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Islamic State claims suicide attack by British bomber near Mosul

February 20, 2017


© AFP/File | An Iraqi special forces Counter Terrorism Service member shoots at a drone flown by Islamic State group jihadists in Mosul’s al-Rifaq neighbourhood on January 8, 2017

BAGHDAD (AFP) – The Islamic State group on Monday claimed responsibility for a suicide attack near Mosul it said was carried out by a British suicide bomber, the SITE Intelligence Group reported.”The martyrdom-seeking brother Abu Zakariya al-Britani — may Allah accept him — detonated his explosives-laden vehicle on a headquarters of the Rafidhi army and its militias in Tal Kisum village, southwest of Mosul,” the claim quoted by SITE said.

The IS statement did not say when the bombing occurred.

The jihadist group uses the word “rafidha”, which means “rejectionists”, to refer to Shiite Muslims in a derogatory way because it considers them heretics.

Forces from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation), a paramilitary umbrella dominated by Shiite militias backed by Tehran, are active in the area mentioned in the statement.

They are fighting alongside other Iraqi forces — including the army and the federal police — as part of a push that started on Sunday to retake the west bank of Mosul.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi forces launched a massive offensive on October 17 to retake the city, which is Iraq’s second largest and the only remaining major stronghold of the jihadists in the country.

They retook control of the eastern side of Mosul last month.

IS fighters of a variety of nationalities, including Britons, have carried out suicide attacks on many occasions in Iraq and Syria in the past three years.

The IS statement said that the British fighter’s attack, and that of another suicide bomber of Iraqi nationality, caused many casualties but AFP could not immediately verify the claim.


By Sara Elizabeth Williams and 

Plus Reuters

British jihadist suicide bomber blew himself up attacking Iraqi forces as they close in on Western Mosul, according to Islamic State propaganda.

The bomber identified as Abu Zakiira attacked the Iraqi army in the village tal kisoom, south west of Iraq’s second largest city, it is claimed.

Iraqi forces on Monday continued a ground offensive to dislodge Isil militants from their remaining stronghold in western Mosul.

Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister, on Sunday announced the start of the campaign, asking Iraqi forces to “respect human rights” during the battle, after a series of shocking videos and images depicting abuse by uniformed men emerged.

US-backed Iraqi forces, including elite units and the federal police, snaked north through the outlying areas of western Mosul on Sunday, backed by coalition air support.

SAS troops also joined the battle alongside US special forces, embedded with Iraqi and Kurdish units under Operation Shader, the codename for Britain’s involvement in the war on Isil.

Officials on the scene described a well-planned campaign delivering early results, with units capturing the villages of Athbah and al-Lazzagah, both near Mosul airport.

 Iraqi security forces advance towards the south of Mosul
Iraqi security forces advance towards the south of Mosul CREDIT: KHALID AL MOUSILY/REUTERS

The campaign is expected to move north towards Mosul’s crowded city centre, where militants are thought to have entrenched themselves amidst an array of booby-traps, IEDs and human shields.

Up to 400,000 civilians could be displaced by the offensive as residents of western Mosul suffer food and fuel shortages and markets are closed, the United Nations’ humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, said.

About 650,000 people are thought to be living in western Mosul and rights groups have voiced concern that civilians, particularly children, could become trapped in what may become a bloody and violent battle.

Since Isil took control of Mosul in 2014, families living there have experienced physical beatings and psychological torment.  Even young children, with no school to go to, are shown screenings of executions.

Civilians are banned from having the internet and mobile phones, while televisions and games consoles were removed from homes by the regime. Women are forced to fully cover their bodies.

People who have managed to escape from the city to emergency camps have described being beaten and imprisoned for possessing cigarettes. But the violence won’t necessarily end when the group is defeated.

Once Iraqi forces clear areas of militants, they face the task of processing those left behind, which includes identifying Isil members and supporters.

The launch of the new offensive came as graphic videos emerged of men in Iraqi security forces uniforms taunting, beating and even executing unidentified, unarmed people on the streets of Mosul.

In a statement alleging abuses by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s security forces, Human Rights Watch warned: “Legitimate security concerns do not give security forces license to beat, manhandle or use electric shocks on children.”

 Iraqi security forces advance towards the western side of Mosul, Iraq
Iraqi security forces advance towards the western side of Mosul, Iraq CREDIT: KHALID AL-MOUSILY/REUTERS

Insignias visible in the videos identify the abusers as members of various Iraqi forces, including the elite Counter Terrorism Service, the federal police and various Shi’ite militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces.

Several of these groups have been trained by coalition partners in the laws of war.

Calling the footage “deeply disturbing”, the UN’s commissioner for human rights urged the Iraqi government to investigate.

Iraqi planes dropped millions of leaflets on western Mosul warning residents that the battle to dislodge Isil was imminent, the Iraqi Defence Ministry said on Saturday. The leaflets told the jihadists to surrender “or face a fatal end”.

Commanders expect the battle to be more difficult than in the east because tanks and armoured vehicles cannot pass through its narrow alleyways.

The militants have developed a network of passageways and tunnels to enable them to hide and fight among civilians, disappear after hit-and-run operations and track government troop movements, according to residents.

Western Mosul contains the old city centre, with its ancient souks, Grand Mosque and most government administrative buildings.

Watch | Children caught in the crossfire in battle for Mosul


It was from the pulpit of the Grand Mosque that Isil leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-styled “caliphate” over parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

The city, Iraq’s second biggest, is the largest urban centre captured by Islamic State in both countries and its de facto capital in Iraq. Raqqa is its capital in Syria.

Isil was thought to have up to 6,000 fighters in Mosul when the government’s offensive started in mid-October. Of those, more than 1,000 have been killed, according to Iraqi estimates.

The remainder now face a 100,000-strong force made up of Iraqi armed forces, including elite paratroopers and police, Kurdish forces and Iranian-trained Shi’ite paramilitary groups.

The westward road that links the city to Syria was cut in November by the Shi’ite paramilitary known as Popular Mobilisation. The militants are in charge of the road that links Mosul to Tal Afar, a town they control 60km (40 miles) to the west.

Watch | People in Mosul desperate for aid


Coalition aircraft and artillery have continued to bombard targets in the west during the break that followed the taking of eastern Mosul.

The US, which has deployed more than 5,000 troops in the fighting, leads an international coalition providing air and ground support, including artillery fire, to the Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Isil imposed a radical version of Islam in Mosul, banning cigarettes, televisions and radios, and forcing men to grow beards and women to cover from head to toe. Citizens who failed to comply risked death.

Capturing Mosul would effectively end the Sunni group’s ambitions for territorial rule in Iraq. The militants are expected to continue to wage an insurgency, however, carrying out suicide bombings and inspiring lone-wolf actions abroad.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte could be impeached if murder, death squad allegations can be proven — “Betrayal of public trust.”

February 20, 2017
By  – Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 07:45 PM February 20, 2017

JANUARY 31, 2017 Sen. Dick Gordon presiding over the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations' second public hearing on the Jack Lam alleged bribery scandal. INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON


It would be betrayal of public trust, a ground for impeachment, if the allegations were indeed true that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the killings of criminals in Davao City when he was still its mayor, Senator Richard Gordon said on Monday.

Gordon, who is part of the Senate majority bloc, said Duterte’s accusers could bring the issue before either the Office of the Ombudsman or the House of Representatives.

“Ang advice ko, kung talagang meron kaso yung nagpapadala nyan, file nyo na sa Ombudsman. Kasi ang Ombudsman pwede pa ring imbestigahan ang Pangulo pero ipa-file nya sa Kongreso kung gustong i-impeach. Kung gustong i-impeach nasa Ombudsman yun,” he said in a phone patched interview.


The senator was reacting to SPO3 Arthur Lascañas allegations that the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) existed and that then Mayor Duterte had ordered them to kill criminals in Davao City.

This was contrary to Lascañas’ earlier testimony before the Senate committee on justice and human rights chaired by Gordon when he first denied the existence of DDS.

READ: Davao cops says Duterte ordered killings

Asked if Lascañas’ expose was a ground for impeachment against Duterte, Gordon said: “Well yeah. Betrayal of public trust yan e, kung totoo.”

He said the issue could still be used in an impeachment case against the President even if the alleged offenses were committed when he was still mayor.

“(Yes, because) it goes into character e. It goes into betrayal of public trust,” he said.

But Gordon doubts whether an impeachment case against Duterte would succeed in the House since he said it has always been dominated by administration allies.

“Palagay ko hindi kasi hawak nila yung lower house. Yan ang problema lagi nang nagpa-file ng impeachment e,” he said.

(I don’t think so because they control the lower house. That has always been the problem when you file an impeachment case.)

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte could be impeached if murder, death squad allegations can be proven

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Pirates attack Vietnamese-flagged cargo ship off the southern Philippines — One killed

February 20, 2017


© AFP/File | Pirates have attacked a Vietnamese-flagged cargo ship off the southern Philippines

MANILA (AFP) – Pirates have attacked a Vietnamese-flagged cargo ship off the southern Philippines, killing one seaman and abducting at least six others in a region notorious for such attacks, officials said Monday.

The MV Giang Hai was attacked by pirates Sunday near the southernmost Philippine island of Baguan near the Malaysian coast, said coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo.

Philippine coast guard speedboats reached the scene but found one Vietnamese dead and at least six others abducted, said military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo.

Arevalo said it was too early to say if the attackers were members of the Abu Sayyaf, a Filipino Muslim extremist group that has been abducting people for ransom in the south for decades.

The waters between Malaysia and the southern Philippines have become increasingly dangerous in recent years as Filipino Muslim extremists have taken to piracy, boarding ships and seizing seamen for ransom.

Maritime officials have warned of an emerging “Somalia-type” situation in the waters if the attacks are not addressed.

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said earlier this month that his country plans to ask longstanding defence ally the United States to hold joint exercises in the southern waters.

President Rodrigo Duterte has also urged China to launch patrols off the piracy-plagued waters.

The International Maritime Bureau said in January the number of maritime kidnappings hit a 10-year high in 2016, with waters off the southern Philippines becoming increasingly dangerous.


Retired Philippine policeman says current Philippine President Duterte ordered killings by death squads during his 22 years as Davao mayor

February 20, 2017


Mon Feb 20, 2017 | 6:02am EST

By Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales | MANILA

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte operated a “death squad” while mayor of Davao city, giving cash and orders for police and assassins to murder criminals, according to a former policeman who said he was involved in the clandestine killings.

In remarks contradicting his denial under oath last year of the existence of such a “death squad”, Arturo Lascanas said he was one of the ringleaders of the group that began operating when Duterte became mayor of the southern city in 1988.

Duterte has repeatedly denied involvement in vigilantism or summary executions, either as president or during his 22 years as Davao mayor. His police chief has denied there was ever a death squad in Davao, describing it as fiction created by the media.

On Monday, Lascanas asserted that the Davao death squad was no myth and he was one of those who carried out secret killings of drug dealers and criminals at Duterte’s behest.

“It is true, the Davao death squad, or DDS, really exists,” Lascanas told reporters at the Senate in Manila.

Arturo Lascanas, a retired Davao policeman, speaks during a news conference at the Senate headquarters in metro Manila, Philippines February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

“When Mayor Duterte sat down as mayor for the first time, we started what is called ‘salvaging’ of people, these people are suspects committing crime in Davao.”

“We implemented the personal orders of Mayor Duterte to us.”

Duterte’s legal counsel, Salvadore Panelo, said Lascanas’ allegations were a “continuing fabrication” and “another false narration”.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said allegations that Duterte was linked to extrajudicial killings had been proved false by numerous independent agencies.

“Our people are aware that this character assassination is nothing but vicious politics,” he told CNN Philippines.

Lascanas said he had decided his “obedience and loyalty” to Duterte must end and had promised God that he would confess.

He is the second man to go public with claims of involvement in murders allegedly ordered by Duterte, the hugely popular president nicknamed “the Punisher”, whose ruthless approach to tackling crime has won public approval.

Image may contain: 1 person, sunglasses and closeup

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte


The account given by Lascanas was similar to that of hit man Edgar Matobato, who testified in September he had also been a death squad member in Davao and he had seen Duterte shoot a man dead and give orders for police to kill criminals.

Senator Antonio Trillanes, a critic of Duterte who appeared at the same news conference as Lascanes, said he would file a motion for a Senate investigation into the so-called Davao death squad.

Another anti-Duterte Senator, Leila de Lima, who led a Senate investigation last year into the Davao killings, described Lascanas’ account as “a very, very explosive development”.

Human rights groups have documented about 1,400 suspicious killings in Davao while Duterte was mayor and critics say the war on drugs he unleashed as president has the same hallmarks.

More than 7,700 people have been killed in the latest crackdown, some 2,500 in what police say are shootouts during raids and sting operations.

Most of the rest are under investigation and activists believe many were extrajudicial killings.

Lascanas said death squad members in Davao got 20,000 to 100,000 pesos ($398 to $1,990) per hit, depending on the target’s value. Some members, he said, were former Communist rebels.

He confessed to the unsolved murder of a Davao radio show host who was staunchly critical of Duterte.

Lascanas detailed his involvement in the bombing of a mosque and the killing of the family of a suspected kidnapper. The victims included a pregnant woman, a small boy and an elderly person.

Both attacks were ordered by Duterte, he said.

“This is how it began, all the killings we did in Davao, whether we bury or we throw in the sea, we are being paid by Mayor Duterte,” he said.

(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Philippines Says Vietnamese Ship Attacked; 1 Dead, 6 Abducted — Identity of the attackers remains unknown but pirates suspected

February 20, 2017

The Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines — Gunmen attacked a Vietnamese cargo ship off the Philippines’ southern tip, killing a Vietnamese crewman and abducting six others including the vessel’s captain, the Philippine coast guard and the ship’s owner said Monday.

 February 20, 2017 | 11:18 am GMT+7

1 killed as Vietnamese vessel attacked by pirates near Philippines

The Giang Hai, which has been attacked near the Philippines on Sunday. Photo provided by the operator

Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said the Vietnamese coast guard reported that the MV Giang Hai, with 17 crewmen on board, was attacked by pirates Sunday night about 20 miles (31 kilometers) north of Pearl Bank in Tawi-Tawi, the Philippines’ southernmost province.

No automatic alt text available.

Personnel of the Philippine coast guard, police and marines found the ship had drifted near the province’s Baguan Island. Upon boarding the vessel, they found 10 Vietnamese sailors alive and one dead.

Pham Van Hien, head of the safety department of Pham Hai shipping company, the owner of the cargo ship based in Vietnam’s northern port city of Hai Phong, said the captain was among those abducted. The attack occurred while the vessel was transporting 4,500 tons of cement from Indonesia to the Philippines, he said.

The gunmen destroyed some of the ship’s equipment, but the 10 remaining crew members managed to sail the ship, Hien said.

Hien said the company had informed the IMB Piracy Reporting Center in Malaysia seeking its help in securing the return of the kidnapped crew members.

Balilo said pursuit operations are underway, but the location of the abducted crewmen and the identity of the attackers remain unknown.

Abu Sayyaf militants and allied gunmen are suspected of being behind previous sea assaults in the area, including an attack last November on another Vietnamese cargo ship whose captain and five crewmen were also kidnapped. They are still being held.

Ransom kidnappings of Malaysian, Indonesian and Vietnamese crewmen have continued despite heightened coastal and border security.


Associated Press writer Tran Van Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, contributed to this report.

The remaining 10 crew members were left on the adrift vessel.

The operator of the Giang Hai ship said it was carrying cement from Indonesia and was attacked at around 6 p.m. on Sunday near the Sulu Archipelago to the southwest of the Philippines.

The pirates damaged the boat and let it drift, shot Vu Duc Hanh, 21, from the northern city of Hai Phong, before they left with six other crew members including the captain.

An official from Vietnam’s transport ministry said a Vietnamese cargo vessel in the area has reached the ship and towed it to a Malaysian port. Filipino police have started an investigation.

There has been no update on the abductees.

Vietnamese authorities plan to seek help from the Filipino government to demand the release of the crew members.

Iraqi forces advance on Mosul

February 20, 2017
Members of the Iraqi rapid response forces fire a missile toward Islamic State militants during a battle in south of Mosul, Iraq February 19, 2017

Iraqi battlefield rocket launch. Credit Reuters

BBC News

Iraqi government forces have resumed their push towards western Mosul, the last major stronghold of so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

Artillery fire could be heard in the distance, reports the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville, who is embedded with government troops.

Launching the operation on Sunday, the army seized several villages.

The eastern part of the city was liberated from IS last month after heavy fighting.

On Monday, US Defence Secretary James Mattis arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit.

Iraqi soldier during a Mosul offensive. Photo: 20 February 2017

Iraqi troops seized several villages during the first day of the offensive

He told reporters the US military was “not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil”, seemingly to allay concerns after Donald Trump last month said the US “should have kept the oil” when it pulled troops out of Iraq in 2011.

Thousands of Iraqi troops, backed by artillery and air power, are involved in the assault to retake Mosul.

Their progress has been slowed down by huge improvised explosive devices planted by IS along the route of the offensive, our correspondent says.

Bomb disposal teams are being used to clear them.

In their assault, Iraqi soldiers have been using heavy weapons, including rocket missile launchers, our correspondent adds.

On the ground with Iraqi forces

Photo taken by Quentin Sommerville from Iraqi convoy

The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville is embedded with Iraqi forces as they advance on Mosul. He is tweeting updates as his convoy attempts to move forward:

04:15 GMT: Convoy halted by suspected roadside bomb – IS have planted huge improvised explosives devices along the route.

04:19 GMT: The EOD, or bomb disposal, team are attempting to safely detonate the device.

04:36 GMT: Bomb disposal team heading back to the suspected roadside bomb for a second time. It seems their controlled explosion hasn’t worked.

04:36 GMT: No bang. And we can proceed.

Iraqi member of EOD team inspecting ground for secondary bombs, outside Mosul (20 Feb 2017)

An EOD team member looks for secondary bombs before the convoy can proceed further

04:36 GMT: EOD team checking for secondary bombs.

04:36 GMT: This will be slow progress if it continues.

Follow Quentin Sommerville on Twitter

Iraqi forces have now all but surrounded the western part of Mosul.

Concern has been voiced by the UN about the welfare of civilians trapped in Mosul, amid reports that they could number up to 650,000.

Leaflets warning residents of an imminent offensive were earlier dropped over the west of the city.

Military officials say the western side of the city, with its narrow, winding streets, may prove a bigger challenge than the east.

They say that western Mosul, although slightly smaller than the east, is more densely populated and includes districts that are seen as pro-IS.

All bridges from there to the west of the city, across the Tigris river, were destroyed.

The offensive against the eastern part of the city was launched on 17 October, more than two years after jihadists overran Mosul before seizing control of much of northern and western Iraq.

The UN said in late January that almost half of all the casualties in Mosul were civilians.

At least 1,096 have been killed and 694 injured across Nineveh province since the start of October.

Map of Mosul city showing areas of control

Kim Jong-nam death: Network releases purported CCTV footage of assassination

February 20, 2017

Leaked CCTV footage allegedly shows Kim Jong-nam being assassinated

Warning: Graphic content.


Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the video, and police officials were not immediately available for comment.

Kim Jong-nam killing: CCTV footage appears to show attack on North Korean

CCTV footage purportedly showing the deadly assault in Malaysia on the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by a woman, who is believed to have wiped a fast-acting poison on his face, has been released by Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV.

Kim Jong-nam died last Monday a short time after the attack in the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where he had been preparing to take a flight to Macau.

Who killed Kim Jong-nam?

Malaysian police have detained four suspects — a Vietnamese woman, an Indonesian woman, a Malaysian man, and North Korean man — and are on the hunt for four other North Koreans who fled the country on the day of the attack.

At least three of the wanted North Koreans caught an Emirates flight to Dubai from Jakarta late on the same day, an Indonesian immigration office official said.

It is reported they then flew to Pyongyang, although Malaysian police have not confirmed this.

The immigration spokesman revealed the three suspects Ri Jae Nam, Hong Song Hac and Ri Ji Hyon flew on Emirates flight 359 from Soekarno Hatta international airport to Dubai on February 13.

A fourth North Korean man also wanted by Malaysian police was recorded as departing Jakarta’s international airport on January 19.

The grainy closed circuit television footage, which has been released on several websites, showed from two different angles a woman wearing a white top grab a man’s face from behind with both hands and walk away.

A second woman was also seen walking swiftly away in another direction after the assault, though it was unclear if she had participated in the attack.

The portly, balding middle-aged man was seen stumbling and wiping his face after the assault, and later clips showed him seeking help from people while gesturing to his face and then being escorted to a clinic.

More footage showed him inside the clinic seeking medical assistance.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the videos, and police officials were not immediately available for comment.

In a press conference on Sunday, police said the victim complained to the airport customer service personnel that two women had “wiped his face with a liquid”.

Malaysia recalls ambassador over autopsy spat

The diplomatic rift between Malaysia and North Korea is deepening, with North Korea saying it cannot trust the investigation by Malaysian police and demanding a joint probe.

The Malaysians went ahead with the autopsy despite North Korea’s opposition, saying they were simply following protocol.

Who’s who in North Korea

In a five-page statement read to the press, North Korean ambassador Kang Chol said the country also questioned the identity of the dead man, saying he was only known to them as Kim Chol from his passport.

“It has been seven days since the incident but there is no clear evidence on the cause of death and at the moment we cannot trust the investigation by the Malaysian police,” the ambassador said in Kuala Lumpur.

“It only increases the doubt that there could be someone else’s hand behind the investigation,” he said.

“All the happenings clearly show that this incident is politicised by Malaysia in collusion with [South Korea].”

The ambassador then demanded a joint investigation into the death of its citizen and said Malaysia should be held responsible for the “many rumours” which have defamed North Korea’s image.

North Korea has also demanded to speak to the two women who have been arrested.

On Monday, the Malaysian foreign ministry said in a statement it would recall its ambassador to Pyongyang over the comments.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the country had no reason “to paint North Korea in a bad light” and would be objective in its inquiry.

Malaysia’s health minister, Subramaniam Sathasivam, said the autopsy results could be released as early as Wednesday.

Malaysian authorities have given Kim Jong-nam’s next of kin two weeks to come forward to help in the investigation.

South Korean and US officials believe Kim Jong-nam was killed by agents from the reclusive North.

South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn told a meeting of South Korea’s National Security Council on Monday that it was nearly certain that North Korea was behind the killing.

Kim Jong-nam, 46, who had been living in the Chinese territory of Macau under Beijing’s protection, had spoken out publicly against his family’s dynastic control of the isolated, nuclear-armed nation.

Timeline of suspected NK killings

  • 1968: Commandos, dressed as SK military, attempt to assassinate President Park Chung-hee. Stopped 800 metres from the Blue House, 29 of 31 would-be assassins were killed.
  • 1974: Suspected NK agent shoots at Park during Independence Day speech, missing and instead killing his wife.
  • 1983: Bomb explodes at Myanmar memorial during SK President Chun Doo-hwan’s visit. SK foreign minister and 20 others killed. One bomber confesses to being NK military.
  • 1987: Two suspected NK agents plant bomb on SK plane from Baghdad to Seoul. Bomb explodes after pair disembarks in Abu Dhabi — 115 people, mostly from SK, die.
  • 1997: NK defector Lee Han-young, Kim Jong-nam’s cousin, is shot and killed in SK by two people who were never caught. Suspected to be NK agents.
  • 2010: SK authorities arrest two NK operatives the South say were on a mission to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, a defector and former NK Workers’ Party secretary.
  • 2011: A NK agent was jailed in the South for attempting to assassinate Park Sang-hak, a NK defector, with a poison-tipped needle.

Source: Reuters


Corruption Charged: China jails former deputy Communist Party boss of Beijing — Sentenced to only 13 years

February 20, 2017


Mon Feb 20, 2017 | 4:35am EST

Iran says Saudi, Israel working to damage country — Israel and Saudis say Iran exports terrorism by supporting armed Shiite movements in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain

February 20, 2017


© AFP/File | Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran on Monday criticised what it said was coordination between Israel and regional rival Saudi Arabia, describing attempts to create an “international atmosphere” against Tehran.Foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the two countries “imagine they can compensate for their numerous defeats and failures in the region by creating an international atmosphere against our country.”

The alignment is “not accidental”, he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

Israel and Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of fuelling regional conflicts by supporting armed Shiite movements in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.

Iran rejects the accusations and says Riyadh must stop its support for Sunni “terrorists” like the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington last week and said there were now “broader conditions for broad peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Arab countries”.

Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar do not have diplomatic relations with Israel — although that does not prevent them from sharing informal links.

US President Donald Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has gone on record pushing for cooperation between the Jewish state and Sunni Arab nations to oppose Iran.

“It’s unfortunate that this occupying regime (of Israel) is counting on the coordination and collaboration of an Islamic country to further its perpetual anti-Iranian policies,” Ghasemi said.


Donald Trump admits ‘Sweden attack’ comments were based on debunked Fox News report

February 20, 2017


By The Telegraph

Aday after falsely suggesting there was an immigration-related security incident in Sweden, US president Donald Trump said on Sunday that his comment was based on a television report he had seen.

Mr Trump, who in his first weeks in office has tried to tighten US borders sharply for national security reasons, told a rally on Saturday that Sweden was having serious problems with immigrants.

“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” Mr Trump said. “Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

No incident occurred in Sweden and the country’s baffled government asked the US State Department to explain.

“My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden,” Mr Trump said in a tweet on Sunday.

My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.

His supporters were also quick to defend the comments, suggesting the media is intent on covering up “what migrants have done to Sweden”.

Trump has very cleverly got the world talking about the problems in Sweden. The big cover up not now going to work.

Fox News ran a segment on Friday night on the Tucker Carlson Tonight that reported Sweden had accepted more than 160,000 asylum-seekers last year but that only 500 had found jobs. The report went on to say that a surge in gun violence and rape had followed the influx of immigrants.

A White House spokeswoman told reporters on Sunday that Mr Trump had been referring generally to rising crime and not a specific incident in the Scandinavian country.

Liberals desperately trying to cover up the dark reality Trump referred to in Sweden

Sweden’s crime rate has fallen since 2005, official statistics show, even as it has taken in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq.

Mr Trump’s comment confounded Stockholm. “We are trying to get clarity,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson said.

Sweden’s embassy in the United States repeated Mr Trump’s tweet about having seen the Fox report, and added, “We look forward to informing the US administration about Swedish immigration and integration policies.”

Mr Trump has been widely criticised for making assertions with little or no supporting evidence.

He has said more than three million people voted fraudulently in the US election, which officials say is false, and incorrectly stated that he won by the most decisive margin in decades.

Over the past few weeks, Mr Trump’s senior advisor Kellyanne Conway has also referred to a “Bowling Green Massacre” that never occurred, and she was caught up in a public feud with CNN.

What happened in Sweden Friday night? Did they catch the Bowling Green Massacre perpetrators?

Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom appeared to respond to Trump on Saturday by posting on Twitter an excerpt of a speech in which she said democracy and diplomacy “require us to respect science, facts and the media.”

Her predecessor was less circumspect.

“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,” former foreign minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter.

Other Swedes mocked Mr Trump by posting pictures of reindeer, meatballs and people assembling IKEA furniture.

“#lastnightinsweden my son dropped his hotdog in the campfire. So sad!” Twitter user Adam Bergsveen wrote.

Addressing Mr Trump in an article on Sunday, the Aftonbladet tabloid wrote, “This happened in Sweden Friday night, Mr President,” and then listed in English some events that included a man being treated for severe burns, an avalanche warning and police chasing a drunken driver.

One Twitter user said, “After the terrible events #lastnightinSweden, IKEA have sold out of this” and posted a mock Ikea instruction manual on how to build a “Border Wall.”

Earlier this month Sweden’s deputy prime minister Isabella Lovin posted a picture of herself online surrounded by female colleagues as she signed the proposal for Sweden’s new climate law.

At the time Ms Lovin declined to say whether she was mirroring an image of Mr Trump signing an executive order on female reproductive rights surrounded by male colleagues.

“We are a feminist government, which shows in this photo,” she said. “Ultimately it is up to the observer to interpret the photo.”