15 slain at Egypt protests on uprising anniversary
Published — Monday 26 January 2015M
CAIRO: At least 15 people were killed at pro-democracy protests in Egypt on Sunday, the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, security sources said.
In the bloodiest day of protests since Abdel Fattah El-Sissi was elected president in June, security forces and plained clothed police clashed with protesters, witnesses said.
Dozens of protesters were killed during last year’s anniversary. Again this year, security forces fanned out across the capital and other cities.
The heaviest death toll was in the Cairo suburb of Matariya, a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold. Special forces fired pistols and rifles at protesters, a Reuters witness said. Eight people, including one policeman, were killed, according to the Health Ministry.
People in Matariya chanted “a revolution all over again.” Demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at security forces and fires raged
Riot police backed by soldiers in armored vehicles sealed off roads, including those leading to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the 2011 revolt.
In downtown Cairo, riot police with rifles and plain clothed men with pistols chased protesters through the streets.
Six people were killed in separate protests in Alexandria, Egypt’s second biggest city, Giza governorate outside of Cairo and the Nile Delta province of Baheira, security sources said. A bomb wounded two policemen stationed outside a Cairo sports club, the sources said.
Signs of discontent built up as the anniversary of the revolt against Mubarak approached, and a liberal woman activist, Shaimaa Sabbagh, was killed at a protest on Saturday.
About 1,000 people marched in her funeral procession on Sunday. The Health Ministry said she had been shot in the face and back and Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said an investigation into her death had begun, adding: “No one is above the law.”
“Shaima was killed in cold blood,” Medhat Al-Zahid, vice president of the Socialist Popular Alliance party that Sabbagh belonged to, told a news conference.
Damascus hit by rockets, mortars
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Monday 26 January 2015
BEIRUT: Rebels fired dozens of rockets and mortar rounds Sunday at central Damascus, a monitoring group said, making good on a threat of retaliation for deadly air raids by the Syrian regime.
“Rebels launched more than 38 locally-made rockets and mortar rounds at several areas of central Damascus, including Al-Maliki and Mazzeh neighborhoods, as well as Arnus and Sabaa Bahrat squares,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Several people were injured,” the Britain-based group said, without giving a precise casualty toll.
AFP journalists in Sabaa Bahrat square could hear the blasts, while ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the area.
State news agency SANA said the army fired back at the source, blaming rebels in the Eastern Ghouta area, without giving any initial report of casualties or naming the residential areas hit.
The attack comes two days after Zahran Alloush, head of the rebel Jaysh Al-Islam (Army of Islam), warned on Twitter that his forces would launch a “rocket campaign against the capital” from Sunday.
“The rockets’ brigade is preparing for a rocket campaign against the capital, which will see rockets rain down every day… in retaliation for the regime’s savage air raids… against our people in the… Eastern Ghouta area,” Alloush wrote.
Government aircraft on Friday carried out a string of deadly raids against rebel-held Hammuriyeh in the besieged Eastern Ghouta area, located east of Damascus.
The Observatory said 56 people were killed, among them six children. Only five of the dead were fighters, said the group close to the Syrian opposition that relies on a network of activists and medics on the ground.
Alloush’s Jaysh Al-Islam is the most powerful rebel group in Eastern Ghouta. Tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the area suffer extreme shortages of food and medicine, activists say.
Gunmen kidnap Libya deputy foreign minister
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Sunday 25 January 2015
Al-Baida, Libya: Gunmen kidnapped a Libyan deputy foreign minister from his hotel room on Sunday in the eastern city of Al-Baida where the recognized government is based, a ministry official said.
The kidnappers told staff they were members of the security forces when they entered the hotel before dawn, the official said, citing witnesses.
They drove deputy minister Hassan Al-Saghir off to an unknown destination.
No group immediately claimed his abduction but Libya has been rocked by a spate of kidnappings of both foreigners and Libyans since the overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.
The oil-rich North African nation is awash with weapons and has two rival governments and powerful militias battling for territory.
The internationally recognized government has been based in the remote east since an Islamist-backed militia alliance seized the capital last August.
Al-Baida lies 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Tripoli. The government established its headquarters in the city after intially taking refuge in the towns of Tobruk and Shohat further east.
Officials say 2 sons of Egypt’s Mubarak freed from prison
CAIRO — Egyptian security officials say two sons of ousted President Hosni Mubarak have been released from prison, nearly four years after they were first arrested along with their father.
The officials said the two, wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent Gamal, walked free from Torah Prison in a southern Cairo suburb shortly after daybreak on Monday and were believed to have headed to their respective homes in the capital.
The two along with their father still face a retrial on corruption charges. The two sons separately face trial on insider trading. They had been acquitted of other charges.
Mubarak stepped down in February 2011 in the face of a popular uprising. He and his two sons were arrested in April that year. — AP
34 die in Bangladesh vote protest violence
DHAKA — At least 34 people have died in Bangladesh and scores have been injured, most of them in firebomb attacks, amid rising political unrest fueled by a stand-off between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the main opposition leader.
The renewed political turmoil could cause a delay in shipments by the country’s $24-billion garment industry, already under pressure after a string of fatal accidents.
Begum Khaleda Zia, whose opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) boycotted the election on Jan. 5 last year, has demanded that Hasina and her government step down for a new vote under a caretaker administration.
Hasina has refused, instead tightening her grip by arresting key opposition leaders and clamping down on critical media as anti-government protests spread. The violence has worsened sharply since Jan. 5, the first anniversary of the vote.
Police said at least 25 people have died in arson attacks, including two on Friday. Eight more were killed in clashes with police, and one died following injuries from a crude bomb blast, they added. At least 50 people were injured, some critically, after opposition activists firebombed several vehicles in the capital, Dhaka, and surrounding districts, police and witnesses said.
In Dhaka, at least 29 people suffered burns after attackers hurled petrol bombs at a bus, police said.
“Nine are in critical condition,” said Mohammad Sajjat Khandakar, a doctor at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, which has been struggling to deal with growing numbers of the injured.
More than 7,000 opposition activists have been detained since the anniversary, Industry Minister Amir Hossain Amu, the head of a government law and order panel, has said.
The opposition called for another 36-hour countrywide strike from Sunday morning to protest against the arrests and “oppression” of its leaders during an indefinite transport blockade it launched.
Khaleda called the blockade after she was prevented from holding a mass rally in Dhaka on the Jan. 5 anniversary.
Legal action could be considered against Khaleda for ordering the killing of innocent people, said Health Minister Mohammed Nasim.
“They should immediately stop the killing of innocent people, children, woman, laborers,” he told reporters on Saturday after visiting the burns victims.
BNP leaders were not immediately available to comment on the threat of legal action.
Hasina and Khaleda have alternated as prime minister for most of the past two decades in a fierce rivalry marked by periods of widespread political violence.
The United States, the European Union and Britain have voiced concern and urged all Bangladeshi parties to engage in dialogue. — Reuters
Bombings kill 12 civilians in Baghdad
BAGHDAD — Officials say two bombings in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, have killed at least 12 civilians. A police officer says the deadliest attack took place in the capital’s Bab Al-Sharji area, where a bomb went off Sunday outside a small restaurant, killing five civilians and wounding 11. He says another bombing in the central Sibaa area killed three civilians and wounded 11. A health official confirmed the casualty figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings. Iraq sees near-daily attacks, mainly targeting the country’s Shiite majority and security forces. The attacks often are claimed by the self-proclaimed Islamic State group, which seized about a third of the country last year. — AP