- - Thursday, September 15, 2011

TURKEY

Turkey warns Cyprus on offshore drilling

ANKARA | Turkey warned Cyprus against proceeding with offshore oil and gas drilling activities, saying Thursday it would finalize an agreement with Turkish Cypriots to mark out undersea borders to facilitate future oil and gas exploration.

The undersea boundary has been among the most contentious issues in Greek-Turkish relations, with each country trying to mark out where on the continental shelf it can exploit seabed oil and mineral deposits in the Aegean Sea.

A move by Turkey to declare such a border would aggravate relations with Greece and Cyprus, which is divided into an EU-member Greek south and a breakaway Turkish north.

The announcement by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry came a day after Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias announced that U.S. firm Noble Energy will soon begin exploratory drilling to confirm deposits beneath the seabed off Cyprus’ southern coast, despite Turkey’s attempts to prevent such a move.

PERU

President denounces Shining Path attack

LIMA | President Ollanta Humala on Thursday condemned a Shining Path guerrilla attack on a military helicopter that killed two army officers, and vowed to hold the rebels to account.

“All of Peru rejects those miserable people who have taken up arms against the Peruvian people,” said Mr. Humala, a leftist former army officer who battled the Maoist rebel group earlier in his career.

He called Wednesday’s attack an act of “cowardice and insanity on the part of people who believe they are going to change the will of the Peruvian people by means of force.”

The helicopter came under rebel fire as it was picking up a special forces patrol in the Apurimac and Ene rivers valley where Shining Path has been active.

PAKISTAN

U.S. announces death of al Qaeda official

Al Qaeda’s chief of operations in Pakistan has been killed, a senior U.S. official said Thursday, revealing the latest blow to the terror group’s senior leadership.

The death of Abu Hafs al-Shahri in a Pakistani tribal district follows the killing of al Qaeda’s No. 2, Atiyah abd al-Rahman, last month and comes amid stepped up U.S. drone strikes after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.

“It has been confirmed that al Qaeda’s chief of Pakistan operations, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, was killed earlier this week in Waziristan,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.

“Abu Hafs’ death removes a key threat inside Pakistan, where he collaborated closely with the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan to conduct coordinated attacks.”

Security officials in Pakistan told Agence France-Presse this week that a U.S. drone strike killed at least four militants in Waziristan. It was unclear whether the attack was the one that killed Abu Hafs.

UNITED KINGDOM

One-quarter of rioters were serial offenders

LONDON | A quarter of the people charged in the riots that rocked England in August had committed more than 10 crimes in the past, Justice Ministry figures released Thursday showed.

The statistics confirmed that “existing criminals were on the rampage” during the four nights of rioting and looting, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said.

Mr. Clarke said the justice system needs reform “to ensure both effective punishment and reform to tackle re-offending.”

“I am dismayed to see a hard core of repeat offenders back in the system,” he told the BBC.

OMAN

Iraq joins negotiations on bail for U.S. hikers

MUSCAT | Arab countries Oman and Iraq are involved in negotiations for the release of two American hikers jailed in Iran on spying charges, officials said Thursday as efforts intensified over a $1 million bail-for-freedom plan.

A private plane from the Persian Gulf state of Oman was in Tehran to carry away the pair if a deal were reached.

An Iraqi official, meanwhile, said a delegation of lawmakers also was in the Iranian capital to join the diplomatic talks on the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.

They were detained along the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009 with their friend, Sarah Shourd. She was released last September with mediation by Oman after a payment of $500,000 bail.

The high-level Iraqi and Omani intervention suggested movement on the complicated judicial and diplomatic dealings about the $500,000 bail deal for each American.

Mr. Bauer and Mr. Fattal, both 29, were sentenced last month to three years each for illegal entry into Iran and five years each for spying for the United States. They have denied the charges and appealed the verdicts - which leaves the opening for bail. Miss Shourd’s case remains open.

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