Thousands of security cameras installed across Baghdad
At least 13,000 security cameras have been installed across the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, the security committee on the Baghdad provincial council said Saturday (February 9th). The cameras began operating on Friday and are “linked to a sophisticated control centre supervised by security personnel specialised in surveillance”, committee head Abdul Kareem al-Dharb told Al-Shorfa.
The cameras were installed in public spaces, streets, markets, road and bridge junctions, densely-populated areas and areas of unrest that have seen recurrent bombings, he said, as well as main tourist and hotel facilities in the capital. The initiative aims to support security efforts in Baghdad, monitor the movements of terrorist groups, uncover explosive devices and booby-trapped cars and enforce law and order, he said.
Tunisia says one policeman dead, 375 arrests in unrest
One policeman was killed, 59 were injured and 375 people were arrested in unrest sparked by the killing of opposition leftist politician Chokri Belaid, the Tunisian interior ministry said late on Saturday. The ministry did not refer to the number of civilians hurt in the violence, and said that around a dozen security forces posts also came under attack between Wednesday and Friday. It did not say how many offices of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party were targeted in the unrest, but AFP has counted around a dozen such incidents.
Jordan policeman hurt as Syrian refugees riot
Jordanian police fired tear gas on Sunday to disperse Syrian refugees at a northern camp after they tried to attack the storehouse of a Norwegian charity as it gave away aid, injuring a policeman. “A Norwegian charity was distributing aid when 200 refugees at the Zaatari camp started rioting and tried to attack the organisation’s storehouse,” Anmar Hmud, a government spokesman for refugee affairs, told AFP. “A policeman was injured in the 30-minute riot. Police intervened, firing tear gas to disperse the refugees,” Hmud said. Since it opened in July, the Zaatari camp which houses more than 90,000 Syrian refugees has seen frequent protests, mainly over poor living conditions.
Snowballs thrown at Energy Minister, arson in Plovdiv as thousands of Bulgarians protest against electricity bills
Two company cars owned by electricity distribution company EVN were burnt out in Plovdiv on the eve of a protest in 15 Bulgarian cities against high electricity and central heating bills – and as emotions ran high in the capital city Sofia, Economy and Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev beat a retreat into his building after being pelted by snowballs. In Varna, a number of people were arrested after police and protesters clashed when protesters threw stones and eggs at the building of the power distribution company.
The protest, organised on social networks, describes itself as not political. The demands are the expulsion from Bulgaria of the three distribution companies, nationalisation of electricity distribution and publication of the energy distribution contracts. In a statement, EVN condemned the torching of the two company cars outside its central Plovdiv headquarters, close to a kindergarten building.
The arson took place just after midnight. Video footage of the two masked men who torched the cars has been passed on to police. “Tonight’s act of vandalism was directed not only against the property of the company but also against all of our associates across south eastern Bulgaria, who are responsible for ensuring the quality of supplies and services to more than 1.5 million customers,” said EVN Bulgaria board chairman Joerg Sollfelner. “This act effectively threatened the lives of anyone nearby at the time it was committed, the firefighters who had to put out and fire and the police who cleared the area,” he said. In Sofia, about 500 people turned out for the protest outside the Economy, Energy and Tourism Ministry building.
When minister Delyan Dobrev emerged, protesters began throwing icy snowballs, hitting Dobrev and nearby journalists. Attempts by Dobrev to address the protesters failed as he was drowned out by calls of “resignation”, “killers” and “Mafia” while the throwing of snowballs continued. Dobrev went back inside. The protesters held banners reading “No to legalised racketeering” and “feudal slave to Toplikatsia! Until when?”. Protesters also burnt their electricity and heating bills. Local media in the Black Sea city of Varna said that about 2000 people turned out to protest, a number similar to the turnout in Plovdiv, while about 500 people joined the protest in Bourgas at the Black Sea.
In Bourgas, protesters chanted “EVN, auf Wiedersehen” – a reference to the company being Austrian – and said that they would return to protest every Sunday. The power distribution company in Sofia, CEZ, said that it had received about 1660 complaints about high December electricity bills. Protests were also taking place in Rousse on the Danube, Silistra, Blagoevgrad, Gotse Delchev, Sandanski, Shoumen, Belene, Yambol, Veliko Turnovo, Montana, Dobrich and Kurdjali. In Rousse, the turnout was about 100 people, holding signs including “Energo Pro – a danger to us” and “Energo Pro – discarded rubbish”. People chanted “parasites”, local media said.
Give peasants land, Colombia rebels urge
HAVANA — Leftist rebels holding peace talks with Colombia’s government called on it Saturday to hand over a huge amount of land to farmers so as to address the key issue of rural poverty.
The FARC guerrilla group emerged in the 1960s precisely because of the huge gap in wealth between peasants and ultra-wealthy owners of huge haciendas, or estates. Land redistribution is one of the most critical issues on the agenda of peace talks that began in November in a bid to end Colombia’s conflict, which has gone on for nearly 50 years and is Latin America’s oldest.
A FARC statement released Saturday at the peace talks in Havana said the government has a duty to “settle its historic debt” by turning over land. It attached figures: nine million hectares to be assigned to peasants, for them to farm individually or in collectives, and another seven million for food production. These plots could come from abandoned or underproducing farms, or land confiscated from drug traffickers, or seized through the use of violence, the FARC statement said. It was read to reporters by Ivan Marquez, head of the rebel delegation to the talks.