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At least 14 killed as boat overloaded with migrants capsizes off Malaysia
By Trinna Leong KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - An overloaded wooden boat believed to be carrying dozens of Indonesian illegal immigrants sank off the coast of Malaysia on Thursday, killing at least 14 people, among them 13 women, maritime officials said. The boat, which maritime officials estimated had about 70 people aboard, had left Sabak Bernam in Malaysia's western state of Selangor for Sumatra in neighboring Indonesia when the accident happened. Initial conversations with survivors led officials to believe the passengers were Indonesian, said Muhammad Aliyas Hamdan, an official of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
Family of Syrian toddler on Turkish beach tried to reach Canada: report
By Tulay Karadeniz nANKARA (Reuters) - The family of a Syrian toddler whose body washed up on a Turkish beach had been trying to emigrate to Canada after fleeing the war-torn town of Kobani, one of their relatives told a Canadian newspaper on Thursday. A photograph of the tiny body of three-year old Aylan Kurdi washed up in the Aegean resort of Bodrum swept social media on Wednesday, spawning sympathy and outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations in helping refugees. "I heard the news at five o?clock this morning," Teema Kurdi, Abdullah?s sister and a resident of Vancouver, was quoted as saying by Canada's National Post newspaper.
EU's Tusk calls for at least 100,000 refugees to be redistributed
European Union countries should sharply increase offers to share out asylum seekers across the bloc to relocate at least 100,000 and should set up refugee reception centers outside Europe, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Thursday. "Fair distribution of at least 100,000 refugees among EU states is what we need to do," Tusk, who chairs summits of EU leaders, told a joint news conference in Brussels with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. EU countries have so far committed to share about 32,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, a number short of a European Commission proposal of 40,000.
French PM urges action after images of dead migrant toddler
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said images of a drowned Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach showed the need for urgent action by Europe to address the migrant crisis. "He had a name: Aylan Kurdi. Urgent action required - A Europe-wide mobilization is urgent," he wrote on his Twitter feed on Thursday.
Migrants leave Budapest for Austrian frontier; pressure builds for EU action
By Marton Dunai BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hundreds of migrants left Budapest aboard a packed train bound for a town near the Austrian border on Thursday after two days of chaos symbolic of a European asylum system brought to breaking point. Exhausted and confused, migrants crammed onto a train to the Hungarian border town of Sopron, clinging to doors and squeezing their children through open carriage windows. Trains to Vienna and beyond to Germany were canceled, making it unclear what would be the next stop for the migrants - many of them refugees from wars in the Middle East.
Turkey's Erdogan calls on Europe to be more sensitive on migrants
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on Thursday for developed countries, notably in Europe, to be more sensitive on the immigration crisis, saying he did not consider the way some European countries classify refugees as humane. In a speech at a conference in Ankara, Erdogan also said that terrorism was the biggest threat to the economy and a growing problem on which Western nations were not showing enough sensitivity. (Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall)
Hungarian police stop train and take migrants off
Hungarian police stopped the first train bound for the town of Sopron near the Austrian border on Thursday and told migrants to get off at the town of Bicske where Hungary has a migrant reception center, a Reuters reporter said. About 50 riot police were lined up near the train. One carriage was emptied by police and five more carriages full of migrants were still standing at the station.
Two blasts rock Cameroon town previously attacked by Boko Haram
YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Two explosions hit a village in northern Cameroon on Thursday that has previously been attacked by Boko Haram Islamist militants from neighbouring Nigeria, two Cameroon army officiers said. "The first was just after 9 o'clock (0800 GMT) in the market in Kerawa and the other around 200 metres (yards) from the (military) infantry camp. For the moment we don't have a death toll," one of the officers told Reuters.
Congo militia chief tried to protect civilians, war crimes court told
By Thomas Escritt THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Lawyers for militia leader Bosco Ntaganda sought on Thursday to counter a portrayal of their client as cruel and bloodthirsty, saying he was a professional soldier who had tried to protect civilians from chaos and disorder in Congo in the early 2000s. Accounts of rape and massacres in northeast Congo have dominated the first two days of his trial, with prosecutors saying Ntaganda gathered a guerrilla army to strengthen his allies and corner the region's mineral resources for himself. "The Union of Congolese Patriots' (UPC) aim was to take political and military control of Ituri and to protect the population from attacks," said defence counsel Luc Boutin.
Over 230,000 migrants arrive in Greece this year: official
More than 230,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece by sea this year, a huge rise from 17,500 in the same period in 2014, deputy shipping minister Nikos Zois said Thursday. "It's an exponential rise -- I don't know how anyone could prepare for it," Zois told a press conference. Speaking alongside other ministers from Greece's interim government on the response to the crisis, Zois said that "calls to throw them out" cannot be the basis of Athens' policy for dealing with the unprecedented influx.
Migrants 'taken off Hungarian train near refugee camp'
A Hungarian train bound for towns near the Austrian border with several hundred migrants onboard was stopped near one of the country's four main refugee camps and the migrants taken off, state news agency MTI reported. The train stopped at Bicske, around 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Budapest, and police took the migrants off and directed them on to buses to take them to the nearby camp, MTI reported from the scene. AFP estimated there were around 200-300 migrants on board.
Migrant families lay on tracks near train stopped by Hungarian police
Dozens of migrants lay on train tracks in a station in the Hungarian town of Bicske on Thursday to protest against being taken to a nearby camp, and one family - a man, his wife and their toddler - had to be wrestled off the ground by police. It took a dozen riot police to get them up, a Reuters reporter at the scene said. Other migrants caught in the train station underpass pushed back dozens of riot police blocking the top of the stairs to fight their way back on board the train.
Shooting exposes holes at heart of Northern Ireland peace deal
By Conor Humphries BELFAST (Reuters) - When masked gunmen linked to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) opened fire on a former member outside his Belfast home last month, they blew a hole in the already tattered agreement holding the British province together. The police said the gun attack showed that the IRA, responsible for around half of those deaths, was still active, infuriating one pro-British party which pulled out of the grand coalition. The other is threatening to follow even though Sinn Fein, the political party associated with the IRA, says the IRA has "left the stage".
Kentucky clerk faces judgment day in same-sex marriage dispute
By Steve Bittenbender ASHLAND, Ky. (Reuters) - A county clerk in Kentucky who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on her religious beliefs heads to court on Thursday where a federal judge could hold her in contempt for defying his order to do so. Lawyers for Kim Davis, the elected Rowan County clerk who is an Apostolic Christian, on Wednesday asked U.S. District Judge David Bunning to temporarily block his order requiring her to issue marriage licenses while she appeals the issue. Davis has refused to issue licenses to any couples, gay or straight, since the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the U.S. Constitution.
China lauds power, proclaims peace at military spectacular
Chinese President Xi Jinping lauded his country as a major power and a force for world peace Thursday as he presided over a spectacular military parade marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II. With concerns rife over China's rise, Xi announced that the People's Liberation Army -- the world's largest military -- would be reduced by 300,000 personnel, although the defence ministry said the cuts would mainly fall on outdated units and non-combat staff. The mixed messages drew a rebuke from Japan which said it was "disappointed" by Xi's speech for focusing too much on the past and for its lack of "rapprochement" between the Asian powers, the world's second- and third-largest economies.
Drowned toddler sparks fresh horror over Europe migrant crisis
Heart-rending pictures of a toddler's lifeless body washed ashore on a Turkish beach sparked horror on Wednesday as the cost of Europe's growing refugee crisis hit home. The images of a tiny child lying face down in the surf at one of Turkey's main tourist resorts has once more put a human face on the dangers faced by tens of thousands of desperate people who risk life and limb to seek a new life in Europe. Wearing a red T-shirt and blue shorts, the child -- identified as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi -- is believed to be one of least 12 Syrians who died when their boats sank trying to reach Greece.
Zimbabwean government minister charged with bribery, faces trial
Zimbabwean prosecutors have charged one of President Robert Mugabe's cabinet ministers with bribery and abuse of office in the first corruption case against a senior government official since 2004. Critics and the opposition accuse Mugabe of turning a blind eye to graft, especially among his close allies and ministers, and say endemic corruption is one reason that foreign companies are not investing. Martin Dinha, Minister of Provincial Affairs for Mashonaland Central Province, north of the capital Harare, appeared at the Bindura magistrates court in the province on Wednesday, where he was charged and then released on $1,000 bail.
Special Report: In Egypt, jailed Islamists 'dying of neglect'
By Stephen Kalin DAMIETTA, Egypt (Reuters) - Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker Mohammad al-Falahgi was arrested on terror charges in 2013 and held in prison, but never convicted. Egyptian and international human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, say cases like Falahgi's amount to a little-noticed abuse of human rights under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Human Rights Watch says Egypt is obliged under international law to give detainees the same health care that is available to ordinary citizens.
French soldier in Central African Republic accused of sexual abuse: U.N
A French soldier deployed to Central African Republic has been accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl in the latest in a series of misconduct allegations against peacekeeping forces there, the United Nations' top human rights official said. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said U.N. staff were informed on Aug. 30 of allegations that a French soldier sexually abused a girl in her mid-to-late teens last year.
Poland PM says EU must help refugees, but does not want automatic quotas
The European Union must help people who flee wars, and Poland is ready to discuss its role, but it does not want to accept automatic quotas, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said on Thursday. "Poland does not shun responsibility, our decisions have to be first of all effective in bringing help to those who need it, (but not for those) who see chances for better life (migrating to Europe)," she also said.
Hungary police to check migrants on trains heading for western border
Hungarian police will stick to the European Union's Schengen rules and make all checks needed on migrants traveling on domestic trains towards the country's western border, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Thursday. Janos Lazar also told a news conference that the current chaotic situation at Budapest's eastern railway station was due to Germany's controversial messages to Syrian migrants. "This is because Germany...more than a week ago told Syrians that Germany awaited them, inviting them to the laid table," Lazar said, adding that then Germany tried to force controls on migrants the next day.
Guatemalan president accused of corruption resigns: spokesman
Embattled Guatemalan President Otto Perez announced his resignation Thursday, after a warrant was issued for his arrest for allegedly masterminding a huge fraud scheme. The conservative leader, in power since 2012, decided to step down to confront "individually the proceedings against him," his spokesman Jorge Ortega said, hours after the arrest warrant was issued. On Tuesday, Congress stripped him of his immunity, paving the way for him to be prosecuted.
Uganda says 12 of its soldiers killed in Islamist attack in Somalia
Twelve Ugandan soldiers who served as African Union peacekeepers were killed when militants attacked their base in Somalia this week, a Ugandan military spokesman said on Thursday. The statement suggests a lower death toll than the 70 claimed by al Shabaab, which carried out Tuesday's attack, although spokesman Paddy Ankunda said he could not confirm if peacekeepers of other nationalities had been killed. The AU peacekeeping mission, known as AMISOM, has not yet released casualty figures for Tuesday's attack, which came roughly a year after al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a U.S. air strike.
Row over Libyan sovereign fund LIA reaches UK court
A row between Libya's two rival governments over control of the $67 billion Libyan Investment Authority, the country's sovereign wealth fund, has escalated with one of the would-be chairmen asking a London court to settle the dispute. Libya is torn between two governments, one based in Tripoli and the second in the east of the country, which have appointed different heads of various institutions, including the LIA, part of the chaos four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi. Hassan Bouhadi, LIA chairman from the internationally recognised government based in eastern Libya, said he had initiated proceedings in the London Commercial Court to determine who has the authority to appoint a board of directors to manage the fund's UK-based assets.
Image of dead boy piles pressure on Cameron over Syrian refugees
By Estelle Shirbon LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron came under pressure on Thursday to take in more refugees after the image of a dead Syrian toddler washed up on a Turkish beach raised the emotional temperature of the debate. Cameron was widely criticised for saying on Wednesday that he did not think the answer was to take more and more refugees but to bring peace and stability to the Middle East, hours before the harrowing image emerged. "Mr Cameron, summer is over ... Now deal with the biggest crisis facing Europe since WW2," read a headline on the front page of the Sun, Britain's highest-selling newspaper, above the image of the lifeless boy being carried away.
At least 14 dead after migrant boat sinks off Malaysia: official
At least 14 migrants drowned Thursday after an overcrowded boat carrying up to 100 people sank off the coast of Malaysia. "Local fishermen have rescued 15 people and fished out from the sea 14 bodies -- 13 women and one man," Mohamad Aliyas Hamdan, the local head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, told AFP. "We have deployed 12 ships and a plane along with some 200 officers to carry out the search and rescue operation for the remaining victims," he said.
Sudanese poachers kill elephants amid Central Africa chaos: UN experts
By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Sudanese poachers have been taking advantage of the chaos in conflict-torn Central African Republic and are killing elephants for their ivory and other wild animals, an expert panel that monitors U.N. sanctions said in a confidential report seen by Reuters. Central African Republic (CAR) descended into chaos in March 2013 when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, triggering reprisals by "anti-balaka" Christian militias who drove tens of thousands of Muslims from the south in a de facto partition of the landlocked country. One of the main problems is trafficking in "blood diamonds." In May two groups of some 200 poachers from Sudan were active in eastern CAR, killing elephants and other wild animals, according to the report.
Director hits back at critics of Taylor Swift's African video
The director of Taylor Swift's new music video set in Africa struck back on Wednesday at mounting criticism of the scarcity of black people in the mini-film and its romanticized portrayal of the continent. "Wildest Dreams," a love story filmed against a backdrop of giraffes, lions, waterfalls and stunning sunsets, has been viewed more than 15 million times since it was released on Monday to accompany the American pop superstar's latest single. Although Swift is donating all proceeds to the African Parks Foundation of America, critics have seized on the video as portraying a stereotyped colonial-era view of Africa.
Bulgaria detains 125 migrants, sending message to others
Bulgaria said it had detained 125 foreigners in the capital Sofia for illegally crossing into the country without submitting requests for asylum, signaling its determination to tackle an influx that has overwhelmed its neighbors. Georgi Kostov, secretary general of the interior ministry, said the migrants, detained late on Wednesday night, would be questioned and may be granted refugee status. Tens of thousands of migrants, most of them fleeing war and hardship in Syria, are trying to reach Hungary through the Balkans from Greece via Bulgaria's neighbors, non-EU Macedonia and Serbia.
Nigerian state oil company to split up downstream subsidiary
Nigeria's state oil company chief said on Wednesday that the firm's downstream arm, Pipelines and Products Marketing Co (PPMC), would be split into three parts as part of an overhaul of the graft-ridden energy behemoth. "PPMC will be split into a pipelines company that will focus primarily on the maintenance of over five thousand kilometers (of) pipelines, a storage company that will maintain over 23 depots and a products marketing company," Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp, said in an emailed statement. Kachikwu was appointed in July and launched a three-pronged restructuring of NNPC that is to include an audit of the firm's notoriously shady accounts.
Hungary will stop trains bound for Budapest at border: Czech, Slovak railways
PRAGUE (Reuters) - Trains heading for Budapest from Slovakia and the Czech Republic will be stopped at the Hungarian border town of Szob, the Czech and Slovak passenger railway operators said on Thursday, as migrants from Syria flood towards the Hungarian capital. Czech Railways and Slovak railway company ZSSK said in separate statements that their Hungarian counterpart had informed them that passengers will be provided with alternative means of travel to Budapest. ...
Hungary's Orban says migrant package to be in place by Sept. 15
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday that his country should have in place by Sept. 15 a package of regulations, including a physical barrier, to counter an influx of migrants. "We Hungarians are full of fear, people in Europe are full of fear because they see that the European leaders, among them the prime ministers, are not able to control the situation," Orban said after a meeting with European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Brussels. "I came here to inform the president that Hungary did everything possible in order to keep the regulations.
China holds massive military parade, to cut troop levels by 300,000
By Ben Blanchard BEIJING (Reuters) - President Xi Jinping announced on Thursday he would cut troop levels by 300,000 as China held its biggest display of military might in a parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War Two, an event shunned by most Western leaders. China's confidence in its armed forces and growing military assertiveness, especially in the disputed South China Sea, has rattled the region and drawn criticism from Washington. Xi, speaking on a rostrum overlooking Beijing's Tiananmen Square before the parade began, said China would cut by 13 percent one of the world's biggest militaries, currently 2.3-million strong.
Vietnam index ends down 1.4 in volatile trade
HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam's benchmark VN Index closed down 1.42 percent on Thursday, the third fall this week, dragged by the losses of banks and energy stocks due in part to lower global oil prices. The fall on Thursday, making Vietnam the sole one-day decliner in Southeast Asia, brought the market's combined loss this week to nearly 3 percent. PetroVietnam Gas , the country's third-biggest firm by market value, dropped 3.99 percent following the fall of oil prices on a surprise build in U.S. inventory levels and a firm dollar. Vietcombank , Vietnam's top lender by capitalisation, fell 2. ...
Stocks rally but investors wary before ECB forecasts
By Jamie McGeever LONDON (Reuters) - World stocks rose on Thursday and the dollar held steady as cautious investors awaited new growth and inflation forecasts from the European Central Bank later in the day and U.S. jobs data on Friday. The ECB left interest rates unchanged, as forecast, but central bank chief Mario Draghi is expected to unveil revised forecasts in a news conference beginning at 1230 GMT (8.30 a.m. EDT). U.S. employment data could be a major factor in determining whether the Federal Reserve raises rates later this month. ...
Venus seeks sisterly advice to take down Swiss teenager
By Steve Keating NEW YORK (Reuters) - Venus Williams earned a shot at a little family revenge by outlasting American compatriot Irina Falconi 6-3 6-7(2) 6-2 to set up an intriguing U.S. Open third round clash with Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic on Wednesday. Venus will seek out a scouting report from little sister and world number one Serena (50-2), who has only lost two matches this season, one of those to the 18-year-old Swiss prospect in Toronto last month. More significantly, Bencic, who rallied for a 5-7 7-6(3) 6-3 win over Japan's Misaki Doi, stands in the way of a potential all-Williams quarter-final clash that would see Venus attempting to end Serena's bid for the rare calendar-year Grand Slam.
No plans to stop or check arriving refugees - Vienna police chief
VIENNA (Reuters) - Refugees arriving in Vienna from Hungary will not be controlled or registered and will be allowed to continue their journey onwards, the police chief in Austria's capital said on Thursday. "What we certainly can't do is check all those people coming through, establish all their identities, or possibly even arrest them -- we can't do this, and we have no plans to do this," Gerhard Puerstl told reporters. ...
Congo bans documentary about renowned rape trauma surgeon
Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday banned a documentary film about a doctor who treats war rape victims, leading the film makers to say the government was trying to silence debate about sexual violence. Media Minister Lambert Mende gave no reason for the decision to ban "The Man who Mends Women (L'Homme Qui Repare Les Femmes)", which is about Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, the founder of Panzi Hospital in the eastern city of Bukavu. Sexual violence by militias and the army is a defining atrocity of a conflict in eastern Congo that has lasted two decades, and the hospital has treated thousands of rape victims.
Sierra Leone to vaccinate 200 people connected to Ebola victim
Sierra Leone is to vaccinate around 200 people who came into direct or indirect contact with a woman who died of Ebola on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the U.N. World Health Organisation said on Wednesday. The death of the woman, a trader from Kambia District near the border with Guinea, sets back efforts to end an 18-month epidemic that has infected more than 28,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and killed more than a third of them. The 67-year-old woman died five days after Sierra Leone started a 42-day countdown to being declared free of Ebola. "We will vaccinate those in the (Tonko Limba) chiefdom who came into direct contact with the deceased and those contacts they also came into close contact with," said WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris.
Mali river boat accident kills at least 18
BAMAKO (Reuters) - At least 18 people died when a pirogue carrying passengers on the River Niger in central Mali capsized on Wednesday, said a spokesman for the country's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. There were four missing and 70 survivors from the accident that took place around 5 a.m. (0500 GMT) in the rural community of Deboye in Mopti region's Bangou locality, spokesman Sounkolo Togola told Reuters. A security source said overcrowding was a likely cause. ...