RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s police force said yesterday that it is investigating a series of attacks against members of the force in the Shia-majority district of Qatif. “A police patrol carrying out its duties in the town of Tarot in Qatif district came under fire on Friday from a nearby farm,” said Eastern Province police spokesman Ziad Al Rukaiti. Qatif police had opened “an investigation to hunt down the criminals,” said Rukaiti. The attack came one day after the same source announced that “three systematic crimes carried out by armed rioters at different times” had targetted police in the same region. The “crimes” include two incidents in which unknown gunmen had opened fire and hurled two petrol bombs at Tarot police station, and another in which assailants opened fire on a police checkpoint. The statement did not specify when the attacks took place while no casualties were reported in any of the incidents.
Iran delays start-up of Arak N-reactor
VIENNA: Iran has postponed until 2014 the planned start-up of a research reactor which Western experts say could potentially offer the Islamic Republic a second route to produce material for a nuclear bomb, a UN report showed. Tehran has continued to install cooling and moderator circuit piping in the heavy water plant near the town of Arak. Nuclear analysts say this type of reactor could yield plutonium for nuclear arms if the spent fuel is reprocessed, something Iran has said it has no intention of doing. But the country has now delayed the planned timetable for bringing Arak on line by about half a year from the third quarter of 2013, according to the latest UN information in a confidential report submitted to member states late on Friday. “Iran stated that the operation of the IR-40 reactor was now expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014,” the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report said.
Car bomb against pilgrims kills 3 in Iraq
BAGHDAD: A car bomb targeting Shia pilgrims in Iraq killed three people and wounded 25 others yesterday, during major Shia religious commemorations, officials said. The bomb exploded about 1:30pm at a restaurant where three buses carrying pilgrims were parked on a highway near Balad, north of Baghdad, a police officer said. Jawad Abdul Kadhim, the head of the Balad hospital, said the attack killed an Iranian woman and two Iraqi men and wounded 25 people, including Pakistanis. The pilgrims were on their way to visit the Al Askari shrine in Samarra.
Islamist hunger striker dies in Tunisia
TUNIS: A key figure in Tunisia’s Salafist movement, Mohammed Bakhti, died yesterday after going on hunger strike over his arrest for an attack on the US embassy, the second such death this week, his lawyer said. “He died in hospital at around 2am (0100 GMT),” said Abdelbasset Ben Mbarek, noting his death followed that of another jailed member of the hardline Islamist movement, Bechir Gholli, who died on Thursday also after refusing food for nearly two months. The lawyer had warned for several days that Bakhti, who was suffering from a brain haemorrhage, was in critical condition. The moderate Islamist party Ennahda, which heads Tunisia’s ruling coalition, called for a “rapid and transparent probe” to determine “the circumstances of the arrests and detentions as well as the causes of death and the hunger strikes”. Agencies