DRC combatants suffer heavy casualties


Medical doctor says he has seen 82 bodies since early on Sunday, 23 of whom were government troops battling M23 rebels.

Zero tolerance towards politicising Haj


Bahrain, Kuwait tell Haj operators to ensure compliance with directives
  • By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief
  • Published: 13:20 August 27, 2013
  • Gulf News
Manama: All Bahraini Haj (pilgrimage) operators have endorsed a written pledge not to politicise the annual rituals held in and around Makkah in western Saudi Arabia.
The pledge was based on agreements that ban the politicisation of the Haj season or its exploitation to engage in activities that are not related to the religious event, Shaikh Adnan Al Qattan, the head of the official Bahraini delegation to Haj, said.
“We urge all Haj operators to comply with the instructions and directives of both the Haj ministry in Saudi Arabia and the Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry in Bahrain,” Al Qattan said.
Around three million Muslim men and women gather during the six-day Haj season expected to start in mid-October this year, based on the lunar calendar.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly warned against using the congregation of Muslims to promote political, ideological or sectarian agendas.
This year, this situation is more tense than usual amid a growing number of confrontations between various segments of societies in several Arab countries, mainly Egypt and Syria, and there is concern that the gathering in Makkah could be used to serve agendas.
In Kuwait, Khalif Al Adhina, the assistant undersecretary for Haj, told Haj operators that Saudi Arabia would not tolerate the politicisation of the occasion.
All political slogans and activities should be avoided and pilgrims should focus on the religious and devotional dimensions of the Haj, the official said, local Arabic daily Al Rai reported on Tuesday.
“Saudi Arabia officials said that their country hosted millions of pilgrims every year and that they were fully ready to serve them,” he said. “However, they stressed that they would not hesitate to deal with any individual or group of people who wanted to politicise Haj.”


US ready to launch Syria strike, says Chuck Hagel


American forces are "ready" to launch strikes on Syria if President Barack Obama chooses to order an attack, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel says.


Swedes don hijab to support Muslim woman


Scores of Swedish women from various faiths have posted pictures of themselves wearing hijab, or traditional Muslim headscarves, in solidarity with a woman attacked in a Stockholm suburb, apparently for wearing one.
Police spokesman Ulf Hoffman said an unknown assailant had attacked the pregnant woman in the suburb of Farsta on Friday by banging her head against a car.
Hoffman said the man shouted slurs which have led police to believe the attack was motivated by the woman's religion.
Using hashtag #hijabuppropet (hijab outcry) women posted their photos in headscarves on the social networking sites Twitter and Instagram.
Swedish television host Gina Dirawi and politician Veronica Palm are some of the notable figures who expressed solidarity with #hijabuppropet.
Green Party leader, Asa Romson, went as far as to change her Twitter profile picture, in support of the campaign.
“Risk of being beaten and discriminated against for how they choose to dress, everyday life for many women in Sweden 2013” Romson said on her twitter account.
Personal safety
Some men also supported the campaign posting photos in which they covered their heads.
Joel Almorth tweeted: "Yes wear veils today to show solidarity for all women, are put up with harassment and attacks!"
In an opinion piece published in the Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet,  on Sunday, the organisers of "hijabuppropet" urged Justice Minister Beatrice Ask to take measures to "ensure that Swedish Muslim women are guaranteed the right to personal safety and religious freedom, without being subject to verbal and physical attacks".
"In addition, we demand that responsible politicians actively draw attention to and fight the structural discrimination that affects Muslim women.
"We believe that's reason enough in a country where the number of reported hate crimes against Muslims is on the rise – and where women tie their headscarves extra tight so that it won't get ripped off – for the prime minister and other politicians to take action to stop the march of fascism," the authors wrote.
The Justice Minister has agreed to meet with the organisers of the campaign on Tuesday.
"This must be taken very seriously," Minister Ask told TT news agency.


Cairo official death toll passes 500



Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters have stormed a government building in Cairo and set it on fire, according to Egyptian state media.
The move comes a day after security forces broke up Brotherhood protest camps, leaving hundreds dead.
Brotherhood members had been protesting for weeks about the army's overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in July.
The Egyptian government says 525 people were killed on Wednesday, but scores of bodies have not been registered.
Supporters of President Morsi say more than 2,000 died.
The BBC's Khaled Ezzelarab has reported seeing at least 140 bodies wrapped in shrouds at the Eman mosque, close to the main protest camp at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the main source of Mr Morsi's support, is planning marches on Thursday in Cairo and the second city, Alexandria, to protest at the deaths.
A state of emergency has been imposed by the interim government, which took power after the army removed Mr Morsi on 3 July.
The US and several other countries have condemned the Egyptian security forces' actions, which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described as a "very serious massacre".
'Sports halls'
A spokesman for the health ministry said in addition to the 525 people killed, 3,717 had been injured.

Wednesday's casualties

Demonstrators in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hold posters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi and dead protester Asmaa El-Beltagi outside the Egyptian embassy, 15 August
  • Official death toll: 525, with at least 137 killed near Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque; 57 at Cairo's Nahda Square; 29 in Cairo suburb of Helwan; 198 in other provinces; 43 security personnel
  • BBC correspondent saw more than 140 bodies from the clashes at Rabaa al-Adawiya
  • Muslim Brotherhood says more than 2,000 people were killed
  • The dead include three journalists and a daughter of a Muslim Brotherhood leader, Asmaa El-Beltagi
  • Official figures speak of 3,717 injured across Egypt
However, the official toll only includes bodies which have passed through hospitals.
The Muslim Brotherhood said 300 bodies had been taken to the Eman mosque, in Cairo's Nasr City district.
Other bodies were taken to sports halls, sources in the organisation said.
Reports speak of disputes between bereaved relatives and officials entrusted with documenting the causes of death.
The smaller of the two protest camps, at Nahda Square, was cleared quickly on Wednesday but clashes raged for several hours in and around the main encampment at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.
The mosque of the same name was damaged by fire.
Mobs later carried out reprisal attacks on government buildings and police stations as well as churches belonging to the country's Coptic Christian minority.
In a televised address, Egyptian interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi defended the operation, saying the authorities had to restore security.
Expressing regret for the loss of life, he said the state of national emergency would be lifted as soon as possible.
Mr Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, is now in custody, charged with murder over a 2011 jailbreak. His period of detention was extended by 30 days on Thursday, state media said.


Egypt authorities delay Morsi protest camps crackdown



The Egyptian authorities have postponed their plans to disperse two sit-ins in Cairo by supporters of the country's ousted president, officials say.


Expulsion of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Staff in Darfur


Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 6, 2013

The United States joins the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in urging the Government of Sudan to immediately renew the necessary work permits for twenty UNHCR international staff providing humanitarian assistance and protection to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur.
The failure to renew UNHCR staff permits is particularly unfortunate, as it comes in the context of deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur and the forcible displacement of over 300,000 persons this year -- more than the total number of displaced persons in Darfur over the past two years. This will affect UNHCR’s ability to conduct its critical, lifesaving programs in several sectors including health, emergency shelter and provision of non-food items.
This recent tightening of restrictions on humanitarian actors in Darfur, including UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations, raises serious concerns about the Government of Sudan’s willingness to uphold the promises it made in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, and raises questions regarding the viability of this peace accord. We call on the Sudanese Government and all rebel groups to engage without preconditions in an effective and inclusive political process to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We call on the Government of Sudan to allow UNHCR and all humanitarian actors unfettered humanitarian access to all parts of Darfur to protect and to assist the victims of the conflict and to support the implementation of the peace agreements. The people of Darfur deserve peace and stability now.


Yemeni Nobel laureate Tawakkul Karman denied Egypt entry

Cairo: Egyptian authorities on Sunday barred Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman from entering the country, apparently over her criticism of the military for ousting Islamist president Mohammad Mursi.
Karman, a pro-democracy activist, was denied entry into Egypt on orders from security agencies, according to the state Middle East News Agency.
Karman had arrived at Cairo airport aboard a flight from the Yemeni capital Sanaa and was deported on the same plane. The news agency did not give a specific reason why she had been banned from Egypt.
Karman, who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, has repeatedly lashed out at Egypt’s military and expressed solidarity with Mursi’s supporters who have been protesting since his overthrow on July 3.


..Gunmen kill intelligence official in Yemen


SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Security officials say suspected al-Qaida gunmen have killed a military intelligence official in central Yemen.
Officials say Lt. Col. Mohammed el-Mamari was shot on his way home Sunday. He was walking to his car after work when two unidentified gunmen killed him in the central province of Bayda. The officials spoke anonymously in line with regulations.
Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen is active in Bayda. The U.S. is believed to have carried out drone strikes on militants there.
Separately, hundreds of supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh burnt tires along a main road in the capital Sanaa on Sunday to protest his successor, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The protests come after clashes erupted on Friday when a group of soldiers loyal to Saleh tried to storm the presidential palace.