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Islamic State jihadists have penetrated
the key Syrian border town of Kobane,
sparking street fighting with its Kurdish
defenders after a three-week siege.
“Urban guerilla warfare has started and
the fighting is taking place for the first
time in districts at the eastern entrance
to Kobane, in Maqtala al-Jadida and
Kani Arabane,” Syrian Obser vatory
for Human Rights head Rami Abdel
Rahman said overnight.
“The jihadists and the Kurds are
clashing in the streets, between
apartment buildings,” sending hundreds
of civilians into flight towards the
Turkish border, he said.
Witnesses on the Turkish border
reported two black Islamic State (IS)
flags flying on Kobane’s eastern side
earlier in the day.
The advances came after IS fighters
seized part of Mishtenur Hill, which
overlooks Kobane, at the weekend,
although United States-led air strikes
tried to slow the jihadists.
The Obser vatory said at least 20
jihadists were killed late on Sunday when
they entered an eastern neighbourhood
and were ambushed by Kurdish People’s
Protection Units (YPG) fighters.
In a sign of mounting desperation, a
Kurdish female fighter blew herself up at
an IS position east of Kobane on Sunday,
the Obser vatory said.
It was the first reported instance of
a female Kurdish fighter employing a
tactic often used by the jihadists, the
British-based monitor, which has a wide
network of sources inside Syria, said.
The bomber, in her 20s, was a full-
time YPG fighter identified as Dilar
Gencxemis, alias Arin Mirkan, from
Kurdish-controlled Afrin in north-
“She killed dozens of gang members
and demonstrated the YPG fighters’
determined resistance,” her group said in
a statement carried by the pro-Kurdish
Firat news agency.
On another front, twin IS suicide truck
bombings killed at least 30 YPG fighters
and security officers overnight in the
Kurdish town of Hasakeh, north-east
Syria, the Obser vatory said.
Yesterday’s fighting around Kobane
also known as Ain al-Arab — killed
at least 19 Kurdish fighters and 27 IS
jihadists, it added.
The town has become a crucial
battleground in the international fight
against the jihadists, who sparked
further outrage at the weekend with the
release of a video showing the beheading
of Briton Alan Henning.
The video — the latest in a series of on-
camera beheadings of western hostages
also included a threat to another
hostage, US aid worker Peter Kassig.
Spanish nurse first Ebola victim outside Africa
A Spanish nurse who treated two
Ebola victims at a Madrid hospital
has contracted the virus herself in
the first case of contagion outside of
“S he is a health professional who
took care of the infected with the
disease who were repatriated and
cared for at Carlos III” hospital,
the director of Spain’s public health
department, Mercedes Vinuesa, told
a news conference overnight.
Both the patients the nurse helped
care for died from the disease.
Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, 75,
was infected with Ebola in Liberia
and died at Madrid’s La Paz-Carlos
III hospital on August 12.
Manuel Garcia Viejo, 69, was
repatriated from Sierra Leone
and died at the same hospital on
Both were members of the
Hospital Order of San Juan de Dios,
a Roman Catholic group that runs a
charity working with Ebola victims
The assistant nurse was admitted
to hospital yesterday morning with
a high fever, Spanish newspaper El
Doctors then isolated the emergency
treatment room, the report said.
The Ebola virus causes fever,
musc le pain, vomiting, diarrhoea
and sometimes internal and external
The current epidemic that has been
ravaging west Africa is the worst
outbreak of the disease yet, killing
almost 3500 people since the start
of the year, with Liberia, Guinea and
Sierra Leone worst hit. — AFP
Boko Haram militants
Boko Haram militants have killed
seven people in remote north-eastern
Nigeria, with reports indicating the
victims were beheaded in a revenge
The overnight raid targeted the town
of Ngamdu in troubled Borno State, the
area hardest hit in the Islamists’ five-year
When locals woke they discovered
“seven people had been brutally killed”,
resident Musa Abor said overnight.
The gunmen “slit their throats just the
way people slaughter goats”, he added.
Abor and a Borno State official, who
asked his name be withheld, said the
bodies had been decapitated, in the
latest act of gruesome violence blamed
on the Islamists who have killed more
than 10,000 people since 2009.
In recent months, Boko Haram
insurgents have targeted reprisal attacks
at locals who have fought alongside the
military as vigilantes.
An army officer in Borno, who also
requested anonymity, said 15 Boko
Haram fighters were killed in clashes
in Ngamdu two weeks ago and the
group had vowed revenge against the
Those killed overnight could not
immediately be identified as vigilantes
and the defence ministry was not
available to comment on the attack or
the alleged beheadings.
The violence came as Nigerian Muslims
marked the Eid al-Adha festival, a
public holiday in the religiously divided
country. Most Islamic holidays in recent
years have been marred by Boko Haram
The militants are thought to be in
control of more than two dozen towns
and villages in the northeast, but the
military has vowed to retake all lost
ground as part of a continuing offensive
launched in May of last year. — AFP
Pope ditches Latin as synod language
In a break with the past, Pope
Francis has decided that Latin will
not be the official language of a
worldwide gathering of bishops at
A cardinal made the announce-
ment at the start of the first working
day of the two-week assembly,
known as a synod, where about
200 Roman Catholic bishops from
around the world are discussing
themes related to the family.
Italian, the lingua franca of the
Vatican, would become the synod’s
official language, he said.
In past synods, Latin was the
official language of documents
for the meetings and some of the
participants chose to speak in
Latin. The Pope decided to make
the break in order to streamline the
proceedings, officials said.
The move was a break with
Pope Francis’s predecessor, Pope
Benedict, who two years ago started
a new Vatican department to
promote the study and use of Latin
in the Roman Catholic Church and
When Pope Benedict announced
on February 11, 2013 that he was
stepping down, the first pope to do
so in 600 years, he read a statement
in Latin. Only one reporter
listening to a live audio feed in the
Vatican press room understood
what he was saying.
The use of Latin in the Church
has greatly diminished since the
old-style Latin Mass was phased
out more than 40 years ago in
favour of local languages.
Latin remains the official language
of the universal Church. It is used
as the language of reference for
translating major documents into
modern languages. — Reuters
A lightning strike in a small indigenous
village in mountainous northern
Colombia killed at least 11 people who
were participating in a community ritual,
the army said overnight.
The incident, which occurred near the
town of Guachaca in Colombia’s Sierra
Nevada mountains, left another 13
people seriously injured. The region is
home to several indigenous communities.
“A group of indigenous people were
participating in a traditional community
meeting and a bolt of lightning struck,
leaving 11 dead and 13 injured,” Colonel
Jorge Santo Domingo, head of a nearby
army unit, said.
The injured, who suffered burns, were
evacuated by military helicopter to the
city of Santa Marta, Santo Domingo
President Juan Manuel Santos
expressed his “solidarity” with the
community on Twitter.
Lightning strike kills 11
Australian researchers will lead an
international effort looking at the
volatility of a huge, dormant, submerged
sea plateau that could pose a tsunami
The remote Ontong Java Plateau is
found north-east of Australia past the
Solomon Islands and is believed to have
formed in the largest volcanic eruption
in earth’s history, some 122 million years
It is roughly the size of Western
Australia and lies beneath several atolls
and islands that could be at risk from
future rupture or movement.
Mike Coffin from the University of
Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and
Antarctic Studies will be chief scientist
on a three-week voyage to the region,
joined by researchers from Germany,
Japan, Papua New Guinea, the United
Kingdom and the United States.
“ We will be collaborating to produce
sea floor maps that will improve tsunami
predictions for people living on its
surmounting younger atolls,” Professor
Coffin said before the team’s departure
on October 15.The research will examine
the surface of the 35km thick plateau,
which is at its most shallow point, some
1.5km below the waves.
New technology including under water
vehicles are enabling the latest research
which has previously been hindered
by water depths and a kilometre-thick
blanket of sediment lying atop the
plateau. — AAP
Australian voyage to
examine tsunami risk
Mexican President Enrique Pena
Nieto is vowing to hunt down the
perpetrators of a suspected massacre
of dozens of students in the south-
west of the country that authorities
say involved local security officials.
The students went missing after
they clashed with police in Iguala
in the volatile, gang-ridden State of
Guerrero on September 26. A mass
grave was found near the town over
the weekend, full of charred human
Guerrero State Attorney-General
Inaky Blanco said yesterday that
28 bodies have been found at the
site so far, and it is “probable” that
some of the missing 43 students are
among the remains found in the
He said the motive of the killings
Other local officials, speaking on
condition of anonymity, said at least
34 bodies have been discovered.
In his first comments on the
incident, Pena Nieto said the
federal government would identify
those behind the massacre and
make sure they face justice.
“ We need to find the truth and
make sure the law is applied to those
responsible for these outrageous,
painful and unacceptable acts,”
he said in a four-minute-long
televised statement. He did not
Blanco said earlier two gang
hitmen have admitted killing 17 of
the missing students with the help
of security officials.
involvement creates a major
headache for Pena Nieto, who has
sought to shift attention away from
Mexico’s gangland violence and on
to a batch of economic reforms he
has driven through Congress.
Some 22 local police have been
arrested in connection with the
violent incidents in Guerrero.
The fugitive mayor of Iguala,
Jose Luis Abarca, is
being investigated for possible
involvement in the crimes, as is the
head of security for Iguala.
Blanco said the leader of a local
gang known as the Guerreros
Unidos conspired with security
officials to carry out the killings.
Pena Nieto took office two
years ago pledging to end a wave
of violence that has killed about
100,000 people since the start
of 2007. Though homicides have
fallen on his watch, other crimes
have increased, including extortion
and kidnapping. Guerrero, also
home to the resort of Acapulco, has
been one of the most lawless States
in Mexico for years. — Reuters
Security officials linked to
Mexican students’ massacre
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