Receive Breaking News updates as they occur
Hilla (Iraq) (AFP) - A suicide bomber killed 21 people, including two state television employees, at a checkpoint near Baghdad Sunday, after Iraq's premier accused Riyadh and Doha of fuelling bloodshed in the country. Iraq has been hit by a year-long surge in violence that has reached levels not seen since 2008, driven principally by widespread discontent among its Sunni Arab minority and by the civil war in neighbouring Syria. Analysts and diplomats have urged Iraq's Shiite-led authorities to reach out to disaffected Sunnis but with elections due next month, political leaders have not wanted to be seen to compromise and have instead pursued a hard line against militants. The suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged minibus during morning rush hour at a checkpoint at the northern entrance to Hilla, the confessionally-mixed but mostly-Shiite capital of Babil province south of Baghdad.
A Syrian journalist has been killed covering clashes between government forces and opposition fighters in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, a regional broadcaster said. Beirut-based Al Mayadeen said on its website that its cameraman Omar Abdelqader was shot in the neck on Saturday and was pronounced dead in hospital shortly afterwards. Syria was the deadliest place for journalists in 2013 for the second year, the Committee to Protect Journalists, a media rights group based in New York, said in December. Al Mayadeen quoted a local Syrian military commander as saying Abdelqader was shot by a sniper while he was filming government forces advancing on an area in the rebel-held city.
By Ulf Laessing and Feras Bosalum TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's defense ministry has issued orders to its military authorizing the use of force to stop a North Korea-flagged tanker loading crude oil sold by armed rebels seeking to bypass the Tripoli government, state media said on Sunday. The rebels, who have seized three major Libyan ports since August to press demands for a greater share of oil revenues and political autonomy, received the tanker on Saturday at the Es Sider port in the volatile east. The docking and loading of crude escalates a seven-month blockade of key oil ports and is just one facet of deepening turmoil in the OPEC producer, which is struggling to control militias that helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but kept their weapons and now challenge state authority. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Saturday Libya would bomb the 37,000-tonne tanker if it tried to exit the port, one of Libya's biggest oil export terminals.