Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen riding on the back of a motorbike shot dead a Yemeni intelligence officer in the south of the country on Saturday, a security official told AFP. The officer was killed on the spot and the attackers fled the scene, said the source blaming Al-Qaeda for the killing. A cheap form of transport frequently replacing taxis in the impoverished country, motorbikes have become a tool for hit-and-run shootings that have killed dozens of officials in recent years. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), seen by Washington as the network's deadliest franchise, has been blamed for most of the motorbike attacks on the security forces despite never claiming them.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The report this week confirming that 1,700 veterans were "at risk of being lost or forgotten" at a Phoenix hospital was hardly the first independent review that documented long wait times for some patients seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs and inaccurate records that understated the depth of the problem.
Portugal's prime minister on Saturday vowed to overcome the "huge frustration" posed by the constitutional court's rejection of austerity measures in Lisbon's 2014 budget. Portugal's highest court on Friday turned down three out of four measures brought in by the centre-right government as part of ongoing cutbacks after the country exited an international bailout two weeks ago. We will announce at the appropriate time how we will overcome this huge frustration," said Pedro Passos Coelho. The decision by Portugal's constitutional court is expected to cost Lisbon between 500 and 800 million euros ($670 million-$1 billion), according to media estimates.
Riot police on Saturday arrested two women as a small group of gay rights activists tried to stage a rally in central Moscow dedicated to Conchita Wurst, the bearded Austrian transvestite who won this year's Eurovision song contest. Officers chased away the handful of other activists who gathered for the unsanctioned rally, held in a central Moscow square and symbolically named after the Eurovision winner. The two women were holding a rainbow flag when they were arrested shortly after a Lada car adorned with rainbow flags raced along a nearby street with Wurst's signature song, "Rise Like A Phoenix," blaring out at full volume. President Vladimir Putin has made traditional family values and patriotism a key plank of his third term's agenda, but has denied that gays are mistreated.
The United States Saturday backed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plans to reshape the role of Japan's little-used military, in the strongest comments of support yet from Tokyo's major ally on the move. Abe told the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore Friday that Japan would become a more active player in maintaining regional security, as he sets about altering the Self Defence Forces' rules of engagement. Pentagon chief Hagel told the forum the United States "supports" Abe's effort to "reorient its Collective Self Defense posture toward actively helping build a peaceful and resilient regional order". To complement Japan's efforts, the United States and Japan "have begun revising our defense guidelines for the first time in nearly two decades," Hagel told fellow defence chiefs, senior military officials, diplomats and security experts attending the annual conference.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday that ongoing negotiations between world powers and Iran over its disputed nuclear programme have been "encouraging". His remarks in Abu Dhabi come ahead of a new round of talks in mid-June between Iran and the P5+1 powers of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany. "In recent weeks and months they were so encouraging that we maintained a chance of reaching an agreement," he added, after talks with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan.
At least 20 Syrian soldiers and militia were killed Saturday in a fresh attack by Islamist rebels, who planted explosives in a tunnel under an army position in Aleppo, a monitor said. The historic Old City area has seen horrific violence ever since a major rebel offensive on Aleppo in July 2012. "Islamist rebels detonated a tunnel near the Zahrawi market in the Old City of Aleppo, killing at least 20 army soldiers and pro-regime militiamen," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The attack was claimed by the Islamic Front, Syria's largest rebel alliance, which groups thousands of fighters across the strife-torn country.
Mustafa Sarisuluk didn't even recognise his brother as he watched his limp body being carried to an ambulance after being shot in the head during protests in Ankara last year. "Thousands were at the downtown Kizilay square in Ankara, under massive plumes of tear gas fired by the police billowing into the air. I saw police deliberately taking aim at protesters. The protests soon snowballed into a campaign against the authoritarianism of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government, drawing an estimated three million people onto the streets.
By David Rhode NEW YORK (Reuters) - In a foreign policy address this week, U.S. President Barack Obama gave his clearest outline yet of his counterterrorism strategy. Al Qaeda splinter groups remain the largest threat to the United States, he said, but Washington must respond to it in a new way: by training local security forces, not deploying American ground troops. “We have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat - one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin, or stir up local resentments,” Obama said. “We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us.” But critics say America's past efforts to train local security forces have had mixed results. Washington has a poor track record of applying the long-term resources, funding and attention needed to carry out such efforts successfully.
Ghazni (Afghanistan) (AFP) - A roadside bomb killed 14 civilians in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said, the latest violence in the country as US-led troops prepare to leave after 13 years of war. The victims were travelling in the Giro district of Ghazni province after a wedding ceremony when the bomb ripped through their vehicle, district governor Abdullah Khairkhwah told AFP. "Fourteen civilians were killed, seven of them were women, and the rest were men, as their minivan vehicles hit a roadside bomb," Khairkhwah said. The district governor said the death toll could rise.
By Julia Edwards and Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When U.S. President Barack Obama accepted the resignation on Friday of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, he said his priority now was fixing the troubled agency whose officials are accused of covering up delays in providing healthcare for U.S. veterans. As Obama himself said, the sprawling Veterans Affairs department "has had problems for a very long time," including management problems. Obama noted on Friday that the VA enrolled 2 million new veterans in healthcare under Shinseki's watch. Obama and many Democratic lawmakers say that the increase calls for more doctors and nurses to prevent veterans from having to endure long wait times for care. In February, Senate Republicans blocked a bill by Bernard Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats and chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, to expand veterans' benefits.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Saturday he was "appalled" by the "barbaric" death sentence given to a Sudanese woman for apostasy. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, was condemned on May 15 under Islamic sharia law, which outlaws conversions on pain of death. "I am absolutely appalled by the decision to sentence Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag to death," Cameron said in a statement. She should be allowed to nurse her baby for two years before any death sentence is carried out, legal experts have said.
A commander from Iran's Revolutionary Guards has been killed in Syria, media said Saturday, a disclosure that runs counter to Tehran's insistence it is not fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Reports that Abdollah Eskandari died while "defending" a Shiite shrine emerged earlier this week but neither the elite military unit nor Iran's foreign ministry have passed comment. Eskandari was formerly a commander of the Guards' ground forces and also headed a state-run charity in southern Iran that helps war veterans and families of fallen soldiers. Neither the circumstances of his killing nor details about his role in the Syrian civil war -- where Iran has staunchly backed the Assad regime -- have been officially confirmed.
Thousands of Turkish police mobilised Saturday in central Istanbul ahead of demonstrations to mark the first anniversary of last year's protests that mushroomed into a revolt against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule. Erdogan's government deployed thousands of riot police and police in civilian clothes to enforce a ban on protests at Taksim Square, the epicentre of last year's demonstrations, an AFP reporter said. Erdogan on Friday urged young Turks to ignore the call to stage a protest to mark the anniversary of a movement that began last year as a neighbourhood bid to save Gezi Park, adjacent to Taksim Square, from real estate developers.