Wednesday, October 1, 2008

World wide tidbits

Here are a few interesting tidbits from a few places around the world where the muslimos are doing their thing and causing more trouble for Christian and non-violent folk.

Violence in Afghanistan this year is at its highest level since the US-led invasion in 2001. Some 3,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan during the past year. US President George Bush has promised to send about 4,500 additional American troops to Afghanistan in January. One of the most violent areas of Afghanistan is the mountainous region along the border with Pakistan, where the leaders of the Taliban and the al-Qaida terror network are believed to be operating. Afghanistan's Defense Minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak, says he wants to work with his counterparts in Pakistan to create a joint military force to fight terrorism in the region. "We need to establish an enhanced mechanism for practical cross-border cooperation, including strengthening routine links between our military, border security and law enforcement institutions. We must move beyond diplomacy and confidence-building exchanges, to the delivery of practical results," he said. General Wardak spoke on Wednesday at a forum at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based research institute. "We should help each other interfere with the terrorists' communication, planning, weapon procurement, training and capturing their senior leadership. I continue to believe that we need mechanisms for responding jointly to incidents, whichever side of the border they occur," he said. General Wardak says he has not discussed the proposal with Pakistani officials, but acknowledges that the Taliban is gaining strength and becoming more organized. However, he says Afghanistan's national security forces and police have been improving steadily, and that he is optimistic that stability and security can be achieved.

Pakistan is on high alert after a massive bomb devastated the Marriott hotel in Islamabad on Saturday, killing 53 people. The country's security situation has been deteriorating for months, with an increasing number of bomb attacks by militants. On Thursday Security at Islamabad's international airport was stepped up following threats of an imminent suicide attack. "It was a specific threat," said Ashraf Faiz, Pakistan's senior airport security officer. Seven Al-Qaeda linked militants and two civilians were killed on Thursday when Pakistani helicopter gunships shelled rebel hideouts in a tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said. The casualties took place in the Bajaur region, where Pakistani troops launched a major offensive against Islamic militants last month which killed some 900 people, mostly militants, and displaced 260,000. "Helicopter gunships pounded positions of militants in Damadola, Shinkot areas on Thursday, killing seven rebels," said a security official. Two civilians were also killed in the shelling, he said. The casualty figure could not be independently verified. Pakistan's tribal regions have been wracked by violence since thousands of Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels sneaked into the country after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001. Violence linked to Pakistan's role in the "war on terror" has claimed the lives of nearly 1,300 people in suicide and bomb attacks across the country in the past year.

President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili and Secretary of State of US Condoleezza Rice held a meeting behind closed doors in New York this week. The meeting took place before Georgian President’s speech in UN General Assembly. President Saakashvili and Ms Rice discussed the situation in Georgia and possible measures to for the pull out of Russian troops and the revival of the economy, according to one of the members of the Georgian delegation. The US once again confirmed its position regarding support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and promised to render support further. Meanwhile, Russia’s other neighbours urged the United Nations to stand up to a newly aggressive Moscow. Leaders of the small, relatively new democracies that were once part of the Soviet bloc, who were clearly unnerved when Russia sent troops into Georgia last month, called on the United Nations not to sit on its hands just because Russia was a permanent member of the Security Council.

"Dagestan, Russia"
The prevailing peace in the Russian state was epitomized by a protocol signed to mark the fraternity of Azerbaijan’s city of Ganja and Derbent city of Dagestan Republic of Russia. The protocol on fraternity which was signed today between the Head of Ganja Executive Power, Eldar Azizov and Mayor of Derbent, Feliks Gaziahmadov, contains a number of items on co-operation of the two cities in various spheres. “The protocol on co-operation envisages holding Day of Derbent in Ganja and Day of Ganja in Derbent,” Azizov said. Gaziahmadov said that Ganja and Derbent are the cities having ancient history and traditions. “Our today’s meeting is only the beginning. With this step, we provided ground for the future relations. Close co-operation is envisaged to be realized in the economic, social and other spheres,” Derbent Mayor said. Gaziahmadov presented a sword, prepared by the Derbent masters, a book containing poetry of Nizami Ganjavi and a disk reflecting history of Derbent to the Head of Ganja Executive Power. Eldar Azizov presented tableware with image of Nizami Ganjavi.

"Central African Republic and Chad"
The Security Council has put off until December a decision on the size of a military component to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad, for which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has proposed 6,000 troops. The military addition to the mission, known as MINURCAT, is to replace a European Union force (EUFOR). Both Chad and CAR have been hit by rebel activity and a spill-over from neighbouring Sudan’s Darfur conflict. The 15-member Council unanimously extended MINURCAT’s mandate until 15 March 2009 and expressed its intention to authorize the deployment of a military component, “taking fully into account” Mr Ban’s recommendations. It asked him to submit a new report by 15 November on progress towards the full deployment of MINURCAT at its current target of 1,549 personnel – at present there are 768 people on the ground – with options on the size, structure and mandate of the proposed UN military presence in north-eastern CAR to take over from the 3,300-strong EUFOR, whose mandate expires on 15 March. The Council said it intended to adopt a decision by 15 December. In a report earlier this month, Mr Ban said the situation in CAR remained volatile and there had been no notable progress towards implementing a year-old agreement between Chad’s Government and the main rebel groups confronting it. The Council set up MINURCAT a year ago with a mandate to help bring stability to eastern Chad and north-eastern CAR, which have both been wracked by violence and civilian displacement in recent years involving hundreds of thousands of people. Eastern Chad currently shelters 290,000 refugees, mainly Sudanese escaping from the Darfur fighting, and 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who depend on humanitarian aid to survive.

The Philippines military says it killed at least 16 Muslim rebels in renewed fighting in the marshlands of southern Mindanao this week. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said it had killed more than 20 government troops over two days. Fighting has resumed in the southern area since the collapse of the latest round of peace talks. International humanitarian groups have expressed concern about the renewed violence, and the high civilian toll. Reports estimate that about 300 people have been killed since the failure of a draft deal between the government and the MILF in August. The military says it is seeking three MILF commanders accused of attacks on Christian communities last month. It said that nine rebels died in a seven hour battle with army troops on Tuesday, in Datu Saudi Ampatuan township in Maguindanao province. Major Armand Rico, spokesman of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command, told reporters a further seven guerrillas were killed in artillery strikes in the same area. MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu denied the military reports of casualties, saying no rebel had died and only one was wounded in Tuesday's clashes. He said that at least 20 soldiers were killed by MILF fighters on Wednesday. The war of words followed the violence on the ground, with the military countering that the rebels were making up numbers as part of a propaganda war. "Our troops have stumbled onto a major rebel base in Liguasan Marsh where one of the renegade MILF leaders was believed to be hiding," Major Rico told reporters

Thailand's new Cabinet led by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat were sworn in on Thursday at a ceremony before Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the royal residence Klaikangwon Palace in central beach resort town of Hua Hin. The 36 new cabinet members took a group photo at the 6th Air Force airport in Bangkok's Don Mueang area Thursday afternoon before flying to Hua Hin for the audience with the King to swear in. Somchai, newly elected by the Parliament earlier this month, said he will chair the first Cabinet meeting in Bangkok on Friday to discuss the government's main policies with all the six coalition parties. The cabinet meeting will be held at Don Mueang airport on Bangkok suburb, which was being renovated to serve as the new administration seat as the Government House in central Bangkok has been occupied by protesters organized by the anti-government group People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) for one month. Somchai has petitioned the public, and government critics to allow the new government time to prove its efficiency in running the country even though some were dissatisfied with the cabinet line-up. Somchai dismissed speculations that he would sooner or later dissolve the House of Representatives and call for a general election. The premier said his government is obliged to carry out policies and plans designed and implemented by the previous government. As the new coalition government took office, the PAD has vowed to continue their protest against any government led by the People Power Party (PPP), which Somchai belongs to, and any attempt to amend the Constitution, as the PPP has been pushing since it won the general election in last December. Somchai, former deputy PM, was elected as Thailand's 26th prime minister after Samak Sundaravej was forced out of premiership with a court verdict that found him in breach of the constitution by hosting TV cooking shows with commercial benefits while in office.

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