Briefs, September 30, 2012

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 September, 2012, 4:10am

Islamists abandon their last bastion in Somalia

MOGADISHU - Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shebab fighters yesterday abandoned their last bastion in Somalia, retreating from the port city of Kismayo. The withdrawal from the southern city that has been a key economic lifeline for the insurgents came a day after African Union troops launched a major assault to finally dislodge the rebels. "The military command of Shebab mujahedeen ordered a tactical retreat at midnight", Shebab spokesman said. AFP


Flood toll in southern Spain rises to ten

MADRID - Ten people, including a young girl and an elderly woman, have died in southern Spain as a result of floods brought on by downpours. Five people died in the Andalusia region - a woman in her 80s, a couple found in their car, a man who died of a heart attack and another man in the village of Archidona, near Malaga. Five people have also died in the neighbouring region of Murcia. AFP


Iran paramilitary group taken off US terror list

NEW YORK - The Obama administration granted a victory to a militant Iranian group formerly allied with ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, taking the group off the US terrorism list. The State Department said the Mujahideen-e-Khalq had not committed terrorism for more than a decade and credited its 3,000 members for nearly completing its departure from its paramilitary base near Iraq's Iranian border. AP


Blair 'could have halted Bush invasion of Iraq'

LONDON - Former British prime minister Tony Blair was the only person capable of turning George Bush against the 2003 Iraq invasion, ex-United Nations chief Kofi Annan claimed. He argued in an interview published in The Times newspaper that Blair could have changed Bush's mind because of the special relationship between the two. Annan said he wondered what might have happened if Blair had said, "George, this is where we part company. You're on your own", after the failure to secure a second UN resolution. "I really think it could have stopped the war," he said. AFP


'Paintball' attack on Czech president Klaus

PRAGUE - A man wielding a plastic gun fired pellets at Czech President Vaclav Klaus, hitting him on the arm but causing no injuries. The attacker, named as Pavel Vondrous, who was wearing military camouflage, approached Klaus during a ceremony to open a bridge in Chrastava, a village 100 kilometres north of Prague. He opened fire with a handgun that fires plastic pellets used in a game called Airsoft, similar to paintball. He managed to get within a metre of the leader and was detained by police. Reuters