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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kurdish Activists Killed in Paris

Three Kurdish women were found shot dead at the Kurdistan information centre in Paris this morning, in what has been labeled a “politically motivated” killing. The women were discovered in a room at the centre with bullet wounds believed to have been caused by a silenced weapon. One of the women is said to be Sakine Cansiz, co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group calling for increased Kurdish autonomy. The group has been waging a 28-year insurgency against the Turkish state and has been designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and European Union. In an effort to end the conflict, the Turkish government recently acknowledged entering discussions with the group’s jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan, reportedly agreeing on a framework for a peace plan with the dissident. Kurdish groups have suggested the murders may be an attempt to derail peace talks.

Anger at Saudi Execution

Human rights groups have condemned Saudi Arabia after the execution of a Sri Lankan domestic worker accused of killing an infant in her care in 2005. In a statement run by the official SPA new agency, the Saudi Interior Ministry confirmed that Sri Lankan Rizana Nafeek was beheaded on Wednesday morning, prompting criticism from rights groups including London-based Amnesty International. Nafeek was sentenced to death in 2007 for allegedly killing her Saudi employer’s infant daughter whilst bottle-feeding. According to Amnesty International, although her passport showed she was born in 1982, Nafeek’s birth certificate showed a birth date six years later, making her a minor at the time of the incident. Her alleged lack of access to legal aid, as well the uncertainty over her age, have led to questions over the trial’s fairness.

Proposed E.U. referendum criticised

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to open the European Union membership debate to the public in a referendum has come under fire from senior officials in the U.S. and Germany. During a two day visit to the U.K., the chair of Germany’s European affairs committee, Gunther Krichbaum, expressed concern that a referendum would risk leaving Britain isolated and could “ paralyze efforts for a better Europe.” Krichbaum’s remarks echoed those of US assistant secretary of state for European affairs, Philip Gordon, who yesterday warned Cameron on the dangers of holding a referendum. Gordon, who was in London to meet the U.K. Europe Minister, David Lidington, stressed that a “strong British voice” in the E.U. is “in America’s interest.” The remarks have been interpreted by some commentators as a warning from the Obama administration that a referendum could threaten Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with America .  Cameron is expected to make a speech regarding a referendum in the near future.

Police arrest four terror suspects

Four men have been arrested by U.K. anti-terrorism police investigating travel to Syria” in support of alleged terrorist activity”. Three of the men, aged 18, 22 and 31, were arrested early this morning on raids at addresses in east London. A 33-year-old man was arrested as he attempted to fly out of the U.K. from Gatwick Airport yesterday. A police spokesman said the men were in custody awaiting interrogation by officers from the  Metropolitan police service’s counter-terrorism command.

Fortunate Escape for Australian Family

Despite continuing bushfires across much of New South Wales (NSW) and Tasmania, there has at least been one positive story over the past 24 hours; a young family in Tasmania managed to take refuge from the fires by sheltering under a jetty, remaining in the water for several hours before escaping by dinghy. Although they lost their home to the fire, the couple and their five grandchildren were unhurt during the ordeal. After two days of cooler weather, temperatures in south east Australia are expected to rise to up to 42C tomorrow, creating the potential for the outbreak of new fires.

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