Germany train crash: Several killed near Bavarian town of Bad Aibling

At least 10 people were killed and scores more injured, police say, after two passenger trains collided in the German state of Bavaria.

The head-on crash happened near Bad Aibling, a spa town about 60km (37 miles) south-east of Munich.

The transport minister said the trains had crashed into each other while both travelling at around 100km/h (62mph).

Emergency teams, some winched in by helicopter, worked for hours to free casualties from the wreckage.


What we know

  • The accident occurred on a single-track route between Rosenheim and Holzkirchen at about 07:00 local time (06:00 GMT)
  • Officials say they assume both train drivers had no visual contact before the crash as the site is on a bend - and therefore crashed into each other largely without braking
  • The stretch of line had an automatic braking system designed to halt any train that passed a stop signal. It is not yet known why this failed to stop the crash
  • Two of the three data recorders or "black boxes" on board the trains have been recovered

In focus: Bavaria's railways

Train crash rescue: As it happened

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "dismayed and saddened" by the crash.

Regional police said that 10 people had been killed and revised down the toll of injured to 80, 17 of them seriously.

One person is still missing, they say.

The drivers of both trains and two train guards were among those killed, police said.

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, who visited the scene, said it was a "horrifying sight".

"The drivers' cabs of both trains are wedged into each other. One side of one train is completely torn open. The other train bored into it," he told a news conference.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the same conference it was "difficult to comprehend" how such a crash could happen given the amount of investment in railway safety following previous train accidents.

Electrical engineer Joe Adediran, who was on the train between Rosenheim and Holzkirchen, said that he had had a "lucky escape".

"At the first station, this train normally has to wait for five minutes or so for the opposite one to arrive. After a while, we started to move on to the next station without waiting for the opposite train," he told the BBC.

Other fatal German train crashes

  • January 2011: 10 killed in Saxony-Anhalt when commuter train collides with goods train after driver runs through two signals
  • February 2000: Nine dead when overnight train from Amsterdam to Basel crashes near Cologne
  • June 1998: 101 killed when a high-speed train with a broken wheel derails and smashes into a bridge at Eschede in Lower Saxony

Source: bbc.com

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09/Feb/2016

UN Security Council vows new sanctions after N Korea's rocket launch

The UN Security Council has strongly condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket.

After an urgent meeting in New York, the council said it would soon adopt a new sanctions resolution in response.

Pyongyang said it fired the rocket to place a satellite in orbit but critics believe the real purpose was to test ballistic missile technology.

Sunday's launch came weeks after North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test. Both acts violate existing sanctions.

Amid the tension, a North Korean patrol boat briefly crossed into South Korean territory near the island of Socheong early on Monday morning, according to South Korea's Defense Ministry.

The ministry said that it retreated back across the border - a boundary line Pyongyang disputes - shortly after South Korean forces fired warning shots into the water around it.

'Serious violation'

Speaking after the closed-door talks, the Security Council said the launch was "a serious violation".

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said Washington would now "ensure that the Security Council imposes serious consequences" on Pyongyang.

"There can be no business as usual," she said, adding that "we'll come up with something tough".

Ms Power's words were echoed by Japanese envoy Motohide Yoshikawa, who said sanctions must be strengthened.

"The existing sanctions have not stopped North Korea from developing nuclear weapons," he said.

The council meeting was requested by South Korea, Japan and the US.

Why did Kim fire a rocket now?

Analysis: BBC's Nick Bryant at UN headquarters

The question once asked by a British tabloid - How Do you solve a problem like Korea? - still has not been answered. The UN Security Council has imposed four sets of sanctions since North Korea carried out its first atomic test almost 10 years ago.

They have included arms embargos, asset freezes, travel bans and restrictions on luxury goods, aimed at hitting Pyongyang's elites where it hurts - in their lavish lifestyles. But while they might have slowed the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, they've come nowhere near halting them. The sanctions have not been rigidly enforced. Nor have they been widely applied.

Now the US is pressing at the Security Council for tough and comprehensive new sanctions, but they're being resisted by China, Pyongyang's closest ally and biggest trading partner.

Beijing, while expressing support for a new resolution, fears that tough new sanctions could topple the Pyongyang regime, destabilising the country and creating a refugee crisis on its border. Pyongyang knows it can exploit that fear.

Sunday's launch, which North Korea had said last week it would carry out, was hailed by state media as a "fascinating vapour... trailing in the clear and blue sky in spring of February on the threshold of the Day of the Shining Star".

A statement said a new Earth observation satellite, Kwangmyongsong-4, had successfully been put into orbit less than 10 minutes after lift-off from the Sohae space centre in North Phyongan province.

Hailing it as part of the country's peaceful space programme, a state TV newsreader said the launch had been ordered by North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and that more launches were planned.

South Korean MPs were told by the country's spy agency later on Sunday that the launch should be treated as a ballistic missile test, as the satellite it put into orbit would be useless.

The MPs were also reportedly told North Korea had the technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles and was preparing a fifth nuclear test.

North Korea last fired a long-range rocket in 2012, putting what it claimed was a communications satellite into orbit. However, experts said that satellite appeared to spin out of control and the revolutionary songs that Pyongyang said it was broadcasting were never detected.

The payload this time was presumed to weigh 200kg (440lbs), double the size of the 2012 launch, but still much lighter than the 800-1,500kg usual for a satellite.

North Korea's rocket launches

  • February 2016: Launch of rocket reportedly carrying satellite
  • May 2015: North Korea announces it has successfully tested a submarine-launched missile for the first time, but scepticism is then poured on the claim
  • Dec 2012: North Korea launches three-stage rocket, says it successfully put a satellite into orbit; US defence officials confirm object in orbit
  • Apr 2012: Three-stage rocket explodes just after take-off, falls into sea
  • Apr 2009: Three-stage rocket launched; North Korea says it was a success, US says it failed and fell into the sea
  • Jul 2006: North Korea test-fires a long-range Taepodong-2 missile; US said it failed shortly after take-off

North Korea's missile programme

How potent are the threats?

Isolated country's nuclear tests

A world leader in dramatic rhetoric

Source: bbc.com

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07/Feb/2016

Tunisia builds anti-terror barrier along Libya border

Tunisia says it has completed the first part of a 200km (125-mile) barrier along its border with Libya, designed to deter terrorism.

The barrier is made of sand banks and water trenches.

It was announced last summer after 38 people were killed on a beach by a gunman said to have trained in Libya.

Tunisia's defence minister said the second phase of the project would involve installing electronic equipment with the help of Germany and the US.

Security forces said the defences - which aim to make the border impassable by vehicles - had already helped to reduce smuggling.

Soldiers overlook a trench, that forms part of a barrier along the frontier with Libya, in Sabkeht Alyun

The barrier is designed to be impassable by vehicles

"Today we finished closing it off, and this will help us protect our border, and stop the threat," said Defence Minister Farhat Horchani on Saturday.

More than 3,000 Tunisians have left to fight with the Islamic State (IS) group and other Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq but Mr Horchani said many had since returned to join the group in Libya.

Libya has been beset by instability since the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and currently has two rival governments.

IS took control of Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown, last year.

A Tunisian soldier stands on a sandbank during a presentation of the anti-jihadi fence, in near Ben Guerdane, eastern Tunisia, close to the border with Libya

The barrier came about with assistance from the US and Germany

Source: bbc.com

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07/Feb/2016

North Korea fires long-range rocket despite warnings

North Korea has fired a long-range rocket, which critics say is a test of banned missile technology.

A state TV announcer said that North Korea had successfully placed a satellite in orbit.

The launch was condemned by Japan, South Korea and the US, who have requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council later on Sunday.

South Korea says it is to begin discussing with the US the deployment of a missile defence system.

Senior defence official Ryu Je-Seung said if the THAAD missile system - considered one of the most advanced in the world - were deployed it would be only to counter the threat from the North.

International reaction

The North insists its space programme is purely scientific in nature but the US, South Korea and even ally China say the rocket launches are aimed at developing an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of striking the US.

North Korea provoked international criticism earlier this year with a fourth nuclear bomb test on 6 January.

South Korean analysts had speculated that the North might carry out the launch ahead of 16 February, the birthday of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

Image from North Korean TV of rocket launch on 7 February 2016

Picture from North Korean TV of the rocket after launch, on 7 February 2016

'Fascinating vapour'

UN Security Council resolutions ban the state from carrying out any nuclear or ballistic missile tests.

In a statement, the North Korean National Aerospace Development Administration said earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 had entered orbit about 10 minutes after lift-off from the Sohae space centre in North Phyongan province.

Announcing the launch on state TV, a newsreader said it had been ordered by North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and said the country planned to launch more satellites in the future.

"The fascinating vapour of Juche satellite trailing in the clear and blue sky in spring of February on the threshold of the Day of the Shining Star,'' was how the launch was described.

South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said a warship had detected the launch at 09:31 (00:31 GMT).

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said North Korea's use of ballistic missile technology was "yet another destabilising and provocative action".

"North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs represent serious threats to our interests - including the security of some of our closest allies," she said in a statement.

Contenders for the Republican ticket in the US presidential election this year were asked for their reaction during a debate in New Hampshire.

Donald Trump said he would work with China to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue: "I would get on with China. Let China solve that problem. They can do it quickly and surgically. That's what we should do with North Korea."

North Korea's rocket launches

A North Korean military parade

  • February 2016: Launch of rocket reportedly carrying satellite
  • May 2015: North Korea announces it has successfully tested a submarine-launched missile for the first time, but scepticism is then poured on the claim
  • Dec 2012: North Korea launches three-stage rocket, says it successfully put a satellite into orbit; US defence officials confirm object in orbit
  • Apr 2012: Three-stage rocket explodes just after take-off, falls into sea
  • Apr 2009: Three-stage rocket launched; North Korea says it was a success, US says it failed and fell into the sea
  • Jul 2006: North Korea test-fires a long-range Taepodong-2 missile; US said it failed shortly after take-off

North Korea's missile programme

How potent are the threats?

Isolated country's nuclear tests

A world leader in dramatic rhetoric

Source: bbc.com

Read more
07/Feb/2016

Alassane Ouattara: No more Ivorians will go to ICC

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara says he will not send any more Ivorians to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

This means none of the president's supporters will go to the ICC.

His long-time rival Laurent Gbagbo is on trial for war crimes at the ICC over the civil war sparked by his refusal to accept defeat in the 2010 election.

Both sides were accused of atrocities during the four-month conflict, which left some 3,000 people dead.

Mr Outtara said Ivory Coast now has an operational justice system so future prosecutions will happen in national courts.

He was speaking during a meeting in Paris with his French counterpart Francois Hollande.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch has warned that the ICC gave a "perception of victor's justice" by only prosecuting one side of Ivory Coast's conflict.

Mr Gbagbo's trial in The Hague, in the Netherlands, started in January and is likely to last three to four years.

Mr Gbagbo and ex-militia leader Charles Ble Goude deny murder, rape, attempted murder and persecution.

The ICC also accuses pro-Gbagbo militias of attacking members of ethnic groups believed to support Mr Ouattara.

But pro-Ouattara forces were also accused of similar atrocities and these have not been prosecuted in the ICC.

Last year, several former leaders of the pro-Ouattara rebels were indicted in Ivory Coast.

Among them is Cherif Ousmane, who remains a high-ranking officer in the presidential guard.

None of them is currently under arrest, reports the BBC Afrique's Abdourahmane Dia.

The ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Mr Gbagbo's wife, Simone, too, but this was dismissed by the Ivorian government.

Instead she was taken to court in Ivory Coast, along with 82 other supporters of her husband - 15 of whom were acquitted.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison in March 2015 for undermining state security.

Source: bbc.com

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05/Feb/2016

New York crane collapse kills at least one person

A large construction crane has collapsed in lower Manhattan in New York City, killing one person and injuring at least two others.

The Fire Department of New York confirmed the fatality and is on the scene responding to the accident.

The collapse happened along West Broadway early on Friday morning in the Tribeca neighbourhood.

The downed crane, which filled the street, fell onto numerous parked cars.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the victim was sitting in a parked car at the time of the accident, and that it was caused by high winds.

Workers were in the process of lowering the crane due to the high winds when it collapsed. No workers were injured.

Map of where the collapse occured

Crane collapsed in New York

"It was right outside my window," witness Robert Harold told the AP news agency. "It was a crashing sound. You could feel the vibration in the building. I looked out the window and saw it lying in the street."

Mr Harold said he saw someone trapped in a car and someone lying in the street.

The crane was replacing air conditioning equipment in an existing building when the crash occurred, the first for New York City since 2008.

"The fact is, this is a very very sad incident, we lost a life," Mr De Blasio said. "If you go out there and see what happened, thank God it was not worse."

All cranes in New York City have been ordered to be lowered after the incident.

Debris on street from crane collapse

The boom of the crane was 500ft (152m), authorities said.

The weather in New York City this morning was windy with snow flurries.

Public transportation is delayed and subway trains are bypassing the area due to the collapsed crane.

Source: bbc.com

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05/Feb/2016

Deadly earthquake topples buildings in Taiwan city of Tainan

An earthquake has toppled several buildings in the south Taiwan city of Tainan, killing at least three people.

Rescue teams were trying to reach people trapped in rubble after the magnitude 6.4 quake struck early on Saturday as people were sleeping.

A baby and one other person died after a high-rise residential block collapsed. More than 220 people have been rescued.

President Ma Ying-jeou is on his way to Tainan, a city of two million people.

The quake was shallow, meaning its effects would have been amplified, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Television pictures show rescue workers frantically trying to reach people trapped in collapsed buildings, using ladders to climb over piles of rubble.

Taiwan's official news agency said at least 23 people had been injured in the multi-storey residential building, where about 200 people were believed to be living in about 60 households.

Tainan resident Emma told BBC World News people feared further tremors. "I felt the quake, it was terrible," she said.

Irving Chu was in a hostel in central Tainan. He said he had been woken up by a tremor lasting about 40 seconds.

"It was a violent jerking motion," he told BBC World News. "The entire room was shaking. We were just holding on to things. We were shaken up."

Barry Knapp, a British man in Taiwan, said he was 240km (150 miles) north of Tainan but still felt the tremor.

"I was just in bed, about to fall asleep, and shaking started happening," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It was going on for about 20 to 30 seconds and it came in waves. It was shaking and then it eased off, but then it started shaking even harder."

The earthquake struck as people were getting ready for Chinese New Year.

"It has come at a bad time," journalist Jay Chen told the BBC.

"Sunday is New Year's Eve. People were preparing to celebrate and now many people will be homeless."

There were also reports of power outages.

Saturday's quake was felt in the capital Taipei 300 km away and there have since been several aftershocks.

A 7.6 magnitude quake in central Taiwan in 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and often sees tremors.

Rescue workers in Taiwan after a strong earthquake

A building badly damaged by an earthquake in Taiwan

A building damaged in the quake

Source: bbc.com

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05/Feb/2016

30 new goverment ambulances gone waste?

Thirty (30) out of two hundred (200) ambulances procured by the government of Ghana did not meet specifications of the Ministry of Health.

Because of the situation, the ambulances have not been distributed to government hospitals that are in dire need of them. The ambulances are currently parked at the car park of the Parliament of Ghana.

Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia who disclosed this on the floor of Parliament on Thursday said experts will be dispatched to the manufacturing company to inspect the rest of the ambulances before they are shipped into Ghana.

“Mr Speaker, at the moment they are 30 in the country. The content of the ambulances is the issue, various things have to be in the ambulance to ensure that they are fit for purpose. What we have are not fit for purpose so at the moment we have refused to say that this can be ambulances that could be used for the purposes we bought them. We have specifications, and the specification in these ambulances don’t appear to be met. It is the duty of the Ministry to ensure that we do not not take what we haven’t asked for. So we’re ensuring we have what we asked for, that is why we haven’t distributed the ambulances” Hon. Alex Segbefia noted.

His comment was in response to a question posed by the Member of Parliament for Atebubu Amantin, Sanja Nanja. The legislator had asked when the Atebubu /Amantin District Hospital will be allocated an ambulance.

Meanwhile a report carried by Thursday Feb. 4th edition of the Ghanaian Times states that about 40 of the 130 ambulances procured for the National Ambulance Service in 2010, have been grounded at its workshop.

Although the vehicles have outlived their usefulness, the service is compelled to repair them for use but that too is constrained by lack of funds.

The remaining 90 ambulances are woefully inadequate for effective health care delivery in the country.

The Chief Executive officer of the NAS, Professor Ahmed Nuhu Zakariah said some of the ambulances were parked at the workshop because they had exceeded their lifespan while others have developed major faults.

“The lifespan, of every emergency vehicle is normally five years, which means that the NAS needs to get a new fleet of vehicles, but we are compelled to use the old ones since we don’t have that luxury,” he said.

“The reality is that if the major faults on emergency vehicles are not fixed before use again, it may be causing more harm than good; that is why it’s better to book it out of commission rather than use it in a bad state,” he added.

Source: bbc.com

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04/Feb/2016

More money for you this year – Mahama to Ghanaians

“Currently, in all the road construction that’s going on in this country, 95% of the contractors are Ghanaians and not foreigners. And so by doing this, we are expanding the road construction industry and making Ghanaians take advantage of the commanding heights of that particular industry.

“In 2012 when I became President, there were six foreign companies that had asphalt plants to be able to do asphalt roads. Today, 22 Ghanaian companies have their own asphalt plants and these are the gains that we are making in this country.

“I can understand when people say things are tight. During Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s time, they said things were right and that there was no milk and cornered beef among others; but at the time he was building Akosombo, he was building Valco, Tema Steelworks, the shoe factories, GIHOC Distilleries to create jobs; and so we drove him away in a coup.

“The same people complaining today that things are hard drove Nkrumah away. And Nkrumah said if I knew it was milk you wanted, I would have connected it through a tap for you to drink.

“In everybody’s life, you make sacrifices for things that are important. Times come when we have to squeeze ourselves a bit to do the precious things that we need in life. We can’t have money in our pockets when the roads are not good?”

“What is the use of money when you are sick and can’t get a hospital to be cured? And so sometimes when we are squeezing ourselves, it is to do the things that are essential; to put in place the social and economic infrastructure after which you can begin to put money in your pocket.

“And so it’s good politics to say things are hard; but the money that we are raising we are using for things that will benefit this country. We have spent these last four years investing in bringing the social infrastructure back to scratch and when I win the second term, then we will start putting money in your pocket. And I wish to pledge that we will continue working in the interest of the people of Ghana.”

  • President Mahama was speaking at the inauguration of a Community Day Senior High School at Kwaobaah Nyanoa in the Eastern Region on Thursday

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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04/Feb/2016

Somalia plane: Daallo Airlines confirms passenger missing

A passenger on the flight forced to land at Somalia's Mogadishu airport after a large hole appeared in the fuselage has been confirmed missing by the airline.

Daallo Airlines had previously said that all the passengers had been accounted for.

It is thought that the man fell out of the hole, which appeared shortly after take-off from Mogadishu on Tuesday.

There have been fears that the damage to the flight was caused by a bomb.

But the exact cause is still not clear and Somalia is currently investigating what led the hole to appear on the Djibouti-bound Airbus 321.

No militant group has said it was behind the explosion.

Daallo Airlines head Mohamed Ibrahim Yasin Olad told the BBC Somali service that he hoped the investigation would be over soon so that his flights could resume but with tighter security at Mogadishu's airport.

In a statement, the airline said the incident was being investigated by Somalia's Civil Aviation Authority, as well as a technical team from the aircraft's owners and its manufacturers, Airbus.

Mohamed Hassan, a police officer in Balad, an agricultural town 30km (18 miles) north of Mogadishu, said residents had found the body of a man who might have fallen from the plane.

Security officials say two passengers were also hurt in the incident.

Daallo Airlines

The airlines says all passengers have been accounted for

A plane in Somalia with a hole in its fuselage

The plane landed safely

Serbian captain Vlatko Vodopivec said he and others were told the explosion was caused by a bomb, though civil aviation authority officials said they had found no evidence so far of a criminal act.

"It was my first bomb; I hope it will be the last,'' Mr Vodopivec said. He said the blast happened when the plane was at around 11,000ft (3,350m).

"It would have been much worse if we were higher," he added.

Daallo Airlines flies regularly from its base in Dubai to Somalia and Djibouti.

Somalia is battling militant Islamist group al-Shabab that has been carrying out deadly attacks in its quest to establish an Islamic state.

Source: bbc.com

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04/Feb/2016

Central African Republic peacekeepers to be sent home over 'sex abuse'

More than 100 UN peacekeepers will be sent home from the Central African Republic after an investigation into sex abuse allegations, the UN says.

The UN says it is investigating eight new reports of sex abuse, following more than 20 previous allegations.

One 14 year-old says she was raped by an armed soldier near the airport.

The 120 soldiers who will be repatriated are from Congo-Brazzaville. During the investigation, they will be confined to barracks.

Living under a shadow of fear

Road to anarchy

Last week the UN said European troops were implicated in child sex abuse allegations.

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the UN envoy for CAR, travelled to Bambari, the country's second biggest city where the latest abuse allegedly occurred, on Thursday.

He expressed outrage and shame.

There is "sufficient initial evidence" that five of the alleged victims are minors and one adult has been sexually exploited, according to a fact-finding expert sent to the city.

The NGO Human Rights Watch said most of the abuse occurred while the Congolese peacekeepers were temporarily deployed to protect the city's airport.

UN assistant secretary-general Anthony Banbury said there are likely to be 22 confirmed allegations of sexual abuse or exploitation in the UN's peacekeeping mission in CAR. That may rise as a result of the latest allegations.

Last week, the UN said a number of girls aged between 14 and 16 alleged they had been raped by Georgian members of the EU's operation Eufor in CAR.

A seven-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy said they were abused by French troops.

The troops were sent to stem violence between Christian militias and largely Muslim rebels.

'Gross institutional failure'

The rebels seized power in March 2013 - in response, the militias took up arms against them.

Last December an independent panel criticised the UN's handling of abuse allegations in the CAR, calling it "seriously flawed" and a "gross institutional failure".

It accused senior UN officials of abusing their authority by failing to take action over allegations of abuse by soldiers from France, Equatorial Guinea and Chad.

A 10,000-strong UN force took over a peacekeeping mission in September 2014.

Source: bbc.com

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04/Feb/2016

Somali plane lands in Mogadishu with hole in its side

A passenger plane has made an emergency landing in Somalia's capital with a gaping hole in its fuselage.

The hole in the plane's side appeared shortly after take-off from Mogadishu at 10,000ft (3,048m), a colleague of one of the passengers told the BBC.

It is not clear what caused the damage. Officials say two passengers were hurt.

The Daallo Airlines flight, bound for Djibouti, was carrying about 60 people on board, a police officer at the scene told the Bloomberg news agency.

Some reports say a fire broke out shortly after take-off.

Darren Howe, who had a colleague on the plane, took a photo of the damaged aircraft after it had landed.

"It was not an explosion but a fuselage failure at 10,000ft," he told the BBC.

Daallo Airlines flies regularly from its base in Dubai to Somalia and Djibouti.

Source: bbc.com

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02/Feb/2016

Kenya investigates 'barbaric' Uber attacks in Nairobi

Kenyan police have launched an investigation after a spate of attacks on Uber drivers in Nairobi.

Criminal gangs have attacked drivers for the app-based taxi service over the past two days, authorities say.

The violence has been linked to traditional taxi drivers angered at being undercut by the new service, which often charges far cheaper fares.

The company has sparked protests in many of the cities in the 68 countries where it now operates.

The Kenyan interior ministry said in its statement that "barbaric acts" should never be committed to settle business rivalries.

Police told local media that they had received reports of people ordering Uber taxis, in order to assault the drivers when they arrived.

The company acknowledged "cases of isolated intimidation towards Uber driver-partners" in a statement carried by local media.

"These cases shock and sadden us, as these driver-partners are simply using the Uber platform to earn a living for themselves and their families," it added.

Kenya's Taxi Cab Association has demanded that Uber suspend its operations in Nairobi, arguing that it has an unfair advantage because its drivers do not pay costly registration fees, Capital FM reports.

Uber, which launched in Kenya in January 2015, is thought to be the world's most valuable private company, with an estimated worth of more than $50bn (£35bn).

Source: bbc.com

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02/Feb/2016

Zimbabwe chief prosecutor charged over Mugabe bomb plot case

Zimbabwe's chief prosecutor has been charged with obstructing the course of justice after allegedly dropping charges against people accused of plotting to bomb the president's dairy.

Four army officers also appeared at the magistrates court in the capital Harare charged with treason.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana denies the charges. He was brought to court in the back of a police pick-up truck.

The milk production plant is run by President Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace.

The prosecutor told the court that the four army officers were allegedly caught with firearms and sought to get bombs designed to blow up the dairy, reports the BBC's Brian Hungwe from the capital, Harare.

Our correspondent adds that the court was told the four had formed a political party called Zimbabwe People Front and had set up a military training camp.

Mr Tomana is accused of dropping charges against two of the four army officers.

Mr Mugabe has been in power since 1980.

The ruling Zanu-PF party has been hit by factionalism as rivals disagree on who will succeed 91-year-old Mr Mugabe.

One faction of the ruling party is backing Grace Mugabe to take over from her husband while another camp is backing Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Source: bbc.com

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02/Feb/2016

Zika virus infection 'through sex' reported in US

A rare case of the Zika virus being transmitted through sex, not a mosquito bite, has been reported in the US.

A patient infected in Dallas, Texas, is likely to have been infected by sexual contact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told the BBC.

The person had not travelled to infected areas but their partner had returned from Venezuela.

Zika is carried by mosquitoes and has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

It is spreading through the Americas and the World Health Organization has declared the virus a global public health emergency.

The American Red Cross has meanwhile urged prospective blood donors returning from Zika-hit countries to wait at least 28 days before donating their blood.

The "self-deferral" should apply to people returning from Mexico, the Caribbean or Central or South America during the past four weeks, the Red Cross said in a statement.

In another development, two cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Australia. Officials said the two Sydney residents had recently returned from the Caribbean.

Race to understand Zika baby risk

What is the risk to unborn children?

Worried mothers' stories

Meanwhile, Brazil - the country worst hit by the outbreak - has revealed it is investigating 3,670 suspected cases of microcephaly in babies linked to the Zika virus.

Analysis by James Gallagher, health editor, BBC News website

If Zika can readily spread through sex, then it poses a risk to every country not just those with the Aedes mosquito.

So far, authorities have said sexual transmission is rare, but last year they would have said any case of Zika was rare, too.

This explosive outbreak has caught the world by surprise and many key questions remain unanswered.

Exactly how common or rare is sexual transmission? Can it be spread by the 80% of people who show no symptoms? How long does the virus persist in semen? When is it safe to have sex again?

What should men do after visiting affected countries? Can women also spread the virus through sex?

However, this is not a new HIV/Aids moment. HIV infection is incurable and dramatically shortens lives without daily medication.

Zika infections are short, mild and pose a significant threat only in pregnancy.

The ministry also said 76 infant deaths from microcephaly, either during pregnancy or just after birth, were suspected.

The case in Dallas would be the first known infection to take place in the mainland US, though Texas has seen seven other Zika cases all related to foreign travel.

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director for CDC, said this was the first case it had dealt with involving a "non-traveller".

"We don't believe this was spread through mosquito bites, but we do believe it was spread through a sexual contact."

A statement issued by the CDC said the best way to avoid Zika virus infection was "to prevent mosquito bites AND to avoid exposure to semen from someone who has been exposed to Zika".

The case is "significant" if it was definitely transmitted through sexual contact, Alaka Basu, a senior fellow for public health at the UN Foundation, told the BBC.

Graphic showing babies' head size

"This significance is parallel with the HIV/Aids case. It's worse in some ways, because there are two modes of transmission."

It is not the first known case of sexual transmission. There was a case in 2013 in French Polynesia, according to the CDC website.

The CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid travel to more than two dozen countries with Zika outbreaks, mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America, including Venezuela.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said her government was focused on eradicating the mosquito that transmits the virus.

In an address to a joint session of Congress, she said considerable funds would be set aside for the programme.

"We should all be worried about microcephaly," she said.

The alert issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday puts Zika in the same category of concern as Ebola.

It means research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection.

WHO director general, Margaret Chan called Zika an "extraordinary event" that needed a co-ordinated response.

She said the priorities were to protect pregnant women and their babies from harm and to control the mosquitoes that are spreading the virus.

WHO has said it could take up to nine months for experts to prove or disprove any connection between the virus and babies born with microcephaly.

Source: bbc.com

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02/Feb/2016

Migrant crisis: Germany moves to cut asylum claims

Germany has unveiled plans to add Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia to its list of safe countries, as it tries to curb growing numbers of migrants.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said nationals from those countries would now be unlikely to be granted asylum.

The move is part of new measures aimed at tightening rules in a country which last year received more than 1.1 million asylum seekers.

Earlier, 26 migrants drowned off a Greek island after their boat capsized.

The migrants died near the island of Samos, near Turkey. Ten of the victims were children.

In other developments:

  • Six bodies were discovered by the Italian navy in a sinking dinghy off the Libyan coast
  • The Netherlands proposed sending migrants reaching Greece back to Turkey by ferry
  • Sweden said as many as 80,000 people who arrived to the country last year could fail in their requests for asylum and face deportation

Migrant crisis: Who does the EU send back?

Strained relations

Mr Gabriel's comments came after his Social Democrats held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and their Bavaria-based sister party, the Christian Social Union.

"The mood is good," Mr Gabriel was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Morocco has already responded to the proposal, saying it would repatriate any of its nationals who had arrived illegally in Germany.

The German coalition partners also agreed that migrants with restricted asylum status would be unable to bring relatives into the country for two years.

The deportation of failed asylum seekers would also be speeded up.

The migrant issue has been straining the coalition, with the CSU threatening to take Mrs Merkel's government to court if the party's demand to stem the flow of asylum seekers is not dealt with decisively.

The coalition proposals still need to be approved by the government and parliament.


Where Europe is failing on migrants

  • The 28 member states have not agreed on an EU-wide mechanism for relocating migrants, to ease the burden on Greece and Italy; only small groups have been relocated so far - and several states in Central and Eastern Europe refuse to accept migrants
  • The Schengen agreement on freedom of movement is in jeopardy - Hungary fenced off its borders with Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia; meanwhile Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and France have also reimposed border controls
  • The Dublin regulation, under which refugees are required to claim asylum in the member state in which they first arrive, is not working effectively; countries are no longer sending back migrants to their first point of entry to the EU
  • Thousands of migrants - many of them Syrian war refugees - still arrive daily from Turkey
  • Processing of asylum applications is slow and there is a big backlog - so reception centres are overcrowded
  • Germany - the main destination for migrants - is rethinking its open-door policy, partly because of outrage over assaults on women in Cologne at New Year

Source: bbc.com

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28/Jan/2016

'No progress on African corruption' says watchdog

Corruption is a "serious problem" in 40 of sub-Saharan Africa's 46 states, says an anti-corruption watchdog.

Transparency International (TI) says it has seen no improvement in powerhouses Nigeria and South Africa.

Its corruption index puts Somalia at the top of the list of the world's most corrupt countries.

The annual index looks at factors such as the prevalence of bribery and the perception that government officials go unpunished for corruption.

The watchdog said the countries perceived to be the most corrupt tend to be in conflict; have weak institutions such as the police and the courts and lack independent media.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since its long-serving ruler, Siad Barre, was overthrown in 1991.

North Korea, which has been one of the world's most secretive societies, shared the spot of most corrupt with Somalia.

The "cleanest" countries, such as Denmark, Finland and Sweden, tend to show the public how money is spent and have judges that don't differentiate between rich and poor, the report says.

TI picked out Ghana - which has been rocked by an undercover film showing judges allegedly taking bribes - as a pocket of hope where activists "worked hard to drive out the corrupt".

Senegal, where the government has introduced a series of anti-corruptions laws, was one of the biggest improvers this year, TI said.

The countries where public sector corruption is perceived highest. Source: Transparency International

1. Somalia and North Korea

2. Afghanistan

3. Sudan

4. South Sudan

5. Angola

6. Libya

7. Iraq

8. Venezuela

9. Guinea-Bissau

10. Haiti

The countries where public sector corruption is perceived lowest

1. Denmark

2. Finland

3. Sweden

4. New Zealand

5. Netherlands

6. Norway

7. Switzerland

8. Singapore

9. Canada

10. Luxembourg and UK

 

Source: bbc.com

 

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28/Jan/2016

Chibok: Deadly suicide blasts hit north-eastern Nigerian town

Suicide bombers have hit the north-eastern Nigerian town of Chibok during market day, killing at least 13 people, reports said.

At least three attackers were involved, some of them female, witnesses said. More than 30 people were injured.

It is not yet known who was behind the attack.

But suspicion is likely to fall on militants from the Boko Haram Islamist group, who abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014.

A town elder warned that the death toll could rise.

"The situation is now tense and there's so much confusion. It will take some time before we can be able to have a clearer picture of the casualties," Ayuba Chibok told the AFP news agency.

'In shock'

One of the attackers struck at a security checkpoint, while another managed to reach the busy market. A third was identified by residents before detonating explosives close to the market, the reports said.

"People I spoke to are in shock, some of them are still crying," a former town resident Malam Ayouba told the BBC Hausa service.

A map showing Chibok in Nigeria

On Monday at least 25 people died in suicide bombings in the northern Cameroonian town of Bodo.

Earlier this month, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a new investigation into the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok by Boko Haram.

The militants stormed a boarding school, abducting the girls from their dormitories.

Although the Nigerian military has freed hundreds of people held by Boko Haram in recent months, they did not include any of the Chibok girls.

Boko Haram at a glance:

  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, hundreds abducted, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Joined so-called Islamic State, now calls itself IS's "West African province"
  • Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate
  • Regional force has retaken most territory this year

Why Boko Haram remains a threat

Source: bbc.com

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28/Jan/2016

Sweden 'to expel up to 80,000 failed asylum-seekers'

The authorities in Sweden are making plans to expel as many as 80,000 failed asylum-seekers, the interior minister was quoted as saying.

Anders Ygeman said that charter aircraft would be used to deport the migrants over several years.

"We are talking about 60,000 people but the number could climb to 80,000," Swedish media quoted him as saying.

Some 163,000 migrants applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, the highest per capita number in Europe.

Of the approximately 58,800 cases processed last year, 55% were accepted.

Earlier on Wednesday, Greece's government responded to allegations in a draft European Commission report that it had "seriously neglected" its obligations to control the external frontier of Europe's passport-free Schengen zone.

Greek government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili accused the Commission of "blame games" and said it had failed to act on a programme agreed last year to relocate tens of thousands of migrants and refugees stranded in Greece.

Europe is struggling to deal with a crisis that has seen tens of thousands more migrants arrive on Greek beaches, undeterred by cold wintry conditions.

The UN says more than 46,000 people have arrived in Greece so far this year, with more than 170 people killed making the dangerous crossing.


Which countries are in the Schengen zone?

Schengen zone

Mr Ygeman was quoted as giving the figure of 80,000 by Swedish Public TV and Dagens Industri business newspaper (in Swedish).

He later tweeted to say he had not taken a position on how many migrants had grounds for asylum, it being a matter for the authorities and the courts.

Sweden recently introduced temporary border checks in a bid to control the influx of people. Along with Germany, the Scandinavian country is is a prime destination for refugees and other migrants entering the EU illegally.


Where Europe is failing on migrants

Map of arrivals

  • The 28 member states have not agreed on an EU-wide mechanism for relocating migrants, meant to ease the burden on Greece and Italy. Only small groups have been relocated so far - and several states in Central and Eastern Europe refuse to accept migrants
  • The Schengen agreement on freedom of movement is in jeopardy - Hungary fenced off its borders with Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia; meanwhile Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and France also reimposed border controls
  • The Dublin regulation, under which refugees are required to claim asylum in the member state in which they first arrive, is not working effectively. Countries are no longer sending back migrants to their first point of entry to the EU
  • Thousands of migrants - many of them Syrian war refugees - still arrive daily from Turkey
  • Processing of asylum applications is slow and there is a big backlog - so reception centres are overcrowded
  • Germany - the main destination for migrants - is rethinking its open-door policy, partly because of outrage over assaults on women in Cologne at New Year

Sweden earlier this week became the latest of a number of European nations to see tensions over migrants heightened by violence. A 15-year-old asylum seeker was arrested in Molndal, near Gothenburg, after a 22-year-old asylum centre employee was stabbed to death.

Migration officials say 35,400 unaccompanied minors sought asylum in Sweden in 2015, five times the number in 2014.

In neighbouring Denmark, meanwhile, the government this week approved legislation to seize the valuables of refugees in the hope of limiting the influx of migrants.

Some have likened the Danish proposals to the confiscation of gold and other valuables from Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Source: bbc.com

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28/Jan/2016

Senegal detains 900 people in security drive

Police in Senegal have detained 900 people as part of a security operation following militant attacks in Burkina Faso and Mali.

The detentions, which were not terror-related, took place over the weekend in the capital Dakar and Thies.

The assaults on a hotel in Mali and a hotel and restaurant in Burkina Faso, both claimed by Islamists, have raised security fears in the region.

Senegal has been comparatively safe but is a popular tourist destination.

Last week the Senegalese government ordered hotels to improve security or face closure.

Senegalese security forces would also step up patrols, the interior minister said.

Eyewitnesses report that presence is already being felt, with police being seen in higher numbers and many vehicles searched.

Those detained over the weekend were not targeted as terror suspects but as part of the wider security alert, officials said.

Senegalese security forces guard a hotel in the capital Dakar

Senegalese hotels have been ordered to boost security, or face closure

Their offences ranged from possessing drugs to having incorrect documents for their vehicles, according to the authorities.

"Security has been reinforced on all levels,'' justice ministry spokesman Soro Diop was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said it was behind the attack in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, last month that killed 30 people.

The Islamist militant group also claimed the siege on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, in November last year, that left 20 people dead.

AQIM is based in the Sahara Desert and roams between Mali, Niger and Algeria.

Senegal has so far avoided a major attack by Islamist militants, despite sharing a border with Mali.

Source: bbc.com

 

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27/Jan/2016