*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA - October 3, 2009: Newly anointed Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud may have been killed recently during clashes with a rival faction, a senior US counter-terrorism official said on Saturday. "There's reason to believe that Hakimullah may have died recently -- perhaps as the result of factional in-fighting within the Pakistani Taliban," the official told AFP. US and Pakistani officials are reviewing information about the alleged incident and have yet to confirm the death. The Pentagon declined to comment. (Image: Pakistani Taliban chief may be dead: US official) If confirmed, the warlord's demise would be the latest setback to the Pakistani Taliban, which have carved out camps in the mountains of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt. "Of course, it would be a very good thing if Hakimullah were off the streets," noted the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the intelligence matter. "We're working hard -- as are the Pakistanis -- to determine what has happened to him." Washington says the militants are plotting attacks on the West and slipping over the border to target foreign troops in Afghanistan. Hakimullah, who is believed to be about 30, was tapped to lead the feared Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) after his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed by a missile fired from a CIA-operated drone aircraft on August 5. Hakimullah's brother, Kalimullah Mehsud, was also killed on Monday in a battle in the lawless insurgent stronghold of North Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan, Pakistani security officials said. The young commander, who did not make media or public appearances since his appointment, has two surviving brothers. Pakistan's government blames the TTP -- formed by Baitullah Mehsud in late 2007 -- for most of about 270 attacks and suicide bombings that have killed more than 2,100 people across Pakistan in the past two years. Pakistani security forces earlier this year launched a fierce offensive to purge the northwest of Taliban fighters, and has already claimed success in the Swat valley and Bajaur. But unrest has rumbled on. Analysts say they will face a much tougher task in North and South Waziristan, which are teeming with both Pakistani Taliban and other Islamist militants who fled Afghanistan after the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban there in 2001. Meanwhile, Washington has stepped up missile attacks by US drone aircraft in the region.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
DTN News: Pakistan TODAY October 3, 2009 ~ Pakistani Taliban Chief May Be Dead Says US official
DTN News: Indonesia TODAY October 3, 2009 ~ Indonesia Calls For Quake Help As Bodies Rot In Heat
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) PADANG, Indonesia - October 3, 2009: Quake-hit Indonesia appealed for foreign aid Friday as the stench of decomposing bodies hung over wrecked buildings where overwhelmed rescuers scrabbled for survivors. PADANG, INDONESIA - OCTOBER 02: Indonesian army personnel search for survivors at the Ambacang Hotel in the swimming pool area on October 2, 2009 in Padang, Indonesia. An earthquake of magnitude 7.6 struck at 5.16pm local time 85km under the sea north-west of Padang on September 30. According to reports officials have reported a death toll of 700 in the port city of Padang. However, that is expected to rise to over 1,000. In the city of Padang, which was devastated by Wednesday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake, emergency teams faced a third night of work to pull bodies from ruins that have claimed the lives of at least 1,100 people. "Our main problem is that there are a lot of victims still trapped in the rubble. We are struggling to pull them out," Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari told reporters. "We need help from foreign countries for evacuation efforts. We need them to provide skilled rescuers with equipment," she said, also appealing for medics to treat badly injured victims, many with broken bones. A spokeswoman for the United Nations' World Food Programme said it had not yet received an official request for aid from Indonesia but expected it "would come very shortly," with food and heavy lifting gear ready on standby. Homeless survivors in the coastal city had spent two nights sleeping out in the open and were hungry, frightened and falling victim to profiteers who had jacked up prices of water and other essentials. Related article: Aid efforts Several countries have pledged aid and sent emergency teams to the area, but efforts to organise a full-scale rescue operation were hampered by blocked roads, broken power lines, and patchy communication networks. The Red Cross in Geneva said aerial photos suggested the disaster zone extended much further than had previously been known, stretching far across West Sumatra, with some villages entirely destroyed. "The feedback is that Padang city and environs are bad, but once you go outside into the surrounding rural areas, the situation is very seriously grave," said Christine South of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society. "There was talk of complete devastation of some villages -- 100 percent devastation -- and 50 percent in others," she added. Rescuers labouring in the tropical heat in Padang said they lacked essential heavy machinery like cutting equipment and excavators. "We don't have proper equipment. We don't even have dogs," said Suryadi Soedarmo, a surgeon from an emergency ambulance service in the capital Jakarta who arrived with 10 experts trained to enter collapsed structures. The United Nations said that 1,100 people had died in the disaster. The government put the toll at 777 but has said it expects the figure to go much higher. According to Red Cross estimates, "thousands of people are still trapped under the rubble." One lucky survivor was 20-year-old Ratna Kurnia Sari, who was pulled limp and covered in dust from the ruins of a college after spending more than 40 hours buried beneath rubble. Another woman, 20-year-old Nopa Labianawho, remained pinned under a mountain of concrete there, shouting frantically to rescue workers and urging them to come to her aid. Almost all the buildings in Padang are damaged and roughly a quarter are ruined, presenting this city of one million people with a colossal rebuilding task. Like many of the collapsed structures, the stench of death hung over the Ambacang Hotel in central Padang as the bodies trapped inside began to decompose under the baking sun. Manager Sarana Aji said that only a few dozen people had emerged from the building where two events involving more than 100 people were under way when the quake reduced the concrete and steel structure to a heap. Planes laden with aid have started arriving, international organisations are on the ground and foreign governments including those of Australia, Japan, Switzerland and Germany have sent specialist rescue workers and cash. Facts: Earthquake pointers A Swiss team of about 120 rescue workers with a dozen much-needed sniffer dogs were seen beginning work. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose government was criticised over its handling of the devastating 2004 tsunami, called for 10 million dollars in government aid to be distributed quickly. "The... fund has to flow quickly, no more bureaucracy for this. This is an emergency so speed is crucial," he was quoted as saying at the disaster area by Kompas news website. US President Barack Obama said he was "deeply moved" by the loss of life and suffering as Washington announced 300,000 dollars in immediate aid and set aside another three million dollars to help quake victims. The quake struck off Sumatra's west coast northwest of Padang, on a major faultline on the volatile "Ring of Fire" that scientists have long warned was a disaster waiting to happen.
DTN News: Philippines TODAY October 3, 2009 ~ Philippines On Full Typhoon Alert *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) MANILA, The Philippines - October 3, 2009: The Philippines went on high alert Thursday as a 'super typhoon' threatened to unleash more devastation for millions of people already struggling to recover from deadly floods that claimed 277 lives. Typhoon Parma was gaining strength as it churned towards the Southeast Asian nation and was expected to dump more heavy rain on areas still reeling from the weekend floods that forced nearly 700,000 people into evacuation camps. "We are dealing with a very strong typhoon, so we should be at the highest level of preparedness," weather bureau spokesman Nathaniel Santiago said, amid forecasts the typhoon would make landfall on Saturday. (Image: Philippines on full typhoon alert). "There is a possibility that this will become a super typhoon." The government defines a super typhoon as one with winds reaching 175-200 kilometres per hour (110-125 miles per hour) with the potential to cause heavy damage. While Parma is likely to bring less than half the rains of Saturday's tropical storm Ketsana, it was expected to compound flooding in Manila, parts of which remain submerged due to blocked drainage systems. Ketsana dumped the heaviest rains in four decades on Manila and in surrounding areas on Luzon island, triggering floods that swamped the national capital with up to six metres (20 feet) of water. Ketsana has left 277 dead so far in the Philippines, according to the government, and killed about 100 more after pounding Vietnam and Cambodia. The number of people known to have been affected by Ketsana in the Philippines rose to 2.5 million on Thursday, the government said in its latest update, up nearly 300,000 from Wednesday's estimate. Scene: flooded hospital The number of flood survivors staying in gymnasiums, schools and other makeshift evacuation camps also continued to balloon, with about 687,000 people staying in them, the government said. Those in the cramped, under-resourced evacuation centres were told to prepare for the new storm, with fresh rains certain to aggravate already squalid conditions. As Typhoon Parma approached, worried Manila residents who had returned to their homes after the floodwaters receded, and those whose houses were unaffected, were stocking up on food and emergency lights. Waitress Angel Francisco, 16, rushed back to check on her mother at their still-flooded home in suburban Pasig city. "There's a new typhoon according to the news and I am worried for my mother, she told AFP, as she hitched a ride with a delivery truck to try and evacuate her mother. Coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said he had put his men on alert ahead of the typhoon. Already packing gusts of up to 185 kilometers per hour (115 miles per hour), Parma was last monitored at 650 kilometers (400 miles) east of Borongan town on the eastern island of Samar at dawn. Parma was moving on a west-northwest trajectory toward the northern part of Luzon island and would likely hit land Saturday. If the storm maintained its current trajectory, it would spare Manila although it may still change course and strike areas north of the capital, the weather bureau said. The lowest of a four-step storm signal was raised over the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes on Luzon's eastern coast, weather officials said, warning fishermen against venturing out to sea.
DTN News: Russia Tests Indian MiG-29KUB Fighter Jets On Board Its Aircraft Carrier
*Source: DTN News / Defense Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - October 3, 2009: Russia's MiG aircraft maker said on Tuesday it has successfully tested on board the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier four MiG-29 carrier-based fighter jets due to be delivered to India. The new MiG-29K carrier-based fighter started its sea trials on Russia’s only aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, on September 28-29. According to MiG, two aircraft – a MiG-29K single-seater and a two-seat MiG-29KUB - made several take-offs and landings from the carrier in the Barents Sea. Russia and India signed a contract on January 20, 2004, stipulating the supply of 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs to India as part of a $1.5 billion deal to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian navy. "During the tests on September 28-29, the MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB fighters conducted several take offs and landings on the deck of the [Admiral Kuznetsov] aircraft carrier in the Barents Sea," the company said in a statement. Admiral Kuznetsov is the only aircraft carrier in the Russian Navy. The two MiG-29Ks and two MiG-29KUBs were officially transferred to India earlier this year. They were inspected by Indian technical experts and used in a five-month flight training course for the Indian pilots. The aircrafts are expected to be delivered to India in mid-October. Meanwhile, Russia and India are still negotiating a new deal on the completion of the Admiral Gorshkov overhaul. Russia has pledged to finish the Admiral Gorshkov's overhaul as soon as possible and deliver it to India in 2012 if the additional $1.2 bln funding is provided by New Delhi. After modernization, the carrier will join the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya, and is expected to be seaworthy for 30 years.
MiG says that the tests mark the completion of development of the MiG-29K, which made its first flight in 2007. It is a “deeply modernized” version of the original Soviet-era MiG-29. It features an upgraded airframe with more composite material, digital fly-by-wire system, in-flight refueling capabilities and new avionics, including a full glass cockpit and Zhuk-ME slot array radar. The MiG-29K has reduced radar signature and a much larger combat load, including air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. The MiG-29K has been developed for the Indian Navy, which has ordered 12 single-seat and 4 two-seat aircraft to be based on INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Russian Navy’s Admiral Gorshkov. Indian pilots have already trained on the MiG-29K, but all flights from the Kuznetsov were performed by Russian pilots. MiG representatives confirmed to Ares that the first fighters will be delivered to India by the end of the year, although the delayed Vikramaditya - being rebuilt with a full-length flight-deck, ski-jump ramp and arrester gear - is not expected to be ready before 2012.