NATO to hold ceremony closing Afghan mission
Event arranged in secret due to threat of Taliban strikes in Afghan capital, which has been hit by repeated bombings.
Last updated: 28 Dec 2014 07:10
NATO will hold a ceremony in Kabul formally ending its war in Afghanistan, officials said, after 13 years of conflict and gradual troop withdrawals that have left the country in the grip of worsening conflicts with armed groups.
The event was arranged in secret due to the threat of Taliban strikes in the Afghan capital, which has been hit by repeated suicide bombings and gun attacks over recent years.
On January 1, the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission will be replaced by a NATO “training and support” mission.
The closing of NATO’s combat mission comes at the end of the country’s deadliest year during the war, which saw at least 4,600 Afghan soldiers and police killed and many other civilian deaths.
War with Isis: The resilient people of Kobani are proof that the militants can be defeated
Their town may be destroyed but the residents’ spirit is strong
Hermione Gee Kobani Sunday 28 December 2014
Keeping the night watch at a border outpost at the edge of Kobani, one member of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic People’s Units (YPG) stands surveying the surrounding area, despite the near total darkness of the city’s wartime blackout. The triangular yellow flag of the YPG flutters on a small pole above him, a red star at its centre.
“Islamic State [also known as Isis] are over there,” he says, pointing south-east, “less than a kilometre away.” He adds that the first coalition air strikes came at a crucial moment.
“We only had one or two days left when they started bombing,” he explains. “We were out of ammunition, everything.”
After tsunami recovery, Sharia law now defines Aceh province
In 2004, the Indonesian province of Aceh was a civil war zone. Then came the tsunami. Today the region is at peace, but Aceh has established an Islamist government under the eyes of the Jakarta government.
There are hardly any traces left of the biggest natural disaster in Aceh’s history. Several of the ruined villages on the coast have been rebuilt. Modern residential blocks, new mosques, even freshly asphalted roads now cover the area. The markets are full again, the fishermen venture out to sea, and people work in the factories – as if the wave had never come. The wave that, on December 26, 2004, ended the lives of 160,000 people in Aceh alone.
Around $7 billion (5.7 billion euros) in reconstruction aid were sent to the utterly destroyed province from around the world. “Afterwards,” explains Felix Heiduk, Indonesia expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), “there was a reconstruction the likes of which had hardly ever been seen before in the world. If you compare the Aceh of today with the Aceh of before the tsunami, there has been a clear modernization boost in the past few years.”
Snow leaves thousands stranded in Alps
December 28, 2014 – 3:45PM
Paris: Heavy snow in the French Alps has left 15,000 drivers stranded, prompting officials to open emergency shelters and urge travellers to stay at home.
The snow and ice hit as a rush of holidaymakers were heading to or leaving ski resorts in the Savoie region in south-eastern France, where authorities set up shelters in at least 12 towns.
The snow and freezing rain caused the death of a 27-year-old man whose car slid into a ravine in the Belledonne mountain range.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve urged drivers “to exercise the utmost caution” and asked those who could delay their trips to do so.
Iran tests suicide drone in military drill
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s army said Saturday it has deployed a suicide drone for the first time in massive ongoing military drills near the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.
Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, the army’s chief commander of ground forces, described the unmanned aircraft as a “mobile bomb,” according to state media, which said the aerial device is designed to strike air, ground and naval targets.
He did not provide the name of the drone. The conservative Kayhan daily referred to it as the Yasir, while an online news website called it the Raad. Officials could not be reached for comment.
Experts doubt North Korea was behind the big Sony hack
By Brian Todd and Ben Brumfield, CNN
Sure, North Korea’s government despises the movie “The Interview.”
But when its propagandists say it did not hack Sony Pictures before the original release date of the flick that satirizes dictator Kim Jong-un, they might just be telling the truth.
Some U.S. cyber experts say the evidence the FBI has presented to attempt to incriminate hackers working for the communist regime is not enough to pin the blame on Pyongyang.
“It’s clear to us, based on both forensic and other evidence we’ve collected, that unequivocally they are not responsible for orchestrating or initiating the attack on Sony,” said Sam Glines, who runs the cybersecurity company Norse.