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May 22, 2010

Car bomb in Iraq leaves at least 30 dead

Car bomb in Iraq leaves at least 30 dead

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The death toll resulting from a car bomb attack in northern Iraq yesterday has reached 30. The bomb exploded in the town of Al Khalis, approximately 50 miles north of the country’s capital, Baghdad. The attack comes eleven days after a series of attacks killed over one hundred people in one day. The country is currently experiencing instability as a result of an inconclusive election result in march, which left no power bloc with an overall majority with which to govern.

The blast happened outside a busy coffee shop in the early evening, killing 23 and wounding a further 53 immediately, though death toll rose on Friday and currently stands at at least 30. Many buildings suffered severe damage in the attack—a local police lieutenant told Reuters: “The roof of the coffee shop which was full of people also collapsed. We believe there are still people under the debris”.

Iraqi police have launched an investigation into the attack and into how the car managed to get through a security checkpoint. The deputy governor of Diyala Province called for the sacking of police chiefs after the attack, the second in the town in as many months, and referring to the town as a “disaster zone”.

The attacks were apparently aimed at Shia Muslims in the hope of provoking further sectarian violence and a reaction against Sunni Muslims. While violence in Iraq has drastically reduced since its height after to 2003 invasion, there are fears that the recent attacks are a sign that militants are regrouping in the light of the political power vacuum. There is speculation that Al Qaeda in Iraq, believed to be responsible for the most recent violence, have begun targeting more vulnerable towns and cities, away from Baghdad, where security is tighter.



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Times Square bomb suspects arrested in Pakistan

Times Square bomb suspects arrested in Pakistan

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The scene of the attempted bombing in Times Square minutes after the bomb was discovered

At least six suspects, wanted in connection with a failed car bomb attempt in Times Square, New York City on May 1, have been arrested by authorities in Pakistan. The arrests follow a visit to Pakistan by two high-ranking American security officials—US National Security Adviser Gen James Jones and Leon Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, both of whom praised Pakistan for its efforts in tracking down suspects in the bomb attack.

Amongst those arrested are the co-owner of a large company which provides catering to several embassies in Pakistan and a major in the Pakistani Army, though the Army released a statement denying any involvment. Some are believed to have been educated in the United States. A notice on the website of the US embassy in Islamabad reported that the catering company co-owned by one of the suspects had links to terrorism and has since advised US citizens against using the firm.

A diagram showing the workings of the bomb

Those arrested are believed to have had links with Faisal Shahzad, the primary suspect in the bombing, who was arrested on May 3 on board an aircraft at New York’s JFK Airport.

One source told Reuters: “We are investigating whether Ashraf has provided any financial support to Faisal because Ashraf and his father are rich people and they run a very big catering business” though another stated that “[t]hey may be innocent because being friends does not mean you are involved in the activities of your friends”.

The suspects are currently being detained by the Pakistani security services, who are known to have close links with the CIA, to the extent of allowing CIA officials access to prisoners.



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2010 Times Square car bombing attempt
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May 19, 2010

Karzai visits UK for talks with new PM

Karzai visits UK for talks with new PM – Wikinews, the free news source

Karzai visits UK for talks with new PM

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hamid Karzai speaking at the Munich Security Conference in 2009

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday visited the UK for talks with newly-elected Prime Minister David Cameron. The meeting took place at Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence and is Cameron’s first since last week’s general election. Karzai was en route back to Afghanistan from a visit to the United States where he held talks with President Barack Obama.

Downing Street called the meeting “an opportunity for early discussions” between the Afghan president and the new prime minister, pointing out that Karzai himself had requested the meeting to follow up on conversations the two leaders had had while Cameron was leader of the opposition.

David Cameron giving a speech to the World Economic Forum earlier in 2010

According to a spokesman, the discussions had centred around Karzai’s visit to the US, which he called “very successful”, and “[b]oth the president and prime minister agreed that the relationship between Afghanistan and Britain should be further strengthened […] The president and the prime minister expressed their admiration for the courage and skill of the British military in Afghanistan, and the sacrifices that British forces have made”.

After the meeting with Karzai, Cameron held further discussions with his Defence Secretary Liam Fox along with senior civil servants and service chiefs. The UK’s contingent of the NATO force in Afghanistan currently numbers around 9,500— the second largest contingent after the United States.



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May 18, 2010

Twelve people dead after blast in north-west Pakistan

Twelve people dead after blast in north-west Pakistan

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

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The North-West Frontier Province or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a mountainous region that borders Afghanistan

A bomb explosion in Dera Ismail Khan in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan killed at least twelve people today, officials said. Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Iqbal Khan was said to be the target. The bomb, which was planted on a bicycle, killed Khan along with the driver and guard of his convoy.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The DSP’s car had been badly damaged. Officials stated the bomb was detonated when Khan had been leaving his house situated in the Kutchi Painda Khan region of the town and entering his car. “It was a remote control bomb and was planted in a bicycle,” Riaz Khan, a police spokesperson for the province, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

The local DHQ Hospital is treating the injured. “We have received 12 dead bodies and 10 injured,” Nasir Malik Akhtar, who heads the casualty department at Dera Ismail Khan hospital, told the media. “The dead included three policemen, including one officer, and nine civilians,” he noted. Hospital authorities added that there were women and children among the dead. A state of emergency has been declared by the hospital.



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May 17, 2010

England defeats Australia and wins 2010 Twenty20 Cricket World Cup

England defeats Australia and wins 2010 Twenty20 Cricket World Cup

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Monday, May 17, 2010

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England have defeated Australia in the final of the 2010 Twenty20 Cricket World Cup to win the tournament. England won by 7 wickets at the Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados to lift the World Cup. A 111 run partnership between Craig Kieswetter, the man of the match and Kevin Pietersen, the man of the tournament, helped them in chasing down the target of 148 runs set by Australia.

England won the toss and opted to field. Australia scored 147 runs, losing 6 wickets in their twenty overs. David Hussey was the top scorer, getting 59 runs. Australia scored only 47 runs for 4 wickets in their first ten overs. David Hussey and Cameron White added 22 runs in the thirteenth over, thus helping their team to get to 147 for 6 in their innings. For England, Ryan Sidebottom took two wickets for 26 runs in four overs.

Early in England’s innings, Dirk Nannes of Australia took the wicket of Michael Lumb of England, when the latter was caught by David Hussey at mid-wicket. Kevin Pietersen of England came when Lumb got out, and helped England to reach 44 runs in the six powerplay overs. The partnership between Pietersen and Kieswetter helped their team to reach the target of 148 runs in seventeen overs, with three overs in hand.

England captain Paul Collingwood told the media that he thought “belief ha[d] been the key.” “As soon as we got the squad together, seeing how much power we have in the squad, I know that is all on paper but we could tell that we had a lot of potential,” he commented.

“I think a lot of credit goes to every single player in the dressing room to have the confidence to go out there and really give it their best shots and have no regrets. I think we have done that throughout the tournament and it has certainly paid off,” he noted.

For England, this is the first victory in a limited overs championship as they had never won a single one-day or T20 World Cup or the Championship League tournament till this victory. In this connection, all-rounder Collingwood said: “[t]his is right up there, with the best,” adding “[t]o be the first [England] team to win a ‘World Cup’ is very special. We knew it was a monkey on our back.”

Meanwhile, Australian captain Michael Clarke admitted his disappointment at the result. He conceded that his performance was poor, saying, “There’s no doubt the selectors will need to have a look at my performances. I certainly know they haven’t been up to scratch through this whole tournament and probably in Twenty20 cricket in general. I’m sure the selectors will sit down and have a look and if I’m not the right guy for No 3 and the captaincy then they’ll make that decision”

Newly elected UK Prime Minister David Cameron praised the English team. “Congratulations to Paul Collingwood and the England Twenty20 team on becoming world champions for the first time with a magnificent victory over Australia. Let’s hope this marks the start of a great summer of sport for England,” he said.

The English Sports Minister Hugh Robertson commented: “I’m absolutely delighted England have won the World Twenty20. They have played exciting and intelligent cricket and are worthy winners.”

Scorecard

Toss: England won, and chose to field first.

Flag of Australia.svg Australian innings
Player Status Runs Balls 4s 6s Strike rate
Shane Watson c Swann b Sidebottom 2 3 0 0 66.66
David Warner run out (Lumb) 2 4 0 0 50.00
Michael Clarke c Collingwood b Swann 27 27 2 0 100.00
Brad Haddin c Kieswetter b Sidebottom 1 2 0 0 50.00
David Hussey run out (Wright/Kieswetter) 59 54 2 2 109.25
Cameron White c Broad b Wright 30 19 4 1 157.89
Michael Hussey not out 17 10 2 0 170.00
Steven Smith not out 1 2 0 0 50.00
Extras (b 1; lb 2; w 4; nb 1) 8
Total (6 wickets; 20 overs) 147 10 3

Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Watson, 0.3 ov), 2-7 (Warner, 1.5 ov), 3-8 (Haddin, 2.1 ov), 4-45 (Clarke, 9.2 ov), 5-95 (White, 15.4 ov), 6-142 (DJ Hussey, 19.2 ov)

Did not bat: Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes

Flag of England.svg England bowling
Bowler Overs Maidens Runs Wickets Econ
Ryan Sidebottom 4 0 26 2 6.50
Tim Bresnan 4 0 35 0 8.75
Stuart Broad 4 0 27 0 6.75
Greamme Swann 4 0 17 1 4.25
Michael Yardy 3 0 34 0 11.33
Luke Wright 1 0 5 1 5.00
Flag of England.svg England innings (Target: 148 runs from 20 overs)
Player Status Runs Balls 4s 6s Strike rate
Michael Lumb c D Hussey b Tait 2 4 0 0 50.00
Craig Kieswetter b Johnson 63 49 7 2 128.57
Kevin Pietersen c Warner b Smith 47 31 4 1 151.61
Paul Collingwood not out 12 5 1 1 240.00
Eoin Morgan not out 15 13 0 1 115.38
Extras (lb 1; w 8) 9
Total (3 wickets; 17 overs) 148 12 5

Fall of wickets:1-7 (Lumb, 1.5 ov), 2-118 (Pietersen, 13.1 ov), 3-121 (Kieswetter, 14.1 ov)

Did not bat: Luke Wright, Tim Bresnan, Michael Yardy, Greamme Swann, Stuart Broad, Ryan Sidebottom

Flag of Australia.svg Australia bowling
Bowler Overs Maidens Runs Wickets Econ
Dirk Nannes 4 0 29 0 7.25
Shaun Tait 3 0 28 1 9.33
Mitchell Johnson 4 0 27 1 6.75
Steven Smith 3 0 21 1 7.00
Shane Watson 3 0 42 0 14.00

England: Michael Lumb, Craig Kieswetter, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy, Greamme Swann, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Tim Bresnan, Ryan Sidebottom

Australia: Shane Watson, David Warner, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, David Hussey, Cameron White, Michael Hussey, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes

Man of the match: Craig Kieswetter (England)

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2010 ICC World Twenty20

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Billy Doctrove (West Indies)
TV Umpire: Billy Bowden (New Zealand)
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)
Reserve Umpire: Rudi Koertzen (South Africa)



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May 16, 2010

UK Foreign Secretary meets US Secretary of State in Washington, D.C.

UK Foreign Secretary meets US Secretary of State in Washington, D.C.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

William Hague and Hillary Clinton meet for the first time since the UK election last week

British Foreign Secretary William Hague travelled to Washington, D.C. on Friday to meet his opposite number, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the first time since the election ten days ago and the formation of a coalition government six days later.

Hague, who was leader of the UK’s Conservative party between 1997 and 2001, travelled to the United States in his first overseas visit in his capacity as foreign secretary almost as soon as his appointment to the post was confirmed and was keen to point out that US President Barack Obama had been the first foregin leader to telephone David Cameron and congratulate him upon becoming UK Prime Minister and that the promptness of his visit was intended “to show we reciprocate that warmth” shown by the US to the new coalition government.

Clinton told Hague that she was “enthusiastic” about the new coalition government on the UK and the “chemistry” between Cameron and his Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg. The talks focused on the major foreign policy concerns shared by both countries, such as Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle-East and the pair ended the subsequent press conference by expressing their unity on those issues, particularly on further UN sanctions against Iran and on the ongoing campaign in Afghanistan.

Clinton, who ran against Obama in the Democratic Party’s primaries during the 2008 presidential election, was at pains to emphasise that any future disharmony in the Westminster coalition government would not affect US–UK relations, nor the ability of the US to rely on the UK as partner in the future. Comapring the two political systems, Clinton said “We don’t formally have a coalition government in the way that you have formed one in the UK now, but we have enough of our own internal differences that we have to sort through.”

Hague insisted that he intended to take a more relaxed approach to relations with the US than those of his Labour predecessors, adding that “[e]verything I’ve said today about our approach to relations with the United States is an approach shared by the whole cabinet and I’m speaking on behalf of a united government”.

Cameron and Obama are scheduled to meet in person at next month’s G20 meeting in Canada.



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May 15, 2010

IMF approves US$1.13 billion loan to Pakistan

IMF approves US$1.13 billion loan to Pakistan

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said yesterday that its board has approved a loan package worth US$1.13 billion to be granted to Pakistan.

The move came after the IMF reviewed Pakistan’s economic performance with a standby arrangment worth $11.3 billion aimed at improving the country’s balance of payments. According to a statement by the fund, disbursements have reached $7.27 billion from the plan.

The IMF described Pakistan’s economic situation as having improved in spite of “adverse security developments and a rapidly changing political environment”, although saying the economy was still vulnerable.

The board also noted that it would grant waivers for several performance criteria Pakistan did not meet, namely overrunning the budget deficit and surpassing State Bank of Pakistan borrowing limits.

Pakistan requested a bailout package two years ago from the IMF, as it was struggling with three-decade-high inflation rates; the country has also seen much violence from rebel groups, with bombings having killed over 3,200 people since July of 2007.



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May 14, 2010

Bomb blast at Iraqi football match kills 25, many wounded

Bomb blast at Iraqi football match kills 25, many wounded

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Iraq
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  • 19 April 2015: ISIS attacks United States consulate in Irbil, Iraq
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  • 24 August 2014: Islamic State capture Syrian airbase
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Multiple bomb explosions hit a football match in northern Iraq earlier today, killing at least 25 people and injuring at least 120 more.

The incident occurred in Tal Afar, a town located approximately sixty kilometres west of Mosul. According to a local security official, a car bomb was detonated at around 18.00 local time (15.00 UTC), near some spectators; as the crowd fled, two suicide bombers blew up vests with explosives.

Many of the wounded had to be transported 95 kilometres away, to Dahuk, because local hospitals were filled to capacity.

Hussein Nashad was a witness to the incident.He recounted his experiences to the Agence France-Presse news service: “Many people were gathered to watch the match. We heard a loud explosion and the people behind me shielded me from the shrapnel. I ran away, but then I heard someone shout ‘Allahu-akbar’ [God is greatest], and then there was another explosion.”

This attack comes four days after multiple attacks throughout Iraq, attributed to al-Qaeda, killed 100 ten people in the deadliest violence of the year.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for this incident, although a correspondent for Al Jazeera says that “authorities are pointing the finger at al-Qaeda”.



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Russian meeting with Hamas provokes criticism from Israel

Russian meeting with Hamas provokes criticism from Israel

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Friday, May 14, 2010

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Russian president Dmitriy Medvedev met with the Khaled Meshaal, leader of the Hamas group, earlier this week in Syria, prompting criticism from Israel.

Medvedev, during the meeting, had encouraged Hamas to reconciliate with rival Fatah; a spokeswoman quoted him as saying that “no one” should be left out of the peace process.

He also requested that an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006, Gilad Shalit, be released, although this was refused by Hamas, who says that Shalit wouldn’t be released unless there was an “honourable” prisoner exchange with Israel. Shortly before his conversation with Meshaal, Medvedev also held a meeting with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

A statement by the Israeli foreign ministry read: “Hamas is a terror organization whose declared goal is the destruction of the state of Israel. Hamas is responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, among them immigrants from the Soviet Union and also Russian citizens.

“Israel has always stood by Russia in its struggle against the Chechnyan terrorism. We expect the same attitude when we are talking about the Hamas terrorism against Israel.”

Ha’aretz, an Israeli newspaper, described the meeting as being “a surprise” for the country.

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Andrei Nesterenko, a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry, responded to Israel’s comments, saying: “Hamas is not an artificial structure. It is a movement that draws on the trust and sympathy of a large number of Palestinians. We have regular contacts with this movement.

“It is known that all other participants of the Middle East quartet are also in some sort of contact with Hamas leadership, although for some unknown reason they are shy to publicly admit it.”

Only a few countries in Europe, including Russia, maintain ties with Hamas; the European Union and the United States regard it as a terrorist organisation.



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Iraq electoral commission: No fraud found in vote recount

Iraq electoral commission: No fraud found in vote recount

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Iraq
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  • 27 May 2015: Pro-government forces in Iraq launch operation to reclaim Ramadi from Islamic State
  • 19 April 2015: ISIS attacks United States consulate in Irbil, Iraq
  • 11 September 2014: John Kerry visits Iraq to build regional support against Islamic State
  • 6 September 2014: NATO leaders meet for two day summit in Wales
  • 24 August 2014: Islamic State capture Syrian airbase
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An Iraqi electoral commission has said that no fraud was found during a partial recount of votes from the country’s parliamentary elections two months ago.

The recount was requested by Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, after his party came second. Since the recount was done manually, it took 11 days to go through the 2.5 million votes cast in the Baghdad area.

“We finished the recount of 11,298 ballot boxes and no violations or fraud have been found,” commented electoral commission spokesman Qassim al-Abboudi earlier today, noting that the Independent High Electroral Commission will make the full results of the recount publicly available on Monday.

al-Maliki had alleged fraud after the coalition his main political opponent, Iyad Allawi, took a two-seat lead in parliament. The prime minister wanted recounts for all five provinces in Iraq, although only one – for Baghdad and the surrounding vicinity – was accepted. The Baghdad province accounts for around a fifth of the 325 overall seats. The recount, supervised by observers with the European Union and the United Nations, was conducted in the capital’s Green Zone.



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