January 27, 2019

Taliban talks: Will negotiations lead to peace in Afghanistan?

Taliban talks: Will negotiations lead to peace in Afghanistan? Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Taliban say they will talk with Afghan officials after the US sets a withdrawal date The "significant progress" said to have been made during six days of talks between US officials and the Afghan Taliban suggests that both sides are serious about trying to find a peaceful solution to a 17-year conflict that has scarred Afghanistan. But with the Taliban currently refusing to hold direct talks with Afghan officials, and negotiations relating to "unsolved matters" still to continue, what has actually been agreed during the meetings in Qatar? Secunder Kermani, the BBC's Afghanistan correspondent, and senior Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai, look at what we know so far about the talks, and what it could mean for the future of the country and the foreign forces operating there. Who are the Taliban? Why Afghanistan is so dangerous How significant were the talks?Both the Taliban and U..
January 27, 2019

Thai girl band BNK48 sorry for Nazi T-shirt controversy

Thai girl band BNK48 sorry for Nazi T-shirt controversy Image copyright Twitter/ShapiraSmadar Image caption The singer and the band CEO visited the Israeli embassy on Sunday to apologise One of Thailand's most popular pop bands has apologised, after a member wore a T-shirt with a Nazi swastika on stage during a televised rehearsal. Photos of BNK48 singer Pichayapa "Namsai" Natha with the shirt went viral this weekend, causing the Israeli embassy to express "shock and dismay". The CEO of BNK48, and the 19-year-old singer, have met the Israeli ambassador and apologised. Many Thais say they are unaware of the history of the Nazis in World War Two. Skip Twitter post by @KhaosodEnglish Breaking: #Thai Idol Group #BNK48 Member Wears Nazi Flag on Stage https://t.co/xystVvWNmA #BNK48SpaceMission — Khaosod English (@KhaosodEnglish) January 26, 2019 Report End of Twitter post by @KhaosodEnglish After photos of the rehearsal, Israel's deputy ambassador to Thailand Smadar Shapira, said..
January 27, 2019

Jolo church attack: Many killed in Philippines

Jolo church attack: Many killed in Philippines A twin-bomb attack at a church in southern Philippines has killed at least 19 people and injured 42 others, officials say. The first blast happened as Sunday Mass was celebrated at a Roman Catholic cathedral on Jolo island. As soldiers responded, a second device was detonated in the parking lot. The attack happens after a predominantly Muslim area in the region voted for greater autonomy in a referendum last week. Jolo has long been a base for Islamist militants, including those of the Abu Sayyaf group. Philippines country profileThe first blast happened at 08:45 local time (00:45 GMT) at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which has been hit by bombs in the past. The victims included civilians and soldiers but initial numbers were conflicting. Images posted on social media showed the main road leading to the church sealed off by soldiers in armoured personnel carriers. Last week, voters approved the creation of the Bangsamoro Aut..
January 26, 2019

The enduring appeal of violent jihad

The enduring appeal of violent jihad Image copyright Getty Images The Islamic State group (IS) has lost its short-lived caliphate in the Middle East, with hundreds - possibly thousands - of would-be international jihadists stuck in limbo, and tempted to return home despite fears of arrest and imprisonment. Yet the scourge of violent jihad - where extremists attack those they perceive to be enemies of Islam - has not gone away. The hotel attack in Nairobi two weeks ago by the al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group al-Shabab was an uncomfortable reminder. Large swathes of north-west Africa are now vulnerable to attack by marauding jihadists. Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan remain ideal refuges for jihadists. So just what is the enduring appeal of violent jihad for certain people around the world? After the caliphate: Has IS been defeated? The victims of the Kenya hotel attack Peer pressureThe decision to leave behind a normal, law-abiding life, often abandoning family and loved ones to e..
January 26, 2019

Trudeau fires Canadian ambassador to China after controversy

Trudeau fires Canadian ambassador to China after controversy Image copyright Reuters Image caption PM Trudeau (R) appointed John McCallum (L) ambassador to China in 2017 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has fired Canada's ambassador to China, in the wake of controversy over a high-profile extradition case. Mr Trudeau said in a statement he had asked John McCallum to step down, but did not offer a reason. Last month, Canada arrested a top official at the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, on a request from the US. The detention of Meng Wanzhou angered China and soured its relations with both Canada and the US. In January, a Canadian man was sentenced to death in China, after a court said a jail term of 15 years was too lenient. Two other Canadians were arrested following the detention of Ms Meng. Canada 'alone' in China and Huawei dispute No politics behind Huawei arrest - Trudeau Meng Wanzhou: Trapped in a gilded cage Announcing Mr McCallum's departure, Mr Trudeau said: ..
January 26, 2019

Taliban talks: US envoy says significant progress made in Qatar

Taliban talks: US envoy says significant progress made in Qatar Image copyright AFP Image caption The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan and is part of a Nato mission there The US and the Afghan Taliban have made "significant progress" in talks aimed at ending the 17-year-old conflict in Afghanistan, the US envoy has said. In a series of tweets, Zalmay Khalilzad did not give details but said the unprecedented six days of talks in Qatar were "more productive than they have been in the past". He said he was on his way to Kabul to consult Afghan government officials. Earlier, Taliban sources said the two sides had finalised a draft agreement. The deal calls for a withdrawal of foreign forces in return for assurances that al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group will not be allowed to use Afghanistan as a base, the sources said. Mr Khalilzad said talks with the Taliban would continue and that nothing had been finalised. Skip Twitter post by @US4AfghanPeace 2/3. Will build on the ..
January 25, 2019

India relocates crocodiles at world’s tallest statue in Gujarat

India relocates crocodiles at world's tallest statue in Gujarat Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionStunning visuals of the world's tallest statue Indian officials have begun relocating some 300 crocodiles from a reservoir next to the world's tallest statue to allow a seaplane service for visitors. The animals, some around 3m (9ft) long, are being lured into metal cages and sent elsewhere in the western state of Gujarat. But conservationists have criticised the plan. The 182m statue of independence hero Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was inaugurated last October. The bronze-clad statue sculpture, located some 200km (125 miles) from the state's main city of Ahmedabad, has become a popular attraction. Indian farmers fume at cost of statue In pictures: Statue's construction But there are no train services and most tourists reach the site, known as "Statue of Unity", by bus. Image copyright AFP Image caption The statue is nearly twice as tall as t..
January 25, 2019

BBC journalist Ging Ginanjar: A giant of Indonesia’s battle for press freedom

BBC journalist Ging Ginanjar: A giant of Indonesia's battle for press freedom Image copyright Erik Prasetya Image caption Ging Ginanjar (third from the left) on trial in an Indonesian court on 20 May 1998 The sudden death of BBC Indonesia's Ging Ginanjar at 54 has sparked many public tributes. The grief isn't just about the loss of a popular editor, Ging was known for the key role he played in bringing about press freedom for the world's largest Muslim nation, as his colleagues Rebecca Henschke and Heyder Affan write. When Ging Ginanjar went for a job at the newly founded tabloid Detik in the early 1990s he was asked about his journalism experience. "I have none, but that's not important," he replied. "The important thing is that I hate Suharto." Suharto was Indonesia's military leader and ruled the country with an iron fist for 31 years from 1967, a time in which all dissent was brutally crushed. Under his government the media was controlled: journalists..
January 25, 2019

Afghanistan’s Ghani says 45,000 security personnel killed since 2014

Afghanistan's Ghani says 45,000 security personnel killed since 2014 Image copyright Getty Images Image caption President Ghani, who took office in 2014, revealed the figure at the World Economic Forum Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says more than 45,000 members of the country's security forces have been killed since he became leader in 2014. The figure is far higher than previously thought, with Mr Ghani saying late last year that 28,000 had been killed since 2015. "The number of international casualties is less than 72," he said on Friday. "It shows who is doing the fighting." His comments come amid top-level talks between US and Taliban representatives. The Taliban, the main insurgent group in Afghanistan, said on Thursday that they had held four days of face-to-face talks with US officials seeking to end 17 years of war. It is not clear if the talks have continued into Friday, but earlier reports said negotiators were progressing towards a deal. Why Afghanistan is more ..
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