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Tunisia arrests suspects over terror attack

The interior ministers of the UK, Germany and France have vowed to help Tunisia fight terrorism, laying wreaths at the scene of the recent beach massacre. Authorities have made the first arrests related to the attack. Tunisian Interior Minister Mohamed Najem Gharsalli announced that the suspects arrested on Monday were associated to the alleged "Islamic State" gunman who killed 38 people on Friday. Most of the victims in the attack on the beach resort were foreign tourists. The gunman, identified as 23-year-old student Seifeddine Rezgui, was subsequently shot dead by police. The security forces arrested "a significant number of people, from the network that was behind this terrorist criminal," Gharsalli said, speaking alongside the interior ministers of Britain, Germany and France. "We will find all those involved, whether it was just logistical support or not," Gharsalli added, without providing more details. United front The Western interior ministers visited the site of the massacre on Monday and paid tribute to the victims. So far, 18 of the people killed in the attack have been confirmed as British nationals. However, the authorities in London expect that number to rise to "around 30", Prime Minister David Cameron's spokeswoman announced on Monday. Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May described the attack as "a despicable act of cruelty." "We are resolved... to defeat those who would do us harm, to defeat those who would undermine our freedom and democracy and to ensure that the terrorists do not win," she said, speaking from the Riu Imperial Marhaba hotel targeted by the shooter. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve echoed May's words and said: "We will win this war." "I want to express the absolute determination we have to reinforce our cooperation in the fight against terrorism," said Cazeneuve, adding France would "ensure the development" of Tunisia's economy. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also said that the four countrues would work together against the terrorists. "We came here to show solidarity with this young and still vulnerable democracy," de Maiziere said. "We are determined to show that freedom is stronger than terrorism." 'Intolerant of intolerance' Friday's attack was the worst by a jihadi group in Tunisia's history, and claimed more British lives than any terror strike since the 2005 London bombings. On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for "a response at home and abroad" to violent Islamic fundamentalism. "We must be more intolerant of intolerance - rejecting anyone whose views condone the Islamist extremist narrative and create the conditions for it to flourish," he wrote in the "Daily Telegraph". Speaking in parliament on Monday afternoon, Cameron announced a moment of silence next Friday in the victim's honor, on the one-week anniversary of the attacks. Some 600 British counterterrorism police members have been deployed to assist in the investigation of the attack. In addition, a British military plane would help with evacuation of the wounded tourists, officials said.

The interior ministers of the UK, Germany and France have vowed to help Tunisia fight terrorism, laying wreaths at the scene of the recent beach massacre. Authorities have made the first arrests related to the attack. Tunisian Interior Minister Mohamed Najem Gharsalli announced that the suspects arrested on Monday were associated to the alleged “Islamic State” gunman who killed 38 ... Read More »

NATO’s Stoltenberg tells Germany to pay its share on defense

As challenges continue to mount, the transatlantic military alliance's secretary-general has asked Germany to spend more on defense. NATO's target is 2 percent of gross domestic product; Germany's barely past half that. On Monday, the eve of the 60th anniversary of Germany joining NATO, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gently reminded Berlin that the suggested minimum defense spend for alliance members is 2 percent of GDP. Germany, at around 1.2 percent, is spending just 60 percent of the recommended quota. "I'm addressing all members, but, as a major economy, Germany falls short more significantly than others," the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" quoted Stoltenberg as saying in an interview published on Monday. "The USA gives 4 percent of GDP for defense. In Europe, we're closer to 1 percent. That is not a fair share." Stoltenberg's comments appeared ahead of an event Tuesday in Berlin to celebrate 60 years since West Germany, as it was classified at the time during the Cold War, joined the NATO alliance. The ceremonies were moved from May 6, the official anniversary, to avoid competing with the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II across Europe on May 8 and 9. The comments also follow a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels last week and an earlier announcement that the Cold War alliance would ramp up its defenses in the face of new threats from an old foe. The Welsh promise NATO reaffirmed its 2 percent target at its 2014 summit in Wales, with a plan to have all members meeting the mark within a decade's time. Before then, only five NATO members had contributed at least that amount: the United States, UK, Greece, Poland and Estonia. Germany has announced a plan to incrementally increase defense spending over the next four years, from just under 33 billion euros currently to just over 35 billion, or from roughly $37 billion to $39 billion. That still falls far short of the stated goal: Germany would need to pay closer to 58 billion euros to meet its obligation. "Nobody expects that Germany will do it within the year," Stoltenberg told the Süddeutsche. "We expect that Germany will stop the curtailments and gradually increase." He added: "For many years, Germany has profited from security guarantees of collective defense, and now we want to ensure that our eastern members can receive the same benefits." If Germany intends to continue paying a flat rate and its GDP - up 12.7 percent over the past four years - continues to climb, its shortfall would continue to grow. At this pace, Germany would be over 6 percent further from its proportional obligation by the time the contribution reached 35 billion euros in 2019.

As challenges continue to mount, the transatlantic military alliance’s secretary-general has asked Germany to spend more on defense. NATO’s target is 2 percent of gross domestic product; Germany’s barely past half that. On Monday, the eve of the 60th anniversary of Germany joining NATO, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gently reminded Berlin that the suggested minimum defense spend for alliance members is ... Read More »

Police swarm the streets as Tunisia reels from beach massacre

The Tunisian seaside town of Sousse is still reeling from an attack that killed almost 40 people on Friday. "Islamic State" has claimed responsibility, in which a lone gunman deliberately targeted tourists. Scores of police officers patrolled Tunisia's streets on Sunday, with the nation's interior minister announcing they would "deploy 1,000 armed police to protect hotels and tourists" in the wake of the deadly attack. Earlier, the government said it would crack down on mosques that were inciting hatred, with 80 to be permanently closed. Tunisia's National Security Council is expected to meet later in the day. The shooter, identified by extremist group "Islamic State" (IS) as Abu Yihya al-Kairouni, launched his assault on visitors at the Imperial Marhaba hotel in Port El Kantaoui on Friday, with most of the dead being British citizens. German, Irish and Belgian nationals were also killed, in what is the worst terror incident in the North African country's modern history. Pictures show the shooter calmly walking along the beach, with an assault rifle in his hand. He was also armed with several grenades. Tunisian authorities say the young man was not on any terror watch lists, and may have been radicalized over the past few months. He was later shot dead by police. Witnesses say the gunman told locals to "stay away, I haven't come for you," deliberately targeting foreign visitors. With some holidaymakers still unaccounted for, officials have warned the death toll may rise. Also complicating this is the fact that many visitors did not have identification on them at the time. Late on Saturday, Britain's Foreign Office released a warning that Islamist militants may unleash further attacks on tourist resorts. Already more than 3,000 tourists had fled the country within a day of the shootings. Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said he would visit the scene on Monday, to "express our solidarity with the Tunisian people," adding that there was no cause for concern over the security situation in Germany. Tunisia is widely considered one of the most secular countries in the Arab world, attracting many tourists. This also makes it an appealing target for jihadi terror groups, angry over its tolerance of alcohol and Western lifestyles. It's the second major attack on Tunisia this year, after an assault on the Bardo Museum in the capital Tunis in March. The country is still struggling to cope with the consequences of a 2011 revolution that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, as well as a rise in extremism and jihadi attacks. Dozens of police and soldiers have been killed in clashes with rebel fighters over the past few years. Tourism officials say there has been a 26 percent drop in the number of overseas visitors in April compared with the same month in 2014.

The Tunisian seaside town of Sousse is still reeling from an attack that killed almost 40 people on Friday. “Islamic State” has claimed responsibility, in which a lone gunman deliberately targeted tourists. Scores of police officers patrolled Tunisia’s streets on Sunday, with the nation’s interior minister announcing they would “deploy 1,000 armed police to protect hotels and tourists” in the ... Read More »

Builder discovers ‘Swiss Bank’ gold stash in Bavaria

A construction worker has found a stash of "Swiss Bank" gold during demolition work in the Bavarian town of Passau. Authorities are investigating who can claim the gold worth nearly one million euros ($1.12 million). In the picturesque South-eastern German town of Passau, a group of construction workers happened upon a stash of gold while performing demolition work. Inscribed with the words "Swiss Bank," the gold bullion is expected to be worth just under a million euros ($1.12 million, spokeswoman for the Bavarian city told "Passauer Neue Presse," the German news agency DPA reported. Twice in one week The discovery of gold at the construction site occurred twice in the same week, once on Wednesday and again on Friday, the first time of which was discovered by the construction worker. Police authorities in Passau, also know as the "City of Three Rivers," confirmed on Saturday that the construction worker was a backhoe operator and could possibly lay claim to the gold. The gold has been placed in the custody of the police while authorities determine who the owner of the precious property is. It is still unclear whether more gold bullion is located at the construction site. Investigations by police are ongoing.

A construction worker has found a stash of “Swiss Bank” gold during demolition work in the Bavarian town of Passau. Authorities are investigating who can claim the gold worth nearly one million euros ($1.12 million). In the picturesque South-eastern German town of Passau, a group of construction workers happened upon a stash of gold while performing demolition work. Inscribed with ... Read More »

Thousands of Berliners line up to see the Queen

Thousands of people lined up Wednesday to catch a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth during her state visit to Germany. They wanted to see the pomp, circumstance and Her Majesty’s trademark wave, if only for a second. Two armed sailors snapped to attention as the dark red Bentley rolled to a stop outside Berlin's Bellevue Palace and the 15 white-clad police motorcyclists who had escorted it sped off. An attendant in a tuxedo rushed to open the door and Queen Elizabeth II emerged to a flutter of camera flashes. She was promptly greeted by German President Joachim Gauck and his partner, Daniela Schadt, who curtsied to the Queen but bowed to her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Together the four walked through the presidential palace to the back lawn, where soldiers from the Staff Band of the German Army and the Guard Battalion of the Federal Ministry of Defense waited under a gray, atmospheric sky. The ceremony was well scripted, the music a splendid display of German diplomacy. From a raised podium adjacent the military musicians, the Queen looked on as they played the British and German national anthems. ‘Something to tell the grandkids' Wednesday marked the first full day of the Queen's seventh state visit to Germany since 1965, when she came here for the first time just four years after the Berlin Wall was erected. Now in her twilight years, the Queen is expected to make this one of her last official trips abroad - a fact that made catching a glimpse of her that much more pressing for many Germans. "She's 89 - you never know when she'll come back," said Patricia Kopecki, a 25-year-old economics and mathematics major at Berlin's Technical University, where the Queen attended a lecture later in the day. "It'll be something to tell the grandkids." A short walk from her vantage point along Berlin's Street of June 17, Elisa Schorb-Schmiederer expressed a similar sentiment. "She looks so agile for her age," said Schorb-Schmiederer, 54. "But this will probably be the last time we'll see her here." A shot in the arm When Queen Elizabeth II first came to Germany in 1965, her presence was credited with giving post-war British-German relations a much-needed shot in the arm. This time, much speculation has circled around the reason for the royal couple selecting Germany as one of their final destinations for a state visit. German media have noted Prince Philip's German roots - he was born into the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg - and pointed out that London could be signaling its commitment to Europe as the British government gears up for a referendum on its European Union ties. "The war was a long time ago, but I think her visit is still a sign of European unity," said Laura Giese, 18, a recent high school graduate, after posing for a photo with a cardboard cutout of the Queen in front of Bellevue Palace. A royal spectacle Germans' favorable attitude toward the UK remaining in the EU was reflected by the many paper Union Jack flags fluttering in the crowds that had gathered outside Bellevue Palace in the morning and along the banks of the nearby Spree River. Like Giese, many people had braved the drizzly weather to witness the spectacle of a royal visit. They wanted to see the pomp, the circumstance and the Queen's trademark wave, if only for a second. The streets around Bellevue, the Chancellor's Office and the Technical University had been cordoned off for blocks. Police stood guard on motorcycles, on horses and on foot. Hundreds of onlookers gathered with umbrellas, T-shirts and handmade posters emblazoned with the British flag or portraits of Her Majesty. There was a flurry of excitement as the Queen made her way from the presidential palace to a waiting boat for a carefully scripted, 12-minute ride to the Chancellery. "People went crazy. They were running alongside her boat," said Amir Eibagi, a 28-year-old tourist from California who happened to be walking along the Spree River when the Queen floated by on the "Ajax," a long, wooden vessel that carried her to a meeting with Angela Merkel. Asked about the circumstances that led him to wait outside in the rain for a quick look of an elderly monarch while he and his parents toured Berlin, Oyvind Dahl from Norway just shrugged. "Why not?" he replied. "It's cool to see the queen."

Thousands of people lined up Wednesday to catch a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth during her state visit to Germany. They wanted to see the pomp, circumstance and Her Majesty’s trademark wave, if only for a second. Two armed sailors snapped to attention as the dark red Bentley rolled to a stop outside Berlin’s Bellevue Palace and the 15 white-clad police ... Read More »

France approves $60mn compensation deal over Nazi rail deportations

French lawmakers have approved a landmark deal with the US to create a $60 million compensation fund. Thousands of foreign nationals deported to Nazi death camps on French SNCF trains could be eligible. During the Nazi occupation of France between 1942 and 1944, almost 76,000 Jews were sent to concentration and death camps in French freight cars. Only 3,000 survived. Now, 70 years since the end of the Second World War, thousands of foreign nationals who didn't previously qualify for compensation could be eligible for a payment. Canadians, Israelis and Americans are just some of the nationalities which could qualify. In return for creating the fund, the US has promised French rail company SNCF immunity from future US lawsuits linked to Holocaust deportation claims. The US legal guarantee was received reluctantly by much of France's conservative opposition, however, which questioned the validity of the pledge. Opposition lawmaker Pierre Lellouche described the fund as "a kind of French capitulation before a form of permanent judicial, even legislative blackmail by the Americans." Under a scheme which was established in 1946, the French government paid out an additional $60 million to French nationals who were victims of the Holocaust. They will not be eligible to the new fund, managed by the US. For years, American politicians sought to stop SNCF from bidding in rail deals on US territory, demanding the company to first provide compensation measures. The bill which could come into force this year will first be examined by France's Upper House on July 9.

French lawmakers have approved a landmark deal with the US to create a $60 million compensation fund. Thousands of foreign nationals deported to Nazi death camps on French SNCF trains could be eligible. During the Nazi occupation of France between 1942 and 1944, almost 76,000 Jews were sent to concentration and death camps in French freight cars. Only 3,000 survived. ... Read More »

Germany to face France in Women’s World Cup quarterfinals

Germany will face France in the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women's World Cup. France set up the all-European contest by beating South Korea on Sunday, after Germany knocked off Sweden a day earlier. The French women were in control of their round of 16 match against South Korea from start to finish, with Marie-Laure Delie opening the scoring in just the fourth minute of play in Montreal's cavernous Olympic Stadium. The predominantly French-speaking crowd of just 15,518 needed no further invitation, quickly serenading the French women with a rendition "La Marseillaise." Elodie Thomis doubled the advantage for Les Bleues just four minutes later and soon the crowd was giving an encore performance of the French national anthem. This was just the sort of quick start that French coach Philippe Bergeroo had demanded of his players, particularly in light of their 2-0 loss to Colombia in the group stage, when they were somewhat sluggish coming out of the dressing room. "The players have a lot of determination, as soon as the game starts, as soon as the anthem plays," Bergeroo said. "We've been able to muzzle the opponent twice. It didn't work against Colombia. This allows our players to relax and then go against the opposing team." France struck again early in the second half, with Delie scoring her second in the 48th minute, putting the result pretty much beyond doubt and setting of another rendition of La Marseillaise. "Their speed was incredible," South Korea coach Dukyeo Yoon marveled. "Our defenders had trouble coping with that." The 3-0 result has earned France a place in the quarterfinals, where they will face Germany, who defeated Sweden by a score of 4-1 in Ottawa on Saturday. Among those in the crowd on Sunday was Germany's coach, Silvia Neid, while her players watched the game on TV after checking into their hotel. 'Evenly match opponents' Not surprisingly, Neid said she expected the French to be tough to beat when the two teams kick off in Olympic Stadium on Friday. "France is a technically brilliant team, strong in all positions on the field. I expect a game of two evenly matched opponents who will not give anything away for free," she said. French coach Bergeroo, though, indicated that Germany was the clear favorite. "They are certainly the best nation in the world. We'll play with all the determination and respect that is required," he said.

Germany will face France in the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. France set up the all-European contest by beating South Korea on Sunday, after Germany knocked off Sweden a day earlier. The French women were in control of their round of 16 match against South Korea from start to finish, with Marie-Laure Delie opening the scoring in just ... Read More »

Merkel facing ‘stark choice’ about Greece’s eurozone fate: Varoufakis

Greece's finance minister has said that it will be Chancellor Angela Merkel who will decide his country's eurozone fate. The comments come ahead of an emergency EU summit to discuss Greece's financial crisis. In a column to be published in Sunday's edition of the "Frankfurter Allgemeine" newspaper, Varoufakis wrote that the onus will be on Chancellor Angela Merkel, as the leader of Europe's biggest economy, to save Greece from going into default. "On Monday, [when EU leaders gather for an emergency summit in Brussels], the German chancellor will face a stark choice," Varoufakis wrote. "Enter into an honorable agreement with a government that opposed the 'bailouts' and which seeks a negotiated solution that ends the Greek crisis once and for all. Or ... heed the sirens from within the [German] federal government encouraging her to jettison the only Greek government that is principled and which can carry the Greek people along the path of genuine reform," he argued. "The choice, I am very much afraid, is hers," he concluded. At the same time Varoufakis raised the prospect of new concessions from Athens aimed at convincing its European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors that Greece's left-wing government is serious about combating its massive public debt. 'Determination to compromise' "Our side will arrive in Brussels with the determination to compromise further as long as we are not asked to do what previous governments did: to accept new loan tranches under conditions that offer little hope that Greece can repay its debts," he wrote, without providing any detail about what concrete measures Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' government was prepared to take. After months of wrangling over what budget cuts or other economic reforms the left-wing Syriza government would be willing to implement in return for the release of the final 7.2-billion-euro ($8.1 billion) tranche of Greece's international bailout, there have been indications that patience among the country's eurozone partners is wearing thin. On Friday, Merkel said at an event in Berlin that unless a compromise acceptable to Greece's creditors had been reached ahead of the emergency summit in Brussels, no decision could be taken on Monday. There were reports that Tsipras may be planning to contact European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker by telephone over the course of the weekend in an effort to break the deadlock. However, by late Saturday, it wasn't clear whether there had been any discussions or if any progress had been made. Also speaking with the "Frankfurter Allgemeine," European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned the Greek government of the possible consequences of exiting the eurozone. "What doesn't work: leaving the euro, not paying back your debts but expecting funds to keep flowing merrily from the EU budget," he said. Greece is facing a June 30 deadline to meet a 1.6-billion-euro loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund. Should it fail to do so, as is expected to be the case if the bailout funds are not released, it would go into default, possibly triggering a scenario popularly dubbed a "Grexit." This would see Greece leave the eurozone and possibly even cease to be a member of the European Union.

Greece’s finance minister has said that it will be Chancellor Angela Merkel who will decide his country’s eurozone fate. The comments come ahead of an emergency EU summit to discuss Greece’s financial crisis. In a column to be published in Sunday’s edition of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine” newspaper, Varoufakis wrote that the onus will be on Chancellor Angela Merkel, as the ... Read More »

Russian hackers suspected in cyberattack on German parliament

Prominent Russian hacker group Sofacy is suspected of being behind a cyberattack against the German parliament, an expert has said. The group is also at the center of a French investigation over an attack on TV5 Monde. The expert in the field told dpa news agency on Friday that there was "concrete evidence" that the attackers were members of the Sofacy group, sometimes referred to as APT28. The group has been operating since 2006 and is funded by the government, the source said. The unconfirmed attackers reportedly launched an unprecedented attack using several waves of so-called Trojan viruses to gradually extend their access to the German parliament's internal server. The Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament confirmed at the end of May that the hackers had managed to steal data during the intrusion. Security reminder The news comes after German parliamentarians were told to remain on high alert and be sure to follow cybersecurity guidelines in the future, according to an email seen by dpa on Friday. "Even though data siphoning ended on May 20, the threat is not over," Bundestag director Horst Risse wrote in the email, which also highlighted that parliamentarians should refrain from opening unknown links and files sent by email. According dpa, recipients of the memo were advised to change their passwords regularly and use encryption software for sensitive documents. French inquiry Security investigators in neighboring France are also reportedly looking into whether the same Russian hacking group was responsible for an attack on French broadcaster TV5 Monde in April. Transmissions were temporarily shut down for 18 hours after the station's website and social media accounts were hijacked with jihadist propaganda. "The investigations are at this stage looking towards a group of Russian hackers designated by the name APT28," a judicial source told French newspaper "L'Express."

Prominent Russian hacker group Sofacy is suspected of being behind a cyberattack against the German parliament, an expert has said. The group is also at the center of a French investigation over an attack on TV5 Monde. The expert in the field told dpa news agency on Friday that there was “concrete evidence” that the attackers were members of the ... Read More »

Women’s World Cup: Germany march on to knockout stages

Silvia Neid's side are one of the favorites for the competition in Canada and will now compete in the Round of 16. A 4-0 win over Thailand secured their progression. Thailand 0-4 Germany (Leupolz 24', Petermann 56', 58', Däbtriz 73') Germany has qualified for the knockout phase of the FIFA Women's World Cup following a 4-0 win over Thailand in Winnipeg to seal top-spot in the group. Melanie Leupolz and Lena Petermann fired the Germans on course to the Last 16 where they could play one of the strongest third-place sides in the next round. Petermann scored twice having come off the bench at the break and Sara Däbritz added a fourth. Following a win and draw in their opening two fixtures, Germany still had work to do on the final set of fixtures. Norway picked up a 3-1 win over Ivory Coast to secure the second qualification position. With seven changes to the team from the 1-1 draw against Norway, Silvia Neid's players looked slightly out-of-sync with each other. Melanie Behringer forced an early save from Waraporn Boonsing, shuffling on to her right-foot and striking towards the top corner only for the Thailand international to palm clear. Yet, Germany's lack of cohesion was evident a few minutes later. A long clearance created a one-vs-one situation for Thai striker Kanjana Song-Ngoen who looked uncertain approaching the German goal and eventually was dispossessed. That was as close a blue shirt got to Nadine Angerer's goal in the first 45 minutes. The onslaught continued at the other end with Frankfurt striker Celia Sasic leading from the front. Her physical presence and outstanding leap proved unplayable for a weaker Thai defense and she should have been on target inside 20 minutes. But four minutes later, Melanie Leupolz netted from a corner-kick to move Germany into first-place in the group after Norway had done ahead earlier in the evening's action. Leupolz, one of four Bayern Munich players in the side, showed power and poise to head in Behringer's in swinging corner-kick midway through the half. Adding to the 10 shots racked up in the first 30 minutes, Champions League-winner Sasic was thwarted by Boosning who blocked a shot from close range. Sasic headed wide from a Blanca Schmidt cross on 43 minutes and had a shot blocked a minute-or-so earlier. Substitutions changed the complexion of the game for Germany with Anja Mittag and Petermann coming off the bench to score. The latter managed a quick-fire double: the first a powerful header from close range on 56 minutes until she added a third two minutes later. A fourth came 17 minutes from the end when Däbritz was presented an easy finish, slamming into the empty net to secure a comfortable passage for Germany to the Round of 16 stage. Germany's campaign resumes on Saturday June 20 in Ottawa where they will play one of the best third-placed teams in the tournament.

Silvia Neid’s side are one of the favorites for the competition in Canada and will now compete in the Round of 16. A 4-0 win over Thailand secured their progression. Thailand 0-4 Germany (Leupolz 24′, Petermann 56′, 58′, Däbtriz 73′) Germany has qualified for the knockout phase of the FIFA Women’s World Cup following a 4-0 win over Thailand in ... Read More »

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