Thenia (Algeria) (AFP) - With rifles slung over their shoulders and accompanied by a pack of hounds, the hunters head into the thicket in pursuit of wild boar, thriving since Algeria's Islamist insurgency halted the practice 20 years ago. They also banned hunting, a highly popular activity at the time, with some 50,000 wild boar killed every year by the estimated 60,000 hunters and 320 separate associations operating in Algeria. "Hunting was suspended in 1993 because of terrorism," says Youcef Hammi, president of the national hunting federation, adding the ban was still in force except in the case of wild boar, for which special permission can be obtained. But the hunting parties are strictly controlled, to avoid them being mistaken for Islamist militants who found refuge in the maquis during Algeria's "black decade" of conflict, and who remain active in the region.
A Sri Lankan Tamil asylum-seeker has died after setting himself on fire while awaiting a visa decision in Australia, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said Monday. He added that authorities had been in touch with Seemanpillai's father in India, who requested a funeral for his son in Geelong. Seemanpillai, who arrived by boat in Australia in January 2013, was receiving community mental health support and his refugee application was still being processed, Morrison added. "I can also advise that the last case worker contact with Mr Seemanpillai was on Friday, May 30, and I am advised that there was no concern or indication of any suicidal intention... at that time," he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas about forming a new unity government, and voiced renewed concern about Hamas. Abbas earlier said the lineup of a unity government will be announced Monday, after a delay over who will head the foreign ministry. The Islamist movement Hamas and the Western-backed Palestine Liberation Organisation, dominated by Abbas's secular Fatah party, signed a surprise reconciliation agreement in April to end years of rivalry. During his telephone call with Abbas on Sunday, Kerry "expressed concern about Hamas's role in any such government and the importance that the new government commit to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements with it," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Australia has granted refugee visas to more than 500 Afghans for their help during its mission in the war-torn nation, saying their safety would be jeopardised by remaining in the country. "Many of these employees were placed at significant risk of harm by insurgents in Afghanistan, due to the highly visible and dangerous nature of their employment," Defence Minister David Johnston said. "This policy reflects Australia's fulfillment of its moral obligation to those who provided invaluable support to Australia's efforts in Afghanistan," he said. The last Australian combat troops left Afghanistan in December, marking the end of the nation's longest war which left 40 of its soldiers dead.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair was on Monday to call for a shake-up of the European Union following the dramatic gains made by eurosceptic parties in last week's EU-wide elections. In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Blair was to call the victories of the UK Independence Party and the National Front in France a "wake-up call", according to extracts published in The Times. The results reveal that voters feel "deep anxiety, distrust and alienation from the institutions and key philosophy of Europe", he was to say in the keynote London speech. "The election of parties across the continent on explicitly 'anti-the-status-quo in Europe' platforms signify something.
The US government will propose a rule Monday requiring power plants to cut by 30 percent carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 based on 2005 levels, US media reported Sunday. The Wall Street Journal cited people briefed on the rule as saying the Environmental Protection Agency's draft measure was due to be completed within a year. It will give leeway to US states to decide how to fulfil the reductions targets, such as through new cap-and-trade programs, deploying more renewable energy or developing energy-efficient technologies. The Washington Post said the plan would cut five million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2030, which may make it President Barack Obama's most sweeping climate change policy.
Lady Mary Soames, the last surviving child of Britain's World War II prime minister Winston Churchill, has died at the age of 91, her family announced Sunday. The baroness died peacefully at her home on Saturday surrounded by family members, following a short illness. She married the Conservative politician Baron Christopher Soames, and they had three sons and two daughters. Her late husband served as Britain's war secretary and ambassador to France, was a European commissioner and the last British governor of Southern Rhodesia before its transition to Zimbabwe.
Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - A bombing at a football pitch in Nigeria’s restive northeast killed at least 40 people on Sunday in an area previously attacked by Boko Haram Islamists, a police officer and a nurse said. The blast hit the town of Mubi in Adamawa state, one of three in the northeast which has been under a state of emergency for more than a year as Nigeria's military has tried to crush Boko Haram's five-year extremist uprising. "There has been a bomb explosion at a football field this evening and so far more than 40 people have been killed," said the officer in Mubi who requested anonymity. Adamawa has been hit by far fewer Boko Haram attacks than other parts of the northeast, but the town was the site of a gruesome October 2012 massacre at a post-secondary technical college.
The US decision to release five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay in order to recover a soldier held in Afghanistan sparked a furor in Washington, with Republicans warning Sunday the move put Americans at risk. Republican lawmakers were unanimous in their happiness about Saturday's release of Bowe Bergdahl after nearly five years in captivity -- but quick to hit out at what they saw as setting a worrying precedent. "Across northern Africa, the number one way that Al-Qaeda raises money is by ransom, kidnapping and ransom. We have now set a price," said Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee.
British eurosceptic leader Nigel Farage said Sunday that UKIP would flesh out its domestic programme for the 2015 general election after his anti-EU, anti-immigration party topped the European Parliament elections. Farage said the United Kingdom Independence Party would set out its manifesto at its annual conference, which would include tax cuts and selective schools. He also said he hoped to forge a eurosceptic wedge in the European Parliament that would sit between the main left and right blocs. Farage is targeting "two or three dozen" seats at the May 2015 general election where he feels UKIP has the best chance of making a breakthrough under the first-past-the-post system and getting into parliament.
The US National Security Agency is scooping up large quantities of images of people for use in facial recognition programs, the New York Times reported Sunday, citing top secret documents. The Times said documents, which were obtained from fugitive former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, show a significant increase in reliance on facial recognition technology at the agency over the past four years. The report said the NSA was using new software to exploit a flood of images included in intercepted emails, text messages, social media posts, video conferences and other communications. It cited leaked 2011 documents as saying the NSA intercepts "millions of images per day," including 55,000 "facial recognition quality images."
Iraq's army must do more to protect a northern oil pipeline and should pay as much attention to it as it does to fighting militants, Iraq's top energy official told AFP Sunday. The rare criticism of the security forces comes with the pipeline, which connects the northern province of Kirkuk to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, having been disabled for three months as a result of militant attacks as the army grapples with a year-long nationwide surge in violence. "I have pointed out repeatedly that this -- protection of the export pipeline -- should be a national priority, no less than confronting the terrorists in Fallujah or elsewhere," Hussein al-Shahristani, deputy prime minister responsible for energy affairs, said in an interview. He was referring to battles between security forces and anti-government fighters who have held sway over Fallujah, a city a short drive west of Baghdad, since the beginning of the year.