Castro rule nears end in Cuba


MNA International Desk: Cuba is poised for the end of an era on Thursday as President Raul Castro steps down, formally handing power to his long-time deputy Miguel Diaz-Canel and thereby ending his family’s six-decade grip on the island. The silver-haired Diaz-Canel, 57 — a top Communist Party figure who has served as first vice president since 2013 — will become the island’s first leader born after the 1959 revolution, and the first in 60 years who is not named Castro. Between them, father of the nation Fidel and his younger brother Raul made the Caribbean island a key player ...

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Former US first lady Barbara Bush dies

Barbara Bush

MNA International Desk: Former US first lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at the age of 92, triggering an outpouring of praise for the matriarch of a Republican family once at the apex of American politics. “A former first lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday on 17 April 17 at the age of 92,” said a statement from the office of George HW Bush. They were married for 73 years. Barbara Bush has long been considered the rock at the centre of one of America’s most prominent political ...

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Myanmar to free over 8,000 prisoners


MNA International Desk: Myanmar’s new president said on Tuesday over 8,000 prisoners will be freed in an amnesty, a move the government said would bring about humanitarian support amid the country’s political reforms after decades of military rule. The presidential pardon, signed by newly-elected President Win Myint, said the move was aimed to bring peace as part of celebrations of the Myanmar new year. It did not specify when the amnesty would take place, reported news agency. ‘To bring peace and pleasure to people’s heart, and for the sake of humanitarian support, 8,490 prisoners from respective prisons will be given ...

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Air strikes cripple Syria chemical weapons program: US

chemical weapons

MNA International Desk: Western powers said on Saturday their missile attacks struck at the heart of Syria’s chemical weapons program, but the restrained assault appeared unlikely to halt Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s progress in the 7-year-old civil war. The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles overnight in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Syria a week ago, targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities, including a research and development centre in Damascus’ Barzeh district and two installations near Homs. The bombing was the biggest intervention by Western countries against Assad and his superpower ...

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Taj Mahal’s stone pillars collapse


MNA International Desk: A violent storm has destroyed two ancient pillars at the entryways to the Taj Mahal, an official said Thursday, underscoring the fragility of the centuries-old marble monument to love. The four-metre high sandstone minarets topped by ornate spires were left in chunks after being felled by strong winds late Wednesday. “Two decorative pillar collapsed last night amid high-velocity winds. One of the pillars stood at the royal gate, and the other at the southern gate,” an official from the Archaeological Survey of India told media. None of the four white marble minarets surrounding the Taj-or the spectacular ...

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Algeria military plane crash kills 257


MNA International Desk: Algeria suffered its deadliest ever air catastrophe Wednesday when a military plane crashed after takeoff, killing 257 people on board, mostly army personnel and their family members. Hundreds of ambulances and dozens of fire trucks with sirens wailing rushed to the scene of the crash, in an uninhabited area where one person was injured on the ground by debris. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and security forces set up a cordon to prevent journalists and onlookers from approaching. Witnesses who had been working in nearby fields told news agency that the plane had burst into flames before it ...

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FBI raids office of Trump’s personal lawyer

personal lawyer

MNA International Desk: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday raided the offices and home of US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, law enforcement sources said, in a dramatic new development in a series of probes involving close Trump associates. Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen M. Ryan, said that US prosecutors conducted a search that was partly a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. Mueller is investigating whether members of Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia during the US presidential election. Trump has called the probe a ‘witch hunt’ and denied any collusion. The raid could ...

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At least 70 killed in suspected chemical attack in Douma


MNA International Desk: At least 70 people have died in a suspected chemical attack in Douma, the last rebel-held town in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, rescuers and medics say. Volunteer rescue force the White Helmets tweeted graphic images showing several bodies in basements. It said the deaths were likely to rise. There has been no independent verification of the reports. Syria has called the allegations of a chemical attack a “fabrication” – as has its main ally, Russia. The US state department said Russia – with its “unwavering support” for Syria’s government – “ultimately bears responsibility” for the alleged attacks. Several ...

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Julius Maada Bio sworn in as new Sierra Leone president

Sierra Leone

MNA International Desk: Opposition candidate and former military junta leader of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio was sworn in as the country’s new president late on Wednesday, just hours after the elections commission announced his victory in a tight run-off poll. He now faces the complex task of rebuilding the impoverished West African nation’s economy that was dragged down by the world’s deadliest Ebola epidemic and a global slump in commodity prices. Representing the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Maada Bio won 51.81 per cent of votes cast in the March 31 poll, according to results announced by the National ...

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Trump to deploy military to Mexican border


MNA International Desk: President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to deploy the military to secure America’s southern border, as a caravan of Central American migrants headed north through Mexico toward the United States. The US leader has spent three days attacking the Mexican government for failing to block the estimated 1,500 people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras from walking north toward the border, reported news agency. “Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military,” Trump told journalists. In an evening statement, the White House clarified that Trump’s plan ...

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India caste violence leaves 6 dead


MNA International Desk: Low-caste Dalits fought street battles with police on Monday that left at least six dead as protests against a Supreme Court rights ruling swept across large swathes of India. Protesters clashed with security forces, attacked buses and government buildings, and blocked trains and major roads. Four were reported dead in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, one in Uttar Pradesh and one in Rajasthan, police said. Madhya Pradesh was one of the worst hit but Rishi Kumar Shukla, director general of the state police, told media the protests had been brought “under control”. A curfew was imposed ...

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Hotel collapse kills 10 people in India


MNA Sports Desk: Ten people were killed and two were injured when a four-storey hotel collapsed in a crowded part of the central Indian city of Indore late on Saturday, a local police official said. While the building was old, the reason for its collapse was not immediately known, Kirade said. According to local news reports, the building collapsed after a heavy vehicle rammed into it. Building collapses are common in India, where unscrupulous builders and officials often dodge regulations or overlook the need to renovate old structures. In August, a 117-year-old building collapsed in the financial hub of Mumbai ...

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16 Palestinians killed in Gaza clashes


MNA International Desk: At least 16 people have been killed by Israeli forces and hundreds more wounded during protests at the Gaza Israeli border, Palestinian officials say. Thousands had marched to the border at the start of a six-week protest, dubbed the Great March of Return. The Israeli military said soldiers had opened fire after rioting, reported news agency. UN Security Council members meeting in New York have called for an investigation into the violence. Palestinians have pitched five camps near the border for the protest. They are demanding that refugees be allowed to return to homes that are now ...

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Sisi wins 2nd term as Egyptian president


MNA International Desk: Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has been re-elected for a second term after an election campaign in which five of his potential challengers were prevented from getting on the ballot. Preliminary results showed that Sisi won about 92% of the vote, with turnout at around 41.5%. Twenty-five million of the 60 million registered voters turned out during the three days of polling that ended on Wednesday, state-owned media  reported. Twenty-three million voted for Sisi. According to newspaper, in addition to 23 million who cast valid votes, 2 million spoiled their ballot papers. Sisi’s sole challenger was Mousa ...

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Malala returns to Pakistan after 6yrs


MAN International Desk: Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai returned to Pakistan on Thursday, officials said, in her first visit to her native country since she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman six years ago for advocating education for girls. Malala is widely respected internationally for her bravery and activism, but opinion is divided in Pakistan where some conservatives view her as a Western agent on a mission to shame her country. Malala is expected to meet with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during the four-day trip but further details have been “kept secret in view of the ...

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North Korean leader Kim visits China

North Korean leader Kim

MNA International Desk: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pledged to denuclearise and meet US officials, China said on Wednesday after an historic meeting with President Xi Jinping, who promised China would uphold its friendship with its isolated neighbour. After two days of speculation, China and North Korea both confirmed that Kim had visited Beijing and met Xi during what China’s Foreign Ministry called an unofficial visit to China from Sunday to Wednesday. The China visit was Kim’s first known trip outside North Korea since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation ...

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US steps up threat to quit UNHRC


MNA International Desk: The United States warned Friday that it was losing patience and again threatened to quit the UN Human Rights Council or UNHRC after the Geneva-based body adopted five resolutions condemning Israel. US ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement that the council was “grossly biased against Israel,” noting that it had adopted only three resolutions separately targeting North Korea, Iran and Syria. “When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, it is the council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name,” said Haley. “Our patience is not unlimited. Today’s ...

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Peru’s president Kuczynski resigns


MNA International Desk: Peru’s center-right President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski announced his resignation on Wednesday after vote-buying allegations ensnared him in a fresh scandal on the eve of an impeachment vote, capping months of political turmoil in one of Latin America’s most stable economies. Kuczynski, a 79-year-old former Wall Street banker who once held US citizenship, promised a ‘constitutional and orderly’ transition of power to end what he described as a hostile political climate that had made governing nearly impossible. But Kuczynski, who is expected to be replaced by Vice President Martin Vizcarra on Friday, denied allegations of wrongdoing and blamed ...

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Myanmar’s president Htin Kyaw resigns

Htin Kyaw

MNA International Desk: Myanmar’s civilian president, Htin Kyaw, has resigned with immediate effect ‘in order to take rest from the current duties and responsibilities’, his office said in a statement posted on Facebook on Wednesday. Htin Kyaw, whose post is largely ceremonial, has been a close ally of the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. He was handpicked by the Nobel peace prize laureate to become president because a constitution drafted by the country’s former junta bars her from the top office. There has been speculation in the local media for some months that Htin Kyaw was in ...

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Vladimir Putin wins presidential election


MNA International Desk: Vladimir Putin rolled to a crushing re-election victory Sunday for six more years as Russia’s president, and he told cheering supporters in a triumphant but brief speech that “we are bound for success,” reported news agency. There had been no doubt that Putin would win in his fourth electoral contest; he faced seven minor candidates and his most prominent foe was blocked from the ballot. His only real challenge was to run up the tally so high that he could claim an indisputable mandate. With ballots from 80 percent of Russia’s precincts counted by early Monday, Putin ...

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Russia expels 23 British diplomats

British diplomats

MAN International Desk: Russian on Saturday said it will expel 23 British diplomats from the country within a week. The country summoned the British ambassador to inform him of the retaliatory action taken after the UK’s expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats amid tensions over spy poisoning row. It also said it would close the British Council in Russia, which promotes cultural ties between the nations, and the British Consulate in St Petersburg, reported news agency. The move comes in response to Britain’s decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats. They were ordered to leave over the incident on 4 March which ...

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Xi re-elects as China’s president with no term limits


MNA International Desk: Xi Jinping was reappointed Saturday as China’s president with no limit on the number of terms he can serve, reported news agency. The National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, also appointed close Xi ally Wang Qishan to the formerly ceremonial post of vice president. At the Great Hall of the People, Xi, Wang and other officials took turns stepping to the lectern to place their left hands on the constitution and raise their right fists as they delivered an oath swearing loyalty to the constitution, the motherland and the people. Xi, 64, is considered the most powerful ...

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Observers urged Myanmar not to drag out Reuters reporters case


MNA International Desk: Some international observers urged Myanmar on Wednesday not to drag out legal proceedings against two Reuters journalists, as they appeared in court for the 10th time since they were arrested in December and accused of possessing secret government papers. A Yangon court began preliminary hearings in January to decide whether reporters Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, will face charges under the colonial-era Officials Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. Denmark’s embassy in Yangon, which has closely followed the case, said ahead of the latest hearing that the journalists ...

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Haspel, nominated as first woman CIA chief


MNA International Desk: Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee to become the first woman to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, made her career in covert action, but her involvement in controversial interrogations has already provoked Senate opposition to her confirmation. She who joined the CIA in 1985 and earned high-level awards during her career. She was sworn in early last year as deputy director and helps manage intelligence collection, analysis, covert action and counterintelligence. Trump announced Tuesday he was removing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The Senate must vote on Haspel’s confirmation to ...

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Rebel group vows to fight in Syria’s Ghouta

rebel group

MNA International Desk: The largest rebel group in the besieged suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus has vowed not to leave the area and to continue fighting advancing government forces. The Army of Islam was responding to some local reports that said it is negotiating with the Syrian government and its Russian backers to leave the area known as eastern Ghouta. Hamza Bayraqdar, the group’s chief military spokesman, said in a video statement posted online that “our revolutionary ideology does not allow us to sell the blood of the holy warriors who liberated Ghouta.” Bayraqdar says: “we will stay in ...

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2 killed in NY river helicopter crash


MNA International Desk: A helicopter carrying six people crashed in New York City’s East River on Sunday, killing at least two and sending three to the hospital in critical condition. Two of the five passengers died at the scene and three were taken to hospitals, New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said late Sunday at a press conference. The pilot freed himself and was rescued and in good condition after being taken to a hospital for observation, reported news agency. The Federal Aviation Administration said the Eurocopter AS350 went down near the northern end of Roosevelt Island at about 7 ...

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18 Afghan soldiers killed in battle

Afghan soldiers

MNA International Desk: As many as 18 Afghan soldiers and members of the special forces have been killed in fighting in the western province of Farah, local officials said on Saturday. Taliban fighters attacked troops assembled to prepare an attack in Bala Buluk district in the night, setting off a fierce battle, officials said. Defence Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said four members of the special forces had been killed and a number wounded, but the head of the local provincial council, Farid Bakhtawar, said the death toll had reached at least 18. As the fighting went on, an air strike ...

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