Cii News | 05 September 2014/10 Dhul Qa’dah 1435

News that made headlines on various newswires around the world

MONDAY

Israeli sources announced that authorities were planning to confiscate 1,000 acres of Palestinian-owned land near the illegal Gush Etzion settlement area.

The area is located 3 km east of the Green Line, near Jaba’a village, and is surrounded by the Gush Etzion bloc and the Apartheid Wall.

According to the Palestinian News Network they sources said that the Israeli government has given the land owners 45 days to submit appeals against the court’s decision.

Muhammad Ghuneimat, who is mayor of the nearby Palestinian town of Surif, told Ma’an that Israeli forces posted signs in private olive orchards in the area, giving warning that they have been confiscated by the Israeli government.

The confiscated fields belong to Palestinians from the towns of Surif, Husan, al-Jabaa and Bethlehem, according to Mr. Ghuneimat.

The announcement reportedly came as a response, by Israeli authorities, to the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in an area near Gush Etzion, in June.

However, no solid evidence has actually ever been presented in backing Israel’s official claims regarding the case,

Critics say theres a possibility that Israel either created or simply co-opted the incident as a prelude to initiating their recent military offensive on the Gaza strip.

—–

The South African Hajj Umrah Council suspended Al Huda Boland Hajj Jamaah as an accredited Hajj Operator with immediate effect.

The operator was suspended for non-performance of financial obligations and contravention of the SAHUC / Hajj Operator Code of Conduct.

Sahuc said it was in regular contact with the affected Hajjis and following a meeting with them.

They said they took the necessary steps to ensure that these Hujjaaj fulfil their trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Hajj by way of an amended package.

——

Eleven people, including three children, died when two vehicles collided on the N1 near the Mookgopong off-ramp in Limpopo.

The accident happened on Sunday night when a Mazda and a VW collided just after the off-ramp.

Members of the SA Police Service are investigating the accident.

The vehicles carried six, and five people respectively.

The three children who died were aged between four and six.

—–

Government forces mainly composed of Kurdish peshmerga fighters and armed volunteers have broke through the Islamic State group siege on the town of Amerli

The town is located between Baghdad, and the northern city of Kirkuk.

The news came as the AFP news agency reported that fighting with the Sunni rebel group continued in Sulaiman Bek and Yanakaja towns north of Amerli, killing at least two peshmerga fighters.

The breakthrough was aided by expanded US air strikes, which destroyed Islamc State armed vehicles near Amerli as well as near Mosul Dam further north.

On Sunday, US jets and drones have also attacked the Islamic State group’s positions near Iraq’s Mosul Dam.

In the previous weeks, the US forces conducted airstrikes in support of Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground, fighting against the Islamic State, which controls large areas in Syria and Iraq.

—–

The United States embassy compound in the Libyan capital Tripoli was raided by militiamen, but no Americans were present as the embassy was evacuated more than a month ago.

Sundays’s attack came as fighting between rival militias rages in Tripoli and Benghazi, the second city in the east.

Even though the US suspended its mission in Tripoli for the second time in three years in July, the US Secretary of State John Kerry had said that the embassy was not closed, and its staff had been evacuated to neighbouring Tunisia.

The US ambassador to Libya said the embassy was being safeguarded and had not been ransacked.

Tripoli has been embroiled for weeks in inter-militia violence that has killed and wounded dozens on all sides.

—–

A criminal case was opened at the Edenvale police station against two Ekurhuleni metro police officers who allegedly shoved and punched a motorist and his wife.

The case was opened by motorist Malcolm Brown on Sunday shortly after the incident near Modderfontein Road.

Police stopped the man for allegedly skipping a red robot.

When Brown questioned how a police officer could see the robot from such a distance, the officer said that he is the law.

The man was allegedly assaulted after he took his cellphone out to video the police cars details.

Brown’s wife ran to him and was also pushed and punched by an officer.

According to The Star, the couple were allegedly assaulted in front of their two children in Edenglen.

He said he grabbed his wife and ran to the car, locked the doors and phoned the police.

Brown said the officers then drove off.  He attempted to follow them but they were allegedly driving too fast.

——

Lesotho was in political crisis two days after a military coup was reported.

Both the prime minister and his deputy were said to be in South Africa.

The crisis deepened as the police appeared to have deserted the capital city, Maseru, fearing for their lives following an attack on their headquarters on Saturday.

On Sunday night a Lesotho parliamentary official told The Times that he did not know who was in charge.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fled to South Africa on Saturday as soldiers of the Lesotho Defence Force stormed the Maseru Central and Ha-Mabote police stations, and police headquarters in the capital, and confiscated weapons.

However, the army has denied the coup allegations, saying soldiers disarmed police officers following intelligence leads that officers intended to arm opposition politicians.

——

Anti-government protesters broke into the building of state television, PTV, in central Islamabad and cut transmissions of the broadcaster’s news services in Urdu and English for 45 minutes.

Protesters, led by religious leader Tahir-ul-Qadri and politician Imran Khan, were trying to reach government buildings for three days.

They were calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The South Asian nation’s powerful military said on Sunday that further use of force to resolve an escalating political crisis would only worsen the situation.

Several rounds of talks between the government and the opposition has failed to avert the crisis that escalated violence over the weekend.

The opposition leaders, Qadri and Khan, seem to be distancing themselves from the invasion of the building.

—–

President Barack Obama had come under renewed criticism over his foreign policy from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers as he wrestles with crises in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Ukraine.

Republican lawmakers seized on Obama’s comment earlier in the week when he said they don’t have a strategy yet for confronting the Islamic State group, saying it suggested indecisiveness.

Influential Democrats chimed in with their own critiques of Obama’s foreign policy, chiding him for being “too cautious” on Syria, and urging him to do more to help Ukraine resist Russian advances.

The critical comments came as the Obama administration faced myriad crises around the world, including a reported attack on an annex to the US embassy in Tripoli, Libya.

In response to the criticism of Obama’s comment on the lack of a strategy, White House officials said it reflected the fact that the Pentagon was still developing options for possible military action in Syria.

US officials emphasised that the administration does have a broader strategy, and the military plan is only one element.

—–

Protesters outside the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday called for “witchcrafters and murderers to be burnt alive”.

The words were written on a poster, displayed outside the court where six people, including three minors, appeared briefly for the murder of Desiree Murugan,

Murugans decapitated body was found last month in Durban’s Shallcross Stadium.

At the time police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said one of the accused was a traditional healer.

There were around 70 protesters outside the court many wearing National Freedom Party and Democratic Alliance shirts.

The matter was adjourned to Wednesday for the six to appear in the Durban Regional Court when a date for a bail application would be set.

—–

Nyanga bordered on anarchy on Monday as seven buses were set alight by suspected rogue taxi drivers.

This came as a large-scale, violent service delivery protest gripped the area, stranding commuters as the township was effectively shut down.

Eleven bus drivers were injured when angry crowds ripped them from their vehicles and beat them up in the streets.

Metro police came under live gunfire while protecting bus passengers who came under attack.

Seven golden arrow buses were torched during morning’s riots and four damaged.

MEC Donald Grant said the perpetrators of these very serious crimes must be made to face the full might of the law.

—–

A senior Palestinian border official said Israel hadnot begun to implement a lift on a years-long siege on the Gaza Strip, despite a recent cease-fire agreement that entailed opening all border crossings between Israel and the embattled enclave.

Mounir al-Ghalban, director of the Palestinian side of the crossing, said Commercial activity at Kerem Shalom crossing remains the same as it was since the cease-fire was announced.

The deal, which came through indirect talks between the two parties in Cairo, calls for opening all border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel – effectively ending the latter’s seven-year blockade of the coastal territory.

However, al-Ghalban asserted that Israel is still applying the same level of restrictions on the entry of commodities through Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with the Gaza Strip.

He added that Israel had allowed the entry of 300 trucks on Sunday through the crossing, including 100 trucks loaded with aid supplies and 200 with industrial material.

The Gaza Strip has six border crossings controlled by Israel and one controlled by Egypt.

According to the cease-fire agreement’s terms, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will hold indirect negotiations on other core Palestinian demands – including the release of prisoners and the establishment of a Gaza seaport – in one month.

—–

The DA said several rural communities are facing severe water contamination after it conducted a probe into water quality in four provinces.

DA MP Leon Basson said the vast majority of South Africans are receiving clean and reliable water, but there are problems and they appear to be getting worse.

Over the past four months, Some DA mps sent teams to North West, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and the Eastern Cape to oversee the independent, scientific testing of water at various municipalities.

Basson said The E.coli levels in the Britz water waste plant is 320,000 parts per 100ml.

The maximum level that is acceptable for sewer plants is 1000 parts per 100ml.

A water quality test commissioned by the local homeowners’ association found the Rietfontein waste water treatment plant, plant had an E.coli count of more than a million parts per 100ml.

This is 1000 times more E.coli than is allowed for human consumption.

Concern was expressed about the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, where four hospitals tested positive for E.coli in their tap water.

The DA said it would continue laying criminal charges against municipal officials who contravene the National Water Act by negligently polluting water.

In May, three babies died and over 500 cases of diarrhoea were recorded at health care facilities in Bloemhof, North West, following water contamination.

—–

The Pakistani government brought a case against two opposition leaders at the centre of the anti-government protests.

Police station secretariat in Islamabad had registered a case under an anti-terrorism act against politician Imran Khan, Tahir-ul-Qadri and hundreds of their supporters for organising riots, damaging state buildings and attacking security forces.

Amid the political chaos, the country’s powerful army chief Raheel Sharif met the beleaguered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

On Sunday the army had said that further use of force to resolve the escalating political crisis would only worsen the situation.

The opposition leaders had been calling for the resignation of Sharif over allegations of corruption and vote rigging in the last year’s general elections won by Sharif’s party.

Protesters have been trying to reach government buildings for the last three days, and have been staging sit-in for the past three weeks.

—–

Standard Bank apologised to its clients for technical glitches that lasted several hours on Monday.

Standard Bank chief executive in personal and business banking Funeka Montjane said in a statement that they are investigating the root cause of the system failure.

Montjane said their initial investigation has determined that the incident was caused by hardware failure.

Standard Bank clients claimed they could not withdraw money from ATMs, and their cards were being declined at point-of-sale devices at shops.

Internet and cellphone banking applications were also down.

Meanwhile, Standard Bank said it would monitor its systems closely.

——

The chairperson of Parliament’s powers and privileges committee says Speaker Baleka Mbete and the EFF agreed she would not immediately proceed with plans to suspend its MPs.

Chairperson Lemias Mashile said that lawyers for the Speaker and the EFF Economic Freedom Fighters have agreed that the Speaker will not proceed.

Mbete, who was widely expected to ask the National Assembly at its next sitting tomorrow to suspend the EFF members, has now deferred the matter to the committee.

In a letter to the committee, she asked that it report back to her with its recommendations urgently.

—–

TUESDAY

Iraqi Kurdish forces and Shia armed volunteers reportedly retook more northern towns from the Islamic State group, killing at least two of its senior fighters.

A day after breaking the siege in the town of Amerli north of Baghdad, government forces retook the town of Sulaiman Bek on Monday, removing another key stronghold of the Islamic State group.

Iraqi officials said they killed Mussab Mamoud, the town’s Islamic State head, and Mazen Zaki, the military wing commander, along with more than 20 other Sunni rebel fighters.

Government forces are still trying to clear the town of explosives left by the armed group which was previously known as ISIL.

Iraqi security forces backed by Shia armed volunteers have now begun clearing operations – meant to flush out remaining fighters and detonate bombs laid by the fighters and expected to take several days.

In the previous weeks, the US forces have conducted airstrikes in support of Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground, fighting against the Islamic State, which controls large areas in Syria and Iraq.

—–

A joint session of parliament got under way in Pakistan as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried to rally support against the protesters calling for his resignation.

Speaking in parliament, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the “protesters were trained terrorists” and “were armed with weapons and lethal tools”.

Opposition leaders, politician Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri, were calling for the resignation of Sharif over allegations of vote rigging in the last year’s general elections won by Sharif’s party.

Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s minister of defence, said the prime minister “will never resign come what may”.

Sharif held meeting with Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on Monday to discuss the situation.

The military’s press department issued a statement on the same day, denying rumours reported on local media that the army chief had asked PM Sharif to resign.

This morning, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and Pakistan Awami Tehreek, the movement led by Qadri, continued their protest at Islamabad’s Constitutional Avenue, where government buildings are located.

—–

Gunfire and power cuts rekindled tensions in Lesotho’s capital Maseru overnight, as the mountain nation awaited the possible return of its exiled prime minister following an apparent coup.

An aide to Tom Thabane told AFP he could return to the country, after regional mediators brokered a road map to ease the country’s political crisis.

Thabane had fled across the border to South Africa before dawn on Saturday, as troops attacked key police installations and surrounded his official residence.

The military denied carrying out a coup and said its raids were to confiscate weapons from police stations destined for “political fanatics”.

Prime Minister Thabane request that the southern Africa regional bloc SADC to send a peacekeeping force troops has been rebuffed.

—–

According to reports, OUTA said it believes a review panel of the controversial e-tolling system is legitimate and could ultimately lead to the controversial project being scrapped.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance campaigned for the government to do away with e-tolling and instead introduce a fuel levy to pay back upgrades to Gauteng’s freeways.

Newly installed Gauteng Premier David Makhura has set up a panel to review the system, which is currently holding public hearings in Johannesburg.

According to EWN Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage said the panel seems to have everything in place to take a considered decision.

He said the panel is not short of the intellect that is required to assess the issue.

—–

US military forces reportedly carried out an operation against al-Shabab fighters in Somalia.

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said they were assessing the results of the operation and would provide additional information as and when appropriate.

The US military assistance comes as Somalia’s army and African Union (AU) troops continued a major offensive against the armed fighters.

In the north of the country, security forces say they have captured districts in the Hiran region, without a single shot being fired.

Government forces were also trying to capture the seaside port of Barawe – al-Shabab’s official headquarters – south of Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab fighters have targeted key areas of the Somali government or the security forces in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities that they are winning the war against the armed group.

The armed group is fighting to topple Somalia’s internationally-backed government, and regularly launch attacks against state targets, as well as in neighbouring countries that contribute to the AU force.

—–

According to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, the Airports Company of South Africa spent R323m on runway rehabilitation at four regional airports by the end of August.

The spending was carried out between November 2012 and August 2014.

Acsa planned to spend over R3bn on a new runway at the Cape Town International Airport.

Peters said construction is planned to commence in mid-2016 and completion targeted for the end of 2018.

The minister reported that R4.8m had been spent in the 2013 financial year on the touchdown zone portion of a runway at the OR Tambo International Airport in Gauteng.

A breakdown of actual expenditure on the regional airports was R171m on the runway and taxiway rehabilitation project at the East London airport, R53.7m on runway rehabilitation at the Kimberley, Northern Cape, airport; R30.6m on the rehabilitation of a secondary runway at Port Elizabeth International Airport and R68m on the rehabilitation of a runway at the George Airport in the Western Cape.

——

A French court upheld a ban on a Muslim engineer from accessing nuclear sites, citing his links with what it termed as “jihadist networks.”

Lawyer Sefen Guez Guez told AFP news agency that he was looking at launching an appeal.

The 29-year-old working for a firm subcontracted by energy giant EDF had been granted access to nuclear installations as part of his job throughout 2012 and 2013.

But in March this year the man had his pass to enter the nuclear power station revoked.

Officials said he had links with a violent armed group and that he was in touch with an imam involved in recruiting people to fight in Iraq.

A court in the of Chalons-en-Champagne upheld the ban saying the management could prevent those “undergoing a process of political and religious radicalisation” from accessing sensitive sites.

His lawyer called it a case of Islamophobia.

——

The United Nations said labour shortages and disrupted cross-border trade caused by the deadly Ebola outbreak have sparked “grave food security concerns” in the worst-hit countries.

Restrictions on movement in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has led to panic buying, food shortages and severe price hikes, especially in towns and cities.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said Access to food has become a pressing concern for many people in the three affected countries and their neighbours.

Bukar Tijani, FAO Regional Representative for Africa said the situation will have long-lasting impacts on farmers’ livelihoods and rural economies.”

According to the latest figures released by the World Health Organisation,The Ebola outbreak has killed 1,552 people and infected 3,062.

—–

At least six people were killed in a US drone attack on a convoy believed to be carrying senior al-Shabab leaders in Somalia.

Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Adow, reporting from Mogadishu , said details of the attack near the coastal town of Barawe on Monday night remained unclear.

However he said that the armed group did confirm they had come under attack.

According to Adow reports suggested the convoy was carrying senior leaders.

The AP news agency reported that six fighters were killed in the attack as two vehicles were heading toward the coastal town of Barawe, al-Shabab’s main base when they were hit.

The Pentagon confirmed an “operation” was carried out against the group and that it was “assessing the results”.

The attack came days after African Union troops and government forces launched “Operation Indian Ocean”, a major offensive aimed at seizing key ports from the rebels and cutting off key sources of revenue

—–

President Jacob Zuma said the state will provide free medical care and hospitalisation for all.

He said they are currently working hard to bring into operation the National Health Service, a preventive health scheme that will ensure that quality health care is available to all regardless of economic or financial means.

Zuma said government was working, and would continue to deliver services to especially the vulnerable in society.

In the past five years 300 new health facilities had been built, including 160 new clinics.

Meanwhile The Gauteng health department has beefed up security measures at the Helen Joseph Hospital following the brutal attack on a nurse.

——

Speaker Baleka Mbete warned the EFF she would not tolerate “anarchy” in Parliament, but was promptly challenged by party Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu, who accused her of bias.

On Monday Mbete abandoned her stated intention to proceed with this sanction against the EFF for disrupting presidential question time late last month.

The change of mind came after the party threatened to launch a legal challenge in the high court.

However, she said she wanted to remind MPs that “in terms of rule 52 she could have suspended the members concerned immediately.

Before the House adjourned for the day, the EFF issued a statement rejecting Mbete’s remarks to the Assembly and accused her of interfering with the committee’s work.

Mbete asked the committee to probe the EFF’s conduct as a matter of utmost urgency and to report back to her as soon as possible.

She warned that such behaviour would not be tolerated again.

—–

WEDNESDAY

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said he agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on a “permanent ceasefire” with rebels.

His office said their conversation resulted in agreement on a permanent ceasefire in the Donbass region, the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

It said they reached a mutual understanding on steps leading to peace.

The announcement came as US President Barack Obama met Baltic leaders in Estonia ahead of a Nato summit.

He was due to hold talks in the capital Tallinn with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all former Soviet states which joined Nato a decade ago.

The Nato summit in Wales is expected to back plans for a rapid response force.

——

Despite the presence of thousands of American troops in Iraq, President Barack Obama ordered the deployment of 350 more US troops to the country.

A White House statement said they would also continue to support the government of Iraq’s efforts to counter ISIL.

The United States has currently more than 7,000 military and security forces in the country, mostly located in a military base in Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

The announcement was made hours after a video emerged purportedly showing the IS group beheading an American journalist.

IS supposedly released the video of the decapitation of Steven Sotloff, who disappeared in Syria in 2013.

In a message, the journalist said that he is “paying the price” for US military intervention.

—–

The United Nations said more than one million people were uprooted by the conflict in Ukraine, including 260,000 within the country.

Some Ukrainian nationals fled by motorcycle to Russia, while others have escaped the crisis by spending the summer months at European spas or visiting grandparents.

The total includes 814,000 Ukrainians now in Russia with various forms of status, as well as compatriots who have fled to Belarus, Moldova, the three Baltic states and European Union,.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said “If this crisis is not quickly stopped, it will have not only devastating humanitarian consequences, but it also has the potential to destabilise the whole region.”

—–

Two suspected truck hijackers were shot dead in a dramatic shoot-out in Midrand.

The SA Police Service tweeted that Hawks officers confronted five bogus police officers in a fake police vehicle in Midrand on Tuesday night.

According to the police, two were fatally shot and three were arrested.

Two high calibre weapons were seized, along with the vehicle.

Eyewitness News reported that the gang of suspected truck hijackers were dressed in police uniforms, and were driving a car with fake police number plates and decals.

A brief car chase was followed by a shoot-out just after midnight.

According to eNCA, one of the three arrested suspects is a qualified policeman based in Midrand.

It is believed the gang was planning to hijack a truck earlier on Tuesday, but this was thwarted.

——-

Westinghouse Electric SA filed an urgent application to see documents relating to Eskom’s awarding of a R4 billion tender to replace steam generators at the Koeberg nuclear power plant.

Beeld reported that Westinghouse Electric South Africa managing director Frederik Wolvaardt said his company was the winner of the R4.2bn tender, until Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown was told about the decision of the tender committee.

Last month, Eskom’s board of directors announced it had awarded the contract to French company Areva NP Proprietary.

Beeld reported that four different sources told Westinghouse officials the company won the bid before Brown made the announcement on August 16.

In court papers, he said Brown was misled by former acting Eskom CEO Collin Matjila and chairwoman of Eskom’s tender committee Neo Lesela on August 15 when they briefed her on the decision of the board.

The urgent application would be heard in the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday.

The new generators were expected to be installed in 2018.

——

Officials in Tikrit and Mosul said that a significant number of Islamic State group fighters withdrew from the northern Iraqi cities, as government forces prepared for another major ground and air offensive.

Sources told Al Jazeera that security forces had already entered the outskirts of Tikrit from three directions, including Tikrit University and the provincial government building.

Reports said that a division of the Iraqi army had made advances backed by air, mortar and artillery fires targeting several positions across Tikrit, which has been under Islamic State control for months.

At least two local brigades from Tikrit had also reportedly joined the Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State fighters.

Sources told Al Jazeera that one town leading to Tikrit, had come “under wrong bombardment” by the Iraqi warplanes, killing “dozens” of displaced civilians overnight.

—–

A Telkom store at Kolonade Mall in Montana, Pretoria, was robbed on Tuesday night of electronic goods worth over R200 000.

Captain Johannes Maheso said two men in a gang of four entered the store while the others remained outside.

Once they collected their loot, the gang made their getaway. Maheso said no shots were fired and no one was injured.

Kolonade was the sixth mall in Gauteng to be hit by robbers in the past two months.

On Monday, Maponya mall in Soweto and Northgate mall were also hit by robbers.

The iStore at Centurion Mall was robbed of goods worth over R1m on 22 August.

On 13 August, the iStore at Cresta Shopping Centre was robbed and one person was injured when the gang made their getaway. The Glen’s iStore was robbed a few days later.

—–

A 14-year-old former Voortrekker High School pupil who was allegedly ritualistically tortured by prefects was demanding a multimillion-rand settlement.

Attorneys acting for the boy’s family have issued letters of demand calling for damages amounting to over R2.5m.

The family’s legal “hit list” includes Education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, Voortrekker High School and four matric boys who admitted to being part of a sadistic initiation ritual two months ago.

The former pupil, who was removed from the school when his parents found evidence of third-degree burns from a steam iron on his body, lifted the lid on the school’s long-standing initiation practice.

The school remained silent since evidence of the abuse came to light, and has also insisted that its “investigation” would not be influenced by the police or the KwaZulu-Natal department of education.

The education department’s probe into allegations of a staff cover-up and criminal charges against the boys remain on track, and could see the four matric pupils facing further action.

—–

Authorities in Kazakhstan were on high alert after a container holding a highly radioactive and dangerous substance disappeared in the west of the country.

A police spokesman for the Mangistau region said that the material which was used for medical purposes and also a by-product of nuclear explosions and reactors, appeared to have fallen off a vehicle transporting it.

He said the container with the radioactive isotope caesium-137 has not been found so far.

The country’s security services, emergency response workers and the military have been involved in efforts to find the container, which weighs about 50kg to 60kg.

The origin of the missing material was not revealed by authorities in Kazakhstan, which inherited nuclear warheads and a weapons test site when the Soviet Union collapsed.

—–

Doctors without Borders said despite calls for a massive mobilisation to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the international response has been inadequate.

The organisation hosted a special briefing at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

MSF’s Borrie la Grange says world leaders are failing to address the epidemic.

On Tuesday, the United Nations said the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa was causing food shortages in one of the world’s poorest regions

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the disease was threatening the stability of stricken countries and their neighbours.

Governments and aid organisations have scrambled to contain the disease, which according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), has killed more than 1,500 in West Africa since March.

——

The Pakistan Taliban denied claims by the army that the military has killed 910 fighters and lost 82 soldiers since it launched its June offensive against the group, in the tribal northeast near the Afghanistan border.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, said only 25 to 30 of their companions embraced martyrdom in this war.

The army said security forces have cleared the major towns of Miranshah, Mirali, Datta Khel, Boya and Degan, which were considered strong holds of the resistae fighters.

Pakistan’s offensive in the former bastions of the TTP began on June 15 after fighters launched an attack on Pakistan’s busiest airport in Karachi.

The military said it has also carried out over 2000 intelligence-led operations across the country since June, killing 42 rebels and capturing 114 others.

The offensive has displaced nearly a million people, who are now living in rented homes or camps miles away from their towns and villages.

—–

Rebels holding 45 Fijian peacekeepers hostage in Syria issued a set of demands for their release.

According to a Fijian official, the demands included the group’s removal from a UN terrorist list and compensation for the killing of three of its fighters in a shootout with international troops, and the delivery of humanitarian aid to parts of the Syrian capital of Damascus.

The Nusra Front seized the Fijians last week in the Golan Heights, where a 1,200-strong UN force monitors the buffer zone between Syria and Israel.

The rebels also surrounded two Filipino units, but those UN troops escaped over the weekend.

Military commander Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga did not say whether the rebels’ demands would be seriously considered.

He said the UN had sent hostage negotiators to Syria to take over discussions from military leaders.

In a statement posted online on Sunday The Nusra Front accused the UN of doing nothing to help the Syrian people since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011.

It said it seized the Fijians in retaliation for the UN’s ignoring the daily shedding of the Muslims’ blood in Syria.

—–

The European Union gave Israel a one-month notice to clarify the place of origin of livestock products intended for exportation to the EU.

Products without the proper documentation on their place of origin and manufacture will be banned from entering into EU member states.

This is in line with the EU decision to boycott products from Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the EU has reiterated its request for Israel to institute a sufficiently effective mechanism,  that differentiates the produce that originates in the occupied areas beyond the 1967 Green Line.

Since the beginning of 2014, the EU has rejected trade dealings with factories and farms located in Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Media reports stated on 15 August that 80 Israeli factories specialised in producing milk and dairy products are facing the threat of closure as a result of the EU ban.

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid had stated earlier this year that the boycott has already cost Israel around 56 billion rand in losses, with the Israeli market losing immediately around 9,800 jobs.

—–

Israeli navy forces arrested two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of northern Gaza Strip in a major violation of the truce agreement that started ten days ago.

Palestinian sources said that Israeli gunboats approached the coast of Beit Lahia and encircled a Palestinian fishing boat amidst intensive shooting, before towing the boat along with those on board to Ashdod port.

The sources said that the gunboats fired a number of projectiles and opened machinegun fire at the beaches and at fishermen but no casualties were reported.

In another violation of the ceasefire, IOF soldiers in army vehicles and bulldozers advanced 100 meters into southern Gaza this morning.

A field observer said that the bulldozers razed land in the area amidst indiscriminate shooting, adding that drones were flying over the area all the time.

—–

A baby girl was born at the scene of a road accident on the N2 in Amanzimtoti last night.

The unexpected birth occurred close to the Dickens Road Bridge after the Emergency Medical Services ambulance transporting the mother to a local hospital was forced to stop on the obstructed highway.

A truck carrying glass bottles of beer had overturned on the road, resulting in a traffic jam.

Netcare 911 paramedic Chris Botha said the lady went into full labour on the way to the hospital.

Botha and other paramedics assisted with the delivery at the back of the ambulance.

The paramedic described the event as a joyous experience.

He added that this was one of the many times he was required to assist in an emergency delivery in “unusual circumstances”.

He said he has done over 2000 births.

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THURSDAY

US vice president Joseph Biden said his country will follow the IS group ”to the gates of hell” following the alleged beheading of two American journalists by the group in Iraq.

Biden vowed to hunt down and defeat the IS group, while stepping up efforts to recruit an international coalition to join in the fight.

Biden said they should know the US will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice.

The speech came as US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said dozens of US citizens are joining the Islamic State group.

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama called for an international front against the IS, as US allies Britain and France weighed possible military action.

Britain said it would not rule out taking part in air strikes if necessary.

French President Francois Hollande likewise raised the possibility of a military response to the threat posed by the IS.

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So called Al Qaeeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the formation of an Indian branch of his global armed group.

He said would spread Islamic rule and raise the so called flag of jihad across the subcontinent.

In an online video, Zawahiri said the new force would “crush the artificial borders” dividing Muslim populations in the region.

He said the group would take the fight to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Zwahiri said this entity is the fruit of a blessed effort of more than two years to gather the mujahedeen in the Indian sub-continent into a single entity.

He called on the Muslim nation, to unite and to wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, to restore its sovereignty and to revive its caliphate.

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The SA Post Office reportedly blew R2.1bn in irregular expenditure in the past financial year.

According to a draft audit report for the financial year ending May 31 2014, by auditing firms Deloitte & Touche and Nkonki, the financial losses were as a result of the irregular awarding of tenders.

According to The Star, the audit outcome is contained in Sapo’s 2013/14 annual report.

The report “appears to show” that Sapo did not follow mandatory tender procedures and that pricing and quotations were not done when procuring goods and services.

The newspaper reported that Sapo was currently operating on an overdraft of R250m, but its sources disputed the figure and put it at R365m.

The unnamed sources allege that employees’ funds were used to redress the overdraft.

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Somalia’s government offered an amnesty to fighters with al-Shabab, the armed group whose leader was reportedly targeted on Monday night in a US air strike.

Following a cabinet-level security meeting, Somali authorities gave al-Shabab fighters 45 days to take up the offer.

Security Minister Khalif Ahmed Ereg said the government “will create a better livelihood to build their future for those who meet the deadline.”

The offer of amnesty comes after a US air strike that targeted al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, whose fate remains unclear as Washington and Somali officials assess the outcome of the attack.

Somali forces, backed by African Union troops, last week launched an offensive on al-Shabab’s last strongholds in southern Somalia, where the fighters are accused of plotting attacks across Somalia that have left scores dead this year.

Al-Shabab remains strong in some parts of southern Somalia, including the coastal city of Barawe.

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NATO leaders were holding a summit in the UK in a bid to show unity against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

Ukraine and the new threats posed by the Islamic State group in Iraq, Syria and beyond are expected to dominate the two-day summit that begins on Thursday in Newport in Wales.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned that Russian intervention in Ukraine is the most serious security threat since the Cold War, one which the 28 member-states ignore at their peril.

In a joint statement in the Times newspaper, US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to stand together in support of Ukraine against Russia.

To highlight support for Kiev, leaders would meet Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for a session of the NATO-Ukraine Council, which was set up after the country became an alliance partner in 1997.

The nearly five months conflict has killed 2,600 people.

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The Muslim Judicial Council urged the United Nations to intervene and stop the atrocities committed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The MJC told the Cape Times that it unequivocally condemned the murders of civilians in the countries.

This came after a report of a mass murder of 770 Iraqis who were captured from a former US military facility in June.

The UN’s top human rights body announced earlier in the week that it would open an investigation into suspected crimes committed by the Islamic State.

Its aim would be to provide the Human Rights Council with evidence on atrocities committed in Iraq, which could be used as part of any international war crimes prosecution.

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The e-tolling system was blamed for deepening the divide between the haves and the have-nots.

Former Tshwane mayor Smangaliso Mkhatshwa and Moral Regeneration Movement board member Seth Mazibuko said the R20-billion spent on e-tolling should have been used to improve township infrastructure.

Mazibuko was instrumental in organising the Soweto student uprising in June 1976.

He questioned e-tolling’s value in bridging the economic gap between Sandton and Soweto.

Mkhatshwa said the government must “put all its cards on the table so that people will begin to see that the project is for them”.

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The World Health Organisation said an Ebola outbreak in Nigeria’s oil producing hub of Port Harcourt could spread wider and faster than in the financial capital, Lagos.

The UN health body said the arrival of the virus in Port Harcourt, which is 435km east of Lagos, showed “multiple high-risk opportunities for transmission of the virus to others”.

The haemorrhagic fever first arrived in Nigeria when a Liberian finance ministry official died in Lagos on 25 July.

He was taken from the city’s airport to a private hospital by two officials from the West African regional bloc Ecowas.

One of the officials later died of the disease but the other evaded detection to travel to Port Harcourt, where he fell ill and was treated in secret at a city hotel room from 1-3 August.

The virus had so far hit five countries in West Africa and caused nearly 2 000 deaths this year.

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About 70 people were feared dead after a passenger bus was swept by a flooded stream in India-administered Kashmir.

The accident occurred in the southern Rajouri district of the Himalayan region which is suffering from its worst flooding in 22 years.

State government official Shantmanu said that rescuers are searching for the bus, but have not been able to locate it in the gushing waters.

Elsewhere in the region, at least 14 people were swept away by floodwaters or buried by mud from mountain slopes since yesterday.

At least 100 villages across the Kashmir valley were flooded by overflowing lakes and rivers, including the Jhelum river, which was up to 1.5 metres above its danger level.

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DA leader Helen Zille was handed the long awaited spy tapes – for a second time in one day.

As she walked out of the High Court in Pretoria, Zille held the bag, with the words “tamper evident security bag” printed on it, containing the material, above her head.

Zille told reporters the bag contained transcripts of recordings and a memory stick.

She told the media contingent outside of the court: “This is a very important piece of information, a culmination of 6 court cases.”

She said today is a historic day, adding that these documents are a symbol of democracy.

Last week the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that within five days the National Prosecuting Authority had to comply with a previous order, in an application brought by the DA, to release the tapes.

President Jacob Zuma had opposed the move.

Conversations on the recordings were cited by the National Prosecuting Authority as a reason to drop fraud and corruption charges against Zuma, shortly before he was sworn in as president in 2009.

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A UN reports said more than 100,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are still homeless over a week after the end of Israel’s deadly war on the besieged Palestinian region.

The UN report said that at least 108,000 Palestinians are homeless because Israeli bombardment either totally destroyed their homes or damaged them too severely.

The report also noted that about 60000 people are sheltering in UN-run schools making it impossible for the academic year to begin on time.

Palestinian officials estimate the number of the displaced is much higher.

Some say over half of a million Palestinians were displaced during Israel’s 50-day onslaught.

Almost 2,140 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including women, children and the elderly, were killed in 50 days of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza.

Around 11,000 others were injured.

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An elderly woman has been found beheaded at a house in a north London suburb.

The 82-year-old Palmira Silva was reportedly decapitated outside her house in Nightingale Road, in Edmonton.

The British police said they were called to the victim’s residence following reports of a man armed with a machete.

There were also reports that the man tried to attack two other people at another home in the street but they were able to escape unharmed.

The police said armed officers arrested a 25-year-old man at the scene on suspicion of murder.

Detective Chief Inspector John Sandlin said it is too early to speculate on the motive behind the attack, adding that the attack does not seem to be terrorist-related based on the current information.

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FRIDAY

India had declared heightened alert in several provinces a day after so called al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the formation of an Indian branch of the global armed group.

In the video posted online, the al-Qaeda chief promised to spread Islamic rule and “raise the flag of jihad” across the Indian subcontinent.

The message has been labelled as authentic and warnings have been sent out to local governments.

An Indian intelligence source told AFP news that they are taking the matter very seriously.

The source said Such threats can’t be ignored, prompting the government to ask the states to be on alert, especially Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Zawahri’s announcement made two references to Gujarat, the home state of India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi is a Hindu nationalist who has been a hate figure for armed groups because of religious riots on his watch in 2002.

Over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died during the violence.

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A number of South Africans who have been working and living in Liberia have found themselves unable to return to the country, due to stringent Ebola travel restrictions.

Gerhard van Zyl, a mechanic from Bloemfontein told Volksblad that he is unable to return to South Africa, as flights to and from the Ebola-hit nation have been cancelled.

SAA recently announced that a new rule has been put into place, requiring any South Africans who want to travel to or from West Africa would have to request permission from the health department.

Should permission be granted, Van Zyl would also probably have to undergo a stringent medical screening process on arrival in the country.

Meanwhile the Times of India recently reported that hundreds of expatriates who wanted to return to India, were unable to leave, due to the fact that most airlines had cancelled their flights to the Liberian capital of Monrovia as well as Sierra Leone’s Freetown.

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A body was found in a car that was apparently set alight early this morning in Johannesburgs Lenasia.

Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said the gender of the deceased was not yet known.

The incident happened around 3am.

The car was seen burning and police were alerted.

They found a body of a person in the car.

Police opened a murder case, and are trying to verify the person’s identity.”

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Mozambican rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama came out of hiding and returned to the capital, Maputo, in a symbolic end to a two-year conflict that has rekindled memories of a civil war.

The Renamo leader touched down in the capital on Thursdsay, flanked by foreign diplomats – ahead of a meeting to cement a peace deal with President Armando Guebuza on Friday.

Dhlakama and his supporters staged a victory lap around the airport before making his way to the Renamo headquarters in Maputo, escorted by armed guards.

He disappeared from public life in October 2012, relocating to a remote bush camp in central Mozambique and claiming the government had not kept to the terms of a 1992 peace deal.

That accord ended 15 years of the civil war that led to the deaths of an estimated one million people.

In late 2013, the Renamo leader went into hiding in the Gorgosaurus mountains as government troops overran his camp and the conflict deepened.

His supporters attacked buses and cars on the main north-south highway, in a low-level but deadly insurgency.

Dhlakama’s return could help pave the way for peaceful elections next month.

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The Sowetan reported that a Limpopo priest was fired because of his close ties with the ANC.

Reverend Timothy Xaba of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa was reportedly fired in July as minister of the Polokwane central congregation.

In June last year, Xaba was approached to help lead Polokwane communities in prayer for the then sickly former president Nelson Mandela.

After a moving prayer, he was appointed chaplain of the African National Congress.

Xaba then featured in many ANC events and government functions, where he led prayers.

The leadership of the URCSA was not happy about this and wrote a letter to Xaba terminating his contract.

In the letter, the leadership expressed dissatisfaction with Xaba’s role in the ANC.

The church also requested Xaba to return his licence to practise as a pastor.

Xaba said he did not receive any remuneration for his job as a chaplain.

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NATO leaders met on the second day of a summit in Wales and ceasefire talks were scheduled to take place in the Belarusian capital.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the main pro-Russian rebel leader said they would both order ceasefires today, provided that an agreement is reached on a new peace plan in Minsk to end the five-month war in Ukraine’s east.

The annoucements came after a week in which the pro-Moscow separatists scored major victories with what NATO says is the open support of thousands of Russian troops and armour.

the White House said that key NATO leaders had agreed during the meeting that Russia should face increased sanctions for its actions in eastern Ukraine.

Ambassadors of the EU member states were also gathering in Brussels to discuss further sanctions on Russia.

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A pro-Palestinian lobby group, which has protested against Woolworths for importing goods from Israel, condemned bombings in Athlone and Crawford and called for the bombers to be caught.

The “Cape Town for Gaza” group on Facebook, which has more than 6 000 “Likes”, said this must be the work of evil hands trying to spread misinformation about the cause.

The sites in Athlone and Crawford were being combed for clues after a car was set on fire and a Woolworths shop window smashed – possibly after explosions just before midnight.

Woolworths reported a large shop window had been smashed but no one had been injured.

on Facebook, the group said it could be the imperialist themselves who have pulled this stunt.

It said they either use divide and conquer methods to create discord amongst those making advances on them, or they play victim to gain sympathy from the masses and point those with truth as aggressors.

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World health experts met in Geneva, Switzerland for the second day of urgent talks on fast-tracking experimental Ebola drugs.

With no fully tested treatments for Ebola, the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed potential cures like ZMapp to be rushed out.

ZMapp has been given to about 10 health workers who contracted the virus, including Americans and Europeans, three of whom recovered.

The two-day closed-door meeting of about 200 health experts in Geneva is discussing eight potential therapies, as well as two experimental vaccines.

The agency warned that the death toll in the epidemic, which is centred on Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, is still growing fast.

WHO Chief Margaret Chan says the outbreak is rising, putting the death toll at “more than 1,900″.

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Mozambique’s president and the leader of the former rebel group Renamo have signed a landmark peace deal in Maputo, ending a two-year conflict that has rekindled memories of a brutal civil war.

President Armando Guebuza and Afonso Dhlakama, who came out of hiding on Thursday, signed the deal in front of about 100 diplomats and dignitaries.

The two leaders embraced prompting jubilant cries and clapping from those gathered.

For two years government forces and fighters loyal to Dhlakama have clashed, with the rebel leader accusing the state of reneging on a peace deal that ended Mozambique’s brutal civil war.

Around one million died as a result of the 15-year conflict, which ended in 1992.

The peace deal will see Renamo fighters integrated into the military and the party given a greater say in election oversight bodies.

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The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction said an estimated 7.8 billion US dollars are needed for the reconstruction of the beleaguered Gaza Strip.

According to the document, the direct and indirect losses resulting from Israel’s military attacks on the Gaza Strip amount to 4.4 billion dollars.

An estimated budget of around 3.02 billion dollars should be earmarked for development projects in Gaza, including a seaport and a desalination water station.

The study, based on field visits, was released in a press conference held at PECDAR headquarters in Ramallah.

Head of the council Mohamed Ishteya said a total of 450 million must be allotted to emergency relief needs.

PECDAR outlined a set of work mechanisms to ensure the reconstruction funds would be utilized in the best way possible, so as to create a sustainable development solving the unemployment and poverty problems in the besieged enclave.

The council called for a complete lifting of the Gaza siege in order to restore Gazans’ free movement and facilitate the access of goods and passengers from and into the Strip.

It further called for a large-scale contribution to the reconstruction process and urgent fundraising to address the relief needs.

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