Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - Suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed a Christian village in northeastern Nigeria, killing 20 residents, a government spokesman said Monday. The heavily armed gunmen stormed Waga village in Adamawa state on Sunday and opened fire, Ahmed Soji said. "The gunmen believed to be Boko Haram insurgents in trucks and on motorcycles attacked the village where they killed 20 people and burnt several houses," Soji said. Adamawa state, which is one of three states under emergency law along with Borno and Yobe, has seen a string of deadly Boko Haram attacks.
Benghazi (Libya) (AFP) - A newspaper editor and critic of Libya's jihadists was gunned down Monday in the lawless eastern city of Benghazi, an Islamist stronghold, medics said. They said Meftah Bouzid, 50, editor of the weekly newspaper Burniq, was shot dead in the centre of the Mediterranean city. A journalist and analyst, Bouzid often went on television to criticise Islamic extremists, resulting in threats to his life according to a friend. Ex-rebels, especially Islamists, have been blamed for deadly attacks on dozens of members of the security forces, judges and foreigners in Benghazi, the city where the revolution was born.
French President Francois Hollande called Monday for the European Union to scale back its role in the lives of its citizens after anti-EU parties made sweeping electoral gains across the bloc. In comments with far-reaching implications for the EU's future, the Socialist leader said the spectacular success of parties like France's own National Front (FN) reflected how the bloc had become "remote and incomprehensible" for many of its citizens. Europe has to be simple, clear, to be effective where it is needed and to withdraw from where it is not necessary," Hollande said in a televised address to the nation. Hollande's Socialist Party suffered a humiliating setback in Sunday's elections for a new European Parliament, registering a record low vote of just under 14 percent while the FN topped the polls with nearly 25 percent.
The White House accidentally revealed the name of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan during President Barack Obama's surprise visit to the country on Sunday. The top agent's name was revealed in a pool report sent out by a Washington Post reporter to journalists based on a list of officials provided by the White House who were taking part in a security briefing for Obama at Bagram Air Base. The pool report is an eyewitness account of the president's activities written by a pool reporter on behalf of his colleagues that is sent out by the White House to thousands of journalists. When the reporter realized what had happened, he notified senior White House officials and they provided a new list of officials for the pool report that was missing the name of the man revealed as "chief of station" in the earlier report.
By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama paid tribute on Monday to fallen U.S. military men and women during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery that highlighted a veterans' care scandal that has engulfed his presidency in recent weeks. Just hours earlier, Obama returned from a surprise trip to Afghanistan, where he thanked troops for a mission that will conclude formally at the end of this year.
Mbabane (Swaziland) (AFP) - The tiny kingdom of Swaziland only has around $790,000 left in the bank, according to the central bank's latest estimate, as an economic slowdown in neighbouring South Africa hits home. The official reserves would cover only four months of vital imports, the central bank's Monetary Policy Consultative Committee said in its latest fiscal update Monday. The country is highly dependent on imports and has seen exports hit by a slowing South African economy. "The South African economy continued to notch sluggish growth rates and the outlook remain precarious," the statement said.
French President Francois Hollande called Monday for the European Union to reduce its role "where it is not necessary" after Eurosceptic parties made sweeping electoral gains across the bloc. Reacting to the spectacular success of parties like France's own National Front and the UK Independence Party in Sunday's European elections, Hollande acknowledged that the EU had become "remote and incomprehensible" for many of its citizens. Europe has to be simple, clear, to be effective where it is needed and to withdraw from where it is not necessary," he said in a televised address to the nation. Hollande's comments will be greeted with delight by Eurosceptics who accuse Brussels of meddling in national affairs, and also by the likes of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who also advocates a scaling back of the powers currently vested in the European institutions.
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday spoke to several European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, following European Parliament elections that marked the rise of anti-EU parties, including in Britain. Ahead of an Informal European Council in Brussels on Tuesday, Cameron told his counterparts that they should learn from the election results, according to a statement released by his Downing Street office.
Russia and Ukraine have a "good chance" of striking a deal to resolve a standoff over Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine by June 1, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Monday. "We made relatively good progress and have a good chance of reaching an agreement by June 1," said Oettinger after a Berlin meeting with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Yuri Prodan. Under a proposed deal, subject to approval in Kiev and Moscow, Ukraine would pay $2.5 billion to Russian energy giant Gazprom in coming days and weeks -- about half the amount Russia says it is owned in backpayments and for the month of June.
A quarter of a century after Communist authorities crushed the Tiananmen Square demonstrators and their hopes of reform, protest leader Wu'er Kaixi still lies awake at night, haunted by the dead and their unrealised dreams. But after seven weeks in the square their aspirations were abruptly shattered by an overnight military crackdown that ended on June 4, 1989, leaving hundreds of people dead -- by some estimates, more than 1,000 -- and a ruling party hell-bent on preventing any future such challenges to its power. "During the time it did seem quite promising that the Chinese authorities may yield, may actually answer to our call for Chinese political reform," said Wu'er, then a charismatic 21-year-old activist, who became number two on the government's most-wanted list of student leaders. Students began to pour into Tiananmen Square.
Russia and Ukraine have a "good chance" of striking a deal to resolve a standoff over Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine by June 1, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Monday. "We made relatively good progress and have a good chance of reaching an agreement by June 1," said Oettinger after a Berlin meeting with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Yuri Prodan. Europe is locked in a confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, where Brussels believes the Kremlin has supported pro-Moscow separatists and worked to destabilise the Western-leading transitional government by threatening to cut off gas supplies. Amid the standoff, Russian energy giant Gazprom has hiked gas prices and toughened conditions for former Soviet satellite Ukraine.
South African business and opposition leaders expressed concern Monday over President Jacob Zuma's new cabinet, while the media accused him of bowing to pressure from labour and communist allies. Zuma announced a 35-member cabinet late Sunday to see through his second term, which notably included the country's first black finance minister since the advent of democracy 20 years ago. Nhlanhla Nene, 55, the former deputy head of the treasury, replaced Pravin Gordhan, of Indian origin, who was moved to the local government portfolio. The cabinet "does not inspire confidence that South Africa's major challenges –- weak economic growth, unemployment and corruption -- will be tackled effectively," said opposition Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille.
Kuwait expressed its hopes on Monday that a landmark visit by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to visit Iran next week will strengthen security, stability and peace in the Gulf. The visit comes amid a recent thaw in relations between Shiite Iran and the Sunni-ruled Gulf states despite high sectarian tensions over the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Sheikh Sabah, on his first visit to Tehran as head of state, will lead a high level delegation consisting of the ministers of foreign affairs, oil, finance and commerce and industry, the cabinet said in a statement. Iran's newly-appointed ambassador to Kuwait Ali Riza told reporters on Monday the emir's visit "will give a push to regional cooperation and consolidate ties".
A Bahraini court jailed four people for life on Monday for blowing up a car in an attempt to disrupt an F1 Grand Prix race in 2013, the state news agency said. All of the men were accused of blowing up a car in November 2013 near a financial centre in the capital Manama "to disrupt a Formula 1 race," the agency said. They were also accused of making and possessing explosives, detonating explosives and stealing a car, all with the aim of "carrying out a terrorist act," the agency added, saying the men admitted their responsibility. Bahrain has held an annual three-day Grand Prix event since 2011.
Secretary of State John Kerry called on Iran on Monday to release a former US Marine "unjustly" held for nearly three years. Amir Hekmati was arrested in August 2011, put on trial and found guilty of spying for the CIA. "Mr Hekmati has spent almost three years in an Iranian prison on false espionage charges. We remain especially concerned about reports of Mr Hekmati's health in prison," Kerry said in a statement.