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Georgian policemen. Archive
© AFP/ Vladimir Valishvili
Georgian police said on Monday they had arrested 24 members of an armed group that was planning attacks in an attempt to destabilize the situation in the country, the Gruziya Online news agency reported.
Police said the group was headed by former Georgian foreign minister Temur Khachishvili, who currently lives in Russia. They also said a member of the group had said that Badri Bitsadze, the husband of Nino Burdzhanadze, the opposition People’s Assembly leader and parliamentary speaker, was also one of the main figures.
“The group was preparing a number of armed provocations on the territory of Georgia to destabilize the situation,” police said in a statement.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that leaders of the People’s Assembly party had planned to arm protesters calling for the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Riot police used water cannons, rubber bullets and teargas to disperse opposition activists who gathered late on Wednesday on Tbilisi’s main street in an attempt to prevent an Independence Day military parade. Georgia said Russia was behind the rally.
MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti)
[The US can always count on Malik to say what it wants him to say.]
Lahore, May 30 (IANS) After squabbling over the killing of Osama bin Laden, Washington and Islamabad have decided to jointly target “high value targets” among Islamists inside Pakistan, a minister has said.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik gave this indication Sunday after announcing that an independent commission is to be set up in a day or two to probe the Osama killing May 2.
Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Malik as saying that it seemed the Taliban had intensified their attacks in Pakistan after Osama’s killing by American commandos.
He indicated that joint operations with the US against “high-value targets” — he did not say from which group — would be launched in future inside Pakistan.
Osama was gunned down by US Navy commandos who sneaked into Pakistan using stealth helicopters and stormed the Al Qaeda leader’s hideout in Abbottabad city.
The minister also announced a prize of Rs.5 million for any information leading to the arrest of Islamists who attacked a huge Pakistani navy base in Karachi May 22.
Terrorists took virtual control of the PNS Mehran base for about 16 hours before security forces seized control. The attackers destroyed two costly surveillance aircraft sold by the US.
GERMANY has announced plans to become the first major industrialised power to shut down all its nuclear plants, with the last to be closed by 2022.
Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen announced the government’s “irreversible” decision, which was prompted by the Japanese nuclear disaster.
Germany has 17 nuclear reactors, eight of which are currently off the electricity grid. Seven of those off-line are the country’s oldest nuclear reactors, which the government shut down for three months pending a safety probe after the Japanese disaster at Fukushima. The eighth, in northern Germany, has been mothballed for years because of technical problems.
Most of the plants are to be off-line by 2021, sources said, but three plants were to serve as a back-up in case of energy shortages and would be closed a year later.
The decision comes after the environment ministers from all 16 German regional states on Friday called for the temporary order on the seven plants to be made permanent. The agreement emerged after 12 hours of negotiations between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the three government parties — Dr Merkel’s Christian Democrats, the Christian Social Union and the pro-business Free Democrats. Also involved in the talks were the chiefs of the two main opposition parties.
Dr Merkel has said she wants to set a policy to end a dispute that has split Germans since the 1970s.
The decision is effectively a return to the timetable set by the previous Social Democrat-Green coalition government a decade ago.
It is a humbling U-turn for Dr Merkel, who at the end of 2010 decided to extend the lifetime of the reactors by an average of 12 years, which would have kept them open until the mid-2030s. That decision was unpopular in Germany even before the earthquake and tsunami in March that severely damaged the Fukushima nuclear facility, prompting Dr Merkel’s review of nuclear policy.
Her zigzagging on the highly emotive issue has cost at the ballot box. Dr Merkel herself has blamed the Fukushima disaster for recent defeats in state elections.
In the latest election, on May 23, the anti-nuclear Greens pushed her conservative party into third place in a vote in the northern state of Bremen, the first time they had scored more votes than the conservatives in a regional or federal election.
The decision means Germany will have to find the 22 per cent of its electricity needs covered by nuclear reactors from another source.
Business supporters of the centre-right government of Dr Merkel had urged caution, warning that power shortages could cripple the country’s industry.
The government is considering keeping 2000 megawatts of capacity — equivalent to two power stations — on standby after the shutdown in case of emergency, an idea that experts consider difficult to put into practice.
■In Japan, the Tokyo Electric Power Co said two of its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant workers had high levels of radiation in their thyroid glands. The power utility is assessing the level of exposure, according to a company statement issued yesterday.
Pakistan will launch a military offensive in North Waziristan, a newspaper reported on Monday, days after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Muslim country.
An understanding for an offensive in North Waziristan, one of the main opposition center in Pakistan against US-led invasion in Afghanistan, was reached when Clinton and Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen visited Pakistan last week, Pakistan’s the News newspaper reported.
The United States has long demanded that Pakistan attack its own region to eliminate the Haqqani network, one of the most important Afghan factions fighting U.S. troops occupying Afghanistan.
The News quoted unidentified “highly placed sources” as saying Pakistan’s air force would soften up opposition targets under the “targeted military offensive” before ground operations were launched. There was no timetable given.
The newspaper cited the sources as saying that a strategy for action in North Waziristan had been drawn up some time ago and an “understanding for carrying out the operation was developed” during the Clinton visit.
(Supporters of the political party Tehreek-e-Insaf hold placards as they shout anti-American slogans during a protest rally against the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Lahore May 27.)
Pakistani officials were not immediately available for comment. A U.S. embassy official had no immediate comment.
Foreign troops on Pakistani soil?
The newspaper said a “joint operation” with allies had been discussed but no decision had been taken because of sensitivities.
“In case the two sides agreed to go for a joint action, it would be the first time in the present war (on opponent fighters) that foreign boots will get a chance to be on Pakistani soil with the consent of the host country.”
That could be highly risky for Pakistan’s generals.
The military, long regarded as the most effective institution in a country with a history of corrupt, inept civilian governments, suffered a major blow to its image when U.S. special forces killed bin Laden deep inside Pakistan.
Some analysts say any joint U.S.-Pakistani operation would subject the army to even more public criticism in a country where hate against U.S. runs deep.
“The reaction could be even more vociferous, just because everybody is so suspicious — as well as dismissive — of American interference,” said Imtiaz Gul, an author.
“People already feel so humiliated because of this Osama bin Laden thing and now they will have another reason to react.”
Pakistan maintains about 140,000 troops in the northwest, including about 34,000 in North Waziristan, but says they are too stretched fighting Pakistani pro-Taliban insurgents in other parts of the region to tackle North Waziristan.
But analysts say Pakistan sees the Haqqani network as an asset to counter the growing influence of rival India in occupied Afghanistan.
Aside from strategic concerns, an attack on the Haqqani network could further threaten Pakistan’s security as it faces a new wave of attacks by the Pakistani Taliban to avenge the killing of bin Laden by U.S. special forces on May 2.
Pakistan could pay a heavy price if Haqqani’s formidable fighters, believed to number in the thousands, and their allies, turn on Pakistani security forces.
[I had decided to ignore Western media reports that Pakistan had agreed to launch the long-awaited clean-up operation into North Waziristan, until I read the following Chinese report. Of course, the CIA and Special Forces spooks would want to protect their most useful anti-Pakistan assets. The same thing allegedly took place before the Pak Army invaded the previous “nerve center of the Taliban” in S. Waziristan, according to retired Gen. Aslam Beg (SEE: Gen. Beg Claims US Helicopter Flew Hakeemullah to Safety). Since there is ZERO chance that any Western media will pick up on this story, this Chinese report is all we will hear on the subject.
Sorry to admit this, but it looks like it might really be time for the Pakistani Army to cut its own throat in North Waziristan. The complete subjugation of the top military brass must be complete (SEE: Pakistan to launch operation in North Waziristan ).
The big stinking question that remains is: How is it, that Special Forces could easily capture 5 TTP leaders without killing them, unlike the alleged bin Laden affair?]
ISLAMABAD, May 30 (Xinhua) — Unconfirmed news from intelligence sources said on Monday that five Pakistan Taliban ( TTP) leaders were arrested Monday morning in the Gorvait area of North Waziristan by NATO forces and later taken away by two NATO helicopters to Afghanistan.
According to the sources who asked to remain anonymous, the action was taken by the NATO forces without informing the Pakistani government. If so, this is another Abbottabad-like operation taken by the foreign forces on the Pakistani soil without the knowledge of the Pakistani side.
Political agent of North Waziristan also confirmed the news.
So far, there is no official report about the Monday morning’s operation taken by the NATO forces in North Waziristan, a tribal area in northwest Pakistan, which is believed to be a stronghold of militants in the country, who often launch attacks on the NATO forces in Afghanistan across the border.
On May 2, the U.S. forces conducted a raid in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Abbottabad, during which the former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was killed in his compound. As the U.S. side did not inform the Pakistani side until the raid was over, it led to a strong protest from the Pakistani side as Pakistan considers the unilateral action taken by the United States has seriously violated its sovereignty.
Editor: Yang Lina
[Yemeni govt. troops, backed by tanks, just broke-up Yemen’s longest running sit-in, killing 20 peaceful protestors and removing the wounded from hospitals, just like the Saudis in Bahrain. Saudi Oil outweighs human rights, any day. How long can Obama resist the urge to protect the democratic movement in Yemen or Bahrain? Will American/NATO bombers enforce Yemeni “no fly zone,” to end government bombardment of political opposition? Yeah, sure they will. (SEE: Yemeni jets ‘target rival tribal group’ ).]
By Hammoud Mounassar (AFP)
SANAA — Forces loyal to the embattled Yemeni president killed 20 protesters as they dispersed a sit-in in Taez, an organiser said on Monday, as suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen killed six soldiers in the south.
Security service agents backed by army and Republican Guard troops stormed the protest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Freedom Square in the centre of Yemen’s second-largest city during the night, shooting at the demonstrators and setting fire to their tents, protesters said.
“At least 20 protesters have been killed,” one of the protest organisers said.
Troops backed by tanks stormed a field hospital and detained 37 of the wounded receiving treatment there, among hundreds of people rounded up as security forces pursued the protesters into nearby streets, medics and organisers said.
“This was a massacre. The situation is miserable. They have dragged the wounded off to detention centres from the streets,” activist Bushra al-Maqtari told AFP.
Protesters said that the square had been entirely cleared, while security forces stormed a nearby hotel and arrested several journalists.
The Common Forum opposition coalition condemned the “crimes against humanity” committed by Saleh’s “remaining military and security forces and armed militias.”
It warned the veteran president he would be “held personally responsible for his continued crimes against the people.”
“These crimes do not get forgotten with time. They are being monitored and documented, and those who have committed them, and who provided arms and money, will not escape justice.”
The four-month-old sit-in in Taez was the longest-running protest against Saleh’s rule.
The clashes erupted on Sunday evening outside a nearby police station as some 3,000 people gathered to demand the release of a detained protester.
Police fired warning shots then fired into the crowd when the demonstrators refused to leave, a local committee of the “Youth of the Revolution” group said.
On March 18, 52 people died when regime loyalists attempted to break up a similar protest against Saleh’s rule in University Square in the capital Sanaa. The president declared a state of emergency after the bloodshed.
More than 200 demonstrators have been killed since the protests first erupted in Yemen. Scores more have died in armed clashes between loyalist troops and dissident tribesmen.
In the south, meanwhile, suspected Al-Qaeda militants killed six Yemeni soldiers, an army officer and a security official said.
The officer said that two soldiers from the 25th mechanised brigade, the headquarters of which is under siege in Zinjibar, were killed by a rocket-propelled grenade.
The security official said that militants ambushed a military convoy outside Zinjibar during the night, killing four soldiers. At least seven soldiers were wounded, a medic said.
A security official said on Sunday that suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen had taken control of most of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, in three days of fighting during which officials and medics said at least 21 people were killed.
Witnesses said that aircraft were carrying out strikes on suspected Al-Qaeda positions to the east of the city on Monday, while there were also unconfirmed reports of naval shelling in the area of Zinjibar, which sits a few kilometres (miles) from the coast.
Four suspected Al-Qaeda fighters were killed in overnight fighting in Zinjibar, another security source said, but a source close to the gunmen who control much of the city said that only two were killed.
Dissident army commanders accused Saleh of surrendering the province to “terrorists.”
The Common Forum charged that he had “delivered Zinjibar to groups that he has formed and armed, to continue to utilise the spectre of Al-Qaeda to frighten regional and international parties.”
The opposition grouping signed up to a deal brokered by impoverished Yemen’s wealthy Gulf neighbours under which Saleh, in power since 1978, would hand power to the vice president within 30 days in return for a promise of immunity from prosecution.
The president initially agreed to the plan but then repeatedly set new conditions for signing it, prompting the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to suspend its mediation efforts.