Pro-Western Ukrainians on Monday planned to blockade the seat of government in Kiev, in the hopes of forcing the authorities to sign a historic pact with the EU this week. A day earlier, tens of thousands of demonstrators swarmed the centre of the capital to protest the government's shock decision to scrap plans to sign an agreement that would have deepened ties with the European Union. Waving flags, letting off smoke bombs and shouting "revolution!" some protesters on Sunday attempted to storm the government headquarters but were forced back with police batons and tear gas. The opposition set up tents on European Square in central Kiev and vowed to remain there until President Viktor Yanukovych signs a broad political and trade agreement with the EU at a summit in Vilnius this week. More »Pro-West Ukrainians to blockade govt seat to demand EU deal
A judge is due to deliver his verdict Monday on a prosperous dentist couple accused of murdering their teenage daughter and servant in a trial that has obsessed India for five years. Rajesh and Nupur Talwar are charged with killing Aarushi, 14, and 45-year-old Nepalese employee Hemraj by slitting their throats "with clinical precision" at their home in an affluent New Delhi suburb in 2008. This has been a never-ending nightmare," Rajesh Talwar told AFP in a recent interview outside the rundown court in Ghaziabad, a city outside Delhi where the witness stand is held together by rope and monkeys romp on the roof. More »Judgement day in sensational Indian double murder trial
Attackers killed a Rwandan peacekeeper in an ambush on a UN convoy in conflict-stricken Darfur, the United Nations said. At least 12 UN-African Union peacekeepers have been killed in the troubled Sudanese region in the past five months. The ambush took place near Kabkayiya in North Darfur, said the UN spokesman Martin Nesirky. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "was deeply disturbed to learn of another attack today by unidentified armed assailants on a convoy of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)," said Nesirky. More »UN peacekeeper killed in new Darfur ambush
A major winter storm that has dumped freezing rain and snow in the US southwest has killed at least 13 people in five states, US media reported. Meanwhile, icy roads and flooding have already created hazardous conditions in Oklahoma, Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona. More »Winter storm kills 13 in US, threatens holiday travel
Four people close to former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba have been arrested on suspicion of tampering with witnesses in the ex-warlord's war crimes trial in The Hague, the International Criminal Court said. The chairman of Bemba's opposition party the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) said ICC warrants were carried out against lawmaker Fidele Babala Wandu in Kinshasa and Bemba's lawyer Aime Kilolo at Brussels airport. The ICC confirmed a total of four arrests had been made, including for Babala Wandu and Kilolo, plus a member of Bemba's defence team and a defence witness. Arrests on charges of witness tampering are a first in a case tried by the ICC. More »Aides of DR Congo war crimes suspect held over witness tampering
President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to discuss an international nuclear deal with Iran that has threatened to raise tensions between the close allies, the White House said. Just hours after the six world powers clinched the historic agreement with the Islamic republic, Netanyahu lashed out at what he called a "historic mistake" that left open Iran's ability to develop a nuclear arsenal. But the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany -- known as the P5+1 -- involved in the talks hailed it as a key first step that for now warded off the prospect of military escalation. "The two leaders reaffirmed their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One As Obama headed to the US West Coast. More »Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran nuclear deal
Japan warned Sunday of the danger of "unpredictable events" and South Korea voiced regret following China's unilateral declaration of an air defence zone over areas claimed by Tokyo and Seoul. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said his country was considering making stronger protests "at a higher level" after China announced Saturday it was setting up the zone over an area that includes Tokyo-controlled islands claimed by Beijing. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday they were "deeply concerned" at China's move and were committed to defending Japan. More »Japan warns of 'unpredictable events' over China's new air zone
Malians voted on Sunday in parliamentary elections intended to seal the troubled west African nation's return to democracy but which were marred by low-level civil unrest and apparently poor voter turnout. The polls marked Mali's first steps to recovery after it was plunged into chaos by a military coup in March last year, and finalised a process begun with the election of its first post-conflict leader in August. But voters were prevented from taking part in Talataye, a northeastern town of around 14,000 people, where Tuareg separatists destroyed ballot boxes, according to a military source, and chanted: "No vote, we want independence". Some 6.5 million Malians were eligible to cast ballots for a new national assembly, with more than 1,000 candidates running for the 147 seats -- but turnout initially looked weak across the country and there were reports of thefts of ballot boxes in the north. More »Mali parliamentary polls marked by apathy, minor unrest
Latvian investigators tried Sunday to narrow down the cause of a Riga supermarket cave-in that killed at least 54 people, as rescuers combed the rubble for more victims. President Andris Berzins demanded a swift and thorough investigation of what he said Saturday was the "mass murder of defenceless people". As Latvian officials combed the site for forensic evidence for their own report to be used in potential criminal trials, structural engineer Toomas Kaljas, CEO and chief engineer at Rak Tek Solutions in Espoo, Finland, insisted structural flaws were to blame. More »Rescuers comb Latvia supermarket rubble for more victims
Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour approved a controversial law Sunday that regulates demonstrations and gives authorities the power to ban protests deemed a "threat" to national security, officials said. The law also says protesters can be jailed for up to five years if found guilty of offences ranging from covering their faces to carrying weapons while participating in demonstrations, presidency spokesman Ehab Badawi told reporters. Egypt's military justified its July 3 overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by saying it was responding to massive protests against his turbulent year-long rule. More »Egypt approves contentious new protest law
A hostage-taker who barricaded himself inside a Portuguese restaurant on Sunday, setting off explosives and shooting dead a police officer, was himself killed in a gunfight, the gendarmerie said. Six others including four police were injured by the blasts in the seven-hour ordeal in the restaurant in central Portugal, gendarmerie spokesman Jorge Goulao said. In the ensuing gun battle, the hostage-taker was killed. Portugal's RTP state television network said the gunman was a Moldovan who had lived in Portugal for several years, working in the construction sector. More »Portugal hostage-taking ends with officer, assailant dead
Some 300 gunmen stormed a mostly Christian village in central Nigeria on Sunday, killing five people and burning scores of homes, police said. The early morning attack targeted the village of Kuka in Plateau state, which roughly falls on the dividing line between Nigeria's mainly Christian south and predominately Muslim north. “Five people were killed and many houses were burnt,” said Plateau's police spokeswoman Felicia Anslem. Herdsmen from the Fulani-Hausa ethnic group, which is mostly Muslim, have been blamed for scores of attacks on the primarily Christian Berom community. More »'Hundreds' of gunmen storm central Nigeria town, kill 5
Israel on Sunday lashed out at the Geneva nuclear deal brokered by world powers as being heavily stacked in Iran's favour, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a "historic mistake." Following a months-long diplomatic campaign warning of the dangers of easing economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for steps to curb its contested nuclear programme, senior cabinet ministers chimed in, with one saying Israel reserved the right to strike Iran on its own. "It gives Iran exactly what it wanted -- a significant easing of sanctions and allows it to keep hold of the most essential parts of its nuclear programme," it said just hours after the historic accord was signed in Switzerland. "The agreement allows Iran to continue enriching uranium and leaves all the centrifuges in place which allow it to create fissile material for nuclear weapons. "Economic pressure on Iran could have produced a much better agreement that would have led to a dismantling of Iran's nuclear capacities," it concluded. More »Israel blasts Iran nuclear deal as 'historic mistake'
An Afghan grand assembly began delivering its verdict on a crucial security pact with the United States Sunday, following concern over conditions attached by President Hamid Karzai and warnings from Washington. Almost all of the first 20 committees to declare endorsed the painstakingly negotiated Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) governing the presence of US troops in Afghanistan after 2014. Some even suggested adding an extra US base in the province of Bamiyan, while more than half of them urged Karzai to get the BSA signed into effect before the presidential election next year. In his opening statement on Thursday, Karzai told the meeting that the deal would not be signed until after April's poll -- sparking a strong response from Washington, which wants it sealed by the end of this year. More »Afghan assembly begins giving US pact verdict
Venezuela opposition leader Henrique Capriles rallied thousands of demonstrators Saturday, calling for them to use midterm elections to underscore public opposition to President Nicolas Maduro's special emergency powers. The march came just hours after one of Capriles's closest aides, Alejandro Silva, was taken out of his hotel, roughed up and detained. More »Thousands protest Maduro's special powers
Iran's leaders hailed the interim nuclear deal struck with world powers on Sunday as recognition of its "right" to enrich uranium and the start of an end to punishing sanctions. Backed by top decision-maker Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani said the agreement with world powers at talks in Geneva signalled acceptance of the principle of uranium enrichment in Iran. Rouhani also said the breakthrough deal showed that punitive sanctions slapped on Iran over its controversial nuclear programme were starting to crumble. "Iran's right to uranium enrichment on its soil was accepted in this nuclear deal by world powers," he said in a speech broadcast live on state television. More »Iran leaders hail nuclear deal with world powers
Bones believed to belong to Saint Peter, one of the founding fathers of the Catholic Church, went on display for the first time Sunday, as Pope Francis held a ceremony to end the "Year of Faith". The chest, given to pope Paul VI in 1971 and usually kept in the tiny chapel of the papal apartments, was decorated with a carving of Peter, who was a fisherman before becoming the Church's first pope, casting his nets into the sea. The bones have long been the object of controversy between historians and archaeologists: they were first discovered in a 1940 dig next to an ancient monument honouring Saint Peter, but ended up gathering dust in a storage box. She found they belonged to a robust man who died aged between 60 and 70 and had been buried in a purple, gold-threaded cloth -- enough to convince Paul VI to say in 1968 that Peter's bones had been identified "in a convincing manner." With no DNA evidence to support the find, the debate over whether they really do belong to one of Jesus Christ's apostles is likely to continue, but the Vatican has said it "has no intention of opening up any argument." "Faith, the people of God, have always believed these to be the relics of the apostle Peter, and we continue to venerate them in this way," Rino Fisichella, head of the pontifical council for evangelisation, said in the Vatican's newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. More »Saint Peter's bones on display for first time
At least 160 rebel fighters and Syrian troops have been killed in two days of clashes in the Eastern Ghouta region just outside Damascus, a monitoring group said on Sunday. The latest fighting comes against the backdrop of regime advances in Damascus province that have cut rebel supply lines to the capital and its southern districts. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting began Friday when rebel forces, including jihadist fighters, launched attacks against checkpoints and military stations in five areas in the Ghouta region. "They are trying to break the siege imposed by the army on the region," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. More »Fierce fighting near Damascus 'kills 160 in two days'
The outcome of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers was highly uncertain on Sunday as Tehran stuck to its controversial demand to have its "right" to enrich uranium formally recognised. Negotiators were continuing to work into the night however ahead of the effective deadline set by the planned departure of US Secretary of State John Kerry from Geneva on Sunday morning. "We are insisting on our right to enrichment, which should be clearly recognised in the draft agreement," deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted as telling Iranian reporters. Numerous UN Security Council resolutions since 2006 have demanded Iran suspend all uranium enrichment activities, which has civilian uses but which can also be used in a nuclear weapon. More »Iranian nuclear talks snag on enrichment 'right'
The two older victims involved in Britain's most shocking case of modern-day slavery are thought to have met the male suspect through a "shared political ideology" and began living with him as part of a collective, London's Metropolitan Police said. Police commander Steve Rodhouse said the couple, both aged 67, were of Indian and Tanzanian origin and had been living in Britain since the 1960s. "We believe that two of the victims met the male suspect in London through a shared political ideology, and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call a 'collective'," he told reporters. "Somehow that collective came to an end and... the women ended up continuing to live with the suspects." Police carried out house-to-house enquiries on Saturday, speaking to residents living near the south London address where the women were held. More »Women held as 'slaves' in London were part of 'collective'
Foreign ministers from world powers struggled Saturday to nail down a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, with US Secretary of State John Kerry announcing his imminent departure and Iran's chief negotiator downbeat. As talks in Geneva went late into an unscheduled fourth day, Kerry's spokesman said Washington's top diplomat would be flying to London on Sunday morning -- presumably with or without a deal. Iranian chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi said he doubted that Tehran and the P5+1 world powers -- the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany -- could reach an accord by the end of Saturday. The talks, mostly between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and P5+1 chief negotiator Catherine Ashton, are aimed at securing a freeze on parts of Iran's nuclear programme in return for limited sanctions relief. More »Iran nuclear deal proves elusive
UN negotiators agreed in fraught overtime talks Saturday on cornerstone issues of an ambitious, global climate pact to stave off dangerous Earth warming. "Just in the nick of time, the negotiators in Warsaw delivered enough to keep the process moving," said climate analyst Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute. But climate economist Nicholas Stern warned that "the actions that have been agreed are simply inadequate when compared with the scale and urgency of the risks that the world faces from rising levels of greenhouse gases, and the dangers of irreversible impacts." Rich and poor nations have been at loggerheads ever since the talks opened on November 11 over who should do what to curb the march of planet warming. In particular, they clashed over sharing responsibility for curbing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions, and about funding for vulnerable countries. More »Fraught UN talks reach climate deal consensus
Latvia's president demanded on Saturday that a supermarket cave-in which killed at least 54 people be treated as murder, as rescuers threatened by falling debris halted their search for survivors until dawn. All search and investigation work was suspended until Sunday morning after a third section of the supermarket's roof collapsed at 6 pm (1600 GMT) Saturday without causing any injuries. Terrifying accounts emerged from survivors of Thursday's disaster at the Maxima store in the capital Riga, as anger and suspicion mounted over its causes. It all happened within a few seconds," said 19-year-old Antons Ryakhin, saying "about 100 people" had been inside with him. More »Latvian leader dubs supermarket cave-in 'murder'
The Kremlin said Saturday that 30 Greenpeace crew members held after a protest in Arctic waters could be allowed to leave Russia, but the international activist group greeted the statement warily. "As soon as the issue of how they can leave Russia is resolved they will leave," Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov said, according to a RIA-Novosti agency report. The crew were seized by Russian security forces off a Greenpeace ship in the Barents Sea after a September protest on a Gazprom oil rig, brought to Russia and charged in Russian courts with piracy, later reduced to hooliganism. It was the first time since the beginning of the affair in mid-September that a high-ranking Russian official has suggested the foreigners of 16 nationalities making up the Greenpeace crew could leave Russia. More »Kremlin says Greenpeace crew may be allowed to leave Russia
Italy's Silvio Berlusconi accused the left on Saturday of attempting a coup d'etat, as he prepares for a Senate vote this week which will likely see him ousted following his conviction for tax fraud. "Wednesday the Senate will vote to do away with the head of the centre-right, after 20 years of failed attempts. This move is called a coup d'etat," he told the youth branch of his Forza Italia ("Go Italy") party. The vote is expected to go ahead as scheduled and, with Berlusconi's supporters in the minority, his ouster under a law banning convicted criminals from parliament looks set. More »Italy's Berlusconi accuses left of 'coup d'etat'