Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Tribal sources: Al-Qaeda kills 30 Shi'ite rebels in central Yemen <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Sunni Al Qaeda militants and Shi&#39;ite Muslim rebels have fought a bloody battle in central Yemen, tribal sources said on Wednesday, amid fears of worsening sectarian tension in the impoverished Arabian country.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thirty Shi&#39;ite rebels and 18 Sunni fighters and their tribal allies were killed in the clashes, the tribal sources told Reuters. Shi&#39;ite Houthi rebels seized control of the capital Sanaa on 21 September and their forces have fanned out to Yemen&#39;s west and center since then.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Al-Qaeda in Yemen&#39;s Twitter page said it fought the rebels with light weapons and demolished their homes in the city of Radda in al-Bayda province over the course of several hours on Tuesday - an account confirmed by local tribesmen.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The statement did not mention any casualties on its side, which the tribal sources put at 18 among the militants and tribal gunmen fighting along with the group.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a separate incident, Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for an attack on an army checkpoint elsewhere in al-Bayda province which killed 5 soldiers, the fighters and security sources said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Radda, with a population of 60,000, has long been a stronghold of al-Qaeda, which includes many fighters from local tribes who are up in arms over the new presence of the Houthi rebels in the mainly Sunni-populated region.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The northern-based Shi&#39;ite Houthi established themselves as power brokers in Yemen last month by capturing Sanaa against scant resistance from the weak administration of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who appears not to have a full grip on the country&#39;s fractious military.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Houthi forces have since advanced into central Yemen and taken on Sunni tribesmen and al Qaeda militants, who regard the Houthis as heretics. Fighting has flared in several provinces, alarming the world&#39;s No. 1 oil exporter Saudi Arabia next door.</div> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:20:00 +0000 Reuters 2439124 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/10/22/484151/al-qaeda_kills_rebels.jpg Hong Kong protesters march after fruitless talks with government <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>About 200 Hong Kong protesters marched to the home of the city&#39;s Beijing-backed leader on Wednesday to push their case for greater democracy a day after talks between student leaders and senior officials failed to break the deadlock.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Others continued to occupy main streets in the Chinese-controlled city, where they have camped for nearly a month in protest against a central government plan that would give Hong Kong people the chance to vote for their own leader in 2017 but tightly restrict the candidates to Beijing loyalists.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A wide chasm separates the protesters and the government, which has labelled their actions illegal and repeatedly said their demand for open nominations is impossible under the laws of the former British colony.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I&#39;m here hoping the government will listen. If they don&#39;t listen we will come out again and again to fight for our basic, grassroots nomination right,&quot; said protester Wing Chan, who took part in the march.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Expectations had been low for a breakthrough in Tuesday&#39;s cordial, televised talks which pitted five of the city&#39;s most senior officials against five tenacious but poised student leaders wearing black T-shirts.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Protesters were unhappy about what they felt was a lack of substantive concessions. Andy Lau, a 19-year-old college student, said now was the time to step things up.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I think it is time to seriously consider escalating the movement, such as expanding our occupation to many more places to pressure the government to really face and answer our demands,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Demonstrators marching to the home the city&#39;s leader, Leung Chun-ying, repeated calls for him to step down. Many were angry at remarks he made this week that more representative democracy was unacceptable in part because it would result in poorer people having more say in politics.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under a &quot;one country, two systems&quot; formula that allows it wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms and specifies universal suffrage as an ultimate goal. But Beijing is wary about copycat demands for reform on the mainland eroding the Communist Party&#39;s power.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Leung told reporters before Tuesday&#39;s talks that the panel that picks candidates for the 2017 election could be made &quot;more democratic&quot;. That was first indication of a possible concession.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>&#39;Very disappointed&#39;</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The end-game for the protests remains unclear. Hong Kong&#39;s high court issued injunctions this week barring protesters from blocking roads, but the police appeared unwilling or incapable of carrying them out.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On Wednesday afternoon, a handful of taxi drivers who had filed the injunction turned up at the Mong Kok demonstration zone, on the Kowloon side of the picture-postcard harbor, and started to pull apart makeshift barricades.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Police intervened to calm the situation and make space between the two sides.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The use of tear gas by police early in the protests backfired, sparking outrage among many in Hong Kong and helping to swell the ranks of the demonstrators.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Since then, police have occasionally used pepper spray and batons but they have not tried to fully clear the streets.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The government appears to be in a quandary: unable to make concessions but wary that a crackdown would only exacerbate the protests. Analysts say the government is biding its time.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The unprecedented open debate on democracy on Tuesday night reflected a shift in the government&#39;s approach to engage rather than shun a movement that has lasted beyond most people&#39;s expectations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The officials offered the prospect of discussions about how the nominating committee that will pick candidates for leader is formed, and said they would send a report to Beijing on the situation and the protesters&#39; demands.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After the meeting, disappointed students said they had yet to decide whether to hold more talks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It is very obvious why many people are still staying here tonight,&quot; student leader Yvonne Leung told thousands of cheering demonstrators at the tent-filled main protest site in the Admiralty district, near government offices, on Tuesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It is because we absolutely have no idea what they were talking about ... The government did not give us a concrete reply and direction in the dialogue today. We are absolutely very disappointed about this.&quot;</div> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:12:00 +0000 Reuters 2439121 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/10/22/484151/fruitless_hong_kong.jpg Residents: Air strikes kills around 25 Islamic State fighters in Iraq <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Coalition air strikes killed around 25 Islamic State fighters on Wednesday near the northern Iraqi city of Baiji, residents told Reuters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They said a series of bombings beginning in the early hours hit the town of al-Siniya, west of Baiji, a strategic city adjacent to the country&#39;s largest refinery, part of a multinational effort to check the group&#39;s progress.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Iraqi army tanks and armored vehicles on Wednesday also fought off an advance by Islamic State militants on the town of Amiriya Fallujah, west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, army sources said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The sources added that around 400 fighters amassed in the nearby towns of Fallujah and Karma the day before, piling pressure on the capital&#39;s western flank.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Government forces fought back Islamic State outside Amiriya Fallujah - which faced a siege by the militants for much of this month and is the last government-controlled town before the key provincial city of Fallujah.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Soldiers destroyed five of the fighters&#39; vehicles, a security source said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties from the fighting there, but the militant advance appears to have been halted.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Another battle between the two sides raged in the area around Hit town, also in western Anbar province, but the outcome remained unclear.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hit is a walled market town located some 130 km (80 miles) west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad seized by Islamic State militants at the beginning of October.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Anbar&#39;s largest airbase Ain al-Asad, the Haditha Dam &ndash; a critical piece of infrastructure - and surrounding towns are encircled by Islamic State to the west from the Syrian border and to the east from militant-controlled sections of Ramadi.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The province fell into the militants&#39; hands after years of tension between the Shia Muslim-led government and the Sunni majority population, which seeks greater autonomy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Retaking the lost towns and encouraging Anbar&#39;s Sunni tribes to take up the fight against Islamic State will be vital to reviving the shattered Iraqi state&#39;s control over its territory. The tribespeople did not take part in the fighting near Amiriya Fallujah.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The United States and other Western countries have repeatedly bombed the Sunni jihadist group&#39;s positions in Iraq - including in the Fallujah area on Wednesday - and Gulf monarchies have also taken part in air strikes against it in Syria which began last month.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Declaring a caliphate, or Muslim theocracy, Islamic State took advantage of sectarian warfare and weak state control to grab swathes of Syria and Iraq earlier this year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Islamic State fighters have also laid siege for a month to Kobani, hundreds of kilometers to the northwest on the Turkish-Syrian frontier, and only intense bombardments by US-led coalition warplanes have halted their advance.</div> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:58:00 +0000 Reuters 2439116 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/10/22/484151/a_man_looks_out_of_his_car.jpg Saudi Arabia sentences 13 over plot to attack U.S. soldiers <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A Saudi court has sentenced 13 suspected members of an al Qaeda cell - 11 Saudis, a Qatari and an Afghan citizen - to up to 30 years in prison for plotting to attack US soldiers in Qatar and Kuwait, the state news agency SPA reported.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Separately, two Saudi citizens were sentenced to death on Monday after being convicted of attacking a police station with Molotov cocktails in Awamiya in the country&#39;s predominantly Shi&#39;ite Muslim east, defense lawyers and Saudi media said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sectarian tensions have plunged several neighbors of Riyadh into complex multi-sided wars. US forces based in conservative Sunni Muslim Gulf states are waging air strikes on radical Sunni Islamist insurgents who have seized large areas of Shia-led Iraq and of Syria, whose government is backed by Shi&#39;ite Iran.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The official Saudi news agency SPA said the court ruled on Tuesday that the 13 men had exploited Saudi territory &quot;to form a terrorist cell seeking to carry out a terrorist operation in the state of Qatar against American forces, supplying the cell with arms and money for that operation, recruiting people for that cell&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The men were also convicted of &quot;preparing to participate in a terrorist operation in the state of Kuwait targeting American forces there,&quot; the agency added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The accused leader of the group, a Qatari man, was sentenced to 30 years in jail, after which he would be expelled from Saudi Arabia, while the other 12 were jailed for between 18 months and 18 years, SPA said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They were among a group of 41 people rounded up in 2011 on suspicion of forming a cell linked to the Sunni militant al Qaeda that planned to hit US forces in Qatar and Kuwait.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Western-allied Saudi Arabia worries that its citizens may be drawn to fight in Iraq and Syria, and has issued a flurry of sentences against suspected militants in the past few weeks as top Saudi clerics and leaders have decried Islamic State.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the kingdom has also cracked down hard on unrest in its Eastern province, which sits atop the kingdom&#39;s vast oil reserves and is home to the Saudi Shi&#39;ite minority.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On Monday, a court sentenced to death two men convicted of the police station assault, and gave a third defendant 12 years in prison, SPA reported.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Defense lawyers said they intended to appeal against the sentences, arguing that the defendants had complained at the hearing that confessions were taken under duress.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The decision followed a death sentence on 15 Oct for prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who had called for greater rights for the kingdom&#39;s Shias and whose arrest in 2011 prompted deadly protests.</div> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:49:00 +0000 Reuters 2439113 at sites/default/files/photo/2012/08/04/156431/saudi_police.jpeg