Thailand's junta on Wednesday freed leaders of the "Red Shirt" movement allied to the civilian government ousted in a recent coup, after holding them without charge for nearly a week. Key members of the protest group walked out of an army facility in Bangkok, according to an AFP journalist at the scene. Thida Thavornseth, a core Red Shirt leader, was among four senior members seen leaving the military building, none of whom gave any comment to the media. She was detained last week, along with former premiers Yingluck Shinawatra and Abhisit Vejjajiva, during a meeting supposedly aimed at bringing Thailand's warring political factions together that ended dramatically with the army seizing power.
Police closed off the flashpoint Al-Aqsa compound to visitors on Wednesday as Israelis marked Jerusalem Day, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledging to never allow the city to be divided. The annual celebration, which began at sundown on Tuesday recalls the moment when Israeli forces took over the walled Old City in what was then Jordanian-held east Jerusalem on the third day of the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel later annexed the entire eastern side of the city in a move never recognised by the international community. Samri said the compound would remain "closed to (non-Muslim) visitors because of Jerusalem Day celebrations at the Western Wall," which lies just below.
A retired airforce colonel was appointed Wednesday as Mali's defence minister after his predecessor resigned over last week's deadly rebel takeover of the northern city of Kidal. The presidency announced that Ba N'Dao was replacing Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, a veteran politician who has also held the jobs of foreign minister and intelligence chief. Armed groups including the Tuareg separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) humiliated the army in a deadly offensive across the northern desert last week which saw them seize control of Kidal, 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) northeast of Bamako.
Yemeni police killed two Al-Qaeda suspects who were allegedly involved in a series of hit-and-run attacks against security personnel in the capital, official sources said on Wednesday. Yemeni forces raided the men's house in Sanaa but they refused to surrender, sparking a gun battle in which the pair were killed and a police officer wounded, a security official told AFP. Abdulkhaliq Mohammed al-Kabsi and Yehya Mohammed Sanhub were "behind a series of terrorist crimes carried out on motorbikes in Sanaa," the defence ministry's news website 26sep.net reported, describing them as "commanders in Al-Qaeda." A cheap form of transport frequently replacing taxis in the impoverished country, motorbikes have become a tool for hit-and-run shootings that have killed dozens of officials in recent years.
At least three troops died in overnight clashes between Azerbaijani troops and separatist forces of the Armenian-backed breakaway Nagorny Karabakh region, officials in Baku and Karabakh said Wednesday. The defence ministry in Baku said "a captain and a warrant officer of the Azerbaijani armed forces were killed" in clashes on the Karabakh frontline, while a private was injured. The Karabakh defence ministry said in a statement: "Corporal Erik Gasparian, 19, was killed in action in the southern sector of the line of separation between Azerbaijani and Karabakh forces."
Unemployment in Germany rose unexpectedly in May as clouds begin to appear on the horizon of Europe's biggest economy and favourable effects from the mild weather wear off, data showed on Wednesday. After taking into account seasonal factors, the number of people registered as unemployed rose by 23,900 to 2.905 million this month, the Federal Labour Office said in a statement. "Unemployment and underemployment increased in May. As a result of the mild weather, the joblessness usually seen in winter did not materialise so strongly this year," the statement said. The unemployment rate, which measures the number of people looking for work as a proportion of the working population, was steady at 6.7 percent in May, the Federal Labour Office said.
By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will seek to counter unrelenting criticism of his foreign policy on Wednesday in a speech that may open the door to a slightly deeper U.S. involvement in Syria. In the commencement address to graduates at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., Obama will lay out a broad vision for America's role, one that is reliant on international diplomacy and avoids over-reaching or unilateral action. He will set out a counter-terrorism strategy to reflect a threat that is less focused on Afghanistan as the war there winds down, and redirect resources to places like North Africa. He is expected to express a willingness to expand assistance to Syrian opposition groups who are trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad, but officials do not expect him to announce a plan for training Syrian rebels.