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US ambassador to Libya, three others killed in rocket attack

BEIRUT: The US ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff were killed in a rocket attack on Tuesday night that targeted his car in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, a Libyan official said on Wednesday.

"The American ambassador and three staff members were killed when gunmen fired rockets at them," the official in Benghazi told Reuters. Asked about the deaths, a US Embassy employee in Tripoli said: "We have no information regarding this." The employee said the embassy could confirm the death of one person.

The Libyan official said the US ambassador had been on his way to a safer venue after protesters attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi and opened fire, killing a staff member, in protest at a US film that they deemed blasphemous to the Prophet Mohammad.

The official said the ambassador and three other staff were killed when gunmen fired rockets at his car. He said the US Embassy had sent a military plane to transport the bodies to Tripoli to fly them to the US.

Gunmen assaulted the Benghazi compound on Tuesday evening, clashing with Libyan security forces, who withdrew under heavy fire. The attackers fired at the buildings while others threw handmade bombs into the compound, setting off small explosions. Small fires were burning around the compound.

The assault followed a protest in neighbouring Egypt where demonstrators scaled the walls of the US embassy, tore down the American flag and burned it during a protest over the same film which they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad. Reuters





Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi walks out of jail

MUMBAI: Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi walked out of prison on Wednesday, four days after he was charged with sedition. Trivedi, an activist of India Against Corruption (IAC), had been given bail on Tuesday. The case had led to outrage in the country. 

Trivedi was arrested on Saturday and sent to police custody for seven days. He was charged with sedition for drawing cartoons insulting the Indian emblem, including the constitution. 

Following nation-wide outrage, the Mumbai police on Monday produced him before a court where he was granted judicial custody till Sep 24. 

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail of Rs.5,000 to Trivedi in a public suit filed by a lawyer Sanskar Marathe.

Trivedi on Tuesday declined to be released until the sedition charge, slapped by Mumbai police on him, was withdrawn. IANS




SP will have a decision-making role in 2014 LS poll: Mulayam

KOLKATA: Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday said he was determined to ensure that no government takes office in New Delhi next without his party's support. 

Addressing the inaugural session of the SP's national executive here, Yadav said that while the Congress was demoralised and neck deep in corruption, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was in a limbo. 

"In the present scenario, the SP has to bear greater responsibility in national politics. The 2014 election will be decisive. You should all make sincere efforts so that we win a good number of seats so that no government can be formed in Delhi without our support," Yadav said. 

"We are already in power in Uttar Pradesh. If we come to power at the centre, then our area of influence will be spread all across north India, from Punjab to (West) Bengal," he said. 

In a stinging attack on the Congress, the SP supremo said the nation was beset with a large number of problems. Unemployment and poverty were on the rise. 

"Our borders are under threat. There are a lot of scams. The Congress is a large party but its confidence is shaken. It is unable to do anything for people. With the scams, its image has taken a beating," he said. 

Referring to the Sachar Committee report, Yadav said: "The condition of the Muslims in the country is worse than that of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 

"Who set up the Sachar Committee? (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh. The report is before him but its recommendations have not been heeded. By setting up committees, the government wants to confuse and fool people/" 

In an apparent attack on coal minister Shri Prakash Jaiswal, Yadav said: "One minister allotted coal blocks to his relative the very day he took charge of the department." 

Yadav said the SP stood the chance of bagging a good number of seats from West Bengal too in the next Lok Sabha polls. IANS




Situation under control in Kundankulam

CHENNAI: The situation in Tamil Nadu's Idinthakarai village, the epicentre of the movement against the Kudankulam nuclear project, was under control on Wednesday after three days of protests, an official said.

"The situation is under control, cases have been registered against protestors
attacking the police and damaging property. Around 2,000 police personnel have been deployed in Kundankulam and surrounding areas," additional director general of police S George told IANS on phone from Tirunelveli, around 650 km from Chennai.

The fast at Idinthakarai village in Tirunelveli, against the Kudankulam nuclear power project, is still on, he said.

On Tuesday night, protest leaders went missing after their "abduction" by local fishermen.

Leaders of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) were abducted by fishermen to prevent them from surrendering to police.

Eyewitnesses told IANS that PMANE co-ordinator SP Udayakumar and leader M Pushparayan surfaced at Idinthakarai in the evening, following Udayakumar's earlier announcement that he would surrender to the police at Kudankulam around 9pm.

However, in a dramatic turn of events, fishermen took away Udayakumar and Pushparayan in a boat. Their current whereabouts were not known.

"There is no news about the PMANE leaders surrendering. We are more concerned about maintaining law and order," George told IANS.

Sixty-five people have been arrested over the last two days, following the violence and over the Kundankulam project, he said.

The year-long movement against the Kudankulam nuclear power project had turned violent on Monday, leaving one agitator dead in police firing in Tuticorin district and several injured as police used batons to disperse the crowds.

The protests, spearheaded by PMANE, and earlier confined to Kudankulam and Idinthakarai villages in Tirunelveli, had spread to Tuticorin following the clash with protesting fishermen on the beach at Kudankulam around 11.30 am on Monday.

The situation in Tuticorin is now reportedly under control, said George.

The situation erupted after plant officials announced that enriched uranium fuel would be loaded in the first of the two nuclear reactors around Sept 11.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had justified the police action. She also announced compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the kin of the protester killed.

India's atomic power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is building two 1,000 MW reactors with Russian help at Kudankulam since 2001.

Villagers under the PMANE banner have opposed the project for the past one year, fearing for their safety, especially since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan March 2011. IANS




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