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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]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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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]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | United States

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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]



Tags: Egypt

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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]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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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]



Tags: Egypt

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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]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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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]



Tags: Egypt

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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]



Tags: Syria

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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.



Tags: Syria

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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]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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IMF: Egypt need's more financial support
2014.04.13 02:46:52

Egypt will need further international assistance to put its economy back on track despite receiving huge loans from Gulf Arab states, the IMF said Friday.

"Egypt will need financial support which could come from its partners in the Gulf or, if the government wants that, from the IMF and from other international financial institutions," Christopher Jarvis, the International Monetary Fund's Egypt mission chief, told reporters.

The IMF had been in talks on a $4.8 billion bailout package for Egypt, which has been coping with violence and economic woes since the 2011 overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak.

Saudi Arabia recently announced a $5 billion support package for Egypt before the country holds May 26-27 elections in which Abdel Fatah el-Sisi is seeking to be president.

Two fellow oil-exporting Gulf monarchies, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, have together promised $7 billion.

[AFP]



Tags: Egypt

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Relief supplies
2014.04.13 02:45:53

Relief supplies were allowed into a besieged part of the Syrian city of Aleppo earlier this week after a pact between opposing sides allowed the UNHCR and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) into the area.

Two trucks packed with blankets, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits and food arrived at a checkpoint at the eastern outskirts of the city before being delivered to the needy by more than 50 hand pulled carts.

Residents trapped in the opposition-held area by fighting between Syrian government forces and rebel units suffer from acute shortages of food, water, medicine and basic supplies.

The supplies, shown in an UNHCR video released on Friday (April 11) arrived on Tuesday (April 8) and the slow moving convoy of carts was accompanied by UNHCR and SARC staff waving flags to ensure a safe passage through the heavily contested area.

The last time UNHCR had managed to get supplies into the area, which has an acute shortage of food, water, medicine and basic supplies was in June last year.

The pre-arranged ceasefire lasted four hours.



Tags: Syria

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Pro-Russians maintain control
2014.04.13 02:43:28

As the tension escalates, armed pro-Russians maintain control of government buildings in Donetsk despite PM Yatsenyuk's pledge for more power to regions.

Click here to read the full story on mwcnews.com



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Egyptian army: Troops kill top Sinai militant
2014.04.13 02:41:38

Egyptian troops killed an alleged militant in the restive Sinai Peninsula where fighters have increasingly targeted security forces since last year's ouster of president  Mohamed Morsi.

Nour al-Hamdeen was "one of the most prominent and dangerous extremists", military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said in a statement.

Hamdeen was ambushed by troops on a road to Al-Tuma village in the northern Sinai, and was killed in the ensuing firefight.

The army has poured troops into the mountainous and underdeveloped Sinai bordering the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Israel, to combat growing militancy.

[AFP]



Tags: Egypt | Muslim Brotherhood | Mohamed Morsi

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Peaceful protest in the town of Idlib
2014.04.13 01:30:59

This video uploaded to Youtube is said to show a peaceful protest in the town of Idlib rallying people across Syria and calling on the international community to help save the people of Aleppo.

MWC cannot independently verify the conflict of this video.



Tags: Syria

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Gunmen taken over police station
2014.04.13 01:27:21

Gunmen have taken over a police station in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin militants are already holding state buildings in several cities, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Saturday.

"Armed men in camouflage fatigues have taken the police station in Slavyansk," Avakov wrote on his Facebook page, adding that "the reaction will be very strong." He did not provide any other details.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Russia neighbours press NATO for backup
2014.04.13 01:21:12

Ex-Soviet countries fearing spillover from  the Ukraine crisis have asked NATO for land forces and other backup, potentially moving the region one step closer to a new Cold War.

The calls from Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; which all border Russia and have sizable ethnic Russian populations and Ukraine's neighbors Poland and Romania come as the United States accuses Russia of wanting to "create chaos" to have a pretext for more military intervention.

"We hope NATO's increased presence in the Baltic region is not just temporary and limited to reinforced air patrols," Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser said on state radio this week.

Mikser, who is to meet with NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels on Monday, added that talks are ongoing "about having NATO rotating land units in our region".

Poland's Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the right-wing opposition, says he believes installing US military bases in his country would be the only way to  counter Russian President Vladimir Putin's "expansionist ambitions".

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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