island's airport with marijuana stashed in her surfing gear, and sentenced to 20 years in jail.

She was released early in 2014 but was required to remain on Bali another three years under the conditions of her parole. The 39-year-old has to leave the island now that period is over.

(AFP )

The country Nikolai Klimkin serves does not officially exist and has remained trapped in a limbo of impoverished stagnation for decades.

The 32-year-old is a solider in the army of the self-proclaimed state of Transnistria -- a tiny sliver of land that claimed independence from Moldova just after the Soviet Union fell apart some 25 years ago.

About half of the nearly 500,000 people living in the region are ethnic Moldovans. A 2015 census showed Russians accounting for about 40 percent of the population and Ukrainians comprising much of the rest.

(AFP )

Gibraltar Friday vowed to do whatever it takes to keep its position as a leading online gambling jurisdiction despite Britain's looming exit from the European Union.

"Whatever Brexit may produce for Gibraltar, government will adapt its licensing and regulatory arrangements to ensure we remain the premier remote gambling jurisdiction," the government said in a statement.

(AFP )

The family of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are owners of a 26.5-million-euro ($29.64-million) oil tanker, which was acquired under a secretive offshore arrangement, a consortium of European news outlets reported Friday.

The Belgian newspaper Le Soir, Spain's El Mundo, L'Espresso of Italy and the French online site Mediapart are members of European Investigative Collaboration (EIC), a cooperative initiative in investigative journalism.