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  • iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- Hundreds of people have been arrested in Russia in a crackdown after thousands gathered for massive anti-corruption protests Sunday in the nation's capital.Huge crowds gathered in Moscow's Pushkin Square for a protest against the Russian government, and about 500 people were arrested in the wake of the protests, according to Interfax, a privately-held, independent Russian news agency.Protesters posted photos on social media, some of them selfies, showing people getting taken away by police. Some included playful or self-deprecating remarks.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(BERLIN) -- Exit polls in the German state of Saarland suggest German Chancellor Angela Merkel has won that state's election with September's national vote approaching. Merkel is running for a fourth term as chancellor.The incumbent Christian Democrats (CDU) are projected to win 41 percent of the votes, ahead of Social Democrats (SPD), who currently sit at 29.5 percent. That marks a nearly six percent improvement from the 2012 elections in that state for Merkel's party, according to BBC News.The Social Democrats are led by nominee Martin Schulz.The right-wing populist party running against Merkel and Schulz, Alternative for Germany (AfD), is expected to secure 6 percent of the vote in Saarland.Saarland is located in the south western part of Germany. The polls closed in the small German state at 4 p.m. ET (16:00 GMT).More state elections will take place before the country's federal election on September 24.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(MOSUL, Iraq) -- Iraqi military officials are shooting down speculation that US air strikes killed hundreds of civilians according to a BBC News report. Instead, they say so-called Islamic State (IS) is responsible for the deaths of those civilians.The US government announced Saturday it was investigating a March 17 air strike that targeted Mosul in response to allegations of civilian casualties. Iraq's military believes explosive booby traps set off by IS are what caused the deaths.Those who died were in west Mosul, where the offensive to retake from IS what was once Iraq's second-largest city continues.The US Central Command claimed it was looking into the allegations of civilian casualties after they determined an air strike was carried out on March 17 "at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties".BBC reports that some media outlets indicated more than 200 bodies were pulled out of a collapsed building. However, the details of the allegations are somewhat inconsistent.The Iraqi military released a statement on its Facebook page that denies the air strikes caused the civilian casualties in the neighborhood of al-Resala. It was reported that the air strike occurred in the neighborhood of Jadideh.The statement continues that the military checked a house "reportedly targeted by an air strike and they found out that the house was completely destroyed and there was no sign that it was destroyed by a strike".A detonated booby-trapped vehicle was located by the house, according to BBC News, and the military says eyewitnesses claim IS used houses to fire at security forces.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • thitivong/iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- London terror attack suspect Khalid Masood visited Saudi Arabia three times -- including two stints teaching English -- but he was not on any security watchlist, the kingdom's London embassy said late Friday."The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia wishes to clarify that Khalid Masood was in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and April 2008 to April 2009, when he worked as an English teacher having first obtained a work visa," the embassy said in a statement. "In 2015, he obtained an Umra visa through an approved travel agent and was in the Kingdom from the 3rd-8th March."Masood was also not on the radar of security officials."During his time in Saudi Arabia, Khalid Masood did not appear on the security services' radar and does not have a criminal record in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the statement read.The embassy expressed its condolences to Britain, writing, "Saudi Arabia continues to stand with the United Kingdom during this difficult time and reaffirms its commitment to continue its work with the United Kingdom in any way to assist in the ongoing investigation."The embassy also took the opportunity to stress its commitment to defeating terrorism."The attack in London this week has again demonstrated the importance of international efforts to confront and eradicate terrorism," the embassy said. "At such a time, our ongoing security cooperation is most crucial to the defeat of terrorism and the saving of innocent lives."Masood's reign of terror began Wednesday after a car he was driving struck pedestrians and three police officers on Westminster Bridge.The car then crashed into the fence around the Houses of Parliament, and armed with a knife, he attacked an officer who was standing guard.Masood was shot and killed by police.Four people -- including police officer Keith Palmer -- were killed, and at least 28 were injured.On Saturday, Palmer's family released a statement thanking the public and the London Metropolitan Police for the support and well wishes."We want to thank everyone who has reached out to us over the past few days for their kindness and generosity," the statement read. "The police have been a constant, unwavering support at this very difficult time. It has made us realize what a caring, strong and supportive family Keith was part of during his career with the police. We can't thank them enough."The statement added, "We would also like to express our gratitude to the people who were with Keith in his last moments and who were working that day. There was nothing more you could have done."Press statement regarding the Westminster terror attack pic.twitter.com/X2YXXarXwH
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  • Main_sail/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. military admitted that an airstrike in Iraq on March 17 corresponds to a site where 200 civilians allegedly died, but said it is still assessing the particulars of the strike and the validity of allegations of civilian casualties."An initial review of strike data from March 16-23 indicates that, at the request of the Iraqi Security Forces, the coalition struck ISIS fighters and equipment, March 17, in West Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties," stated a media release from the task force Saturday. A formal review of the March 17 operation "is underway to determine the facts surrounding this strike and the validity of the allegation of civilian casualties," the release said.The military’s release came after it earlier announced a review of whether any of three airstrikes in Syria and Iraq over the past week were linked to reported deaths of hundreds of civilians.In addition to the March 17 airstrike in western Mosul that reportedly killed 200 civilians, Central Command also said this week it is reviewing a March 16 airstrike near a mosque in al-Jinnah, Syria, that is said to have killed dozens, and an airstrike Monday, March 20, on a school building outside of Raqqa, Syria, that may have also killed dozens of civilians fleeing local fighting.The March 17 strike targeted three adjoining houses. Local news reports indicate ISIS may have used civilians in the area as human shields in an effort to guard against airstrikes on the buildings. The Iraqi military's media operations center has claimed that ISIS was responsible for the civilian deaths.Col. Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for the operation against ISIS in Iraq, Syria and beyond, noted on Friday that ISIS has previously demonstrated disregard for civilians and civilian facilities by “using human shields, and fighting from protected sites such as schools, hospitals and religious sites."Scrocca added there have been instances where ISIS forced families from their homes to booby-trap them with explosives to delay Iraqi forces.The Central Command's release on Saturday asserted that the coalition fighting ISIS "respects human life, which is why we are assisting our Iraqi partner forces in their effort to liberate their lands from ISIS brutality. Our goal has always been for zero civilian casualties, but the coalition will not abandon our commitment to our Iraqi partners because of ISIS’s inhuman tactics terrorizing civilians.""Coalition forces comply with the Law of Armed Conflict and take all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians," the statement said.The U.S.-led coalition has conducted more than 19,000 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since the summer of 2014.U.S. Central Command has also opened a credibility assessment into an airstrike Monday night, March 20, that targeted a school building near Raqqa, ISIS's de facto capital inside Syria.The activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights alleges that an airstrike on the school killed 33 civilians who had been seeking shelter from local fighting.And, U.S. Central Command is conducting a full investigation and credibility assessment of an airstrike on March 16 in the village of al-Jinnah in northwestern Syria.U.S. officials said that airstrike killed dozens of al-Qaeda militants who had gathered for a meeting in a building near a mosque across the street. They emphasized that the mosque was not struck and that the building was not affiliated with the mosque. However, locals said that dozens of worshipers were killed in the airstrike and that the targeted building was, in fact, a mosque.A military spokesman confirmed that earlier this week Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, ordered a full investigation into the circumstances of the mission.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An American counter-terrorism airstrike conducted last weekend in eastern Afghanistan killed a senior al Qaeda leader named Qari Yasin, the Pentagon announced Saturday.Yasin is responsible for plotting a number of high-profile al Qaeda terror attacks, including the 2008 bombing of a Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, and a 2009 bombing that targeted a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan.In addition to the dozens of innocent victims killed in these attacks, the 2008 bombing in Islamabad killed two U.S. military personnel: Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez and Navy Cryptologic Technician Third Class Petty Officer Matthew J. O’Bryan."The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice," Defense Secretary James Mattis said in a statement.Yasin, from Balochistan, Pakistan, had ties to the Pakistan-based terror organization Tehrik-e Taliban.
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