16 ISIL militants killed in Iraq by army – AA

The army also destroyed three of ISIL’s armored vehicles on Saturday, according to Iraqi army sources.

AL-ANBAR, Iraq 

At least 16 militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were killed Saturday in the western Iraqi province of Al Anbar, an Iraqi army source said.

The army also destroyed three of ISIL’s armored vehicles, according to Rashid Faleh, commander of the Iraqi army’s Anbar operations in western Iraq.

The ISIL militants have captured several cities in Iraq, including the country’s second-largest city Mosul, which was seized last June.

The U.S. is leading an international coalition, including France, Germany, and Saudi Arabia, that carries out airstrikes on ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria where militants control large swathes of territory.

According to the U.N., at least 24,015 civilians have been killed or injured in Iraq during the first eight months of 2014.

The ISIL violence has forced an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis, including Turkmen, Arabs, Christians and Ezidis, to flee their homes.

29 people killed in violence in Afghanistan’s Farah province – TREND

Photo: 29 people killed in violence in Afghanistan's Farah province / Other News

Fighting between local police and Taliban militants broke out in Afghanistan’s Farah province on Saturday, Anadolu Agency reported referring to afghan officials

Groups of armed rebels – a phrase used for Taliban militants-had stormed Afghan Local Police checkpoints in the Bala Buluk district in Farah. The attack was successfully beaten back, according to Brigadier General Muhamamd Yaqoob, the Provincial Police Chief.

Yaqoob confirmed the death of 19 attackers and seven members of the local police. Local hospital sources have reported that four local police members and three civilians have been seriously wounded in the clashes. The dead bodies of two local police members, who were abducted by the militants a day earlier, have also been found in the Pushtrod district.

Farah is a strategically important province bordering the Helmand province to the east and Iran to the west. The Afghan Local Police is a local militia established with the backing of US General David Petraeus but with strong opposition from former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Separately, the provincial spy chief Asadullah Zalal was assassinated on his way home a day earlier.

The Taliban claimed to have inflicted heavy loss on the Afghan militia, which has lately proven relatively more effective against the rebels than the regular Afghan National Police. There are conflicting reports emerging about the death toll from this remote district.

Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement that 25 local anti-Taliban fighters have been killed in Farah. He has also claimed to have captured three security checkpoints in the area, a claim denied by the Provincial Police Chief.

Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Interior stated that at least 37 militants had been killed and 55 others were injured following military operations in Farah, Logar, Laghman, Parwan, Nangarhar and Ghazni provinces.

The Taliban are said to be giving their final blows to the security forces before the winter break in few weeks’ time.

Ebola: After 22-Hour Flight, 9 West African Students Barred From Starting Medical School In The Caribbean – SR

Though the World Health Organization applauded Nigeria for being free of Ebola earlier this week, a dangerous stigma continues to follow Nigerians and other West Africans, propelled by international panic that West Africans are carrying or spreading the disease.

Just this week, a group of nine West African students traveling to the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Caribbean were barred from entry to Saint Martin, a stop en route to Dominica.

Princess Juliana International AirportThe students, who planned to study at the All Saints Medical School in Dominica, were told that they could not enter the island to catch the 30 minute connecting flight that would bring them to Dominica because of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The students, four female and five male, left Lagos, Nigeria aboard Ethiopian Airlines on Saturday, October 18th, billed to arrive in Dominica on Sunday the 19th. Following a 22-hour flight, the students arrived in St. Martin, yet were refused entry to the island because of concern regarding Ebola.

This rejection came after the students showed evidence that they tested negative for the virus. None of the nine, who came from both Nigeria and Ghana, were ever even exposed to infected persons.

Rather than finish the journey, the students were sent back to Nigeria, first flown to Panama, then Brazil, then Togo, then Nigeria this past Wednesday. A trip of 22 hours ballooned into a nightmarish five-day ordeal, with the return trip costing students N575,000. During the period, the teenagers slept in airport lobbies unattended, without any amenities. Neither the parents nor the school were notified of the developments.

“They treated them like deportees,” a concerned parent told SaharaReporters. “If teenagers can be treated like this, then what are the odds for other people?”

Attempts to reach health and immigration officials in Saint Martin for answers were met with several different—and conflicting—responses. Some officials said a travel ban on West African countries affected by Ebola was in place, and some said that no such measure existed.

Most interestingly, several officials at the sole airport on the island of St. Martin, Princess Juliana International Airport, said that no ban on travel from Ebola-affected countries was in place. “There is no ban,” a security officer at the airport said. “Not to my knowledge, not yet.”

The security official and others in the airport’s executive office had no knowledge of any kind of official ban, instead referring SaharaReporters to the island’s Office of Immigration and Ministry of Health.

Clear answers were not given by anyone in the government of St. Martin either. Responding staff had no information at all on a possible ban or why students from countries unaffected by Ebola, neither did the country’s website.

An administrative assistant in the St. Martin Ministry of Health, Maria Henry, was the only source that said that such a ban existed. “We have a travel ban,” she said.

Regardless of whether a ban exists or not, the response of St. Martin aiport and immigration officials to the teenage students seemed like a gross overreaction, seeing as there are no active cases of Ebola in either Nigeria or Ghana.

Even in the destination country, Dominica, government sources say there is no travel ban on travel from Ebola-affected West African countries.

“There is no ban,” an anonymous source from the Ministry of Tourism said.

“I am worried that in a free world such as ours, certain countries, airlines and corporations can take such actions with impunity on law-abiding Nigerian citizens without fear of reprisal or remorse,” a parent told SaharaReporters. “The emotional, physical and financial impact of this event on all involved should not be left to be suffered by these children and their parents alone.”

“Imagine the nightmare and despair of the parents as well as the trauma these children have experienced,” another parent said.

Though the students have since returned home, parents tell SaharaReporters that they are still working with All Saints Medical School to determine how these students can return to start school, and if students can be reimbursed for the return trip. Parents say they expect an answer on Monday, yet continue to request an official explanation from officials in St. Martin.

“We demand answers and an apology,” parents said.

Lebanese army cracks down on ‘ISIL suspects’- Aljazeera

The Lebanese army has carried out raids in the northern city of Tripoli, searching homes of individuals with alleged links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other groups.

Clashes erupted during the arrest of at least one suspect as the army raided his home on Saturday, saying it found ammunition and weapons.

Saturday’s operations came after five people were killed in overnight clashes between troops and gunmen.

Security officials told Al Jazeera that three soldiers and two civilian bystanders were killed in the violence that began on Friday night after an army patrol was attacked in the city’s historic market area, or souq.

An unknown number of fighters that the army said were linked to ISIL were also killed.

The National News Agency identified the dead civilians as father and son. Twenty people, including a Lebanese newspaper reporter, were injured, officials said.

Tripoli – and several other parts of Lebanon – has been hit by sporadic violence since the start of the war in neighbouring Syria in 2011.

Shelling and gunfire

An AFP journalist reported shelling and heavy gunfire as the army launched its assault on the gunmen’s positions in the souq.

A security official told the news agency that most of the fighters were believed to be Lebanese.

“Some of them are Islamists, while others are wanted thugs,” he said.

On Saturday evening, gun battles erupted in the Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighbourhood after an army patrol was attacked, the National News Agency reported. No casualties were reported.

Tripoli has seen repeated clashes between Sunni fighters sympathetic to Syrian rebels and Alawites who back the Syrian regime.

Fighters in the city have also carried out multiple attacks against the Lebanese army, accusing it of cooperating with the Shia group Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

The latest clashes occurred days after Lebanese soldiers killed at least two men and arrested several others during a raid on an apartment in the northern town of Asoun.

Among the arrested was Ahmad Salim Mikati, who the army accuses of recruiting young Lebanese to join ISIL.

The fighters involved in the souq clashes were calling for his immediate release.

It was the first time since the civil war erupted in Syria that violence in Tripoli had spread to the souq, which is on the shortlist for possible nomination as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Many of the shops in the covered market, with narrow allies, have been burned down in the fighting

Iran hangs woman for killing man she said tried to rape her – New York Post

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran hanged a woman on Saturday who was convicted of murdering a man she said was trying to rape her, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups had called on Iran’s judiciary to halt the execution. But IRNA said Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged at dawn for premeditated murder. It quoted the court ruling as rejecting the claim of attempted rape and saying all evidence proved that Jabbari had plotted to kill Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former intelligence agent.

According to the court ruling Jabbari, 27, stabbed Sarbandi in the back in 2007 after purchasing a knife two days earlier.

“The knife had been inflicted on the back of the deceased, indicating the murder was not self-defense,” the agency quoted the court ruling as saying.

IRNA said the police investigation found that Jabbari sent a text message to a friend saying she would kill Sarbandi three days before the deadly incident.

Jabbari was found guilty of premeditated murder in 2009 but the sentence was only carried out after Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict. The victim’s family could have saved Jabbari’s life by accepting blood money but they refused to do so.

Iranian media reports say the family insisted on their legal rights under the Islamic principle of “an eye for an eye” partly because Jabbari accused Sarbandi of being a rapist in what became a highly publicized media campaign.

In a statement ahead of the hanging Amnesty said the investigation had been “deeply flawed” and that Jabbari’s claims “do not appear to have ever been properly investigated.” The group is opposed to the death penalty and has long condemned Iran’s use of capital punishmentReyhaneh Jabbari

Chibok girls: FG, B’Haram to meet in Chad again – Punch

The Federal Government and the Boko Haram Islamic sect will on Monday meet in Chad to further discuss the release of the over 200 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014.

This came a week after a botched ceasefire agreement reached by the Federal government and the sect.

The peace talk between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram sect, which is being mediated by the Chadian government, had been called into question since it was announced by the military last week following the refusal of both parties to respect the ceasefire deal.

Boko Haram has yet to comment on the ceasefire and its fighters have continued to attack villages in the North-East.

The insurgency group is responsible for the killings, abductions and the displacement of many Nigerians in the North-East.

The Chadian government, however, confirmed that Nigeria’s deal with the sect to free the schoolgirls would still go ahead despite the breakdown of a truce.

A very senior official, Chad’s foreign ministry, Moussa Dago, who spoke with Reuters on Friday, said that the key to the agreement would be a prisoner swap.

He said it appeared some Boko Haram factions were refusing to abide by the deal.

Dago said, “Quite possibly, those who are fighting are dissidents that even Boko Haram isn’t able to control. So far, there is no reason for others to doubt this agreement.

“What I can say is that those that negotiated with the Nigerian government did so in good faith … We are waiting for the next phase which is the release of the girls.”

Dago said he was confident that the negotiators had the authority to speak on behalf of Boko Haram’s reclusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, who has allegedly been killed by the Nigerian military more than once.

“They are envoys who answer to their leader Shekau, who himself confirmed that these emissaries spoke on his behalf. That was confirmed in writing to the Chadian government,” he said, confirming local press reports that the negotiators were named Cheikh Goni Hassane and Cheikh Boukar Umarou.

Dago admitted that it would be embarrassing for the Chadian President Idriss Deby’s government, which has played a lead role in diplomacy in Africa’s turbulent Sahel region in recent years, if the girls were not freed.

“It would be very disappointing. We are engaged in this now. If this negotiation doesn’t succeed, that would be damaging to Chad’s facilitating role,” he said.

Dago told Reuters that the two sides agreed verbally to a series of points summarised in a document he had seen, including the release of the schoolgirls and of jailed Boko Haram fighters.

Dago said, “The starting condition of Boko Haram was the liberation of some of their members; that is the compensation.”

He added that the specifics on the names and number of Boko Haram fighters still to be released had not yet been agreed.

He said he still expected the girls to be freed but he stated that the Boko Haram negotiators were no longer in Chad even though they had agreed to return in October after freeing the girls to hold more talks.

“We remain optimistic. The two sides agreed to find a negotiated solution and to show their good faith they already freed some hostages and announced a ceasefire,” he said.

According to him, Chad does not know where the abducted Chibok girls are being held, but Dago said it was likely they were outside of Chad and spread out over a wide area.

“The Chinese hostages freed earlier under the agreement were found scattered across northern Cameroon,” he said.

“They (Boko Haram) gave us guarantees that the girls are well but we don’t know physically where they are,” he said.

“But they have certainly dispersed them like the Chinese hostages, who were spread out over a large area.”

He explained that the two parties planned to meet again for a third time in Chad after the release of the schoolgirls to draft a roadmap to tackle more fundamental issues.

He said, “For the next stage of negotiations, the girls need to be freed. We cannot go into details as long as this question remains and it is a requirement of Chad that the girls are released before we start the next stage of talks.”

Similarly, the self-acclaimed Secretary-General of the sect, Mallam Danladi Ahmadu, confirmed that the group’s ceasefire agreement with the Federal Government was still on course.

Ahmadu, who spoke to the Hausa service of the Voice of America on Friday, said that the Chibok girls would be released on Monday to the Chadian President, Idriss Derby, for onward transfer to the Nigerian government.

He added that an enlarged meeting of the group had been fixed for the weekend to prepare grounds for the Monday meeting with the Federal Government, affirming that the final ceasefire and the release of the girls would be done by the group.

However, the group said it was unaware of the latest kidnapping of over 40 women and girls in the border villages between Adamawa and Borno states.

He admitted that many anti-social groups had infiltrated the sect.

Ahmadu also stated that political thugs, armed robbers, kidnappers, hired assassins and other anti-social groups now parade themselves as members of the sect.

He, however, added that all things being equal, all the factions would fizzle out once the ceasefire agreement was sealed.

The Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh had issued an order last Friday, telling all service chiefs “to comply with the ceasefire agreement between Nigeria and Boko Haram in all theatres of operations.”

The text went out after Ahmadu told VOA that a cease-fire agreement had been reached.

Ahmadu and a close advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ambassador Hassan Tukur, had told VOA that the sides were holding talks facilitated by the Chadian President and high-level officials from Cameroon.

Ahmadu, who said he was at a location on the Nigerian-Chadian border, had said the girls are “in good condition and unharmed.”

Nigerian President Jonathan has been criticised at home and abroad for his slow response to the kidnapping and for the inability of Nigerian troops to quell the violence by the militants, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa’s top economy and leading energy producer.

Boko Haram has said it is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria.

The group has launched scores of attacks in the past five years, targeting markets, bus stations, government facilities, churches and even mosques. Militants recently took over some towns in the North-East for what the group’s leader said would be an Islamic caliphate.

The Nigerian military said the man who appeared in Boko Haram videos as Abubakar Shekau was actually an impostor, and that the real Shekau was killed several years ago.

It said the impostor was killed last month during a battle in the town of Konduga. A new video of the man appeared a few days later but the military had stood by its assertion that the Boko Haram leader is deadBoko-Haram-members-360x225

Ebola death toll tops 4,900 out of more than 10,000 cases – WHO

* Bulk of cases in hard-hit Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

* Total includes new cases in Mali, U.S.

* WHO warns that Ebola inching closer to Ivory Coast (adds details, background)

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, Oct 25 (Reuters) – The death toll from the Ebola epidemic rose to 4,922 out of 10,141 known cases in eight countries through Oct. 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday.

The three worst-hit countries of West Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – account for the bulk, recording 4,912 deaths out of 10,114 cases, the WHO said in its update.

The overall figures include outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal, deemed by the WHO to be now over, as well as isolated cases in Spain, the United States and a single case in Mali.

But the true toll may be three times as much: by a factor of 1.5 in Guinea, 2 in Sierra Leone and 2.5 in Liberia, while the death rate is thought to be about 70 percent of all cases.

Explaining these projections, the WHO said many families are keeping infected people at home rather than putting them into isolation in treatment centres, some of which have refused patients due to overcrowding.

The U.N. agency, sounding an ominous note, said that out of the eight districts of Liberia and Guinea sharing a border with Ivory Coast, only two have yet to report confirmed or probable Ebola cases. The WHO says 15 African states including Ivory Coast are at highest risk of the deadly virus being imported.ebola

Palestinian boy shot dead by Israeli army – Aljazeera

An American-Palestinian boy has been shot dead during clashes between Israeli soldiers and stone-throwing protesters in the occupied West Bank, medics and residents said.

Orwah Hammad, 14, was shot in the head on Friday in the village of Silwad, north of the Palestinian seat of government in Ramallah.

An Israeli army spokesman told the Reuters news agency that Israeli forces had prevented an attack: “They encountered a Palestinian man hurling a molotov cocktail… They opened fire and they confirmed a hit.”

The US confirmed that Hammad was an American citizen.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called for a “speedy and transparent investigation,” adding: “The United States expresses its deepest condolences to the family of a US citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces during clashes in Silwad on October 24.”

The Israeli military said it would investigate the shooting.

Hammad was the second teen to be killed by army fire in eight days. A 13-year-old was killed last week in a West Bank village.

There were other clashes in Palestinian areas in and around Jerusalem on Friday in which several people were lightly injured.

Tensions have flared as the Jewish Sukkot holiday has brought increased visits by Jews accompanied by Israeli police to the Jerusalem holy site known to them as Temple Mount and to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary, with its Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.