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Sunday, October 31, 2010

MORE THAN 50 CATHOLIC PARISHIONERS HELD HOSTAGE IN IRAQ CHURCH; 58 Killed




2000-year-old monastery found in Iraq’s Najaf



By Saadoun al-Jaberi



Azzaman, November 10, 2010



An ancient monastery dating to the 1st century A.D. has been discovered in the religious city of Najaf, an Antiquities Department official says.



Nazar al-Nafakh, Najaf’s leading archaeologist, said the monastery was revealed as bulldozers were leveling ground for Najaf’s new airport.



“It is about 2000 years old,” he said.



So far Nafakh has no clue of the name of the monastery, but Christianity was practiced widely in the area of Najaf south of Baghdad at the time.



The province of Najaf, of which the religious city of Najaf is the capital, has several monasteries but most of them are merely heaps of debris.



A team of Iraqi excavators under archaeologist Shakir Abdulzahra, is working on the site.



“We have brought to surface the monastery’s foundations and have evidence that there were at least 54 rooms in it,” Abdulzahra said.



Ancient monasteries are common historical landmarks in Iraq.



Iraq was predominantly Christian until late 13th century.



Monasteries and Churches were present almost everywhere in the country, particularly in central and southern Iraq.



Today there are a handful of ancient monasteries most of them still inhabited by monks and situated in the restive province of Nineveh of which the city of Mosul is the capital.



At least three of them – Mar (saint) Hormuz, Mar Matti and Mar Behnam – have architectural evidence that dates them back to the 4th century A.D.



The monastery in Najaf will the most ancient ever discovered in Iraq.



Its discovery comes at a time Iraq is losing its Christian minority.



There are few Christians in southern and central Iraq as most of them have either fled the country or escaped to safer areas.
CIA Phoenix* operation in Baghdad


The attack on the Church in Karradah on Sunday 31.10.10 was clearly the work of Al-Qaeda as it was suicidal. But the carefully orchestrated 20-car bomb explosions on Tuesday night 02.01.10 was the work of CIA dirty-work squads which Bush had formed but Obama didn’t dissolve. While Al-Qaeda claimed credit for the attack on the Church, no-one claims credit for CIA-sponsored attacks. It is not the first time that such attacks are carried out by the dirty-work squads which work closely with Iraqi CIA formed by Dr Ayad Allawi.

In fact the Saudis and the Americans insist that Dr Allawai must remain holding the security portfolio. Besides being an agent to MI-6 and CIA, Dr Allawi’s associates are the most corrupt in Iraq with huge investments in the US, UK, Jordan and the Arab Gulf Emirates. The Iraqis are fed up with those who entered Baghdad behind US tanks. And as long as no Iraqi nationalist is allowed to participate in the government, all US-formed governments will fail to stop the violence. The in general Iraqis blame the US occupation for what is happening.


* During the 60's and 70's the CIA carried out bombings and killings on a large scale in Vietnam in operation Phoenix. One source estimated the death toll of close to 1800 Vietnamese a-week.

Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times





IRAQI ARMY COMMANDER SAYS POLICE OPERATION TO STORM BAGHDAD CHURCH HELD BY GUNMEN SUCCEEDS; ALL HOSTAGES RELEASED


US forces say up to 24 dead in Iraq church attack
31 Oct 2010 20:59:10 GMT
Source: Reuters
BAGHDAD, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. military in Iraq said on Sunday that up to 24 people were killed in a church hostage taking incident in Baghdad, including up to 10 hostages.

It said in a statement that seven Iraqi security forces were killed, and between five and seven insurgents. At least 120 people were inside the church at the time of the attack, and up to 30 were wounded, it said. (Reporting by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Serena Chaudhry)



=================


Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi security forces stormed a Catholic church Sunday where gunmen suspected of having ties to al Qaeda were holding worshippers hostage, ending an hours-long standoff, police officials said Sunday.

Thirty-seven people were killed in the operation, including hostages, kidnappers and security workers, they said. At least seven of the victims were hostages, police officials said, while another 57 were wounded.

Eight suspects were arrested.

"All the marks point out that this incident carries the fingerprints of al Qaeda," Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Obeidi said on state television Sunday.

He said that most of the hostages were killed or wounded when the kidnappers set off explosives inside the church.

An American military spokesman said that as many as 10 hostages died and that between 20 and 30 people were injured in the operation. Seven Iraqi security workers and between five and seven "enemy" were also killed, said Lt. Col. Eric Bloom.

Survivors of the ordeal said they were about to begin Sunday night services when the gunmen entered the church, according to Martin Chulov, a journalist for the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper who was on the scene. About 50 people were inside the church at the time, and a priest ushered them into a back room, Chulov reported survivors said.

The U.S. military spokesman said that as many as 120 people were taken hostage.

At one point, one of the gunmen entered the room and threw an unidentified explosive device inside, causing casualties, Chulov said.

The gunmen seized the hostages after attacking the Baghdad Stock Market in the central part of the Iraqi capital, earlier Sunday, police said. Four armed men entered the nearby Sayidat al-Nejat church after clashing with Iraqi security forces trying to repel the stock market attack.

The gunmen were demanding that the Iraqi government release a number of detainees and prisoners inside Iraqi prisons, saying the Christian hostages would be freed in return, according to the police officials. Iraq's defense minister later said on state television that the kidnappers had demanded the release of a number of prisoners in both Iraq and Egypt.

Iraqi security forces sealed off the area surrounding the church, the officials said, and buildings were evacuated of civilians as a precautionary measure. At least 13 hostages, including two children, managed to escape ahead of the security operation, police said.

The Iraqi authorities ordered the attackers to release the hostages and to turn themselves in, warning that they would storm the church if they do not comply. A few hours passed quietly as military units took up positions outside the church, including several American units, said Chulov.

"Then all hell broke loose," he said. A firefight erupted and Chulov said he heard three to four large explosions. Later, he saw about 20 ambulances race away from the scene.

The American military spokesman minimized the role U.S. troops played in the operation.

"The U.S. only provided UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) support with video imagery. As always we have advisers with the ISF (Iraqi security forces) command teams," said Bloom.

While the U.S. combat mission in Iraq officially ended earlier this year, some 50,000 American troops are expected to remain in the country until the end of 2011 to train, assist and advise Iraqi troops.

Two guards were killed and four others were wounded in the earlier attack on the stock market, according to the police officials.

The attackers also remotely detonated two car bombs outside the stock exchange, they said.


===========


Fifty-two killed in Iraq church raid
01 Nov 2010 10:26:48 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Al Qaeda affiliate claims responsibility

* Attackers hid among children, says source

(Adds Christian lawmaker comments, background)

By Muhanad Mohammed

BAGHDAD, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Fifty-two hostages and police officers were killed when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics held by al Qaeda-linked gunmen, a deputy interior minister said on Monday.

Lieutenant General Hussein Kamal said 67 people were also wounded in the raid on the church, which was seized by guerrillas during Sunday mass in the bloodiest attack in Iraq since August. The death toll was many times higher than that given overnight in the hours after the raid.

The gunmen took hostages at the Our Lady of Salvation Church, one of Baghdad's largest and demanded the release of al Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.

"This death toll is for civilians and security force members. We don't differentiate between police and civilians. They are all Iraqis," Kamal said, adding the number did not include dead attackers.

At least one bomb exploded at the start of the siege. Sporadic gunfire rang out for several hours over the Karrada neighbourhood near the heavily fortified Green Zone district where many embassies and government offices are located.

U.S. and Iraqi military helicopters thundered overhead as security forces cordoned off the area.

A federal police source who declined to be identified said Sunday's rescue operation was extremely difficult.

"The attackers were among children, armed with weapons," the source said. "Most of the casualties were killed or wounded when the security forces raided the place."

Iraq's Christian minority has frequently been targeted by militants, with churches bombed and priests assassinated.

"While I was trying to find my way out, in the dark, I walked over bodies," a Christian woman who was one of the hostages told Reuters late on Sunday, asking not to be identified. "There are many bodies there."

Officials say some of the attackers blew up explosives vests or threw grenades during the raid.

CHRISTIAN LAWMAKER CRITICAL

Officials said the attackers threatened to kill the 120 hostages unless al Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt were freed.

A Christian lawmaker denounced the performance of Iraqi security forces in the incident and said the lack of a new government in Iraq almost eight months after an inconclusive election was being exploited by insurgents.

"This operation hits at the credibility of the government and its ability to handle, preserve and impose security and the enforcement of law," the member of parliament, Younadam Kana, said.

"Because of their lack of professionalism, and the hasty action taken by security forces in freeing the hostages, many innocent people were killed."


The failure of Iraqi leaders to agree on a new government so long after the March election has stoked tensions just as U.S. forces cut back their presence and end combat operations ahead of a full withdrawal next year.

Although violence has fallen sharply since the height of sectarian bloodshed in 2006-07, attacks by Sunni insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Shi'ite militia continue daily.

Sunday's attack followed the bombing of a cafe in Diyala province on Friday in which 22 people died, interrupting a relatively long period without a major assault by suspected Sunni Islamist insurgents.

The last high-profile suicide bombing took place on Sept. 5 when insurgents stormed an army base in Baghdad.

Al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack on "the dirty den of idolatry".

It said in a statement posted on radical Islamic websites that it was an action against the Coptic church in Egypt, which it seemed to accuse of imprisoning Muslim women. (Additional reporting by Suadad al-Salhy and Waleed Ibrahim; Writing by Michael Christie and Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Peter Graff)

============





Fifty-two killed in Iraq church raid


Hostages held in Iraqi church siege
2:41am EDT

By Muhanad Mohammed

BAGHDAD | Mon Nov 1, 2010 6:28am EDT

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Fifty-two hostages and police officers were killed when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics held by al Qaeda-linked gunmen, a deputy interior minister said on Monday.

Lieutenant General Hussein Kamal said 67 people were also wounded in the raid on the church, which was seized by guerrillas during Sunday mass in the bloodiest attack in Iraq since August. The death toll was many times higher than that given overnight in the hours after the raid.

The gunmen took hostages at the Our Lady of Salvation Church, one of Baghdad's largest and demanded the release of al Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.

"This death toll is for civilians and security force members. We don't differentiate between police and civilians. They are all Iraqis," Kamal said, adding the number did not include dead attackers.

At least one bomb exploded at the start of the siege. Sporadic gunfire rang out for several hours over the Karrada neighborhood near the heavily fortified Green Zone district where many embassies and government offices are located.

U.S. and Iraqi military helicopters thundered overhead as security forces cordoned off the area.

A federal police source who declined to be identified said Sunday's rescue operation was extremely difficult.

"The attackers were among children, armed with weapons," the source said. "Most of the casualties were killed or wounded when the security forces raided the place."

Iraq's Christian minority has frequently been targeted by militants, with churches bombed and priests assassinated.

"While I was trying to find my way out, in the dark, I walked over bodies," a Christian woman who was one of the hostages told Reuters late on Sunday, asking not to be identified. "There are many bodies there."

Officials say some of the attackers blew up explosives vests or threw grenades during the raid.

CHRISTIAN LAWMAKER CRITICAL

Officials said the attackers threatened to kill the 120 hostages unless al Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt were freed.

A Christian lawmaker denounced the performance of Iraqi security forces in the incident and said the lack of a new government in Iraq almost eight months after an inconclusive election was being exploited by insurgents.

"This operation hits at the credibility of the government and its ability to handle, preserve and impose security and the enforcement of law," the member of parliament, Younadam Kana, said.


==

Pope Benedict condemned Sunday's attack in remarks to pilgrims gathered to hear his prayer in St Peter's Square for the Catholic All Saints' Day holiday.

"I pray for the victims of this senseless violence, made even more ferocious because it struck defenseless people who were gathered in the house of God, which is a house of love and reconciliation," he said.

Although violence in Iraq has fallen sharply since the height of sectarian bloodshed in 2006-07, attacks by Sunni insurgents and Shi'ite militia continue daily.

The failure of Iraqi leaders to agree on a new government since an inconclusive March election has added to tension just as U.S. forces cut back their presence and ended combat operations ahead of a full withdrawal next year.

A Christian lawmaker denounced the performance of Iraqi forces and said insurgents were exploiting the political vacuum.

"This operation hits at the credibility of the government and its ability to handle, preserve and impose security and the enforcement of law," member of parliament Younadam Kana said.

"Because of their lack of professionalism, and the hasty action taken by security forces in freeing the hostages, many innocent people were killed."

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Iraq would not be deterred from clawing its way out of bloodshed and violence.

"This crime of terrorism was aimed at destabilizing security and stability and creating chaos and driving Iraqis from their homeland," Maliki said in a statement, demanding vigilance from Iraq's security forces.

Sunday's attack followed the bombing of a cafe in Diyala province on Friday in which 22 people died, interrupting a relatively long period without a major assault by suspected Sunni Islamist insurgents.

The previous high-profile suicide bombing took place on September 5 when insurgents stormed an army base in Baghdad.

(Additional reporting by Suadad al-Salhy, Waleed Ibrahim, Ahmed Rasheed and Reuters Television; Writing by Michael Christie and Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Peter Graff)



=============




INTERVIEW-Iraqi cardinal denounces church attack
01 Nov 2010 19:43:12 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Denounces attack that killed 52 people

* Says security in Iraq crucial for peace and stability

By Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD, Nov 1 (Reuters) - The leader of Iraq's Catholics denounced on Monday the attack on a church in Baghdad that killed 52 people, calling for security in the country to be stepped up.

Sunday's al Qaeda attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church during mass was the bloodiest against Iraqi Christians in the seven years of sectarian war that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, church officials said.

"We denounce the killing of (this) large number of innocent people and the attack against those who were praying and asking God for love and peace," Emmanuel III Delly, the Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad, told Reuters.

"What I have asked for before and what I'm still asking for is that protection must be provided immediately for all believers and all people without exception," he said after visiting the blood-splattered church.

The raid on the Assyrian Catholic church, one of Baghdad's largest, lasted several hours and ended with police storming the church to free more than 100 hostages seized by the guerrillas.

Lieutenant General Hussein Kamal, a deputy interior minister, said 52 hostages and police were killed and 67 wounded.

"What happened in the church is tormenting for us. We feel resentful for what happened against innocent Christians as equally we feel sorry for what is happening to our Muslim brothers," Delly said.

Iraq's Christians, who once numbered 1.5 million out of a total Iraqi population of 30 million, have frequently been targeted by militants since the invasion, with churches bombed and priests assassinated. Many have fled.

While overall violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since the peak of sectarian bloodshed in 2006-07, concerns remain that a political vacuum eight months after an inconclusive election is being exploited by insurgents.

Iraq's main Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurd factions have so far been unable to agree on the formation of a new government, adding to tension as U.S. forces reduce their presence and end combat operations before a full withdrawal next year.

Attacks by Sunni insurgents and Shi'ite militia continue.

"If there is no security, then no peace, stability or prosperity can be achieved," Delly said.

Christian denominations in Iraq include Chaldeans, Copts, Roman and Melkite Catholics, Maronites and Greek Orthodox. (Writing by Serena Chaudhry)


=========================


Iraqi Christians mourn after church siege kills 58
78 wounded in standoff
An Iraqi man is consoled by friends at the scene of a car bomb attack Monday in front of a Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad. Islamic militants held about 120 Iraqi Christians hostage in a church Sunday before security forces freed them, ending a standoff that left dozens of people dead. (Associated Press)An Iraqi man is consoled by friends at the scene of a car bomb attack Monday in front of a Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad. Islamic militants held about 120 Iraqi Christians hostage in a church Sunday before security forces freed them, ending a standoff that left dozens of people dead. (Associated Press)

By Barbara Surk and Hamid Ahmed

-

Associated Press

5:26 p.m., Monday, November 1, 2010

Do you think Republicans will win control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday?


BAGHDAD | Iraq's dwindling Christian community was grieving and afraid Monday after militants seized a Baghdad church during evening Mass, held the congregation hostage and triggered a raid by Iraqi security forces. The bloodbath left at least 58 people dead and 78 wounded — nearly everyone inside.

The attack, claimed by an al Qaeda-linked group, was the deadliest recorded against Iraq's Christians, whose numbers have plummeted since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as the community has fled to other countries.

Pope Benedict XVI denounced the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church as "ferocious" and called for renewed international efforts to broker peace in the region.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also condemned the siege, saying it was an attempt to drive more Christians out of the country.

Islamic militants have systematically attacked Christians in Iraq since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime. Catholics made up 2.89 percent of Iraq's population in 1980; by 2008 they were merely 0.89 percent.
Workers carry a coffin out of Our Lady of Salvation Church the morning after its congregation was taken hostage Sunday in Baghdad. Dozens of people were killed, including a priest, before Iraqi security forces ended the standoff. (Associated Press)Workers carry a coffin out of Our Lady of Salvation Church the morning after its congregation was taken hostage Sunday in Baghdad. Dozens of people were killed, including a priest, before Iraqi security forces ended the standoff. (Associated Press)

Sunday's bloodbath began at dusk, when a car bomb went off in the area, and then militants wearing suicide vests and armed with grenades attacked the Iraqi stock exchange.

The car bombing and the attack on the stock exchange, in which only two guards were injured, may have been an attempt by the militants to divert attention from their real target — the nearby church, in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood.

That attack soon followed. The gunmen went inside the church and took about 120 Christians hostage.

At least 58 people were killed, including 12 policemen as well as five bystanders thought to have been killed by the car bombing and blasts outside the church before the attackers stormed inside. Forty-one Christians inside the church also died, including two priests.

It was unclear whether most hostages died before or during the rescue.

===
An Iraqi official who was on the scene as the hostage drama unfolded said he talked on a cell phone with one of the hostages during the siege. He said the hostage described how insurgents began shooting wildly when they went into the church and said he could see about 40 wounded people lying around him on the floor.

The Iraqi official said he then spoke on the phone to one of the militants. During the four-minute conversation, the militant demanded that Iraqi authorities release its al Qaeda prisoners and stressed that all female prisoners should be released immediately. The official said he judged by the militant's accent and speech that he was not Iraqi.

When Iraqi special forces joined police and other officials already on the scene, they heard gunshots and decided to enter the church "to prevent the further loss of innocent lives," said Army Lt. Col. Terry L. Conder, a spokesman for U.S. special forces.

When the Iraqis stormed the building, the militants were shooting at the hostages, the Iraqi official said.



=============


By BARBARA SURK and LARA JAKES, Associated Press Barbara Surk And Lara Jakes, Associated Press – 19 mins ago

BAGHDAD – After the gunmen killed the priest and nearly everyone in the first row, an eerie quiet descended over the pews. The only occasional sounds were sporadic gunfire, the muffled cries of the hostages and the shouts of Islamic militants — sometimes over their cell phones.

Suddenly the lights went out. Iraqi forces began entering the building, telling parishioners: "We will save you."

Then a shattering blast shook the church as a suicide bomber set off his explosives.

By the time the siege of Our Lady of Salvation church was over Sunday night, 58 people were dead and 78 wounded — nearly everyone inside the building.

The attack, claimed by an al-Qaida-linked organization, was the deadliest recorded against Iraq's Christians since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion unleashed a wave of violence against them.

The scope of the slaughter only became clear on Monday after a long night of confusion and conflicting reports. Iraqi officials had initially provided a much lower death toll.

Pope Benedict XVI denounced the militants' assault as "ferocious," the White House condemned it as "senseless" and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said it harkened back to the days of sectarian warfare between Muslim sects.

Christians who cowered for hours inside the stone building that used to be their peaceful sanctuary wondered why they were yet again the target of violence.

"They are criminals and more than criminals. What type of man kills people at prayer? What have we done to receive this?" said Aida Jameel, a 65-year-old Christian woman who was shot in her leg.

The violence began around 5:30 Sunday evening in what a senior Iraqi security official said appeared to be a suicide mission.

The official described the attack as it unfolded based on a preliminary internal investigation by Iraqi authorities that depended, in part, on statements from survivors. His chilling account was verified by other Iraqi security officials at the scene, the U.S. military in Baghdad, and interviews of survivors who spoke to The Associated Press.

Shortly before sunset, the gunmen drove a black Jeep Cherokee to the church. They blew it up, destroying their getaway car, and set off four small bombs in the neighborhood. In a brief shootout at the nearby Iraq stock exchange, the militants wounded two policemen.

Seven or eight militants then charged through the front doors of the church, interrupting the evening Mass service. They rushed down the aisle, brandishing their machine guns and spraying the room with bullets.

They ordered the priest to call the Vatican to demand the release of Muslim women who they claimed were being held captive by the Coptic church in Egypt. When the priest said he could not do that, the gunmen shot him and turned their guns on the congregation, killing most of those in the front pew.

One woman told investigators she survived only because her father wrapped himself around her body in a shield that ultimately killed him.

During the next three hours, Iraqi military officials tried to negotiate with the insurgents who refused to back off their demands. The gunmen also called reporters from the Egypt-based satellite TV al-Baghdadiya channel. The channel's Baghdad office went off the air Monday in a dispute with Iraqi authorities about their role in the incident.

"I only heard people weeping, probably because they were hurt and in pain," said Rauf Naamat, one of the worshippers. "Most people were too afraid to produce a sound. They feared militants would kill them, if they heard them."

More than three hours into the attack, Iraqi security forces turned off the lights. Naamat said he could hear a voice telling parishioners: "We are Iraqi forces. Stand up and keep quiet. We will save you."

He said he saw a militant approach the security forces as they made their way to the altar. The man then detonated his explosives best, unleashing a massive blast.

There were conflicting accounts of anywhere from one to seven gunmen blowing themselves up. According to two security officials, most of the deaths took place in the basement where a gunman killed about 30 hostages when Iraqi forces began to enter the church. One official said the gunman set off an explosives vest he was wearing, but the other said the gunman threw two grenades at his hostages.

Younadem Kana, a Christian member of the Iraqi parliament, condemned the rescue operation as "hasty" and "not professional."

But U.S. and Iraqi officials said they had to act because they heard gunshots from inside the church and knew the militants were shooting hostages.

It was not possible to confirm or contradict this account from the accounts of survivors. One witness said there was sporadic gunfire during the siege.

Iraqi special forces stormed the church "to prevent the further loss of innocent lives," said Lt. Col. Terry L. Conder, a spokesman for U.S. special forces. He said the Iraqi commando teams rescued 70 hostages.

Authorities worked through the night to remove the bodies. All that was left of the Jeep outside was a pile of mangled metal.

The 58 people who died included 12 policemen and five bystanders from the car bombing and other blasts outside the church. Forty-one Christians inside the church also died, including two priests.

Baghdad military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said five suspects were arrested in connection with the attack — some of whom were not Iraqi.

A cryptically worded statement posted late Sunday on a militant website allegedly by the Islamic State of Iraq appeared to claim responsibility for the attack.

The group, which is linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, said it would "exterminate Iraqi Christians" if Muslim women in Egypt were not freed.

It specifically mentioned two women who extremists maintain have converted to Islam and are being held against their will in Egypt.

Even for a nation used to daily violence after years of war, Sunday's church killings at the hands of Islamic militants shocked Iraqis and forced Christians around the world to take notice.

Grieving and afraid, Iraqi Christians said Monday they may now join what Catholic officials estimate is more than 1 million fellow worshippers who have been driven out of the country by Islamic militants since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

"It was a massacre in there," said Raed Hadi, whose cousin was killed in the attack. "We Christians don't have enough protection. ... What shall I do now? Leave and ask for asylum?"

In an interview, Iraq's top Catholic prelate, Chaldean Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, encouraged the country's remaining 1.5 million Christians to stay.

"We have never seen anything like it, militants attacking God's house with worshippers praying for peace," Delly said.

The number of Arab Christians has plummeted across the Mideast in recent years as many seek to move to the West. The exodus has been particularly stark in Iraq, where Christians historically made up a large portion of the country's middle class, including key jobs as doctors, engineers, intellectuals and civil servants.

The sorrow that swept Iraq on Monday was felt far beyond its Christian community. Many Muslims also denounced the killings as senseless.

"These people do not value human life and have no respect for any religion," Baghdad's governor, Salah Abdul-Razzaq, said after visiting the church. "They say they are Muslims, but they killed here in cold blood."

___

Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana and Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad, Sameer N. Yacoub in Amman, Jordan and Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Boston contributed to this report.


===============



Iraq probes church raid; says attackers disguised
02 Nov 2010 14:25:59 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Investigation launched into attack

* Attackers wore private security guard uniform

* Conflicting reports on final death toll

By Waleed Ibrahim

BAGHDAD, Nov 2 (Reuters) -Iraq launched an investigation on Tuesday into a church raid in which 52 hostages and police were killed, trying to find out how al Qaeda-linked gunmen managed to storm the building despite checkpoints, an official said.

Sunday's attack was the bloodiest against Iraq's Christian minority since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and drove fear deep into the hearts of many Iraqi Christians who had so far resisted the urge to flee their war-torn country.

Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said the assailants were disguised as guards working for a private security firm and carried fake ids.

"We have formed an investigation to uncover details of the attack and if we discover anyone has been negligent or complicit, he will be held strictly accountable," Moussawi said.

"We have many question marks about how such a large number of terrorists managed to reach the church in the heart of Baghdad," he said.

Defence Minister Abdel Qader Jassim said the authorities ordered the detention of the police commander in charge of the district where the church attack took place for questioning, a standard procedure after high-profile attacks.

Gunmen tied to an Iraqi al Qaeda offshoot seized hostages at the Our Lady of Salvation Church, a Syrian Catholic cathedral, during Sunday mass, demanding the release of women they said had converted to Islam but were being detained by the Coptic church in Egypt. Early reports said they also sought the release of al Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt. [ID:nLDE6A01R6]

The attack, which lasted several hours, ended when security forces raided the church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics.

The siege was far from being one of the bloodiest incidents in the 7-1/2 years of sectarian warfare and insurgency unleashed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and in which tens of thousands of Iraqis died, the vast majority Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims.

But it has provoked a worldwide outburst of anguish and cast a spotlight on Iraq's fragile stability as the sectarian bloodshed recedes and U.S. forces scale down their presence ahead of a full withdrawal next year.

Iraq is still waiting for politicians to agree on a new government almost eight months after an inconclusive election, creating a political vacuum that Sunni Islamist insurgents have sought to exploit through devastating assaults.

Some security officials said most of Sunday's casualties occurred during the raid, either when assailants wearing suicide vests blew themselves up or threw grenades, or in the ensuing gunfight. Other reports on Tuesday said the gunmen might have started to kill the hostages en masse before the police raid. Communications authorities ordered the closure of an Iraqi TV channel, al-Baghdadiya, that they accused of broadcasting a report about the rescue mission before it began.

The Communications and Media Commission said the report might have "pushed the attackers into speeding up their plans to kill their hostages and blow up the church, forcing the security forces to storm the church ..."

PROFESSIONAL

Moussawi said investigations so far had shown the attackers, who he said were 10 in number and included five suicide bombers, were well prepared. Five were arrested.

"The terrorists were professional. They were carrying fake identity cards and also fake official letters, and they were wearing the uniforms of private security guards," Moussawi said.

Reports on the final death toll were confusing on Tuesday.

Deputy Health Minister Khamis al-Saad said 34 people were killed and 77 wounded. The defence minister said 34 civilians and 9 security force members died.

A deputy interior minister said on Monday that 52 police and hostages had died.

The conflicting numbers provided by the health ministry could be a result of a delay in hospitals sending through paperwork on the death certificates they had issued.

"Nowhere is safe anymore, not even the House of God," the auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad of the Chaldeans, Shlemon Warduni, told Vatican Radio.

"This attack will have a very negative influence on those who until now had chosen to remain in Baghdad, with many saying they are ready to leave." (Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, Aseel Kami and Suadad al-Salhy in Baghdad, Tom Heneghan in Paris; Writing by Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Michael Christie)


========



FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Nov 10
10 Nov 2010 09:49:35 GMT
Source: Reuters
Nov 10 (Reuters) - Following are security developments in Iraq as of 0930 GMT on Wednesday.

BAGHDAD - Two mortar rounds landed in a Christian enclave in Baghdad's southern Doura district, wounding five people, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD - A bomb wounded a Christian man when it exploded near his house in Baghdad's southern Doura district, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD - Two bombs went off near a Christian family's house, wounding two members of the family, in eastern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD - A bomb went off near the home of a Christian family, wounding four, in Baghdad's Doura district, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD - Three Christians were wounded by a bomb in the Adhamiya district of northern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD - Two bombs went off near the house of a Christian family in Baghdad's central Karrada district, wounding two members of the family, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD - Two bombs exploded in Baghdad's central Karrada district, killing two Christians and wounding four, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD - Two bombs went off near a church, wounding two Christians, in Baghdad's eastern Camp Sara district, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD - One Christian was killed and two were wounded when two bombs went off near their homes in Baghdad's eastern Camp Sara district, an Interior Ministry source said.

GARMA - Gunmen shot dead Abbas Mahmoud, the imam of a Sunni mosque in the town of Garma, 30 km (20 miles) northwest of Baghdad, a police source said.

BAGHDAD - Three bombs went off near the home of a Christian family in Baghdad's west-central Mansour district on Tuesday and wounded three people, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD - A car bomb went off near the house of a Christian family, killing one person and wounded five, in Baghdad's western Amiriya district on Tuesday night, an Interior Ministry source said.

(Compiled by Baghdad newsroom)

Suicide bomber wounds 22 in Istanbul's main square

31 Oct 2010 11:55:16 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Ten police, 12 civilians wounded - Istanbul police chief

* Suspected suicide bomber was probably male - police say

(Adds Erdogan commments, quotes, details, background)

Mehmet Caliskan

ISTANBUL, Oct 31 (Reuters) - A suspected suicide bomber targeting Turkish police wounded 22 people in the centre of Istanbul on Sunday.

No organisation has claimed responsibility, officials said, though the city has been targeted by Kurdish separatist militants, al Qaeda and other groups in the past.

"It was a suicide bomb and it appears as if the bomber blew himself up. It appears to be a male body," Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin told reporters.

Twelve civilians and 10 policemen were wounded in the attack in Taksim Square, Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters.

The blast occurred in mid morning, next to a Republic Monument celebrating Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, and victory in the war of independence in 1923.

Cell phone footage taken just after the explosion showed a woman lying close to the monument bleeding from her leg, and a policeman also lying with blood streaming from his head.

A taxi driver told CNN Turk news channel he saw a 30 to 33 year-old man approach the police to ask directions, at which point the bomb detonated.

Another witness said two men had approached the police.

CNN-Turk said a second bomb was found close to the dead bomber, but state-run Anatolian news agency said parts of a bomb were found and it was unclear if it was part of the exploded bomb or a second device.

Taksim square is a major tourist attraction and transport hub, surrounded by restaurants, shops and hotels, and at the heart of modern Istanbul.

RALLYING CALL

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was visiting the city of Mardin, in the mainly Kurdish southeast at the time of the blast.

"Those who threaten Turkey's peace, security and development will not be tolerated," he said in a televised speech. "These kinds of attacks will not stop Turkey reaching its goals of peace, brotherhood and development. We are together, we are brothers."

Istanbul is the business and financial centre of Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim nation of 75 million people that is hoping to become a member of the European Union.

The city has been targeted before by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels, but the separatist group extended a unilateral ceasefire last month, and on Saturday said it would announce in the coming days whether to extend if further.

The PKK have used for suicide bombers attacks on security forces in the past, but not for many years.

Other groups, including al Qaeda, have also attacked the city. Al Qaeda suicide bombers carried out a series of attacks in Istanbul in November 2003 that killed 62 people and wounded hundreds.

Capkin said two of the wounded were in a serious condition, but there were no dead among the victims. The bomber appeared to be a man, and the blast was close to a police vehicle, he said.

A bomb disposal unit was also at the scene, and television pictures showed security forces directing emergency services at the square, which was sealed off after the blast.

Erdal Canbaz was serving customers in his restaurant, one of many surrounding Taksim, when the blast occurred.

"We were working when the explosion happened. It was very strong. Our restaurant shook and we were very scared," Canbaz said.

In recent weeks Turkish police have made several arrests of people suspected of providing support to al Qaeda militants fighting in Afghanistan.

Turkey, with its democratic foundation and orientation towards the West, is not a natural breeding ground for Islamist militancy.

While Erdogan's brand of religious conservatism has opened a door to the Islamic Middle East, it gives no quarter to the likes of al Qaeda. (Reporting by Simon Cameron-Moore, Alexandra Hudson and Daren Butler; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

NATO says kills 30 insurgents after attack on base

30 Oct 2010 08:20:31 GMT
Source: Reuters
KABUL, Oct 30, (Reuters) - NATO-led troops killed more than 30 insurgents when their base was attacked in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, the coalition said, with the Taliban claiming responsibility for the assault. Five NATO troops were also wounded in attack when their outpost in Paktika province came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades, gunfire and mortars, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

Rising violence and record casualties among foreign troops and civilians are likely to weigh heavily on U.S. President Barack Obama's review of his Afghanistan war strategy in December, as well as at a NATO summit in Lisbon next month.

"Insurgents attacked from all directions with rocket-propelled grenades, small arms and mortar fire," ISAF said." Initial operational reporting indicates more than 30 insurgents were killed in the failed attack."

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For more stories on Afghanistan and Pakisan click [ID:nAFPAK] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Afghan army general Zemarai, who has only one name, said the bodies of at least 15 insurgents were seen lying on the battlefield after the attack. Afghan troops were still collecting bodies at the site, ISAF said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Islamist group had attacked the base, claiming that six police outposts had been overrun in the attack.

Speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location, Mujahid said Taliban fighters had inflicted "high casualties" on ISAF and Afghan forces but gave no further dertails. He said eight Taliban fighters had been killed.

The Taliban often make exaggerated or unconfirmed claims about such attacks.

The Taliban and other insurgents such as the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network have launched a series of brazen assaults on foreign bases and government buildings in the past year in a bid to topple the government and force out foreign troops.

Last month, five suicide bombers were killed during an attack on a similar-sized base in neighbouring Paktia province to the north of Paktika.

Fighting in Afghanistan's war is at its most intense since the conflict began in 2001 when U.S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban. More than 2,000 foreign troops have been killed since the war began, over half of those in the last two years.

(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Packages from Yemen probed as possible terror plot

By EILEEN SULLIVAN and MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Eileen Sullivan And Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press – 26 mins ago



WASHINGTON – Authorities on three continents are investigating whether suspicious packages shipped from Yemen to Chicago religious sites are part of a terrorist plot.

Officials were investigating whether two packages — one described as containing a toner cartridge with wires attached and powder — were mailed as part of an attempted attack or a dry run for a future attack.

No explosives have been found in the U.S. Packages in England and Dubai continue to be tested.

Yemen is home to the al-Qaida branch that tried to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas.

The packages were discovered in England and Dubai late Thursday after a foreign intelligence service picked up information related to Yemen and passed it on to the U.S., one official said.

U.S. national security officials alerted President Barack Obama to a "potential terrorist threat" after they were found, the White House said. Obama planned a public statement on the developments later Friday.

The two packages were addressed to Chicago religious sites, Chicago FBI spokesman Ross Rice said. Both were sent from the same address in Yemen, and one of the packages was addressed to a synagogue, said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

The package in England, discovered aboard a plane in East Midlands about two hours north of London, contained a toner cartridge with wires and powder. It was found during routine screening of cargo in England, prompting authorities to scour three planes and a truck in the United States on Friday, U.S. officials said.

"The president directed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security, to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and to determine whether these threats are a part of any additional terrorist plotting," the White House said in a statement.

Yemeni officials said they launched a terrorism investigation and Scotland Yard said its investigators were testing a number of items seized from the plane in East Midlands.

In the U.S., searches were conducted in Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., and New York City. Local officials said all of the suspicious items and planes that were searched have been given the "all clear."
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"As a precaution, DHS has taken a number of steps to enhance security," the Homeland Security Department said in a statement. "Some of these security measures will be visible while others will not."

Since the failed Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner, Yemen has been a focus for U.S. counterterrorism officials. Before that attack, the U.S. regarded al-Qaida's branch in Yemen as primarily a threat in the region, not to the United States.

The Yemen branch known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has since become a leading source of terrorist propaganda and recruiting. Authorities believe about 300 al-Qaida members or cells operate in Yemen.

The Yemeni government has stepped up counterterrorism operations, with help from the U.S. military and intelligence officials. Mohammed Shayba, general-director of the state airline's cargo department, said the government is conducting an investigation.

"Those in charge are in constant meetings and they are investigating and taking the issue seriously," he told The Associated Press.

Sarah Furbank, a passenger who was about to board a plane out of East Midlands Airport, said she had noticed an increased security presence.

There were "quite a few police cars round the edge" of the airport, Furbank told The Associated Press. "Apparently there was an incident earlier according to staff but they didn't go into detail."

___

Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale, Randy Pennell and Jonathan Poet in Philadelphia, Joshua Freed in Minneapolis, Colleen Long in New York, Shawn Marsh in Trenton, N.J., Ahmed al-Haj in San'a, Yemen, Lolita Baldor in Washington, and Sylvia Hui, Jill Lawless, Paisley Dodds, Greg Katzand and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.

(This version corrects spelling of last name Rice.)

Death toll from Iraq suicide attack reaches 22

29 Oct 2010 18:44:08 GMT
Source: Reuters
BAGHDAD, Oct 29 (Reuters) - The number of people killed when a suicide bomber attacked an Iraqi cafe northeast of Baghdad on Friday reached 22, with more than 45 injured, a provincial official said.

Muthana al-Timimi, head of the security committee of the Diyala provincial council, said there might have been a second attack by another suicide bomber on the hospital where the wounded from the cafe blast were taken. Other officials could not confirm the second explosion. (Reporting by Muhanad Mohammed; Editing by Michael Christie)


================


Suicide bomber kills 22 in attack on Iraqi cafe
29 Oct 2010 20:27:34 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Attack on cafe frequented by Shi'ite Kurds

* First major assault since Sept. 5

(Updates wounded, adds background, hospital overwhelmed)

By Muhanad Mohammed

BAGHDAD, Oct 29 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber blew himself up in an Iraqi cafe usually packed with Shi'ite Kurds in a town northeast of Baghdad on Friday, killing at least 22 people and wounding 60, officials said.

The blast in the Diyala town of Balad Ruz was the first major suicide bomb attack in Iraq since early September, as political factions continue to tussle over positions and power almost eight months after an inconclusive election.

Small bombings and assassinations have, however, continued daily following the formal end of U.S. combat operations on Aug. 31, 7-1/2 years after the U.S.-led invasion that triggered ferocious sectarian warfare in Iraq.

"I was near the cafe and suddenly a big explosion happened inside and there was chaos in the area," said Sadeq Abbas, a 41-year-old Kurd from Balad Ruz, which lies roughly halfway to the Iranian border from the volatile city of Baquba.

"Security forces started shooting in the air to disperse the crowd and prevent people from going near the cafe," Abbas said by telephone.

The cafe, a popular venue for playing dominoes, smoking sisha pipes and drinking sweet tea, was destroyed, said Colonel Kadhim Bashir Saleh, a spokesman in Baghdad of Iraq's civil defence force.

Overall violence has fallen sharply in Iraq since bloodshed between once dominant Sunnis and majority Shi'ites peaked in 2006-07, but March's election that produced no outright winner and as yet no new government has stoked tensions.

Incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, is locked in a battle with a Sunni-backed cross-sectarian alliance led by former premier Iyad Allawi to see who can form a coalition government.

Minority Kurds, who have played a kingmaker role in Iraqi politics since the invasion ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, are being courted by both coalitions but appear more likely to side with Maliki and his Shi'ite-led alliance.

DIYALA A VOLATILE MIX

Kurds have frequently been targeted by Sunni Islamist groups like al Qaeda seeking to foment ethno-sectarian violence. Diyala's turbulent mix of Sunnis and Shi'ites, and Arabs and Kurds, has made it difficult to bring peace to the province.

Muthana al-Timimi, head of the security committee of the Diyala provincial council, said at first that there might have been a second attack by another suicide bomber on the hospital where the wounded from the cafe blast were taken.

But he later said there had been only one attack. He said 22 people were killed and 60 wounded.

"The suicide bomber blew himself up inside the cafe. Most of the victims are civilians, 95 percent are civilians," he said. "We are facing a big problem because there is only one doctor in the hospital, which is a failure of the hospital management."

Police in the Diyala command centre said the toll was 19 dead and 55 wounded. The civil defence force reported 10 dead and 30 wounded.

The last major attack by suicide bombers in Iraq took place on Sept. 5 when Sunni insurgents swarmed an army base in Baghdad, battling Iraqi and U.S. forces for at least an hour.

At least 12 people died in the brazen assault on a heavily guarded military headquarters. (Additional reporting by Wathiq Ibrahim, Waleed Ibrahim and Baghdad Newsroom; Writing by Michael Christie; Editing by Alison Williams)

First Baghdad flight for European airline in 20 yrs

AFP



First Baghdad flight for European airline in 20 yrs AFP/File – An Airbus operated by France's Aigle Azur is on Saturday to make the first scheduled flight by a …
by Delphine Touitou Delphine Touitou – Fri Oct 29, 11:34 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – An Airbus operated by France's Aigle Azur is on Saturday to make the first scheduled flight by a European airline to Baghdad in 20 years amid hopes of boosting historically close Franco-Iraqi business links.

The Airbus A319 is to take off from Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 11:30 pm (2130 GMT) with foreign trade minister Anne-Marie Idrac and 40 French businessmen aboard, landing at Baghdad International five hours later.

Commercial flights between the two capitals, previously operated by national carrier Air France, were suspended after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

"This is an historic event because this is the first scheduled direct service by a European airline between a Western capital and Baghdad for 20 years," said France's ambassador to Iraq, Boris Boillon.

Aigle Azur, owned by the Franco-Algerian Idjerouidene family, will from early 2011 offer two flights a week from Charles de Gaulle, Europe's second busiest air hub after London Heathrow.

Return tickets will cost 1,265 euros (1,750 dollars) in economy class and 2,416 euros in business class.

The airline is getting the jump on other European carriers considering flying the route which is potentially lucrative thanks to increasing Western business with the war-ravaged country.

"We decided to postpone the opening of the Munich-Baghdad route, initially set for September 30. Demand was too weak. But we are still determined to open a route to Baghdad," said a spokesman for Germany's Lufthansa, which already flies to Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Aigle Azur is negotiating a code-sharing deal that would allow Air France-KLM also to offer flights to the Iraqi capital.

France had close trade links with the regime of Iraq's executed leader Saddam Hussein and was vehemently opposed to the March 2003 US-led invasion.

In the 1970s, France was one of Iraq's main suppliers of civilian and military equipment, second only to the Soviet Union, with later president Jacques Chirac calling Saddam a personal friend.

Today, French business accounts for only one percent of foreign investment in Iraq.

France doubled its exports to Iraq in 2009 to 413 million euros (571 million dollars) but that figure remains very low given the estimated 600 billion dollar cost of the country's reconstruction.

"It's unthinkable for French businesses not to take part in the reconstruction of Iraq," said Idrac, who is to sign trade agreements notably on agriculture and investment protection while in Baghdad.

Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis will also sign a deal to supply Iraq with medicine and to help develop its medical sector.

Eurocopter, a subsidiary of aerospace giant EADS, is to sign a 20-million-euro deal with the Iraqi agriculture ministry to buy seven Squirrel helicopters to use as crop dusters.

Karachi target killings, highest in 15 years

The highest number of murders have been recorded since 1995. DESIGN: AMIR MIRZA

KARACHI: Karachi this year has witnessed the largest number of murders in fifteen years according to the records of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC).

There have been 1,034 deaths in the first ten months of 2010 with the month of August witness to the highest death toll of the year with 162 people murdered. The month of June saw the second highest death toll of 135 people being killed in various localities of the city.

In 1995, amid the massive killings in Karachi, the death toll was 1782.

CPLC’s records show that this is the highest number of target killings since 1995, with the number expected to increase as two more months of the year still remain.

Assassinations in Karachi outnumber blast casualties

According to a report in The Gulf Today, target killings in the city have claimed more lives than that of suicide bombing across the country in this year.

Pakistan was struck by 335 incidents of suicide bombings in 2010 that claimed 1,208 people’s lives, according to the paper, whereas the number of target killings or assassinations during the same period was 1,233.

The commercial hub has been plagued by extortion rackets and politically motivated killings that are responsible for the high number of people killed.

The data collected by Gulf Today showed that 122 people were killed in January, 133 in February, 130 in March and April each, 144 in May, 122 in June, 135 in July, 176 in August, 81 in September and 13 people in the first two weeks of October. They said that at least 46 policemen and 2 Rangers’ personnel were killed in the city in the current year.

With additional reporting by Hassan Asif.

Asma targeted in Ahmedi hate campaign

Pamphlet calls her an anti-Pakistan, pro-American and pro-Indian Ahmedi.

LAHORE: One of the leading candidates in the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) elections is being targeted by a hate campaign that calls her an Ahmedi, pro-American and pro-Indian.

The Khatme Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum based in Markaze Sirajia, a seminary in Ghalib Market, Gulberg, Lahore, recently published an eight-page pamphlet titled Targeted Missile Against Supreme Court that claims Asma Jahangir, a contender for the office of SCBA president, is a Qadiani, a derogatory term for Ahmedis. It also accuses her of being anti-Pakistan and pro-US and pro-India.

The pamphlet has been distributed at the Lahore Bar Association and posted to members of the SCBA.

Also, an Urdu language daily recently published a statement from Majlise Ehrar secretary general Abdul Latif Khalid Cheema that “Qadiani elements” were campaigning for Jahangir in the SCBA elections. He said “anti-Muslim forces” wanted her elected president in a nefarious plot to abolish the blasphemy laws.

Jahangir, talking to The Express Tribune, accused her opponents of resorting to dirty tricks to win the election. She was confident that the SCBA members would not be influenced by “such mudslinging”, but regretted that such a campaign had been undertaken.

Hassnain Jameel, her spokesman, said Jahangir is a Muslim and her opponents were criticising her for fighting for the rights of minorities and the destitute.

Advocate Tahir Sultan Khokhar, vice chairman of the Khatme Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum, who is not a member of the SCBA, said that this was not the first time the group had acted against a ‘Qadiani’. “Since its inception two years ago we have taken significant steps in this regard,” he said.

Khokhar said the pamphlet was meant to tell voters the truth about Jahangir. He said he only wrote facts about her in the pamphlet and left it up to voters to decide which candidate was the right choice.

‘Military candidate’

Ahmed Awais, Jahangir’s main rival in the election, denied having anything to do with the hate campaign or the pamphlet. “It is not right to bring religion or other matters into it. The elections are an internal matter for lawyers,” he said. Awais said he had always been respectful towards his opponents during his campaign speeches, though they had abused him in their speeches.

He said he too was being targeted by “hateful propaganda” portraying him as the army candidate in the elections, a major insult since lawyers worked so hard for the ouster of General (retired) Pervez Musharraf as president. He was also being called a PML-N candidate to get the sympathies of PML-Q lawyers and a PML-Q candidate to get the sympathies of PML-N lawyers.

Senior members of the bar condemned the circulation of the pamphlet and the unsubstantiated rumours about the candidates. They said such mudslinging was an insult to the bar and the values it stood for.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2010.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Meet the upcoming PlayStation Phone

A mockup of the PlayStation Phone made by news site engadget.com in August. The prototype closely resembles this mockup. PHOTO: ENGADGET.COM

Gadget news site engadget released what they claim to be the first pictures of a prototype of Sony Ericsson’s officially unannounced PlayStation Phone on Tuesday.

The device that the site claims to have sports a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 processor, 512MB of RAM, 1GB of ROM, and a screen of 3.7 to 4.1 inches.

The phone is a landscape slider with game controls in place of the typical QWERTY keyboard. It has a directional pad (D-pad), standard PlayStation Portable (PSP) buttons and shoulder buttons and a long multi-touch slider in between the two instead of analog sticks (or joysticks).

The rumor that Sony is coming up with a PlayStation Phone have existed since Sony entered the handheld gaming market in 2004 with the PSP. The number of rumors have increased significantly in the past year though.

One reason is that Sony has not announced a successor to the PSP in six years. The other, more important and connected reason is the fact that Apple’s iPhone has changed the game for handhelds. The iPhone has truly come into its own as a gaming device this year, with even Nintendo, the handheld gaming giant, starting to take notice.

Nintendo of America’s President, Reggie Fils-Aime, when asked by Forbes about Apple and the threat it poses to Nintendo’s dominance in the handheld gaming market, said:

“Do I think that in the near term they (Apple) can hurt us more than Microsoft? Absolutely.”

Nintendo has recently announced the 3DS, its successor to the DS, due to launch in Japan this year, being the first handheld device to support a 3D display built in that does not require those awkward glasses that come with 3D TVs. But it does not have an essential feature that the iPhone has, the phone. Also, Apple has a huge market lead in terms of devices in consumer’s hands. They sold 14.1 million iPhones in the quarter ending September alone.

Microsoft was also rumored to be looking at the hand-held market and only now, with the upcoming Windows Phone 7, do they have a strategy to compete in the handheld space. The Windows Phone 7 platform supports Xbox Live and games with good quality 3D graphics.

The path Sony seems to have chosen with the PlayStation Phone is definitely interesting to say the least. The device is purported to run on the upcoming Android operating system (OS) update codenamed Gingerbread.

Android is really the only competition that the iPhone has in terms of the number of users but it has lacked high quality games. With the PlayStation Phone, Sony has its eyes on the top spot of the handheld market.

Sony has responded with its typical “we do not comment on rumour and speculation” comment.

Time will tell if this is indeed the PlayStation portable that Sony has in mind and whether it can compete in the tough handheld market.

More photos of the prototype device are available at engadget.com and here.

Nissan to fix 2.14 million cars in 3rd biggest recall

Reuters


Nissan to recall two million cars globally AFP/File – Japan's Nissan Motor has said it is recalling over 2.1 million cars globally due to a faulty engine …

* Nissan Slideshow:Nissan
* BMW Investigation: Flawed Fuel Pump Play Video Auto Industry Video:BMW Investigation: Flawed Fuel Pump ABC News

By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia autos correspondent Chang-ran Kim, Asia Autos Correspondent – 2 hrs 4 mins ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co said on Thursday it would recall 2.14 million March/Micra, Cube and about a dozen other models in its third-biggest recall, to fix a faulty ignition relay that could cause engine problems.

No accident was reported from the defect, Nissan spokesman Toshitake Inoshita said.

Nissan said problems in the ignition relay could cause the engine to stall or fail to restart. The recalls are mostly in Japan, with 835,000 units, and the United States and Canada with a combined 762,000 units.

The faulty vehicles were built in Japan, the United States, Britain, Spain, China and Taiwan between August 2003 and July 2006.

Nissan does not disclose cost estimates on vehicle recalls or any impact on its earnings. But the fix is likely to be relatively cheap, with Nissan estimating less than 25 minutes for the repair, which involves replacing the ignition relay.

Recalls exceeding 1 million vehicles have become more common at big automakers as they use common components across multiple models to save design and production costs.

Last week, Toyota Motor Corp announced a recall of 1.66 million vehicles globally for defects involving the brake master cylinder and fuel pump wiring. That brought the total number of vehicles recalled worldwide at Toyota in the past year to about 14 million.

Shares of Nissan, held 43 percent by Renault SA, temporarily erased small gains after the news but later recovered to end up 0.3 percent. Most other auto stocks and the broader Tokyo market fell.

(Editing by Chris Gallagher)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

IRAQ: "My life is here"

27 Oct 2010 14:18:22 GMT
Source: IRIN
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.
MADRID, 27 October 2010 (IRIN) - Samer (not his real name) is a professional violinist in his twenties from Baghdad. Last year, he fled the violence in the city to Syria, only to return nine months later, despite the dangers [http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=90894].

"Though the situation in Iraq is terrible for all Iraqis, the appearance of religious militias after the invasion in 2003 has made things especially difficult for musicians," Samer told IRIN in a telephone interview. He explained that extremist militias, which had no presence in Baghdad prior to the start of the war, frequently target Iraqis involved in the arts; they consider music in particular as forbidden. "I continue to practice, study and perform, but just to be safe I carry my violin in a black plastic bag so no one recognizes it," Samer said.

Last year, he had enough and decided to leave Iraq. "After travelling in and out of Iraq several times, including to Egypt, I decided to go to Syria, where I continued to study, in the hope that I could lead a safer life there. In Baghdad, things are very difficult for us all, and the threat of death is everywhere."

But he was deeply unhappy in Syria. "I love Iraq so much, and my love is what gives me inspiration to play music. Leaving Iraq made me lose my inspiration to play, and therefore my reason for being. My life is here, and my decision to stay and to continue being a musician is my personal way of resisting the destruction that is being inflicted on my country."

Unlike the majority of returning refugees who are unable to meet their most basic needs, Samer does not regret his decision to go home.

"What I do wish for, however, is the right to travel, to take my music to other countries and to share our culture with other people," he said. "But, as you know, it is extremely hard for an Iraqi to get a visa for most countries. I wish this would change, because we have so much to share, including a rich, ancient culture, and such love for the arts."

sa/oa/cb

© IRIN. All rights reserved. More humanitarian news and analysis: http://www.IRINnews.org

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Iraq's Tareq Aziz sentenced to death; Vatican appeals

Bin Laden blames French policy for abductions -TV
27 Oct 2010 12:07:34 GMT
Source: Reuters
DUBAI, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Osama bin Laden said the kidnapping of five French nationals in Niger last month had been prompted by what he said was France's unjust treatment of Muslims, Al Jazeera television reported on Wednesday.

"It is not right for you to occupy our countries and kill our women and children and expect to live in peace and security," the television station quoted the al Qaeda leader as saying in a message addressed to the French people.

(Reporting by Firouz Sedarat and Erika Solomon, Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by Michael Roddy)

=========

26 Oct 2010 19:21:58 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Death sentence for Aziz

* Public face of Saddam government

* Vatican urges Iraq not to carry out sentence

(Adds Vatican statement, paragraphs 9-10)

By Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Iraq's high tribunal on Tuesday passed a death sentence on Tareq Aziz, once the international face of dictator Saddam Hussein's government, over the persecution of Islamic parties, the court said.

The death sentence was the first to be handed down to Aziz, who was well known in foreign capitals and at the United Nations before Saddam's downfall. He rose to prominence at the time of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War, when he was foreign minister.

"The court today issued the death sentence on Tareq Aziz and four others for committing crimes against humanity. The charge of elimination of religious parties was classified as crimes against humanity," Judge Mohammed Abdul-Sahib, a spokesman of the Iraqi High Tribunal, told Reuters.

"The nature of the crimes is wilful killing, torture and the enforced disappearance of persons."

Last year, Aziz was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his part in the killings of dozens of merchants in 1992 and to a further seven years for his role in the forced displacement of Kurds from northern Iraq during Saddam's rule.

He surrendered to invading U.S. forces in April 2003 but was handed over to Iraqi prison authorities this year. In August he accused U.S. President Barack Obama in a jailhouse interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper of "leaving Iraq to the wolves" because of U.S. plans to withdraw.

Aziz's Amman-based lawyer, Badie Arif, said the decision was politically motivated.

"It is a political verdict and not legal. He (Aziz) expected that, especially when the U.S. administration handed him over to the Iraqi government," Arif told Reuters by telephone from Amman.

RIGHT TO APPEAL

The Vatican urged Iraqi authorities not to carry out the death sentence against Aziz, a Christian. This, the Vatican spokesman said in a statement, would help reconciliation, peace and justice.

The Vatican did not rule out the possibility of making a humanitarian intervention on behalf of Aziz, but said this would be done through diplomatic channels, the spokesman added.

Sahib said Aziz and four other defendants in the case who were also sentenced to death were expected to appeal against the decision. Iraqi law provides for an automatic appeal for all death-sentence and life-imprisonment cases, even if the defendants do not lodge an appeal themselves.

The four other defendants sentenced to death were former interior minister and intelligence chief, Sadoun Shakir, Abed Hamoud, a former private secretary to Saddam, Saddam's half brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hasan and, a former top Baath party official, Abdul Ghani Abdul Ghafour.

An official in the court's media office said the evidence provided to court and the statements of witnesses had proved sufficient to convict them.

During Saddam's rule, only the Baath party was allowed to exist. The Sunni dictator crushed attempts to establish rival political organisations, and in particular carried out constant campaigns against Islamic parties.

Their leaders were assassinated, imprisoned or forced into exile. One of his main targets was the Islamic Dawa party of current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite Muslim.

(Additional reporting by Waleed Ibrahim in Baghdad and Philip Pullella in Vatican City; Writing by Serena Chaudhry and Michael Christie; Editing by Michael Roddy)

Foreign firms accept ministry’s terms in gas auction



The numbers: gas field bidding round results


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are here: Home » Energy » Natural Gas » Akkas stalls again
Akkas stalls again
Demands from Anbar officials, including assurances that gas from the Akkas field be utilized in the deprived province, have not been resolved since the dispute surfaced in October, delaying a signing ceremony at the Oil Ministry headquarters attended by nearly a dozen representatives of the Korean Gas Corp. (Kogas) and Kazakhstan’s KazMunaiGaz.
“We can’t go forward in these deals unless we have approval of the local governments,” said Oil Minister Abdul Karim Luaibi, speaking to reporte…


Executives from the Korean Gas Corp. and Kazakhstan's KazMunaiGaz wait at the Feb. 24 Akkas gas field signature ceremony, which was cancelled after Anbar province demands were not met. (BEN VAN HEUVELEN/Iraq Oil Report)
By Ben Van Heuvelen and Ben Lando of Iraq Oil Report
Published February 25, 2011
Demands from Anbar officials, including assurances that gas from the Akkas field be utilized in the deprived province, have not been resolved since the dispute surfaced in October, delaying a signing ceremony at the Oil Ministry headquarters attended by nearly a dozen representatives of the Korean Gas Corp. (Kogas) and Kazakhstan’s KazMunaiGaz.

“We can’t go forward in these deals unless we have approval of the local governments,” said Oil Minister Abdul Karim Luaibi, speaking to reporte…



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All three of Iraq’s gas fields up for auction were awarded Wednesday to four international oil companies.
A representative of Kuwait Energy casts its winning bid for the Siba gas field as oil ministry leaders look on. (BEN LANDO/Iraq Oil Report)

By Ben Lando of Iraq Oil Report
Published October 20, 2010

BAGHDAD - Four companies created three different consortium to win rights to develop the Akkas, Siba and Mansuriya gas fields.

The ministry judged the bids with a two-prong bidding parameter: 90 percent of the score was given to the remuneration fee (RF), the amount per barrel of oil equivalent produced (boep) that the foreign companies are willing to accept/the ministry of oil is willing to pay. Ten percent of the score is the production plateau target (ppt), the production goal at which the winning bid will bring production to and keep it for a set amount of time.

Here are the results:

Akkas

In Anbar province, near the Syrian border, it is the biggest of the three fields with 5.6 trillion cubic feet of Iraq’s 112 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves.

Oil Ministry’s requirements:
* Minimum PPT: 375 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd)
* PPT period: 13 years
* Minimum expenditure obligation: $25 million

Winning bid:
The Korean Gas Corp. (Kogas) and Kazakhstan’s KazMunaiGaz (50/50 share, Kogas is the operator)
* RF: $5.50 per boep
* PPT: 400 mmscfd


Other bids:
France’s Total and the Turkish Petroleum Corp. (TPAO) (50/50 share, Total as operator)
* RF: $19 per boep
* PPT: 375 mmscfd


Siba

Siba holds 1.13 trillion cubic feet, and is located near the Kuwaiti border.

Oil Ministry’s requirements:
* Minimum PPT: 60 mmscfd
* PPT period: 9 years
* Minimum expenditure obligation: $25 million

Winning bid:
Kuwait Energy (60 percent) and TPAO (40 percent), Kuwait Energy as the operator
* Remuneration fee: $7.50 per boep
* PPT: 100 mmscfd


Other bids:
KazMunaiGaz
* RF: $16 per boep
* PPT: 65 mmscfd

Mansuriya

Another 4.5 trillion cubic feet of Iraq’s natural gas is in this Diyala province field.

Oil Ministry’s requirements:
* Minimum PPT: 225 mmscfd
* PPT period: 13 years
* Miniumum expenditure obligation: $25 million

Winning bid:
TPAO (50 percent), Kuwait Energy (30 percent), Kogas (20 percent)
* RF: $7 per boep (the consortium originally offered $10 per boep, but the ministry refused to go above $7)
* PPT: 320 mmscfd


Other bids:
None
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Three gas fields were offered; three were awarded. The Oil Ministry has taken a big step towards awakening the country’s dormant natural gas sector, despite opposition from some local leaders.

An official from KazMunaiGaz is congratulated after winning a 50 percent stake to develop the Akkas gas field. (BEN LANDO/Iraq Oil Report)
By Ben Lando of Iraq Oil Report
Published October 21, 2010

BAGHDAD - Iraq’s gas field auction was never guaranteed to be a success, mired as it was in local controversies, continuing political volatility, hesitation by foreign companies, and Oil Ministry delays. On Wednesday, however, the ministry netted a perfect score, awarding all three gas fields to foreign companies – on Iraq’s terms.

Although some provincial leaders objected to the development plans for fields in their territories, national government officials said the event was a triumphant step toward developing the dormant gas sector. Iraq badly needs gas for its power plants and industrial infrastructure, which are chronically short of fuel; eventually, the country is looking to export gas via pipelines to Europe.

“We need the gas,” said Thamir Ghadhban, the top energy advisor to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. “We definitely need it for power generation and as a feedstock for industrial plants.”

Iraq holds the world’s 11th-largest proven gas reserves in the world, with 112 trillion cubic feet and a geological profile that suggests there’s much more to be discovered. Due to decades of war, sanctions, and underinvestment, however, Iraq has barely developed those resources.

Iraq’s limited gas production currently comes from the so-called “associated” gas that is generated as a byproduct of crude oil extraction – in Iraq’s case, over one billion cubic feet of gas per day (cf/d). Iraq lacks the infrastructure to process most of this gas, however, so 600 to 700 million cf/d is wastefully flared; only about 500 million cf/d is processed and delivered for consumption.

The fields auctioned on Wednesday are “dry gas” fields, meaning that only natural gas will be extracted from them. Under the terms of the winning bids, the three fields will produce a combined 785 million cf/d, more than doubling the volume of gas Iraq sends to market. Under the terms of the service contracts, the consortiums will develop and operate the fields and Iraq will compensate them in proportion to the amount of gas produced.

For the auction, the Oil Ministry invited 13 pre-qualified companies to submit bids composed of two numbers: a remuneration fee and a production plateau target. In the case of all three fields, the companies demanding the lowest remuneration fees were awarded the deals. The winning consortia were headed by Kogas, which won Akkas field; Kuwait Energy, which took Siba; and TPAO, which got Mansuriya.

Two of those fields were offered in Iraq’s first bidding round on June 30, 2009. Back then, Akkas, with 5.6 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven reserves, received only one offer, which demanded a much higher remuneration fee than the $8.50 per barrel of oil equivalent (boe) that the ministry was willing to pay. The Mansuriya field, with 4.5 million tcf, received no bids at the time.

That first auction, along with a second bid round in December 2009, resulted in contracts with 11 foreign consortia which are projected to revolutionize some of Iraq’s largest oil fields and catapult the country’s crude production from 2.5 to 12.5 million barrels per day (bpd) within seven years.

Those deals also promise to boost Iraq’s associated gas production to more than 5.6 billion cf/d, according to Oil Ministry estimates – that is, more than seven times the combined volume of the three dry gas fields just auctioned. In June, the Council of Ministers gave preliminary approval to a deal with Shell that would ultimately capture 2.5 billion cubic feet per day (cf/d) of associated gas from four of Iraq’s largest oil fields.

Some critics have asked why the ministry would develop these dry gas fields now, when its existing contracts are already slated to generate huge volumes of gas whose processing will require equally massive infrastructure investments.

Yet Ghadhban said that developing these gas fields fits squarely in the government’s energy master plan, which will be announced in the coming months.

“We have to develop those gas fields,” he said. “One of those gas fields was discovered in 1964 – Siba. The newest (of the three) was discovered in 1992. So they are overdue for development. It fits very well, to maximize our production capacity of gas.”

Competitive bidding

The gas auction took place in a dramatic ceremony similar to the first two oil bidding rounds. At the Oil Ministry’s auditorium in its headquarters in Baghdad, half of the room’s roughly 600 seats were filled for the occasion; on the stage sat Iraq’s oil minister and other top officials. One by one, executives walked to the stage and placed sealed envelopes containing their bids in a clear glass box.

Kim Myeong Nam, vice president and head of the Iraq Project Group for the Korean Gas Corp., kissed the ballot before he dropped it into the box, a bid for the Akkas field, to laughs from the stage and audience.

“I hope that will make a difference,” Shahristani said.

Kogas and partner KazMunaiGaz, from Kazakhstan, were up against France’s Total and partner Turkish Petroleum Corp.

The bids were unsealed, and Total/TPAO had offered to bring the field to 375 million standard cubic feet of gas per day, if the ministry would pay them $19 for each barrel of oil equivalent (boe). Kogas/KazMunaiGaz, however, offered a 400 million standard cubic feet per day production plateau at only a $5.50 per boe from the ministry.

“It seems your kiss made a difference,” Shahristani said as he announced the winner to a round of applause.

Other companies, however, criticized the Kogas offer as too low to actually turn a profit. Indeed, the consortium had even under-bid the ministry’s demand of $8.50 per boe, which it had revealed in the first bid round last year.

“We simply didn’t believe that it is economical,” said Besim Sisman, vice president of TPAO, which bid on all three fields, referring to the unfavorable terms that would have been required to win Akkas. The field is viewed as being technically difficult to develop, though an Oil Ministry official recently said there was a recent find of more reserves there.

An official from one of the eight companies that was pre-qualified but didn’t submit a bid said Kogas was able to severely under-bid its competitors because of its different motivations. As a state-owned oil company, Kogas was likely looking to secure supplies on behalf of its national government, whereas market-oriented companies are generally foolish to accept a deal that won’t turn a profit.

“It is going to be very hard to make money” on the $5.50 remuneration fee, the official said. “The break-even point is between $10 and $12.”

TPAO, along with junior partners Kogas and Kuwait Energy, did win the Mansuriya field in an uncontested bid to bring the field to 320 million standard cubic feet per day production. Its initial offer of $10 per boe was rejected, but the consortium agreed to the most the ministry would pay: $7.

A big concern for Mansuriya is the ongoing level of violence in Diyala province. A TPAO official said, however, that security is a known risk but not a deterrent to investing in Iraq.

TPAO will be the junior partner to Kuwait Energy in the development of the Siba gas field, in Basra province, which runs into Kuwait. Beating out a bid by KazMunaiGaz to produce 65 million standard cubic feet per day at a $16 per boe fee, Kuwait Energy and TPAO will run the field to 100 million standard cubic feet per day for only $7.50 per boe.

Local opposition

Opposition to developing the largest of the three fields, Akkas, has intensified in the days leading up to the bidding round.

The provincial governor has been a vocal critic since June, and the provincial council recently voted to oppose the Akkas development. The chairman of the Anbar provincial council, Jassem al-Halbousi, said all of the gas should be used to fund power plants and industry in the province before going elsewhere in Iraq.

In the lead-up to the auction, Halbousi called for demonstrations – none of which happened – throughout the province. “The people of Anbar should go on these demonstrations until their demands are met,” he said.

Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, on the other hand, has been a strong advocate of federal authority over the oil and gas sector, and forcefully cast aside provincial objections, which he characterized as “propaganda” against the ministry’s plans.

“Gas is the sole ownership of the Iraqi people,” Shahristani said. Then he delivered a pointed message “to all the provinces,” saying, “No individual or party are authorized to claim they are entitled to this wealth. The government will be very strong and severely punish everyone who will hinder signing the contracts.”


The oil minister’s hard line against Anbar represents his attempt to keep other provinces from following the controversial example of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which has defied Baghdad and asserted control over its oil sector by signing contracts with dozens of foreign firms since 2005.

Anbar province has made some moves in that direction, courting foreign investors, including foreign oil companies, in a do-it-alone effort that has been as much an assertion of economic autonomy as a response to central government inaction.

Deputy Oil Minister Abdul Karim Luaibi took a more conciliatory approach when discussing Anbar. He attributed the provincial grumbling to “a misunderstanding” and said the gas from the new deals will be dedicated first and foremost to power generation, including to new plants in Baghdad and Anbar.

“I talked yesterday to the governor of Anbar and explained the master plan for gas,” he said, though he also added that “if there is any excess quantities, we must export it through Syria or Turkey – not just (from) Akkas, but all excess gas.”

Ziyad Mohammed, a provincial council member, said there are other issues to worry about – the province is still a hotbed of insurgency, and Kurdish-Arab disputes have prevented the council from reaching quorum for three months.

“We won’t reject (the Akkas deal) because it is a minor issue,” he said.

The other two gas field deals have drawn less controversy, though Farid Khalid, the head of the energy committee of Basra’s provincial council, has complained that local officials weren’t consulted and included in the contracting process for the Siba field.

Provincial officials in Diyala province, where Mansuriya is located, said there has been no political opposition to investment.








Worth bearing in mind that these rates are also for much lower value gas and not oil.

Kuwait Energy will get paid $7.50/boe for gas production at the Siba field and $7/boe at the Mansuriya field.

Plateau production for both fields will be 70,000 boe/day - not bad work if you can get it.

http://www.ameinfo.com/246055.html
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ou are here: Home » Energy » Natural Gas » Akkas deal finally signed
Akkas deal finally signed

Officials from Iraq's Oil Ministry and the Korea Gas Corp. (Kogas) meet at the ministry's headquarters in Baghdad on Oct. 13, 2011 to finalize the Akkas gas deal. (REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud)
By STAFF of Iraq Oil Report
Published October 13, 2011
On Thursday, the Korea Gas Corp. (Kogas) and the Oil Ministry finalized the long-delayed deal to develop Akkas, Iraq's largest discovered dry gas field, which holds 5.6 trillion cubic feet of Iraq's estimated 112 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.

The company now has to turn the virtual non-producer into a field that pumps 400 million standard cubic feet per day within seven years and hold that output for 13 years, earning costs plus $5.50 for each barrel of oil equivalent produced.

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ou are here: Home » Business » Economics » Anbar sets terms for investment
Anbar sets terms for investment

Anbar Gov. Qasim Abid (center) cuts a ceremonial ribbon during the grand opening of the Anbar Judicial Complex in Ramadi on June 13, 2009.
By BEN LANDO of Iraq Oil Report
Published October 27, 2011
The governor of Anbar province doesn't want oil or gas exported from his province.

In fact, the man who won the 2009 fDi Magazine "standout region of the year" award for luring foreign funds wants to keep the natural resources inside Iraq's largest province so that they can be used to feed additional investment projects, keeping more of the value chain within Anbar's borders.

"Anbar has big reserves of gas and oil. It is just a start -- Akkas (gas field) and the four blocks announced in th...

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FEATURE-Iraq al Qaeda more lethal as homegrown insurgency

26 Oct 2010 12:40:34 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Al Qaeda in Iraq now an Iraqi insurgency

* Campaign of bold assaults, intimidation

* Iraqi Qaeda exploits weaknesses in Iraqi systems

By Suadad al-Salhy

BAGHDAD, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's Iraqi branch has evolved into a homegrown, more lethal and bolder insurgency comprised of Iraqi fighters hardened in U.S. prisons and posing a challenge to Iraqi forces, military officials say.

The insurgency has been strategically weakened by the deaths of leaders, and both its numbers and the territory in which it can manoeuvre have shrunk since 2006-07, when Sunni tribal chiefs turned on it and joined forces with the U.S. military.

But what Iraqi officials call the "third generation" of al Qaeda in Iraq may be more difficult to fight than before because its fighters can blend in, know the weaknesses of Iraqi society, and are more interested in making a spectacular splash with their attacks than in battlefield victories.

Their assaults are aimed at grabbing attention and rattling the population at a time when sectarian tensions are fraught because of the failure of politicians to agree on a new Iraqi government seven months after an inconclusive election.

"We face the third generation of al-Qaeda now, a generation that mostly graduated from (U.S. detention camps) Bucca, Cropper and other such places," said Major General Hassan al-Baidhani, chief of staff for the Baghdad operations command.

Al Qaeda has shown "a new type of boldness," attacking heavily protected targets and security forces head on, Baidhani told Reuters. "This strategy depends basically on shock. They are not looking for success as much as looking for attention."


Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is battling to retain his job, opposed by the Sunni-backed, secular Iraqiya alliance of ex-premier Iyad Allawi and some erstwhile Shi'ite allies.

If Iraqiya ends up being sidelined, the Sunnis who voted for it in March may react in outrage and return to supporting the Sunni Islamist insurgency, security officials say.

In the run-up to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the Bush administration accused Saddam Hussein's regime of having links to al Qaeda as part of its campaign to bolster support for war.

No ties were ever proven but al Qaeda was quick to take advantage of the post-invasion chaos to establish a presence in Iraq.

The first generation of al Qaeda on Iraq's battlefields were primarily Arabs from abroad. The second was a mix of foreign and Iraqi Sunnis angered by the invasion and the rise to power of Iraq's Shi'ite majority after the fall of Saddam, Sunni.

Now as Iraqi security forces take centre stage after U.S. troops halted combat operations in August prior to a full withdrawal in 2011, they face a homegrown threat composed of young radicals who fervently believe in jihad, or holy war.

WEAKNESS OF SOCIETY

"And therein lies the danger because they know the weak points of Iraqi society," said Baidhani, who has documented al Qaeda activities over the last four years.

On June 13, al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, sent a wave of suicide bombers against the well-guarded Central Bank in Baghdad, killing 15 people. The following month, a suicide bomber attacked Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel, another well-protected, high-profile target.

On Sept. 5, suicide bombers killed 12 when they swarmed a Baghdad army base, where just two weeks earlier a lone suicide bomber had managed to kill 57 army recruits and soldiers.

The attack on the army base took officials by surprise, said a senior police official who asked not to be named. Up till then, military strategists had believed insurgents would have no success using suicide bombers against military installations.

"The problem is our enemy's intelligence is stronger than our intelligence," the official said. "They know the timings of our duties, food, rest, hours when patrols switch, the type and the number of weapons at our bases."


U.S. military leaders say the transformation of al Qaeda in Iraq coincided with strikes against it, including the killing of its top two leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, and the cutting of its links to al Qaeda abroad, this year.

"They have attempted to wean themselves off a foreign leadership structure," U.S. Brigadier General Ralph Baker said.

Al Qaeda cells are trying to move back into strongholds like the districts of Adhamiya and Fadhil in the capital, and distributing threatening leaflets to cow the public.

But the group is unlikely to be able to succeed at its long-term goal of bringing down the government and Iraq's nascent democracy, and establishing a Sunni Islamist caliphate.

"We don't see al Qaeda as an existential threat to the Iraqi government any more," Baker said. (Additional reporting by Jim Loney, Editing by Michael Christie and Angus MacSwan)


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Gunmen kill eight in Iraq gold market attack
26 Oct 2010 17:02:54 GMT
Source: Reuters
BAGHDAD, Oct 26 (Reuters) - At least eight people were killed, including five policemen, when gunmen attacked a goldsmiths' market in the northern Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, police and hospital sources said.

Police said there were clashes between the armed men and security forces. Twelve people were wounded, including two policemen.

The gunmen armed with hand grenades and other weapons robbed gold shops at the busy market in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, a hospital source said.

It was not immediately clear whether the suspects were insurgents or a criminal gang.

While overall violence in Iraq has dropped since the height of sectarian warfare in 2006-07, bombings and shootings remain a regular occurrence.

Gold markets have been a target of major attacks in past months. An attack on a gold market in Baghdad in May killed 14 people. Around half a dozen gunmen attacked and robbed a goldsmiths' market in Basra in June, killing three people and wounding four others.

Security officials had said some of the insurgent groups that took up arms after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion have turned to crime to finance their operations, attacking banks, gold markets and jewellery shops. (Reporting by Mustafa Mahmoud; Writing by Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Peter Graff)