WORLD NEWS Belgium Police Arrest Three Suspected Militants BRUSSELS (PRESS TV) – Security forces in Belgium have detained at least three suspected militants in western town of Harelbeke, close to the French border. The prosecutors did not identify Belgian soldiers patrol outside the European Council headquarters in Brussels on January 21, 2015. fresh counter-terrorism raids in the country’s west as European states remain on high alert following a recent spate of terror attacks in the French capital, Paris. Belgian media reported on Tuesday that security forces had taken the three men into custody in the the detainees and provided no details on their possible links with the Takfiri terrorist groups operating in Syria. However, some sources say the detained men had previously joined the ranks of the extremist militants fighting against the Syrian gov- ernment. At least two of them had threatened terror attacks against Belgium on social media, the sources added. In recent days, Belgium and a series of other European states have arrested several suspected Takfirilinked terrorists following the terror attacks in Paris earlier this month. On January 15, Belgian police shot dead at least two suspected militants and left seriously injured another during a large-scale security operation in the eastern town of Verviers near the German border. The Belgian security forces have also conducted around a dozen searches in the capital, Brussels, and its suburbs over past few days. The wave of terrorist attacks in France began on January 7, when the office of the French weekly, Charlie Hebdo, came under assault by two gunmen in Paris. Twelve people were killed in the incident that was followed by other terrorist attacks claiming five more lives. An al-Qaeda branch in Yemen claimed full responsibility for the Paris attack. The group said it chose and supported Said and Cherif Kouachi, the two brothers who allegedly carried out the deadly assault. Blizzard in US Shuts Schools, Business, Transport WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A blizzard dropped more than a foot (30 cm) of snow across the northeastern United States on Tuesday, falling short of the massive predicted snowfall that prompted officials across the region to close schools and order travel bans. High winds and heavy snow were set to persist throughout the day, with another foot forecast to fall in parts of Boston. Wind-driven seas caused flooding along some low-lying roadways in coastal Massachusetts, state police said. The heaviest snowfall was recorded in parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts, while New York City’s Central Park saw just 6 inches (15 cm), less than a quarter of the “historic” snowfall that some meteorologists had predicted. “When you hear the word ‘crippling’ and you look out your window this morning, it is not there,” said John Davitt, a meteorologist on New York’s NY1 news channel. Travel was still snarled, with more than 4,500 flights canceled at U.S. airports, according to FlightAware.com, and no trains or buses in New York, Boston or New Jersey. Forecasts for as much as 3 feet (90 cm) of snow had prompted governors in eight East Coast states to declare states of emergency and the storm affected up to 60 million people in nearly a dozen states. Militant Attack on Luxury Libya Hotel Claims Eight Lives TRIPOLI (PRESS TV) – At least eight people, including five foreigners, have been killed when gunmen stormed a luxury hotel bulletproof vests attacked the hotel on Tuesday, after security guards stationed at the gate tried to stop them. Libyan security forces surround Corinthia Hotel (R) in the capital, Tripoli, on Jan. 27, 2015. in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, as the North African country is beleaguered by fighting between rival militant groups. A staffer at Corinthia Hotel, requesting anonymity, said five masked assailants clad in The armed men fatally shot three guards, and made their way into the hotel. They then opened indiscriminate fire in the lobby killing five foreigners, the staffer added. He further noted that an ex- plosives-laden car went off at the parking lot as he together with rest of the staff and foreign guests were fleeing out the hotel’s back doors. The staffer went on to say that the blast burned at least five cars in the parking lot, and blew out some windows in the hotel’s facade. He said Corinthia Hotel had Italian, British and Turkish guests, but the hotel was largely empty when the assault happened. The ISIL Takfiri terrorist group claimed responsibility for the act of terror, naming the attack ‘Operation Abu Anas alLibi’, after the Libyan computer specialist, who worked for alQaeda and died in New York earlier this month. Libya plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising against the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. The ouster of Gaddafi gave rise to a patchwork of heavily-armed militias and deep political divisions. JANUARY 28, 2015 Nine Ukrainian Soldiers Killed in Eastern Conflict Members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) look at the remains of a shell on a street in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, January 24, 2015. KIEV (Reuters) - Nine Ukrai- state, lawmakers said. It was not nian servicemen have been killed immediately clear what implicain fighting Russian-backed sepa- tions such a declaration would ratists in the past 24 hours, the have beyond its symbolism. Kiev military said on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the United as rebels fought to encircle a key Nations Samantha Power said town straddling transport routes on Monday deadly attacks on between their two strongholds. the port city of Mariupol on the Violence in eastern Ukraine is weekend show that Moscow’s at by far its worst since a cease- objective is to increase the fire was agreed last September Ukrainian territory it controls. Separatist Donetsk and Luand Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of openly support- hansk regions, known as the ing the latest rebel advance with Donbass, together account for money, arms and troops on the around 9 percent of Ukrainian territory, excluding the peninground. Military spokesman Vladislav sula of Crimea, seized by RusSeleznyov said 29 servicemen siafrom Kiev last March. Rebels control less than half had been wounded in addition to those killed, adding that fight- of this area, but have made its ing was the most intense near two largest cities the capitals of the strategic town of Debalt- their self-styled ‘People’s Reseve, north-east of rebel-held publics.’ After months during which Donetsk. “The situation remains tense. the truce was punctured by In the past 24 hours illegal small-scale skirmishes on the armed groups carried out 120 at- front line, rebels said last week tacks on government positions,” they were left with no choice but to launch an advance. he said in a televised briefing. In Kiev, parliament was due Their main aim, they say, is to to meet for an emergency ses- push back government forces sion to vote on a statement that that had been shelling rebelwould call Russia an aggressor- held cities. EU Heads Threaten Russia With More Sanctions BRUSSELS (PRESS TV) – Heads of European Union (EU) member states have tasked their foreign ministers to consider a new round of sanctions against Russia in the wake of fresh fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine. The 28 EU leaders made the remarks in a joint statement on Tuesday, saying their top diplomats should discuss additional restrictive measures against Russia during an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers to be held in two days in Brussels. “In view of the worsening situation we ask the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council to assess the situation and to consider any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures,” the statement read. In addition, the bloc’s leaders said they had noted evidence of growing support by Moscow for the pro-Russia forces, “which underlines Russia’s responsibility.” The EU heads also expressed “concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine,” adding that they condemn the shelling of the southeastern city of Mariupol three days ago, which killed at least 30 civilians and injured 100 others. The urgent Foreign Affairs Council meeting was called after the Mariupol attack on January 24, for which both Kiev troops and pro-Russia forces have blamed each other. Russia blasts bans Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed a day earlier any attempts to pile up economic pressure on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis as “absolutely destructive.” Peskov also underlined the need for the Kiev government to speak directly to the pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine. Russia has been the target of several rounds of sanctions by the US and EU, which accuse Moscow of supporting pro-Russia forces in east Ukraine. Russia has categorically denied the allegation. 5 RIYADH (Reuters) - President Barack Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to pay U.S. respects after the death of King Abdullah, a trip that underscores the importance of a U.S.-Saudi alliance that extends beyond oil interests to regional security. Obama’s visit comes as Washington struggles with worsening strife in the Middle East and counts Saudi Arabia among its few steady partners in a campaign against Islamic State militants who have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria. The Yemen government’s collapse will be of deep concern to Saudi Arabia because of the long border they share. Saudi Arabia’s role in rallying Arab support for action with Western countries against the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, has won praise in Washington, which along with other Western nations values the kingdom as an important market for its defense industries. Following Abdullah’s death last week, Obama will try to get relations off to a smooth start with new Saudi King Salman, who takes power after a period of sometimes tense relations between Washington and Riyadh. Showing how crucial the Saudi alliance is for Obama, he cut short his visit to India to lead a high-ranking delegation to Riyadh. U.S. criticism of Saudi Arabia over its human rights record has normally been low-key and may remain so. Saudi authorities have been criticized by international rights groups for jailing several prominent activists, and for the public flogging this month of a blogger. **** SEOUL (PRESS TV) – South Korea says it has rejected a North Korean bid for the right to arrest South Korean businessmen working in the Kaesong joint industrial complex if they are found not carrying out their contractual duties. “They sent us the request to change some rules on the Kaesong complex, including making it possible to detain our entrepreneurs,” an official from Seoul’s Unification Ministry said on Tuesday, adding, “We rejected the request.” Established in 2004 as a symbol of interKorean cooperation, the Kaesong zone is located some 10 kilometers (six miles) inside North Korea and hosts about 100 Seoul-owned factories, where 53,000 North Korean workers produce goods from clothes to watches. A large number of South Korean businessmen also work in the complex. Last September, North Korea came up with a new regulation allowing Pyongyang to detain South Korean businessmen when there is an unsettled business dispute. Seoul says North has no legal basis to detain South Koreans, and the highest level of punishment would be to send them back to South. **** TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan has vowed to work with Jordan to secure the release of a Japanese journalist held by Islamic State militants after the killing last week of another Japanese captive, but it reiterated that it would not give in to terrorism. The hostage crisis has become a test for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took power in 2012 pledging to bolster Japan’s global security role. Abe on Sunday condemned the killing of Japanese citizen Haruna Yukawa as “outrageous” and called for the release of veteran correspondent Kenji Goto, captured by Islamic State militants inSyria. “We would like to work together with the Jordanian government to secure the release of Goto,” Yasuhide Nakayama, state minister for foreign affairs, told reporters in Jordan late on Monday. Nakayama was sent to Jordan last week to deal with the crisis. The militants have dropped a ransom demand. They now say they will free Goto in exchange for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a convicted Iraqi suicide-bomber, from prison in Jordan.
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