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Sunday, 1 April 2012

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Iran crisis: US to apply fresh oil sanctions

Oil exports are a crucial part of the Iranian economy US President Barack Obama has approved the introduction of fresh sanctions on buyers of Iranian oil.

Obama has determined that there is enough oil in the world market to avoid negative consequences for US allies of a boycott of Iranian oil.

The move would allow the US to sanction foreign banks which are still involved in the oil trade with Iran.

Iran is facing international pressure to address concerns over its nuclear enrichment programme.

Western countries suspect Iran of attempting to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran insists the programme is purely peaceful.

Obama said in a statement that he would continue to monitor the global market closely to ensure it could handle a reduction of oil purchases from Iran.

The US president was required by a law he signed in December to determine by 31 March whether the market allowed countries to "significantly" cut their purchases from Iran.

A statement from the White House acknowledged that "a series of production disruptions in South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria and the North Sea have removed oil from the market" in the first months of 2012.

"Nonetheless, there currently appears to be sufficient supply of non-Iranian oil to permit foreign countries to significantly reduce their import of Iranian oil," the statement says.

"In fact, many purchasers of Iranian crude oil have already reduced their purchases or announced they are in productive discussions with alternative suppliers," it adds.


Bin Laden 'fathered four children' while on the run

Osama Bin Laden fathered four children while on the run, the wife who bore them has told Pakistani officials.

Amal Abdulfattah, from Yemen, was Bin Laden's youngest wife. She was arrested after the US raid on his compound near the Pakistani capital in 2011.

She said two of her children were delivered in state hospitals, but she stayed there just "two or three hours".

Bin Laden, 54, orchestrated the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington in which nearly 3,000 people died.

He evaded the forces of the US and its allies for almost a decade, despite a $25m (£15m) bounty on his head.

According to a report of the interrogation carried out by Pakistani investigators, Ms Abdulfattah, who came from a family with 17 children, married Bin Laden because "she had a desire to marry a Mujahideen", or holy warrior.

Along with three other wives found living at the residence, she was charged with entering and living illegally in the country.

The report recommends that the 30 year old and her children be immediately deported.

However, a lawyer for the three widows has said that they would be formally charged for illegally staying in Pakistan a charge that carried a maximum prison term of five years on 2 April.

Her account says she flew to Pakistan in 2000 and travelled to Afghanistan where she married Bin Laden before the 11 September 2001 attacks.


France arrests 19 suspected Islamist militants in raids

Police in France have arrested 19 suspected Islamist militants and seized weapons in a series of dawn raids, President Nicolas Sarkozy says.

The raids were in Toulouse, the home of gunman Mohamed Merah, and other cities.

Merah, who killed seven people in three separate attacks, was buried in Toulouse on Thursday after being killed in a shoot-out with police on 22 March.

Police have been hunting possible accomplices but sources said there was no direct link with the raids.

Mr. Sarkozy told Europe 1 radio after Friday's raids: "It's our duty to guarantee the security of the French people. We have no choice. It's absolutely indispensable."

The raids were carried out by the domestic intelligence agency, the DCRI, with the help of the elite Raid police commando group, Agence France-Presse news agency reports.

Several of the raids were in Toulouse, particularly the Mirail quarter, sources told AFP.

But there were also raids in Nantes, which is believed to be a centre for the Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride) group, to which Merah had been linked by some French media.

It is a Salafist group that was dissolved by the interior ministry in an earlier investigation.

Merah was buried at the Cornebarrieu cemetery in Toulouse on Thursday One of those arrested was the group's suspected leader, Mohammed Achamlane.

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