A Taliban suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed car in Kabul on Saturday, killing at least six people near a compound where a controversial security pact between Afghanistan and the US will be debated, officials said.


Another 22 were injured when the vehicle blew up about 150 metres from a giant tent which will on Thursday host a meeting of elders on the future of US troops in the country after a NATO coalition pulls out in 2014.

“Initial information shows that unfortunately four civilians, one police and one soldier have been killed in today’s attack,” Afghan interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP.

“Twenty-two more, the majority of whom are civilians, have been injured,” he added, noting that the toll may rise.

The Taliban claimed the attack later in the evening. The insurgent group had denounced the assembly, known as a ‘Loya Jirga’, and warned its members not to participate.

“No doubt the enemy will try its best to target the jirga, but I can say with confidence that our security forces are on high alert and will foil the enemy’s desperate effort,” said Sediqqi.

According to a statement issued by the interior ministry, the bomber was being pursued by security forces shortly before the explosion.

“The attacker driving a vehicle had been identified and was being pursued by security forces. He detonated himself after police opened fire on his vehicle.”

Nasrullah, a witness, said: “I heard a big bang near the jirga site, and later saw ambulances carrying bloodied people. I saw at least three wounded in army uniforms.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai in a statement condemned the attack, blaming it on the “enemies of peace and progress”, a term usually interpreted as a reference to the Taliban insurgents.

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Heavy fighting in a border region of Sudan’s Darfur has killed 100 people, state radio reported on Saturday, while another source said Chadian soldiers were among the recent dead.


“The number of casualties has grown to 100” after battles between the Misseriya and Salamat tribes, Radio Omdurman said in a brief bulletin sent by SMS.

The dispatch did not say what period its toll covered, but intense battles between the two groups have flared again in southwestern Darfur.

Radio Omdurman said fighting had stopped but a Misseriya leader told AFP battles continued on Saturday around southwest Darfur’s Umm Dukhun town, with more than 50 killed on both sides.

Chadian troops in a joint force with Sudan were among those killed in recent fighting, a humanitarian source said on Saturday.

The source did not know how many Chadians died in Thursday’s fighting with Salamat tribesmen around Umm Dukhun, on the border with Chad.

Soldiers from Chad and Sudan have co-operated to jointly patrol their border region since ties between the two countries began to improve in 2010.

Off-and-on clashes between the Salamat and a rival Arab tribe, the Misseriya, had already killed more than 200 people since April in southwestern Darfur.

In Thursday’s incident, the Salamat attacked Umm Dukhun and a camp for displaced people on its outskirts, in what the source called a “big battle”.

“They were eventually repulsed by the mixed Chad-Sudan forces, and pushed into Chad where the forces chased them for a while,” the source said.

During the pursuit some of the Chadians were killed, “most likely inside Chadian territory”, the source said, adding that Salamat casualties were apparently heavy.

Tribal violence and rebel-government battles have displaced at least 460,000 people in Sudan’s Darfur this year, the United Nations said on Thursday.

And Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein said last week that violence between the various tribes had eclipsed rebel activity as Darfur’s main security threat.

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A howler from home goalkeeper Danilo gifted the world and European champions their opening goal in the 13th minute when he dropped a Juan Mata centre and Santi Cazorla tapped into an empty net.


Defender Jimmy Bermudez levelled with a fine header from a corner in the 36th minute before Juanfran lashed in a loose ball from close range two minutes before halftime.

Bermudez celebrated wildly after rising unmarked to power the ball past Pepe Reina and Spanish media reported the Equatorial Guinea players had been promised a 50,000-euro (41,793 pounds) bonus if they scored.

Spain’s victory, their 68th in 83 matches under Del Bosque, was soured by an injury to midfielder Alonso, who was making his first appearance for his country after five months out following surgery on a groin problem and a broken toe.

One of several Spain players on the receiving end of some wild tackles from their opponents, many of whom play in Spain’s lower leagues, Alonso hobbled off and was replaced by Sergio Busquets shortly before the break.

The Spanish football federation (RFEF) said the Real Madrid player had suffered a bruised ankle, suggesting he may be unavailable for Tuesday’s friendly against South Africa at Soccer City in Johannesburg, the scene of Spain’s maiden World Cup triumph in 2010.

“They were physically very powerful and they did not allow us to play within our comfort zone,” Del Bosque said in a pitchside interview with Spanish TV broadcaster Telecinco.

“We didn’t get drawn into the battle and tried to play our game and we missed a few scoring chances,” he added.

Marc Bartra of Barcelona made an accomplished debut alongside Real Sociedad’s Inigo Martinez in central defence, while Napoli’s Reina made a rare appearance in goal with captain Iker Casillas and Victor Valdes on the bench.

(Writing by Iain Rogers; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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Ban was speaking at the Tallin University in Estonia on a tour of several Baltic states before joining a second week of climate talks in Poland.


The UN chief said the world was facing a tipping point, as countries thrash out a deal to be signed in 2015 to cut Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

“There are a lot of people on Earth who seem to believe we have two Earths,” Ban said.

“We have seen now what has happened in the Philippines. It is an urgent warning,” he said, “an example of changed weather and how climate change is affecting all of us on Earth.”

The UN reported 4,460 people had been confirmed dead so far and said 2.5 million people still “urgently” required food assistance after the country was hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan on November 8.

The devastating typhoon — the strongest ever to make landfall– has been seized upon by climate change activists who have linked it to global warming.

While experts are hesitant to link extreme weather phenomena to climate change, the UN has said rising sea levels make coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges.

The World Meteorological Organisation has estimated 2013 was on course to be one of the hottest years since records began and global sea levels reached a record high.

The latest round of UN talks to set new climate goals comes amid warnings a 2009 aim to limit warming to an increase of 2 degrees Celsius in the average global temperature is growing ever more elusive.

In September, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted global surface temperatures could climb on average by as much as 4.8C this century — a recipe for catastrophic heatwaves,

floods, droughts and sea-level rise.

“We need action before it is too late,” said the UN chief, adding a rise in temperatures would “affect us all. The threat is very real and we all have to take responsibility to stop it.”

Ban said the United Nations had put in place a scientific advisory board of at least 30 scientists who will begin work in February to help the UN make decisions on protecting global resources and addressing the climate change threat.

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A previously unknown Greek far-left group claimed responsibility on Saturday for the killings of two neo-Nazi Golden Dawn members, saying it was in retaliation for an anti-fascist rapper’s murder.


“We, the People’s Struggling Revolutionary Powers, claim responsibility for the political executions of the fascist members of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn,” the group said in a statement posted on the Greek news portal Zougla.

An anonymous caller gave instructions for finding the tract, which was on a USB memory stick that was placed in a plastic bag and left at a location in the Athens suburb of Kaisariani, the news portal reported.

“The attack was an act of retaliation for the murder of (rapper) Pavlos Fyssas,” the statement said, further accusing Golden Dawn of murdering and beating up migrants and leftists over the past two years.

Golden Dawn members Emmanuel Kapelonis, 22, and Giorgos Foundoulis, 27, were murdered in a November 1 drive-by shooting in an Athens suburb, outside local party offices.

Their murder raised fears of civil unrest, coming on the heels of the September 18 fatal stabbing of Fyssas by a Golden Dawn member.

Last week, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias warned of “the beginning of a spiral of terrorist attacks and a bloody vendetta with insecurity spreading in society”.

The government, long accused of turning a blind eye to Golden Dawn’s activities, launched a crackdown on the organisation after Fyssas’ murder.

So far, six of the party’s elected MPs have been charged with belonging to a criminal organisation. Three are in pre-trial detention including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, who is charged with running a criminal organisation.

Court documents have linked the party to two murders — including that of Fyssas — as well as three attempted murders and numerous assaults.

But the two Golden Dawn killings have overshadowed the ongoing criminal investigation.

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American Lamont Peterson kept his International Boxing Federation light-welterweight title on Saturday after a unanimous 12-round decision over previously unbeaten Canadian Dierry Jean.


Judges gave home-town hero Peterson the triumph by scores of 118-111, 116-112 and 115-113, improving his record to 32-2 with one draw before 5668 at the Washington Armory.

A day after his 30th birthday, Peterson revived his career after being stopped for the first time in May by Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse in the third round of a catch-weight bout, where his crown was not at risk.

“I had to go out there and show people I have still got it,” Peterson said. “Every time I think I have it easy, there is another setback. I have showed I can get back up.

“That’s my purpose in life. I try to represent something to people trying to find a way out of their struggles and inspire them.”

Jean, in his first world-title bout, fell to 25-1 but took his first loss in stride.

“Maybe it was just a matter of experience,” Jean said. “I’m definitely leaving with my head held high. I fought a hard fight. Life goes on.”

For Peterson, the goal is a showdown with unbeaten American Danny Garcia, who holds the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council crowns, for an undisputed title.

“I would like to be considered the best 140-pounder in the world. If it’s Danny Garcia next, then that’s what it is,” Peterson said.

Jean, a 31-year-old born in Haiti but based in Montreal, exchanged tentative jabs with Peterson early on.

Peterson landed a right to the chin off a clinch in the second, but Jean used his speed edge to punch the champion into the ropes late in the round.

Peterson, who had the reach and height advantage, evaded Jean several times to escape trouble in the third and both fighters became more defensive.

The champion started the sixth round aggressively and pressed the attack, pounding Jean against the ropes with flurries of punches, opening a cut near Jean’s right eye.

Jean began to connect well with single blows in the seventh and eighth, but could not stop Peterson taking control of the fight in the later rounds.

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Defending a one-second lead over fellow Australian cycling star Cadel Evans was a ride in the park for Simon Gerrans at the Tour Down Under.


As German sprint ace Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) won his 16th Tour stage at Rymill Park outside the Adelaide city centre, Gerrans became the Tour’s first three-time champion.

Gerrans and his powerful Orica-GreenEDGE team were never threatened on Australia Day in the sixth and final stage, despite the minuscule lead and high quality of the opposition.

Italian Diego Ulissi (Lampre) started the stage only five seconds behind in third place, and was probably more of a threat than Evans (BMC), but there were no changes to the top of the overall standings.

This is becoming a habit: two years ago, Gerrans was level on time with Spaniard Alejandro Valverde going into the last stage and won on a countback.

“Until I crossed the line, I suspected that Diego Ulissi would try and do something, but it went all right,” said Gerrans, who first won the Tour in 2006.

“I’ve got my third Tour Down Under win thanks to an outstanding team.”

Gerrans has also repeated his Tour-Australian road championship double from two years ago.

His title duel with Evans capped the best Tour in race history.

Sunday’s Adelaide street race attracted a crowd of 115,000 for a race total of 766,000, just less than the record set when Lance Armstrong raced in 2009-11.

For all the potential drama of the one-second time difference, Sunday was the only anticlimactic moment of the Tour.

Once a three-man break took the time bonuses at the two intermediate sprints, Gerrans was safe.

As expected, Evans and Ulissi were not fast enough to gain time bonuses by finishing the stage in the top three.

Gerrans (11th), Ulissi (23rd) and Evans (24th) finished the stage on the same time as Greipel.

There were big expectations surrounding Gerrans, Evans (BMC) and fellow Australian star Richie Porte after their epic duel this month at the road nationals.

The trio duly delivered.

Gerrans won stage one and then lost the lead on stage three when Evans soloed to victory in probably the best individual ride in Tour history.

Greipel won stage four, then Porte soloed to victory on Saturday in the Queen stage at Willunga, where Gerrans regained the lead from Evans.

After two inconsistent years, Evans has made a great start to the year before his major goal, the Giro d’Italia.

“Of course we would prefer to win,” Evans said. “That’s what we are hard-wired to do, but to be second by one second shows we are starting to work towards May.”

Porte, who will ride the Giro and the Tour de France in July, was also content.

“Its a little bit disappointing to be fourth, so close to the podium, but to win the Wilunga stage makes up for that,” he said.

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Ellyse Perry’s career-best batting performance turned the momentum Australia’s way in the women’s Ashes series against England at Bellerive.


The superstar engineered a stunning one-day victory thanks to an unbeaten 90 from 95 balls to keep the series alive.

The Ashes looked gone when the Southern Stars were 6-199 chasing 269, but Perry and Erin Osborne (40 from 25) put on 70 from 45 balls to steer their side to victory with three balls to spare.

The 23-year-old dual international said Australia, still needing to win all three Twenty20 games, could ride its momentum and clinch an unlikely series win.

“That’s the task that we have,” she said.

“We just see it as a really great challenge for our group and an opportunity to prove that we’re a world-class side, too.”

The Stars head into the T20 leg with two straight, sudden-death, one-day wins under their belts.

The tourists remain in the box seat following victories in the one-off Test and first one-day international.

But Perry said the Australians had learnt from the series loss in England last year to ride the wave when they had it.

“The momentum thing is really important,” she said.

“We learnt that in England, just how quickly you can get on top of a side and just hold that pressure.

“That’s something that we really need to do.”

Perry’s effort on Sunday was her highest international score in any form of the game after she made 71 in the Test and an unbeaten 65 in the first ODI.

England captain Charlotte Edwards said the young Australian was beginning to show her potential as a top-order batter.

“She was the difference between the two teams, ultimately, with going on and getting a big score,” Edwards said.

The England skipper admitted the change of formats could be good for her side.

“If we were playing two more ODIs, maybe the momentum would be with the Australians,” she said.

“We’re 8-4 up.

“I’d rather be in our position that theirs.”

England took six points in the series with their Test win and another two with victory in the first ODI.

Australia have four points from two ODI wins and can claim another six in the T20 matches.

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Unfancied Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka has shaken the order of world tennis with a dramatic Australian Open final triumph over wounded world No.


1 Rafael Nadal.

Having never taken a set from Nadal in 12 previous meetings, eighth-seeded Wawrinka prevailed 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 after the Spaniard ended Sunday night’s title match as a virtual passenger.

Nadal’s movement was severely limited after he suffered a back injury early in the second set.

At one point, Nadal seemed certain to become the first man to retire from an Australian Open final since Stefan Edberg called it quits with an abdominal injury while trailing Ivan Lendl 4-6 7-6 5-2 in the 1990 championship match.

But the top seed gallantly played on and even snatched the third set as Wawrinka – contesting his first-ever major final – struggled to cope with the bizarre situation.

Wawrinka, though, pulled himself together to win the fourth set, the match and his maiden grand slam crown after two hours and 21 minutes of high drama at Melbourne Park.

After defeating second seed and four-time champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, Wawrinka – the new world No.3 – becomes the first man in 21 years to beat the sport’s top two players en route to a grand slam title.

The 28-year-old is also the first player ever to beat both Nadal and Djokovic to win a major, something not even his legendary countryman Roger Federer has managed to achieve.

Wawrinka’s stunning breakthrough snapped a streak of 16 majors won by either Nadal, Djokovic, Federer or Andy Murray.

All up, the so-called Big Four had won 34 of the past 35 grand slam titles stretching back to Marat Safin’s Australian Open final victory over Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.

Argentine Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open was the only other man to have broken their dominance in the past nine years.

“Right now, I still don’t know if I’m dreaming or not,” Wawrinka said after the great Pete Sampras presented him with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

“We’ll see in the morning.”

For Nadal, it was a shattering conclusion to the tournament after the 27-year-old appeared on the cusp of tennis history.

The top seed was bidding to join Laver – who was also on hand on Sunday night at the venue named in his honour – as only the second man in 45 years of professional tennis to win all four grand slam titles at least twice.

Nadal was also a raging favourite to climb to equal second place alongside Sampras on the all-time grand slam leaderboard with a 14th career major.

Instead, Nadal remains four slams shy of Federer’s benchmark 17.

The first sign of any trouble for Nadal came when he called for the trainer in the third game of the second set.

Playing some breathtaking and fearless tennis, Wawrinka had been in command and, upset by the stoppage, demanded to know exactly why his opponent was receiving a medical time-out.

The Swiss was involved in an angry exchange with chair umpire Carlos Ramos before tournament supervisor Wayne McKewen appeared courtside to explain.

Spectators jeered Nadal when he re-entered the playing arena, but it was soon apparent the world No.1 was in genuine pain.

He was unable to serve anywhere near full capacity and was broken for a third time as Wawrinka won the second set to take control of the match.

Earlier, before Nadal’s injury struck, Wawrinka had been on fire, taking the opening set in 37 minutes with some fearless and breathtaking shot-making.

Under mounting pressure at love-40 down in the opening game of the second set, Nadal received a time violation for taking too long between serves.

Seizing the moment, Wawrinka jumped on Nadal’s second serve on game point, unleashed a stinging backhand return to break the top seed to love.

Nadal sought assistance from the ATP physio shortly after, but no one could have imagined the events to follow.

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Thousands of people have lined the streets of Melbourne to kick off Australia Day festivities in Victoria’s capital.


Revellers waving Australian flags celebrated cultural diversity with a parade involving more than 60 cultural and community groups along the main streets of Melbourne.

A flag-raising event was held at the parade with performances from choirs, groups and bands.

Addressing the crowd, Victorian Governor Alex Chernov said the day was about celebrating aspects of the nation that make Australians proud.

Mr Chernov said Australia Day was a reminder of the opportunities and challenges that the country faces and a reminder to recognise indigenous history.

Parade attendee Nick George, 46, of Viewbank said he felt lucky to be an Australian.

“To be Australian is to work hard, to look after family and those in need,” Mr George said.

“We have a lot of freedom and choices in this country.”

Michael Mack, 50, of Wagga Wagga, said the need to keep emphasising multiculturalism in Australia was important.

Graeme Myers, 60, of Shepparton, said the Australian lifestyle and way of life made him glad to be an Australian citizen.

Mr Myers said he was pleased to be a part of the positive and electric atmosphere of the parade.

Multiculturalism was a key theme of the day, with nearly 4500 new Victorians making their pledges to become Australian citizens.

At a citizenship ceremony in Brimbank, Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten paid tribute to the contribution that different cultures have brought to making Australia what it is today.

“You have added your cultural energy to ours and enriched our national identity,” Mr Shorten said.

“Because welcoming migrants is the driver of our national prosperity and the foundation of our national success.”

In homes and parks across the state people celebrated with barbecues and backyard cricket.

A 21-gun salute and a wreath-laying service were held at the Shrine of Remembrance.

Two free concerts were held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, while on the foreshore in Torquay, a world record was attempted for the longest line of giant inflatable thongs joined in the water.

The Docklands hosted a fireworks display on Sunday evening and Australian Open title-holder Li Na was commended by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle for her win in Melbourne.

In the Kings Domain Gardens more than 450 vintage cars were on display with activities, food stalls and entertainment.

“We live in the best state in the greatest country on earth,” Premier Denis Napthine said at the parade.

“Australia Day is an opportunity to come together and celebrate what it means to be Australian.”

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