Death toll past 1,600 as Gaza truce collapses

August 02, 2014 - 1:43:37 am

GAZA CITY: A humanitarian truce in Gaza collapsed hours after it began yesterday amid a new wave of violence and the apparent capture by Hamas of an Israeli soldier. US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Turkey and Qatar to use their influence to secure the soldier’s release. In Gaza, 160 people were killed or died of their wounds yesterday, taking the Palestinian death toll to 1,600, mostly civilians. Sixty-six Israelis, three of them civilians, have died. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia denounced “inexcusable” world silence over Israel’s “war crimes” in Gaza.

South Sudan peace talks to restart on August 4

ADDIS ABABA: South Sudan’s warring leaders will resume peace talks on Monday, mediators said yesterday, amid warnings of famine within weeks if fighting continues.

Mediators from the East African IGAD bloc said in statement that the resumption of talks had been delayed by “extended holidays”.

Talks between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar stalled in June with each side blaming the other for the failure.

Sisi to skip Obama’s Africa summit

WASHINGTON: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi will not attend an unprecedented gathering of African leaders here next week, after he was given a belated invitation. Morocco’s King Mohamed VI will also be a no-show at next week’s gathering to be hosted by President Barack Obama.

Egypt was initially not on the summit’s guest list because its membership of the African Union (AU) had been suspended after the military ousted elected president Mohamed Mursi. Cairo was re-admitted to AU in June and the White House issued an invitation for Egypt to attend the three-day talks, which begin on Monday.

Iraq’s top Shia cleric urges smooth transition

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s most influential Shia cleric appealed to Iraqi politicians yesterday not to make themselves “an obstacle” in the country’s transition as the deadline looms for selecting the next prime minister.

“The big challenges facing Iraq require that the next government command national and broad acceptance ... to face the crises that are hitting the country,” spokesman Ahmed Al Safi quoted Al Sistani as saying. “No one should make himself an obstacle in achieving national consensus,” Al Sifi added during a sermon in Karbala.

Mysterious lake appears in Tunisian desert

TUNIS: A lake has appeared in the Tunisian desert like a mirage. For locals, roasting in the 40 degrees Celsius heat, the temptation to cool off in the inviting water quickly overcame any fears about the pool. Hundreds flocked to what quickly became known as the Lac de Gafsa or Gafsa beach to splash, paddle and dive. Local geologists suspect seismic activity may have ruptured the rock above the water table sending the liquid to the surface.