Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a weekend bomb attack on a Djibouti restaurant packed with Westerners. "As part of the ongoing Jihad against the Western-led Crusade against Islam, Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen forces have on Saturday night carried out a successful operation against the coalition of Western Crusaders based in Djibouti," the group said in a statement. The group said the attack "targeted a restaurant frequented predominantly by French Crusaders and their NATO allies from the US, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, resulting in 35 casualties". "The attack was carried out against the French Crusaders for their complicity in the massacres and persecution of our Muslim brothers in the Central African Republic and for their active role in training and equipping the apostate Djiboutian troops in Somalia and their growing intervention in the affairs of our Muslim lands," the Shebab statement said.
British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted Tuesday he would not step down as leader of the Liberal Democrat coalition partners despite a terrible performance in the European elections. Pressure has been building on Clegg since the Lib Dems lost 11 of their 12 European Parliament seats, which came hot on the heels of the party losing hundreds of seats in local council elections. Emerging for his first public appearance since the vote debacle, Clegg said during a low-key visit to a youth club that he wanted to "finish the job" and dismissed calls to dissolve the coalition or modify his party's pro-EU approach. Voters appear set to inflict more pain on the centrist Lib Dems for their decision to enter a coalition with the centre-right Conservatives after the inconclusive 2010 general election.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in an interview that Washington’s cost-cutting culture helped spark the growing Veterans Administration hospital controversy by encouraging VA officials to understate their financial needs both internally and to Congress. Murray, a top appropriator and former chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, had strong words for a department that not only faces chronic management issues, but also consistently underestimates its funding needs and the how many veterans will seek care each year. Though many Republicans have called for current VA secretary Eric Shinseki to step down from his post in light of reports of secret waitlists at VA hospitals across the county, Murray focused on cultural issues that extend deeper than one official.
South Africa's economy has contracted for the first time since the global crisis five years ago, raising the spectre of recession in Africa's most developed economy. Statistics South Africa reported Tuesday that the economy shrank by 0.6 percent in the first quarter, a stunning reversal amid a rapid boom elsewhere in the continent. The South African economy has struggled to recover since the 2009 crisis and the possibility of another recession, two consecutive quarters of negative growth, is not being ruled out. "This makes for grim reading," said Razia Khan, Africa's regional head of research for Standard Chartered Bank.
President Barack Obama called Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday and offered him "the full support of the United States." Obama said the United States would assist Ukraine as Poroshenko "seeks to unify and move his country forward," the White House said. Poroshenko, a billionaire tycoon, won with 54 percent of the votes cast in Sunday's elections in the strife-torn former Soviet republic. Obama "stressed the importance of quickly implementing the reforms necessary for Ukraine to bring the country together and to develop a sustainable economy, attractive investment climate, and transparent and accountable government that is responsive to the concerns and aspirations of all Ukrainians," the White House said.
Former President George W. Bush underwent successful surgery for a partial knee replacement, a spokesman said on Tuesday. Bush's outpatient procedure took place on Saturday in Chicago. "He was up walking around just a couple hours after the procedure and was even able to go up and down a flight of stairs just a couple hours after the operation," said Bush spokesman Freddy Ford.
US forces will complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, 15 years after the September 11 attacks, President Barack Obama was to say Tuesday. The United States invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime in Kabul and to hunt its ally Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, author of the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. The insurgents are still far from defeated, but Washington now wants to withdraw its troops from the battlefield and into a support role for Afghan government forces, and eventually to leave. "We will only sustain a military presence after 2014 if the Afghan government signs the Bilateral Security Agreement," a senior administration official said ahead of Obama's announcement.
South Africa's economy shrank in the first quarter of the year, in the worst performance recorded since the global recession five years ago, official data showed Tuesday. Statistics South Africa reported the economy contracted by 0.6 percent quarter-on-quarter, a stunning reversal for Africa's most advanced economy amid a rapid boom elsewhere in the continent. The worse-than-expected data comes during the first full day on the job for South African finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. The 55-year-old was sworn in as South Africa's first black finance minister on Monday, tasked with overseeing "radical" social and economic reforms in President Jacob Zuma's new five-year term.
President Barack Obama congratulated Ukraine's president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, on his election victory on Tuesday and offered U.S. support as he seeks to unify the country, the White House said. Poroshenko, a billionaire confectionary magnate, won Sunday's election and has vowed to crush a revolt by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine after Russia's seizure of Crimea. A White House statement said Obama congratulated Poroshenko and offered "the full support of the United States as he seeks to unify and move his country forward." The two leaders agreed to continue their conversation during Obama's trip to Europe next week, the White House said.
The world's chemical weapons watchdog said on Tuesday that a convoy of its inspectors overseeing the dismantling of Syria's weapons program had come under attack, but all were safe. "All team members are safe and well and heading back to their operating base," said Michael Luhan, spokesman for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Syrian foreign ministry reported earlier that six investigators had been kidnapped with their Syrian drivers while on a fact-finding mission in the central province of Hama. The team had been investigating allegations that Syrian government forces unleashed a chlorine attack on a rebel-held village in Hama province last month.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is stepping up pressure on the White House to confront Russia over allegations that it is cheating on a key nuclear arms treaty — a faceoff that could further strain U.S.-Moscow relations and dampen President Barack Obama's hopes to add deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals to his legacy.
Shiite rebels in northern Yemen attacked army positions and killed five soldiers, prompting renewed clashes on between the two sides on Tuesday, local officials and medics said. On May 20, medics said 25 soldiers and rebels were killed in similar clashes in Amran, a stronghold of the insurgents who have tried to bolster their standing in the region by holding armed parades and anti-military protests. Huthis have been fighting the central government for years, complaining of marginalisation under ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted in 2012 after a year of protests.
A Saudi court sentenced to death a Shiite protester convicted of opening fire on a police patrol during unrest in the kingdom's east, local media reported on Tuesday. The sentence is the heaviest handed to a protester in the trial of scores detained over their involvement in anti-regime protests in the oil-rich Eastern Province since February 2011. The court, which specialises in terrorism cases, convicted the Saudi man of "disobedience... undermining security and causing sedition" by opening fire on a police patrol in the Shiite-populated Qatif district with the help of two accomplices, according to local media. Activists identified the convict as Rida Rabih, son of Shiite cleric Jaafar Rabih, who became known for his efforts to ease tensions that were brewing in Qatif's flashpoint village of Awamiya.