Pakistan on Thursday condemned the first US drone strikes on its soil this year despite suspicions the two countries coordinated over the attack in the aftermath of a Taliban siege of Karachi airport. The strikes took place over Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, killing at least 16 militants in the North Waziristan tribal district that lies on the Afghan border, in the first such attacks since December. They came in the same week as the Taliban claimed responsibility for an all-night siege of Karachi airport that left 37 dead including 10 attackers, shredding a nascent peace process and placing pressure on Islamabad to react decisively. The foreign office issued a tersely worded statement condemning the strikes as "a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity".
Versailles (France) (AFP) - A French court said Thursday it will decide on June 26 whether to extradite to Belgium the man suspected of carrying out a deadly shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last month. Franco-Algerian Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, who was detained several days after the attack that left four people dead, told the court he was not opposed to his transfer to Belgium as long as he has assurances he will not be sent on to a third country. The shooting on May 24 -- the first such attack in Brussels in three decades -- raised fears across Europe of a resurgence of anti-Semitic violence and of terror attacks from foreign fighters returning from Syria. Nemmouche had spent more than a year fighting with radical jihadists in Syria.
Predominantly Shiite Muslim Iran will combat the "violence and terrorism" of Sunni extremists who have launched an anti-government offensive in neighbouring Iraq, President Hassan Rouhani warned on Thursday. "This is an extremist, terrorist group that is acting savagely," Rouhani said live on state television. The president did not elaborate on what steps Iran would take to help thwart a bid by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to push toward Baghdad after seizing several cities and towns to the north. But he said he would head to a meeting of Iran's Supreme National Security Council immediately after his speech.
Passport applications will be fast-tracked for people with an "urgent need" to travel, the Home Secretary Theresa May said Thursday, as she battled to contain a growing row over a backlog in the system. People applying to renew passports overseas for travel to Britain will be given an automatic 12-month extension to their existing passports, May said in an emergency statement in the House of Commons. The Home Secretary also said she had ordered two separate reviews of the Passport Office, which is struggling to tackle a backlog of at least 30,000 applications. The passports fiasco worsened late Wednesday when the Home Office was forced to reverse plans to relax security checks following an embarrassing report by the Guardian.
Lucknow (India) (AFP) - Indian police said Thursday they were investigating a spate of rapes and hangings in a troubled northern region, as the national women's rights body called for the state government to resign over the crisis. India has been trying to restore its battered reputation for violence against women, but public outrage was reignited by the deaths last month of two girls, aged 12 and 14, who were gang-raped and lynched in their impoverished village in Uttar Pradesh. On Thursday, a woman said she had been gang-raped by four officers at a police station in the state, and police said they were also investigating the death of a 19--year-old found, like the two girls, hanging from a tree. "The body was strung up using the girl's dupatta (long scarf)," senior police superintendent Ashutosh Kumar said, adding the incident occurred in a village in Moradabad district.