Today 19 December
Amnesty International on Thursday accused an Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group in Syria of abducting, torturing and killing detainees at secret prisons in areas under its control. The rights group said detainees held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) include children as young as eight and that minors have been sentenced to severe floggings and held with adults in "cruel and inhuman conditions". It described individuals being seized by masked men, held for weeks on end in solitary confinement at unknown locations and tried by self-styled Islamic sharia courts that mete out death or floggings with little if any due process. Former detainees described being beaten with rubber generator belts or cables, tortured with electric shocks and being forced into a painful stress position known as the "scorpion" in which the detainee's wrists are bound over one shoulder.
Brasília (AFP) - Sweden's Saab edged out French and US rivals to win a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply Brazil's air force with 36 new fighter jets, Defense Minister Celso Amorim said Wednesday. Saab's Gripen NG was in competition with the Rafale made by France's Dassault company and US aviation giant Boeing's F/A-18 fighter for the long-deferred FX-2 air force replacement program "After analyzing all the facts, President Dilma Rousseff directed me to inform that the winner of the contract for the acquisition of the 36 fighter jets for the Brazilian Air Force is the Swedish Gripen NG," Amorim told a press conference.
By Gulsen Solaker and Humeyra Pamuk ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a corruption crackdown on his allies months ahead of elections as a "dirty operation" to smear his administration and undermine the country's progress. He said those behind the investigation were trying to form a "state within a state", an apparent reference to the movement of U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers are influential in Turkey's police and judiciary. A total of 52 people, including three ministers' sons, prominent businessmen close to Erdogan and local government officials, were detained on Tuesday in the country's biggest corruption probe since Erdogan swept to power in 2002. "As we fight to make Turkey in the top 10 countries of the world ... some are engaged in an effort to halt our fast growth.
Bossangoa (Central African Republic) (AFP) - The Christian camp is on one side, the Muslim camp on another, separated by a red dirt road littered with abandoned homes, a no man's land swirling with bitterness, rumours and accusations. Wrenched apart by sectarian violence, the Central African Republic town of Bossangoa has become little more than a ghost town. Religious tensions in the country have exploded in the past two weeks, following months of crisis sparked by a March coup, and has sent residents in Bossangoa, 300 km (180 miles) north of the capital Bangui fleeing for their lives. "Spontaneously and in waves, in the past two months, 40,000 Christians in Bossangoa and surrounding villages have gathered around the archbishopric, crammed onto only four hectares," said an official from the aid group Action Against Hunger.
A South African court granted bail Wednesday to one of two men arrested while trying to sell a kilogramme of uranium, a prosecutor said. "Sibusiso Mkhize was given bail of 2,000 rand ($200/145 euros)," prosecution spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson told AFP. The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA) tested the substance and confirmed that it was unenriched uranium, adding it likely came from somewhere outside Africa where enrichment is taking place. That level is well below the average 0.7 percent U-235 found in natural uranium and the 90 percent level needed to be considered weapons grade.
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