UN Pulls Out Workers as Ivory Coast Violence Continues

SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images(ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast) -- As fighting continues in the Ivory Coast, the United Nations on Sunday began pulling some of its employees from its base in Abidjan.

According to published reports, the U.N. plans to evacuate approximately 200 of its workers as rival groups continue to do battle in Abidjan. There are also reports that French troops have taken control of the airport, allowing it to be re-opened.

Intercommunal violence in the western Ivory Coast city of Duekoue has left at least 800 people dead.

The violence is part of a continued political upheaval between forces loyal to the UN-recognized president Alassane Ouattara and the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Yemen Trends 'Not Good,' Former Obama Security Advisor Says

GAMAL NOMAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In his first interview since leaving the White House last fall, former Obama National Security Advisor Jim Jones warned that the way events are unfolding in Yemen are “not good.”

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been an ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism, is facing increasing pressure to step down. In an interview with ABC News, Jones echoed language coming from the White House, noting that the situation in Yemen is “very worrisome.”

“Saleh’s been very skillful over the years in being able to consolidate and maintain his power. The trends Yemen are not good, this could be a major problem and where terror is concerned, this would be a safe haven that would be a very troubling turn of events of us,” said Jones.

Asked if the U.S. should try to keep Saleh in power, Jones said, “There are certain things that we can do and that we can’t do.”

“When events reach a certain stage, they have a life of their own,” Jones explained. “It would be nice to be able to think that we could do everything and make the world perfect the way we want it, but that’s not the case.”
Prior to serving in the Obama administration, Jones served as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and was the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He left the White House last fall.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghan Protests Continue Over Koran Burning; Petraeus Condemns Act

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- On Sunday, for the third straight day, thousands of Afghans burned U.S. flags and condemned the actions of two pastors 8,000 miles away.

Protests erupted Friday after locals learned that Florida pastor Terry Jones supervised a burning of the Koran back in March, while another pastor, Wayne Sapp, soaked the holy book of Islam in kerosene and burned it.

In Kandahar City Sunday, things turned violent as 16 protesters were brought to the city’s main hospital with injuries. Two people were in critical condition, according to a hospital administrator. Sunday's violence wasn’t nearly as bad as the day before, when police shot into crowds, however local authorities did fire into the air Sunday to disperse rock-throwing protesters.

On Saturday, nine people were killed and at least 80 were injured after police opened fire on a crowd during violent demonstrations that saw protesters break into a school and burn a school bus during a massive protest in Kandahar City. On Friday, 11 people were killed during protests at a United Nations compound, seven of whom were U.N. staffers and guards.

In Jalalabad on Sunday, some 2,000 university students blocked the main highway leading to Kabul, chanting “death to America” and “death to Terry Jones.” The students burned an effigy of President Barack Obama, but otherwise remained peaceful.

Hundreds also protested in Panjwai and Parwan Province. No violence was reported in those areas.

ISAF Commander General David Petraeus and NATO SCR Ambassador Mark Sedwill on Sunday issued a statement condemning the Koran burning. The statement said that ISAF and NATO condemns any disrespect of the Koran and the Muslim faith, and specifically stated, “We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy [Koran].”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two US Service Members Dead in Iraq

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Two American service members died Saturday in Iraq when enemy forces attacked their unit with what U.S. Central Command called indirect fire.

The fatalities are the first U.S. deaths reported for the month of April.

The names of the dead have not yet been released.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Romney on Libya, Syria: 'Not All World Leaders Share Common Interests'

James Devaney/WireImage(LAS VEGAS) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says that recent political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa could be either “one of the worst things to happen in the last 50 years” or “one of the most positive developments.”

Speaking before the Republican Jewish Coalition, a Washington, DC-based interest group, on Saturday, the likely GOP presidential candidate did not specifically weigh in on American involvement in Libya, but accused President Obama of failing to understand “that not all the leaders of the world have common interests” with the United States.

He pronounced himself “distressed” by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent use of the word “reformer” to describe Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We are not like them, and we don't have common interests with them,” Romney said, referring to oppressive leaders around the globe. “We have common interests with people who seek and love freedom.”

Romney’s speech was part of a two-day pre-campaign swing through Nevada, an early state on the presidential nominating calendar. It was also his first major public address in nearly a month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NATO Forces Accidentally Kill 15 Libyan Rebels, Injure 7

MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images (file)(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- NATO forces accidentally killed at least 15 Libyan rebels and injured seven when a convoy of five cars belonging to rebel forces was hit Saturday west of Ajdabiyah.

A plane enforcing the international no-fly zone hit the rebel vehicles, including an ambulance, between Brega and Ajdabiyah when an anti-aircraft gun was fired into the air, the BBC reported.

The accidental hit was a result of NATO forces, who are aiding Libyan civilians, confusing forces loyal to strongman Moammar Gadhafi and rebel groups. Forces on both sides are using civilian vehicles and not wearing uniforms, while most are wearing civilian clothing, according to rebel forces.

NATO officials said they are aware of the reports of the attack and are investigating, according to the BBC.

Representatives of the rebels have told ABC News correspondents that rebels they are not angered by the incident. They say they understand that collateral damage is to be expected and that they want NATO to keep up the pressure on Gadhafi.

Saturday’s accident was the second in two days. Seven civilians were killed Friday near Brega, including three sisters, according to the BBC.

Aside from allegations that have been made by Gadhafi's regime, these are the first reports of civilian casualties resulting from NATO airstrikes since the beginning of the enforcement of the no-fly zone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Controversial Fla. Pastor: Afghan UN Violence 'Proves My Point'

Mario Tama/Getty Images(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who oversaw the burning of a Koran last month, tells ABC News that he does not feel responsible for the violent protest at a United Nations compound in Afghanistan on Friday that left at least 11 dead. Instead, he said the violence proved his point.

"We wanted to raise awareness of this dangerous religion and dangerous element," Jones said. "I think [the attack] proves that there is a radical element of Islam."

As for the 11 dead, which included seven U.N. staffers and guards, Jones told ABC News Nightline anchor Bill Weir, "We do not feel responsible, no."

The deaths followed a protest march in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday against the Koran burning that Jones supervised last month, while another pastor, Wayne Sapp, soaked the Koran in kerosene and burned it.

"We decided to put the Koran on trail," Jones said. "I was the judge but I did not determine the verdict. I was just a type of referee so that people got their time to defend or condemn the Koran."

Jones said that a "jury" of people from all over Florida debated the radicalism of Islam, and the "Koran was found guilty."

Police told ABC News the protest in Afghanistan started peacefully but took a violent turn after a radical leader told those gathered that multiple Korans had been burned. People angrily marched on the nearby U.N. compound, despite police who fired AK-47s into the air in hopes of subduing them.

Police eventually turned their weapons on the protesters, killing at least four, police said, before they were overtaken and had their guns stolen. Using the police weapons, the protesters killed four U.N. guards from Nepal and then three foreign workers in the U.N. building -- a Norwegian, a Romanian and a Swede.

Despite an onslaught of attention Jones got when he initially made his threat to burn the Muslim holy book in September 2010 -- including a personal plea from President Barack Obama -- the actual burning of the Koran last month went relatively unnoticed in western media.

President Obama condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" in a statement.

Jones initially cancelled his plans for the book burning on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks. The stunt, according to Jones, was a protest for the Muslim-backed community center that was to be built near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Radioactive Water Leaks into Pacific From Japanese Nuclear Plant

DigitalGlobe/ Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The source of highly radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean from a damaged nuclear plant has been identified, according to a Japanese nuclear official.

The water from the plant's nuclear core is reportedly leaking through a 20-centimeter crack of a concrete pit located on the outskirts of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility.

The air above the leak has been deemed highly dangerous as it contains 1,000 millisieverts of radioactivity, according to Japanese nuclear safety officials.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the crack is being sealed with concrete.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been releasing radioactivity since northern Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that spawned a devastating tsunami on March 11.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Unrest Continues in Syria, Dozens Arrested

AFP/Getty Images(DERAA, Syria) -- Dozens of activists were arrested Saturday by Syrian security forces one day after thousands marched in pro-democracy protests.

According to witnesses, the arrests are a continuation of a security crackdown that began during the demonstrations Friday when government forces used tear gas, gunfire and physical force to beat back protests. It's part of an effort by President Bashar al-Assad's forces to permanently end anti-regime demonstrations threatening his family's dynasty.

Human Rights Watch estimates at least seven people died in the violence, bringing the death toll from the unrest to 68.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Friday condemned the use of violence against citizens demonstrating in Syria.

“We urge all parties to maintain calm and avoid violence, and call on the Syrian government to respect human rights and to allow for peaceful demonstrations,” Carney said in a statement. “The Syrian government has an important opportunity to be responsive to the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.  President Bashar al-Assad has a responsibility to promptly take concrete steps and actions that deliver on his promises and advance a meaningful reform agenda.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Protests in Kandahar Leave At Least Nine Dead

ABC News(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- Violent protests in Afghanistan flared for a second day Saturday, enflamed by outrage over the burning of a Koran by Florida pastor Terry Jones.

Nine protesters were killed Saturday in Kandahar, where hundreds marched holding copies of the Koran when security forces shot into the air to disperse the crowd.

Zalmai Ayubi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said it is unclear how the protesters were killed.

Anger over Terry Jones' burning of the Koran began on Friday in the town of Mazar-i-Sharif, when 11 people were killed -- including seven United Nations workers -- at a United Nations compound.

Jones oversaw the burning of a Koran last month and told ABC News that he did not feel responsible for the protests.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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