The United States said Monday that Russia is continuing to support the pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine, despite US sanctions aimed at punishing it for its alleged interference in its neighbor. "There is evidence that Russia continues to allow the free flow of weapons, funds, and fighters across its borders and President (Vladimir) Putin's next steps are still not clear," Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said, in a speech in Washington. Lew said the United States had worked with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and its G7 partners to coordinate a response to the crisis and provide Ukraine with financial and technical assistance. "Our goal was to impose a cost on Russia for its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea and to deter Russian military intervention in Ukraine," he said, according to prepared remarks for an event at the Center of Strategic and International Studies.
At least 50 people, including nine children, were killed in two days of rebel mortar and rocket fire on regime-held areas of Aleppo in northern Syria, a monitoring group said Monday. The latest toll from the main northern city comes the day before a presidential election expected to keep incumbent Bashar al-Assad in power. "At least 50 people, including nine children, were killed in mortar and rocket fire on regime-held areas of Aleppo on Saturday and Sunday," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The Britain-based monitoring group said the casualties on Saturday and Sunday came after 230 people had been killed in two months of rebel bombardments of areas of Aleppo controlled by the government.
From old-school family values to women's rights and gay marriage, Spanish society was transformed in the four decades of King Juan Carlos's reign. The democratic rebirth he oversaw spawned fast but fragile economic growth that later plunged Spain into economic crisis, however. When a 37-year-old Juan Carlos was crowned on November 22, 1975, he took the throne of a deeply conservative society. After 40 years under the dictator General Francisco Franco, Spain was just starting to reap the fruits of industrial development.
Attacks across Iraq, including in the normally peaceful south, killed nine people Monday after unrest a day earlier left 40 dead, the latest in a protracted surge in nationwide bloodshed. The violence comes as political leaders jostle to build alliances amid what is expected to be a months-long period of government formation following April elections, with bloodletting at its worst since Iraq emerged from a brutal Sunni-Shiite sectarian war. A spate of bombs went off around Baghdad and in restive Sunni-majority Salaheddin province Monday, as well as in Najaf and Dhi Qar in the typically quiet Shiite-dominated south, officials said. South of Baghdad, a roadside bomb near a secondary school in Mahmudiyah killed a male pupil, and a car bomb near a Shiite mosque in Iskandiriyah killed two people.
Lucknow (India) (AFP) - Indian police fired water cannon on Monday at a group of mainly women protesting against the gang-rape and lynching of two girls in the country's largest state. Several hundred protesters were demanding an end to violence against women outside the office of the chief minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh, when riot police tried to disperse the crowd by hosing them, footage broadcast on Indian television showed. The protests came amid a growing uproar over last week's killings in Uttar Pradesh, with the United Nations saying violence against women should be regarded as a matter of basic human rights. "There should be justice for the families of the two teenaged girls and for all the women and girls from lower caste communities who are targeted and raped in rural India," said Lise Grande, the UN's resident coordinator for India.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold face-to-face talks on the Ukraine crisis with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Downing Street said on Monday. "It is an important opportunity to set out the importance of a dialogue between the Russian government and the new Ukrainian government following the presidential elections that have happened over the last week or so in Ukraine," Cameron's official spokesman told reporters. The talks will take place the day after Cameron, US President Barack Obama and other G7 leaders meet in Brussels for a summit at which Russia's annexation of Crimea and the tense situation in eastern Ukraine will be at the centre of discussions.
Benghazi (Libya) (AFP) - Fierce fighting between Islamists and a rogue Libyan general killed 16 people in Benghazi on Monday, triggering fears of an all-out war as hospitals urged citizens to donate blood. Officials at two hospitals in the eastern city, the birthplace of the NATO-backed uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, said at least 11 soldiers and five civilians were killed, and 26 people wounded. An air force commander said the clashes erupted when three Islamist groups, including Ansar al-Sharia, attacked a base of elite forces who support the renegade general, Khalifa Haftar. The fighting was the bloodiest since 76 people were killed in mid-May when Haftar unleashed an offensive dubbed "Operation Dignity" to purge Libya of Islamists he brands "terrorists".
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday warned regional countries of the "high price" they would eventually pay for supporting extremist Sunni Muslim groups fighting Tehran's key ally Syria. Shiite Iran is a staunch supporter of President Bashar al-Assad's regime in its struggle against mostly Sunni rebels backed by Arab nations and Western powers. Khamenei made the comments during a meeting with the visiting Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah whose trip to Tehran has been widely seen as an attempt to warm up the frosty ties between Iran and Sunni-ruled monarchies in the Gulf.
Amritsar (India) (AFP) - As retailer Sukhdeep Singh visits the Golden Temple in northern India, Sikhism's holiest shrine, he laments the bloodbath 30 years ago that catapulted his religion into controversy. The military's 1984 assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar -- called Operation Blue Star -- was aimed at flushing out militants holed up inside demanding an independent Sikh homeland. "People don't want any more violence and bloodshed," the 31-year-old, who is based in Melbourne and was visiting his family in Amritsar in Punjab state, said. "I think we are better off remaining with India," he added as he toured the temple and its museum, which attract scores of visitors every year.
By Hamid Shalizi and Jessica Donati KABUL (Reuters) - The Afghan president is angry at being kept in the dark over a deal to free five Taliban leaders in exchange for a captured U.S. soldier, and accuses Washington of failing to back a peace plan for the war-torn country, a senior source said on Monday. The five prisoners were flown to Qatar on Sunday as part of a secret agreement to release Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who left Afghanistan for Germany on the same day. The only known U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan, Bergdahl had been held captive for five years. "The president is now even more distrustful of U.S. intentions in the country," said the source at President Hamid Karzai's palace in Kabul, who declined to be identified.
Two images stick in the minds of Spaniards from February 23, 1981, the day Spain escaped a military coup. The second is that of King Juan Carlos, on television in his green military uniform hours later, ordering an end to the revolt. It proved to be the making of the king, 43 at the time and five years into his reign in a country still wary of him as the late dictator Francisco Franco's chosen successor. Spain's young democracy was put to test when 200 Civil Guards, under Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero, stormed into the lower house of parliament as lawmakers were voting in a new prime minister.
Arsal (Lebanon) (AFP) - Young mothers who fled Syria's war for dismal refugee camps in Lebanon struggle to imagine a future for their babies, even though they find their newborns a rare source of joy. "My baby was born a refugee, and he faces a really tough future here," said Umm Khaled, nursing a newborn baby in a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) at the border town of Arsal.
Waza (Cameroon) (AFP) - With a famous nature reserve, elephant safaris, and a reputation as a peaceful haven, the small town of Waza in the far north of Cameroon used to buzz with tourists. Located just a few kilometres from the border with Nigeria, Waza has been gripped by "general panic" since an attack by suspected Boko Haram Islamists who kidnapped ten Chinese in mid-May, said the secretary-general of the town, Tandjo. The security forces searching for them believe they were quickly taken back over the border, to the northeastern region of Nigeria that has become Boko Haram's stronghold. It was the latest in a series of incursions into northern Cameroon by the group, who officials say take advantage of a porous border to evade detection.