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Residents to stay indoors
2014.04.14 01:38:35

Ukraine's Interior Minister has told residents in the eastern city of  Slovyansk to stay indoors, in anticipation of clashes between armed pro-Russian protesters who have seized official buildings and Ukrainian security forces.

"Pass it on to all civilians: they should leave the center of town, not come out of their apartments, and not go near the windows," Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted Arsen Avakov as saying.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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'Anti-terrorist operation' in Slovyansk
2014.04.14 01:36:46

Ukraine's interior minister has announced the start of an 'anti-terrorist operation' in Slovyansk, Eastern Ukraine.

"An anti-terrorist operation has begun in Slavyansk. It is being directed by the anti-terrorist center of the state security service. Forces from all the security units of the country have been brought in", Interfax news agency quoted the minister, Arsen Avakov, as saying on his Facebook page on Sunday.

[Reuters]



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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
2014.04.14 01:35:32

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on all sides in the Ukraine crisis to "exercise maximum restraint" and engage in dialogue to de-escalate the situation there.

Ban is "deeply concerned" about the deteriorating situation and "growing potential for violent clashes," a UN statement said on Saturday.

The secretary general "appeals to all sides to work towards calming the situation, adhere to the rule of law and exercise maximum restraint," the statement added.

He also "calls again for urgent and constructive dialogue to de-escalate the situation and address all differences".

[AFP]



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Former Egyptian presidential hopeful leader jailed
2014.04.13 11:42:55

An Egyptian court sentenced a former presidential hopeful to one year in prison on Saturday for insulting the court, state news agency MENA reported.

Hazem Salah Abu Ismail is on trial for fraud in a case related to presidential elections in 2012 which brought the now ousted President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood to power.

Abu Ismail interrupted his court-appointed attorney during Saturday's session and told the judge, "I don't feel like I am before a court," a judicial source told Reuters.

Abu Ismail, who has links to the Brotherhood, was disqualified from that election after reports that his late mother had held a U.S. passport. Under Egypt's election rules, both a candidate's parents must hold only Egyptian citizenship.

He was sentenced to a year in prison in January after making a similar statement.

[Reuters]



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Interview with Abu Sulayman Al-Muhaji
2014.04.13 11:41:57

This video uploaded to Youtube is an interview with Abu Sulayman Al-Muhajir, a member of the shariah committee of the Nusra Front.

Speaking in English, the preacher discusses the relationship between the Nusra Front and the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant and the reasons behind the recent fighting between the rebel groups.

MWC cannot independently verify the content of this video.



Tags: Syria

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Activist released
2014.04.13 11:39:50

Prominent activist Mahinour al-Masry, who was detained last night in the coastal city of Alexandria, was released on Saturday, state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported.

In her first tweet after her release, Mahinour urged citizens to help release four other detainees in Alexandria's prisons.

Al-Masry was arrested on the basis on a two-year prison sentence she has received in absentia last January for breaching a controversial anti-protest law, by taking part in a demonstration demanding its retraction.

The city's prosecutor has postponed interrogations with al-Masry for lack of evidence, according to the newspaper.



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Air strike in Hama
2014.04.13 11:38:27

A regime air strike in Hama province of central Syria caused "suffocation and poisoning", an NGO said Saturday, while state media accused rebels of releasing chlorine gas.

Elsewhere, fighting raged all day in Aleppo near an air force intelligence base, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights labeling it "the most violent since the beginning of the battle" in the northern city in mid-2012.

And a bomb blast and shelling in areas of Damascus killed four people, the official news agency SANA reported. [AFP]



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Kerry expresses concern over attacks in Ukraine
2014.04.13 11:37:17

US Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed strong concern that attacks by armed militants in eastern Ukraine have been orchestrated and synchronized, and are similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

The State Department says that Kerry expressed his concern Saturday in a phone call with Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.

In a statement, the State Department says that Kerry made clear that if Russia does not take steps to de-escalate in eastern Ukraine and move its troops back from Ukraine's border, there would be additional consequences.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, citing the Foreign Ministry, said Kerry "could not give any concrete facts" to back his concerns.

Itar-Tass reported that Lavrov warned Kerry that if the Ukrainian government uses force against the protesters, it could derail international talks on the crisis set for next week.

[Associated Press]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States | John Kerry | Sergey Lavrov

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Pro-Russian separatists take Kramatorsk police HQ
2014.04.13 11:36:14

Pro-Russian separatists armed with automatic weapons on Saturday took control of the police headquarters in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, 150km from the Russian border, a Reuters witness said.

An organized military unit of over 20 men wearing matching military fatigues and carrying automatic weapon took over the building around 1700 GMT after arriving on at least two buses.

Video footage showed the men taking orders from a commander and shooting from automatic rifles as they approached the building.

[Reuters]



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Biden to travel to Ukraine on April
2014.04.13 11:35:18

US Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Kiev on April 22 to meet with government officials and civil society groups ahead of the Ukrainian presidential election in May, the White House said on Saturday.

"The vice president will underscore the United States' strong support for a united, democratic Ukraine that makes its own choices about its future path," the White House said in a statement.

[Reuters]



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Islamist former presidential hopeful
2014.04.13 03:14:21

An Egyptian court sentenced a hardline Islamist former presidential hopeful to one year in prison on Saturday for insulting the court, state news agency MENA reported.

Salafist preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail is on trial for fraud in a case related to presidential elections.

Abu Ismail, who has links to the Brotherhood, was disqualified from that election after reports that his late mother had held a U.S. passport. Under Egypt's election rules, both a candidate's parents must hold only Egyptian citizenship.

Abu Ismail interrupted his court-appointed attorney during Saturday's session and told the judge, "I don't feel like I am before a court," a judicial source told Reuters.

He was sentenced to a year in prison in January after making a similar statement. [Reuters]



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Ukraine’s interior minister
2014.04.13 03:12:42

Ukraine’s interior minister Arsen Avakov said, on Saturday, gunmen with Russian-issued machine guns opened fire on police stations in the Donetsk region towns of Kramatorsk and Krasnyi Lyman.

He did not report any casualties and blamed the attacks on "aggression by the Russian Federation".

[AFP]



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Egypt's minister of electricity
2014.04.13 03:11:05

Egypt's minister of electricity and renewable energy said that the government will not be able to prevent power cuts this summer, an acknowledgment of the severe energy crunch facing the most populous Arab country.

"Eliminating blackouts and reducing loads this summer is impossible," Mohamed Shaker said in comments published on Saturday in the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper.

[Reuters]



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Donetsk police chief steps down
2014.04.13 03:09:53

The regional police chief of the troubled east Ukrainian city of Donetsk said on Saturday he was quitting his post, bowing to demands from pro-Russian protesters.

Above the police headquarters, the Ukrainian flag was no longer flying, and was replaced with a separatist flag, according to a witness who spoke to Reuters news agency.

"In accordance with your demands I am stepping down," police chief Kostyantyn Pozhydayev told protesters.

[Reuters]



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Crude bomb exploded
2014.04.13 03:08:35

A crude bomb exploded on Saturday near a newly built hospital just minutes before it was inaugurated by Egypt's health minister, security officials said, adding that there were no casualties.

The device went off in the city of Kaft, 630 kilometers (around 390 miles) south of Cairo, before Adel al-Adawi arrived for the opening, the officials and state television reported.

The ceremony went ahead as planned. [AFP]



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Poison gas had been used
2014.04.13 03:06:56

Syrian government media and rebel forces said Saturday that poison gas had been used in a central village, injuring scores of people, while blaming each other for the attack.

The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said the poison gas attack Friday hurt dozens of people in the village of Kfar Zeita in the central province of Hama. It did not say what type of gas was used.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that people suffered from suffocation and breathing problems after the attack, apparently conducted during air raids that left heavy smoke over the area. It gave no further details.

State-run Syrian television blamed members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front for using chlorine gas at Kfar Zeita, killing two people and injuring more than 100. [Reuters]



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Slovakia seeks gas talks with Ukraine, Russia and EU
2014.04.13 03:05:34

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico called for talks with Ukraine, Russia and the European Commission to ensure his country can reverse gas flows to Kiev without violating existing contracts, while Hungary said it could do so at once.

"The optimal solution would be a meeting of representatives of Ukraine, Slovakia, Russia and the European Commission, to discuss conditions under which Slovakia would be involved in reverse flow of gas," Fico told a news conference posted on the government's website on Thursday.

Slovakia is the EU's best-placed member nation to pump gas to neighbor Ukraine should Russia reduce or shut off supplies from the four pipelines that feed Slovakia via Ukraine.

But reversing flows along any of these pipelines would breach terms of contracts with Gazprom, a spokesman for Slovak pipeline operator Eustream said this week.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Slovakia

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Student reported killed in protests
2014.04.13 03:03:43

The spokesman for the Students Anti-Coup Movement, Youssof Salhen,  has posted a picture of a student who was reportedly killed during demonstrations in Tanta yesterday.

Said Mohammad, who studied at Al Azhar University, is said to have been shot dead by Egyptian police during an anti-coup protest yesterday.



Tags: Egypt

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Advancing in al-Mliha
2014.04.13 02:50:49

Activists report that rebels have been advancing in al-Mliha in the suburbs of Damascus after they captured parts of the Air Defense Command base there.

Activists said that the town was being heavily bombarded by regime warplanes.



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Ukraine's interior ministry
2014.04.13 02:48:29

Via statement Ukraine's interior ministry confirmed, on Saturday, pro-Russian gunmen seized a second state security building in the eastern city of Slovyansk.

"The same group of armed men who seized the district police station also seized the Slavyansk Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) building," the regional interior ministry said.

[AFP]



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