Posted by sakerfa on December 19, 2009
(PressTV) – Yemen’s Houthi fighters say scores of civilians, including many children, have been killed in US air-raids in the southeast of the war-stricken Arab country.
The Shia fighters on Friday reported the deaths of 63 people, including some 28 children, in the southeastern province of Abyan.
Almost 90 people were also injured in the attacks by US warplanes in the village of Bakazam, they added.
Yemen’s southern provinces have recently been the scene of US airstrikes which Washington claims to be aimed at uprooting an al-Qaeda cell operative in the Persian Gulf state.
But the residents of the area dismiss the claims that al-Qaeda members are being targeted in the US attacks, while a Yemeni lawmaker has also called for an investigation into the raids.
The US operation in southern Yemen comes on top of a joint Saudi-Yemeni military campaign in the country’s war-weary north where Sana’a and Riyadh forces are engaged in a fierce fighting against the Houthi fighters.
The Houthis, who accuse the Sunni-dominated Sana’a government of discrimination and repression against Yemen’s Shia minority, were the target of the army’s off and on attacks before the central government launched an all-out fighting against them in early August.
Saudi Arabia joined the operation later following alleged clashes between its border guards and the Houthis, carrying out regular airstrikes and ground incursions against the fighters.
On Friday, the Houthis said over 160 missiles hit regions along the border with the neighboring kingdom, which they accuse of pounding civilians in villages within the Yemeni territory.
The Saudis have conducted more than 70 air raids in less than 24 hours.excerpt 2
Pakistan in crisis as 'creeping coup' unfolds
SAEED SHAH, ISLAMABADDecember 20, 2009
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Despite the political crisis engulfing Pakistan, a bunch of Afghan refugee girls find plenty to smile about as they play in a poor neighbourhood in Rawalpindi. Inset: Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Photo: AP
THE political crisis in Pakistan has deepened after the Government's anti-corruption agency sought a warrant for the arrest of the country's Interior Minister.
Officials from the National Accountability Bureau asked for permission to arrest Rehman Malik, the minister in charge of law and order and the war on terrorism.
The move followed a supreme court ruling last week that overturned an amnesty introduced by General Pervez Musharraf, the former president, to enable the late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her senior aides to return from exile in 2007.
Under the deal, more than 8000 cases, including corruption, were dropped.
A number of other leaders of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) were also summoned to appear before the courts over long-standing corruption charges.
The latest blow for the Government came on Friday, shortly after the Defence Minister was stopped from leaving the country for an official visit to China.
The supreme court also urged the Government to invite the Swiss Government to reopen money laundering cases against Asif Ali Zardari, the President.
The scale of the crisis and the speed with which it has unfolded has prompted supporters of Mr Zardari to question the role of the judiciary and speculate on whether the army is behind the legal challenge to the Government. Some even spoke of a ''creeping coup'' unfolding.
''It's complete [judicial] control now,'' said Asma Jahangir, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. ''The issue is whether the [democratic] system is going to pack up again.''
The National Accountability Bureau, the official anti-corruption watchdog, applied for an arrest warrant for Mr Malik on corruption allegations going back over a decade.
The court summoned Mr Malik to appear next month, after his lawyer gave an assurance the Interior Minister would attend the hearing.
Mr Malik had three cases dropped under the amnesty. One of the allegations involved the ''embezzlement'' of $US165,000.
On Thursday, Ahmed Mukhtar, the Defence Minister, was physically prevented from boarding a flight for an official visit to China.
The two ministers are key Western allies for Pakistan's role in the fight against al-Qaeda.
Mr Malik, Mr Mukhtar and Mr Zardari were all said to be beneficiaries of the rules that led to the wiping away of thousands of corruption charges.
Mr Mukhtar, however, claims that his name was mistakenly put on the list of beneficiaries.
PPP leaders suspect the judiciary has collaborated with the military in a move to oust Mr Zardari, who is unpopular among Pakistan's establishment. The army has repeatedly denied it has any intention to interfere in politics.