Exchanges of fire killed eight Palestinian children in a Gaza refugee camp and four people in Israel on Monday, shattering hopes for an end to three weeks of devastating violence. The missile that slammed into a public playground in the seafront Shati UN refugee camp also killed at least two other people and wounded another 46, many of them also children, the emergency services said. Soon after, a security source said five Gaza militants were killed in a shootout with troops in southern Israel. Hamas's armed wing claimed it killed 10 Israeli soldiers in a raid in the same area, and denied it lost any men.
Ramadan had just an hour left to go, but Bashar Sarmini, the thyme seller of Aleppo, and his three sons never saw the sun set on the month of fasting. A rapid barrel-bombing raid by Syrian regime planes killed them all in the rebel-held district of Shaar in the divided northern city, the Syrian observatory for Human Rights reported. "At least nine civilians, three of them children, were killed by barrel bombs (dropped by regime aircraft) in Shaar," an eastern district, the monitoring body said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry evoked the memory of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela Monday to press his push for a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians. As he issued a call to young African leaders to break decades of violence and guide the continent towards prosperity and stability, Kerry warned it was never easy to negotiate with warring factions. The top US diplomat, who returned to Washington late Sunday after failing to reach a ceasefire during shuttle diplomacy between Egypt and Israel, quoted late South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela saying "it's always impossible, until it is done. Kerry was addressing the opening of a presidential summit for Young African leaders, and he vowed it was "time to take our partnership to the next level, by investing in the continent's greatest resource of all: its people."
An Iraqi government raid on jihadist targets in a flashpoint town southwest of Baghdad killed 17 people on Monday, including at least three civilians, medical and tribal sources said. "Bombardment targeted the Fadhiyya district at 1:00 am," Sheikh Mohammad al-Janabi, a tribal chief from Jurf al-Sakhr, a town 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Baghdad, told AFP. Both said that 12 people were also wounded and that some of them were transferred to the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah in the neighbouring province of Anbar. A lieutenant in the Iraqi army said: "The Iraqi forces used a variety of weapons to target insurgent bases in Jurf al-Sakhr overnight."
Large-scale surveillance by the US government has begun to have an impact on press freedom and broader democratic rights, a study released Monday said. The report by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch found that the vast surveillance efforts aimed at thwarting terrorist attacks have undermined press freedom, the public's right to information as well as rights to legal counsel. "The work of journalists and lawyers is central to our democracy," said report author Alex Sinha. The report is based on interviews with 92 people in the United States, including journalists, lawyers, and current and former US government officials.
A female suicide bomber killed three people and injured seven others on Monday in Nigeria's Kano city, after weekend violence blamed on Boko Haram forced authorities to cancel festivities marking a major Muslim holiday. The attacker with explosives concealed under her clothes targeted women who had lined up to buy kerosene at a petrol station in the Hotoro area on the outskirts of Kano, Nigeria's second largest city. The queue was long, said area vendor Habibu Ali, because the widely-used cooking gas is often in short supply and when a new shipment comes in women typically rush to their local vendor. Kano police spokesman Musa Magaji Majia told AFP 10 victims were rushed to the hospital after the blast that went off at roughly 10:30 am (0930 GMT) and that three had died.
The Ukrainian army has seized control of part of the vast crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in the east of the country, pro-Russia rebels said on Monday. "The Ukrainians have taken over a part of the crash site," said Vladimir Antyufeev, self-styled first deputy prime minister of the "Donetsk People's Republic". Ukraine's military said its troops are battling separatist fighters for control of a string of towns around the impact site and had "entered" the town of Shakhtarsk, some 10 kilometres (six miles) from the scene. The rebels, accused by Ukraine and its Western allies of shooting down MH17 on July 17, have kept a close guard over the crash site as international anger has grown over possible evidence tampering.
The United States said Monday it was "deeply disappointed" after Aruba released a former Venezuelan military chief wanted in the US for drug trafficking charges. A State Department spokesperson said Washington had made a "legitimate request" for the arrest of retired major general Hugo Carvajal in line with its extradition treaty with Aruba and the Netherlands and was "disturbed by credible reports" that the Venezuelan government had threatened both territories to win Carvajal's release. "This is not the way law enforcement matters should be handled," the spokesperson said in a statement, asking not to be identified.
Passport Office staff on Monday launched a 24-hour strike over staffing shortages and pay just weeks after extra workers were drafted in to tackle a backlog of tens of thousands of applications. The Home Office criticised the union over the timing of Monday's strike, which it says could "inconvenience" many people and "jeopardise" holiday plans at the height of the summer. Hundreds of extra staff were drafted in last month to deal with a backlog of about 30,000 applications amid mounting complaints about long delays in passports being processed. The Passport Office last month said applications had been at their highest level in 12 years, with more than three million passports issued so far in 2014.
Ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has praised the Palestinian "resistance" over the 21-day conflict with Israel in Gaza that has killed more than 1,030 people, mostly Palestinian civilians. The Islamist leader, overthrown last July by Egypt's then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is on trial on charges for which he faces the death penalty. Under Morsi's rule, Egypt brokered a truce in 2012 between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, after they fought a similar deadly war.
Six children were among at least 15 civilians killed in overnight bomb attacks by government and rebel forces in the divided city of Aleppo, a monitoring group said Monday. "At least nine civilians, three of them children, were killed in barrel bombs (dropped by regime aircraft) in Shaar," an eastern district, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "Six more civilians, including three children and a woman, were killed in mortar shelling by rebels" of the government-held district of Jabiriyeh, the Observatory said. The northern metropolis of Aleppo, once Syria's commercial capital, has been divided since 2012 into western sectors held by the government and rebel-held areas.