Sunni militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took control of an Iraq-Syria border crossing after Syrian rebels withdrew overnight, security officers and witnesses said. The sources said insurgents took control of the Al-Qaim border crossing, one of three official border points between Iraq and Syria, after gunmen linked to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front left.
Thousands of fighters loyal to powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr paraded with weapons in the Sadr City area of north Baghdad Saturday, vowing to fight against a major militant offensive. The offensive, led by Sunni Arab militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group but involving other organisations as well, has overrun swathes of northern and central Iraq this month.
Vice President Joe Biden is demanding that Central American nations work with Washington to halt the cascade of illegal child migrants from the region from reaching the southern US border. Biden issued his blunt call Friday in Guatemala as the White House announced new measures to speed up deportations of the child migrants, and as sharp criticism from opposition Republicans dashed any hopes of approving an immigration reform law. "We're approaching this issue with a shared recognition that the current situation is not sustainable," Biden told Guatemalan President Otto Perez at a joint press appearance.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donors to the campaign committees of the two major parties have forked over at least $625 million so far this election cycle and show no signs of slowing down. That heavy giving will allow the campaign committees to flood voters' televisions with ads, mailboxes with fliers, and phones with calls promoting candidates for House and Senate races.
Albie Sachs, the South African judge who rose to fame for his role in the anti-apartheid struggle, was Saturday awarded the Tang Prize, touted as Asia's version of the Nobels, for his contributions to human rights and justice. Sachs, who lost an arm and the sight of one eye in a car-bombing by apartheid forces in Mozambique in 1988 and was later appointed to South Africa's Constitutional Court by Nelson Mandela, was recognised "for his many contributions to human rights and justice globally," said the Tang Prize Foundation. In particular, the foundation recognised his efforts "in the realisation of the rule of law in a free and democratic South Africa".
Sunni militants who fought together to capture swathes of Iraqi territory have turned their weapons on each other during clashes in Kirkuk province that cost 17 lives, sources said Saturday. The fighting erupted on Friday evening between the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandiyah Order (JRTN) in Hawija, in Kirkuk province, said the sources. There were differing accounts as to what sparked the firefight, which is a potential sign of the fraying of the Sunni insurgent alliance that has overrun vast stretches of territory north of Baghdad in less than two weeks. Analysts have noted that while the Sunni insurgents, who are led by ISIL but also include a litany of other groups including loyalists of now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein, have formed a wide alliance, it is unclear if the broader grouping can hold together given their disparate ideologies.
Chinese police shot dead 13 people in Xinjiang after they drove into a police building and set off an explosion Saturday, regional authorities said, in the latest attack to hit the restive region. The vast area in China's far west, home to the mainly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, has faced a series of violent attacks in recent years. Beijing has vowed a year-long crackdown on terrorism in recent weeks following several high-profile attacks blamed on Xinjiang militants, which since late last year struck outside the region and targeted ordinary citizens rather than government or security personnel. "Today thugs crashed a car into the public security building of Kargilik county in Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture and set off an explosion.
Washington readied a new diplomatic push to unite Iraq's fractious leaders Saturday and repel a Sunni insurgent offensive that has put Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki under growing pressure domestically and overseas. US President Barack Obama has offered hundreds of military advisers but his refusal so far to approve air strikes against militants, led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has prompted Baghdad's powerful Shiite neighbour Iran to charge that Washington lacked the "will" to fight terror. The swift militant onslaught, which has been carried out by ISIL as well as a litany of other groups including loyalists of now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein, has overrun swathes of territory north of Baghdad, displacing hundreds of thousands and threatening Iraq's very existence.
A Somali journalist died in Mogadishu Saturday after a bomb believed to have been attached to his car was remotely detonated, police and witnesses said. The victim, prominent local journalist Yusuf Keynan, was working with Mustaqbal radio, a private Mogadishu FM station, and also contributed to the Nairobi, Kenya-based UN humanitarian radio Ergo. "It was a local journalist who was targeted in the attack. The bomb attached under the seat of his car went off, leaving him dead," Somali police official Abdi Garane said.
By Mark Felsenthal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Friday stepped up efforts to slow the flow of illegal children into the country, expanding the government's ability to process and deport people and announcing new funding to boost security in crime-plagued Central American countries. The Obama administration said it would boost the ranks of immigration judges, lawyers and asylum officers to quickly decide what happens to people apprehended at the border and to return them to their home countries. "We are surging resources to increase our capacity to detain individuals and adults with children, and to handle immigration court hearings," Homeland Security Deputy Director Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters. "This will allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - to return unlawful migrants from Central America who are ordered removed to their home countries more quickly," he said.
Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah held street protests in Kabul on Saturday as fears grow of unrest erupting over alleged fraud in the election one week ago. Abdullah has boycotted the vote count, pitching Afghanistan into a political crisis as NATO combat troops withdraw from a 13-year war against Taliban insurgents. The former foreign minister accused his poll rival Ashraf Ghani, outgoing President Hamid Karzai and election authorities of all committing fraud to deny him victory. An early morning suicide attack in the city targeted Masoom Stanekzai, a senior official at the government body responsible for exploring peace talks with the Taliban.
The number of Syrians in urgent need of humanitarian aid has jumped to 10.8 million -- nearly half of Syria's population of 22 million -- United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said. In his monthly report to the UN Security Council, Ban said that a total of 4.7 million Syrians are now in areas that are "difficult or impossible" for humanitarian workers to reach, including 241,000 in besieged areas. The report warned that advances made by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants in Iraq would only further worsen the situation in Syria.
Dozens of men crowd shops in central Baghdad, perusing military equipment including helmets, boots and camouflage uniforms that they will need after volunteering to fight against a major militant offensive. Urged on by a call from top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, thousands of Iraqis have volunteered to fight against Sunni Arab militants who have overrun swathes of northern and central Iraq. Now, everyone from young men to those with grey in their hair are flocking to buy military equipment in the Bab al-Sharji area of Baghdad. "We do not have military experience, but God willing, we will gain military experience from people older than us," says Walid Najm, a young man wearing sunglasses and a hat with a digital camouflage pattern who decided to volunteer to fight the militants.
By Ted Siefer BEDFORD N.H. (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Friday paid his first visit since 2012 to New Hampshire, a key state in presidential politics, touting a Republican candidate for governor while shrugging off questions about a 2016 run for the White House and “Bridgegate.” The stated purpose of Christie's trip was to support the campaign of gubernatorial hopeful Walt Havenstein, a former executive at the international defense contractor BAE Systems. Should he win the Republican primary in September, Havenstein would challenge Maggie Hassan, the popular Democratic governor, who is seeking a second term in the November general election. Several Republicans said to be eyeing a bid for the White House in 2016 have already made visits to New Hampshire, a crucial political bellwether as home to the first-in-the-nation presidential primaries every four years.
Hundreds of conservative Republicans who gathered for the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority conference this week in Washington see a conflict raging across the United States pitting their faith and family values against liberal encroachment fueled by President Barack Obama. Marriage sanctity has been a pillar of that platform, but five months before mid-term elections and 18 months before the 2016 presidential campaign, many Christian conservatives are looking beyond gay marriage to the next battlefronts in a sociopolitical struggle they hope to win at the ballot box. The far-right movement, whose torch is carried in Congress by the likes of Senator Ted Cruz and on America's backroads by 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, has failed to stem the tide of same-sex marriage rights that has now reached 19 of the 50 US states. "In fact, the Republican Party built their entire strategy for 2004 around this issue," and successfully passed amendments banning gay marriage in 11 states," he added.