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02 Jan 2010 description

Beirut_(dpa) _ A Palestinian was injured Saturday when members from his mainstream Fatah movement clashed with followers of the Sunni fundamentalist terrorist group, Jund al-Sham, in southern Lebanon, a Palestinian source said.

The armed clashes erupted in the southern Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh.

01 Jan 2010 description

Manila_(dpa) _ Philippine volcanologists on Saturday lowered the alert level at the country's most active volcano amid decreasing activity three weeks after it began spewing lava and plumes of ash.

The lowered alert level prompted local authorities to start allowing more than 34,000 villagers to return to their homes after they had been forced to spend the Christmas and New Year's holidays in evacuation centres.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said there was "less probability of a hazardous explosive eruption" of the Mayon Volcano …

29 Dec 2009 description

Baghdad/Mosul_(dpa) _ At least four people were killed and 16 injured in fresh attacks in Baghdad and the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday, police said.

Two people were killed and 13 injured in a morning bomb blast near the Iraqi Ministry of Transport, police told the German Press Agency dpa.

A source at Baghdad's al-Bayina al-Jadida newspaper said the daily had been the target of that blast, which he told the Aswat al-Iraq news agency took place in a building behind the paper's offices.

Some 400 kilometres north of the capital, in the troubled city of Mosul, …

29 Dec 2009 description

Harare_(dpa) _ Twenty-two people, mainly children under five years, have died of measles in Zimbabwe in the past three weeks, state media reported Tuesday.

The Herald daily, which is close to President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, said the 22 had missed out on being vaccinated when the health department undertook a nationwide mass immunization programme earlier in the year.

All 22 dead were from the Makoni area, about 200 kilometres east of Harare, where a further 90 people have also been confirmed infected by the highly contagious respiratory virus.

"This is an …

29 Dec 2009 description

Manila_(dpa) _ Four people displaced by an erupting volcano in the eastern Philippines have died due to various ailments in evacuation centres, officials said Tuesday.

Mayon Volcano in Albay province, 360 kilometres south-east of Manila, has been erupting since December 14, forcing 47,563 residents to flee their homes at the foot of the mountain.

The victims were a 3-year-old boy who died from parasite infection and three elderly residents who suffered heart attacks, said Luis Mendoza of the provincial health office.

The deaths occurred in different evacuation centres in two towns …

29 Dec 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ Commercial and other activities in Pakistan's financial hub of Karachi were at a standstill Tuesday, as the casualty count in an overnight suicide bombing at a Shiite event rose to 43, officials and media reports said.

Rescue services worked through the night to put out fires at several markets, set by angry mobs after an attacker blew himself up Monday among a procession of Shiite Muslims commemorating the death of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein.

Sagheer Ahmad, health minister in the southern province of Sindh, of which Karachi is the …

29 Dec 2009 description

Amman_(dpa) _ Activists in charge of a 210-truck convoy carrying humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Gaza Strip said Tuesday that they had decided to change their route after Egyptian authorities blocked their entry to the Red Sea port of Nuweiba.

The convoy, known as Viva Palestina, will instead travel from the Jordanian port of Aqaba, where it has been stuck for four days, to Amman, before heading to Syria, said Ali Abul-Sukkar, a spokesman for the Jordanian Professional Associations Council, which is involved in the campaign.

The cargo will later be loaded onto a ship at the …

28 Dec 2009 description

Jerusalem_(dpa) _ Israel confirmed Monday that it is to build almost seven hundred new homes in Jewish sectors of occupied East Jerusalem, raising Palestinian ire, and risking that of its main patron, the United States.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to resume suspended Israeli-Palestinian peace talks without a complete Israeli halt to construction in its settlements and in East Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at first refused the demand, but in November announced a 109-month partial moratorium on settlement construction.

Some 198 homes will …

27 Dec 2009 description

Islamabad_(dpa) _ At least 11 people were killed and dozens injured in a suicide bombing that ripped through a gathering of Shiite Muslims in the Pakistani part of disputed Kashmir region on Sunday, officials said.

Separately, a bombing killed a government employee in Pakistan's tribal region near Afghan border and five of his family.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a procession of Shiite Muslims in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

"When the volunteers spotted the suicide bomber and challenged him, he blew himself up," local …

25 Dec 2009 description

Mosul_(dpa) _ Six people were injured on Friday in clashes between Iraq's Christian and Shabak minorities near a church in the northern Iraqi town of Bartala, witnesses said.

Witnesses in Bartala, 40 kilometres north of Mosul, told the German Press Agency dpa that fighting broke out between Shabak residents, who are Shiite Muslims, and Christians near the town's church after the Christmas service, following accusations that the Christians had torn down a poster of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Hussein, near the church.

Shiite Muslims are preparing for Ashura, a holiday …

24 Dec 2009 description

Manila_(dpa) _ The Philippines' most active volcano Thursday ejected more ash and lava as police and soldiers fanned out into danger zones to ensure that all homes have been evacuated.

Mayon Volcano in Albay province, 360 kilometres south-east of Manila, has been in a mild state of eruption since December 14, forcing more than 47,000 people to flee their homes.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology warned a hazardous and explosive eruption could occur within days as an "intense level of unrest continued to persist" at the volcano famous for its …

23 Dec 2009 description

Saud Abu Ramadan and Ofira Koopmans, dpa

Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza_(dpa) _ The tent city in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya looked gloomy on this grey and rainy December day.

Small children, barefoot and dirty, play in a cold pool of rain water in the centre of the camp in the al-Atatra neighbourhood, as their older siblings come "home" from the badly damaged nearby school to the NGO tents in which they spent the past year.

One year after last winter's war, hundreds of Palestinian families still live in tents, according to the United …

23 Dec 2009 description

Cairo_(dpa) _ Egypt on Wednesday opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip at the divided town of Rafah to allow some 500 Palestinian medical patients to cross, police said.

Police said the border was opened on Wednesday morning and would remain open until Thursday to allow Palestinian patients to cross into Egypt to receive medical treatment at hospitals in Cairo and to allow recovered Palestinian patients to return from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.

The move came amid increased controversy over Egypt's reported plans to build a reinforced steel wall along the length of its …

21 Dec 2009 description

Cairo/Sanaa_(dpa) _ The plight of civilians in northern Yemen worsening, and many people remain in areas too dangerous for aid agencies to reach them, a Red Cross official said Monday.

"The humanitarian situation is still deteriorating," Rabab al-Rifai with the International Committee of the Red Cross told the German Press Agency dpa in a phone interview from Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.

Saada governorate in the north, the main area affected by fighting between Shiite Houthi rebels and government forces, remained volatile.

A Houthi spokesman said Sunday that a Saudi …

21 Dec 2009 description

Beirut_(dpa) _ The Lebanese army arrested on Monday arrested "a group people" allegedly involved in vandalizing vehicles belonging to United Nations Interim Forces in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL), a Lebanese security source said.

Unknown assailants earlier Monday slashed the tyres of several vehicles belonging to the UNIFIL employees in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre, the source said.

The incident was being investigated by the Lebanese army and UNIFIL, according to UN spokesman Andrea Tennetti.

UNIFIL is based in the border town of Naquora, about 20 kilometres …

20 Dec 2009 description

The death toll continued Sunday to rise in Europe as the severe Arctic cold, blizzards and snowfalls kept a grip on the continent, causing major transport and energy disruptions.

From northern Europe to the Balkans, weather officials reported temperatures plunging overnight to as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius, while further snowfalls created havoc with rail services and left motorists stranded for hours on icy and snow-covered roads.

In Warsaw, police officials said 15 people froze to death on Saturday alone, bringing to 57 the number of people who have died in Poland from exposure …

19 Dec 2009 description

Manila_(dpa) _ More lava on Saturday flowed out of the crater of a restive volcano in the eastern Philippines, a sign of intensifying activity, government volcanologists said.

Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said his agency is on alert for a possible hazardous eruption of the Mayon Volcano in Albay province, 360 kilometres south of Manila.

The institute said it recorded 197 earthquakes and 15 ash explosions overnight.

"These explosions produced dirty white to grayish ash columns that reached heights from 100 to 2,000 …

18 Dec 2009 description

Michael Logan, dpa

Nairobi_(dpa) _ Almost two years have passed since Kenya erupted in an orgy of tribal violence sparked by disputed presidential elections, denting its reputation as one of Africa's most stable nations.

Former United Nations chief Kofi Annan quickly brokered a peace deal that was supposed to usher in a new era of reform, but progress has been painfully slow.

Now Annan is warning that time is running short for the Kenyan government to implement the reforms that analysts and observers say are crucial to avoid an even bloodier explosion at the next elections, …

18 Dec 2009 description

Michael Logan, dpa

Nairobi/Abuja_(dpa) _ Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta has enjoyed a rare period of peace at the tail end of 2009 as a government amnesty for oil militants bears fruit.

Oil production in the West African nation is rising again after three years of decline - which allowed Angola to surpass it as Africa's top oil exporter - and there is growing optimism that the seemingly unsolvable conflict may be at an end.

But one swallow does not make a spring, and much remains to be done to address the grievances of the region's main militant group, the …

17 Dec 2009 description

Nairobi/Mogadishu_(dpa) _ Somali insurgent group al-Shabaab on Thursday said it was banning the United Nations Mine Action agency from operating in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab, which is battling to topple the weak Western-backed government, said in a statement that Mine Action was paying the salaries of government forces and "surveying and signposting some of the most vital and sensitive areas" under insurgent control.

Somalia is awash with mines from earlier conflicts with Ethiopia.

The insurgent group, which controls much of south and central Somalia, has already served notice …