Pakistan Taliban Reject Islamic State Leader’s Claim to Be ‘Caliph’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan

Pakistan Taliban Reject Islamic State Leader’s Claim to Be ‘Caliph’

Sikh panel ex-chief, others booked for ‘blasphemy’

FIA deports Dean Jones from Islamabad airport

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Mideast

Fierce Fighting In Northern Yemen Kills At Least 75

Turkey Announces Troop Withdrawal from Iraq: Ministry

Heavy casualties in Yemen as Swiss peace talks due to end

UN announces end of Yemen peace talks due to new fighting

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Arab World

Activist: ISIL Using Children as Human Shields in Northern Iraq

Gov’t Forces Kill 25 Terrorists in Idlib, Hama Provinces

Syrian Forces Repel Takfiri Terrorists’ Offensive, Kill Militants Near Palmyra

Islamic State denounces Saudi Arabia’s anti-IS coalition

Yemen Strikes Saudi Coalition with More Ballistic Missiles, Several Apache Helicopters, Drones Destroyed

Senior Nusra Commander Killed in Russian Airstrikes in Idlib Province

Syrian Forces Intensify Attacks on ISIL Positions near Palmyra

Syrian Army, Hezbollah Capture Khan Touman in Groundbreaking Victory in Aleppo

Syrian Forces Win Back More Territories South of Aleppo Province

Iraqi Forces Take Control of 60 Percent of Ramadi City

Israel Airstrike Kills Top Hezbollah Member near Syrian Damascus

Syria in Last 24 Hours: Army Continues Countrywide Operations

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South Asia

Six Injured As Bombs Thrown At Bangladesh Navy Mosque

90 Afghan Soldiers Martyred In Past 2 Days, Helmand Deputy Governor Says

Unidentified gunmen kidnap three civilians on Kabul-Ghazni highway

8 Afghan Air Force pilots graduate from training in United States

Taliban kill three civilians in Jawzjan

NDS prevents suicide attack in Baghlan

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North America

US Embassy In Pakistan Warns Of Possible Terror Attacks

How `Islamic Lesson’ Furore Deepens Fault Lines In US

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India

PM Modi to inaugurate India-built Afghan Parliament building

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Southeast Asia

Malaysia’s First Shariah-Compliant Airline to Start Flying Tomorrow

Dozens rescued floating at sea after abandoning Indonesian ferry

Suspected terrorists arrested in Indonesia ‘planned to detonate bombs’ in Java, Sumatra

Is Indonesia winning its fight against Islamic extremism?

Two children reported dead as Indonesia ferry drifts in stormy seas

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Africa

Burundi Rejects 5,000 Africa Union Peacekeeping Force, Says It Will View Deployment As Attack

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Europe

Air France Flight Forced To Land In Kenya Over Bomb Scare

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

 

 

 

 

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Pakistan

Pakistan Taliban reject Islamic State leader’s claim to be ‘caliph’

Reuters | Dec 19, 2015

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan: Pakistan’s Taliban have rejected Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s claim to be the global leader of all Muslims, the movement said in a statement seen by Reuters on Saturday.

The Pakistani Taliban’s statement comes after a similar rejection by the Afghan Taliban following pledges of allegiance from low-level commanders of both Islamist movements to the Middle East-based Islamic State (IS).

Last year, IS, an al-Qaida offshoot, proclaimed its leader as “caliph” – the head of the state. Al-Baghdadi aspires to establish a global caliphate with himself at its head.

The latest statement from the Pakistani Taliban comes amid speculation that the movement’s leadership, whose goal is to topple the government of prime minister Nawaz Sharif and set up a sharia state, is actually wary of IS, which is driven by different ambitions that have little to do with South Asia.

“Baghdadi is not Khalifa (caliph) because in Islam, Khalifa means that he has command over all the Muslim world, while Baghdadi has no such command; he has command over a specific people and territory,” the Pakistan Taliban said in a statement.

“Baghdadi is not a Islamic Khalifa because his selection is not according to Islamic rules,” the statement said, adding that the IS leader had little control in Muslim countries like Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban operate separately from the Afghan insurgents of the same name, but are loosely aligned with them.

Late last year, a few breakaway factions of the Pakistani Taliban declared allegiance to Islamic State and ordered militants across the region to join its campaign to set up a global Islamic caliphate.

Pakistani authorities say IS has no financial ties with any Pakistani group. But there are concerns about further turmoil in the region as U.S.-led foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan, with groups like the Haqqani network and IS likely to exploit the security vacuum.

The entry of Islamic State, while its numbers remain small, will also complicate Pakistan’s fight against indigenous Islamist militants fighting to overthrow the government.

The Pakistani Taliban have been beset by bitter internal rivalries in the recent past, with the influential Mehsud tribal faction of the group refusing to accept the authority of Mullah Fazlullah, who came to power in late 2013.

IS, in an effort to extend its global reach, could exploit these rivalries to its advantage, wading into a region ripe with fierce anti-Western ideology and full of young unemployed men ready to take up guns and fight for Islam.

In its latest statement, the Pakistani Taliban, like the Afghan Taliban, also condemn the ‘barbarity’ of Islamic State’s rule.

“Baghdadi’s caliphate is not Islamic because in a real caliphate you provide real justice while Baghdadi’s men kill many innocent mujahideen (fighters) of other groups,” the statement said.

Earlier this year, the Afghan Taliban sent a letter to al-Baghdadi to stop recruiting in Afghanistan, saying there is room for only “one flag, one leadership” in their fight to re-establish strict Islamist rule.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-Taliban-reject-Islamic-State-leaders-claim-to-be-caliph/articleshow/50247966.cms

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FIA deports Dean Jones from Islamabad airport

Irfan Haider

Dec 20, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Former Australian Test cricketer and newly-appointed head coach of Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Islamabad United, Dean Jones, was deported Sunday by authorities after he landed at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad.

A Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) official told Dawn.com that Jones had come to Pakistan to attend PSL’s logo-unveiling ceremony scheduled for today, but did not have a ‘valid visa’ for Pakistan.

The official added that Jones has been coming to Pakistan regularly for his commentating job with PTV Sports and that he is “welcome as long as his visa is valid.”

Later, the former Australian cricket said on Twitter that he was “not deported” and will be coming to Lahore later tonight. Jones said he held a “visa” and that his “paperworke was incomplete due to recent changes in visa policy.”

Last week, in a video message on Facebook, Jones said: “I’ve just signed as the head coach for the Islamabad United team and I look forward to seeing the draft and picking some fantastic players for our team.”

The former Australian cricketer is not new to controversy: He was sacked from a commentating job in 2006 after referring to South African Muslim batsman Hashim Amla as a “terrorist”.

Jones, who admitted making the comment and apologised, was on a TV commentary team covering the second Test between Sri Lanka and South Africa in Colombo.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227666/fia-deports-dean-jones-from-islamabad-airport

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Sikh panel ex-chief, others booked for ‘blasphemy’

December 20th, 2015

LAHORE: Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) had a case registered against its former chief Sardar Mastan Singh, and his 20 to 25 Sikh accomplices under blasphemy and other charges for allegedly being involved in desecrating temple, condemning creation of the State and advocating abolition of its sovereignty etc. on the eve of main ceremony to mark the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in Nankana Sahib district.

Police have also arrested Mastan Singh besides initiating a search operation in the area to capture his accomplices under FIR No 900/15 registered on the application of Sardar Sham Singh — the sitting Paradhan (chairman) of the PSGPC — a body dealing with affairs of Sikh pilgrims arrival to Pakistan in collaboration with the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).

According to FIR registered under section 295, 123-A, 440, 506, 186 and 147 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), there was a main ceremony on the eve of the 547th birth anniversary of Baba Gurunanak on Nov 25 and State Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Hasnat Shah was the chief guest. “While I was taking the chief guest to ceremony after receiving him, Sardar Mastan Shah and his 20-25 companions carrying swords, broke main gate of the Janam-Asthan in the Gurdawara Gurunanak Sahib and started raising hate slogans against the State. They later attacked the PSGPC office and broke its windows, door and glasses besides assaulting the security and other officials on duty with clubs,” the FIR reads. They also snatched mike from the stage secretary and abused the PSGPC members, officials and others in the presence of a number of Sikh pilgrims. The suspects, as per FIR, addressed the participants saying that the Pakistan government wanted to limit the Palki Sahib procession to the premises of the Gurdawara on the pretext of security concerns.

“A government which cannot provide security to 20,000 people, how can it provide security to a population of 200 million people. We will take the rally to Gurdawara Kiara Sahib and if some bad thing happened to us, the government would be responsible,” the FIR quotes Mastan Singh as having said.

Later, the suspects forcibly took the rally to Gurdawar Kiara Sahib by chanting slogans against the PSGPC.

The FIR mentions complainant Sardar Sham Singh as saying, “The suspects put life of many Sikh pilgrims at risk, ignoring threat alerts from the security agencies. I stopped my committee members from offering any resistance. He chanted slogans against the State and defamed it in front of Sikh pilgrims. The suspects has not only desecrated gurdwaras/temples but also damaged integrity of the State of Pakistan,” the FIR quotes complainant Sardar Sham Singh as having said.

When contacted, ETPB Chairman Siddiqul Farooq said the case was registered after several members of the PSGPC threatened to resign, demanding stern action.

To a question, he said the ETPB was not a party to the case, as it was the exclusive decision of the PSGPC.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227599/sikh-panel-ex-chief-others-booked-for-blasphemy

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Mideast

Fierce fighting in northern Yemen kills at least 75

AP | Dec 20, 2015

SANAA: Fierce fighting and airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition pounded northern Yemen, as the two main parties in the country’s conflict continued to violate a ceasefire agreement and undermine already tenuous peace talks in Switzerland.

The clashes in Hajjah Province near the Saudi border between rebel-allied units and pro-government Yemeni forces have killed more than 75 over the past three days, Yemeni security officials and witnesses said.

The dead included more than 40 rebels and 35 government troops, with 50 wounded on the rebel side and dozens wounded on the government side. Dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles were destroyed, according to the witnesses and security officials, who remain neutral in the conflict that has splintered the Arab world’s poorest country.

The government troops advanced across the border from Saudi territory after training there for months, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Fierce-fighting-in-northern-Yemen-kills-at-least-75/articleshow/50251876.cms

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Turkey announces troop withdrawal from Iraq: ministry

AFP | Dec 20, 2015

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

ANKARA: Turkey said it would “continue” to pull its troops out of northern Iraq after US president Barack Obama urged president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to do so in order to de-escalate tensions with Baghdad over the deployment.

“Taking into account the sensitivities on the Iraqi side… Turkey will continue the process it has already begun to withdraw its troops stationed in Mosul province,” the foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The Iraqi government earlier this week demanded the “complete withdrawal” of Turkish troops from its territory after Turkey deployed soldiers and tanks to a military camp near the city of Mosul.

Baghdad labelled the deployment an illegal “incursion” but Turkey said it was to protect Turkish trainers working with Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.

In a phone call on Friday, Obama asked Erdogan to take steps “to de-escalate tensions with Iraq, including by continuing to withdraw Turkish military forces”.

He also urged Turkey “to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq”.

A senior Turkish official said last week that between 150 and 300 soldiers and 20 tanks were deployed to protect Turkish military trainers at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul.

Turkey began partially withdrawing troops from the area on Monday.

In its statement late yesterday, the foreign ministry said there had been a “lack of communication” with Baghdad on the matter and that Ankara “would continue to coordinate with the Iraqi government over its military contribution to the country in the fight against Daesh (IS)”.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Turkey-announces-troop-withdrawal-from-Iraq-ministry/articleshow/50251199.cms

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Heavy casualties in Yemen as Swiss peace talks due to end

AFP | Dec 20, 2015, 03.43 AM IST

Yemeni government’s security forces stand guard during the funeral of Aden’s governor Jaafar Saad in Yemen’s second city . (AFP photo)Yemeni government’s security forces stand guard during the funeral of Aden’s governor Jaafar Saad in Yemen’s s… Read More

ADEN: Fierce fighting between government forces and Iran-backed rebels in Yemen produced heavy casualties today amid UN alarm at ceasefire violations ahead of a final day of peace talks in Switzerland.

At least 68 people were killed near the northern town of Haradh, which was overrun by loyalists on Thursday, military and tribal sources said.

The casualties were 28 troops and 40 Shia Huthi rebels, with another 50 Huthis and 40 loyalists wounded.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Heavy-casualties-in-Yemen-as-Swiss-peace-talks-due-to-end/articleshow/50251214.cms

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UN announces end of Yemen peace talks due to new fighting

AP | Dec 20, 2015

GENEVA: The United Nations says peace talks between warring sides in Yemen have ended amid severe new fighting in the country.

The UN office in Geneva says the special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, will hold a press conference Sunday on the topic. The peace talks between pro-government fighters and Shiite rebels began Tuesday in the Swiss village of Macolin.

Fierce fighting and airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition pounded northern Yemen on Saturday, as the two main parties in the country’s conflict continued to violate a cease-fire.

The clashes in Hajjah Province near the Saudi border between rebel-allied units and pro-government Yemeni forces have killed more than 75 people over the past three days, according to Yemeni security officials and witnesses said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/UN-announces-end-of-Yemen-peace-talks-due-to-new-fighting/articleshow/50254836.cms

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Arab World

Activist: ISIL Using Children as Human Shields in Northern Iraq

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- Facing heavy losses and casualties in recent months, the ISIL terrorists are using children as human shields to protect themselves from the continuous Iraqi army and popular forces’ attacks in Makhoul and Shirqat regions in Salahuddin province, an activist said.

“The terrorist groups have recently stationed 150 under-15 children, a number of them disabled, as human shields at crossroads and certain important and sensitive positions of Makhoul in Salahuddin province and Shirqat near Nineveh province,” Safa al-Tamimi, a spokesman of Saraya al-Salam group affiliated to the Sadr movement, said on Sunday.

“This clearly shows that the terrorist groups have resorted to using children and the disabled after sustaining heavy casualties in the Iraqi security and popular forces’ attacks, which shows ISIL’s weakness and vulnerability and is a failure for the terrorist group,” he added.

Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000684

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Gov’t Forces Kill 25 Terrorists in Idlib, Hama Provinces

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian government forces’ operations against the militant groups’ centers in the provinces of Idlib and Hama claimed the lives of at least 25 militants, wounded many others and destroyed their military hardware, the army announced Sunday.

“Nearly 16 members of Jeish al-Fatah terrorist group were killed in the Syrian forces’ operation in the Northwestern province of Idlib,” the army said, adding,” The terrorist groups’ military equipment also sustained heavy damage in the attack.”

“At least nine militants of Jeish al-Fatah were also killed and some others were wounded in a guided missile attack by the Syrian army in Atshan North of Hama province,” the army went on to say.

Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000633

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Syrian Forces Repel Takfiri Terrorists’ Offensive, Kill Militants Near Palmyra

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian government troops on Sunday fended off Takfiri terrorists’ attack on their positions in the direction of Wadi Abyad dam, West of the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs province.

The terrorists who had launched an attack from al-Hayyal mountain suffered a heavy death toll after the Syrian army and the country’s National Defense Forces (NDF) thwarted their attack near Palmyra in the Central Homs province and pushed them back from the battlefield in a counter-attack.

The ISIL concentration centers, three vehicles and a machinegun-equipped car were also destroyed by the Syrian army and its allies.

Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000338

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Islamic State denounces Saudi Arabia’s anti-IS coalition

December 20th, 2015

DOHA: The militant Islamic State (IS) group threatened to attack Saudi Arabia for “colluding with crusaders” after the oil-rich kingdom said it had established a 34-state Islamic military coalition to target the militants.

In a weekly publication documenting its military activities, the militant group described as “morons and fools” the 34 members of the coalition which Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said will be headquartered in Riyadh to coordinate mutual anti-terrorism assistance across the Islamic world.

“With permission from Allah, this alliance will be the beginning of the collapse of the governments of the oppressive tyrants in the lands of Islam,” said an article entitled “Mohammed bin Salman’s alliance of surprised allies”.

Confusion over the coalition’s role, even among its own members, has cast doubt on an initiative widely seen as an effort by Saudi Arabia to solidify its claim to leadership of the Sunni world against Shia Iran.

Another article criticised the participation of several Syrian rebel groups in a recent meeting in Riyadh which it said proved they were “disbelievers”.

Saudi Arabia has been hit by a spate of deadly shootings and bomb attacks this year, many of them laid at the door of Islamic State.

The group is bitterly opposed to Gulf Arab rulers and is seen as trying to stir up sectarian confrontation on the Arabian peninsula to bring about the overthrow of the ruling dynasties.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1227651/islamic-state-denounces-saudi-arabias-anti-is-coalition

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Yemen Strikes Saudi Coalition with More Ballistic Missiles, Several Apache Helicopters, Drones Destroyed

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces destroyed the Saudi military positions in the province of Ma’rib with their new Qaher-I ballistic missiles, killing tens of the kingdom’s forces.

The first Qaher-I missile hit Al-Tawwal border crossing in Saudi Arabia and the second missile targeted the Saudi-led special forces’ military base, destroying several Apache helicopters and spying drones in Safer region of Ma’rib province.

The Saudi-led forces’ drone control unit and several armored vehicles were destroyed during the Yemeni missile attack.

Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000590

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Senior Nusra Commander Killed in Russian Airstrikes in Idlib Province

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- Scores of al-Nusra Front militants, including a senior field commander, were killed and many more were wounded in the Russian fighter jets’ bombardments in the Northwestern province of Idlib, military sources announced on Sunday.

“Faisal al-Ghazi, a notorious commander of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front in Idlib province, was killed alongside his comrades in Kafr Nasfara, after the groups’ positions came under the massive air attacks of the Russian jets,” the sources said.

“In the meantime, the Russian fighter jets carried out several combat sorties over the positions of Jeish al-Fatah in the Southern part of Aleppo province, which claimed the lives of many terrorists,” the sources said.

“The militant groups’ military camps in the Northern part of the coastal province of Lattakia were also bombed by the Russian and Syrian warplanes,” the sources added.

The Russian fighter jets joined war on terrorism in Syria on September 30.

The Russian warplanes have played very crucial role in the Syrian ground forces in the recent two and a half months.

Head of Russian Long Range Aviation Anatoly Konovalov said on Saturday that his forces have carried out 145 sorties against ISIL targets in Syria since the operation began.

Russia’s air force has also fired about 20 cruise missiles on terrorist assets.

“We’ve carried out about 145 sorties in total; dropped over 1,500 bombs and fired about 20 air-launched cruise missiles,” Konovalov said.

The Russian air force has armed its Tu-95MS heavy bombers with its latest Raduga Kh-101 air-launched cruise missile, which made its combat debut in Syria over the past two months as well.

Unlike their Western analogues, the Russian cruise missiles, even those developed years ago, are all supersonic all, which means that they are able to penetrate the enemy’s missile defenses.

Since September 30, Russia has been conducting an aerial campaign in Syria against the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group following a request from President Bashar al-Assad.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000871

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Syrian Forces Intensify Attacks on ISIL Positions near Palmyra

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army, popular forces and Hezbollah fighters have launched a fresh round of operations against the ISIL defense lines around the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in the Central province of Homs on Sunday, battlefield sources said.

“The ISIL fortified positions in al-Tarr mountain, South of Aloun Farm and at the Western entrance of Palmyra city were massively attacked by the Syrian government forces,” the sources said.

“The Syrian forces’ operations have left dozes of the ISIL militants dead or wounded and have partly destroyed their sites,” the sources further added.

Sources said earlier today that the Syrian government troops fended off Takfiri terrorists’ attack on their positions in the direction of Wadi Abyad dam, West of Palmyra.

The terrorists who had launched an attack from al-Hayyal mountain suffered a heavy death toll after the Syrian army and the country’s National Defense Forces (NDF) thwarted their attack near Palmyra and pushed them back from the battlefield in a counter-attack.

The ISIL concentration centers, three vehicles and a machinegun-equipped car were also destroyed by the Syrian army and its allies.

In another development in the same province, the Syrian army also thwarted an attack by the ISIL on military points in the surroundings of Maheen and Hawareen villages, killing and injuring many terrorists and destroying their weapons and munitions.

The government forces have deployed a large number of fresh forces, including the army men, NDF and Hezbollah fighters in different directions of Palmyra and are waiting for the imminent conquest of Quaryatayn and Maheen regions to launch a large-scale operation to end the control of the ISIL over Palmyra.

Earlier, army said that the Western territories of Palmyra were the scenes of fierce clashes between the ISIL terrorists and the Syrian government forces, leaving many of the militants dead or wounded.

The Syrian army and its allies are resolved to push back the ISIL from Homs province, specially from Palmyra which is a treasure of historic monuments.

The Syrian Army announced on Saturday that its forces, Hezbollah and the NDF were advancing rapidly against the ISIL near Palmyra and were only 2 km to the city gates and 400 meters to the Palmyra Castle.

“The Syrian government forces’ operation was so heavy that the ISIL terrorists left behind their military hardware and retreated form the battlefield,” the army announced.

“The Syrian army and its allies have deployed forces only 400 meters away form the historical Palmyra Castle,” the army said.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000745

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Syrian Army, Hezbollah Capture Khan Touman in Groundbreaking Victory in Aleppo

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army alongside the National Defense Forces and Hezbollah fighters pushed the militant groups back form more territories in the Southwestern part of Aleppo province and regained full control over the town of Khan Touman on Sunday, informed sources said.

“Khan Touman, the main stronghold of the terrorist group of Jeish al-Fatah in the province, was recaptured minutes ago by the Syrian army and its allies,” the sources said.

“After recapturing of Qarassi village, the Syrian government forces stormed the militant groups near Khan Touman and broke through their defense lines, killed many and forced them to retreat from the town,” the sources added.

“Khan Touman and its nearby farms are under the full control of the Syrian forces,” they said.

At least 81 Jaish al-Fateh militants were killed in the clashes in Khan Touman this morning

“The Takfiri militant groups also withdrew forces from the Architecture Hill near Khan Touman after leaving behind scores of dead members,” the sources added.

The Militants are now without a primary supply route from the provincial capital of Idlib to Aleppo province as the Syrian government troops have now cut off the Aleppo-Damascus Highway

Earlier reports said that the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters, in a joint massive raid, pushed back the militant groups from more lands in the Southern part of Aleppo province after hours of fierce clashes.

“The militant groups withdrew forces from Qarassi village as a result of heavy offensives of the Syrian government forces,” the army said.

“Scores of the militants were killed or wounded in the attacks,” the army added.

“Qarassi is now under the full control of the army and its allies,” the army pointed out.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000703

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Syrian Forces Win Back More Territories South of Aleppo Province

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army announced on Sunday that the country’s soldiers and Hezbollah fighters, in a joint massive raid, pushed back the militant groups from more lands in the Southern part of Aleppo province after hours of fierce clashes.

“The militant groups withdrew forces from Qarassi village as a result of heavy offensives of the Syrian government forces,” the army said.

“Scores of the militants were killed or wounded in the attacks,” the army added.

“Qarassi is now under the full control of the army and its allies,” the army pointed out.

“The Syrian forces are advancing towards Khan Touman in the same region,” the army said.

“Intense clashes have been reported on Khan Touman axis between the army and the militant groups,” the army added.

On Saturday, the Syrian army reported several successful missions by its units after engagement in heavy clashes with different militant groups in several towns and villages in Aleppo province.

“The pro-government forces, including army soldiers and the National Defense Forces (NDF) stormed the positions of the militant groups near al-Zerbeh, Khan al-Asal, Khan Touman and Tal Hediye, and killed tens of terrorists in the raids,” the army said.

“The militant groups sustained a heavy death toll and their military vehicles were destroyed in the attacks,” the army added.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000517

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Iraqi Forces Take Control of 60 Percent of Ramadi City

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The security forces in the province of Anbar in Western Iraq announced that most of the city of Ramadi has been won back by the Iraqi army and popular forces.

“60 percent of Ramadi is now under the control of the Iraqi forces and it has been purged of Takfiri terrorists,” Raje Barakat, member of Anbar governor office’s security committee, said.

He reiterated that dozens of militants have been killed in the Iraqi forces’ operations.

Barakat said that the Iraqi forces are advancing in Ramadi city from several directions and the ISIL has come under their siege in the city center.

Meantime, Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi announced that the Iraqi forces are close to taking full control of Ramadi city.

“Losing Ramadi city was a heavy defeat to ISIL, but we have managed to change the balance of power in the city and seizing Ramadi will be a fundamental change,” Obeidi added.

On Wednesday, military sources announced that the Iraqi Army and the country’s popular forces were planning to start the last phase of their large-scale operation to liberate Ramadi city from the ISIL Takfiri terrorists.

“Ramadi is to be stormed in the upcoming days,” sources said.

“The commanders of the Iraqi army troops and the popular forces operating in the Ramadi battlefield have held several joint meetings in Anbar province to coordinate each others’ duties and missions in the final phase of liberating operation of the city,” the sources said.

“The army commander vowed to do their best to have a rapid access to the defense lines of the ISIL with the lowest possible casualties,” they added.

“The popular forces also are recruiting fresh fighters from the nearby villages and towns,” the sources went on to say.

On November 17, the Iraqi security forces crossed the Euphrates River, for the first time since the ISIL terrorists captured Ramadi city, advancing towards the center of the city.

The Iraqi forces also regained control of several government buildings and institutions in Ramadi.

The Iraqi forces also managed to raise the Iraqi flag over the city’s liberated areas after 4 days of intensified airstrikes on ISIL positions in Ramadi.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000489

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Israel Airstrike Kills Top Hezbollah Member near Syrian Damascus

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Israeli regime has carried out an airstrike on a residential area near the Syrian capital city of Damascus, reportedly killing a high ranking member of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, media reports said Sunday.

Samir Qantar was killed during the Israeli raid which targeted his home in the city of Jaramana located 10 kilometers from the capital in Damascus’ countryside early on Sunday, press tv reported.

Following the attack, Qantar’s brother wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that his brother was a martyr without giving more details about his death.

“With pride we mourn the martyrdom of the leader Samir Qantar and we are honored to join families of martyrs,” Bassam Qantar said on his Facebook page.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement also confirmed on Sunday that an Israeli raid on a residential building in the district of Jaramana in Damascus has killed Qantar.

Qantar was released from an Israeli prison during a prisoner swap between Hezbollah and Israel in 2008 after serving 29 years in detention.

The airstrike also left ten Syrian nationals dead, injuring a number of other civilians.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000598

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Syria in Last 24 Hours: Army Continues Countrywide Operations

Dec 20, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army continued hunting down the Takfiri terrorists across Syria, and razed down their strongholds and positions over the last 24 hours.

The army units carried out massive military operations in Lattakia, Sweida, Homs, Deir Ezzur and Damascus.

Lattakia

The Syrian Army and the popular forces pushed back the militant groups from at least eight strategic heights and a village in the Northern part of the coastal province of Lattakia after fierce battles with the militant groups, battlefield sources said Saturday.

“The Syrian army troops and the country’s National Defense Forces (NDF) carried out a joint large-scale operation in the mountainous part of Lattakia province and pushed back the terrorist groups from Heights 652, 687.5, 526, 662.8, 427, 754.5, Syriatel Tower, Jabal al-Aswad al-Kabir and Atira village,” the sources said.

“Over 25 Takfiri terrorists were killed or wounded in the Syrian government forces’ operation,” the sources added.

“The militant groups’ military hardware also sustained heavy damage in the attacks,” they said.

Sweida

The Syrian Army announced that its forces repelled an almost massive attack of the militant groups in the Northeastern part of Sweida province, killing and wounding several terrorists.

“The militants’ offensive on the government positions near Tha’ala village was repelled by the Syrian soldiers, who had been previously informed of the attack by the intelligence sources,” the army said.

“As soon as the militant groups reached the nearby areas of the village, the army’s artillery units shelled them heavily,” the army added.

“In the meantime, the army soldiers opened heavy fire on the militants with their machineguns and did not allow them to reach the village,” the army said.

“The militant groups sustained a heavy death toll as a result of heavy artillery shelling and machineguns’ fire of the Syrian forces, fled the battlefront after leaving behind their military equipment,” the army added.

The army, backed by the locals, has so far foiled several terrorists’ attacks as the militants try to infiltrate into the villages and residential areas in the Northeastern part of Sweida.

Homs

The Northern part of Homs province, in Central Syria, was the scene of heavy battles between the Syrian forces and the militant groups that claimed the lives of many terrorists, provincial sources said Saturday.

“Concentration centers of the Takfiri terrorists near al-Najma hill and Teirmaala village in Talbiseh region came under attack by the Syrian army and the country’s National Defense Forces,” the sources said.

“Many militants were killed in the battle, which lasted for hours, and many others were wounded too,” the sources added.

“The army soldiers, wounded in the battle, were rapidly transferred to the nearest field hospital,” the sources said.

“The militant groups left their wounded members behind and fled the battlefront, but the Syrian army transferred the wounded militants to its hospitals too,” the sources pointed out.

Deir Ezzur

The Syrian government forces fended off Takfiri terrorists’ attack on the strategic Deir Ezzur airbase.

The Syrian forces repelled the terrorists’ attack on Deir Ezzur airbase, and killed a number of militants, informed sources said Saturday.

The Syrian forces also safely destroyed two VBIEDs.

Damascus

The Syrian army killed a senior commander of Jaish al-Islam terrorist group in Damascus province on Saturday.

A senior commander of Jasih al-Islam was killed by the Syrian army in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus countryside.

The Syrian Army stormed the defense lines of the so-called Jeish al-Islam terrorist group Northeast of Damascus province, and inflicted heavy casualties on the terrorists, informed sources said Saturday.

“The strongholds of Jeish al-Islam on Harasta-al-Qantara road near Marj al-Sultan region came under massive attacks of the Syrian army and the country’s National Defense Forces (NDF), which left tens of the terrorists dead or wounded,” the sources said.

Omar al-Qutaifani, a leader of Jeish al-Islam, has been identified among the dead terrorists.

“The militant groups’ hotbed was completely destroyed in Syrian forces’ attack and all the weapons and ammunition in their depots were damaged,” the sources added.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940929000417

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South Asia

Six injured as bombs thrown at Bangladesh navy mosque

AFP | Dec 18, 2015

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh: Two bombs exploded at a mosque inside a navy base in the Bangladesh port city of Chittagong on Friday, injuring six, police said, adding that two people had been arrested.

Police said the mosque inside the Isha Khan naval base in the southeastern city was packed with worshippers attending Friday prayers when several bombs were thrown.

“Of the five bombs thrown at the mosque, two exploded. They looked like small grenades. Six people were injured,” deputy commissioner of the Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP) Harun Ur Rashid Hazari told AFP.

Two people were arrested at the scene but no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, he said.

Chittagong police chief Abdul Jalil Mandal confirmed the attack, saying the bombs were thrown towards the end of the weekly prayers.

Bangladesh has been roiled by rising unrest which has seen four atheist bloggers and a publisher hacked to death this year.

Two foreigners have also been shot dead — a Japanese farmer and an Italian aid worker — while several minority Sufi Muslim leaders and two policemen have been killed.

Police blame an outlawed Islamist militant group, Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh, for the recent violence while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government accuses the main opposition party and its Islamist ally of trying to trigger anarchy.

The parties deny the claims.

Analysts say Islamist militants pose a growing danger in conservative Bangladesh and that a long-running political crisis has radicalised opponents of the government.

There was no official comment from the Navy or the country’s armed forces on Friday’s attack.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Six-injured-as-bombs-thrown-at-Bangladesh-navy-mosque/articleshow/50234541.cms

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90 Afghan soldiers martyred in past 2 days, Helmand deputy governor says

Sun Dec 20 2015

Afghan soldiers killed in HelmandThe deputy provincial governor for southern Helmand province of Afghanistan Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar has said around 90 Afghan soldiers have lost their lives during the past 2 days as violence soars in the restive province.

In an online post via Facebook social media website, addressed to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Rasoulyar warned that Helmand will soon fall to Taliban militants.

According to Rasoulyar, the Afghan forces suffered casualties during clashes in Greshk and Sangin districts.

Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/90-afghan-soldiers-martyred-in-past-2-days-helmand-deputy-governor-says-1832

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Unidentified gunmen kidnap three civilians on Kabul-Ghazni highway

Sun Dec 20 2015

Taliban fighters display their weapons during a patrol in Ghazni province on January 23, 2010. The commander of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan has said foreign fighters allied with the Taliban cannot be “reintegrated” into Afghan society and some may have to be killed or captured. Plans by Kabul to persuade Taliban members to lay down their arms would not apply to foreigners who had joined the insurgency, often for ideological reasons, US General Stanley McChrystal suggested in a NATO video posted on the web on. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO/STR

A group of unidentified gunmen have kidnapped three civilians on Kabul-Ghazni highway, an official said on Sunday.

Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/unidentified-gunmen-kidnap-three-civilians-on-kabul-ghazni-highway-4406

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8 Afghan Air Force pilots graduate from training in United States

Sat Dec 19 2015

Afghan pilots graduate in United StatesEight Afghan Air Force pilots completed their training and graduated from a program hosted by the 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base in United States and will return to Afghanistan for combat, it has been reported.

The graduation of the Afghan Air Force pilots comes as the Afghan national security forces are in critical need of close air support as they are full in security lead during the past one year.

Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/8-afghan-air-force-pilots-graduate-from-training-in-united-states-1831

——–

Taliban kill three civilians in Jawzjan

Sat Dec 19 2015

Jawzjan-Police HeadquartersTaliban militants have killed three civilians who had stood up against insurgency in northwestern Jawzjan province.

Colonel Abdul Hafiz Khashi, Jawzjan’s police chief said the incident took place in Kukoldash area of Faizabad District on Friday night.

He added that the assailants came on a motorcycle and fled the area after killing three young men in front of a shop.

Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Jawzjan was one of the comparatively secured provinces in the northwestern part of the country but its security situation has been deteriorating most recently.

Taliban have ramped up their activities in Jawzjan which has prompted armed-mobilization against them in parts of the province.

http://www.khaama.com/taliban-kill-three-civilians-in-jawzjan-4401

——–

NDS prevents suicide attack in Baghlan

Sat Dec 19 2015

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) – Afghanistan’s intelligence agency has prevented the occurrence of a suicide attack in northern Baghlan province.

A statement released by NDS on Saturday states that they have arrested a would-be suicide bomber from Du Saraka area of Pul-i-Khumri, provincial capital of Baghlan, who had planned to blast his explosives in a crowded area of the city.

The statement adds that a “Saracha” vehicle and two cell phones were recovered from the possession of the terrorist namely Minaj S/O Hussain.

In a separate raid in Dushi Bridge area, NDS personnel seized 2,000 kilograms of hashish hidden under coal in a Truck.

A footage released by NDS shows the suspected terrorist with his suicide vest and the seized hashish with a truck confiscated during the raid.

Statements released by NDS usually do not contain exact date of the achievements but they come after recent activities.

http://www.khaama.com/nds-prevents-suicide-attack-in-baghlan-4402

——–

North America

US Embassy in Pakistan warns of possible terror attacks

AP | Dec 19, 2015, 09.15 PM IST

ISLAMABAD: The American Embassy in Islamabad says it has received information on possible terrorist attacks in the Pakistani capital in late December, especially during the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

The US embassy’s warning for American citizens says “possible targets include places of worship and shopping centers”. Pakistani police and other officials were not available Saturday to comment on the US warning. A Pakistani intelligence official says there is a “general threat perception” but no specific threats. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The US warning says American citizens should “minimize the number and duration of trips” to crowded places such as markets, restaurants, hotels and places of worship.

American government personnel are under additional movement restrictions.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/US-Embassy-in-Pakistan-warns-of-possible-terror-attacks/articleshow/50248571.cms

——–

How `Islamic lesson’ furore deepens fault lines in US

Agencies | Dec 20, 2015

RICHMOND: The homework assignment at a US high school asked students to reproduce a sample of classical Arabic handwriting, to help broaden their appreciation of its “artistry”. Instead, it sparked an uproar -and even threats of violence -that led officials on Friday to temporarily shut down all schools in a Virginia county , as reported by TOI on Saturday .

Augusta County Public Schools officials said no specific threat of harm had been made against students in the district, located in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley about 240 km southwest of Washington. But the volume of calls and emails related to the high school class lesson and concerns over their “tone and content” prompted the school closures, according to a statement on the district’s website.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/How-Islamic-lesson-furore-deepens-fault-lines-in-US/articleshow/50251606.cms

———

India

PM Modi to inaugurate India-built Afghan Parliament building

Sun Dec 20 2015

narendra-modi-47-2Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Kabul in near for inaugurating the India-built parliament building of Afghanistan, with its construction work scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.

Sources in India’s Ministry of Urban Development have told The Times of India that the building and other facilities will be ready in the next fortnight and that it will be ready for inauguration by MP Modi soon.

The construction work on this building begun with an aide of Rs. 710 crore by India’s state-owned construction agency Central Public Works Department (CPWD) in December 2009 and was scheduled to be completed by December 2011 but it was delayed.

Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/pm-modi-to-inaugurate-india-built-afghan-parliament-building-4406

———–

Southeast Asia

Malaysia’s first Shariah-compliant airline to start flying tomorrow

December 19, 2015

Malaysia’s first Shariah-compliant airline to start flying tomorrow — Photo courtesy of Facebook/Rayani AirMalaysia’s first Shariah-compliant airline to start flying tomorrow — Photo courtesy of Facebook/Rayani AirKUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 — Malaysia’s first Shariah-compliant airline Rayani Air is scheduled to begin operations tomorrow, with its maiden flight from klia2 here to its home base in Langkawi.

Local broadcaster Astro Awani reported Rayani Air managing director Jaafar Zamhari as saying that the airline, which he said is full service like national carrier Malaysia Airlines, only serves halal food and does not serve alcohol.

“It is compulsory for our Muslim women cabin crew to wear hijab and for non-Muslim to wear a decent uniform,” Jaafar was quoted saying at a press conference yesterday.

“We also recite doa (prayers) before the departure of each flight, we have a ‘no-alcohol’ policy, and we provide food and beverages that are halal,” he added.

Jaafar also reportedly said Rayani Air was not a low-cost carrier nor was it a hybrid airline, despite a description about the airline on its website that called it the “latest low cost carrier from Malaysia that puts the customers first”.

According to Jaafar, Rayani Air will, for a start, fly to Langkawi, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Bharu, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/malaysias-first-shariah-compliant-airline-to-start-flying-tomorrow

——–

Dozens rescued floating at sea after abandoning Indonesian ferry

Reuters | Dec 20, 2015

JAKARTA: Dozens of people with life jackets were found floating in Indonesia’s Gulf of Bone on Sunday, some clinging to a fish trap, after abandoning their ferry in rough seas off Sulawesi Island, said officials, adding that two passengers had died.

Fishermen found four people alive in a fish trap and took them to hospital in the town of Siwa on Sulawesi island, the head of the local rescue team, Roki Azikin told Reuters.

A transport ministry spokesman said another 21 people were later found at sea.

“(The boat) may be upside down now,” Azikin said.

“Other passengers are still out in the sea wearing life jackets and we’re evacuating,” he added.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Dozens-rescued-floating-at-sea-after-abandoning-Indonesian-ferry/articleshow/50252225.cms

——–

Suspected terrorists arrested in Indonesia ‘planned to detonate bombs’ in Java, Sumatra

By Indonesia correspondent Adam Harvey

Indonesian police have arrested six suspected Islamic State supporters who were allegedly preparing terror attacks for later this month.

In a series of raids across the island of Java, Indonesia’s special anti-terror unit uncovered bomb-making materials and a black IS-style flag.

Those arrested include a teacher at an Islamic school and one of his students.

National police chief Badrodin Haiti said anti-terror police from unit Densus 88 acted after information received from the Australian Federal Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Full report at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-20/suspected-terrorists-arrested-in-indonesia-over-bomb-threat/7044128

——–

Is Indonesia winning its fight against Islamic extremism?

By Mike Thomson BBC News, Jakarta

19 December 2015

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but are its local Islamic traditions in danger of being overtaken by fundamentalism?

As I thread my way through crowds of worshippers at central Jakarta’s grand Istiqlal Mosque, traditionally dressed religious students grab my arms and pull me towards them.

“Take your photo with me!” shouts one. “No, first with me!” shouts another. Several small cameras appear as I am propelled to the centre of their smiling, boisterous group. All raise their thumbs in the air as the cameras start clicking.

Full report at: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35055487

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Two children reported dead as Indonesia ferry drifts in stormy seas

Dec 20, 2015

Rescuers trying to reach an Indonesian ferry adrift in rough seas have found the bodies of two small children as well as 23 survivors, officials say.

Two ships are searching for the missing vessel, which has more than 100 people on board, the transport ministry said.

Authorities on Sulawesi island said the ship had been hit by high waves and its engine had broken down.

Officials said the last contact from the ship’s captain said that water was beginning to enter the vessel.

The ship left Kolaka in south-east Sulawesi province with 118 passengers and crew on Saturday morning local time, officials said, and was bound for the port of Siwa across the Gulf of Boni.

Transport ministry spokesman JA Barata said a distress signal was sent out later in the day saying the ship had “had an accident as a result of large waves”.

Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands linked by ferry services, but correspondents say the industry has a poor safety record.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35142740

——–

Africa

Burundi rejects 5,000 Africa Union peacekeeping force, says it will view deployment as attack

Dec 20, 2015

Burundi’s government on Saturday rejected the African Union’s plans to deploy a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force to stop escalating violence triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s extended tenure in office, a government spokesman said.

If the African Union sends troops without Burundi’s consent it will be viewed as an attack, said government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba. Burundi has enough forces to maintain peace, he said.

Full report at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/burundi-rejects-5000-africa-union-peacekeeping-force-says-it-will-view-deployment-as-attack/article27885260/

———–

Europe

Air France flight forced to land in Kenya over bomb scare

AP | Dec 20, 2015

NAIROBI: An Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa after a device suspected to be a bomb was found in the lavatory, a Kenyan police official said Sunday.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Air-France-flight-forced-to-land-in-Kenya-over-bomb-scare/articleshow/50253733.cms

 

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