Sunday, January 3, 2016

Protest In Tehran After Saudis Execute Shiite Cleric Nimr Al-Nimr, 46 Others

Protest In Tehran After Saudis Execute Shiite Cleric Nimr Al-Nimr, 46 Others











Photo: Protest in Tehran after Saudis execute Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, 46 others
Mideast
Protest in Tehran after Saudis execute Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, 46 others
Iranian ambassador given 24 hours to leave Saudi Arabia
Angry protesters set fire to Saudi embassy in Tehran after Shiite Cleric’s execution
Iran defies US, vows to flex missile muscles
Military: 261 terrorists killed in 3 districts in southeast Turkey
Turkey’s top religious leader calls showing cemevis as alternative for mosques a ‘red line’
'Israel is the only country Islamic State fears,' says first Western journalist to survive the
terror group
Israel hands over bodies of 23 Palestinians
Drowned toddler becomes first 2016 migrant casualty in Aegean
First Vatican-Palestine accord comes into effect
Turkey must accept it needs Israel, says Tayyip Erdogan
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Arab World
US Warns Saudi Arabia's Execution of Prominent Cleric Risks Inflaming Sectarian Tensions
Saudi Arabia using execution to settle political scores: Amnesty
Saudi execution of Shia leader stokes tensions
Saudi-led coalition announces end of Yemen ceasefire
Sever Infighting Leavees Three Senior Militant Commanders Dead in Syria
Syrian Army Destroys Jeish Al-Fateh's Ammunition Depot, TOW Missiles near Idlib
Popular Group Warns Al-Saud of Serious Revenge for Sheikh Nimr's Execution
Syrian Army Restores Security to Hama-Salamiyah Road after Capturing 11 Villages
Police Arrest 40 People for Storming Saudi Embassy in Tehran
Yemeni Forces Kill US, French Officers in Ta'iz
Syria: Growing Number of Militants Surrender to Government
Saudi Forces, Al-Qaeda Terrorists Pushed Back from Strategic Mountains in Ta'iz Province
Militant Groups Confirm Death, Injury of Over 300 Members in Syria's Sheikh Meskeen
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India
Pathankot: Forces gun down another militant as fresh firing begins
Pathankot terror attacks: Commonwealth gold medalist among those martryed during operations
Bomb threat in Delhi-Lucknow train
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South Asia
Afghan forces get 59 prisoners freed from Taliban jail in Helmand
Taliban confirms death of top leader Sayyed Muhammad Haqqani
Quake hits Afghanistan, jolts north India
NDS seizes bomb-making factory in Helmand
Air power could turn 2016 to a different year for Afghan forces
Air and ground forces intensify operations against ISIS fanatics in Nangarhar---------
Pakistan
Pakistan strongly condemns Pathankot terror attack
Saudi FM's visit to Pakistan postponed: Foreign Office
Pakistan’s COAS says 2016 would be last year of terrorism in his country
TTP claims IED attack on army truck near Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway toll plaza
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Africa
Al-Shabaab claims suicide bombing, four killed in Mogadishu
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Europe
Anti-IS group says it hacked BBC website to test ability
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North America
Attack on Pathankot air base a 'heinous terrorist act': US
Top Trump aide retweets suggestion that Clinton was behind terror video
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
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Mideast
Protest in Tehran after Saudis execute Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, 46 others
By Yousuf Basil, Salma Abdelaziz and Michael Pearson, CNN
January 3, 2016
(CNN)Saudi Arabia said Saturday it had executed 47 people in a single day, including a dissident Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, who had repeatedly spoken out against the government and the Saudi royal family.
Nimr had been convicted of inciting sectarian strife, sedition and other charges following his 2012 arrest.
Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival, summoned the Saudi ambassador in Tehran to condemn the execution, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. The Shiite-majority nation issued a statement deploring the execution and warning that Saudi Arabia would pay a heavy price for its policies.
U.S. issues cautious response to executions
"The execution of a personality such as Sheikh Nimr who had no means other than speech to pursue his political and religious objectives only shows the depth of imprudence and irresponsibility," Press TV cited Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi as saying.
That prompted a rebuttal from Saudi Arabia, which "has summoned the Iranian ambassador to the Kingdom today and handed him a strong-worded protest note on the aggressive Iranian statements issued in response to the Islamic rulings carried out on terrorists in the Kingdom," state-run SPA news agency reported.
"During the meeting (in Riyadh), the (Foreign) Ministry expressed the Kingdom's denunciation and categorical rejection to such aggressive statements, which it considers a flagrant violation into the Kingdom's internal affairs," SPA said.
Loud and angry demonstrations broke out late Saturday at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. Video showed at least one person tossing homemade firebombs at the embassy.
A CNN producer in Tehran said some protesters even made it in the building, set fire inside and ransacked some records. There were several arrests, police officers at the embassy told CNN.
There was some damage near the back of the embassy building, witnesses and a police officer said.
None of the Saudi diplomatic staff was in the embassy at the time.
When the CNN producer got to the scene, smoke was still coming from the building. As of 3 a.m. Sunday, the protest was waning and only a few hundred people and police officers in riot gear remained.
U.S.: Saudis should respect human rights, dissenters
Human rights group Amnesty International had called the charges against Nimr vague and pronounced his death sentence "appalling." The group said the case against him was part of a systematic effort by the majority Sunni government to crush dissent among the nation's Shiite Muslim minority.
The U.S. State Department said through a spokesman that it was calling again on Saudi Arabia to respect human rights and permit peaceful dissent.
"We are particularly concerned that the execution of (al-Nimr) risks exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced," John Kirby said.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini also issued a statement reacting to the executions, saying Nimr's case in particular raised "serious concerns regarding freedom of expression and the respect of basic civil and political rights."
"This case has also the potential of enflaming further the sectarian tensions that already bring so much damage to the entire region, with dangerous consequences," Mogherini said in the statement.
Shiite militant group Hezbollah condemned the execution, saying on the website of Hezbollah-run Al-Manar television that it was calling on the international community to blacklist Saudi Arabia "in the international record of criminality" for killing Nimr. It called his sentence corrupt and said Nimr was assassinated.
A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply dismayed" by the executions and called again for an end to the death penalty. He called on leaders in the region to prevent an escalation of sectarian tensions.
However, Saudi ally Bahrain -- a majority-Shiite nation led by a Sunni King that has struggled with dissent of its own -- issued a statement supporting the executions.
"Saudi Arabia's efforts to confront whoever seeks to undermine the Nation's security and stability and wreak havoc on Earth through misguided ideology and actions that are rejected by Religion and the Islamic Shari'a are widely appreciated," said Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa.
A prominent pro-ISIS channel on Telegram called for attacks on Saudi embassies, police and scholars, according to the SITE monitoring group. Telegram is an encrypted messaging service known to be used by the group's militants to communicate in secret.
Saudi: Convicted terrorists killed
Saudi officials said that the 47 executions were carried out at 12 sites after convictions for terror acts.
The condemned believed in extremist ideology and were members of terror groups, the ministry said in a statement.
Some were convicted of plotting and carrying out attacks against civilians going back as far at an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah in 2004.
Nimr, the imam of a mosque in a majority Shiite area of eastern Saudi Arabia, was an outspoken supporter of anti-government protests that broke out in 2011 -- part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings that swept across northern Africa and the Middle East.
Shiite Muslims in Saudi Arabia have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the nation's Sunni majority. Iran's rise as a regional power in the Middle East has exacerbated those tensions, resulting in what human rights advocates say is a systematic crackdown on minority Shiites in the kingdom.
In 2011, Nimr told the BBC that he favored protest over violence, "the roar of the word against authorities rather than weapons."
"The weapon of the word is stronger than bullets, because authorities will profit from a battle of weapons," he told the British broadcaster.
He was arrested in 2012 following what Saudi authorities described as a car chase in which he rammed a vehicle used by security forces and resisted arrest. His family and other critics have disputed the government's account.
Authorities shot Nimr in the leg during the arrest, and his family said that he had been denied proper treatment for his wounds during his imprisonment, much of which Amnesty said was spent in solitary confinement.
Lashings, beheadings: Saudi's 'cherished' justice system
A Saudi court convicted Nimr in 2014 after what Amnesty International described as a "deeply flawed" trial marked by numerous irregularities.
"Eyewitnesses, whose testimonies were the only evidence used against him, were not brought to court to testify. This violates the country's own laws," Amnesty's Said Boumedouha said in an October statement.
"The Sheikh was denied the most basic means to prepare for his defense and was not represented by legal counsel for some of the proceedings because the authorities did not inform his lawyer of some dates of the hearings," Boumedouha said.
Nimr's nephew Ali al-Nimr, who was convicted of crimes including belonging to a terror cell and attacking police, was not among those executed, according to the Interior Ministry.
Ali al-Nimr was arrested in 2012 and accused of taking part in protests against the government.
Human rights advocates, including the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, have called for his conviction to be overturned, as well. His supporters say Ali al-Nimr was a juvenile when he was arrested and was tortured into confessing to crimes.
CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr, Richard Roth and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.
edition.cnn.com/2016/01/02/middleeast/saudi-arabia-executes-dozens-terror/
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Iranian ambassador given 24 hours to leave Saudi Arabia
By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 03 2016
Iranian protesters gather outside the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, on January 2, 2016. Nimr was a driving force of the protests that broke out in 2011 in Saudi Arabia's east, an oil-rich region where the Shiite minority of an estimated two million people complains of marginalisation. AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE / AFP / ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)
Saudi Arabia has given an ultimatum of 24 hours to Iranian envoy in Riyadh to leave the country.
According to local media reports, the order was issued after the Saudi embassy was attacked in Tehran last night.
Tension escalated between Saudi and Iran after the kingdom executed a Shiite Cleric Sheikh al-Nimr on terrorism charges among 47 others.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling the execution “a political mistake” said Saudi Arabia will face “divine revenge” over it.
“The unjustly spilt blood of this martyr will have quick consequences,” according to AFP, Khamenei told clerics in the capital. “This scholar neither encouraged people into armed action nor secretly conspired for plots but the only thing he did was utter public criticism rising from his religious zeal.”
Earlier the country’s Foreign Ministry condemning the execution accused Saudi Arabia for supporitign terrorism.
“The execution of a personality such as Sheikh Nimr who had no means other than speech to pursue his political and religious objectives only shows the depth of imprudence and irresponsibility,” said Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hossein Jaberi Ansari. “The Saudi government supports terrorists and Takfiri extremists, while talking to its critics at home with the language of execution and suppression.”
Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr was arrested, jailed and later sentenced to death on terrorism charges for his fiery speeches during anti-government protests in Qatif, a city that saw massive street protests followed by a crackdown by the Saudi authorities in the wake of the Arab Spring.
http://www.khaama.com/iranian-ambassador-given-24-hours-to-leave-saudi-arabia-4456
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Angry protesters set fire to Saudi embassy in Tehran after Shiite Cleric’s execution
By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 03 2016
Angry protesters have set fire to the Saudi Arabia embassy in Tehran and the country’s consulate in Mashad after the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh al-Nimr.
Crowds of protesters first stormed and ransacked Saudi’s embassy and Consulate. Then they damaged property there after which they threw Molotov cocktail and set on fire both the diplomatic offices.
Photos and footage uploaded to social media show demonstrators smashing windows, ripping apart furniture and flags and torching parts of the building with Molotov cocktails.
Sobhan Hassanvand, an Iranian journalist writes on his twitter account that the protest was later quelled after police dispersed the crowd and made several arrests.
Saudi announced on Saturday executing 47 people on terrorism charges. Among them was Sheikh Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric.
The predominately Shiite Iran has strongly condemned the execution.
“The execution of a personality such as Sheikh Nimr who had no means other than speech to pursue his political and religious objectives only shows the depth of imprudence and irresponsibility,” said Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hossein Jaberi Ansari. “The Saudi government supports terrorists and Takfiri extremists, while talking to its critics at home with the language of execution and suppression.”
Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr was arrested, jailed and later sentenced to death on terrorism charges for his fiery speeches during anti-government protests in Qatif, a city that saw massive street protests followed by a crackdown by the Saudi authorities in the wake of the Arab Spring.
http://www.khaama.com/angry-protesters-set-fire-to-saudi-embassy-in-tehran-after-shiite-clerics-execution-4454
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Iran defies US, vows to flex missile muscles
Reuters | Jan 3, 2016
DUBAI: A series of Iranian officials vowed on Friday to expand Tehran's missile capabilities, a challenge to the United States which has threatened to impose new sanctions even as the vast bulk of its measures against Iran are due to be lifted under a nuclear deal.
"As long as the United States supports Israel we will expand our missile capabilities," the Revolutionary Guards' second-incommand, Brigadier general Hossein Salami, was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.
"We don't have enough space to store our missiles. All our depots and underground facilities are full," he said at Friday prayers in Tehran. Defence minister Hossein Dehqan said, "Iran's missile capabilities have never been the subject of negotiations with the Americans and will never be," he was quoted as saying by an Iranian state channel.
The defiant comments are a challenge for the administration of US President Barack Obama as the US and European Union plan to dismantle nearly all international sanctions against Iran. under the breakthrough nuclear agreement reached in July. Iran has abided by the main terms of the nuclear deal, which require it to give up material that world powers feared could be used to make an atomic weapon and accept other restrictions on its nuclear programme.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Iran-defies-US-vows-to-flex-missile-muscles/articleshow/50422239.cms
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Military: 261 terrorists killed in 3 districts in southeast Turkey
January 02, 2016
A total of 261 militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist organization have been killed in ongoing security operations in three districts that have been under curfew for weeks, the Turkish military said on Saturday.
Three militants were killed in Cizre, a district in Şırnak, on Jan. 1, bringing the number of PKK deaths to 179, a statement posted on the General Staff website said. Four IDEs have been destroyed and seven barricades have been removed in the course of the operations, it also said.
Five PKK terrorists were killed on Jan. 1 in Silopi, another district in Şırnak where a total of 27 terrorists have been killed, 15 IDEs have been destroyed, seven barricades have been removed and two trenches dug up by militants have been filled, according to the military. In Sur, Diyarbakır, 55 militants have been killed.
Sur has been under a curfew since late November while Silopi and Cizre were put under curfew on Dec. 14.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in his New Year's message last week that some 3,000 terrorists have been killed in ongoing security operations and vowed no let-up in the military campaign.
The European Court of Human Rights has asked Turkey to submit a defense statement over the ongoing curfew in the southeastern district of Cizre until Jan. 8, a news report said on Friday.
http://www.todayszaman.com/national_military-261-terrorists-killed-in-3-districts-in-southeast_408592.html
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Turkey’s top religious leader calls showing cemevis as alternative for mosques a ‘red line’
January 02, 2016
In an apparent criticism of ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) promise to grant legal status to cemevis --the minority Alevi Muslims' places of worship, Religious Affairs Directorate President Mehmet Görmez has said showing cemevis as an alternative for mosques is a red line for the directorate.
The Milliyet daily reported on Saturday that Görmez said the Religious Affairs Directorate has two “red lines” on demands of Alevis. “One of them is defining Alevism as a path separate from Islam since its one-thousand-old history refutes this claim. The second is showing cemevis as an alternative for mosques and as the place of worship of another belief,” Görmez was quoted as saying.
However, he added that he thinks Alevis have the right to perform their traditions and beliefs.
Görmez’s statements come soon after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced a series of reforms his new government aims to implement within the next three and six months, including granting legal status to the minority Alevi Muslims' places of worship.
Turkey's Alevis have long complained of discrimination in the mostly Sunni country, including the non-recognition of their "cemevi" houses of worship.
Davutoğlu said last month that the cemevi would be given legal status, but did not elaborate.
http://www.todayszaman.com/national_turkeys-top-religious-leader-calls-showing-cemevis-as-alternative-for-mosques-a-red-line_408597.html
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'Israel is the only country Islamic State fears,' says first Western journalist to survive the terror group
Lizzie Dearden | The Independent | Jan 3, 2016
Israel is the only country in the world that Isis fears, according to the first Western journalist to enter the group's territories and survive.
Jurgen Todenhofer spent 10 days in the so-called Islamic State last year, publishing his findings in a book.
In an interview with the Jewish News, the German reporter said Israel is not included in Isis' planned "first stage" of colonisation in the Middle East.
"The only country Isis fears is Israel - they told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them," Mr Todenhofer said.
"They think they can defeat US and UK ground troops, who they say they have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies.
"But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists."
The former politician said the Isis militants he met claimed not to be scared of British or American soldiers but believed the Israeli Defence Forces were "a real danger".
Isis has made several threats against Israel and Jewish people in its propaganda videos, claiming in October that "not one Jew" would be left in Jerusalem and vowing to eradicate the "disease" of Judaism from the world.
Although Isis-affiliated groups are believed to be active in Gaza, no terror attacks in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories have yet been claimed by the organisation.
Mr Todenhofer described al-Qaeda as "peanuts" compared to Isis after being allowed to meet the group's officials, militants and followers around its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul.
"They want to show that the Islamic State is working," he said afterwards. "I thought I would meet a brutal terrorist group, but I met a brutal country."
Israel is not part of the US-led coalition bombing Isis in Iraq and Syria but its intelligence services are thought to be passing information on the group to allies.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Israel-is-the-only-country-Islamic-State-fears-says-first-Western-journalist-to-survive-the-terror-group/articleshow/50425048.cms
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Israel hands over bodies of 23 Palestinians
January 3rd, 2016
HEBRON (West Bank): Thousands of Palestinians gathered on Saturday in Hebron to bury 14 men whose bodies had been held by Israel after being killed carrying out attacks.
Israel handed over the bodies of 23 Palestinians on Friday in an apparent bid to ease tensions, of which 14 were from the southern West Bank city.
The Al-Hussein mosque was overflowing with people, where the 14 bodies were on display before prayers, wrapped in Palestinian flags.
Relatives kissed the foreheads of the deceased, some of which were covered with flags of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups.
Prayers were also held in Hebron’s only stadium next to Al-Hussein, while hundreds of others waited outside the mosque in the cold.
Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1230375/israel-hands-over-bodies-of-23-palestinians
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Drowned toddler becomes first 2016 migrant casualty in Aegean
AFP | Jan 3, 2016, 07.52 AM IST
ATHENS: A drowned two-year-old boy has become the first known migrant casualty of the year after the crowded dinghy he was travelling in slammed into rocks off Greece's Agathonisi island, the coast guard said.
The other 39 passengers, including a woman who had fallen overboard, were rescued after local fishermen raised the alarm.
Ten of the survivors were taken to hospital to be treated for hypothermia yesterday.
The rubber vessel had set off from Turkey in the early morning in windy weather.
The charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), which helps save migrants and refugees at sea, deployed its fast-rescue Responder boat to help bring the stranded passengers to safety in a joint operation with the Hellenic coast guard.
The toddler's body was pulled out of the water by fishermen, according to the coast guard.
The migrants, including the child's mother, were taken to the port of Pythagorio on Samos, the nearest island, which is 50 kilometres away.
There was no immediate information about their nationalities.
"Nothing can prepare you for the horrific reality of what is going on. Today we came face to face with one of the youngest victims of this ongoing refugee crisis. It is a tragic reminder of the thousands of people who have died trying to reach safety in miserable conditions," said MOAS founder and US entrepreneur Christopher Catrambone in a statement.
Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Drowned-toddler-becomes-first-2016-migrant-casualty-in-Aegean/articleshow/50423174.cms
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First Vatican-Palestine accord comes into effect
January 3rd, 2016
VATICAN CITY: The Vatican’s first accord with the Palestinians — an agreement that Israel has attacked as counter-productive to the Middle East peace process — has come into force, the Holy See announced on Saturday.
The accord was signed in June, just over two years after the Roman Catholic Church recognised the Palestinian territories as a sovereign state in February 2013.
The accord covers the operation of the Church in areas of the Holy Land under Palestinian control but its significance has been seen in broader terms as a symbol of growing international backing for a Palestinian state.
“With reference to the Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, signed on June 26, 2015, the Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for its entry into force have been fulfilled,” a Vatican statement said.
Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1230372/first-vatican-palestine-accord-comes-into-effect
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Turkey must accept it needs Israel, says Tayyip Erdogan
January 3rd, 2016
ISTANBUL: Turkey must accept that it needs Israel, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, as the two countries seek to thrash out a deal on normalising ties.
Nato member Turkey was a key regional ally of Israel until the two countries fell out over the deadly storming by Israeli commandos in 2010 of a Turkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, bound for Gaza.
Erdogan further raised hackles in Israel with his sometimes inflammatory rhetoric towards the Jewish State. But the atmosphere was transformed following the revelation last month the two sides were making progress in secret talks to seek a rapprochement.
“Israel is in need of a country like Turkey in the region,” Erdogan said in remarks to Turkish reporters published in leading dailies Saturday.
“And we too must accept that we need Israel. This is a reality in the region,” said Erdogan.
“If mutual steps are implemented based on sincerity, then normalisation will follow. “Ambassadors were withdrawn in the wake of the 2010 crisis and Erdogan said Turkey's three conditions for a normalisation were clear — a lifting of the Gaza blockade, compensation for the Mavi Marmara victims and an apology for the incident.
Israel has already apologised and negotiations appear to have made progress on compensation, leaving the blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip the main hurdle.
Indicating possible progress on the blockade, Erdogan said Israel had suggested it would allow goods and construction materials into Gaza if they came via Turkey.
“We need to see a written text to ensure there is no deviation from the agreement,” he said.
Analysts have suggested that Turkey's rapprochement with Israel has been accelerated by the need for Ankara to make up for its crisis in ties with Moscow after the shooting down of a Russian warplane.
Erdogan last month held closed-door talks with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal but it was never disclosed what the president discussed with the leader of the the Palestinian Islamist movement.
Israel also wants Turkey to prevent senior Hamas operative Salah Aruri from entering its territory and acting from there. Ankara has never confirmed his presence in Turkey.
http://www.dawn.com/news/1230303/turkey-must-accept-it-needs-israel-says-tayyip-erdogan
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Arab World
US Warns Saudi Arabia's Execution of Prominent Cleric Risks Inflaming Sectarian Tensions
Jan 3, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- US state department says killing of Nimr al-Nimr, one of group of 47 people put to death by Saudi regime, raises concerns about unrest in the region.
Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr risks worsening sectarian tensions, the US has warned, joining a chorus of critics from the west and the Middle East who have condemned the killing, The Guardian reported.
US state department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the US was “particularly concerned” that al-Nimr’s execution risked “exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced.”
Nimr, whose execution has sparked condemnation across the Middle East, was a vocal backer of pro-democracy protests.
He said the US was calling on Saudi Arabia to ensure fair judicial proceedings and permit peaceful expression of dissent while working with all community leaders to defuse tensions after the executions.
Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941013000661
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Saudi Arabia using execution to settle political scores: Amnesty
AFP | Jan 2, 2016
LONDON: Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric indicates the kingdom is "using execution to settle political scores", rights group Amnesty International said on Saturday.
Nimr al-Nimr, a driving force of 2011 Arab Spring-inspired protests in the country's east where a Shia majority complains of marginalisation, was among 47 people executed on Saturday after a trial criticised by human rights groups as unfair.
"What the Saudi Arabian authorities have said so far indicates they regard these executions as taken to preserve security. But the execution of Sheikh Nimr suggests they are using execution to settle political scores," Amnesty International's Middle East and north Africa director Philip Luther told AFP.
He added that the kingdom was using "the guise of counter-terrorism" to clamp down on dissent after the death sentences were carried out on Nimr, Shiite activists and Sunnis accused of involvement in Al-Qaeda attacks.
"Those trials including the trial of Shiekh Nimr al Nimr were politicised on the one hand and grossly unfair, because the international standards for fair trial were grossly flouted," Luther said.
"What is going on is an attempt to silence criticism of Saudi Arabia particularly among the Shia activist community."
The execution of the 56-year-old Nimr, a strong critic of the Sunni ruling family, sparked anger in Shiite-majority Bahrain, Iran and Iraq, where protesters demonstrated in the holy Shiite city of Karbala.
Executions in Saudi Arabia rose sharply after King Salman was named to the throne last January and the kingdom executed 153 people in 2015, nearly twice as many as in the previous year.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Saudi-Arabia-using-execution-to-settle-political-scores-Amnesty/articleshow/50420712.cms
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Saudi execution of Shia leader stokes tensions
AP | Jan 3, 2016
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia's execution Saturday of 47 prisoners, including an influential Shia cleric, has prompted a wave of condemnation from Shiite leaders around the region and threatens to further damage Sunni-Shia relations across the Middle East. Hundreds of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr's supporters protested his execution in his hometown in eastern Saudi Arabia, in neighboring Bahrain and as far away as northern India.
Here's a look at the aftermath and regional implications of al-Nimr's execution.
Who was sheikh nimr Al-Nimr?
Al-Nimr, who was in his 50s, was a widely revered Shiite Muslim cleric from eastern Saudi Arabia who was convicted in Oct. 2014 of sedition and other charges and sentenced to death. He was an outspoken government critic and a key leader of Shiite protests in eastern Saudi Arabia in 2011. He was also a critic of the government of Bahrain, where a Sunni-led monarchy suppressed protests by Shiites who make up the majority of the tiny island nation. Saudi Arabia sent troops to help Bahrain crush the uprising, concerned it would spread and destabilize other Arab Gulf countries.
Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Saudi-execution-of-Shia-leader-stokes-tensions/articleshow/50422139.cms
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Saudi-led coalition announces end of Yemen ceasefire
January 03, 2016
RIYADH - A Saudi-led coalition battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen announced the end Saturday of a ceasefire that had been violated on a daily basis since it was declared last month.
The “coalition leadership announces the end of the truce in Yemen starting from 1400” (1100 GMT) on Saturday, the alliance said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
The ceasefire announced on December 15 had been ended due to continuous rebel “attacks on the kingdom’s territories by firing ballistic missiles towards Saudi cities, targeting Saudi border posts, and hampering aid operations,” it said.
The rebels have also “continued to shell residents and kill and detain Yemeni civilians in cities under their control,” said the coalition.
“All this shows how unserious the militias and their allies are and their disregard for the lives of civilians, and how they have clearly exploited this truce to make gains.
However, the coalition “was and is still eager on creating the suitable circumstances to find a peaceful solution in Yemen,” it said.
Full report at: http://nation.com.pk/international/03-Jan-2016/saudi-led-coalition-announces-end-of-yemen-ceasefire
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Sever Infighting Leavees Three Senior Militant Commanders Dead in Syria
Jan 3, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army's recent victories across the country have intensified internal differences among the ranks of the militant groups, specially among the Ahrar al-Sham' leaders that have lost three senior commanders as a result of infightings in recent weeks, intelligence sources said Sunday.
"Mohammad Abu Yihiya, one of the leaders of Ahrar al-Sham, and Abu Tamim another commander of the terrorist group in Jarjanaz town in Idlib province have been killed as a result of infightings," the sources said.
Meantime, Takfiri terrorists previously acknowledged that the military commander of Ahrar al-Sham nicknamed Abdul-Qader al-Dabaan was killed.
Reports said on Thursday that heavy battles erupted between Takfiri terrorists from Jeish al-Islam and Jeish Tahrir al-Sham groups in Damascus province as militants continue to lose ground in Syria.
Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941013000792
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Syrian Army Destroys Jeish Al-Fateh's Ammunition Depot, TOW Missiles near Idlib
Jan 3, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces destroyed the military positions of the Takfiri terrorists, including a large ammunition depot, in an area located between the provinces of Hama and Idlib, informed military sources announced on Sunday.
"The arms depot, that contained a huge number of US-made TOW anti-tank missiles and missile-launchers, of Jeish al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) terrorist group were destroyed in an area between Hama and Idlib provinces by the Syrian forces," an informed source said on Sunday.
Dozens of Takfiri terrorists were killed and many more were injured during the Syrian forces' raid on their positions.
Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941013000715
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Popular Group Warns Al-Saud of Serious Revenge for Sheikh Nimr's Execution
Jan 3, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- A group of the followers of the executed Saudi cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, warned the government in Riyadh that they will take a severe revenge for his killing.
The group, 'Fadaeeyoun (devotees to) al-Nimr', issued the warning on Saturday after the Saudi interior ministry announced the execution of 47 people, including the prominent Shiite cleric.
The group, which is reportedly formed of hundreds of members, has warned that it will "set fire to al-Saud and the entire Saudi Arabia".
Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941013000698
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Syrian Army Restores Security to Hama-Salamiyah Road after Capturing 11 Villages
Jan 3, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army announced on Sunday that it has pushed back the militants groups towards the Homs province's Northern border, creating a large buffer-zone along the main road that leads from Hama city to al-Salamiyah city in the Southeast.
"Over the last 72 hours, the Syrian army and the National Defense Forces have not only captured 11 villages in Southeastern Hama, but also officially reopened the Hama-Salamiyah Road, that is the primary link between these two important cities in Central Syria," the army said.
Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941013000709
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Police Arrest 40 People for Storming Saudi Embassy in Tehran
Jan 3, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- The police forces arrested 40 people who had ransacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran last night after Riyadh executed a prominent Muslim cleric, a judiciary official announced on Sunday.
"40 people who had entered the embassy building have been identified and arrested so far," Tehran's Public Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on Sunday.
He underlined that investigations still continue to identify and detain other culprits who entered and damaged a part of the building after hearing reports of execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
Angry protesters in Tehran and Mashhad cities held protest rallies in front of the Saudi missions, with a number of protestors storming the embassy in the capital and throwing firecrackers at the building which caused fire.
Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941013000588
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Yemeni Forces Kill US, French Officers in Ta'iz
Jan 3, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces killed several other Saudi-hired Blackwater militias in an attack on a military base in the province of Ta'iz.
A number of Blackwater mercenaries, including an American officer and a French officer, were killed in an attack on their military base in Zobab region in Ta'iz province, the Arabic-language media outlets reported.
The town of Zobab is located 40 kilometers to the North of Bab al-Mandeb and is of strategic importance.
Many more Blackwater mercenaries have been killed in the Yemeni attacks in recent weeks.
Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941013000373
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Syria: Growing Number of Militants Surrender to Government
Jan 3, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- Tens of Takfiri militants laid down arms and turned themselves in to the Syrian army in the Central Homs province, officials announced on Sunday.
"Following the eye-catching victories of the Syrian army and its allies against the militant groups across Homs province, specially in Maheen, at least 86 militants laid down arms and surrendered to the authorities," the officials said.
On Tuesday, the Syrian army alongside the popular forces pushed back the ISIL terrorists from the two key towns of Maheen and Hawareen in Homs province and restored security to the towns and their surroundings.
Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941013000614
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Saudi Forces, Al-Qaeda Terrorists Pushed Back from Strategic Mountains in Ta'iz Province
Jan 3, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces' advances in Ta'iz resulted in the withdrawal of Saudi troops and Al-Qaeda terrorists from Jbal Sabr (Sabr Mountain) strategic region in Yemen's coastal province.
The Saudi aggressors and Al-Qaeda terrorists used Jbal Sabr as their military and air bases.
The Yemeni forces have launched an attack from several direction to win back the mountainous region of Jbal Sabr.
Jbal Sabr mountainous region includes Al-Hada, Ashqab and Al-Arous hilltops. Jbal Sabr looks over a vast region of residential areas in the Ta'iz province.
Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941013000497
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Militant Groups Confirm Death, Injury of Over 300 Members in Syria's Sheikh Meskeen
Jan 3, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- Terrorist groups acknowledged on Sunday that over 300 of their members, including several field commanders,have been killed or wounded in the war with the Syrian army in the town of Sheikh Meskeen North of Dara'a in the last three days.
The Takfiri terrorist groups said they have lost over 50 members, while around 250 of their fighters have sustained injuries in the recent operation of the Syrian Army and its popular allies which ended in the recapture of Sheikh Meskeen.
Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941013000217
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India
Pathankot: Forces gun down another militant as fresh firing begins
Aseem Bassi
Jan 03, 2016
Security forces killed a militant in a fresh gunfight at an air force base in Punjab’s Pathankot as fresh explosions and gunshots rang out of the facility on Sunday, a day after it was ambushed by heavily armed terrorists believed to be from Pakistan.
As a fresh exchange of fire broke out around midday, Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, DIG (Border), said two more terrorists were holed up in the airbase. Soon after, an army source confirmed that one of the militants was dead. Four terrorists were killed in a 15-hour gun battle a day ago.
Full report at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/pathankot-attack-forces-suspect-2-terrorists-holed-up-in-airbase-blasts-heard/story-3XxN7aKXBERkN2testhhFK.html
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Pathankot terror attacks: Commonwealth gold medalist among those martryed during operations
Sunday, 3 January 2016
Fateh had clinched both gold and silver in the 300m big bore team and individual events during the first Commonwealth Shooting Championship held in New Delhi in 1995.
The number of jawans martyred in the Pathankot terror attacks has risen to six. Among them is an ace shooter, who won a gold medal for India at the 1995 Commonwealth Shooting Championships.
Full report at: http://www.dnaindia.com/sport/report-pathankot-terror-attacks-gommonwealth-gold-medalist-among-those-martryed-during-operations-2161761
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Bomb threat in Delhi-Lucknow train
January 03 2016
A bomb scare sent security agencies in Delhi and Ghaziabad in a tizzy early on Sunday, leading to evacuation and search of a Lucknow-bound Shatabdi train and heightened security at the New Delhi railway station. The measures were taken after Delhi Police received information about bomb being planted on a Kanpur-bound train from the Mumbai Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS), which had received a threat letter.
The Lucknow Shatabdi, which crosses Kanpur on its way from Delhi, had left the New Delhi railway station at 6.10 am on Sunday and the Government Railway Police (GRP) received information about the bomb threat from Delhi Police at 6.30 am. The bomb threat turned out to be a hoax.
Full report at: http://errabus.com/article/bomb-threat-in-delhi-lucknow-train
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South Asia
Afghan forces get 59 prisoners freed from Taliban jail in Helmand
January 3rd, 2016
KABUL: Afghan special forces freed 59 prisoners from a Taliban jail in Helmand, officials said on Saturday, as government troops redoubled their efforts to drive back the militants from large parts of the southern province.
The militants have launched a series of attacks in the capital, Kabul, in recent weeks and a tough fight is under way in key districts in the south, just as attempts have been made to revive a stalled peace process.
Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1230404/afghan-forces-get-59-prisoners-freed-from-taliban-jail-in-helmand
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Taliban confirms death of top leader Sayyed Muhammad Haqqani
By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 03 2016
Top Taliban leader Mawlawi Haqqani dieThe Taliban militants group in Afghanistan confirmed death of the group’s top leader Sayyed Muhammad Haqqani due to natural causes.
Mawlawi Haqqani has been described as Taliban group leadership’s top figure for being involved in different affairs of the Taliban insurgency since the formation of the group in mid 90s.
According to Taliban, Mawlawi Haqqani was the former deputy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Executive of Administration Bureau.
He was the current deputy head of Commission for Cultural Affairs of the militant group and played key role in spreading propaganda during the Taliban-led insurgency since the fall of the Taliban regime following the US-led invasion in 2001.
Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/taliban-confirms-death-of-top-leader-sayyed-muhammad-haqqani-1913
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Quake hits Afghanistan, jolts north India
Jan 3, 2016
A medium intensity earthquake on Saturday hit Hindu Kush region in Afghanistan, ripples of which were felt across North India, including in Jammu & Kashmir and the national capital.
The earthquake, measuring 5.8 magnitude, was 170 km deep, according to the National Seismology division of Ministry of Earth Sciences.
There was no report of any loss of life or damage to property till the last reports came in. The tremor occurred at 2:07 p.m. and people in the national capital region rushed out of their homes. People in Kashmir also felt the tremor. The tremor was experienced at around 2.15 pm in the Valley, an official of the MeT department said. A police official said there were no reports of any damage due to the tremor. — PTI
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/quake-hits-afghanistan-jolts-north-india/article8059581.ece
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NDS seizes bomb-making factory in Helmand
By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 03 2016
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) – Afghanistan’s intelligence agency has seized a bomb-making factory in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
A statement released by the agency on Sunday states that the factory was discovered and destroyed in a joint operation with Afghan National Army in Wazir Abad village of Garmsir District.
Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/nds-seizes-bomb-making-factory-in-helmand-4455
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Air power could turn 2016 to a different year for Afghan forces
By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 03 2016
The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) expects to start 2016 more capabilities as compared to the previous years in suppressing the anti-government armed militants.
The optimisms that could turn the year different for the Afghan forces mainly lies with the growing the capabilities of the Afghan Air Force (AAF), both in terms of equipment and manpower.
The recent major steps taken by the international allies of Afghanistan, particularly United States and India, has further added to the optimisms regarding the growing capabilities of the Afghan security forces.
During his unannounced visit to Afghanistan late in December last year, the US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that Afghanistan will have its own sovereign air force over the next year or so, admitting a delay in build up of the Afghan Air Force (AAF).
Meanwhile, the government of India took an unprecedented step in the build up of the Afghan Air Force (AAF) last year by delivering three of the four Mi-25 gunship helicopters to the Afghan Air Force.
Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/air-power-could-turn-2016-to-a-different-year-for-afghan-forces-1915
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Air and ground forces intensify operations against ISIS fanatics in Nangarhar
By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 03 2016
Afghan Air ForceThe Afghan national security forces have intensified air and ground operations against the fanatics loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in eastern Nangarhar province as the loyalists of the terror group are attempting to expand foothold in the country.
The Afghan National Army (ANA) Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Murad Ali Murad said the Afghan forces have inflicted major casualties to the fanatics of ISIS terror group in Nangarahr, particularly in Achin district.
Gen. Murad told Radio Free Europe (RFE) during an exclusive interview that the public uprising forces are also supporting the Afghan national security forces to suppress the activities of ISIS loyalists in Nangarhar.
Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/air-and-ground-forces-intensify-operations-against-isis-fanatics-in-nangarhar-1912
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Pakistan
Pakistan strongly condemns Pathankot terror attack
IANS | Jan 2, 2016
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has strongly condemned the terror attack at Indian Air Force base in Pathankot town of Punjab on Saturday.
In a statement issued in Islamabad, Pakistan's foreign office extended heartfelt condolences to the government and people of India and the bereaved families. It also wished the injured people speedy recovery, Radio Pakistan reported.
Building on the goodwill created during the recent high level contacts between the two countries, Pakistan remains committed to partner with India to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting South Asian region, the statement said.
At least four terrorists were killed by commandos following the attack, police said.
In New Delhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: "Any terrorist attack on us from Pakistan, and we will give it a befitting reply."
Terrorists from Pakistan had launched a terror attack on Dinanagar town in Punjab's Gurdaspur district on July 27, 2015, leaving seven people dead, including a senior police official.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-strongly-condemns-Pathankot-terror-attack/articleshow/50416994.cms
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Saudi FM's visit to Pakistan postponed: Foreign Office
Jan 3, 2016
ISLAMABAD: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir's visit to Islamabad, scheduled for today, has been postponed, Radio Pakistan reported,quoting a Foreign Office statement.
Sources at the FO said the visit was postponed on Saudi Arabia's request but no reason was given for the delay.
Mr Jubeir was due to arrive in Islamabad Sunday (today) to take the Pakistani leadership into confidence over the Middle East situation and the 34-nation military alliance recently formed by the kingdom, earlier reports had suggested.
Officials at the Foreign Office had earlier said the Saudi foreign minister would meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday.
Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1230486/saudi-fms-visit-postponed-foreign-office
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Pakistan’s COAS says 2016 would be last year of terrorism in his country
By Khaama Press - Sat Jan 02 2016
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif has said that 2016 would be the “year of national solidarity” and also final year of terrorism in his country.
“The new year will be the year when terrorism will end,” he said during an address to the elders of Gwadar, Talar and Turbat areas of Makran division.
According to Pakistan’s Dawn news, Gen. Sharif added during his speech that the nation would witness the birth of peace and justice in the year.
“Peace and justice will be ensured across the country with the support of the nation.”
Regarding the restive province of Baluchistan where separatists have been fighting for autonomy independence, the army chief said that it would be turned into a peaceful province.
Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/pakistans-coas-says-2016-would-be-last-year-of-terrorism-in-his-country-4454
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TTP claims IED attack on army truck near Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway toll plaza
Jan 3, 2016
PESHAWAR: A soldier was injured in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast near a security forces vehicle on the Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway toll plaza on Sunday, the Inter-Services Public Relations said.
Eleven soldiers were on board the vehicle, which was partially damaged.
Following the explosion, which was later claimed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) via an email to journalists, the motorway was sealed and aerial surveillance of the area was conducted.
Initial investigations by the Bomb Disposal Squad revealed the IED comprised 4 kilograms of explosive material.
http://www.dawn.com/news/1230480/ttp-claims-ied-attack-on-army-truck-near-islamabad-peshawar-motorway-toll-plaza
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Africa
Al-Shabaab claims suicide bombing, four killed in Mogadishu
By Mohamed Odowa
January 3rd, 2016
A suicide bomber blew himself up Saturday inside a restaurant in central Mogadishu not far from the presidential palace, killing at least four people - including the attacker - according to initial reports by local security officials and witnesses.
The Village restaurant - which has now been targeted four times in recent years - is popular with government officials, local journalists, business people and ordinary civilians, including Somalis returned from abroad.
Full report at: http://www.albawaba.com/news/al-shabaab-claims-suicide-bombing-four-killed-mogadishu-788130
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Europe
Anti-IS group says it hacked BBC website to test ability
PTI | Jan 3, 2016, 01.51 AM IST
LONDON: A group of hackers who say they target the online activity linked to the Islamic State (IS) group has claimed the New Year eve cyber attacks, that brought down the BBC's network of websites, as a "test of its capabilities".
All the BBC's websites were unavailable for several hours on Thursday after what a BBC source described as a distributed denial of service (DdoS) attack. A DdoS attack is an attempt to force an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources.
Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Anti-IS-group-says-it-hacked-BBC-website-to-test-ability/articleshow/50422228.cms
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North America
Attack on Pathankot air base a 'heinous terrorist act': US
AFP | Jan 3, 2016
WASHINGTON: The deadly assault on an Indian air base near the Pakistan border Saturday was "a heinous" terrorist attack, the United States said, urging the two countries to work together to hunt down those responsible.
Three security officers were killed in the attack by suspected Islamist militants on Pathankot base in northern Punjab state earlier Saturday. At least four attackers also died in shootouts with security forces.
Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Attack-on-Pathankot-air-base-a-heinous-terrorist-act-US/articleshow/50423302.cms
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Top Trump aide retweets suggestion that Clinton was behind terror video
By Tom LoBianco, CNN
January 3, 2016
Donald Trump's top counsel promoted a pair of tweets Saturday that suggested Hillary Clinton was behind a new terrorist recruiting video featuring Trump
Many backers of the GOP front-runner who poured into the ice hockey rink here at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum said they were more concerned about Trump restoring the Gulf Coast economy
Biloxi, Mississippi (CNN)Michael Cohen, a top aide to Donald Trump, promoted a pair of tweets Saturday that suggested Hillary Clinton was behind a new terrorist recruiting video featuring Trump.
Full report at: edition.cnn.com/2016/01/02/politics/donald-trump-biloxi-rally-terror-video/


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