In the world | Africatime
Thursday 23 March 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Ukraine said Thursday that a fire raging at a munitions depot in the country's east, which the military blamed on an "act of sabotage", could continue for up to a week.

As of Thursday afternoon 20,000 people living within a 10-kilometre (six-mile) radius of the depot had been evacuated.

"We can evaluate everything as the intensity of the fire decreases," Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in televised comments. "This can take up to one week."

(AFP )

Belarusian authorities have arrested some 26 people following a wave of major protests against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, state television said Thursday, citing security services.

State channel STV cited the powerful KGB security agency as saying that the arrests were part of a probe into the preparation of mass unrest.

Earlier Vyasna, an NGO that defends the rights of political prisoners, said 17 people were detained in this week's wave of arrests in the ex-Soviet country bordering Russia and the European Union.

(AFP )

Spain arrested 14 people and seized more than three million doses of banned growth hormones in a crackdown on trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, officials said on Thursday.

It was one of the biggest hauls of its kind in Europe, justice officials in Valencia, eastern Spain, said.

Two of those arrested were held on remand in Malaga, southern Spain, while the rest were released but remain under investigation for a "public health offence".

(AFP )

Colombia said Thursday it was investigating with "concern" reports that the Venezuelan military had set up a camp on its territory.

The news came just months after the two countries started to reopen their borders following a security dispute.

President Juan Manuel Santos was meeting with his defense minister and military chiefs, "reviewing the information received about the supposed presence of Venezuelan military personnel in Arauca," a district on the northeastern border, his office said.

(AFP )

Two child shepherds who claimed to have had holy visions in Fatima are to be made saints, possibly during Pope Francis's upcoming trip to the Portuguese pilgrimage site.

Francis gave the go-ahead Thursday to canonise Jacinta and Francisco Marto who, along with their cousin Lucia Santos, claimed to have witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary in a miracle officially recognised by the Catholic Church.

The children said Mary appeared to them first on May 13, 1917, when Jacinta was seven years old, Francisco nine and Lucia 10.

(AFP )

Around 250 African migrants are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean after a rescue boat found two partially submerged rubber dinghies off Libya, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

Laura Lanuza of Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms said its boat Golfo Azzuro had recovered five floating corpses close to the dinghies, about 15 miles off the Libyan coast.

"We don't think there can be any other explanation than that these dinghies would have been full of people," she told AFP.

She added that they would typically have been carrying 120-140 migrants each.

(AFP )

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama starred for Kenya as they stretched an unbeaten run to nine matches Thursday by drawing 1-1 at home against Uganda.

Wanyama set up Michael Olunga to give the "Harambee Stars" a 35th-minute lead in a friendly at Kenyatta Stadium in eastern town Machakos.

Kenya retained the lead against their long-time east African rivals until three minutes from time when Moses Waiswa levelled.

A draw was a predictable outcome given the proximity of the teams in the African national team rankings with Uganda 16th and Kenya 21st.

(AFP )

Cameroon have chosen two stars who shunned the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations-winning campaign for their first match since defeating Egypt in the final last month.

Marseille midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Schalke striker Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting were recalled for a friendly against Tunisia in Monastir Friday.

They were among eight of the preliminary Cameroon Cup of Nations squad who withdrew before the list was cut to 23, saying their club careers in Europe were more important.

(AFP )

A judge on Thursday ordered Argentina's former president Cristina Kirchner to stand trial on charges of financial mismanagement.

It is the first of several cases against the combative 64-year-old leftist leader to go to trial.

A string of cases targeting Kirchner and her rival, current President Mauricio Macri, are clouding Argentine politics ahead of mid-term elections later this year.

Kirchner is accused of ordering the central bank to sell dollar futures at artificially low prices, causing Argentina to lose hundreds of millions. She denies wrongdoing.

(AFP )

New drugs for hard-to-treat tuberculosis strains may be fast rendered ineffective themselves if incorrectly used, a report warned Thursday, on the eve of World TB Day.

Antibiotics such as bedaquiline, delamanid and linezolid have recently been added to the tuberculosis drug arsenal, which is dwindling as TB bacteria develop resistance to an ever-broader array of treatments.

(AFP )

Israel arrested on Thursday a Jewish teenager accused of making dozens of anti-Semitic bomb threats in the United States and elsewhere, and one to a major airline, following a wide-ranging investigation involving the FBI.

The arrest comes after a wave of bomb threats to American Jewish institutions since the start of the year spread concern and political backlash in the United States.

The suspect was "a resident of the south (of Israel) from the Jewish community," police spokeswoman Luba Samri said. An Israeli court on Thursday remanded him in custody until March 30.

(AFP )

A carry-on ban by Washington and London for laptops on flights from some airports will hit the profits of affected airlines, especially the lucrative business class segments of Gulf carriers, analysts said Thursday.

Washington decided to ban electronic devices bigger than mobile phones on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in seven Middle Eastern countries and Turkey. Britain followed with a similar ban from five countries from the Middle East, northern Africa and Turkey.

(AFP )

Nearly two years after it was stolen from a Paris home, a violin worth 300,000 euros, found in Serbia, will soon be back with its owner after it was handed over to French authorities in Belgrade, France's embassy said Thursday.

The precious instrument disappeared from a house in Paris in the northern 19th arrondissement in a burglary on June 8, 2015.

The thieves also took clothes and jewelry, but the violin was the most valuable object estimated at some 300,000 euros ($324.000), according to a source close to the investigation.

(AFP )

A growing gap between rich and poor in Germany could sap social cohesion in Europe's largest economy and most populous country, a government report warned Thursday.

"If the differences between poor and rich are felt to be too big in a society, and wealth seems mostly to be acquired without rewarding work, then acceptance of the economic and social order can shrink," the labour ministry study said.

The annual report highlighted "the great importance for people that they and their children should be able to increase their social standing, or at least keep it from falling.

(AFP )

A man with a car, a knife and murderous intent -- the London attack shows the "new norm" of low-tech terror, experts say.

Analysts who have studied similar attacks say their crude nature makes them almost impossible to prevent and easy to copy, posing a major headache for security services.

The Islamic State group on Thursday claimed the attack on the British parliament that left three dead, saying it was "carried out in response to calls to target coalition countries".

(AFP )

Belgian security forces arrested a man Thursday after he drove towards a crowded shopping area at high speed in the port city of Antwerp, officials said.

Authorities found a rifle and bladed weapons in the car after the suspect, identified by prosecutors as a 39-year-old named Mohamed R., tried to flee and was detained in the northern city.

The man was "under the influence of something" but it was not clear what substance, a source close to the investigation told AFP.

(AFP )

A Jewish youth was arrested in Israel on Thursday on suspicion of making dozens of anti-Semitic threats in countries around the world, police said.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the suspect was "a resident of the south (of Israel) from the Jewish community".

Police said the suspect was 19, but gave no further identifying details. Israeli media said he was a dual Israeli-US national.

(AFP )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit back Thursday at what he called "pressure" on the 700,000 Turks in Bulgaria, as tensions mounted between Ankara and Sofia ahead of elections in the EU state.

Bulgaria has voiced anger at Turkey's open support for a party for the ethnic Turkish minority, which is running in the general elections for the first time on March 26.

(AFP )

UN-backed Syria peace talks resumed in Geneva on Thursday, with little hope of a breakthrough and the emboldened regime seen as unlikely to make concessions.

The United Nations deputy Syria envoy Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy met government negotiators at a high-end hotel in the Swiss city, before heading to another hotel to see the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC).

"We have started today preliminary talks," Ramzy told reporters after his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's representatives.

(AFP )

Chinese telecom giant ZTE has pleaded guilty in a US court to violating US export controls by selling goods to Iran and North Korea over several years.

The move is the final step in the case's resolution which the US government announced March 7 in which it slapped $1.2 billion in fines on the company, the largest criminal penalty in US history in an export control case, although there have been larger fines involving financial firms.

(AFP )

European Parliament chief Antonio Tajani said securing the rights of millions of EU citizens after Brexit was a "red line" when negotiations begin soon.

In an interview with AFP, Italy's Tajani said parliament would be a "protagonist" and hoped to hold its casting vote on a Brexit deal in late 2018 or early 2019.

"There is one sole red line: the interest of European citizens. There are no other red lines," Tajani said late Wednesday at his office overlooking Brussels.

(AFP )

A former Russian MP wanted by Moscow for fraud was shot dead in broad daylight in the heart of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday in what Kiev branded "state terrorism."

Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko confirmed in televised comments that "the identity of the dead man has been established" as former Communist lawmaker Denis Voronenkov.

Police were weighing the possibility that Voronenkov was targeted in a contract killing "considering the identity of the victim, his activities and how the crime was carried out," Kryshchenko said.

(AFP )

Former US president Bill Clinton urged Northern Ireland to finish the work of peace at the funeral Thursday of Martin McGuinness, the former paramilitary commander turned peace negotiator.

McGuinness, who resigned as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister in January, died on Tuesday of a rare heart condition. He was 66.

Clinton was among a range of political leaders who attended McGuinness's funeral in his native Derry in Northern Ireland along with thousands of people.

(AFP )

Defiant British lawmakers returned to parliament Thursday but outside, the forensic work and eerie absence of people and traffic at one of London's most popular tourist spots was a poignant reminder of the previous day's terror.

MPs and peers, aides, staff and journalists returned to work a day after a police officer was killed and his assailant shot dead on the cobbled yard of the Palace of Westminster in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

(AFP )

A French civilian has been abducted in the central African nation of Chad, French authorities said on Thursday.

The kidnapping took place near the eastern city of Abeche, a military source told reporters in Paris, saying "all means have been mobilised" to secure their release.

The French foreign ministry confirmed the abduction, without giving details.

Several French and other Western nationals have been kidnapped by jihadist groups in west and central Africa in recent years.

(AFP )

The Kremlin said Thursday that it hoped Kiev would reconsider its decision to ban a Russian singer from the Eurovision Song Contest over a past performance in Russia-annexed Crimea.

"The decision from our point of view is absolutely unfair, it's unfortunate. And we hope all the same that it will be reconsidered," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Ukraine's security service on Wednesday imposed a three-year entry ban on Russia's participant Yuliya Samoilova for illegally entering Moscow-annexed Crimea to take part in a 2015 gala concert.

(AFP )

About 600,000 people remain in the areas of west Mosul held by the Islamic State group, including 400,000 who are "trapped" in the Old City under siege-like conditions, the UN said Thursday.

"They are desperate for food. They are panicked," Bruno Geddo, who represents the UN refugee agency in Iraq, told reporters in Geneva by phone from a transit centre for displaced people near Mosul.

He said people arriving at the Hammam al-Alil transit centre about 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Iraq's second largest city described the desperate situation they left behind.

(AFP )

Taliban fighters captured the strategic southern district of Sangin on Thursday, officials said, another setback for Afghan forces in opium-rich Helmand province ahead of the spring fighting season.

The capture of Sangin, where US and British forces suffered heavy casualties until it was handed over to Afghan personnel, marks the culmination of the Taliban's year-long offensive to seize the district and underscores their growing strength.

(AFP )

Three people were killed in the London terror attack outside the Houses of Parliament -- two members of the public and a police officer.

Police said 40 were injured after the attacker ploughed a car along a pavement on a bridge before stabbing the police officer outside the parliament.

Here is what we know about the victims so far.

- Police officer

The police officer killed has been named as 48-year-old Keith Palmer, a husband and father who was part of the parliamentary protection force.

(AFP )

A travel agency in Sicily offering a 'mafia tour' has found itself in the firing line after local authorities and relatives of victims slammed it for glorifying organised crime.

Easy Trapani lays on half or full-day visits to Mafia museums and places known to have housed infamous mobster chiefs, with a plate of pasta and meatballs thrown in -- much to the fury of anti-mafia campaigners.

(AFP )

An Indian politician brazenly admitted on Thursday that he hit a steward on an Air India flight 25 times with his slipper during a row over a seat.

Ravindra Gaikwad, an MP in India's lower house for the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party, claimed that the attendant had insulted him first on the Pune to New Delhi flight.

"What did he say, that I hit him with my hand? I hit him 25 times with a slipper," an unrepentant Gaikwad told ANI news agency in video footage posted on its Twitter page and aired on Indian news channels.

(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.