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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Drone strike kills Taliban commander

A U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday night killed a key militant commander, his deputy and as many as eight others according to intelligence sources.  This morning Reuters  reported that Maulvi Nazir Wazir, also known as Mullah Nazir, had been killed by a missile strike on a mud house in South Waziristan, close to the border with Afghanistan. Nazir was the leader of one of Pakistan’s four major militant factions and had recently survived a suicide bomb attack blamed on a rival faction. Nazir had presided over an uneasy alliance between his militant faction and the Pakistan government since 2007 and was seen as a pivotal figure in the region. He had opposed Taliban attacks on the Pakistani military and had expelled foreign militants from the area, earning him praise from Pakistan’s military leadership. It has been suggested that his death will alter the power balance in Pakistan’s sensitive tribal regions and may have caused contention between Pakistan and the U.S.

Argentina re-ignites Falklands row

Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has issued an open letter to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron calling for negotiations on the issue of the Falkland Islands.  The letter, published as an advertisement in the Guardian and Independent newspapers, describes the islands as having being “forcibly stripped” from Argentina by Britain and demands that the question of their sovereignty be re-opened. Citing a 1965 United Nations (U.N.) resolution on colonialism and self-determination, Fernández urges the U.K. to “return the territories to the Argentine Republic” and restore their “territorial integrity:” The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office has previously ruled out any new negotiations declaring that the decision over sovereignty lies with the islanders, in accordance with the U.N. principle of self-determination. In a response this morning, Cameron rebuffed Fernández’s letter, expressing that the people of the Falkland Islands had shown “a clear desire to remain British.” A Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister would “do everything to protect the interests of the Falklands islanders.”  A referendum on the islands’ political status is scheduled for March.

Delhi Gang Rape Suspects Charged

Five men have been formally charged with the rape and murder of a student on a bus in New Delhi.  The men, who were not present in court this morning, have been accused of the December 16 attack which left the 23-year old woman with fatal injuries. A sixth man has also been accused, but will be tried separately in a juvenile court. Prosecutors are expected to call for the death penalty, a move supported by the woman’s family. The case will be heard in a new fast-track court in south Delhi which was created specifically to deal with crimes against women, following widespread anger across India. Demonstrations have been taking place in the capital since the attack, with protesters calling for a change in attitudes to woman in India and for the laws on violence against women to be amended. Delhi officials have responded with a number of measures intended to improve safety for women in the city, including more police patrols, an emergency helpline and increased vetting of bus drivers. A committee under a retired Supreme Court judge has also been established by the Indian government to address the country’s anti-rape laws.

Three killed in Switzerland shooting

Swiss police announced this morning that a shooting last night has left three people dead and two wounded.  According to the police statement, local police forces were alerted to the incident by a caller in the village of Daillon, approximately 100 km (60 miles) east of Geneva.  A 33 year old man, believed to be unemployed and a former mental health patient, is reported to have used an assault weapon to fire approximately 20 shots at his victims, before threatening to fire at the police. He was wounded in the police response and has been arrested. No motive has been given for the attacks, although several media reports have suggested that the man was a drug addict and may have been drinking heavily prior to the attack.

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