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BBC News, I’m John Shea.
President Putin has said the question of statehood for eastern Ukraine must be part of substantive negotiations to end the conflict there. Speaking on the eve of talks in Belarus between Kiev, Moscow and the OSCE, Mr Putin said the lawful interests of people living in eastern Ukraine must be protected. “Substantive talks must start immediately and not on some technical issues but on the political organisation of society and statehood in south-eastern Ukraine with the purpose of unconditionally guaranteeing the legitimate interests of people who live there.” Mr Putin’s spokesman was quick to clarify that the president was not talking about an actual independent state.
The Ukrainian military says one of its naval vessels has come under fire in the Sea of Azov, which lies off the south-east of the country close to the Russian border. A spokesman said the ship, a naval cutter, was attacked by artillery from the shore.
Eyewitnesses saw smoke rising on the horizon. Some reports say a second vessel was also targeted.
The army in Pakistan has said it’s concerned about the current political crisis, which has seen violent clashes in the capital Islamabad, leaving at least 3 people dead and several hundred injured. The protesters want the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign. Shahzeb Jillani reports from Islamabad.
“The army sought to ease fears of military intervention by reaffirming its support for democracy, but the powerful army leadership indirectly urged the government to resolve the situation politically and without further recourse to use of force.
Government ministers have said they are willing to hold talks with the two opposition figures leading the sit-ins, Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri. But both politicians have rejected the fresh government offer, saying that unless the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is ready to step down, any discussions will remain pointless.”
Joint forces from the Iraqi army, Shia militias and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have entered the besieged town of Amerli,where Islamic State militants have been surrounding the minority Shia Turkmen community for two months. Jim Muir is just outside the town.
“We’ve been at frontline positions held by Peshmerga Kurdish guerrillas who are carrying out heavy covering fires with mortars, machine guns, sniper guns and so on, and also with longer-range artillery. Then the joint forces of Iraqi army with the Shia militias went in on the ground, and they say they’ve penetrated right into the town, broken the siege, but it’s too dangerous, they are telling us, for us to go there at the moment, because there’s lot of roadside bombs and booby traps left behind by the departing Islamists and the place is not yet deemed safe.”
In the western province of Anbar, reports say two suicide bomb attacks by Islamic State militants in the city of Ramadi have killed at least 13 people.
World News from the BBC.
Israel has announced plans to expropriate almost 400 hectares of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. It’s believed to be the largest seizure in 30 years. Israeli state radio said the decision by the military-run local administration was a response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers in the area in June. The chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said diplomatic action should be taken against Israel.
At least 42 children have reportedly been killed in Syria in government airstrikes over the past two days. The activist group The Observatory for Human Rights said they were mostly in Aleppo and Idlib in the north of the country.
A new anti-euro party in Germany has for the first time won seats in a regional parliament. Preliminary election results indicate that the Alternative for Germany party has secured about 10f the vote in the state of Saxony. Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin.
“This is the first time that an anti-euro party has won seats in a German state parliament—big news in a country where support for the European Union is traditionally strong. Its calls for Germany to leave the euro have gone down well with some German taxpayers who say they are fed up paying for EU bailouts. But the party is controversial, accused of catering to nationalist sentiment and attracting right-wing extremists. So, Angela Merkel has ruled out any future coalition with the party on a national level.”
The football authorities in Sierra Leone say the country’s forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Ivory Coast will go ahead despite the outbreak of Ebola. The Sierra Leone Football Association said it would name a squad composed of players based abroad. Ivory Coast has insisted it won’t allow the game to be staged in main city Abidjan over fears of the spread of the virus.
And that’s the latest BBC News.