International News

Syria army launches assault in besieged Homs

Syrian troops and pro-regime militiamen fought their way into rebel-held neighbourhoods of the central city of Homs on Tuesday after besieging them for nearly two years.
Meanwhile, rebels elsewhere in the country have received for the first time at least 20 US-made TOW anti-tank missiles from a "Western source", a rebel official said.
The assault on Homs comes a day after the army recaptured the Christian town of Maalula in the strategic Qalamun region and as state media reported the country would soon move into election mode.
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Two dead, 293 missing in S. Korea ferry capsize

South Korean rescue teams, including elite navy SEAL divers, raced yesterday to find up to 293 people missing from a capsized ferry carrying 459 passengers and crew - mostly high school students bound for a holiday island.
Two people - a male student and a female crew member - were confirmed dead as the vessel sank 20 kilometres off the southern island of Byungpoong.
The government retracted an earlier announcement that 368 people had been rescued, and said it could only confirm that 164 people had been brought to safety.
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Expert's integrity comes under fire

South African prosecutor Gerrie Nel yesterday questioned the integrity of defence witness Roger Dixon as he testified in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial.
Dixon told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria he was not present when the police's forensic expert conducted a gunshot test he (Dixon) had testified about.
"Why would you identify gunshots if you weren't there?" Nel asked him during cross-examination. Dixon testified as part of Pistorius's defence.
"It's a serious issue to identify gunshots when he was not there," Nel told Judge Thokozile Masipa.
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Bouteflika urges Algerians to vote

Algerians weighed their options ahead of today's election, with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika urging a large turnout as he eyes a fourth term, his main rival warning of fraud and others demanding a boycott.
More than 260 000 police have deployed across the country to guarantee security in the 50 000 polling booths set up to accommodate the 23 million Algerians eligible to vote in the presidential race, which is being contest by six candidates.
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Putin warns of Ukraine civil war

Russian leader Vladimir Putin warned that Ukraine is on the verge of civil war, the Kremlin said yesterday, after the Kiev government sent in troops against pro-Moscow separatists in the east of the country.
“The Russian president remarked that the sharp escalation of the conflict has placed the country, in effect, on the verge of civil war,” the Kremlin said in a statement on telephone talks between Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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Reeva declared love in Valentine card

Reeva Steenkamp gave murder accused Oscar Pistorius a card declaring her love for him hours before he shot her dead in his Pretoria home.
“I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you,” she wrote in a Valentine’s Day card she gave her boyfriend before her death on February 14 last year.
Pistorius has been charged with murdering Steenkamp. He shot her through a locked toilet door in his townhouse.
He claims he mistook her for an intruder, and the shots were an accident.
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Nigerian capital beefs up security after deadly bombing

Nigeria police boosted security across Abuja yesterday after a bomb blast ripped through a packed bus station killing at least 72 people, the deadliest attack ever to hit the capital.
The slaughter on the outskirts of Abuja has raised fears that a deadly insurgency waged by Boko Haram Islamists may be spreading from the remote northeast areas the group has primarily targeted in recent months.
Police have “beefed up security” after the attack at the Nyanya bus station a few kilometres south of the city-centre, said spokesperson Altine Daniel.
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Obama urges Putin to rein in Ukraine insurgents

US President Barack Obama urged Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Monday to press pro-Moscow groups to lay down their arms in Ukraine, as the Kiev government sought UN help to tackle the growing insurgency.
Tensions between the US and Russia were exacerbated by two episodes at the weekend - a confrontation in the Black Sea in which a Russian warplane “buzzed” a US destroyer and a visit to Kiev by CIA chief John Brennan.
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Malaysia vows to be transparent with ‘black box’ data

Any data that is eventually recovered from the “black box” of missing flight MH370 will be publicly released, Malaysia’s transport minister pledged yesterday, as the government battles widespread criticism over the transparency of its investigation.
“It’s about finding the truth. And when we... find out the truth, definitely we have to reveal what’s in the black box,” Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters.
“So there is no question of it not being released.”
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Malaysians distrust govt on MH370 - survey

More than half of Malaysians believe their government is hiding information about missing flight MH370, according to survey results released by a news portal yesterday.
Fifty-four percent of more than 1 000 people surveyed by Malaysia's leading independent polling firm said the government was not being transparent about the passenger jet's disappearance, the Malaysian Insider reported.
Only 26% said they believed the government was being truthful on the Malaysia Airlines plane, while 20% were unsure, the news portal said.
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