Istanbul, Oct 14 (AP/UNB) — Turkey's official news agency says at least 15 migrants have been killed in a traffic accident, among them children.
The Anadolu news agency said Sunday the migrants were traveling in a truck in the western province of Izmir. The truck tipped over, leading to deaths and injuries. Video footage showed a destroyed truck.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants have set out to sea from Turkey's coasts in the last few years to try to reach neighboring Greece, which is a member of the European Union. A Turkish-EU deal in 2016 to send those migrants back to Turkey significantly curbed the number of border crossings but many desperate migrants still attempt the journey.
Kabul, Oct 12 (AP/UNB) — An Afghan official says attacks by the Taliban in the country's north have killed eight people — four soldiers and four civilians.
Military spokesman Hanif Rezaie says the troops died in Kunduz province when the Taliban attacked a military outpost in the district of Archi on Friday morning. He says six were wounded in the assault.
Rezaie says the civilians were killed on Thursday, when a car bomb targeting an election campaign headquarters in Faryab province exploded prematurely.
He says several Taliban fighters died in both incidents.
Afghanistan is holding parliamentary elections on Oct. 20. The campaign has already been marred by violence.
On Tuesday, a suicide bomber struck the home of an election candidate in the city of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province, killing the candidate and seven others.
Benghazi, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — Libyan authorities have found a mass grave believed to contain the bodies of 75 Islamic State fighters near the coastal city of Sirte, formerly the main North African stronghold of the extremist group, an official said Thursday.
Salem el-Ameel, a spokesman for a local force, said a resident reported the grave about a month ago on his farm in al-Daheir district, east of Sirte.
"At the time we did not have the capabilities to go and dig it up, but now we have dug up more than 75 bodies," he said. He says those buried at the site appear to have been wearing the clothes of IS fighters, but that forensics testing is needed to determine their identities and nationalities.
IS and other extremist groups exploited the chaos in Libya following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi. Islamic State militants carved out a fiefdom centered on Sirte before Libyan militias drove them out 2016. The country is currently governed by rival authorities in the east and west, each backed by various militias.
In a separate development, the self-styled Libyan National Army said it seized two Italian fishing vessels off Libya's coast.
LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mosmari told a news conference in the eastern city of Benghazi that the vessels were seized in Libyan territorial waters and brought to the port of Ras al-Hilal.
Italy's ANSA news agency reported that Libyan forces fired on the boats, causing damage to the cabin of the 140-ton Afrodite Pesca. The other boat, Mcv Pesca, sustained no damage, and no injuries were reported, ANSA said.
It quoted Nicola Cristaldi, the mayor of the town of Mazara del Vallo, where the boats are based, as saying that the seizure happened in waters that the Libyans "unilaterally and illegitimately" consider their own.
Italy plans to host talks among Libya's political factions in November. Italy's Deputy Foreign Minister Emanuela Del Re visited eastern Libya on Wednesday, meeting with the speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives in Tobruk, Aguila Saleh, and Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, who leads the Libyan National Army.
He had concluded his visit before the seizure of the fishing boats was announced.
Libya is a former colony of Italy, which is just across the Mediterranean and has tried to work with Libyan leaders to restore stability and stem the flow of migrants through the North African country.
Jerusalem, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's top ministers are squabbling, a deadline looms for contentious legislation that may bring down his government and a corruption indictment could be just around the corner.
Against this backdrop, there are growing signs he may soon call for elections — possibly as early as next week, when parliament reconvenes from its summer break. And though Netanyahu hasn't committed yet, conditions appear ripe for him to schedule the vote, nearly a year ahead of schedule.
Polls, for now at least, predict a solid Netanyahu victory, one that would assure his place in history as Israel's longest-serving leader and allow him to solidify his close alliance with President Donald Trump. Another term would also allow Netanyahu to push forward with his nationalistic agenda and worldwide campaign to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.
But one big obstacle could still trip him up: a mounting corruption investigation that may soon deliver criminal charges.
"It comes down to his electoral prospects and his legal situation," said Avraham Diskin, a political scientist at Israel's Hebrew University. "On both fronts he seems to be doing well for now, so he could easily manufacture a crisis and seize on it for elections."
If he gets another term, Netanyahu would most likely build a government similar to the religious, nationalistic coalition he currently leads.
A strong showing in the polls could also shield him in the corruption case, the thinking goes, making it much harder for the attorney general to charge a popular, newly re-elected prime minister.
Netanyahu's opening speech to the Knesset, or parliament, on Monday could give an indication as to which way he is leaning. On the agenda will be passing a new law mandating the military draft of ultra-Orthodox men, a political hot potato that has deeply divided the government.
Israel's Supreme Court has dictated a Dec. 2 deadline to get the law passed and if his divided coalition partners remain inflexible, Netanyahu could use it as a pretext to dissolve parliament. With political parties focused on nationwide municipal elections later this month, Netanyahu's final decision will likely come down in November, which would set up an election early next year.
Already, signs of coalition upheaval are everywhere.
Naftali Bennett, who heads the pro-settler Jewish Home party, has launched a scathing critique of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's handing of the past six months of violence along the Gaza border, in what is widely seen as a campaign to replace him.
Lieberman, who heads the nationalist, but secular, Yisrael Beiteinu faction, is also refusing to bend to an ultra-Orthodox demand that he ease the proposed legislation to draft young religious men.
Ultra-Orthodox parties consider conscription a taboo, fearing that military service will lead to immersion in secularism. But years of exemptions have generated widespread resentment among the rest of Jewish Israelis.
Earlier this week, Netanyahu held an impromptu press conference, fielding questions from the media for the first time in months in what was viewed as a warm-up for the election season.
Cabinet minister Gilad Erdan, a senior member of Netanyahu's ruling Likud Party, said he hadn't heard from the prime minister on his plans.
"But it's obvious that when Lieberman and the ultra-Orthodox are hardening their positions about the draft law, we have a problem abiding by the Supreme Court's demand," he told Israel's Army Radio. "You can't run the Knesset and the country when everyone does as they please."
If history is any guide, elections look likely. The last time a government served its full term was in 1988. Since then, elections have almost always been moved up because of a coalition crisis or a strategic move by the prime minister to maximize his chance of re-election.
A poll aired Sunday on Israel's top-rated Channel 2 newscast showed Netanyahu to be on solid ground.
The survey found that, if elections were held today, Netanyahu's Likud party would get 32 seats of the 120-seat Knesset — a two seat jump from its current level — and his current coalition would score a solid majority. The centrist Yesh Atid party would earn 18 seats, while the center-left Zionist Union would trail with 12.
The poll had Netanyahu, with 38 percent support, as being the most suitable candidate for prime minister — far ahead of his closest competitor at 12 percent, retired military chief Benny Gantz who has yet to say whether he even plans to enter politics.
The Midgam poll surveyed more than 500 Israelis and had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
The biggest wild card for Netanyahu is the corruption investigation.
Police have already questioned Netanyahu a dozen times and recommended he be indicted on bribery and breach of trust charges in two cases. The first involves allegedly taking gifts from billionaires and the second for allegedly discussing legislation that favored a major newspaper in exchange for positive media coverage. Netanyahu has also been grilled about a corruption case involving Israel's telecom giant.
This week, his wife, Sara Netanyahu, went on trial for fraud charges for allegedly overspending roughly $100,000 on celebrity chefs at their official residence, even when there was a full-time chef on staff.
Israel's attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, is expected to make a decision on charges in the coming months.
Netanyahu has angrily rejected the accusations against him and his wife, calling them part of a media-orchestrated witch-hunt. His sense of indignation seems to have served him politically, rallying his conservative base in an assault on the supposed liberal elites plotting to get rid of him.
Israeli law is unclear whether a prime minister must step down if indicted. Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Netanyahu refused to discuss the topic, expressing confidence that he would not be charged.
But later, his finance minister, Moshe Kahlon, said Netanyahu should step aside if charged, saying a prime minister under indictment "cannot function."
If indicted, Netanyahu can expect such calls to grow — whether there are elections or not.
Istanbul, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — Turkey's president increased his pressure on Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, local media reported Thursday, while President Donald Trump expressed reservations over withholding American arm sales over the writer.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's comments appear aimed at slowly intensifying the criticism while balancing the need to maintain the kingdom's investments in Turkey and relations on other issues.
Trump's remarks, on the other hand, came as prominent American lawmakers increasingly criticize Saudi Arabia — America's longtime security ally in the region.
Turkish officials fear Khashoggi was killed by the Saudis after walking into the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, though they haven't offered any evidence to support that.
The kingdom calls the allegation "baseless," but has not offered any evidence to explain why Khashoggi simply walked out of the consulate and disappeared though his fiancée waited outside for him.
Erdogan was quoted by Turkish media on Thursday as telling journalists flying with him back home from a visit to Hungary that "we cannot remain silent to such an incident."
"How is it possible for a consulate, an embassy not to have security camera systems? Is it possible for the Saudi Arabian consulate where the incident occurred not to have camera systems?" Erdogan asked. "If a bird flew, if a mosquito appeared, these systems would catch them and (I believe) they (the Saudis) would have to most advanced of systems."
Meanwhile, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he has a call in to Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who has appealed to the president and first lady Melania Trump for help.
Trump said he had spoken with the Saudis about what he called a "bad situation," but he did not disclose details of his conversations. He also said the U.S. was working "very closely" with Turkey, "and I think we'll get to the bottom of it."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said national security adviser John Bolton and presidential senior adviser Jared Kushner spoke on Tuesday to Crown Prince Mohammed about Khashoggi.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow-up call with the crown prince to reiterate the U.S. request for information and a thorough, transparent investigation.
In an interview later Wednesday with "Fox News @ Night," Trump said he wanted to find out what happened to Khashoggi but appeared reluctant to consider blocking arms sales, citing economic reasons.
"I think that would be hurting us," Trump said. "We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before."
"Part of that is what we're doing with our defense systems and everybody's wanting them," he continued. "And frankly, I think that that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country. I mean, you're affecting us and, you know, they're always quick to jump that way."
On his first international trip as president, Trump visited Saudi Arabia and announced $110 billion in proposed arms sales. The administration also relies on Saudi support for its Middle East agenda to counter Iranian influence, fight extremism and support an expected peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.
Khashoggi had gone to the consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to get paperwork he needed for his upcoming marriage while his Turkish fiancee waited outside.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday evening that U.S. intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain Khashoggi. The Post, citing anonymous U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi from his home in Virginia, where he lived most recently, to Saudi Arabia and then detain him.