Israel strikes Hamas targets in bid to deter burning kites
JERUSALEM – The Israeli military says it struck nine Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in a bid to deter Palestinians from launching incendiary kites and balloons into Israel.
The army says the Monday’s airstrikes were a response “to arson and explosive kites and balloons” launched into Israel in recent weeks. During the bombings, Palestinian militants fired three rockets into southern Israel. No injuries were reported on either side.
Gazans began flying kites with burning rags attached to them during mass protests against the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the territory. Israeli troops have fired on the protesters, killing more than 120 Palestinians since the weekly demonstrations began on March 30.
The incendiary kites and balloons have devastated large swaths of farmland and nature reserves in southern Israel.
Blasts kill at least 20 in northeast Nigeria – police
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – Blasts have killed at least 20 people in northeast Nigeria, police said, while residents said the toll was even higher in the largest attack for weeks in a region blighted by the Islamist militant Boko Haram insurgency.
In an emailed statement issued on Sunday, the police said 20 people had been killed and 48 injured. Two residents however said they had counted at least 31 dead.
The explosions occurred in the Damboa local government area in the south of Borno state, on Saturday at around 8:30 p.m. (1930 GMT). Witnesses spoke of at least one rocket attack.
Security in Nigeria has become a major challenge for President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler whose 2015 election win was largely due to his vow to crush Boko Haram.
It is a highly charged issue in the run-up to a poll due to take place in February 2019. Buhari has said he will seek a second term.
Borno is the state worst hit by the insurgency, aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria, which has killed more than 30,000 people and forced over 2 million to flee their homes since 2009.
The blasts occurred in the Shuwari and Abachari districts, about 90 km (55 miles) from state capital Maiduguri.
“It has destroyed our houses. We have also counted 31 innocent people including children and elderly killed in the attack,” said local resident Modu Usman, son of a community leader.
There was no claim of responsibility for the blasts.
“Investigation is ongoing to unravel the nature of the attack,” said Edet Okon, a spokesman for Borno police.
The last large attack in the northeast occurred in early May when at least 20 people were killed in Adamawa state, which borders Borno.
Additional reporting by Ola Lanre and Ardo Hazzad in Bauchi; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Andrew Roche
Guatemala ends search for people buried by volcano eruption
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemalan authorities have ended the search for people buried by the eruption of the Volcano of Fire two weeks ago.
The country’s disaster agency said Sunday it suspended searches in San Miguel Los Lotes and El Rodeo because the area is “uninhabitable” and high risk.
Volunteer firefighters continue to look for two missing colleagues in the Sacatepequez department.
Officials say there are 110 confirmed deaths from the June 3 eruption while 197 people are listed as missing.
The volcano near Guatemala City stands 12,346 feet (3,763 meters) above sea level at its peak. It is one of Central America’s most-active volcanos.
Guatemala’s seismology and volcanology institute says the volcano continued to rumble Sunday, shooting columns of ash nearly three miles into the sky while lava pooled around the crater.
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Exhausted peace marchers arrive in Afghan capital saying ‘everyone’s tired of war’
KABUL (Reuters) – Hundreds of Afghan peace marchers arrived exhausted in the capital, Kabul, on Monday after spending the fasting month of Ramadan crossing the sun-baked, war-torn country, much of it under Taliban control.
The marchers, all men, including teachers, students and war victims on crutches and one in a wheelchair, were welcomed along the way by village women carrying the holy Koran, men singing and dancing or offering bread and yoghurt, some in tears.
“I saw and learnt things that I had never thought of before,” said Iqbal Khayber, 27, a medical student from Helmand.
“We met people in areas controlled by the Taliban and in areas under government control – everyone is really tired of war.”
The march was triggered by a car bomb in Helmand on March 23 that killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens. No group claimed responsibility.
Khayber said the marchers, varying in number from day to day, would take main roads and some times turn into villages, choosing dangerous areas on purpose to try to confront people’s fear.
“We saw people suffering huge pain from the war … Honestly, my conscience doesn’t let me calm down. It hurts me and I ask myself: why we did not start working for peace earlier?”
Before Ramadan, the marchers were walking 30 to 35 km (18 to 20 miles) a day, but during the fasting month, when they could not take food or water during daylight hours, they slowed to 20 to 25 km per day.
In one area of Ghazni province, they were told by the Taliban not to enter an area because it was too dangerous.
“We met Taliban fighters and after an introduction, they told us we shouldn’t have come here because the area is planted with bombs and they had planned an attack.
“After minutes of discussion with them, they seemed tired of it all, and the war. They directed us back to the safest area.”
Mohammad Yasin Omid, 24, a teacher from Zabul province, said he joined the march on its 21st day.
“The group had already walked for 15 days. When I saw their bleeding and blistered feet, I could not control my tears so I decided to join them.”
The Taliban are fighting to expel foreign forces, defeat the U.S.-backed government and restore sharia, or Islamic law, after their ouster by U.S.-led forces in 2001.
But Afghanistan has been at war for four decades, ever since the Soviet invasion in 1979.
Both the government and the militants declared temporary ceasefires for the end-of-Ramadan Eid al-Fitr holiday, leading to hugs and selfies between the two sides as militants emerged from their hideouts to enter towns and cities.
The Taliban ceasefire ended on Sunday. The government extended its ceasefire with the Taliban, which had been due to end on Wednesday, June 20, by 10 days.
The anti-war marchers said they won’t stop in Kabul.
“We received support from the people in Kabul as we had expected,” said marcher Badshah Khan.
“Now we will have sit-ins in tents and continue walking to other provinces to get more support.”
Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Robert Birsel
Strong quake near Osaka, Japan, kills 3, knocks over walls
A strong earthquake has shaken the city of Osaka in western Japan. There are reports of scattered damage including broken glass and concrete.
The Japan Meteorological Agency says a quake with preliminary magnitude of 5.9 struck Monday around 8 a.m. The inland earthquake poses no tsunami risk.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga says there were no reports of major damage as of 8:30 a.m. No injuries have been reported.
Train and subway service including the bullet train have been suspended to check for damage to equipment.
‘Meghan cried when I said I wouldn’t be at her wedding to Harry’ – Thomas Markle
Thomas Markle said he had broken the news to Meghan in an emotional phone call just days before she was due to walk down the aisle in Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel.
The 73-year-old watched the wedding from California, where he was recovering from heart surgery.
In an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Markle said: “They were disappointed.
“Meghan cried, I’m sure, and they both said ‘Take care of yourself, we are really worried about you’.”
He added: “I absolutely wanted to walk my daughter down the aisle.”
Adding that he was recovering well from his surgery, which saw him have three stents fitted, Mr Markle said he was “honoured” that the Prince of Wales took on the job of walking Meghan down the aisle instead.
“I can’t think of a better replacement than someone like Prince Charles,” he told the programme.
Mr Markle’s operation came shortly after allegations surfaced that he had staged photographs with the paparazzi.
He told GMB he had apologised to both Harry and Meghan, adding: “I realised it was a serious mistake. It’s hard to take it back.”
The retired TV lighting director confessed he had cried as he watched the royal ceremony on television, describing his daughter as “beautiful”.
“It was incredible watching her,” he said.
“I was very proud. I was very upset that it wasn’t me (walking her down the aisle) but the whole world was watching my daughter. I was very happy about that.
“The unfortunate thing for me now is I’m a footnote in one of the greatest moments in history rather than the dad walking her down the aisle. That upsets me somewhat.”
Asked about her choice of husband, Mr Markle told the programme he thought Harry was “great” and “an interesting guy”.
He also revealed the pair had spoken about politics, and said he had held conversations with the Duke of Sussex about Donald Trump and Brexit.
He said: “Our conversation was I was complaining about not liking Donald Trump, he said ‘give Donald Trump a chance’.
“I sort of disagreed with that.”
When asked about details of the Brexit conversation, he said: “It was just a loose conversation… I think he (the Duke of Sussex) was open to the experiment.”
He also recounted the moment Harry had asked for Meghan’s hand in marriage, saying: “Harry asked for her hand on the phone and I said: ‘You are a gentleman, promise me you will never raise your hand against my daughter and of course I will grant you my permission’.”
Seeminlgy unfazed by his daughter marrying into the royal family, Mr Markle said his daughter had “been a princess since the day she was born”, adding: “He made a good pick, didn’t he?”.