Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul were wrong-footed by its new jihadist masters, who initially left them in relative peace but later forced them to flee for their lives. The turnaround in the attitude of Islamic State insurgents who overran Mosul last month could indicate the group is now confident enough of its hold on Iraq's second city to impose its extreme rules. Analysts say the relative leniency the group had shown Christians may have been a sop to allied Sunni militant groups with a less severe interpretation of Islam. "They tricked us, because in the beginning they did not threaten us, but after they established themselves they began imposing their terrorist laws on us," said Father Emmanuel Kelou, who once headed a Mosul church but now ministers to displaced Christians in the town of Qaraqosh, around 30 kilometres (20 miles) away.
A massive assault by Boko Haram in the northeast Nigerian town of Damboa displaced more than 15,000 people, an official said Monday, as the security forces sent reinforcements to flush out the Islamist fighters. The attack on Damboa began late Thursday but continued through the weekend, with witnesses saying that civilians were left defenceless by the security forces who withdrew from the area earlier this month. Officials from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) were struggling to establish a death toll amid multiple reports that Boko Haram fighters were still occupying the town, having hoisted their flag above a public building. Abdulkadir Ibrahim of NEMA told journalists that at least 15,204 people had fled Damboa to escape the Islamist onslaught.
Germany's Jewish community on Monday condemned an "explosion of evil and violent hatred of Jews" at a recent string of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the country. Protesters waving Palestinian flags and signs of late leader Yasser Arafat have in recent days shouted anti-Semitic slogans at rallies against Israel's Gaza offensive, according to German media. Exclaiming "Allahu Akbar" (God is great), crowds in Berlin have reportedly yelled "Death to Israel" and chanted "Zionists are fascists, killing children and civilians".
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Monday the number of people seeking refuge at its sites in Gaza to escape a two-week-old Israeli offensive on the enclave has soared to more than 100,000. "This is a watershed moment for UNRWA, now that the number of people seeking refuge with us is more than double the figure we saw in the 2009 Gaza conflict," climbing to above 100,000, the agency's spokesman Christopher Gunness said in a statement. UNRWA says it has opened 69 shelters in the war-torn Gaza Strip to cope with the rising numbers of displaced people, as Israel rains down air strikes, tank and artillery shells on homes, offices and other targets in its campaign to stamp out militant rocket fire.
Western powers on Monday ratcheted up the pressure on Moscow over the Malaysian plane disaster, as a train loaded with some 280 bodies was finally allowed to leave a rebel-held station four days after the jet crashed in strife-torn east Ukraine. US President Barack Obama insisted that Moscow force pro-Russian insurgents controlling parts of east Ukraine to cooperate with an international probe into the disaster, and said chaos at the impact site was an "insult" to families of the victims. With global fury mounting over the limited access given to investigators in the aftermath of the crash, the insurgents blamed for hampering the probe struck a breakthrough deal with Malaysia to hand over two black boxes recovered from the plane wreckage. Moscow, which has drawn ire for failing to rein in the pro-Russian rebels, meanwhile hit back at US accusations that it supplied the weapons allegedly used to shoot down the airliner.
Two American members of the Israeli Defense Force have been killed in Gaza fighting, US media reported late Sunday, citing relatives and friends. The State Department said two US citizens were killed in Gaza violence and released their names, but did not immediately disclose their occupations. "We can confirm the deaths of US citizens Max Steinberg and Sean Carmeli in Gaza," spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a two-sentence statement. Carmeli, 21, of Israeli parents, grew up in Texas, while Steinberg, 24, grew up in southern California, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The FBI encouraged and sometimes even paid Muslims to commit terrorist acts during numerous sting operations after the 9/11 attacks, a human rights group said in a report published Monday. "Far from protecting Americans, including American Muslims, from the threat of terrorism, the policies documented in this report have diverted law enforcement from pursuing real threats," said the report by Human Rights Watch. Aided by Columbia University Law School's Human Rights Institute, Human Rights Watch examined 27 cases from investigation through trial, interviewing 215 people, including those charged or convicted in terrorism cases, their relatives, defense lawyers, prosecutors and judges. "In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act," the report said.
Israel must do more to protect civilians caught up in the crossfire of its assault on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the White House said Monday. "We would like the Israelis to take even greater steps to ensure the protection of civilians," spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. His comments came as US Secretary of State John Kerry headed to the region to push for a ceasefire. Reaffirming Israel's right to defend itself, Earnest said it was "unacceptable" for Hamas "to continue firing rockets squarely at Israeli civilians."
US President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday outlawing federal employment discrimination based on gender identity and strengthening other LGBT protections. Supporters of expanded anti-bias protections for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities have sought legal action for years, but in the absence of legislative moves by Congress, the president exercised his executive authority to end certain discriminations. Obama's order prohibits sexual orientation-related discrimination by companies that contract with the federal government, a move affecting firms that employ millions. The federal government already bars discrimination based on race, origin, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation.
A US jury on Monday returned the first conviction over the 2013 Boston Marathon attacks, finding a university friend of the prime suspect guilty of obstructing the investigation into the bombings. Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, was found guilty of taking a backpack from alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room but not a laptop, which was tossed in a dumpster and took two days to recover. The seven men and five-women jury returned the verdict after a two-week trial in a federal court in Boston, the first trial connected to the April 15, 2013 attacks at the Boston marathon.
Kuwait on Monday revoked the citizenship of the owner of a pro-opposition television station and a newspaper, along with several other people, in an apparent crackdown on dissent. In a statement issued after a cabinet meeting, the government said it was revoking the citizenship of Ahmad Jabr al-Shemmari, owner of Al-Youm satellite television and Alam Al-Youm newspaper, and all members of his family. It took the same action against former Islamist opposition MP Abdullah al-Barghash, two of his brothers and his sister. The measures come a week after the Kuwaiti government ordered a review of the citizenship of people who posed a threat to national security.
Zimbabwe will halve its stake in the local bourse as part of a plan to float the company and attract more foreign capital into the country, the finance minister said on Monday. The government will cut its stake in the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) to 16 percent, down from its current holding of 32 percent, as part of a long-term plan for a public listing, Patrick Chinamasa said. "The primary objective of the project is to transform the ZSE from a statutory body into a viable public limited company," he said after signing the agreement. Listing ZSE is aimed at helping it to attract foreign investors at a time when Zimbabwe is experiencing a liquidity crunch and massive unemployment.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict stirs up passions the world over and France -- where large Muslim and Jewish communities, a colonial past and divisions in society create an explosive mix -- is no exception. Like many European countries, France has been the scene of protests against the Jewish state's deadly Gaza offensive, but in Paris and the suburb town of Sarcelles, three rallies descended into violence, sending locals scurrying as protesters clashed with riot police.
Arab Israelis clashed with police in the northern city of Nazareth on Monday, police said, at the end of a protest against Israel's deadly military strikes in the Gaza Strip. The clashes came as Nazareth and cities in the West Bank observed a general strike to mourn the victims of the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas -- the bloodiest since 2009 -- that has cost more than 500 Palestinian lives in two weeks.
Liberal factions appear to be the big winners in Libya's new parliament after the announcement of election results on Monday, analysts said. The electoral commission finally announced the results of the winners of individual seats in the June 25 poll a day late and at a time when rival factions are involved in clashes for control of Tripoli airport. Commentators say liberals will fill most seats in the new parliament, unlike the former assembly which was dominated by Islamists. "According to my estimates, the Islamists have not won more than 30 seats," a Benghazi deputy, Younes Fannouch, told AFP.
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday urged the EU to hit Russia with tougher sanctions over the downing of flight MH17, calling for a ban on military sales and criticising France's deal to build two warships for Moscow. He called for wider measures targeting whole sectors of the Russian economy if President Vladimir Putin does not press Ukraine's pro-Kremlin separatists to allow access to the crash site and reduce Moscow's support for the rebels. European Union foreign ministers meet on Tuesday to decide whether to broaden the current measures against Russia from so-called second tier sanctions, which include travel bans and asset freezes on figures linked to the unrest in Ukraine. "I think it is time to start to go into the tier three sanctions, so for instance future military sales I don't think should be going ahead from any country in Europe," he said, adding that Britain had already halted them to Russia.