Thursday, December 16, 2010

More heavy snowfall cripples Germany

Recent overnight snowfall in Germany has led to many transportation cancelations and inconveniences, leaving parts of the country covered in frost.

Germany's eastern Brandenburg state has reported that a Romanian lorry loaded with furniture skidded off a main highway and crashed into a guarding rail on Thursday. 

Brandenburg is one of Germany's 16 federal-states of Germany, located in the east of the country. 

The incident did not result in any casualties, only blocking the highway, causing heavy traffic for a few hours. 

The heavy overnight snowfall crippled transportation in Germany as hundreds of flights have been canceled at Germany's Frankfurt airport, while nearly all traveling by train has been canceled or delayed, AFP said. 

In the German capital of Berlin, city workers are on alert to clear out the snow near the city's main roads and tourist attractions such as the Brandenburg Gate. 

Many European countries such as Scotland and Switzerland have experienced their coldest temperatures in years. 

The cold wave is expected to continue across Europe, promising more snowfall and frost in Germany.

Clashes kill 11 in Somali capital

At least 11 people have died in fresh clashes between al-Shabab fighters and government-backed troops in Somalia's war-torn capital, Mogadishu, witnesses say.

Fierce gun battle and shelling rocked Mogadishu's northern districts of Hodan and Bondhere, where fighters from al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam attacked positions of pro-government forces backed by African Union peacekeepers, a Press TV correspondent said. 

Witnesses said incessant shelling destroyed residential areas, causing civilian casualties. 

“On Wednesday evening, I have seen the dead bodies of at least 11 civilians lying on the street of Boondhere,” an eyewitness told our correspondent. 

The village was turned into a battle field with the fighting raging on for more than seven hours, witnesses said. 

The seaside city has been the scene of heavy clashes between rival forces, which killed more than 30 people last week. 

Somalia has been marred by years of civil unrest since 1991 when warlords toppled former warlord Mohammad Siad Barre.

Pakistan closes strategic NW highway

Pakistan's government has closed Torkham strategic highway in its northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province for two days, provincial officials say.

Pakistani security officials said the reason for closing Torkham highway was maintaining security during Ashura mourning ceremonies marking the commemoration of the martyrdom of the third Shia Imam, Imam Hussein (PBUH), a Press TV correspondent reported on Thursday. 

Torkham strategic highway links Pakistan to neighboring Afghanistan. 

According to the officials, no fuel trucks destined for US-led NATO troops in war-torn Afghanistan are allowed to pass through Torkham highway. 

Pakistani officials have also banned the entry of Afghan refugees to Pakistani cities. 

Meanwhile, unknown militants set a NATO fuel truck on fire in southwestern Balochistan province. 

Armed militants stopped a NATO fuel truck and its driver as hostage at gunpoint. Later, they torched the truck in Kalat district, some 145 kilometers from the provincial capital, Quetta, on Wednesday. 

The fuel truck was carrying fuel for the US-led NATO troops stationed in war-ravaged Afghanistan. 

Security forces cordoned off the area and started search operation for arresting the attackers.

Police mull banning all UK protests

The British police chief says he is weighing up an option to ask the Home Secretary to enforce a ban on any future protest gatherings altogether across the UK.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson referred to the level of violence in recent student protests against the rise in tuition fees, saying that he does not rule out banning all future student protests across the country, the daily Independent reported. 

Tens of thousands of student protesters from universities, colleges and schools have been marching across England in protests against the huge hikes in tuition fees, together with the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance and proposed cuts in college funding. 

Police have arrested more than 180 people in London after four protests against the government's plan to increase the fees. 

The motion was voted on and approved last Thursday in defiance of the most violent protest scenes in and around Parliament Square where the clashes between police and protesters left 12 officers and more than 40 protesters injured. 

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner said banning students from marching was a power he had not ruled out using. 

"It is one of the tactics we will look at and something we will keep under review, and if we think it is the right thing to do then we will do it," said Sir Paul Stephenson. 

The head of the National Union of Students (NUS) dismissed the police chief's idea as in clear contrast to civil freedoms. 
"Peaceful protest is an integral part of our heritage and it is the responsibility of the police to help facilitate that", said the NUS president, Aaron Porter. 

Speaking about the suggestion that water cannons could be used to control crowds in the future, Sir Paul said that the force had ruled that option out three years ago but that officers were taking advice from colleagues in Northern Ireland about its efficacy in London.

US airport attack plotter sentenced

John F. Kennedy International Airport, in New York
A Guyanese national has been sentenced to life in prison for allegedly masterminding an attempt to blow up the fuel system at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.

Former Guyanamese lawmaker Abdul Kadir, 58, was handed a life term on Wednesday for involvement in a 2007 plot to explode fuel tanks and the fuel pipeline under the airport, according to a statement from the US Eastern District Court of New York, CNN reported. 

US District Judge Dora Irizarry said Kadir has been captured in surveillance video recordings while discussing plans with Russell Defreitas -- a US citizen born in Guyana. 

She said the footage proved Abdul Kadir played a key role in the plot. 

Defreitas, also convicted and arrested for co-plotting the attack, still awaits his sentencing. 

During a four-week trial back in August, a federal jury had found Kadir guilty of conspiring to explode the fuel tanks and pipelines at the international New York airport. 

Prosecutors alleged that Kadir and Defreitas planned to cause a massive explosion by igniting the fuel tanks. 

Defreitas allegedly provided information on the facilities and layout matters while Kadir, an engineer, contributed in technical aspects. 

The two were arrested on charges of multiple counts of conspiracy back in 2007. Kadir has denied the charges.

Pakistan condemns Chabahar bombing

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik
Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik has expressed Islamabad's sorrow over the deaths of dozens of people in the Wednesday terrorist attack in southeastern Iran.

During a telephone conversation with Iran's Ambassador to Islamabad Mashallah Shakeri late on Wednesday, Malik offered his country's sympathy to the families of the victims from the deadly bombing in the Iranian city of Chabahar. 

More than 33 people died in the massive explosion that targeted a mourning procession marking the anniversary of the third Shia Imam Hussein's martyrdom in the port city in Sistan-Baluchestan province. 

The Pakistani official said his country's intelligence services are ready to cooperate with their Iranian counterpart to help track down the perpetrators behind the terrorist move. 

Bilateral intelligence and security cooperation would help the two nations fully prevent such incidents, Malik said. 

The remarks come amid reports showing the elements involved in the Chabahar attack had received terrorist training in Pakistan. 

The Iranian envoy, for his part, highlighted the significance of a joint campaign against terrorism in the region, adding that failure in taking serious measures to tackle the issue could destabilize the region. 

“It is natural that none of the governments and nations will be immune from the repercussions of such conditions,” Shakeri warned. 

Iranian lawmakers on Thursday called on Islamabad to do more to wipe out terrorism the country nurtures in its lawless regions.
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