Islamabad university reopens after suicide bomb attack

The Islamic International University of Islamabad has reopend its doors after a twin suicide bomb attack killed seven students and staff and injured dozens last Tuesday.

The bombers targeted both the male and female campuses in a simultaneous strike.

The violence prompted the government to close down educational institutions across the country, which have also reported back after the weekend.

The explosions are part of a series of recent militant attacks, which have spread fear through the country’s cities.

Observers view the recent wave of suicide bombings as retaliation against the Pakistan military’s offensive in South Waziristan, the mountainous border region, long seen as a Taliban stronghold.

Earlier, Pakistan claimed it killed 19 suspected militants and lost six soldiers in fighting inside a Taliban stronghold close to the Afghan border.

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Blast investigated at Hezbollah home in Lebanon

Euronews-Lebanese security sources say five people were killed in an explosion at the home of a Hezbollah official in southern Lebanon.

Military personal were sent to the scene to investigate after suspicions were raised that munitions may have been stored in the building and exploded accidentally.

Both the official and his son are said to have died in the incident which happened within the area of UN peacekeeping operations.

Hezbollah has since denied that anyone was killed although they have said one person was wounded.

Israel claims the blast is evidence of the group stockpiling arms and is in violation of the truce which ended hostilities in 2006.

Both Israel and the US have accused Hezbollah of undermining peacekeeping efforts in the area.

West African bloc names Guinea ‘facilitator’

AFP – The Economic Community Of West African States has named Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore as “facilitator” to ease tensions in Guinea after junta troops there massacred opposition demonstrators.

“We came to see the president (Compaore) with a message from (Nigerian) President Umaru Yar’Adua, current ECOWAS chairman, who named President Compaore as facilitator in the Guinean crisis,” ECOWAS president Mohamed Ibn Chambas told journalists.

Guinea has been in turmoil since Monday, when troops of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara’s military junta opened fire on opposition demonstrators, killing 56 according to the junta and more than 150 according to the United Nations and a Guinean human rights organisation.

ECOWAS wants Compaore to “work on the Guinean file, see how he can help find ways to lower tensions, re-energise the transitional process in Guinea, resume dialogue between the authorities and (the opposition) and also see how we can move towards credible and transparent elections in Guinea,” Chambas said.

The United Nations, European Union and African Union have already condemned the massacre in a Conakry stadium, while former colonial power France has withdrawn military cooperation and said it is considering other forms of cooperation.

Compaore, in power since 22 years, has previously mediated crises in Ivory Coast and Togo.

Opposition rejects junta call for unity government

Guinean opposition leaders rejected on Thursday the ruling junta’s offer of a national unity government and called for foreign intervention to prevent more bloodshed after the killing of protesters on Monday.

Junta chief Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, facing the threat of international sanctions after security forces killed scores of anti-government protesters, wants to ease tensions in the world’s biggest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite.

But Camara gave a new indication in a radio interview that he planned to stay in power, and opponents greeted his proposal of a unity government with scepticism.

“This does not interest me in the slightest,” Sidya Toure, an ex-prime minister and leader of the opposition Union of Republic Forces (UFR), said of Camara’s offer late on Wednesday.

“At the moment we are more interested in burying our dead,” he said of killings which a local human rights group said claimed at least 157 lives. Hundreds were injured.

An umbrella group of Guinean opposition parties, Le Forum des Forces Vives de Guinea, said on Thursday it was calling on the African Union and ECOWAS, a regional West African grouping, to send peacekeepers to protect the public from a military “that the head of the junta admits he can’t control.”

Earlier Mouctar Diallo of the New Forces of Democracy party dismissed Camara’s proposal as a “diversion”.

“Moussa Dadis Camara is no longer credible to lead a transition (to democracy),” Diallo told reporters. “He has massacred his own people, and he has lost all credibility. We are not interested in this type of proposal.”

Camara’s National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), which seized power in a bloodless coup last December, called for an African leader to be appointed mediator in talks on a unity government.

It also proposed U.N.-backed investigations into Monday’s violence, which Camara has blamed on uncontrolled army elements, and into a February 2007 crackdown on opponents of late President Lansana Conte in which more than 180 died.

COUNTER-COUP?

Camara stepped into the power vacuum that opened after Conte died, promising to allow a transition to civilian rule in an election now set for Jan. 31. But in the latest of several recent hints that he now intended to remain in power, Camara said on Tuesday there might be a new coup if he stood down.

“The army have taken me hostage. They tell me ‘if you step down then we’ll take over’,” he told French RFI radio.

Monday’s violence, the worst since the CNDD came to power, drew broad international condemnation. Former colonial power France said it had cut military cooperation with Guinea and would discuss further measures with European partners.

The African Union has given Camara until mid-October to confirm he will stay out of presidential elections on Jan. 31, and threatened to impose sanctions if he misses the deadline.

“There is too much at stake for the international actors to allow Guinea to enter a downward spiral like Guinea Bissau,” Yale anthropologist and West Africa specialist Mike McGovern said of Guinea’s tiny neighbour, a narcotics hub for Europe characterised by some analysts as close to being a failed state.

“If Guinea goes down, it puts the rest of the region at risk,” McGovern said of its strategic position surrounded by fragile states such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

Despite the unity call, Camara has taken a tough line on opponents since the violence, banning all “subversive” meetings and threatening to punish any opposition troublemakers.

Senior opposition figure Cellou Dalein Diallo, who suffered five broken ribs in Monday’s violence, was prevented by the junta from leaving the country late on Wednesday to receive medical treatment in France, an aide told Reuters.

Obama calls on the world to ban the bomb

US President Barack Obama has said the world must unite to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

At a specially convened summit, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution put forward by Obama calling on states to scrap their atomic arsenals.

Obama also warned the next few months would be critical in the fight against proliferation.

“The world must stand together, we must demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and the treaties will be enforced. The next 12 months will be absolutely critical in determining whether this resolution and our overall efforts to stop the spread and use of nuclear weapons are successful,” Obama said.

It is the first time a US president has chaired such an event and only the fifth time the Security Council has met with heads of state and government.

The Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said: “Russia and the United States have already made unprecedented cuts in their strategic nuclear arsenals. Moreover, we have said many times and I confirm it now, we are ready to move further and to cut the number of carriers of strategic nuclear weapons by up to three times more, this proposal is now on the table for bilateral talks with our American partners.”

Iran and North Korea were not named in the US draft but both countries’ nuclear ambitions are of deep concern to the world’s official atomic powers.

Only yesterday, Russia hinted it might be ready to get tougher with Iran over its weapons programme.

Coast guard exercise rings alarm bells

During the September 11 commemoration service in Washington, a security alert briefly set nerves jangling. Reports were flashed on major TV and radio networks across the world that a suspicious boat had been seen on the nearby Potomac River. It was said that the Coast Guard had opened fire, shooting at least ten times.

But there were no shots, and it was later proved to be a training exercise, one of many which the Coast Guard said are carried out every day, somewhere across the country. They promised an inquiry, but the whole episode shows how jittery America remains, on this day above all.