In blow to Merkel, right-wing populists surge in regional vote
search
Live updates (closed)

In blow to Merkel, right-wing populists surge in regional vote

At least 27 killed, 75 injured in suspected car bombing in Ankara; 14 civilians, 6 gunmen killed in Ivory Coast attack

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

  • Frauke Petry, head of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party gives an interview after state elections exit poll results were announced on tv in Berlin on March 13, 2016.
(AFP / John MACDOUGALL)
    Frauke Petry, head of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party gives an interview after state elections exit poll results were announced on tv in Berlin on March 13, 2016. (AFP / John MACDOUGALL)
  • In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, addresses parliament in Cairo, Egypt, February 13, 2016. (MENA via AP)
    In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, addresses parliament in Cairo, Egypt, February 13, 2016. (MENA via AP)
  • Forensic police work near burnt-out vehicles at the scene of a blast in Ankara on March 13, 2016.
(AFP / EROL UCEM)
    Forensic police work near burnt-out vehicles at the scene of a blast in Ankara on March 13, 2016. (AFP / EROL UCEM)
  • French Foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault (left) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (right) attend a meeting on the Mideast crisis at the Quai d'Orsay ministry in Paris, on March 13, 2016. (AFP/Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool)
    French Foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault (left) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (right) attend a meeting on the Mideast crisis at the Quai d'Orsay ministry in Paris, on March 13, 2016. (AFP/Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool)
  • Illustrative: A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, 'Israel must be wiped out.' (Fars News)
    Illustrative: A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, 'Israel must be wiped out.' (Fars News)
  • Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, at the funeral of fellow terrorist Ahmed al-Zahar in the village of Al-Moghraga near the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on  February 3, 2016. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
    Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, at the funeral of fellow terrorist Ahmed al-Zahar in the village of Al-Moghraga near the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on February 3, 2016. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on March 13, 2016 (AFP/Gali Tibbon)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on March 13, 2016 (AFP/Gali Tibbon)
  • Nashat Milhem is seen competing in a street quiz during Ramadan in footage that emerged of the Tel Aviv gunman, January 2016. (Screen capture: Channel 2)
    Nashat Milhem is seen competing in a street quiz during Ramadan in footage that emerged of the Tel Aviv gunman, January 2016. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s developments as they unfolded.

Body of second Gazan retrieved from tunnel

A second Gazan is found dead Sunday after the collapse of a tunnel on the Egypt border, the interior ministry in the Hamas-run enclave says.

On Thursday, rescue services said seven men had been trapped in the collapse.

Five were rescued, but the ministry now says they retrieved the body of Mohammed Abbas of Rafah, after announcing the death of a man named as Fadi Abu Dan.

A local civil defense official described the underground passage from the southern Gaza town of Rafah into neighboring Egypt as a “trade tunnel.”

The cave-in was caused by Egyptian flooding of the border zone in its campaign to stop smuggling, the official tells AFP.

Since January 26, at least 12 Gazans have been killed in five separate tunnel collapses with both Israel and Egypt operating against the diggers.

AFP

President denies he supports pardon for Katsav

President Reuven Rivlin denies that he supports an early release or presidential pardon for former president Moshe Katsav, who since December 2011 has been serving a seven-year sentence for rape and other sexual offenses.

The president will “study the issue and formulate his position,” Rivlin says on Twitter.

Former president Moshe Katsav walks out of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on November 10, 2011, after it unanimously upheld the Tel Aviv District Court's rape conviction. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Former president Moshe Katsav walks out of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on November 10, 2011, after it unanimously upheld the Tel Aviv District Court’s rape conviction. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Israel demands Iran be punished for missile tests

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday calls on world powers to punish Iran after the country test-fired two ballistic missiles emblazoned with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” in Hebrew.

Netanyahu says he instructed Israel’s Foreign Ministry to direct the demand to the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — the countries that signed the deal lifting sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard test-launched the ballistic missiles last week, the latest in a series of recent tests aimed at demonstrating Iran’s intentions to push ahead with its missile program after scaling back its nuclear program under the deal reached last year.

Following last week’s missile launches, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Iran to “act with moderation,” and the US ambassador to the United Nations said the launches were “provocative and destabilizing.”

AP

Germanwings pilot had consulted dozens of doctors before crash

French air accident investigators recommend Sunday that world aviation bodies draw up new rules requiring medical workers to warn authorities when a pilot’s mental health could threaten public safety, after 150 people died when a Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed a jet into the French Alps last year.

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had been treated for depression in the past, and the investigation found that he had consulted dozens of doctors in the weeks before the crash on March 24, 2015.

But the many doctors didn’t inform authorities of concerns about his mental health, France’s BEA investigation agency says. One doctor referred Lubitz to a psychiatric clinic just two weeks before the crash, it says in its report on the disaster.

“Experts found that the symptoms (he was presenting at that time) could be compatible with a psychotic episode,” says Arnaud Desjardin, leader of the BEA investigation. This information “was not delivered to Germanwings.”

Because Lubitz didn’t inform anyone of his doctors’ warnings, the BEA says, “no action could have been taken by the authorities or his employer to prevent him from flying.”

AP

In this Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009 photo, Andreas Lubitz competes at the Airportrun in Hamburg, northern Germany. Germanwings co-pilot Lubitz appears to have hidden evidence of an illness from his employers, including having been excused by a doctor from work the day he crashed a passenger plane into a mountain, prosecutors said. (photo credit: AP Photo/Michael Mueller)

In this Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009 photo, Andreas Lubitz competes at the Airportrun in Hamburg, northern Germany. Germanwings co-pilot Lubitz appears to have hidden evidence of an illness from his employers, including having been excused by a doctor from work the day he crashed a passenger plane into a mountain, prosecutors said. (photo credit: AP Photo/Michael Mueller)

TA shooter planned to attack kindergartens, police say

Police did not release the photo of Tel Aviv shooter Nashat Milhem, who killed three Israelis on New Years Day in Tel Aviv, because they were initially uncertain whether he, or his brother, had carried out the attack.

According to an investigation of the incident, police uncovered Milhem’s future plans to attack kindergartens in Tel Aviv within 48 hours of the lethal attack. In response, police boosted security around kindergartens in areas Milhem was familiar with, namely in north Tel Aviv.

Police also maintained that the tip-off from Israelis who spotted the gunman on the bus was dealt with, contradicting earlier reports. They said that they had returned the call, but the information was not “essential,” it says, noting that police had already been deployed to Wadi Ara within five hours of the attack.

Nashat Milhem is seen competing in a street quiz during Ramadan in footage that emerged of the Tel Aviv gunman, January 2016. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

Nashat Milhem is seen competing in a street quiz during Ramadan in footage that emerged of the Tel Aviv gunman, January 2016. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

Iran says US companies welcome to invest in gas, oil

Iran’s oil minister says US companies are welcome to invest in the oil and gas industry.

State-run Press TV on Sunday quotes Bijan Namdar Zangeneh as saying that “in general, we have no problem with the presence of American companies in Iran.”

He says it is the US government that is “creating restrictions for these companies,” without elaborating.

He also confirms that Iran’s state-run oil company has held talks with General Electric.

All sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program were lifted in January under a landmark agreement reached with world powers, but the US maintains sanctions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support for State Department-designated terrorist groups.

AP

Egypt’s justice minister under fire for ‘prophet’ remark

Egypt’s justice minister faces outrage on social media Sunday after a television interview in which he said he would arrest even “a prophet,” although he later admitted it was a “slip of tongue.”

When asked in an interview on private satellite channel Sada Al-Balad on Friday about a case involving journalists accused of defaming him and whether he would jail them, Ahmed al-Zind said he would imprison anyone.

“Even if it’s a prophet, God’s peace and blessings be upon him,” Zind said, using the Islamic saying of reverence spoken by Muslims only when referring to the Prophet Mohammed.

Upon realizing what he had said, Zind immediately stopped and said: “I ask for forgiveness from God.”

He further said any “wrongdoer, whatever his identity — even judges” would be jailed if found guilty.

Zind’s remarks triggered outrage on social media networks immediately after the interview, with angry tweets continuing to pour in on Sunday.

AFP

Despite violence, Trump to appear at 3 rallies Sunday

An invigorated Donald Trump will appear at a handful of rallies Sunday despite a climate of growing tension, as his White House rivals warn that the Republican’s heated rhetoric is fanning dangerous flames.

The brash billionaire, who is leading the race for his party’s presidential nomination in spite of incendiary rhetoric and hostile remarks towards immigrants and Muslims, is scheduled to jet between three rallies in Illinois, Ohio and Florida.

The states are among five that will hold nominating races in next Tuesday’s crucial round of votes, which also includes Missouri and North Carolina.

The key elections are expected to further winnow the Republican field, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich both facing make-or-break tests in their home states.

AFP

Thomas Dimassimo, who tried to rush the stage at a Donald Trump rally on March 12, 2016, is taken away by security officials (YouTube screenshot)

Thomas Dimassimo, who tried to rush the stage at a Donald Trump rally on March 12, 2016, is taken away by security officials (YouTube screenshot)

IS jihadists pull out of town in Iraq’s Anbar

The Islamic State group on Sunday pulled its fighters out of Rutba, a desert town in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, an army general and the mayor say.

The pullout, if confirmed, would be a rare case of the jihadists abandoning a position under no massive miliary pressure and suggests a manpower crisis in the organization.

“Daesh (IS) has completely pulled out of Rutba and gone towards Al-Qaim,” a major general tells AFP, referring to a jihadist bastion on the border with Syria, further north in Anbar.

“Daesh’s armed men started pulling out last night and completed their withdrawal this morning,” the senior officer says, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Rutba is now free of Daesh.”

The mayor of the isolated town, which lies about 390 kilometers (245 miles) west of Baghdad on the road to Jordan, confirms that IS had withdrawn.

AFP

Kerry warns Assad regime against exploiting truce

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday warns the regime of President Bashar Assad and its allies including Russia against exploiting the fragile ceasefire in Syria for their own means.

“If the regime and its backers think they can test boundaries, diminish their compliance in certain areas, or act in ways that call into question their commitment to the cessation –- without serious consequences for the progress we have made — they are mistaken,” Kerry says after talks with his European allies in Paris.

— AFP

Kerry says 600 IS fighters killed in past three weeks

Kerry says Sunday that 600 fighters from the Islamic State group had been killed in Syria in the last three weeks.

“In Syria, over the last three weeks alone, Daesh has lost 3,000 square kilometers (1,160 square miles) and 600 fighters,” Kerry says after talks with European allies in Paris, using another name for Islamic State.

AFP

France says sanctions possible over Iran missile tests

France says sanctions possible over Iran ballistic missile test-launches, AFP reports.

A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, 'Israel must be wiped out.' (Fars News)

A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, ‘Israel must be wiped out.’ (Fars News)

Man killed in Tel Aviv blast identified

The man killed in a car explosion in Tel Aviv earlier Sunday is identified as Avner Mayo.

Hebrew reports say he was involved in criminal activity.

Hamas shutters group headed by Gaza Shiite leader

Gaza’s interior ministry says Sunday it had dissolved an association led by the head of the only Palestinian Shiite group for conducting “political activities” under the guise of charity.

“Al-Baqiat Al-Salihat association was recently dissolved because its administration had violated the law governing the actions of charitable organisations by engaging in political activities,” says a spokesman for the ministry controlled by Hamas.

The spokesman, Iyad al-Bozom, did not provide details on the activities.

A month ago the association, which receives Iranian funding, had been warned to comply with the law, Bozom says.

“Since that did not happen, the association is now considered dissolved,” he says.

The head of Al-Baqiat Al-Salihat, Hisham Salem, whose home was targeted by a bomb last month, in a statement condemns the “arbitrary decision lacking a clear legal basis” against his association.

The Hamas rulers of Gaza had targeted it with “a tyrannical policy contrary to public interest and that doesn’t take people’s needs into account unless it’s in its own interest,” Salem says.

AFP

Iran’s missile tests a breach of UN resolutions – Kerry

Kerry describes the Iranian actions — which the US has asked to be discussed at a UN Security Council meeting on Monday — as a breach of UN resolutions.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Sunday warns Iran of possible European sanctions over its recent ballistic missile launches.

“If necessary, sanctions will be taken,” Ayrault said after a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and several European counterparts.

AFP

Turkey imposes curfew on Kurdish towns

Turkey on Sunday slaps a curfew on two border towns in the Kurdish-dominated southeast ahead of a looming military “clean-up” operation as it eased a lockdown in Diyarbakir.

Turkish troops have been waging a major — and controversial — offensive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since December, imposing strict 24-hour curfews in a number of towns and cities in the southeast.

Ankara has repeatedly imposed curfews for military operations in southeastern urban centers, and on Sunday said restrictions would be slapped on two more towns — Yuksekova, near the Iranian border, and Nusaybin, on the frontier with Syria.

The aim was to “restore order and security” following an increase in “terrorist activity,” local authorities said.

AFP

Kerry, European leaders discuss French peace initiative

In Paris, Kerry and other senior European diplomats discuss a possible initiative to restart the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, as France hopes to host an international conference on the issue in the coming months.

The meeting primarily focused on the Syrian civil war.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault hosted Sunday’s meeting in Paris which also included his British, German and Italian counterparts, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief.

AP contributed

Arab Israeli indicted for sending money to brother fighting in Syria

A 20-year-old Arab Israeli is indicted for sending money on three separate occasions to his brother, an Islamic State fighter in Syria.

Faiz Sa’adi, a resident of Nazareth, is also accused of illegally possessing his brother Mustafa’s rifle, and handing it over to his relatives, one of whom proceeded to shoot someone with it.

Trump may pay legal bills for sucker-puncher

Donald Trump says he’s “instructed my people” to explore the possibility of helping pay the legal bills for a 78-year-old man charged with assault at a Trump rally.

Authorities have said John Franklin McGraw of Linden, North Carolina, was charged after he was caught on video hitting a man deputies were escorting at a Trump rally last Wednesday in Fayetteville.

Trump tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that McGraw “got carried away” and “maybe he doesn’t like seeing what’s happening to the country.”

Trump was asked if he might help McGraw with legal fees, if McGraw needed it.

Trump says: “I’ve actually instructed my people to look into it, yes.”

The man who was punched has told The Associated Press that he and others went to the event as observers, not protesters. He says someone swore at one in their group, and by the time they tried to object, the police were escorting him out.

AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Saturday, March 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Saturday, March 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Trump accuses Sanders of inciting protests

Trump on Sunday accuses Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of instructing his supporters to disrupt Trump rallies, and appeared to threaten to respond in kind.

Refusing to tone down the inflammatory rhetoric critics say is fueling the potential for dangerous violence, the Republican presidential frontrunner tweets, “Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors aren’t told to go to my events. Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!”

Speaking on CNN later, Trump calls protesters at his rallies “bad people that are looking to do harm to our country.”

“When these people come into (my rallies), you know, everybody thinks I’m a bad guy,” he says.

“If my people went into one of (Sanders’s) rallies, they’d say, ‘oh, this is a terrible thing.’ They would be arrested and all sorts of things would happen to them.”

Sanders on Sunday denies his campaign had directed supporters to protest Trump rallies.

AFP

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, acknowledges his supporters on arrival at a campaign rally, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, acknowledges his supporters on arrival at a campaign rally, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Shooting reported at Ivory Coast resort

A shooting is reported at an Ivory Coast resort frequented by Western visitors, AFP reports.

Details to come.

Israeli said killed in US airstrike in Syria

An Arab Israeli is killed in Syria while fighting alongside Syrian rebels, the Nazareth-based A-Sinara website reports.

According to the report, Halid Salah a-Sayid, 28, of Umm al-Fahm, was killed in a US airstrike. A-Sayid, who was married and has a child, has been in Syria for three years.

The report does not specify which group he was associated with.

Avi Issacharoff

‘Heavily armed’ Ivory Coast assailants open fire at hotel

Heavily armed gunmen open fire Sunday at a hotel in the Ivory Coast beach resort of Grand-Bassam which is popular with Westerners, witnesses tell AFP.

The assailants, who were “heavily armed and wearing balaclavas, fired at guests at the L’Etoile du Sud (Southern Star), a large hotel which was full of expats in the current heatwave,” a witness tells AFP.

It was not immediately known how many people had been killed or injured or who was behind the shooting in the former French colonial capital, around 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the commercial hub Abidjan.

AFP

Rubio ‘very concerned’ someone will be killed at Trump rally

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio says he’s “very concerned” that someone will lose their life at a Donald Trump rally, adding that “it’s getting harder” to explain to his family and friends that he would support Trump as the GOP nominee.

Rubio says Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the violence in Chicago Friday night looked like “something out of the Third World.” The Florida senator says it’s going to be hard for people who vote for Trump to justify their support down the road.

Rubio and two of his GOP rivals — Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — pledged during a debate earlier this month to support Trump if he is the GOP nominee. All three have condemned the violence at Trump’s rallies, but they also are not excusing the protesters.

AP

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio speaks during CPAC 2016 conference, March 5, 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio speaks during CPAC 2016 conference, March 5, 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

Russia says Turkish troops entered Syria

Russia on Sunday accuses Turkey of sending its military across the Syrian border to prevent Kurdish groups there from consolidating their positions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russia has evidence of Turkey’s “creeping expansion” in northern Syria.

“According to our information, they are digging in a few hundred meters from the border inside Syria,” Lavrov says in an interview with Russian REN TV broadcast on Sunday.

AP

IS pulls most of its fighters from Iraqi town Hit

The Islamic State group has pulled most of its fighters out of Hit, a large town in western Iraq on which security forces were advancing, a military spokesman says on Sunday.

“The majority of Daesh (IS) fighters in Hit, Rutba and Kubaysa have fled through the desert to other regions,” Yahya Rasool, Iraq’s top security spokesman, tells AFP.

Kubaysa is a smaller town that lies west of Hit while Rutba is a desert town on the road to Jordan.

“There is an operation to hunt them down with Iraqi aircraft,” says Rasool, who is the spokesman for the Joint Operations Command coordinating the fight against IS in Iraq.

“Hit is surrounded by Iraqi forces from the south and north,” he says. “Thousands of families have fled the area to meet our forces.”

AFP

Palestinian educator wins $1m Global Teacher Prize

Palestinian teacher Hanan al-Hroub of Bethlehem is announced as the winner of the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize, a $1 million award.

“Hanan embraces the slogan ‘No to Violence’ and uses a specialist approach she developed herself, detailed in her book, ‘We Play and Learn.’ She focuses on developing trusting, respectful, honest and affectionate relationships with her students and emphasizes the importance of literacy. She encourages her students to work together, pays close attention to individual needs and rewards positive behavior,” a biography on the award website says.

Al-Hroub is congratulated by Pope Francis for the win.

“I would like to congratulate the teacher Hanan Al-Hroub for winning this prestigious prize due to the importance that she gave to the role of play in a child’s education,” he says in a video statement.

At least 12 dead, including 4 Europeans, in Ivory Coast attack

At least 12 people are killed, among them four Europeans, in the shooting attack at a resort in Ivory Coast, Reuters reports.

Israeli-Palestinian peace requires ‘international support’ — Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry says Sunday that a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence could hamper French efforts to revive the peace process, but pledged that “we are all looking for a way forward.

“The United States and myself remain deeply, deeply committed to a two-state solution,” Kerry says after a Paris meeting with his counterparts from France, Italy, Britain, Germany and EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini.

“At the moment it is a difficult one, because of the violence that has been taking place, and there are not many people in Israel or in the region itself right now that believe in the possibilities of peace because of those levels of violence,” he adds.

Kerry’s comments come after his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault says he would present proposals to revive talks to EU foreign ministers who are meeting in Brussels on Monday.

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains but is getting worse, the status quo cannot last,” Ayrault says in Paris.

The newly appointed French foreign minister visited Cairo last week to drum up support for the initiative to hold an international conference by the summer to revive peace talks.

A previous round of talks brokered by Kerry collapsed in April 2014.

“There’s not any one country or one person can resolve this. This is going to require the global community, it will require international support,” says Kerry.

Senior French diplomat Pierre Vimont is touring Israel, the Palestinian territories and other countries in the region to discuss the proposal before heading to Washington next week.

Mogherini says France was coordinating its proposals with the EU as part of “joint efforts to try and create conditions for a two-state solution.”

AFP

Reports of casualties as blast rocks Ankara

Several people are injured as an explosion rocks central Ankara, according to local reports.

Several cars catch on fire near the site of the blast in the Turkish capital.

‘Many’ said killed in Ankara explosion

Many people are killed in the explosion in central Ankara, Turkish NTV reports, without elaborating.

“The blast occurred near the central Guven Park, which adjoins a major transportation hub,” Reuters reports.

Source of Ankara explosion reportedly a car bomb

The Ankara blast appears to be caused by a car bomb, which blew up next to a bus.

Video footage of the incident shows the vehicle slowing down near the bus before exploding.

Turkish media reports say there are 10 bus stops in the immediate area.

At least five reported killed in Ankara explosion

At least five people have been killed in the Ankara blast, the Doğan News Agency reports.

Ambulances are rushing to the scene of the explosion on Kizilay Square, a key hub in the city, and television pictures show burned-out vehicles, including a bus.

AFP contributed

Police will no longer accept anonymous complaints — report

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich says police will no longer investigate allegations related in anonymous letters, including from policewomen claiming sexual harassment by other officers, Channel 2 TV reports.

Alsheich says the police are set to formally change their policy on this matter, it announces.

Chief of Police Roni Alsheich, at the National Police Headquarters, Jerusalem, December 03, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich at the National Police Headquarters, Jerusalem, December 3, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Egypt’s justice minister fired over ‘prophet’ remark

Egypt’s justice minister is fired over a controversial remark about the “prophet.”

When asked in an interview on private satellite channel Sada Al-Balad on Friday about a case involving journalists accused of defaming him and whether he would jail them, Ahmed al-Zind said he would imprison anyone.

“Even if it’s a prophet, God’s peace and blessings be upon him,” Zind said, using the Islamic saying of reverence spoken by Muslims only when referring to the Prophet Mohammad.

Upon realizing what he had said, Zind immediately stopped and said: “I ask for forgiveness from God.”

He further said any “wrongdoer, whatever his identity — even judges” would be jailed if found guilty.

Zind’s remarks triggered outrage on social media networks immediately after the interview, with angry tweets continuing to pour in on Sunday.

AFP

Ankara death toll climbs to 27

Ankara governor’s office says at least 27 people are killed in the explosion, AP reports.

75 wounded in blast in Turkish capital

The Ankara governor’s office says at least 75 people are wounded in the blast that occurred near Ankara’s main square.

The explosion in the Turkish capital has killed at least 27 people.

The explosion is believed to have been caused by a car bomb that went off close to bus stops.

AP

‘6 terrorists neutralized’ in Ivory Coast attack

Six gunmen who carried out a deadly attack Sunday on three hotels in the Ivory Coast beach resort of Grand-Bassam have been “neutralized,” the country’s interior minister says.

“Three hotels were attacked by armed men” in the former colonial capital which is popular with Ivorians and Westerners, Hamed Bakayoko says in a statement read on national television.

“Ivorian security forces intervened immediately and were able to neutralize six terrorists,” he says.

AFP

In blow to Merkel, right-wing party surges in regional elections

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party suffers a major setback in key state polls Sunday over the German leader’s liberal refugee policy, while the right-wing populist AfD scoops up support from angry voters.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) loses in two out of three states in regional elections, scoring a historic low in its stronghold Baden-Wuerttemberg where it came in after the Greens, according to estimates published by public broadcasters ARD and ZDF shortly after voting closed at 1700 GMT.

The populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which had caused a storm by suggesting police may have to shoot at migrants to stop them entering the country, records double-digit support in the first elections they have stood for in all three regions.

AfD is projected to garner as much as 21.8 percent of the vote in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt — making it the second biggest political force there after the CDU.

AFP

Frauke Petry, head of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party gives an interview after state elections exit poll results were announced on tv in Berlin on March 13, 2016. (AFP / John MACDOUGALL)

Frauke Petry, head of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party gives an interview after state elections exit poll results were announced on tv in Berlin on March 13, 2016.
(AFP / John MACDOUGALL)

14 civilians killed in Ivory Coast rampage, president says

Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara says that 14 civilians and six assailants have been killed when the armed men attacked beachgoers and three hotels in Grand-Bassam.

Ouattara is in the town and says he is visiting the different hotels to express condolences and salute security forces for their quick responses.

AP

read more:
comments