The world is not doing enough to halt a "genocide" of Iraq's Yazidi, the son of the religious minority's leader said Tuesday, blaming international inaction for a recent massacre. "We call upon the free world to immediately act," said Breen Tahseen, an Iraqi diplomat based in Britain and the son of Prince Tahseen Saeed Bek, the leader of the Yazidi people. Speaking to reporters in Geneva as a representative of his father, Tahseen said jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) group had killed more than 3,000 Yazidi and had kidnapped 5,000 more since they first entered Iraq's northwestern Sinjar region at the beginning of the month. Tens of thousands of Yazidi, who according to Tahseen numbered around 600,000 in Iraq before the attack, fled into the mountain.
The United States blamed rocket fire from Gaza for a breakdown in indirect talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities on a durable ceasefire Tuesday, and said Hamas bore responsibility. "Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza... Rocket fire came from Gaza," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, blaming the Palestinian Islamist group for renewed fighting.
Ukraine said Tuesday fighting had erupted in the heart of major rebel stronghold Lugansk, as the bodies of 17 civilians fleeing the city were recovered from wreckage of their destroyed convoy. As government forces cut deeper into insurgent territory, Kiev and Moscow announced that Presidents Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko will hold their first face-to-face talks in months next week with pressure piling on to end four months of brutal fighting. Kiev's military claimed for the first time that street battles with pro-Russian insurgents were raging in the centre of second-largest insurgent hub Lugansk after one outlying district was "liberated".
Somali security forces have arrested one of the country's most powerful pirate chiefs, who once hijacked giant vessels earning him multi-million dollar ransoms, security sources said Tuesday. Mohamed Garfanji was seized late Sunday in the capital Mogadishu along with several of his well-armed bodyguards, according to foreign and Somali security sources.
A senior Hamas official said Tuesday the chances of a durable ceasefire in Gaza were "evaporating" and that there had been no progress in indirect negotiations with Israel. The official, Ezzat al-Rishq, is among a Palestinian delegation in Cairo where Egyptian mediators are racing to bridge the gaps ahead of the expiration of a temporary ceasefire at midnight. Chances of an agreement are evaporating, and we hold the Zionist occupation fully responsible for that," Rishq wrote on Twitter. He said the Palestinian delegation had presented the Egyptian mediators with their final position, which was relayed to the Israelis.
Russia announced plans Tuesday to bolster its navy with more advanced weapons in response to NATO's vow to halt the Kremlin's push into Ukraine and feared expansion into eastern Europe. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told a general security meeting that he expected to hear a detailed report from Russia's navy commander about how this could be achieved efficiently over the coming six years. "These proposals must ensure that our forces are reequipped with modern weapons and military equipment," Russian news agencies quoted Shoigu as saying. NATO and the United States have both stepped up air defences of former Soviet satellites that are growing increasingly wary of Russia's military ambitions and see President Vladimir Putin as a fast-emerging threat.
A French MEP and former minister has created a storm in France by posting a picture of a veiled woman sitting on a beach and criticising it as an "attack on our culture". Nadine Morano, a close ally of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, took a picture of the woman wearing a headscarf and posted it on her Twitter feed and Facebook page next to a famous photo of sex symbol Brigitte Bardot wearing a bikini. "When one sees this scene, one cannot but help feel an attack on our culture that goes against our sexual equality," wrote Morano, from the centre-right UMP party. "If you choose to come to France, a state of law, a secular state, one should respect our culture and women's rights.
Nigeria's military on Tuesday took the wraps off a new aircraft to tackle high-seas pirates off the country's coast, as well as maritime hijackers and oil thieves. The high-tech plane is one of seven to be operated by the state-run Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Air Force. It includes sensors, radar and Electro-Optic Surveillance and Tracking (EOST) equipment, which houses three cameras to monitor ships in Nigerian waters, said Sergeant Sunday Olalekan Omotosho.
US Secretary of State John Kerry appealed Tuesday for better protection for aid workers in conflicts around the world as the number killed hit a record in 2013. Figures published Tuesday by the consultancy group Humanitarian Outcomes said 155 relief staff were killed last year, mainly in Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Sudan and Pakistan. "As the world's largest donor of humanitarian assistance, the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to doing everything we can to provide for humanitarians' safety and security," Kerry said.
Under a photo of Barack Obama carried by demonstrators in a town rocked by racially-charged protests, the appeal to America's first black president is loud and clear: "Please come now." It summarizes, in part, the huge hopes stirred in the African-American community by Obama's historic election win. The United States is a country where segregation was abolished only half a century ago in some southern states, but now has a black president walking a fine line on still highly-charged issues. In a carefully worded speech, he urged law enforcement forces to show restraint and the demonstrators to avoid violence, which he said weakens any quest for justice more than it strengthens it.
An Islamist Palestinian group based in Gaza has been placed on the US terrorist black list, the State Department announced Tuesday. Since its founding in 2012, the "Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem" has claimed responsibility for a number of rocket attacks on Israel and a cross-border attack with explosives that killed a civilian at an Israeli construction site, according to the State Department. It said the group was composed of several jihadist sub-groups, and had declared its support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a militant group that has declared a caliphate in areas of Iraq and Syria that it controls.
Iraqi forces launched a string of attacks on Sunni militants on Tuesday, including at Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit, as US President Barack Obama declared his firmest commitment yet to targeting jihadists. Kurdish and federal forces, who wrested back control of the country's largest dam, battled jihadists in the country's north, buoyed by intensifying US air strikes and Western arms deliveries. Other security forces backed by militiamen and tribesmen launched strikes against the jihadists at numerous flashpoints north, west and south of Baghdad, officials said.
Israel carried out at least four air strikes across Gaza on Tuesday and ordered its negotiating team back from truce talks in Cairo after three rockets hit the country's south. The air raids came minutes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military to respond to three rocket attacks near the southern city of Beersheva as the two sides observed a 24-hour truce. Palestinian witnesses and security officials said the air raids targeted open areas in the northern area of Beit Lahiya, in Maghazi in the centre, and in Khan Yunis and in Rafah in the south. A government official said Israel's negotiating team had been ordered to return immediately from truce talks in Cairo, which Egyptian officials had been mediating with the Palestinians.
Hundreds of armed Shiite rebels staged sit-ins on Tuesday on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, where supporters are mobilising in a campaign for the fall of the government by Friday. Activists in the Ansarullah, or Huthi, rebellion put up dozens of tents at the western edge of Sanaa. Rebel leader AbdulMalik Huthi on Sunday ordered his followers to march on Sanaa to bring about "the fall of the government, which has failed." Tens of thousands of Shiite rebels demonstrated in Sanaa city centre on Monday.
South Sudanese soldiers opened fire on a UN peacekeeping base sheltering 40,000 civilians, wounding a child and spraying bullets across the camp, the United Nations said Tuesday. Troops "were firing in the air in celebration of war veterans' day," the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement. Like almost 100,000 civilians in UN camps across South Sudan, the people fled to the Bentiu base in December to escape killings and massacres, and are now too fearful to return home with over eight months of civil war still raging.
Tens of thousands of Angolans living in the Democratic Republic of Congo were set to return home, for some after more than 50 years in exile, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday. A first group of 500 people left Kinshasa by train during the day and would stay overnight at a transit centre in Kimpese in the southeast on the way to the border, Celine Schmitt, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told AFP. When the first batch of former refugees arrives in Angola, transport will be provided to take people to their different home provinces. The first Angolans who sought new lives in the DR Congo were fleeing conflict and brutality by Portuguese forces after an independence struggle erupted in 1962.
Portugal is still expected to cut its budget deficit to four percent of economic output this year, even after the country's top court rejected some austerity measures, Fitch said on Tuesday. Portugal's Constitutional Court last week rejected part of planned austerity measures in a blow to efforts by the government to cut its deficit to levels agreed with the European Union.
By Steve Quinn JUNEAU Alaska (Reuters) - Three Alaska Republicans, including an outspoken Tea Party candidate, are vying on Tuesday for the chance to face a Democratic incumbent in a closely watched race seen as critical to their party's bid to regain control of the U.S. The primary contest pits two former colleagues from Alaska's executive branch, Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell and ex-Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan, and the Tea Party's Joe Miller against one another to decide who challenges Senator Mark Begich in November's general election.