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Myanmar probes killings

YANGON: Myanmar’s reformist government has launched an official probe into a flare-up of sectarian violence in the west of the country, state media said on Thursday, pledging to punish those responsible. Ten Muslims were killed on Sunday in Rakhine state, which borders Bangladesh, by a mob angered at the rape and murder of a local woman allegedly by three Muslim men.The attacks on Muslims, considered foreigners despite a decades-long presence in Myanmar, threaten to overshadow reconciliation efforts. In a rare public response to civil unrest, the government said it had established a comm...
Published On: 2012-06-07

Signs of hope in a former Baghdad killing field

BAGHDAD: For residents of Azamiyah, once one of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods, the opening of a department store selling party dresses, imported men's suits and designer label perfumes is a sign that a better future could lie ahead. Just five years ago, Azamiyah was a terrifying place. Bodies of Shiites and Sunnis butchered in sectarian killings turned up almost daily, dumped on sidewalks or in trash piles, earning one street the name "Street of Death." Fearful residents huddled at home. A U.S. infantry company on patrol here lost 13 men to snipers and roadside bombs during t...
Published On: 2012-06-07

Syrian troops bar UN monitors from massacre site

BEIRUT: The chief of U.N. observers in Syria says his monitors have been blocked by Syrian troops from the site of a new mass killing. Gen. Robert Mood said in a statement Thursday that some U.N. patrols were also stopped by civilians in the area and that observers have been informed by residents that their safety will be at risk if they entered Mazraat al-Qubair in central Hama province. Syrian opposition groups say pro-government militiamen killed dozens of people, including women and children, in Mazraat al-Qubair Wednesday night, with some stabbed to death and others burned. The exact d...
Published On: 2012-06-07

Merkel urges gradual political union in Europe

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for countries to give up more powers to Europe "step by step" as the continent tries to claw its way out of the debt crisis and says a "political union" is needed as leaders prepare for a closely watched summit later this month. However, Merkel, who appeared on ARD public television's breakfast show Thursday amid pressure on Germany to defuse the crisis, downplayed prospects of reaching a big solution to Europe's troubles at the June 28-29 summit in Brussels. The troubles of Spain's banking system and concern over Greece's...
Published On: 2012-06-07

Man confesses to Italy school bombing: police

ROME: A 68-year-old man has confessed to last month's bombing in front of a southern Italian school that killed a 16-year-old girl and wounded 10 others, but his motive is unclear and investigations are ongoing, police said on Thursday. Suspect Giovanni Vantaggiato confessed to having "manufactured, put in place and detonated the bomb" after he was arrested and interrogated for several hours in the southern city of Lecce, prosecutor Cataldo Motta told a news conference. But Vantaggiato refused to explain his motive, making only a vague reference to economic reasons, Motta said. Th...
Published On: 2012-06-07

China's Syria policy guided by principle: analysts

BEIJING: China has stuck by the Syrian regime through nearly 15 months of bloody revolt, a position analysts say stems largely from its principle of not getting involved in other countries' affairs. Rights groups say more than 13,500 people have died in the Syrian uprising since March 2011, and Western powers are pushing for increased pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to stop the regime's assault against the population. Despite having few interests in Syria, Beijing has steadfastly maintained that its ally Assad must not be forced from power, resisting Western pressure. Its stance is f...
Published On: 2012-06-07

Obama wraps up West Coast trip in LA‚ Las Vegas

LOS ANGELES: President Barack Obama is mixing campaign fundraising with legislative business as he wraps up a two-day West Coast trip. The president starts his day in the Los Angeles area Thursday with a fundraising breakfast for about 300 people. Tickets for the event start at $2,500. Later, Obama heads to Nevada for a speech at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The White House says the president will push Congress to pass legislation to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling at the end of the month. Democrats and Republicans are at odds over how to pay for the one-year freez...
Published On: 2012-06-07

Karzai condemns NATO air strike on civilians

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai Thursday condemned as unacceptable a NATO air strike that killed 18 civilians and plans to cut short a trip to Beijing to return home, his office said. "Attacks by NATO that cause life and property losses to civilians under no circumstances could be justified and are not acceptable," Karzai said of the attack Wednesday in Logar province south of Kabul. Karzai "is deeply grieved" over the deaths of civilians in the NATO strike and in a Kandahar suicide bombing on the same day and "will shorten his trip to China and will very soon r...
Published On: 2012-06-07

Afghanistan inducted in observer role in Central Asian group

BEIJING: China, Russia and four Central Asian states granted Afghanistan observer status in their regional group Thursday, moving to consolidate ties with the impoverished, war-torn nation before most foreign combat troops depart by the end of 2014. Chinese President Hu Jintao announced the plan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's annual summit in Beijing. Russia and China have long seen the six-nation group as a way to counter U.S. influence in Central Asia, and hope to play a significant role in Afghanistan's future development, especially in economic reconstruction. Granting Afgha...
Published On: 2012-06-07

Clinton calls for full transfer of power in Syria

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out a Syria strategy calling for a full transfer of power from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a senior State Department official said. "We can't break faith with the Syrian people who want real change," said the official who briefed reporters on Clinton's meeting here with officials from 16 regional and European powers. Clinton set forth "essential elements and principles that we believe should guide that post Assad transition strategy, including Assad's full transfer of power," the official said. Other ele...
Published On: 2012-06-07