Monday, May 25, 2009

DTN News: Somalia May Fall To Islamists Tied To al-Qaeda

DTN News: Somalia May Fall To Islamists Tied To al-Qaeda
*Supported by Eritrea, Islamist forces are focusing on what there is of government in wartorn Somalia. The U.N. calls for end to hostilities.
(NSI News Source Info) MOGADISHU - May 25 2009: Somalia’s Islamist rebels have launched a major offensive against the central government, reviving long-standing concerns that the country could fall entirely to militants with alleged ties to al-Qaeda. The situation is exacerbated by Eritrea’s support for the Islamists.
Ugandan peacekeepers from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) walk outside the presidential palace in Mogadishu May 23, 2009. Residents fled Somalia's capital on Saturday during a lull in fighting between government forces and hardline Islamist insurgents which killed at least 45 people a day earlier. Government forces launched a pre-dawn offensive on Friday to try to drive Islamist rebels from their Mogadishu strongholds, unleashing the bloodiest day's combat in months.
The U.N. Security Council expressed anxiety over reports that Eritrea has been supplying arms to Islamist militants intent on toppling Somalia's new government and condemned the recent violence.
The council insisted that Somali Islamist extremist groups immediately end the violence and join reconciliation efforts "The Security Council ... expresses its concern over reports that Eritrea has supplied arms to those opposing the (government of) Somalia in breach of the UN arms embargo," the statement said.
While Eritrea rejects accusations that it sends weapons to the al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants fighting Somalia's government, Somalia's government said earlier this month that Asmara continues to support al Shabaab militants with planeloads of AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons.
The accusation was backed by diplomats and security experts. Ambassador Araya Desta, Eritrea’s UN envoy repudiated the accusation. "We have never done this; it is totally false and misleading." He said Eritrea had never given financial or military support to opposition factions in Somalia.
"The historical relationship that exists between Eritrea and Somalia is still intact, we fully respect them and we anticipate peace and stability in the country—that is our goal," Desta said. In DR Congo, Somalia, Sudan, refugees number as much as 4 million each. Civilians and aid workers continue to be targetted. Fighting has erupted in Mogadishu, causing thousands to flee.One diplomat said the Security Council statement was significant for singling out Eritrea by name. It usually refers to "third countries" or "outside" parties, he said.
Reuters reports that fighting between al Shabaab militants—who admit to having foreigners in their ranks—and pro-government fighters has killed at least 139 people and sent some 27,000 fleeing the pock-marked, seaside capital Mogadishu since late last week.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an East African regional bloc, has called on the United Nations to impose immediate sanctions on Eritrea for backing the rebels. "The government of Eritrea and its financiers continue to instigate, finance, recruit, train, fund and supply the criminal elements in and/or to Somalia," the group said.
The rebels, now operating openly with hundreds of fighters from the United States, Britain, Pakistan, Chechnya and other places, have for the past year controlled virtually all of southern Somalia, where local leaders—some Somalis call them Islamist warlords—have imposed a harsh version of sharia law, publicly flogging people who don't attend Friday prayers and chopping off the hands of alleged thieves.
President Sharif Ahmed's government controls only Mogadishu's airport, its seaport and a small corner of the ruined city where the presidential palace is fortified by 4,000 African Union peacekeepers. Ahmed has remained sequestered there for most of the past week.

DTN News: China TODAY May 25, 2009 - Chinese Paramilitary Police Officials On Stand Guard In Front Of North Korean Embassy In Beijing, China

DTN News: China TODAY May 25, 2009 - Chinese Paramilitary Police Officials On Stand Guard In Front Of North Korean Embassy In Beijing, China
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - May 25 2009: Two women walk past a Chinese paramilitary police officer on bicycle stand watch in front of North Korean Embassy in Beijing, China, Monday, May 25, 2009.
Leaders around the world strongly condemned North Korea's announcement it conducted a nuclear test on Monday, with President Barack Obama calling it a matter of grave concern to all nations and Japan demanding action by the U.N. Security Council.

DTN News: Pakistan Military Offensive Against Taliban In Swat Valley Created Nearly 2.4 Million Displaced People

DTN News: Pakistan Military Offensive Against Taliban In Swat Valley Created Nearly 2.4 Million Displaced People (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD - May 25 2009: Nearly 2.4 million people have registered with provincial authorities after fleeing an anti-Taliban military offensive this month in northwest Pakistan, the UN and government officials said Monday. Internally displaced people, fleeing a military offensive in the Swat valley region,stand at distribution center at UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) Jalozai camp about 140 km (87 miles) north west of Pakistan's capital Islamabad May 25, 2009. Pakistani soldiers were moving from house to house on Monday as they battled militants in the main town in the Swat valley and were expected to take at least a week to secure it, the military said. Ariane Rummery, spokeswoman for the UNHCR, said they had been given the figure by the North West Frontier Province authorities and expected the number to fluctuate after cross checks are carried out in the coming days. ‘In the new influx, 2.38 million people have been registered,’ she said. ‘That’s the new influx registered from May two from Swat, Lower Dir and Buner.’ Pakistan’s security forces launched their onslaught against Taliban fighters in the districts of Lower Dir on April 26, Buner on April 28 and Swat on May 8, sending terrified civilians fleeing their homes. Most of the displaced are staying with friends and relatives, while others are crammed into government-run camps. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told reporters the government was doing all it could to care for the massive number of uprooted people. This photo taken from video released by the Pakistan Inter Services Public Relations Department on Monday, May 25, 2009 shows Pakistani soldiers escorting an injured resident in Khawazakhela, a town of Pakistan's troubled Swat Valley. The Taliban urged civilians Monday to return to the main town in Pakistan's Swat Valley, promising they won't attack security forces battling insurgents there but stopping short of calling the move a cease-fire. ‘Around 2.3 million people have been displaced but this number is not final,’ he said. The newly-displaced join more than 550,000 people who fled similar battles last year and rights groups have warned that it is Pakistan’s biggest movement of people since partition from India in 1947.

DTN News: Indian Air Force IAF's First Phalcon AWACS Arrive Today

DTN News: Indian Air Force IAF's First Phalcon AWACS Arrive Today
(NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - May 25 2009: Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots will fly in the first of three Israeli Phalcon AWACS on Monday, marking the induction of a potent force multiplier in the Indian sub-continent region. The formal induction of the aircraft is slated for Tuesday, with the newly installed defence minister in attendance. The AWACS aircraft is capable of tracking missiles, fighter aircraft, troop movements and gathering electronics and signals intelligence deep in enemy territory. From 1987, India has worked on an experimental AEW system codenamed "Airavat"; the project itself is called Airborne Surveillance Platform. HAL customized two HS-748 airframes with pylons and rotodome, but the project itself ground to a halt in 1999, following a Prototype crash, killing 8 scientists aboard. As of 2004, the project has been revived with new platform and an AESA Radar instead of a rotating one. India ordered 3 Phalcon AWACS from Israel with a cost of about $1.5 billion with the delivery to end in 2008. This was delayed and the first aircraft arrived in early 2009. The IAF cleared proposal to buy 3 more Phalcon AWACS in 2008. As part of its Eye in the sky project, India is developing an AESA radar which will be integrated on the Embraer EMB-145 aircraft. The AWACS will be inducted by 2011. The AWACS platform, which involves a Russian Il-76 aircraft and Israeli radar and electronics, has been created through a tripartite agreement involving Russia, Israel and India. The radome-mounted aircraft was scheduled to take off from the Ben-Gurion airport in Israel on Sunday and head first for Uvda in the southern Israeli coastal town of Eilat. Eventually it was supposed to fly at night from Eilat to Jamnagar, reaching India on Monday, according to defence sources. This all-weather, tracking and intelligence gathering system is capable of logging 60 targets simultaneously in a range of 400 km. It can detect incoming hostile cruise missiles and aircraft from hundreds of kilometres away, and act as a command platform for defence fighters in the course of combat operations. Its capabilities will allow IAFs frontline fighter aircraft, such as Sukhoi-30MKIs, Mirage-2000s, MiG-29s and Jaguars, to get constant data feed on the environment around them allowing them to react to enemy movement even before their own radars can come into play. They are in effect the IAF's ''eye in the sky''. The delivery of the first of the three aircraft is almost a year and a half behind schedule, mainly on delayed delivery of the Il-76 platform by the Uzbeks and subsequent integration of the aircraft with the Israeli electronics package. The remaining two aircraft are now scheduled for delivery sometime in 2010. Talks are in an advanced stage for the purchase of several more Phalcon AWACS. The first lot of three AWACS were contracted for at a cost of $1.1 billion. Eventually all AWACS will be hooked up with the larger Indian RISAT spy satellite to be launched sometime later this year, or early next year. In response to the Mumbai terror attacks in November last year a smaller, modified version was launched by ISRO early this year and is already in operation.

DTN News: Nigeria: War In Niger Delta - Military Extends Offensive To Rivers State

DTN News: Nigeria: War In Niger Delta - Military Extends Offensive To Rivers State
(NSI News Source Info) LAGOS, Nigeria - May 25 2009: Nine hostages were on Sunday rescued by the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Gbaramatu community, one of the main theatres of battle between troops and militants in Delta State, in addition to the three Filipinos freed in the area on Saturday. The incursion has extended to Abonnema in Rivers State, where militant leader Nana Sele was shot dead. His cohorts fled with wounds after an exchange of gunfire. Fighters with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) raise their riffles to celebrate news of a successful operation by their colleagues against the Nigerian army in the Niger. MEND has declared a full-scale "oil war" against the Nigerian authorities in response to attacks by the Nigerian military launched against the militants. "Our target is to crumble the oil installations in order to force the government to a round table to solve the problem once and for all", said Boy Loaf, leader of the militants. Residents of Odi in neighbouring Bayelsa have also taken to their heels in fear of being overrun by soldiers. Four of the hostages were rescued in Camp Five, two in Okerenkoko, and three in Oporoza. JTF Spokesman, Colonel Rabe Abubakar, said the 'Cordon and Rescue Operation' would be intensified until all hostages - including military men and foreign nationals - are freed. He added: "With the successes recorded so far in the course of this operation, the JTF wants to debunk the allegation that its troops are targeting some individuals, or certain ethnic groups. "We conducted the operations in the most professional manner and the security outfit is only focusing on the areas where there are militants and their hideouts where hostages were being kept. It is not a random operation and people should commend us for what we have done so far. "However, in the conduct of this national assignment some few members of the communities will be inconvenienced by our actions, but we did not do it deliberately. It is for the overall development of the communities in the long run and what we want to achieve for our children to benefit tomorrow. "The JTF wants to use this opportunity to reiterate that as long as our men are not found, the operation will be ongoing. Therefore, we are soliciting for the co-operation of the public, especially those affected by this purge, to furnish us with information that will lead to the arrest of the miscreants who unleash terror on innocent members of the communities." Abubakar denied the allegation that soldiers looted the palace of the traditional ruler of Gbaramatu. "Such a statement is not true and holds no water as the JTF is in Gbaramatu to carry out an important security assignment. We are doing that, and we will continue to do it. Looting is against the ethics of the military anywhere in the world." He described as "laughable" the propaganda by the defeated rag-tag army of Tompolo, "who is on the run," having "realised that the myth built around him by his co-travelers in criminalities has been deflated." Abubakar urged investors to come to Delta as genuine peace has finally been achieved. "Tompolo has no home again and will never have a home in the region, because he has been declared wanted and must be smoked out by our troops. Everything that has a beginning must have an end, this is the end of Tompolo." But the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has vowed to deal more blows to the JTF and those it considers traitors in its own fold. "Nobody should go home with his two eyes closed because the war has just begun," it warned. A statement issued by MEND Spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said the frustration suffered by the JTF will be aggravated as the next agenda unfolds in the coming days. He accused Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of masterminding the "annihilation of the Ijaw race to foster the agenda of a particular set of people on the entire state." Gbomo warned, however, that the plot will fail. "If the Ijaw people are now viewed as antithetic to the development of the state and must be wiped out, after drawing the attention of the whole world to the plight of the region and ensuring that the region is gradually getting what is due it in the country, the state will become too hot for everybody to stay." He dismissed as fraudulent claims by the JTF that it has captured arms from militants in the invaded communities. In any case, soldiers launched another attack on Ayeibogbene in Delta on Sunday, and on Abonnema in Rivers, where Sele was killed. Besides, one Kuku Olobio reportedly died on Saturday in Daubriye, bringing the number of deaths in this area of Delta to five. Community leaders said the JTF at about 10.30 a.m. invaded Ayeibogbene, which is a few kilometres from a Chevron site in Abiteye. Gbaramatu Spokesman, Godspower Gbenekama, narrated that 15 houses were torched in Ayeibogbene, but that no one died because the people had fled before the attack. Gbenekama said the death toll in the Saturday attack on Daubriye and Benekurukuru had increased to five, including one Kuku Olobio. A 90-year-old man, Ziten Jouwegha; a woman, Wekebo Mulade and her two children (a boy aged one and a girl aged three), also died. Fifteen houses were burnt. The Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC) has appealed to the military authorities to "ceasefire and discontinue its war on the defenceless Gbaramatu Ijaw people and allow place for dialogue." FNDIC President, Bello Oboko, insisted in a statement that "Gbaramatu is not a part and parcel of the declaration of war with the Nigerian nation/Army by (the MEND) which we asked to steer clear of Gbaramatu. "We are happy at the reports of the release, without battle, the victims of war declared by (the JTF) in Gbaramatu in the Warri waterways. "It is an indication that despite the continuous propaganda of the MEND which the JTF - as it advised the general public - should also ignore, the forces in the ongoing battle which the Gbaramatu Ijaw people are not willing to be part of, have withdrawn. "With reports also that the JTF has dislodged militants, we are disturbed at the continued destruction of civil Ijaw communities thereby spreading deaths, discomfort, and hopelessness." Abubakar of the JTF confirmed that "a cordon and search operation conducted by the troops of the Joint Task Force, Operation Restore Hope, at Oporoza community in Gbaramatu led to the rescue of three Filipinos who are presently undergoing medical treatment at an undisclosed JTF hospital. They are Enrico Arelano, Romeo Naclicar and Napoleon Emphasis. "The security outfit, in continuation of its intensive search and rescue mission, has so far rescued a total of 17 foreigners, including Filipinos, Ukrainians and four Nigerians, who were held hostage by militants from Camp Five and other neighboring camps. "It is pertinent to note that in all the communities searched by the JTF so far, large quantities of arms and ammunition, as well as hostages kidnapped by the militants, were discovered. "Military hardware as well as four hostages, were also discovered in Camp Five, two from Okerenkoko while three were rescued from Oporoza. "JTF troops carried out a dawn raid on suspected militants' hideout at Abonnema in Rivers State. After a fierce exchange of gunfire with the militants, one militant, Nana Sele, suspected to be their leader, was shot dead and others fled with gun shot wounds." Military Onslaught on Delta Militants Continue Odi indigenes in Bayelsa are deserting town in droves because of the fear of invasion by troops in search of a militant leader said to be hiding in the area. They are relocating to adjoining villages, and to Yenagoa and Port Harcourt. Ten years ago, the community was razed by soldiers who came in search of youths believed to have murdered some policemen. Back then, 20 people died and several buildings were destroyed. But the hunt for militants is generating tension in Odi, whose Council of Chiefs Spokesman, Pereowei Agurah, vouched that it is a peaceful community. He said even as the people do not accommodate militants, they do not want to take chances and get caught up in the fighting. He, however, lamented that he is stranded as his car has no fuel.

DTN News: South Korea TODAY May 25, 2009 - South Korean Soldiers On Guard Observing Carefully North Korean Conduct On Nuclear Test

DTN News: South Korea TODAY May 25, 2009 - South Korean Soldiers On Guard Observing Carefully North Korean Conduct On Nuclear Test
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - May 25 2009: South Korean soldiers participate in a military drill at an army unit in Hwacheon, about 20 km (12 miles) south of the demilitarised zone separating two Koreas, northeast of Seoul, May 22, 2009.
North Korea fired a short-range missile on May 25, 2009, just hours after it said it had conducted a nuclear test, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a diplomatic source as saying. Picture taken May 22, 2009.

DTN News: Sikh Groups Clash In Vienna, Tremors In India / 30 Hurt In Clash At Sikh Temple In Austria

DTN News: Sikh Groups Clash In Vienna, Tremors In India / 30 Hurt In Clash At Sikh Temple In Austria
*"In this incident there was a celebration going on among followers of the Sikhs -- they were holding a ceremony. Suddenly six people did not agree with the procedures and the preacher and they pulled out weapons -- one had a gun and five others knives." Onlookers overpowered the six attackers -- sustaining injuries in the process. Bloodstained members of the Sikh community were seen standing shocked on the street outside the temple afterwards. One commented that the temple resembled a battlefield. "All six attackers were overcome by the followers in the temple and badly injured. We can't yet say by whom. Visitors to the temple were also injured," Takacs said. (DTN News Defense-Technology News .... May 25, 2009)
(NSI News Source Info) AUSTRIA - May 25 2009: Sikh followers clashed with knives and at least one gun at a temple in Vienna on Sunday, injuring some 30 people in a dispute between rival religious communities, police and witnesses said.
An Indian woman talks to a cop in front of the Vienna gurdwara where the shooting happened Sunday.
Separately, Indian media said a curfew was imposed in parts of the Sikh-majority city of Jalandhar in the northern Indian state of Punjab after violence broke out, apparently in response to news of the Vienna incident.
The clash in Austria broke out around 1:30 pm (1130 GMT) and saw the perpetrators pull out knives and a gun as two gurus visiting from India gave a sermon at the temple, where some 200 people had gathered.
Medics prepare an injured person for transport by helicopter following a shooting in a Sikh temple in Vienna May 24, 2009. A Sikh preacher wounded in the attack on the temple in Vienna has died, the Austrian national news agency APA said on Monday, citing a police official. At least nine people were wounded on Sunday when armed men attacked the preacher and worshippers with a gun and knives. Picture taken May 24, 2009.
Others in the audience pounced on the attackers, who a witness said were wearing yellow and blue turbans, and subdued them, according to police.
A train is set on fire by protesters to protest against the attacks on Sikh religious leaders at a temple in Austria's capital on Sunday, in Jalandhar, India, Monday, May 25, 2009. India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for calm Monday as riots spread to several north Indian cities to protest a deadly shooting at a Sikh temple in Austria.
The two gurus, Sant Niranjan Dass, 66, and Sant Rama Nand, 56, of the Shri Guru Ravidas Sabha movement, were among those shot. A police spokesman said they were in stable condition on Sunday evening after undergoing surgery.
Dass was hit in the abdomen and hip, while Nand was struck in the abdomen and back.
Some victims were hit in the stomach and legs by bullets, and the injured were taken away aboard three helicopters for treatment.

DTN News: North Korea Conducts Nuclear Test / Backgrounder: Nuclear Issue On Korean Peninsula

DTN News: North Korea Conducts Nuclear Test / Backgrounder: Nuclear Issue On Korean Peninsula *By acting in blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council, North Korea is directly and recklessly challenging the international community....By U.S. President Barack Obama (DTN News Defense-Technology News .... May 25, 2009)
(NSI News Source Info) PYONGYANG - May 25 2009: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced on Monday it has successfully conducted "one more" underground nuclear test earlier in the day. Here is a brief introduction of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. North Korean soldiers walk on the banks of Yalu River near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, May 25, 2009. North Korea said it successfully conducted a nuclear test on Monday, a move certain to further isolate the prickly state, which argues it has no choice but to build an atomic arsenal to protect itself in a hostile world. The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula surfaced in the early 1990s, when the United States, based on its satellite information, suspected that the DPRK had facilities for the development of nuclear weapons. Pyongyang denied the allegation, saying it had neither the intention nor the capability to develop nuclear weapons. It also criticized the U.S. for deploying nuclear weapons in South Korea, which served as a threat to DPRK's security. From May 1992 to Feb. 1993, the DPRK accepted six irregular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The DPRK and the U.S. signed the Framework Agreement in Geneva in October 1994. Under the accord, Pyongyang agreed to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for the construction of light-water reactors and fuel oil provided by a U.S.-led Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization to make up for the loss of electric power in the DPRK due to the suspension of its nuclear plan. In October 2002, the U.S. said the DPRK had admitted that it had a program to enrich uranium after U.S. special envoy James Kelly visited the country. The DPRK responded by claiming that it had the right to develop nuclear weapons and weapons even more powerful. In December 2002, the U.S. stopped shipping fuel oil deliveries to the DPRK, charging that the DPRK had violated the Geneva accord. In response, the DPRK announced an end to its nuclear freeze, removed the seals and monitoring cameras from the frozen nuclear facilities installed by the IAEA and restarted the nuclear facilities used for producing electricity. Moreover, the DPRK released a statement in January 2003, announcing its withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while claiming it had no intention to develop nuclear weapons. The Chinese government has made positive efforts for a peaceful solution for the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and finally brokered the six-party talks involving China, the DPRK, the United States, South Korea, Russia and Japan. The first round of the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue was held in Beijing in August 2003, in which the principle of peacefully resolving the nuclear issue through negotiations had been established. On Feb. 13, 2007, the third phase of the fifth round of the six-party talks ended in Beijing with a joint statement on the first step toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In July the same year, the DPRK closed and sealed its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon. On October 3, the second phase of the sixth round of six-party talks released a joint document, named the Second-Phase Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement, under which the DPRK and the United States remain committed to improving their bilateral relations and moving toward a full diplomatic relationship. A female North Korean soldier guards the banks of Yalu River near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong May 25, 2009. North Korea said it successfully conducted a nuclear test on Monday, a move certain to further isolate the prickly state, which argues it has no choice but to build an atomic arsenal to protect itself in a hostile world. In November, the DPRK began to disable three nuclear facilities in Yongbyon. However, the agreement reached on Oct. 3 had not been effectively implemented due to a divergence on the nuclear declaration between the DPRK and the U.S. In June 2008, the DPRK destroyed the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, marking a symbolic step forward towards the denuclearization on the Peninsula. On April 5, 2009, the DPRK carried out a rocket launch, arousing serious concern of various sides. The UN Security Council on April 13 adopted a presidential statement on the April 5 launch by the DPRK, saying it is "in contravention of Security Council resolution 1718" and urging the early resumption of the six-party talks. Pyongyang subsequently announced it was quitting the six-party talks on nuclear disarmament and would restart nuclear facilities in protest of the UN statement. On May 25, the DPRK announced it has successfully conducted the second underground nuclear test, following with a short-range missile launch in the same day.