Two Sunni groups suspend participation in Bahrain talks

February 20, 2013 - 4:46:40 am
MANAMA: Two Sunni factions in Bahrain say they are suspending participation in talks with Shia opposition groups because of a spike in violence in the Gulf nation’s two-year-old uprising. The moves are unlikely to disrupt the overall negotiations between Bahrain’s Sunni rulers and the Shiite opposition bloc, but it reflects the high level of tension confronting attempts at dialogue. In letters issued yesterday, the groups Al Saff Al Islami and Al Minbar Al Islami say they are protesting the widespread clashes last week during the second anniversary of the uprising. A protester and policeman were killed. Al Saff is led by a former intelligence officer. The other represents the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sudan: 60 rebels die 
in clashes with army
KHARTOUM: The Sudanese army said yesterday that at least 60 rebels had been killed in clashes in the country’s south, while the main rebel group there accused the government of launching assaults to divert international attention away from a security vacuum in Darfur. The army’s spokesman Col Sawarme Khalid said Sudanese troops retook control of the strategic Mafo area in the Blue Nile state. He said Sudanese troops sustained “minor casualties.”  The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement said the government in Khartoum was hoping to use the strikes near South Sudan to undermine peace talks in Ethiopia set for early March. 
Tzipi Livni first to join Netanyahu government
JERUSALEM: Israel’s prime minister has added his first coalition partner as he works to build a new government. A spokeswoman for former foreign minister Tzipi Livni says she has agreed to join Netanyahu’s emerging coalition. Livni, a former rival of Netanyahu’s, led peace talks with the Palestinians four years ago and ran on a platform of resuming negotiations. Her party garnered just six of 120 parliamentary seats in the January 22 election. Netanyahu needs 61 seats to form a majority coalition. With the addition of Livni, he currently has 37.
Military plane crashes in Yemen, 10 perish
SANA’A:  A Yemeni military plane crashed yesterday into a residential neighbourhood in the country’s capital, Sana’a, killing 10 people and injuring 17, the defence ministry and security officials said. The plane crashed during a training exercise, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Al Mawry. He  said that it hit two houses in the Al Qadissiya district, and that the pilot was also killed in the crash.
Chadian beheaded 
for drug trafficking  
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia yesterday beheaded by the sword a Chadian man convicted of drug trafficking in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the interior ministry said. Abdelkerim Ibrahim Mussa Abkar, who was executed in the holy city of Makkah, had been sentenced to death for trafficking in cocaine, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA agency. 
Iran protests award for banned director
DUBAI: Iran has complained to the organisers of the Berlin film festival for giving Iranian director Jafar Panahi an award for an allegorical movie made in defiance of a 20-year state ban. Panahi shared the best script prize at Berlin on Saturday for “Closed Curtain” with co-director Kamboziya Partovi for a film made in secret, which mirrors aspects of Panahi’s life under house arrest in Iran.