Somalia Liberates More Villages from Al-Shabaab Militants

The army, with the help of peacekeeping missions and local forces, are fighting Al-Shabaab militants, who control larger swathes of Somali territory. (SONNA)
The army, with the help of peacekeeping missions and local forces, are fighting Al-Shabaab militants, who control larger swathes of Somali territory. (SONNA)
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Somalia Liberates More Villages from Al-Shabaab Militants

The army, with the help of peacekeeping missions and local forces, are fighting Al-Shabaab militants, who control larger swathes of Somali territory. (SONNA)
The army, with the help of peacekeeping missions and local forces, are fighting Al-Shabaab militants, who control larger swathes of Somali territory. (SONNA)

Somalia on Sunday celebrated the victory of its army in liberating villages from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab terrorist group.

Galmudug regional state Vice President Ali Dahir congratulated the people for regaining control over several areas in the Mudug region.

Somalia has been plagued by years of insecurity with the main threats coming from the Al-Shabaab group.

The army, with the help of peacekeeping missions and local forces, are fighting Al-Shabaab militants, who control larger swathes of Somali territory.

Dahir said the armed forces have achieved “successive victories” in their war to “liberate the country from terrorism.”

The country’s official news agency, SONNA, said the army and the local forces captured Sargo and Qodqod areas in the Mudug region, killing 30 Al-Shabaab terrorists as part of their ongoing operation to liberate Somalia from the group.

The armed forces and the local forces have taken full control of Sargo and Qodqod in Mudug, it said.

A government statement lauded “the heroic role of local forces who stood alongside the national army to eliminate terrorism,” adding that it is determined to punish the terrorist conspirators who dare to harm the Somali people.



Azerbaijan Issues Warrant for Former Separatist Leader as UN Mission Arrives in Nagorno-Karabakh

This photograph taken on October 1, 2023 during an Azeri government organized media trip shows an Azeri military vehicle moving on a road between Lachin and Shusha in the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh Azerbaijan retook from Armenia after its one-day offensive last week. (AFP)
This photograph taken on October 1, 2023 during an Azeri government organized media trip shows an Azeri military vehicle moving on a road between Lachin and Shusha in the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh Azerbaijan retook from Armenia after its one-day offensive last week. (AFP)
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Azerbaijan Issues Warrant for Former Separatist Leader as UN Mission Arrives in Nagorno-Karabakh

This photograph taken on October 1, 2023 during an Azeri government organized media trip shows an Azeri military vehicle moving on a road between Lachin and Shusha in the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh Azerbaijan retook from Armenia after its one-day offensive last week. (AFP)
This photograph taken on October 1, 2023 during an Azeri government organized media trip shows an Azeri military vehicle moving on a road between Lachin and Shusha in the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh Azerbaijan retook from Armenia after its one-day offensive last week. (AFP)

Azerbaijan’s prosecutor general issued an arrest warrant for ex-Nagorno-Karabakh leader Arayik Harutyunyan Sunday as the first United Nations mission to visit the region in three decades arrived in the former breakaway state.

Harutyunyan led the breakaway region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but was largely populated by ethnic Armenians, between May 2020 and last month, when the separatist government said it would dissolve itself by the end of the year after a three-decade bid for independence.

Azerbaijani police arrested one of Harutyunyan’s former prime ministers, Ruben Vardanyan, on Wednesday as he tried to cross into Armenia along with tens of thousands of others who have fled following Baku’s 24-hour blitz last week to reclaim control of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Harutyunyan and the enclave's former military commander, Jalal Harutyunyan, are accused of firing missiles on Azerbaijan's third-largest city, Ganja, during a 44-day war in late 2020, local media reported. The clash between the Azerbaijani military clash and Nagorno Karabakh forces led to the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the region.

The arrest warrant announcement by Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev reflects Azerbaijan’s intention to quickly and forcefully enforce its grip on the region following three decades of conflict with the separatist state.

While Baku has pledged to respect the rights of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, many have fled due to fear of reprisals or losing the freedom to use their language and to practice their religion and cultural customs.

In a briefing Sunday, Armenia's presidential press secretary, Nazeli Baghdasaryan, said that 100,483 people had already arrived in Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh, which had a population of about 120,000 before Azerbaijan's offensive.

Some people lined up for days to escape the region because the only route to Armenia — a winding mountain road — became jammed with slow-moving vehicles.

A United Nations delegation arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh Sunday to monitor the situation. The mission is the organization's first to the region for three decades, due to the “very complicated and delicate geopolitical situation” there, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters Friday.

Local officials dismissed the visit as a formality. Hunan Tadevosyan, spokesperson for Nagorno-Karabakh’s emergency services, said the UN representatives had come too late and the number of civilians left in the regional capital of Stepanakert could be “counted on one hand.”

“I did the volunteer work. The people who were left sheltering in the basements, even people who were mentally unwell and did not understand what was happening, I put them on buses with my own hands and we took them out of Stepanakert,” Tadevosyan told Armenian outlet News.am.

“We walked around the whole city but found no one. There is no general population left,” he said.

Armenian Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan said some people, including older adults, had died while on the road to Armenia as they were “exhausted due to malnutrition, left without even taking medicine with them, and were on the road for more than 40 hours.”

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan alleged Thursday that the exodus of ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh amounted to “a direct act of an ethnic cleansing and depriving people of their motherland.”

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry strongly rejected Pashinyan’s accusations, saying the departure of Armenians was “their personal and individual decision and has nothing to do with forced relocation.”


Mourners Hail Dead Russian Mercenary Prigozhin as Hero of the People

People visit a makeshift memorial for Wagner private mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in central Moscow on October 1, 2023, to mark 40 days since his death as per Orthodox tradition. (AFP)
People visit a makeshift memorial for Wagner private mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in central Moscow on October 1, 2023, to mark 40 days since his death as per Orthodox tradition. (AFP)
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Mourners Hail Dead Russian Mercenary Prigozhin as Hero of the People

People visit a makeshift memorial for Wagner private mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in central Moscow on October 1, 2023, to mark 40 days since his death as per Orthodox tradition. (AFP)
People visit a makeshift memorial for Wagner private mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in central Moscow on October 1, 2023, to mark 40 days since his death as per Orthodox tradition. (AFP)

At memorials to Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in an unexplained plane crash exactly 40 days ago, dozens of mourners hailed the mutinous mercenary chief as a patriotic hero of Russia who had spoken truth to power.

The private Embraer jet on which Prigozhin was travelling to St Petersburg crashed north of Moscow killing all 10 people on board on Aug. 23, including two other top Wagner figures, Prigozhin's four bodyguards and a crew of three.

It is still unclear what caused the plane to crash two months to the day since Prigozhin's failed mutiny. The Kremlin said on Aug. 30 that investigators were considering the possibility that the plane was downed on purpose.

At his grave in the former imperial capital of St Petersburg, his mother, Violetta, and his son, Pavel, laid flowers. Supporters waved the black flags of Wagner which sport a skull and the motto "Blood, Honor, Motherland, Courage".

In eastern Orthodoxy, it is believed that the soul makes its final journey to either heaven or hell on the 40th day after death.

At memorials in Moscow and other Russian cities dozens of Wagner fighters and ordinary Russians paid their respects, though there was no mass outpouring of grief. Russian state television was silent.

"He can be criticized for certain events, but he was a patriot who defended the motherland's interests on different continents," Wagner's recruitment arm said in a statement on Telegram.

"He was charismatic and importantly he was close to the fighters and to the people. And that's why he became popular both in Russia and abroad," it said.

Prigozhin's mutiny posed the biggest challenge to President Vladimir Putin's rule since the former KGB spy rose to power in 1999. Western diplomats say it exposed the strains on Russia of the war in Ukraine.

'Leader'

After months of insulting Putin's top brass with a variety of crude expletives and prison slang over their perceived failure to fight the Ukraine war properly, Prigozhin took control of the southern city of Rostov in late June.

His fighters shot down a number of Russian aircraft, killing their pilots, and advanced towards Moscow before turning back 200 km (125 miles) from the capital.

Putin initially cast Prigozhin as a traitor whose mutiny could have tipped Russia into civil war, though he later did a deal with him to defuse the crisis.

Mourners spoke of respect for Prigozhin.

"He was a real authority, a leader," Mikhail, a serviceman in Russia's armed forces who refused to give his second name, told Reuters.

Moscow resident Marta, who also refused to give her surname, said the people believed in Prigozhin but that Wagner had been "decapitated" by the deaths of him and co-founder Dmitry Utkin.

"Hope for justice died with him," she said. "People believed in him."

Pro-Wagner groups posted a video of Prigozhin flying to Mali where, after a thunderstorm, he met a senior commander known by his call sign "Lotus" - Anton Yelizarov - who is now reported to be leading the group.

Opponents such as the United States cast Wagner as a brutal crime group which plundered African states and meted out sledgehammer deaths to those who challenged it.

Putin was on Friday shown meeting one of the most senior former commanders of the Wagner mercenary group and discussing how best to use "volunteer units" in the Ukraine war.


EU’s Borrell, in Kyiv, Says Bloc Is Preparing Long-Term Security Pledges

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell as they visit the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, during the marking of Defenders of Ukraine Day in Kyiv, Ukraine October 1, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell as they visit the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, during the marking of Defenders of Ukraine Day in Kyiv, Ukraine October 1, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters)
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EU’s Borrell, in Kyiv, Says Bloc Is Preparing Long-Term Security Pledges

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell as they visit the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, during the marking of Defenders of Ukraine Day in Kyiv, Ukraine October 1, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell as they visit the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, during the marking of Defenders of Ukraine Day in Kyiv, Ukraine October 1, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters)

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said during a visit to Kyiv on Sunday that Ukraine needed more military aid and he promised ongoing EU support.

"Ukraine needs more capabilities & needs them faster," he said in a statement posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. He said he had discussed "continuous EU military assistance" during his first in-person meeting with Defense Minister Rustem Umerov.

"We are preparing long-term security commitments for Ukraine," Borrell added.

Umerov, whose appointment by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was approved by parliament on Sept. 6, thanked Borrell in a statement on X for "continuous support" and said the meeting was "a starting point for great cooperation."

He said their discussions of EU military aid to Ukraine covered "artillery & ammunition, air defense, EW & long-term assistance programs, trainings, and defense industry localization" in Ukraine. EW is an acronym for electronic warfare.

This week the European Defense Agency said in response to questions from Reuters that seven EU countries had ordered ammunition under a procurement scheme to get urgently needed artillery shells to Ukraine and replenish depleted Western stocks.


Nightclub Fire Kills at Least 13 in Murcia in Spain

This handout photograph taken and released on October 1, 2023 by the 112 Emergency Services of the Murcia Region shows a firefighter walking past the Teatre nightclub as at least thirteen people were killed in a fire, in Murcia. (Handout / Murcia Region 112 Emergency Services / AFP)
This handout photograph taken and released on October 1, 2023 by the 112 Emergency Services of the Murcia Region shows a firefighter walking past the Teatre nightclub as at least thirteen people were killed in a fire, in Murcia. (Handout / Murcia Region 112 Emergency Services / AFP)
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Nightclub Fire Kills at Least 13 in Murcia in Spain

This handout photograph taken and released on October 1, 2023 by the 112 Emergency Services of the Murcia Region shows a firefighter walking past the Teatre nightclub as at least thirteen people were killed in a fire, in Murcia. (Handout / Murcia Region 112 Emergency Services / AFP)
This handout photograph taken and released on October 1, 2023 by the 112 Emergency Services of the Murcia Region shows a firefighter walking past the Teatre nightclub as at least thirteen people were killed in a fire, in Murcia. (Handout / Murcia Region 112 Emergency Services / AFP)

At least 13 people have been killed in a fire in a nightclub in Murcia in southeast Spain, emergency services said on Sunday, adding that rescuers were still searching for people unaccounted for after the blaze.

Outside the club, young people hugged, looking shocked as they waited for information after the fire that broke out in the early hours in Atalayas, on the outskirts of the city.

"I think we left 30 seconds to 1 minute before the alarms went off and all the lights went out (and) the screams saying there was a fire," one survivor, who was not identified, said.

"Five family members and two friends are missing."

Spanish media reported that several of the dead were from one group that was celebrating a birthday.

Diego Seral, of Spain's National Police, told reporters the dead were found in the Fonda Milagros nightclub, one of three adjoining clubs, which had sustained the majority of fire damage, including the collapse of its roof, he added.

The collapse was making it difficult to locate victims, and it was difficult to pinpoint yet where exactly the fire started, he said.

Police investigators have not yet been able to access the site due to the high temperatures and danger of collapse.

The identification of the bodies would take time, Seral said. The emergency services gave the death toll, which has risen steadily throughout the day, as 13. The cause of the blaze is being investigated.

Earlier, Murcia's Mayor Jose Ballesta told reporters seven bodies had been found in the same area of the first floor, where the fire broke out.

A spokesperson for the Teatre nightclub, Maria Dolores Albellan, told reporters the fire originated in the neighboring club, Fonda Milagros, before spreading to the two adjoining clubs.

Ballesta declared three days of mourning for those who had died. Flags were lowered to half mast outside Murcia's City Hall.

Footage released by Murcia's fire service showed firefighters working to control flames inside the nightclub. The fire had destroyed part of the roof, the footage showed.

"We are devastated," Ballesta said on Spanish TV channel 24h, adding rescuers were still searching for several people reported missing.

Ballesta told 24h the fire started at around 6 a.m and had now been brought under control.

Four people have been treated in hospital for smoke inhalation. 


Russia Shoots Down Six Ukrainian Drones over Southern and Western Regions

 This photograph taken early on October 1, 2023 shows Russian missile launched from Russia's Belgorod region flying towards Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)
This photograph taken early on October 1, 2023 shows Russian missile launched from Russia's Belgorod region flying towards Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)
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Russia Shoots Down Six Ukrainian Drones over Southern and Western Regions

 This photograph taken early on October 1, 2023 shows Russian missile launched from Russia's Belgorod region flying towards Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)
This photograph taken early on October 1, 2023 shows Russian missile launched from Russia's Belgorod region flying towards Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)

Russia said on Sunday that air defenses had shot down five Ukrainian drones over the western Smolensk region and one over the southern Krasnodar region.

Air defenses shot down a Ukrainian drone in the Krasnodar region at around 0500 GMT, Russia's defense ministry said.

At around 0600 GMT, Russia shot down three drones over the Smolensk region and at 0700 GMT shot down two more over the region, Russia's defense ministry said.


Pakistani Taliban Attack a Police Post in Eastern Punjab Province, Killing 1 Officer

FILE PHOTO: Taliban soldiers stand guard at the second-anniversary ceremony of the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15, 2023. REUTERS/Ali Khara/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Taliban soldiers stand guard at the second-anniversary ceremony of the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15, 2023. REUTERS/Ali Khara/File Photo
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Pakistani Taliban Attack a Police Post in Eastern Punjab Province, Killing 1 Officer

FILE PHOTO: Taliban soldiers stand guard at the second-anniversary ceremony of the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15, 2023. REUTERS/Ali Khara/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Taliban soldiers stand guard at the second-anniversary ceremony of the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15, 2023. REUTERS/Ali Khara/File Photo

Pakistani Taliban militants attacked a police post in eastern Punjab province early Sunday, killing one officer and injuring three others, and triggering a shootout that killed two of the attackers, officials said.
The attack occurred in the Mianwali district of Punjab province and led to an intense exchange of fire as reinforcements arrived at the besieged police post, said Imran Nawaz, a spokesman for the counterterrorism police.
A group of 10 to 12 militants attacked the Kundal police post in the Easa Khel area of Mianwali, close to the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, after midnight, Nawaz said. The exchange of gunfire continued for hours, during which two of the attackers were killed and a third was wounded but escaped with the others, Nawaz said. A search operation was underway in the area to find the attackers, he said.
Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack, The Associated Press said.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but are allied with the Afghan Taliban, who took over Afghanistan in August 2021 following the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the country. The takeover emboldened the TTP, who often carry out attacks near the Afghan border and elsewhere in the country.
Meanwhile, the death toll from Friday's bombing in the Mastung district of the volatile southwestern Baluchistan province reached 60 as some of those who were critically wounded died at the hospital overnight and on Sunday, according to a spokesperson for the main hospital in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan.
Waseem Baig said a few more victims remained on ventilators while some 25 people were stable in the city's main hospital and the military hospital. Over 25 wounded were earlier discharged from the hospitals.
A suspected suicide bomber or bombers blew themselves up Friday among a crowd in the Mastung district. It was one of the deadliest attacks targeting civilians in Pakistan in months.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. But suspicion is likely to fall on the ISIS group’s regional affiliate, which has claimed previous deadly bombings around Pakistan.


Suicide Bomber Detonates Device in Turkish Capital, Second Assailant Is Killed in Shootout

Members of Turkish Police Special Forces secure the area near the Interior Ministry following a bomb attack in Ankara, on October 1, 2023, leaving two police officers injured. (AFP)
Members of Turkish Police Special Forces secure the area near the Interior Ministry following a bomb attack in Ankara, on October 1, 2023, leaving two police officers injured. (AFP)
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Suicide Bomber Detonates Device in Turkish Capital, Second Assailant Is Killed in Shootout

Members of Turkish Police Special Forces secure the area near the Interior Ministry following a bomb attack in Ankara, on October 1, 2023, leaving two police officers injured. (AFP)
Members of Turkish Police Special Forces secure the area near the Interior Ministry following a bomb attack in Ankara, on October 1, 2023, leaving two police officers injured. (AFP)

A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device in the heart of the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Sunday, while a second assailant was killed in a shootout with police, the interior minister said.

The attack occurred hours before Parliament was set to reopen after its three-month summer recess with an address by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Two police officers were slightly injured during the attack near an entrance to the Ministry of Interior Affairs, minister Ali Yerlikaya said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. The attack was conducted by assailants who arrived at the scene inside a light commercial vehicle, he said.

"Our heroic police officers, through their intuition, resisted the terrorists as soon as they got out of the vehicle," Yerlikaya later told reporters. "One of them blew himself up while the other one was shot in the head before he had a chance to blow himself up."

"Our fight against terrorism, their collaborators, the (drug) dealers, gangs and organized crime organizations will continue with determination," he said.

The minister did not say who was behind the attack and there was no immediate claim of responsibility. Kurdish and far-left militant groups as well as the ISIS group have carried out deadly attacks throughout the country in the past.

In his speech in parliament, Erdogan called the attack "the last stand of terrorism."

"The scoundrels who targeted the peace and security of the citizens could not achieve their goals and they never will," he said.

The president reiterated his government's aim to create a 30-kilometer (20 mile) safe zone along its border with Syria to secure its southern border from attacks.

Türkiye has launched several incursions into northern Syria since 2016 to drive away the ISIS  group and a Kurdish armed group, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), from the frontier, and controls swaths of territory in the area.

Türkiye views the YPG as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Türkiye, the United States and the European Union. The PKK has waged an insurgency against Türkiye since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict.

Last year, a bomb blast in a bustling pedestrian street in Istanbul left six people dead, including two children. More than 80 others were wounded. Türkiye blamed the attack on the PKK and the YPG.

The State-run Anadolu Agency reported that the two attackers on Sunday had seized the vehicle in the central province of Kayseri from a veterinarian. The pro-government daily Sabah reported that they shot the man in the head and threw his body into a ditch by the side of the road. They then drove the vehicle to Ankara, roughly 300 kilometers (200 miles) away.

Security camera footage on Sunday showed the vehicle stopping in front of the ministry, with a man exiting it and rushing toward the entrance of the building before blowing himself up. A second man is seen following him.

Earlier, television footage showed bomb squads working near a vehicle in the area, which is located near the Turkish Grand National Assembly and other government buildings. A rocket launcher could be seen lying near the vehicle.

Turkish authorities later imposed a temporary blackout on images from the scene.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said an investigation has been launched into the "terror attack."

"These attacks will in no way hinder Türkiye’s fight against terrorism," he wrote on X. "Our fight against terrorism will continue with more determination."

Police cordoned off access to the city center and increased security measures, warning citizens that they would be conducting controlled explosions of suspicious packages.

The two police officers were being treated in a hospital and were not in serious condition, Yerlikaya said.

Egypt, which has normalized ties with Türkiye after a decade of tensions, condemned the attack. A terse statement from the Foreign Ministry offered Egypt’s solidarity with Türkiye.

The US Embassy in Ankara and other foreign missions also issued messages condemning the attack.

Erdogan in his speech did not provide any indication as to when Türkiye’s parliament may ratify Sweden’s membership in NATO.

Stockholm applied for NATO membership alongside Finland following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.  

While Finland has since joined, Türkiye blocked Sweden’s membership in the military alliance, accusing it of not doing enough to tackle groups like PKK from operating on its soil.  

In a posting on X, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Stockholm "strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack in Ankara. We reaffirm our commitment to long-term cooperation with Türkiye in combatting terrorism and wish for quick and full recovery of the ones injured."


Last-Gasp Deal Averts US Government Shutdown

 30 September 2023, US, Washington: A general view of the US Capitol in Washington. (dpa)
30 September 2023, US, Washington: A general view of the US Capitol in Washington. (dpa)
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Last-Gasp Deal Averts US Government Shutdown

 30 September 2023, US, Washington: A general view of the US Capitol in Washington. (dpa)
30 September 2023, US, Washington: A general view of the US Capitol in Washington. (dpa)

The US Congress passed an 11th-hour funding bill Saturday to keep federal agencies running for another 45 days and avert a costly government shutdown -- although the deal left out aid to war-torn Ukraine requested by President Joe Biden.

Three hours before the midnight deadline, the Senate voted to keep the lights on through mid-November with a resolution that had advanced earlier from the House of Representatives in a day of high-stakes brinkmanship on Capitol Hill.

The last-ditch "continuing resolution" was pitched by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as millions of public workers looked set to be sent home unpaid, upending government functions from military operations to food aid to federal policymaking.

"Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans," Biden said in a statement.

But he berated McCarthy and the House Republicans for reneging on spending levels agreed with the White House months ago -- a major reason for the shutdown near-miss -- and for stripping out support for Ukraine.

"I fully expect the speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment," said the president, who signed the measure late Saturday, according to the White House.

The shutdown crisis was largely triggered by a small group of hardline Republicans who had defied their own party leadership to scupper various temporary funding proposals as they pressed for deep spending cuts.

The group of 21 hardliners had threatened to remove McCarthy as speaker if a stopgap measure they opposed was passed with Democrat support, and many Washington watchers were expecting the speaker to have to fight for his job in the coming weeks.

Time to negotiate

One of the group, Lauren Boebert, declined to say after the House vote whether she and her colleagues would try to force McCarthy out, but she was clearly unhappy with the outcome.

"There are too many members here who are comfortable doing things the way they've been done since the mid-'90s," she told reporters. "And that's why we're sitting at $33 trillion in debt."

McCarthy sought to convey confidence both about his own future and the prospects for securing a final agreement by the new mid-November deadline.

"In 45 days we should get our work all done," he said, while seeming to offer a hand to the hardliners, saying, "I welcome those 21 back in."

Arming and funding Kyiv in its war against the Russian invasion has been a key policy plank for the Biden administration and, while the stopgap is temporary, it does raise questions over the political viability of renewing the multibillion-dollar flow of assistance.

McCarthy said Russia's invasion was "horrendous," but insisted there could be "no blank check" for Ukraine.

"I have a real concern of what's going to happen long term, but I don't want to waste any money," he said.

With tensions running high as Democrats pored over the text of McCarthy's proposal, one of their lawmakers, Jamaal Bowman, triggered a fire alarm in a building housing congressional offices an hour before the House vote.

Bowman's spokesman insisted it was an accident, but Republicans accused him of seeking to delay proceedings.

If Congress had failed to keep the government open, the closures would have begun just after midnight (0400 GMT Sunday) and would have delayed salaries for millions of federal employees and military personnel.

Among the immediate effects of a shutdown would have been the majority of national parks -- from the iconic Yosemite and Yellowstone in the west to Florida's Everglades swamp -- shutting to the public from Sunday.

The stopgap measure buys legislators time to negotiate full-year spending bills for the rest of fiscal 2024.


Russia’s Medvedev Says British Training Troops in Ukraine Could Be Legitimate Targets

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman and the head of the United Russia party, Dmitry Medvedev, front left, awards Russian servicemen during his visit at a military training range for contract servicemen in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. (Pool Sputnik via AP)
Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman and the head of the United Russia party, Dmitry Medvedev, front left, awards Russian servicemen during his visit at a military training range for contract servicemen in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. (Pool Sputnik via AP)
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Russia’s Medvedev Says British Training Troops in Ukraine Could Be Legitimate Targets

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman and the head of the United Russia party, Dmitry Medvedev, front left, awards Russian servicemen during his visit at a military training range for contract servicemen in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. (Pool Sputnik via AP)
Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman and the head of the United Russia party, Dmitry Medvedev, front left, awards Russian servicemen during his visit at a military training range for contract servicemen in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. (Pool Sputnik via AP)

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday suggested that British soldiers training Ukrainian troops in Ukraine would be legitimate targets for Russian forces, as would German factories producing Taurus missiles should they supply Kyiv.

Medvedev, who is deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, and has become an increasingly hawkish and anti-Western figure in Russian politics, said such steps by the West were bringing World War Three closer.

In a post on Telegram, Medvedev first directed his ire towards recently appointed British Defense Minister Grant Shapps, who said in a newspaper interview that London wants to deploy military instructors to Ukraine, in addition to training Ukrainian armed forces in Britain or other Western countries as at present.

"(This will) turn their instructors into a legal target for our armed forces," Medvedev wrote on Telegram. "Understanding perfectly well that they will be ruthlessly destroyed. And not as mercenaries, but namely as British NATO specialists."

Medvedev then turned his focus to Germany, vilifying those who want Berlin to supply Ukraine with Taurus cruise missiles that could strike Russian territory and try to limit Moscow's supply to its army.

"They say this is in accordance with international law. Well, in that case, strikes on German factories where these missiles are made would also be in full compliance with international law," Medvedev said.

"These morons are actively pushing us towards World War Three," Medvedev said.


Rally in Paris Demands Release of French Detainee in Iran

Iranian security guards in Tehran. (Reuters)
Iranian security guards in Tehran. (Reuters)
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Rally in Paris Demands Release of French Detainee in Iran

Iranian security guards in Tehran. (Reuters)
Iranian security guards in Tehran. (Reuters)

Some 200 people, including Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, gathered on Saturday in front of the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) in Paris to demand the release of Louis Arnaud, a French national detained “arbitrarily” for a year in Iran, an AFP journalist said.

Louis Arnaud, 36, is a passionate traveler who visited Iran in July 2022 as part of his dream to discover the Silk Road.

He was arrested on September 28, 2022 in Tehran with friends who were also arrested but were later released.

“It's a non-political gathering intended to support Louis and all those who are in his situation,” his mother, Sylvie Arnaud, told AFP referring to Western victims of “hostage diplomacy” in Tehran.

Iran detains more than a dozen Western nationals, most of them dual nationals, and is accused by their supporters and NGOs of using them as bargaining chips in negotiations.

Last May, Iran released Olivier Vandecasteele, who had been detained in Iran for more than a year, in exchange for convicted terrorist Assadollah Assadi, who had been imprisoned in Belgium.

The Belgian aid worker, who had met Louis Arnaud at Evin prison, called on his family and support committee on Saturday to “demand more” from the government.

Arnaud’s family members praised his courage and resistance. “Louis, we support you, we call for your immediate and unconditional release,” they said.

Asked about the physical and mental health of her son, Sylvie said, “He is hanging on.”

She added, “We know where he is. He can sleep, eat.”

In addition to Arnaud, three Frenchmen, whom Paris describes as “state hostages,” are still detained in Iran: French teacher Cécile Kohler and her companion Jacques Paris, arrested in May 2022 for “espionage,” and another whose identity has not been disclosed.