By Pavel Polityuk and Polina Devitt KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia on Monday of "direct and undisguised aggression" which he said had radically changed the battlefield balance as Kiev's forces suffered a further reverse in their war with pro-Moscow separatists. In the latest in a string of setbacks in the past week, Ukraine's military said it had pulled back from defending a vital airport in the east of the country, near the city of Luhansk, where troops had been battling a Russian tank battalion. Poroshenko said in a speech there would be high-level personnel changes in the Ukrainian armed forces, whose troops fled a new rebel advance in the south which Kiev and its Western allies say has been backed up by Russian armored columns. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called on Sunday for immediate negotiations on the "statehood" of southern and eastern Ukraine, blamed Kiev's leadership for refusing to enter into direct political talks with the separatists.
Department of Defense spokesman said. "We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement. Al Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu.
By Baz Ratner and Lincoln Feast EIN ZIVAN Golan Heights/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Islamist fighters who seized dozens of Fijian soldiers serving as U.N. peacekeepers on the Golan Heights last week are demanding that their group be removed from a global terrorism list and that compensation be paid for members killed in fighting, the head of Fiji's army said on Tuesday. Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga said negotiations had been stepped up between the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and a new U.N. negotiation team now in place in Syria. "They also told us they are ensuring that they are taken out of battle areas." Heavy fighting erupted on Monday between the Syrian army and Islamist rebels near where 45 Fijian peacekeepers were captured and scores of their fellow blue helmets from the Philippines escaped after resisting capture. Syria's three-year civil war reached the frontier with Israeli-controlled territory last week when Islamist fighters overran a crossing point in the line that has separated Israelis from Syrians in the Golan Heights since a 1973 war.
Hong Kong police said on Tuesday they arrested 19 people during scuffles with pro-democracy activists prompted by China's decision not to allow the Asian financial hub to choose its next leader. The 19, aged between 20 and 45, were arrested on Monday for illegal assembly, trying to force their way on to a carriageway, charging a police line and for pushing barriers, a police spokeswoman said. Police used pepper spray to disperse activists as Hong Kong center braces for a wave of disruptive protests against China's decision. Hong Kong is in the midst of a political upheaval as activists in the former British colony push for full democracy.
Australia is set to step up its partnership with NATO, its foreign minister said on Tuesday, as the country pursues a bigger role in global crises from Iraq and Syria to Ukraine. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is due to host Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders at a G20 summit in November, has used a number of recent speeches to signal a more muscular approach to foreign policy.
Gunfire and power cuts rekindled tensions in Lesotho's capital Maseru overnight, as the mountain nation awaited the possible return of its exiled prime minister following an apparent coup. An aide to Tom Thabane told AFP the 75-year-old could return to the country Tuesday, after regional mediators brokered a road map to ease the country's political crisis. "We are going home now, most probably we will be in Lesotho tomorrow," Samonyane Ntsekele said. Thabane had fled across the border to South Africa before dawn on Saturday, as troops attacked key police installations and surrounded his official residence.
TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly higher Tuesday after a jump in average wages boosted Japan's market. Hong Kong's benchmark was recovering after initially retreating on weak Chinese data and concerns over tensions with Beijing.
Fiji revealed for the first time Tuesday the demands being made by Al-Qaeda-linked Syria rebels who took more than 40 UN peacekeepers hostage in the Golan Heights last week. Fiji army chief Mosese Tikoitoga said the rebels wanted their organisation, the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, to be removed from the UN's list of terrorist organisations.
Hong Kong police have arrested at least 22 people during a series of protests targeting a senior Chinese official visiting the city, authorities said Tuesday. The city has been plunged into political crisis after pro-democracy activists vowed to take over the streets of the city's financial district following Beijing's refusal to grant citizens full universal suffrage. In the kind of scenes that would be unthinkable on the mainland, Li Fei, a senior member of China's rubber stamp parliament, has been dogged by angry demonstrations throughout his visit to the former British colony -- including lawmakers heckling him during a speech on Monday. Li is in town to explain China's controversial proposal to control who stands for the top post in the city's next leadership election, a decision that has prompted pro-democracy activists to embark on what they describe as a new "era of civil disobedience".
It has been one of the more bizarre features of a deadly epidemic: a vocal minority in west African society denying that Ebola exists even as family and friends die around them. "When people say that Ebola does not exist, they are rebelling against something," Senegalese university professor Cheikh Ibrahima Niang told AFP. Seventeen Ebola patients in the Liberian capital Monrovia fled from a guarantine centre two weeks ago after it was attacked by club-wielding youths shouting "there's no Ebola" in the latest of a series of such incidents across the region. "We need to ask what is making them say that," Niang told AFP in an interview at Dakar's Cheik Anta Diop University.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine authorities said Tuesday that they arrested three men linked to a group that was planning to set off firebombs at Manila's international airport and a major mall in the city to protest the government's alleged "soft" stance in its territorial dispute with China. The military, however, downplayed the planned attacks, saying the men were just seeking attention.