Archive for: August 2010

Rebels attack Chechen leader's home

Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov's security officers stand above the body of one of the suspected militants.

Ref: At least 19 people have been killed after anti-government fighters launched an attack on the house of Chechnya’s president, local media sources say.

The exchange of fire between Ramzan Kadyroz’s personal security guards and suspected separatists occured in the president’s home village of Tsentoroi on Sunday morning.

The clashes left 12 fighters and two officers dead, Alvi Karimov, a government spokesman, told the AP news agency.

Five civilians were also killed in the crossfire, according to local TV reports.

But Kadyrov, who was in the village at the time of the ambush and directed the counter-offensive operation, has denied the reported civilian deaths. He told local reporters that some civilians were injured but that none were killed.

An AP reporter at the scene claimed to have seen numerous fire-ravaged and bullet-ridden homes that suffered collateral damage, with body parts amid the rubble.

Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region sees daily attacks by separatist fighters seeking independence from Russia.

Kadyrov had previously fought on the side of the rebels in a war with Russia in the early 1990s, but switched sides in 1999 to become an ally of the country. He was then installed by Moscow as the leader of Chechnya in 2007.

Since then, there have been several foiled attempts to assassinate Kadyrov, who has been criticised by rights groups for his harsh crackdown on dissenters.

Somali presidential palace shelled

Ref: Four African Union (AU) peacekeepers have been killed in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, after al-Shabab fighters fired a mortar at the presidential palace.

“A mortar was fired at one of our positions, and it killed four soldiers and injured eight,” said Ba-Hoku Barigye, a spokesman for the peacekeeping force.

Uganda and Burundi have deployed more than 6,300 troops to support Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

The AU pledged last month to expand the force, with both Guinea and Djibouti promising new troops.

Monday’s mortar attack was the latest bloody clash in a week of heavy fighting between al-Shabab and the peacekeepers.

At least six people were killed in several battles on Wednesday, and al-Shabab fighters killed nearly 40 people on Tuesday in a suicide bombing at a Mogadishu hotel.

President’s appeal

Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the Somali president, used the recent burst of fighting to appeal for more international aid for his embattled government, which controls just a few blocks of territory in Mogadishu.

“It is quite impractical to expect Somalia alone to contain the evil al-Qaeda [and] al-Shabab alliance, as Somalia is emerging from 20 years of destruction and a chaotic political environment,” he said in a statement.

Fighting between al-Shabab and government forces has also been seen in Mogadishu’s Hodan neighbourhood.

Six civilians were killed there over the weekend, when al-Shabab fighters attacked a government barracks. The TFG says it retook the area on Sunday.

“Our forces have regained control of a key position that was captured by the anti-peace forces for a day,” said Abdullahi Hassan Bariise, a spokesman for the Somali police.

A spokesman for al-Shabab, however, claimed that ten Somali troops were killed in fighting in Hodan.

Fitra re-fixed at Tk. 45

REF
The authorities have rescheduled the firth rate this year.

Islamic Foundation fixed the lowest amount of fitra at Tk 45 per person. The decision was made at a review meeting at Baitul Mukarram mosque on Sunday.

Earlier on Aug 26, however, the authorities had fixed fitra at Tk 100 per person.

It was reviewed in Sunday’s meeting that the cost of 1 kg and 650 gm of wheat was Tk 45, and so the lowest figure was fixed at Tk 45.

Baitul Mukarram mosque Khatib Moulana Mohammad Salahuddin said if dates, dried grapes or cheese were taken to fix the lowest amount of fitra, the price of 1 kg and 300gm of those items would have to be considered. Read more →

Investors not keen on new power scheme

REF
A government proposal to provide special privileges for private investors wanting to get involved in the power sector has not been well received by the business sector.

The new government proposal was explained at a discussion on Saturday involving finance minister AMA Muhith, he prime minister’s energy adviser, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, other senior government officials and the business community..

In the plan, power sector entrepreneurs would be allowed duty free imports of equipment, spare parts and furnace fuel and all the benefits enjoyed by Captive Power Plants (CPP) and Independent Power Producers (IPP), the finance minister told the discussion.

“These decisions will be implemented very soon,” said Muhith. Read more →

Sunni force targeted in Iraq

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Ref:Eight members of the government-backed Awakening Council (Sahwa) militia have been killed in eastern Iraq, in the latest attacks against the group, Iraqi police tell Al Jazeera.

At dawn on Thursday, a group of armed men thought to be linked to al-Qaeda attacked the local Sahwa office in the village of Shereen in Muqdadiya, Diyala province.

The attack on the US-organised Sunni force came after a spate of bombings and shootings, mostly targeting security forces,left at least 50 Iraqis dead on Wednesday.

Recent attacks follow a reduction in the number of US troops in the country to less than 50,000, and come ahead of a formal end to US combat operations on August 31.

‘Ugly crime’

Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shia prime minister, issued a statement on Wednesday’s spate of attacks saying: “Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and its allies from the Baath party, have once again committed an ugly crime against innocent civilians and the institutions of the state … to destabalise security and shake the confidence in the Iraqi security forces who are getting ready to take over security at the end of this month as the Americans withdraw.”

The Sahwa, also known as the “Sons of Iraq”, were instrumental in fighting al-Qaeda at the height of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007.

The force has about 8,000 members in Diyala, most of whom are based in Baquba, the provincial capital.

Formal responsibility for the Sahwa was passed from the US to Iraq’s government in April 2009, forming an uneasy partnership between the Shia dominated administration in Baghdad and the Sunni fighters.

The government promised to integrate 20 per cent of the Sahwa members into the police or army and to find civil service jobs for many others.

However, across Iraq, about 52,000 of the fighters are still waiting for new employment.

Political dead-lock

Politicians in Baghdad have been unable to form a new government, after elections in March failed to produce a clear winner.

The political dead-lock, compounded by the reduction of US forces to their lowest levels since the 2003 invasion, has likely contributed to recent violence.

Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, told al Jazeera: “It seems to me that the security situation is much more fragile than both the American and the Iraqi authority would like to believe.

“Unless a political solution is found, unless a national government is found that include all political persuasions, all political perspectives, the situation is likely to deteriorate in the months ahead.”

Attacks on Wednesday included a suicide car bomb targeting the Qahira police station, located in the north of Iraq’s capital, killing 15 people and wounding around 58 others and a suicide blast in Wasit province in southern Iraq which killed at least 10.

Emma Watson visits Bangladesh to promote fair trade

sify:
Harry Potter star Emma Watson recently traveled to Bangladesh to witness firsthand the work being done on her fair trade clothing line, People Tree. In particular, she visited the community known as Swallow, where employees craft the apparel for her label, according to NDTV.com.

She also visited the factories where major retailers, such as Gap and Primark, have their own clothing operations.

“The contrast between the slums in Dhaka where the people who work in the garment factories live and Swallows… was all too apparent,” Watson told the news source, adding that the experience had helped clarify what a difference fair trade has made in local lives. Read more →

Afghan politicians 'on CIA payroll'

CIA Logo

Ref:Multiple members of the Afghan government are on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to US media reports citing unnamed officials.

A former US official told the Associated Press on Friday that the intelligence agency has used payments to cultivate sources across the Afghan government – a practice that has raised concerns at a time when the US is pressing Afghan officials to crack down on corruption.

The admission comes after reports emerged on Thursday that an aide to Hamid Karzai,the Afghan president, who is at the centre of a corruption probe, was paid by the CIA.

According to the New York Times, Mohammed Zia Salehi, chief of administration for the National Security Council, had been on the CIA’s payroll for many years.

Last month, Afghan security forces arrested Salehi for allegedly soliciting a bribe in exchange for impeding a US-backed investigation into a company suspected of shipping billions of dollars out of Afghanistan in the service of government officials, drug smugglers and anti-government fighters.

The revelation that Salehi has received payments from the US spy agency demonstrates the complex relationship Washington has developed with the Afghan government.

‘Counter-productive’

George Little, a spokesman for the CIA, would neither confirm nor deny the
reports, but said that speculation about such matters was dangerous.

“This agency – acting in strict accord with American law – plays an essential role in promoting our nation’s goals in Afghanistan, including security and stability,” he told the Associated Press.

“Speculation about who may help us achieve that is both dangerous and counter-productive.”

The CIA has placed many Afghan officials on the payroll over the years, according to Ali Jalali, a former Afghan interior minister.

He said the agency has had deep involvement in Afghanistan for decades, and it would be natural for the CIA to have long-standing “relationships” with many Afghan leaders.

“You have to put things into perspective,” he said.

He added that he doubted Karzai would be surprised if Salehi were on the CIA payroll, as alleged.

“When Karzai was fighting against the Taliban, he was supported by the agency, too,” Jalali said.

Allegations of corruption and nepotism have dogged the US presence in Afghanistan and such problems undermine support for Karzai’s government and foreign nation-building efforts, analysts say.

Mirza Abbas shown arrested

Ref:BNP standing committee member Mirza Abbas has been shown arrested in pre-hartal violence of Jun 26.

Assistant police commissioner Mohammad Maniruzzaman told bdnews24.com that the former MP was shown arrested for vandalising a car and setting fire in a case filed with the New Market Police Station on Saturday. Read more →

Water bus operations start

Ref:Water buses have started ferrying passengers on the Gabtoli-Sadarghat route in a bid to ease the traffic congestion in Dhaka city.

Shipping minister Shajahan Khan inaugurated the service at Gabtoli landing station at 11.30am on Saturday. Two water buses, ‘Turag’ and ‘Buriganga’, will be operating in the route initially. Read more →

Scientists crack through wheat's genetic code

Ref:Scientists have cracked and published almost all of the highly complex genetic code of wheat — a staple food for more than a third of the world’s people — and say breeders can now use their findings to improve yields.

The draft gene map is for a variety called Chinese Spring wheat and gives scientists and breeding companies access to 95 percent all wheat genes — knowledge that should help them devise ways of breeding more robust and plentiful crops to meet the threat of global food shortages. Read more →