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People watch the Syrian town of Kobani from near the Mursitpinar border crossing, on the Turkish-Syrian border in the south-eastern town of Suruc in
Sanliurfa province in Sanliurfa. Islamic State militants have suffered setbacks and have begun retreating from parts of the beseiged Syrian border town ,
according to a local official, who said Kurdish forces were advancing towards the militant group. Since mid-September more than 200,000 people from Kobani
have fled across the border into Turkey.
A deal has been reached to secure
the release of more than 200
schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic
militants in Nigeria, the country’s
military and president claimed
President Goodluck Jonathan’s
principal secretary Hassan Tukur
said a ceasefire had been brokered
with Boko Haram following talks.
About 200 girls kidnapped six
months ago from a school in the
northeast town of Chibok may be
released as part of the deal, he said.
Boko Haram negotiators “assured
that the schoolgirls and all other
people in their captivity are all
alive and well”, Mike Omeri, the
government spokesman on the
insurgency, told a news conference.
Boko Haram has been demanding
the release of detained extremists in
exchange for the girls.
There was no immediate word
from Boko Haram, which limits its
announcements almost exclusively
to videos of its leader Abubakar
It could take days for word to get
to its fighters, who are broken into
They include foreigners from
Cameroon and Niger, where the
insurgents also have camps.
There have been unconfirmed
reports that at least some of the
girls have been carried across
borders, and some forced to marry
A Boko Haram video in May
showed two of the girls explaining
why they had converted from
Christianity to Islam.
The chief of defence staff, Air
Marshal Alex Badeh, announced
the truce and ordered his troops
to immediately comply with the
“Already, the terrorists have
announced a ceasefire in furtherance
of their desire for peace.
“ In this regard, the government of
Nigeria has, in similar vein, declared
a cease-fire,” Omeri said.
He confirmed there had been
direct negotiations this week about
the release of the abducted girls.
Another official said the talks took
place in neighbouring Chad. He
spoke on condition of anonymity
because he is not authorised to talk
Some 276 girls were seized from
their dormitories at the Government
Girls Secondary School in the
remote town of Chibok in Borno
state, northeastern Nigeria, on the
night of April 14.
Fifty-seven escaped and Boko
Haram leader Abubakar Shekau
later vowed to sell the rest as sex
Jonathan was criticised at home
and abroad for his slow response
to the kidnapping and for his
inability to quell the violence by the
terror group, whose name means
“ Western education is forbidden”.’
The Nigerian military has twice
claimed its leader Abubakr Shekau
had been killed, but Boko Haram
later issued video denials.
The latest one came earlier this
month when he was apparently seen
in a video that shows the beheading
of a man who identifies himself
the pilot of a missing Nigerian Air
Their plight drew
magnified by a
campaign that drew in celebrities
including Michelle Obama and
Angelina Jolie. — Reuters
Residents watch town from safety
Dramatic rise in food prices
Food prices have risen by an average of
24% across the three countries worst hit
by the Ebola outbreak, the World Food
Programme (WFP) said, as aid work-
ers crambled to distribute emergency
rations to the hungry.
The food-producing regions of
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in
West Africa have been severely affected
by the worst outbreak on record of the
viral haemorrhagic fever that has killed
4546 across the three countries.
Infection rates in the food-producing
zones of Kenema and Kailahun in
Sierra Leone, Lofa and Bong County
in Liberia and in Guinea are among
the highest in the region. Hundreds of
farmers have died.
Decisions by the three governments
to quarantine districts and restrict
movements to contain the spread of the
virus have also disrupted markets and
led to food scarcity and panic buying,
further pushing up prices, WFP and
the Food and Agriculture Organisation
(FAO) have said.
“ P lanting and har vesting are being
disrupted with implications for food
supply further down the line. There
is a high risk that prices will continue
to increase during the coming har vest
said WFP spokeswoman
In the Liberian capital Monrovia,
prices of cassava and imported rice, the
main staple food, have jumped by 30%.
Aid workers in the crowded Monrovia
neighbourhood of Logan Town began
distributing emergency rations of rice,
bulgur wheat, peas and oil to around
“All our families are poor, let ’s be frank,
so when WFP come to our rescue, along
with Red Cross bringing food, they are
so happy in the community,” Patricia
Delaney, community chairperson of the
Byrs said WFP was carrying out a food
security sur vey remotely using mobile
phones to check the impact of the crisis
on 2400 families across the three worst
In an effort to slow the spread of the
virus, US major general Darryl Williams
told reporters some 425 military
personnel deployed to Liberia would
start helping to train health workers
there from next week.
“ We plan to train 500 a week,” he said,
adding that the United States would
also increase the number of helicopters
sent to remote areas of the country to
help with the Ebola response.
Despite repeated warnings from the
World Health Organisation that travel
bans will only worsen the suffering of
Ebola-hit countries, some US lawmakers
are calling for a ban on travel from West
However, Air Cote d’Ivoire’s chief
executive Rene Decurey said his airline
would resume flights next week to the
capitals of the three worst affected
“It’s not good to isolate these countries,
because when you isolate them people
will always find a way,” he told Reuters.
In another piece of positive news,
the WHO said the Ebola outbreak in
Senegal was officially over, though it
said the country remained vulnerable to
further cases of the deadly disease being
The first round of a sur vey of 800
people in Sierra Leone’s eastern districts
of Kailahun and Kenema showed people
were worse off in terms of food security,
despite being the main producing areas.
“The sur vey showed that certain
families have cut down to one meal a day
or that people are eating food that costs
less, such as cassava instead of rice,” Byrs
The WFP also began distributing
food overnight to 265,000 people in the
Waterloo suburb near Sierra Leone’s
capital of Freetown, an area that has
recorded high infection rates.
“The aim of the distribution is to
stabilise quarantined families by giving
them enough to eat so that they do not
leave their homes to look for food,” it
said in a statement.
The aid, which included rice, pulses,
vegetable oil and salt, should meet
families’ needs for one month, WFP
added. — Reuters
Sixteen people have been killed
and nine others seriously injured
when a ventilation grate gave
way while they were watching an
outdoor pop concert in Seongnam,
south of Seoul, rescuers say.
“They were standing on the
ventilation grate to get a better
view when it collapsed under their
weight,” a spokesman for the local
fire ser vices told AFP overnight.
Rescuers said 16 were confirmed
dead, but added the death toll
might rise, with some of the
injured understood to be in critical
Television reports said the
25 people fell more than 10m into
an underground parking area when
the grate collapsed.
Amateur video footage obtained
by the YTN news channel showed
shocked spectators surrounding
the collapsed grate as the popular
all-girl K-pop band 4Minute,
apparently oblivious to the accident,
continued performing on the stage.
More than 700 people were
believed to be attending the
“There was a sudden, loud
screaming, and when I turned it
looked as if people were being
sucked down into a hole,” one
witness told YTN.
16 killed at pop concert
An inflatable Christmas tree erected
in Paris is making passers-by feel a little
The object is raising eyebrows because
of its uncanny resemblance to a sex toy,
but is actually an installation by American
artist Paul McCarthy.
Simply called Tree, it is towering
over the Place Vendome as part of a
contemporary art fair. McCarthy, who is
no stranger to controversy, designed the
piece specifically for the Fiac festival but
it has not been taken well by some critics.
Printemps Francais, a far-right group
that opposes gay marriage, has been
complaining on Twitter.
“ Taxpayers — this is where your money
goes!” said one post, while another
claimed the Place Vendome had been
“disfigured ” and Paris “humiliated”.
It is one of McCarthy’s many
Christmas-themed works, including a
controversial Santa Claus intended for
Rotterdam in 2001.
It was never placed next to a concert
hall as planned because of arguments
about another suggestive Christmas tree
that earned the statue the nickname “butt
He also created a giant inflatable
installation depicting excrement in Hong
Kong last year and in 2011, an exhibition
of his work in London included a pair of
animatronic George W Bush sculptures
having sex with pigs. — AFP
‘Sex toy’ sculpture shocks Paris
PICTURE: Getty Images
by Dave Green 0612 Difficulty Level
QUICK QUIZ 384
1. Which river flows through Palmerston North?
2. Which 1971 film contains the lines: You’ve got to ask yourself one question:
do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
3. St Clement Danes is a London church mentioned in which famous rhyme?
4. New Zealand’s first zoo opened in 1906, in which city?
5. In Christian philosophy, what are the three virtues?
6. What are you watching if the six competitors are wearing red, blue, white,
black, orange, and black and white stripes?
7. In a series of stories by CS Lewis, where are the children magically
8. Which European nation’s troops were defeated by the Vietnamese in the
battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954?
9. A ship flies the Blue Peter when it is about to do what?
10. Which cricketer scored 214 runs on his debut for New Zealand in 1999?
ANSWERS: 1. Manawatu, 2. Dirty Harry, 3. Oranges and Lemons, 4.
Wellington, 5. Faith, Hope and Charity, 6. Greyhound racing, 7. Narnia, 8.
France’s, 9. Set sail, 10. Matthew Sinclair.
1 Fees (7)
4 Hitchhike (5,1,4)
9 Bewitch (7)
13 Pig meat (4)
14 Frolic (6)
15 Possessing (6)
16 Bird of prey (7)
19 Not alike (10)
20 Journey break (8)
21 Frequently (5)
24 Complied (6)
25 Side to side (6)
27 Wretchedly unhappy (9)
32 Barrier of stakes and
33 Reserved (6)
34 Ostracised (7)
38 Boss (8)
39 Japanese garment (6)
40 Kind (4)
41 Expunge (5)
42 Heels over (5)
45 Extravagant dream
52 South African grassland (5)
55 Intended (5)
56 Finest (4)
57 Protect (6)
58 Large cooking pot (8)
61 Predicted (7)
62 Hinder (6)
63 Indebted to (8)
66 Without boundary, end (9)
68 Admission pass (6)
69 Celebrated (6)
73 Plump (5)
74 Make public (8)
76 Pupil's text (10)
81 Shoemaker (7)
82 Preserved plums (6)
83 Derides (6)
84 Information (4)
85 Three-pronged spear
86 Teetotalism (10)
87 Certificate (7)
1 Managed (5)
2 Apprehended (8)
3 Radio interference (6)
4 Shinbone (5)
5 Hideous (4)
6 Women's tops (7)
7 Kidnapper's demand (6)
8 Australian wild dog (5)
10 Undiluted (4)
11 Injurious (7)
12 Required (6)
17 Instructions for reaching
a place (10)
18 On no account (5)
22 Flying in one place (8)
23 Hidden store (5)
24 Porridge ingredient (7)
26 Wheedle (4)
28 I earn it (anag)(7)
29 Skin disorder (6)
30 Fall asleep (3,3)
31 Baited (6)
33 Swell up (5)
35 Tend to (5)
36 Mimics (4)
37 Long narrative poem (4)
43 Refrigerator compartment (6)
44 Keyed up (5)
46 Gratis (4)
47 Narrow connecting land (7)
48 Accommodation house (6)
49 Oily fruit (5)
50 Rugby position (8)
51 Annually (6)
52 Open to attack (10)
53 Fat (4)
54 Burrows (7)
59 Sudden feeling of terror (5)
60 Foot cover (4)
64 Allegation (5)
65 US state (8)
67 Had a tipple (7)
68 Senator (anag)(7)
70 Hearsay (6)
71 Car's engine cover (6)
72 Deducted from wages (6)
75 Chocolate substitute (5)
77 Genetic copy (5)
78 Australian tree-climber (5)
79 Inert gas (4)
80 Related (4)
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