• Saudi Binladin Group employees set fire to buses in protest

    Updated: Sun, May 1, 2016

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Employees at the Saudi Binladin Group, a construction giant, have set fire to more than seven company buses in the latest protest by disgruntled staff over not being paid salaries for months and a large round of reported layoffs. Maj. Nayef al-Sharif, the spokesman for the Civil Defense in the city of Mecca, said late Saturday that firefighters put out the blaze without any injuries reported. The Binladin Group has not issued any statements about the reported layoffs or the unrest. Calls and an email request for comment to the company were not immediately returned.

  • South Korean president visits Iran to boost ties

    Updated: Sun, May 1, 2016

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — South Korea's president arrived in Tehran on Sunday for the first summit between the two countries since they established diplomatic ties in 1962. President Park Geun-hye's office said ahead of the three-day visit that she would hold talks with her Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on the Korean Peninsula and ways to promote bilateral ties. Iran's state news agency IRNA says Rouhani will hold a welcoming ceremony Monday. IRNA says over 230 business executives are accompanying Park. Iran has been seeking to integrate into the global financial system and improve ties with other countries since nuclear-related sanctions were lifted in January under a landmark deal with world powers.

  • Nationalist party declares Islam doesn't belong to Germany

    Updated: Sun, May 1, 2016

    BERLIN (AP) — Members of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party have backed a political program that says Islam doesn't belong to Germany and supports a ban against minarets, muezzin calls and headscarves for women and girls in school. The party, also known by its acronyms AfD, has been growing in popularity and political influence as it campaigns on an anti-Islam platform. It was holding a conference on Sunday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly said Islam does belong to Germany and religious freedom is also part of the country's constitution. An estimated 16 million people — 20 percent of Germany's population — have an immigrant background with a majority coming from Muslim countries like Turk

  • Pope decries 'desperate' situation in Syrian city of Aleppo

    Updated: Sun, May 1, 2016

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is decrying worsening violence amid the already "desperate" humanitarian situation in Syria, particularly in the northern city of Aleppo. During his traditional Sunday remarks to the faithful in St. Peter's Square, Francis referred to last week's attack on an Aleppo hospital. He laments that a "spiral of violence" is "reaping innocent victims, even among children, the sick and those who with great sacrifice are committed to helping their neighbors." Medical personnel were reported to be among the victims of that attack. Francis says he is "exhorting all sides involved in the conflict to respect the cessation of hostilities and reinforce ongoing dialogue," which he says is the only path

  • Iraq says oil exports, revenues increase in April

    Updated: Sun, May 1, 2016

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq says April crude oil exports have increased by 2.3 percent from the previous month, filling cash-strapped coffers amid an acute economic crisis. Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad, said Sunday that daily oil exports averaged 3.364 million barrels last month, worth $3.343 billion. March exports stood at 3.286 million barrels per day, bringing that month's revenues to $2.9 billion. Jihad added that last month's average price was $33.257 per barrel. Iraq's 2016 budget is based on an expected price of $45 per barrel. Iraq holds the world's fourth largest oil reserves, and oil revenues make up nearly 95 percent of its budget. Its economy was badly hit by the plunge in oil prices at a time when Baghdad i

  • As chemical weapons stockpiles shrink, OPCW eyes new threats

    Updated: Sun, May 1, 2016

    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — With about 92 percent of the world's declared chemical weapons stockpiles destroyed, the watchdog agency overseeing the elimination of poison gas and nerve agents is looking now to counter emerging threats from extremist groups while still dealing with unfinished business in Syria. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is marking the April 29, 1997, entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/CWC/CWC_en.pdf with a three-day conference starting Monday focusing on chemical safety and security. It appears, in the future, extremists and criminals seem more likely than nations to launch chemical attacks.

  • Palestinians blast Eurovision Song Contest's flag policy

    Updated: Sun, May 1, 2016

    RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian leaders are blasting the Eurovision Song Contest for preventing their flag from being flown during the event this month. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat voiced his dismay in a letter to Jean-Paul Philippot, the head of the European Broadcasting Union which oversees the yearly contest. In the letter, obtained by The Associated Press Sunday, Erekat says the decision is "totally biased and unacceptable." The Palestinians do not compete in the contest. The EBU published a list of banned flags last week. Among them were the flags of Northern Cyprus, Kosovo, Spain's Basque region and the Islamic State group's flag. In a Facebook post , the EBU apologized and said it removed the list o

  • Iran president welcomes parliamentary results

    Updated: Sun, May 1, 2016

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's official IRNA news agency reports that President Hassan Rouhani has welcomed the success of the moderate-reformist bloc in parliamentary runoff elections. Speaking Sunday at a ceremony marking workers day, Rouhani congratulated voters for "choosing the best" in both Friday's runoff elections and the original vote in February. The bloc fell three seats short of a majority in the 290-seat legislature, but emerged with the largest parliamentary faction with 143 seats. Hard-liners secured 86 seats and independents won 61. The moderate-reformist camp supports Rouhani and backs the nuclear deal signed last year with world powers. Their parliamentary successes could boost Rouhani's own chances in p

  • Fighting rages in Aleppo amid calm in other parts of Syria

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian government launched new airstrikes Saturday on insurgent-held neighborhoods in Aleppo while rebels shelled government-held parts of the northern city, as a truce in other parts of the country appeared to be holding on its first day. Contested Aleppo, Syria's largest city and former commercial center, has been the scene of intense shelling and air raids, killing nearly 250 civilians over the past nine days, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The surge in fighting has caused the collapse of a two-month cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia. It also has raised fears of an all-out government assault on Aleppo.

  • Iraqi protesters pour into Green Zone, storm parliament

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Anti-government protesters tore down walls and poured into the Iraqi capital's heavily fortified Green Zone on Saturday, where they stormed parliament in a major escalation of a political crisis that has simmered for months. Supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have been holding demonstrations and sit-ins for months to demand an overhaul of Iraq's corrupt and ineffective political system, but Saturday was the first time they broke into the Green Zone, home to most government ministries and foreign embassies. Iraqi security forces fired tear gas at one entrance of the zone but appeared to be largely standing down as protesters marched through the area, chanting and waving Iraqi flags. Hundreds were stil

  • Iran's moderates get most parliament seats after runoff

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian moderates and reformists who support last year's landmark nuclear deal have won the largest number of seats in parliament following runoff elections, marking a shift away from hard-liners and boosting moderate President Hassan Rouhani as he looks to secure a second term in office. The results released Saturday on state television failed to give the moderate-reformist camp an outright majority in the 290-seat chamber, however. They will now likely try to attract support from dozens of independent lawmakers whose political leanings vary depending on the issue at hand. There were 68 seats being contested in runoff elections held Friday in 55 constituencies around the country.

  • The Latest: Iraq PM says situation in Baghdad under control

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on anti-government protests in Iraq (all times local): 8:30 p.m. Iraq's prime minister says the situation is under control after thousands of anti-government protesters poured into Baghdad's Green Zone and stormed parliament. Haider al-Abadi issued a statement saying "the situation in Baghdad is under the control of the security forces." He called on protesters to demonstrate peacefully without damaging the "property of state institutions." Al-Abadi had been set to appear before parliament earlier Saturday to seek approval for the remainder of his Cabinet reshuffle, but the session was postponed until next week. The news of the postponement broke just moments before protesters beg

  • Sudanese army transport plane crashes, killing all 5 crew

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan's army says a military transport plane has crashed due to a technical failure while landing in the country's south, killing all five crew members. Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Khalifa Ahmed al-Shami says the Saturday crash in the city of el-Obeid killed three officers and two non-commissioned officers. The city is some 385 miles (620 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Khartoum. Al-Shami, who was quoted by Sudan's official news agency, gave no further details about the plane's flight plan, or whether the technical fault had forced the plane to make an emergency landing.

  • 20 Egyptians get life in prison over 2013 storming of jail

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court has sentenced 20 people to life in prison for storming a prison in the Suez Canal city of Port Said in January 2013. In his Saturday ruling, Judge Mohammed Saeed Cherbany of Port Said Criminal Court said the defendants had been "backing evil people in the execution of the crime." Thirty other defendants were sentenced to prison terms of 10 or five years. The verdicts will be appealed. The case stems from a riot that ensued after a court issued death sentences to people allegedly involved in Egypt's worst ever soccer violence at a match in 2012. The soccer violence killed 72 people. The verdict the following year sparked riots, and police opened fire into the crowds. Some 42 people were k

  • Holy fire ceremony in Jerusalem draws thousands

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of Christians have gathered in Jerusalem for an ancient fire ceremony that celebrates Jesus' resurrection. In a ritual dating back at least 1,200 years, they crowded Saturday into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. During the annual ceremony, top Eastern Orthodox clerics enter the Edicule, the small chamber marking the site of Jesus' tomb. They then emerge to reveal candles said to be miraculously lit with "holy fire" as a message to the faithful from heaven. The details of the flame's source are a closely guarded secret. Roman Catholics and Protestants marked Easter in March, in accordance with the Gregor

  • Educated migrants have edge as Germany aims for integration

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    BERLIN (AP) — Wafaa Askar arrived in Germany barely a year and a half ago from her Syrian homeland, but she already speaks German fluently and counts more Germans than Syrians as friends. Orhan Sahin arrived from Turkey more than three decades ago, but still feels like a foreigner and speaks in broken German. The difference? Education. Based on previous waves of immigration, experts say that the best indicator of whether someone will fit into society is their level of education — the higher, the better. That trend bodes well for many of Europe's newest residents even as many arrivals from long ago struggle to integrate.

  • Turkish airstrikes target Kurdish rebels overnight

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    ISTANBUL (AP) — The Turkish military says it conducted overnight airstrikes against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey. The nearly three-hour bombing blitz targeted areas of Avasin, Hakurk and Qandil, the Iraqi stronghold of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Turkish planes also carried out raids in the southeastern province of Sirnak, Turkey. An army statement carried by the state-owned Anadolu Agency on Saturday said several bunkers and depots were destroyed. Turkey, along with its U.S. and European Union allies, designates the PKK as a terrorist organization. The PKK has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state that has left 40,000 dead.

  • IS claims responsibility for Baghdad bombing that killed 21

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    BAGHDAD (AP) — The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a bombing Saturday east of Baghdad, according to a statement posted on an IS-affiliated website. The attack killed at least 21 people and wounded at least 42 others, according to Iraqi police and hospital officials. The IS statement described the attack as a three-ton truck bombing. The attack targeted Shiite civilians shopping in an open-air market selling fruit, vegetables and meat in Nahrawan, according to Iraq's Interior Ministry. The IS statement and initial reports from local officials at the scene claimed the bombing targeted Shiite pilgrims walking to Baghdad's holy Kadhimiyah shrine. "It was not a road for people walking toward Kadhimiyah," said Brig

  • Saudi forces kill 2 militants after failed car-bombing

    Updated: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry says security forces have killed two militants before they were able to detonate a car bomb in the southwestern town of Bisha. Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency late Friday that security forces tried to stop two cars but the drivers fled and took refuge in nearby mountains before one of the cars exploded. Al-Turki said the two continued firing at security forces, but were eventually killed with the help of a helicopter gunship.

  • Rising violence kills over 200 in a week in Syria's Aleppo

    Updated: Fri, Apr 29, 2016

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The Syrian army and rebels unleashed deadly new attacks on each other Friday in Aleppo, with insurgents shelling a mosque during weekly prayers and government airstrikes hitting opposition neighborhoods in escalating bloodshed the U.N. decried as a "monstrous disregard for civilian lives by all parties." More than 200 people have been killed in eight days of mounting violence in and around the contested northern city, including 15 at the Malla Khan mosque hit by rebel rockets and another 10 from the government warplanes and helicopters, officials said. The surge in fighting has caused the collapse of a two-month cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia.




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