Turkey received prior warning of the attack on its consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Friday, defending Ankara's decision not to evacuate. Arinc told reporters that the Turkish government had made contact by telephone with the hostages and they had "not been exposed to any bad treatment." On Wednesday, militants from the jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) abducted 49 people from the Turkish consulate in Mosul, including diplomats, guards and children. Turkey had decided not to evacuate the building as they judged the security situation outside was worse.
As interest in the girls' plight tails off after a viral social media campaign and street protests, Nigeria's government is facing mounting pressure over its failure to stop Boko Haram's relentless violence. On the streets, ordinary Nigerians -- awakened to the wider Boko Haram insurgency because of the abduction -- have begun expressing doubts about their leaders' ability to end the bloodshed. Nigeria's media had previously relegated Boko Haram down the news agenda but its activities began moving to the front page even before the mass kidnapping on April 14. "We were optimistic that they (the girls) were alive but right now that hope is fading... because the government and the international community seem powerless.
Venice's mayor Giorgio Orsoni resigned Friday amid a sweeping corruption investigation into a multi-billion-euro flood barrier project to save the island city from rising sea levels. The left-wing mayor stepped down a day after being released from house arrest after accepting a four-month prison sentence in a plea agreement, for benefiting from illegal party financing during his 2010 city election campaign. Orsoni had been arrested along with nine other politicians and business leaders in a fraud investigation involving around 100 people, including a retired top police general.
Fitch ratings agency on Friday revised the outlook on South Africa to negative from stable and affirmed its credit rating at 'BBB', near the bottom of the investment-grade scale. The ratings agency said the outlook revision was partly due to a strike at platinum mines, the country's longest-ever mining stoppages that began in January when workers downed tools. On Thursday, the world's three top platinum producers -- Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin -- said they had "in principle" reached a deal to end the 21-week deadlock over pay. Fitch said South Africa's outlook for growth had deteriorated after a 0.6-percent contraction in the first quarter of this year, and it revised its 2014 GDP growth forecast down to 1.7 percent from the 2.8 percent that it issued during the last country review in December 2013.
The UN's human rights chief on Friday condemned reports of summary executions and extrajudicial killings in Iraq amid fears of mounting abuses by jihadists as they advance across the north of the country. "The High Commissioner Navi Pillay is expressing extreme alarm at the dramatic deterioration of the situation in Iraq," Rupert Colville, her spokesman, told reporters in Geneva. The rights chief was especially concerned by verified reports of "summary executions and extrajudicial killings and the massive displacement of an additional half a million people" by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), he added. According to the UN mission in Iraq, "the number of people killed in recent days may run into the hundreds and the number of wounded is said to be approaching one thousand," Colville said.
Karbala (Iraq) (AFP) - Top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called Friday for Iraqis to take up arms against "terrorists" who have overrun swathes of the country in a major offensive. "Citizens who are able to bear arms and fight terrorists, defending their country and their people and their holy places, should volunteer and join the security forces to achieve this holy purpose," his representative announced on his behalf during Friday prayers in the city of Karbala. An offensive launched by the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and its allies late Monday has overrun all of one province and chunks of three more.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said Friday it was responsible for a recent attack on the home of Tunisia's interior minister that killed four policemen, the first such claim in the country. "A group of lions... went to cut off the head of the criminal Lotfi Ben Jeddou at his home... and God allowed them to kill a number of his personal guards," an AQIM statement said. The statement, posted on a jihadist Internet forum, said the May 27 attack on the house in the western border region of Kasserine, had also wounded other guards and that weapons had been seized. And it said that "entering into open war against Islam and its partisans to please the United States, France or Algeria, will cost dearly."
Spain's public debt hit a new record in the first quarter of this year, reaching 96.8 percent of economic output, the central bank said on Friday. Spain kept its debt relatively low before a real estate crash in 2008, at 36.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2007, but it has since soared in a double recession that ended last year. Financial concerns over Spain have calmed since the height of the crisis in 2012, however. The interest rates demanded by investors to lend to Spain have eased, making officials confident it can refinance its debts.
Ukraine's interior minister said on Friday that federal forces had inflicted "high casualties" on separatist rebels led by a Chechen commander in the southeastern port of Mariupol. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the "active phase" of the offensive began at dawn and was still raging three hours later. He added that two Ukrainian soldiers from the part-volunteer National Guard force were wounded in the fighting. "The terrorists from the Donetsk People's Republic are being headed by a criminal boss known as 'The Chechen,'" Avakov wrote in a Facebook post.