Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Thailand's ruling junta lifts martial law <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Thailand&#39;s ruling junta announced in a televised statement on Wednesday that it had lifted martial law, in place across the country since just before a coup 10 months ago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The military will retain sweeping powers after the junta invoked a special security measure, Article 44 of the country&#39;s interim constitution, in its place.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The measure will allow security forces to continue to make arrests without a court warrant and to detain people without charge.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We have lifted martial law around the country,&quot; the junta said in a televised statement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The announcement came after Thailand&#39;s King Bhumibol Adulyadej approved lifting the law which banned all political gatherings and gave the military wide-ranging powers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There is no need to use martial law anymore ... The king has allowed martial law to be lifted from April 1,&quot; said a Royal Gazette statement read out on national television.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thailand&#39;s military seized power on May 22, ousting the government of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra after months of sometimes violent street protests in Bangkok that left nearly 30 people dead.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is also junta chief, said he would replace it with a new order retaining significant powers for the military.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The National Council for Peace and Order, as the junta is known, said in its statement that martial law would be replaced by Article 44, which gives Prayuth power over all aspects of government, law and order.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Article 44 will allow the military to &quot;catch anyone and hand them over to an investigation team&quot;, to help with investigations and to search buildings in the interests of national security, said the statement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Use of the special security measure has sparked concern among rights groups, political parties and some academics who say it will give junta leader Prayuth unchecked authority.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But moves to lift martial law will come as a relief to tour operators who have repeatedly called for it to be lifted.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tourism, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of Thailand&#39;s GDP, is still recovering from the effects of last year&#39;s coup and the imposition of martial law which has stopped some tourists from being able to buy travel insurance.</div> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:47:00 +0000 Reuters 2447260 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/06/26/484151/thai_general.jpg Iraq's interior minister says most of Tikrit is liberated, fight goes on <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Iraqi troops and Shi&#39;ite paramilitary fighters were battling Islamic State militants in northern Tikrit Wednesday, as the government forces sought to push the extremist group from the city.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Iraq&#39;s Interior Minister Mohammed al-Ghabban said security forces were fighting to clear the last Islamic State stronghold, the city&#39;s northern neighborhood of Qadissiyah.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Most of Tikrit is liberated today. Only a few areas of resistance are remaining,&quot; Ghabban said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Government forces have been in a month-long fight for the city, which became a bastion for the Sunni jihadists who are at war with Baghdad and have been targeted by US-led air strikes.</div> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:35:00 +0000 Reuters 2447259 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/01/484151/2015-04-01t092645z_2_lynxmpeb301ht_rtroptp_2_mideast-crisis-iraq-tikrit.jpg Israel expects hundreds of civilian casualties in next war with Hezbollah <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Israel could suffer hundreds of civilian dead and damage to its vital infrastructure from Hezbollah rockets if it fights another war with the<span style="color:#0000ff;"> <a href=""><u>Iran</u></a></span>ian-backed Lebanese guerrilla group, according to Israeli military assessments.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The scenario, published by Israeli media on Wednesday, reflected concern among security planners that since the last Lebanon war, in 2006, Hezbollah has expanded its rocket arsenal and gained battle experience helping Damascus fight the insurgency in <a href=""><u><span style="color:#0000ff;">Syria</span></u></a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The publication of the assessments could help build a case for more investment in Israeli civil defences and in US-backed rocket interceptors like Iron Dome, which has proven effective outside Gaza, and the longer-range David&#39;s Sling, which is in final testing stages.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the military assessments, between 1,000 and 1,500 rockets could hit Israel daily in the next full-blown conflict, killing hundreds of people and potentially paralysing key installations like airports, sea ports and power stations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The 2006 war killed around 160 Israelis, most of them troops fighting Hezbollah inside Lebanon, while 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, died in Israel&#39;s military barrages.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Another conflict could see Israeli attacks 15 times more devastating for Lebanon, Israel&#39;s air force chief, Major-General Amir Eshel, said in a speech last year aimed at keeping Hezbollah in check.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While not making details public, Hezbollah says its military capabilities have been significantly boosted since 2006. Neither side appears keen on resuming hostilities. The restraint has been tested, however, by occasional flare-ups in fighting.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Worried that Hezbollah was entrenching forces on its Syrian front, Israel carried out a Jan. 18 air strike that killed six of the Lebanese guerrillas - one of them a field commander - and an Iranian general. Hezbollah retaliated with a cross-border guided-missile salvo that killed two Israeli troops.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Since its July-August war with Palestinian Hamas guerrillas, where eight Iron Dome batteries helped fend off rockets from the Gaza Strip, Israel has been trying to improve those interceptors. It has also accelerated the development of David&#39;s Sling, a system designed to shoot down the more potent missiles of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, with hopes of deploying it by 2016.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Israeli officials last month asked US lawmakers for US$317 million in additional funding for David&#39;s Sling and other Israeli missile defence programmes, on top of $158 million in funding already requested by the Obama administration in its fiscal 2016 budget.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A group of 32 US senators last week urged fellow lawmakers to fully meet Israel&#39;s missile defence funding request. The issue was expected to be on the agenda of John Boehner, speaker of the US House of Representatives, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday at the head of a delegation of Republican lawmakers.</div> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:36:00 +0000 Reuters 2447220 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/28/499612/israel_army_vehicle_on_lebanon_border.jpg Residents, medics: Explosion at Yemen factory kills at least 25 <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>An explosion at a dairy factory in Yemen&#39;s Hodaida port killed at least 25 workers, medical sources said, with conflicting accounts attributing the blast to an air strike by a Saudi-led alliance or to a rocket landing from a nearby army base.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The incident would appear to be one of the biggest cases of civilian deaths since a Saudi-led coalition began an air campaign against Houthi militia on March 26.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The 26September website of Yemen&#39;s factionalised army, which mostly sides with the Houthis, said 37 workers were killed and 80 wounded at the dairy and oils factory &quot;during the aggressive air strikes which targeted the two factories last night.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Medical sources in the city said 25 workers at the plant had been killed at the factory, which was located near an army camp loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Houthi ally.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Residents and witnesses contacted by Reuters said the air strikes had targeted the factory shortly after midnight on Wednesday. Others said rockets fired from the base - possibly as retaliation against the bombings - hit the factory.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The operation by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim states aims to prevent the Houthis and former Saleh from winning control of the country. They instead want to reinstate Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Air strikes overnight hit Houthi positions along the Saudi border in Yemen&#39;s far North, an army bases in the central highlands, air defence infrastructure in the eastern Marib province, and a coast guard position near Hodaida.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After the week-long campaign targeting Houthis and forces loyal to Saleh, the coalition has failed to secure Hadi&#39;s control over his last remaining enclave in the southern port of Aden a key aim of the campaign.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Indian nationals evacuated</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The sound of gunfire and several large blasts were heard in Aden throughout the night, a Reuters reporter said. Videos posted online, whose authenticity Reuters could not immediately confirm, appeared to show fighting at an army base loyal to Saleh in the northeast of the city.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A raid at a coastal defence station at Maidi port in Hajja province north of Hodaida killed six soldiers, workers there said, while further strikes hit an army camp in Sanaa and a government facility in Saadeh in the north of Yemen.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In New York, UNICEF said late on Tuesday that at least 62 children had been killed and 30 wounded in fighting over the past week, and the United Nations said an attack on a refugee camp in northern Yemen, which medics blamed on an air strike, broke international law.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>An Indian naval patrol boat picked up nearly 350 Indian nationals from the port of Aden on Tuesday night, and was expected to arrive in Djibouti during the day, a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>More than 4,000 Indians - more than half of them nurses - are believed to have been in Yemen when Saudi Arabia launched air strikes last week.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Negotiations are under way to allow evacuation flights into Sanaa, where the Indian community is concentrated, and receive permission to evacuate more from Hodaida, the spokesman said.</div> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:06:00 +0000 Reuters 2447215 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/03/26/499612/saudi_arabias_air_strikes_in_yemen.jpg