26 killed in Syria amid UN call for ceasefire
Smoke rises from buildings amid pounding by Syrian forces, in Homs, on Wednesday. (AP) 34 Qaeda militants killed in Yemen attacks Libya vows to prosecute Qadhafi spy chief before polls Friday, March 23, 2012 www.qatar-tribune.com DPA & AFP CAIRO AT least 29 people were killed on Thursday in a joint attack by Yemeni and US forces on suspected Al Qaeda militants in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula country, Al Arabiya broadcaster reported.
The Yemeni government forces and US vessels heavily bombarded outposts belonging to the militants in Zinjibar, the capital of the southern province of Abyan, added the Dubai-based broadcaster.
Elsewhere on Thursday, Yemeni government forces killed five Al Qaeda-affiliated radicals in an attack in the south-eastern province of Hadramawt, reported Al Arabiya.
Al Qaeda radicals, believed to have a strong foothold in southern Yemen, have increased their operations in the country since President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi took office last month, according to observers.
At least 25 people were killed last month when a suicide bomber, reportedly with links to Al Qaeda, attacked a presidential complex in southern Yemen.
The February 25 bombing came hours after Hadi had been sworn in before parliament in the capital Sana’a.
Hadi has vowed to fight al- Qaeda, calling it a “religious and national duty” to do so.
Militants have taken advantage of a year of political turmoil in Yemen and a weak central government to expand their influence in the country.
Meanwhile, the Yemen arm of Qaeda said on Thursday that it killed an American teacher because he was trying to spread Christianity in the mainly Muslim Arab nation.
Joel Shrum, a 29-year-old native of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, was gunned down on Sunday in the central city of Taiz, where he had been living with his wife and two sons. He was studying Arabic and teaching English at a language institute.
The claim of responsibility, which was posted on a militant website, comes as the terror network increasingly has sought to exploit the political turmoil in the Arab world’s most impoverished nation.
“It was God’s gift for the mujahedeen to kill the American Joel Shrum who was actively proselytizing under the cover of teaching in Taiz,” said the statement by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the terror network’s Yemen branch is formally known. The slain teacher had worked at the International Training and Development Center.
AFP TRIPOLI LIBYA’S new rulers, under pressure from human rights groups, have vowed to put on trial Moamer Qadhafi’s former spy chief before June elections if Mauritania extradites him as expected.
Fathi Baaja of the National Transitional Council said that trials of Qadhafi loyalists have so far lagged in Libya due to inadequate prison infrastructure and a paralysed judiciary.
“If Abdullah Senussi is extradited to Libya, his trial and that of (Qadhafi son) Seif al Islam will be held in the near future and before the general election” scheduled for June, said Baaja.
“The preparations are now on track,” he said. Mauritania said on Wednesday it has yet to make a decision on the extradition of Senussi, who was arrested at Nouakchott airport last week and is also wanted by France and the International Criminal Court.
Earlier, the Libyan government said his handover was a done deal after meetings with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
Libya’s interim prime minister, Adbel Rahim al Kib, said the authorities “will start trials of officials of the old regime as soon as possible.” “We reassure the people of Libya and the international community that Libya will soon judge those who committed crimes against the people,” said Kib, adding they would be guaranteed fair trials.
In a mobile phone message, general prosecutor Abdelaziz al Hasadi called on Libyans to give evidence on allegations against former Qadhafi regime officials and collaborators for them to be brought to justice as soon as possible.
Tripoli has come in for strong criticism from international human rights groups for the way its justice system is dealing with Qadhafi loyalists, including accusations of prisoners being tortured.
Several officials of the ousted regime and hundreds of loyalists, both military and civilians, have languished for months in prison, many of under the control of armed brigades that fought the regime.
“More than 3,000 Kadhafi supporters are in the prisons of Misrata where they are awaiting trial,” said Suleiman al-Fortia, the NTC’s representative in the western city.
Senussi is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during last year’s revolt that ousted Kadhafi. Seif al-Islam, the late strongman’s most prominent son, has been held in Libya since his arrest in November.
Ahmed Jehani, Tripoli’s representative at the ICC, said The Hague-based court has been putting “pressure on Libya to begin the trial of Seif al Islam or to hand him over” to the tribunal.
02 Syrian troops fire grenade into Lebanon TRIPOLI SYRIAN troops fired rocket propelled grenades into northern Lebanon during the night, sparking panic among the local population, a security official and residents said on Thursday.
The security official said heavy machinegun fire followed by shelling erupted at around 9pm (1900 GMT) from the Syrian side of the border, near the Lebanese village of Muqaybleh, prompting some residents to flee.
There were no reports of casualties.
“The Syrian troops initially fired flares and then machineguns and rocket propelled grenades,” the official, who requested anonymity, said.
He said at least two rockets fell inside Lebanese territory.
A local official in Muqaybleh said a number of fearful residents fled the village overnight.
“People were scared,” he said, adding that no one was injured and no houses were hit.
A local official in Al Qaeda said that machinegun fire was heard overnight across the border but that no shells fell inside Lebanese territory. (AFP) Saleh’s party blamed for hampering transition SANAA Opponents of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen’s new coalition government accused members of his party of trying to hamper political transition in the country, a statement said on Thursday.
Two days after all but two members of Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) walked out of a cabinet meeting, his opponents charged that GPC figures were behind “smear campaigns” against Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa.
These campaigns “reveal non-national inclinations that aim to harm national reconciliation and the missions of the unity government,” said the statement by the Common Forum, an alliance of long-time Saleh opponents. (AFP) Qaeda gunmen kill Yemen intelligence officer ADEN Suspected Al Qaeda gunmen killed a Yemeni intelligence officer by cutting his throat after kidnapping him at Mukalla, capital of the southeastern Hadramawt province, a police said.
“Commander Faraj Saeed al Odsani was snatched on Wednesday afternoon from a road near Mukalla airport by Al Qaeda gunmen who drove him towards the nearby province of Shabwa,” an Al Qaeda stronghold, the official said.
Security forces chased the kidnappers and traded gunfire as they fled, said the official, who added that a policeman was wounded and the extremists’ car was damaged in the exchanges. (AFP) EU to slap travel ban, assets freeze on Assad’s wife: Envoys BRUSSELS The European Union is set to slap a travel ban and assets freeze on President Bashar al Assad’s wife Asma and other members of his family, EU diplomats said on Thursday.
Asma al Assad is on a list of 12 people, including a handful of the president’s relatives, whose assets will be frozen and who will be barred from travel across the 27-nation bloc, the sources said.
As a British-born and British-educated former investment banker, it was widely believed Asma al- Assad’s grounding in Western values would help give the regime a more human face and shatter the isolation of the secretive Assad family.
But in the last weeks she became the focus of sharp criticism after Britain’s Guardian newspaper released e-mails showing the ruling couple shopping for luxury goods as the country slid into chaos. She will be one of a dozen names added by EU foreign ministers on Friday to a blacklist of around 150 firms and people already targeted in 12 rounds of European sanctions. (AP) Inside M-E Militants have taken advantage of a year of political turmoil in Yemen and a weak central government to expand their influence in the country.
26 killed in Syria amid UN