[Dawn] Veteran politician and Naib Amir Jamaat-e-Islami ...The Islamic Society, founded in 1941 in Lahore by Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, aka The Great Apostosizer. The Jamaat opposed the independence of Bangladesh but has operated an independent branch there since 1975. It maintains close ties with international Mohammedan groups such as the Moslem Brotherhood. the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. The Jamaat's objectives are the establishment of a pure Islamic state, governed by Sharia law. It is distinguished by its xenophobia, and its opposition to Westernization, capitalism, socialism, secularism, and liberalist social mores... (JI) Professor Ghafoor Ahmed passed away in Bloody Karachi ...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It may be the largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous... after protracted illness on Wednesday. He was 85.
He was born on 26 June 1927 in Bareli, India. He earned a Masters Degree in commerce from Lucknow University in 1948 and later completed a course in Industrial Accounts.
He became a member of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1950 and held key positions.
Professor Ghafoor Ahmed was elected as a member of the Bloody Karachi Metropolitan Corporation in 1958. He was also elected a Member of National Assembly in 1970 and 1977 from Bloody Karachi.
He served as Secretary General of PNA in 1977-78, also member of the PNA team that undertook crucial negotiations with the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto ...9th PM of Pakistain from 1973 to 1977, and 4th President of Pakistain from 1971 to 1973. He was the founder of the Pakistain Peoples Party (PPP). His eldest daughter, Benazir Bhutto, would also serve as hereditary PM. In a coup led by General Zia-ul-Haq, Bhutto was removed from office and was executed in 1979 for authorizing the murder of a political opponent...
Prof Ghafoor Ahmed served as federal minister for Industries during 1978-79. He served as JI secretary general from 1988-90. He was counted amongst the most respectable politicians of Pakistain.
[Guardian.Co.UK] A suicide bomber driving a minibus full of explosives has attacked a base in eastern Afghanistan used by Nato troops and CIA operatives, killing three Afghan civilians and a security guard and injuring at least seven others.
The attacker struck when his vehicle was detained at a checkpoint a short distance from the east gate of the base in Khost province, also known to locals as "the old airport", the deputy provincial governor Abdul Waheed Patan told the Guardian.
"The security people stopped the bus at the checkpoint, but he kept going for a few more metres then detonated the explosives," Patan said by phone from Khost. "Two drivers who bring passengers from town to the area near the base, one civilian passerby and one security guard were killed."
The provincial police chief, General Abdul Qayoum Bakaizoi, confirmed the attack had happened at around 8am near one of two main gates to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chapman.
[Shabelle] There was a fire fight between forces from Somaliland and members from Khatumo state, both regional administration in north Somalia, according to an official from Somaliland authorities.
The official from Somaliland, Mr. Mohamed Dhunkal told Shabelle radion in a telephone interview that what he termed as assailants from Khatumo state attacked positions ofSomalilandforces in the twon of Hudun in Sool region.
Dhunkal said that Somaliland forces succeeded in rebelling against the attack and tossed in the slammer Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit! three of the assailants while confiscating weapons.
Shabelle tried to contact with Khatumo officials to verify the story on their side but couldn't find them on telephone.
However the official from Somaliland told Shabelle that the town ofHudunis now calm and under their control.
There have been tensions betweenSomalilandand Khatumo state over the control of parts in Sool region Sool was very big among the Hittites...
and the forces from both sides clashed before.
[Shabelle] A group of youths formerly fighting along side the bully boy group Al-Shabaab ... the personification of Somali state failure... deserted the group and surrendered to the hapless Somali government officials in Bay region, according to a top Somali military official there.
Colonel Mahad Abdirahman, the Somali army commander in Bay who spoke to Shabelle, said that members of Al-Shabaab has recently been defecting to the government side in Bay region but the commander did not specify the exact number of the fighters.
The commander said the defections came after Somali national army scaled up their security operations against the group in Bay province which clearly forced many members of to have a second thought.
[Shabelle] Somali interior and security minister, Abdikarin Hussien Guled has set an ultimatum of hundred days for Al-Shabaab ... Somalia's version of the Taliban, functioning as an arm of al-Qaeda... fighters to surrender and join the process of peace and nation building.
The minister, who spoke to journalists inMogadishu, said that the youths fighting along side Al-Shabaab should abandon the group's ideology of violence and surrender to the government and the rest of the peace loving Somalis, promising that they would be welcome and wouldn't be subjected to any harm but instead would get a proper care from the government.
The interior minister called on the Somali national army not to sacre or harm any youth from Al-Shabaab who surrenders peacefully.
"The army should welcome any defeting youth from Al-Shabaab with open arms because the young guys have been brainwashed and misled. If they decide to join the peace building efforts, let us welcome them,, said Mr. Guled.
Somali government now controls much of south and central Somalia after they routed Al-Shabaab from almost all major urban centers.
[Magharebia] Moroccan judicial police broke up an al-Qaeda cell in Fez, MAP reported on Tuesday (December 25th).
The aim of the six-member cell was to "enrol and recruit young Moroccans who have embraced jihadist ideas, in order to send them to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) camps", AFP quoted the interior ministry as saying in a statement.
The suspects include a "former prisoner incarcerated Drop the gat, Rocky, or you're a dead 'un! under the anti-terrorism law" after his extradition from Algeria in 2005, the ministry said.
Late last month, members of another Morocco AQIM cell were incarcerated Please don't kill me! in Casablanca, Laayoune, Nador, Guercif and Kelaat Sraghna. The suspects are accused of sending more than 20 young Moroccans to join al-Qaeda and the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad (MUJAO) in northern Mali.
[Magharebia] The recent discovery of al-Qaeda cells in the western Tunisian regions of Kasserine and Jendouba led Algeria to boost security along its border, El Watan reported on Monday (December 24th).
The national gendarmerie created a special task force and increased aerial surveillance in the border regions of Tebessa and Souk Ahras.
Sixteen new gendarmerie guard posts will also be created along the 965km frontier, Liberte reported.
[Magharebia] Tunisia thwarted an attempt by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to establish a terror cell in the western regions of Kasserine and Jendouba, Interior Minister Ali Larayedh announced on Friday (December 21st).
"We have discovered a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in a training camp run by three Algerians close to AQIM leader Abou Moussaab Abdelouadoud" (aka Abdelmalik Droukdel ... aka Abdel Wadoud, was a regional leader of the GSPC for several years before becoming the group's supremo in 2004 following the death of then-leader Nabil Sahraoui. Under Abdel Wadoud's leadership the GSPC has sought to develop itself from a largely domestic entity into a larger player on the international terror stage. In September 2006 it was announced that the GSPC had joined forces with al-Qaeda and in January 2007 the group officially changed its name to the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb.... ), Larayedh said.
Sixteen suspected cell members were taken into custody on December 13th, according to the minister.
The AQIM cell also stands accused of carrying out the December 10th killing of a Tunisian National Guard officer in Kasserine province. Twenty-seven year old Anis Jlassi was killed when a shootout broke out with krazed killers.
According to the interior minister, the suspects in the terror network were planning to carry out acts of sabotage in Tunisia. He added that the beturbanned goons rounded up during the past two weeks belong to the Uqba Ibn Nafi battalion, affiliated with AQIM.
Larayedh said that al-Qaeda was aiming to form a camp in Tunisia at the border and to establish an organization associated with al-Qaeda. Their goal was to carry out subversive activities under the banner of jihad.
He pointed out that al-Qaeda was also trying to attract young members who embrace their hard-line ideology. The terror network is also attempting to train the recruits militarily and ideologically, before sending them to camps in Libya and Algeria for further instruction.
Larayedh explained that the terror training camp site was chosen to avoid detection.
The interior minister said police found TNT, weapons, large quantities of ammunition, military maps, binoculars, encrypted documents and uniforms.
Eight members of the terror cell were captured in Jendouba earlier this month in an operation shortly after the Kasserine clash. At the time, interior ministry front man Khaled Tarrouche said suspects were stopped near Fernana, where security officers found detonators and explosives.
However, a hangover is the wrath of grapes... other terror suspects managed to escape and went into hiding on Jebel Chambi, the highest mountain in Tunisia. Larayedh said the efforts of the National Guard forces, security and army continued toward catching those who are in hiding in the mountains, adding that he hoped the operation would not take too long.
The minister confirmed that they had Kalashnikov rifles smuggled from Libya and Algeria. Larayedh also revealed that some detainees were seen in demonstrations and protests as well as at camps organised by Ansar al- Sharia, the most rigid jihadi salafist organization in Tunisia.
"Yet we have no evidence of organizational links between this group that is being formed and Ansar al-Sharia ...a Yemeni Islamist militia which claims it is not part of al-Qaeda, even though it works about the same and for the same ends... ," Larayedh added. In this context the Tunisian interior minister called on parents to keep an eye on their children so they wouldn't get lured into adventures with "no good purpose or end, neither in this world nor in the hereafter".
[An Nahar] UAE authorities on Wednesday announced busting a cell of Saudi and Emirati members plotting "terror" attacks in the two countries and other states.
The suspects "imported material and equipment with the aim of committing terror acts," said an official statement on WAM state news agency. The arrests came after coordination between security authorities in the two Gulf states.
The suspects were described as members of the "deviant group," a term usually used in Soddy Arabia ...a kingdom taking up the bulk of the Arabian peninsula. Its primary economic activity involves exporting oil and soaking Islamic rubes on the annual hajj pilgrimage. The country supports a large number of princes in whatcha might call princely splendor. When the oil runs out the rest of the world is going to kick sand in their national face... to refer to al-Qaeda-linked Islamists.
"Security authorities acted "after confirming that those elements were plotting to jeopardize security" in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and "other brother countries," the statement said, adding that they would be put on trial.
Unlike Saudi Arabia, the UAE has never seen attacks by al-Qaeda, but authorities have in past months jugged Drop the rod and step away witcher hands up! dozens of Islamists accused of links to the Egypt-born Moslem Brüderbund.
In July, Abu Dhabi said it dismantled a group plotting against state security without identifying their affiliation or the number of arrests.
The prosecutor general, Salem Said Kabish, said an unspecified number of people were being questioned for having formed "a group aimed at damaging the security of the state."
WAM said at the time they were also suspected of "rejecting the constitution and the founding principles of power in the Emirates" and of having links with foreign organizations.
The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven sheikhdoms led by oil-rich Abu Dhabi, the capital, and also comprises Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Qaiwain.
At least 15 unidentified individuals have been killed in gunfights and executions in Jalisco state Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Mexican press sources.
A news item published on the website of El Universal news daily said that 15 individuals including four police agents in Pihuamo have been killed since Christmas eve.
A news item posted on the website of El Diario de Coahuila news daily reported Christmas day that the bodies of four Pihuamo municipal police agents were found in the village of Los Naranjos. The victims had been abducted from a bullring in Pihuamo municipality during an public event, and led away by armed suspects dressed in military uniforms. A fifth victim was found in Los Naranjos, but the identity had not been established; it is known only that that victim was not a police agent.
Mexican drug cartel shooters and operatives routinely don military uniforms and use falsely marked vehicles as a mean of escaping observation.
The El Universal article quoted an unidentified source with the Secretaria de Defensa Nacional (SEDENA), the controlling agency for the Mexican Army, saying that 10 others had died in armed confrontations between armed drug groups in the areas in southern Jalisco state. The source said that army units found the bodies, and that those units were not involved with any exchange of gunfire with armed suspects.
Since a scan of the website of SEDENA failed to turn up any notifications of any shootouts from any regional commands since December 23rd, the source is probably a military zone spokesman, likely the 41st Military Zone based in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.
Probable gangs involved in the shootout include members of the Jalisco Nueva Generacion and Caballeros Templarios.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com
[Dawn] Two bully boyz were killed and four persons, including two coppers, received injuries in separate incidents in Khyber Agency on Tuesday, sources said.
They said that a bad boy was killed and another injured in a firing incident in Loe Shalman area of Landi Kotal.
Militants holed up in Ranay Parchaw, a border village of Afghanistan across the Kabul River near Torkham, wanted to hire some boats to cross the river into Pakistain, sources said.
The boat owners refused to lend them boats as security forces had imposed a ban on ferry service owing to movements of bad boys, they said. The refusal by the boat owners infuriated the bad boys, who started firing at them from across the border.
In retaliatory firing by the boat owners from Shalman Khula village, one bad boy was killed and another received injuries, sources said.
The security forces, stationed at a nearby hilltop, also reached the spot and took positions along the riverside to stop bully boyz from crossing over into Pakistain.
In another incident, two security personnel were maimed in a roadside blast in Bara.
Officials said that a convoy of security forces was on its way to Beautiful Downtown Peshawar ...capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province), administrative and economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Peshawar is situated near the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, convenient to the Pak-Afghan border. Peshawar has evolved into one of Pakistan's most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities, which means lots of gunfire. from Jansi Fort. An improvised bomb, planted along the road, went off when the convoy reached Bachi Nihar in Sipah area, they added.
The blast injured lance naik Shaman Gul and naik Noaman. Their vehicle was also damaged badly in the blast.
Both the injured coppers were shifted to a hospital in Peshawar. Security forces cordoned off the area and conducted a search operation but no arrests were made.
In Tirah, an activist of banned bad boy group Ansarul Islam killed his colleague Farooq Khan and injured another.
The members of the group were posted at a bunker situated on a hilltop near the border of Orakzai Agency ... crawling with holy men, home to Darra Adam Khel, the world's largest illegal arms bazaar. 14 distinct tribes of beturbanned primitives inhabit Orakzai agency's 1500 or so square kilometers... . Reason behind the firing incident could not be immediately known. The killer managed to escape after the incident, sources said.
[Dawn] Violence erupted in different parts of the city on Tuesday after an attack on a central leader of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and the killing of four men associated with the group believed to be a reincarnation of the banned turban outfit of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistain ...a Sunni Deobandi organization, a formerly registered Pak political party, established in the early 1980s in Jhang by Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. Its stated goal is to oppose Shia influence in Pakistain. They're not too big on Brelvis, either. Or Christians. Or anybody else who's not them. The organization was banned in 2002 as a terrorist organization, but somehow it keeps ticking along, piling up the corpse counts...
Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqui, the central leader of ASWJ, sustained a gunshot wound in the thigh in the attack on his motorcade in Gulshan-e-Iqbal that left four coppers, a private guard and a driver dead.
While the ASWJ called for a day of mourning, transporters' organizations in the city announced that they would keep their vehicles off the road on Wednesday.
"The double cabin [pickup truck] in which Maulana Farooqui was travelling was being escorted by a police van and a private vehicle with private gunnies," said DIG (east) Shahid Hayat.
The Maulana was heading from NIPA towards Sohrab Goth -- the route he often took to reach home -- when they came under attack on Rashid Minhas Road in front of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block 1, Moti Mahal, the senior police officer said.
In the attack, the police said, four coppers were killed, while the pickup truck's driver lost control over the steering after being hit by a bullet with the result that the vehicle ran over the traffic island. The Maulana survived the attack with a gunshot in the thigh, but his private guard was killed in the ambush, the officials said.
The police Sherlocks said there were conflicting witness accounts about the number of attackers. They added that the attackers used 9mm pistols, an AK-47 and a .222 rifle. The police seized several dozens of spent bullet casings from the crime-scene, a police brass hat said.
DIG Hayat said evidence indicated that at least three gunnies took part in the attack. "But definitely they must have been backed by their accomplices," the officer said.
The maimed were rushed to the Liaquat National Hospital where most of them died during treatment.
As soon as the news of the attack on the ASWJ leader spread, violent protests broke out outside the hospital as protesters hurled stones at vehicles on Stadium Road and set fire to tyres.
Shortly afterwards violence spread to other parts of the city including Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Nazimabad, Ayesha Manzil, Baloch Colony and Qayumabad. Armed men had gun sex.
A mob set a minibus on fire near Ayesha Manzil. Protesters also hurled stones at vehicles and placed burning tyres on roads, suspending traffic in different parts of the city.
A violent protest was witnessed on Sharea Faisal where the traffic flow remained suspended in evening hours.
Police and Rangers personnel rushed to the disturbed areas to control the situation. They also made some arrests.
However, ars longa, vita brevis... fear and tension gripped many localities as markets, bazaars and some petrol pumps also remained closed.
Meanwhile, ...back at the barn, Bossy was furiously chewing her cud and thinking... Maulana Farooqui spoke to some private television channels from his hospital bed and paid tribute to those killed in the attack.
Calling upon ASWJ workers not to indulge in violence, he said: "The attack was meant to intimidate me from my mission, but I will continue with the cause."
Two killed in Saddar
Two of the three people who were maimed in firing in Saddar were pronounced dead on arrival at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre while the third victim was admitted for treatment, police said.
The ASWJ claimed that the dear departed were their sympathizers.
Rozi Khan, Niamat Khan and another man were maimed in firing near Madni mosque on Preedy Street on Tuesday night, said a
duty officer of the Brigade cop shoppe.
In Orangi Town, three people were bumped off apparently in two sectarian attacks and a young man was rubbed out on political grounds, police said.
Two of the dear departed were associated with ASWJ, while the third victim belonged to the Shia sect, the police added.Mohammad Hafeez and Ghulam Haider were passing through Sector 12-½ of Orangi Town on a cycle of violence when they were shot at and maimed, said an official of the Orangi Town cop shoppe.
They were rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where Mr Haider was pronounced dead on arrival while Mr Hafeez died during treatment, the official said.
"Both men were associated with the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat," said SP Nasir Aftab.
Shortly afterwards, a young man belonging to the Shia sect was targeted in the Rais Amrohvi Colony in what police suspected was a reprisal attack.
The victim, Syed Shahid Hussain, a vegetable vendor, was rubbed out within the remit of the Iqbal Market cop shoppe, the SP said.
MQM man rubbed out
A young man said to be associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement ...English: United National Movement, generally known as MQM, is the 3rd largest political party and the largest secular political party in Pakistain with particular strength in Sindh. From 1992 to 1999, the MQM was the target of the Pak Army's Operation Cleanup leaving thousands of urdu speaking civilians dead... was killed in the same vicinity, the officer said.
Mohammad Nadeem was working at a cycle of violence repair shop when he was targeted, SP Aftab said.
He was taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he was pronounced dead. He's dead, Jim!
Following the killings, tension gripped parts of the Orangi Town where shops and markets were closed.
A young man, who had come along with his five accomplices riding three motorbikes apparently to carry out an attack on an Imambargah in New Bloody Karachi ...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It may be the largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous... , was killed after being hit by a bullet fired by his accomplice, police said.
The suspects fired at Imambargah Shah-e-Kazmain in Sector 11-G when one of them was hit, said New Bloody Karachi SP.
"As he fell from the motorbike, his accomplices sped away," he said, adding that he was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he died.
The suspect was later identified as Zainul Abideen, son of Mohammad Siddique, a resident of Sector 11-G, the SP said.
Clash leaves one dead
A young man was killed and his brother was maimed in a clash in Shah Faisal Colony on Tuesday, police said.
The police added that Shahzad Aslam, 25, was rubbed out and his brother, Ayaz, 22, was maimed when they were fired at after they had a clash with some people near their house in Azeempura.
The police described the incident as the result of a personal enmity.
The body and the maimed victim were taken to the JPMC for medico-legal formalities and treatment respectively, the police said.
Man killed in DHA
A son of a deputy superintendent police was rubbed out in Defence Housing Authority Phase V in the early hours of Tuesday, police said.
The police described personal enmity as the possible motive for the killing.
They added that Shahzaib, son of DSP Aurengzeb and a relative of a Pakistain People's Party-Parliamentarian member of the national assembly elected from Lyari, was maimed in firing near Mubarak Masjid, DHA Phase-V, within the remit of the Darakhshan cop shoppe. The victim was rushed to Ziauddin Hospital, where he died during treatment, the officials said.
The police later registered an FIR (591/2013) under Section 302 (premeditated murder) against Shahrukh Jatoi and his accomplices.
Youngster rubbed out
A 20-year-old man was rubbed out after being made to stand in a street in the downtown area of Kharadar on Tuesday night, police said.
The victim was kidnapped and brought to Kamil Gali before being bumped off, said an official of the Kharadar cop shoppe.
The attackers sped away on a cycle of violence after the murder.
The body was later shifted to the Civil Hospital Bloody Karachi for medico-legal formalities.
Three bodies found
The body of an unidentified man was found at an abandoned house in the Shershah area on Tuesday, police said.
The police Sherlocks suspected that the victim might have been killed a few days ago. They said the body bearing torture marks was shifted to the Civil Hospital Bloody Karachi for medico-legal formalities.
Earlier in the morning, a body stuffed in a gunny bag was found in the Timber Market area of Old Haji Camp within the remit of the Napier cop shoppe.
The police Sherlocks said that the victim was kidnapped and tortured before being killed. The body was taken to Civil Hospital Bloody Karachifor his appointment with Doctor Quincy.
The body of another unidentified man was found in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block-6 within the remit of the Gulshan cop shoppe.
The police shifted the body to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for his appointment with Doctor Quincy.
The police Sherlocks suspected that the dear departed was killed somewhere else and his body was later dumped at the spot.
[Dawn] QUETTA: Several gunnies and a Frontier Corps soldier were killed in festivities during a search operation in various areas of Mashkay subdivision of Awaran district on Tuesday.
Official sources said the FC had launched the operation in Jebri, Mahi and mountainous area of Mashkay after the killing of its two soldiers in a recent attack in Mashkay.
According to a front man of the FC, troops cordoned off the area and launched the operation on the orders of the provincial government after the banned Baloch Liberation Front had killed two FC personnel.
He said an FC convoy was going from Khuzdar to Mashkay when it was attacked.
During the search operation, he said, FC troops raided various hideouts and killed a number of terrorists.
"An FC contingent raided various hideouts in Mashkay and adjoining areas, killed many BLF men, destroyed their two camps and recovered a huge quantity of arms and ammunition," officials said, adding that the FC personnel also collected some evidence from the hideouts.
A soldier of the FC was killed and five others injured in a clash. "Many gunnies of BLF have been killed in the shootout in Mahi and Jebri areas of Mashkay," they claimed.
The FC did not say how many BLF men had been killed, but sources claimed that over a dozen gun-hung tough guys died and many others were maimed in a heavy exchange of fire.
The sources said that around a dozen suspected BLF men had been tossed in the clink Drop the gat, Rocky, or you're a dead 'un!
They also said that the shootout was continuing in the Mahi area.
FC officials said that BLF's gun-hung tough guys and criminal groups were involved in murders, kabooms, kidnappings for ransom and other heinous crimes. "These elements are harassing the area and are involved in terrorist activities in Balochistan ...the Pak province bordering Kandahar and Uruzgun provinces in Afghanistan and Sistan Baluchistan in Iran. Its native Baloch propulation is being displaced by Pashtuns and Punjabis and they aren't happy about it... " he said, adding that the criminals would be brought to justice.
[An Nahar] Fresh protests against Iraq's premier in mostly Sunni cities on Wednesday closed off the main road to Syria and Jordan, with one speaker raising the prospect of taking up arms against the government.
Thousands of demonstrators attended rallies in Ramadi and Samarra, capitals of two Sunni-majority provinces in central and western Iraq, to rail against what they said was targeting of their community by officials and security forces from the Shiite-led government.
Finance Minister Rafa al-Essawi, at least nine of whose bodyguards have been arrested on terrorism charges this month, attended the Ramadi rally and pledged to take a representative of the protesters "to negotiate with Baghdad."
But the demonstrators, who numbered in their thousands and blocked off the highway that connects the Iraqi capital to Jordan and Syria, responded, "We only want a revolution."
"We will not negotiate and we will not leave," said Ali Hatem Suleiman, who delivered a speech at the Ramadi rally. "If our demands are not met, there is no (option) before us, except to raise the weapon against the government."
Among his demands were for federal anti-terror legislation, which he said particularly targeted Sunnis, to be canceled.
Hundreds of protesters also gathered in Samarra, the capital of Salaheddin province north of Baghdad, repeating chants describing Maliki as a "coward" and an "Iranian agent".
Sectarian tensions are still significant in Iraq, which suffered years of brutal confessional violence in which tens of thousands of people were killed and many more forced from their homes.
Disaffected Sunni Arabs often characterise Maliki and his unity government as a puppet of neighboring Iran.
Wednesday's protests followed rallies on Sunday during which demonstrators, including local officials as well as religious and tribal leaders in Ramadi blocked off the same highway.
[An Nahar] Syrian Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar on Wednesday left for Damascus ...Capital of the last remaining Baathist regime in the world... via the Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport aboard a private jet, after spending one week at the American University of Beirut Medical Center for treatment of wounds he sustained in a suicide kaboom on the interior ministry, Leb's National News Agency reported.
"Shaar left hospital on Wednesday afternoon," Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency quoted medical sources at AUBMC as saying.
It was not clear if Shaar's treatment was completed or if he left because of political pressure.
Shaar was maimed in a deadly attack on December 12 on the Syrian interior ministry in Damascus. The attack was claimed the next day by the jihadist al-Nusra Front.
"His condition is stable and he was able to talk to the people who received him at the airport," a Lebanese minister told Agence La Belle France Presse last Wednesday.
According to a security source, Shaar was lightly maimed on the shoulder when his office ceiling collapsed.
Shaar also escaped another deadly attack on July 18, when four top regime officials were killed in Damascus, among them Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Terror of Aleppo ...For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third, after Constantinople and Cairo. Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppans regard Damascenes as country cousins... ... 's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat.
A Lebanese lawyer said he filed a lawsuit on Monday against Shaar, accusing him of having ordered hundreds of killings in the northern city of Tripoli ...a confusing city, one end of which is located in Lebanon and the other end of which is the capital of Libya. Its chief distinction is being mentioned in the Marine Hymn... in 1986.
Shortly after he arrived in Beirut for treatment last week, anti-Syrian politicians, including politicians Jamal al-Jarrah and Mohammed Kabbara, called for Shaar's arrest.
[An Nahar] At least 20 people including eight children were killed as Syrian army tanks blasted the northern village of Kahtaniyeh on Wednesday, a monitoring group said.
"At least 20 people, among them eight children and three women, were killed in shelling by regime forces of farmlands in Kahtaniyeh village, west of the city of Raqa," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Amateur video posted online by activists and distributed by the Observatory showed several bloodied bodies, including at least one of a child, laid out on blankets in a house.
"Dozens of people have been injured in farmlands of Kahtaniyeh, among them a whole family," according to activists in Raqa.
Raqa has seen an escalation of violence in recent months as rebels have launched an assault to seize several areas of the province, strategically located on the Turkish border.
The Observatory's head Rami Abdel Rahman said the casualties were caused by tank fire and that the victims were from farming families.
"Just to be clear, there are no al-Nusra Front jihadists or any other well-organised rebel groups there. The victims were just farmers," Abdel Rahman told Agence La Belle France Presse.
[CS Monitor] Syrian Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Horror of Homs... sent a senior diplomat to Moscow on Wednesday to discuss proposals to end the conflict convulsing his country made by international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Syrian and Lebanese sources said.
Brahimi, who saw Assad on Monday and is planning to hold a series of meetings with Syrian officials and dissidents in Damascus ...Capital of the last remaining Baathist regime in the world... this week, is trying to broker a peaceful transfer of power, but has disclosed little about how this might be done.
More than 44,000 Syrians have been killed in a revolt against four decades of Assad family rule, a conflict that began with peaceful protests in March last year, but has since descended into civil war.
A video posted by rebels on Wednesday showed the bodies of dozens of soldiers executed by a roadside. At least one of them appeared to have been beaten to death. The United Nations ...an organization which on balance has done more bad than good, with the good not done well and the bad done thoroughly... and rights group say the military and rebels have both committed war crimes, but have so far placed most of the blame on the army.
Past peace efforts have floundered, with world powers divided over what has become an increasingly sectarian struggle between mostly Sunni Mohammedan rebels and Assad's security forces, drawn primarily from his Shiite-rooted Alawite minority.
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad flew to Moscow to discuss the details of the talks with Brahimi, said a Syrian security source, who would not say if a deal was in the works.
However, man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them... a Lebanese official close to Damascus said Makdad had been sent to seek Russian advice on a possible agreement.
He said Syrian officials were upbeat after talks with Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League ...an organization of Arabic-speaking states with 22 member countries and four observers. The League tries to achieve Arab consensus on issues, which usually leaves them doing nothing but a bit of grimacing and mustache cursing... envoy, who met Foreign Minister Walid Moualem on Tuesday a day after his session with Assad, but who has not outlined his ideas in public.
[FOXNEWS] The general who heads Syria's military police has defected and joined the uprising against Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Leveler of Latakia... 's regime, one of the highest walkouts by a serving security chief during the country's 21-month uprising, a pan Arab TV station has reported.
Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal appeared in a video aired on Al Arabiya TV late Tuesday saying he is joining "the people's revolution."
Al-Shallal's defection comes as military pressure builds on the regime, with government bases falling to rebel assault near the capital Damascus ...Capital of the last overtly fascist regime in the world... and elsewhere across the country. On Wednesday, the Britannia-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government shelling in the northeastern province of Raqqa killed at least 20 people, including women and kiddies.
Dozens of generals have defected since Syria's crisis began in March 2011. In July, Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass was the first member of Assad's inner circle to break ranks and join the opposition.
Al-Shallal is one of the most senior and held a top post at the time that he left. He said in the video that the "army has derailed from its basic mission of protecting the people and it has become a gang for killing and destruction." He accused the military of "destroying cities and villages and committing massacres against our innocent people who came out to demand freedom."