- - Monday, September 19, 2011

UNITED KINGDOM

Police arrest suspects in major counterterrorism move

LONDON | British police arrested suspected Islamic extremists on Monday in what officials called one of the most significant counterterrorism operations of the year.

Officers also were carrying out raids on more than a dozen homes and businesses in the central England city of Birmingham as part of the intelligence-led operation.

Although the plot was in its early stages and targets weren’t immediately known, British security officials said the threat appeared significant and involved Islamic extremists.

West Midlands Assistant Police Chief Marcus Beale said the suspects were arrested in or near their homes by unarmed police officers as part of a “large, preplanned, intelligence-led counterterrorism operation.”

Six men were arrested overnight and were being held on suspicion of the “commission, preparation or instigation” of an act of terrorism in Britain. A woman was arrested Monday morning on charges of failing to disclose information.

The suspects, ages 22 to 32, were described as British residents, but police would not give any details about nationalities or ethnicity.

IRAN

U.S. envoy blasts Tehran’s nuclear ‘deceit’

VIENNA, AUSTRIA | U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu accused Iran of nuclear “denial, deceit and evasion” on Monday in a warning that Tehran’s decision to move some uranium-enrichment facilities to an underground bunker brings it closer to being able to produce the fissile core of a warhead.

Tehran, however, said Western pressure was to blame for its decision to relocate thousands of enrichment machines into a fortified subterranean location and for refusing to open its nuclear activities to greater outside perusal.

Iranian Vice President Fereydoun Abbassi Davani said “hostile positions and measures of [a] few countries” force other nations “to make their peaceful activities … secret and put them underground.”

The sharp tone of the exchanges on the opening day of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 151-nation annual conference reflected the international divide over Iran’s nuclear activities nine years after revelations that the Islamic republic is secretly assembling a uranium enrichment facility.

BURUNDI

Gunmen from Congo kill 36 at pub

BUJUMBURA | Armed men from Congo burst into a pub in the central African nation of Burundi and killed 36 people, an official said Monday. One wounded man said an attacker yelled: “Make sure there’s no survivors.”

Burundi, a tiny nation still reeling from a civil war that killed more than 250,000 people, is awash in weapons, but attacks like the one Sunday night are rare. Still, the region borders eastern Congo, which is racked by violence from myriad rebel groups.

Bujumbura province Gov. Jacques Minani said the attackers targeted the pub in Gatumba, west of Burundi’s capital, after crossing the river from Congo.

CYPRUS

U.S. firm drills offshore despite Turkish warnings

NICOSIA | A U.S. energy firm has begun exploratory drilling for oil and gas off the coast of Cyprus, despite strong warnings from Turkey not to do so.

Noble Energy, based in Houston, is now smack in the middle of an escalating dispute over mineral deposits in the eastern Mediterranean, complicated by the status of Cyprus.

The island has been divided since 1974 into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north, which is recognized only by Turkey.

The dispute is over future energy revenue and the rights to undersea riches when the status of the nearby land is unresolved.

In a significant escalation of tensions, Turkey said earlier Monday that it would send warships to protect its claims to undersea resources off Cyprus if the U.S. firm began drilling.

PAKISTAN

Taliban bomber kills 8; senior police target escapes

KARACHI | A Taliban suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives Monday outside the home of a senior police officer tasked with cracking down on militants in Pakistan’s largest city.

The blast killed at least eight people and left a crater 10 feet deep, police said.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the early-morning attack in the southern port city of Karachi. The target of the bombing, Chaudhry Aslam, escaped unscathed and said he would not be cowed by the attack.

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