Vienna (AFP) - Ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine have reached their highest level in months, with violence again reaching "worrying levels," the chief OSCE monitor said Thursday.
Ertugrul Apakan called for the warring parties to show "visible and decisive" action to restore the truce.
"During the past weeks, the (OSCE) has registered the highest number of ceasefire violations in months," Apakan said. "Armed violence in eastern Ukraine has once again reached worrying levels."
Apakan said in Vienna that artillery and mortars proscribed under a February 2015 Minsk ceasefire agreement between Kiev and pro-Russian rebels "are being used again in increased numbers".
He also voiced concern about "direct attacks" against monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) which he said were taking place "with impunity for the perpetrators".
"Three serious security incidents have taken place recently: weapons were shot in the direction of SMM monitors, they were threatened at gunpoint, and one SMM vehicle was hit by a bullet," he said.
"This impunity for people who threaten, violently mistreat or attack the SMM, or who violate its freedom of movement, must end," he said after briefing OSCE member states at the body's headquarters.
He also said a growing number of weapons are missing from permanent storage sites and from known weapons holding areas, with many of these facilities "completely abandoned".
"Our observations suggest that many of these weapons are back in use at the contact line," he said.
He said monitors "continued to experience restrictions in reaching the Ukraine-Russian Federation border in areas not controlled by the (Ukraine) government."
He added: "A sustainable ceasefire is of central importance to the further implementation of the Minsk agreements. Now is the time for the sides to show visible and decisive action to restore it."
Voting was extended Friday in second round elections for almost a quarter of the seats in Iran's parliament, a crucial showdown between reformists and conservatives seeking to influence the country's future. Iran's reformists -- who have encouraged foreign investment, support moves for greater diplomatic rapprochement and seek social reforms at home -- are allied with President Hassan Rouhani's government and made major gains in the first round on February 26. Polling stations opened at 8:00 am (0330 GMT) for the second round which is taking place in 21 provinces, but not the capital Tehran, with 68 of 290 seats in parliament at stake.
San Francisco's police chief has ordered effective immediately that all officers attend an anti-harassment class, even as he released more transcripts of a former lieutenant and two former officers exchanging racist text messages. Investigators found the text messages on the personal phones of the officers during criminal probes of former officer Jason Lai and retired Lt. Curtis Liu. Police Chief Greg Suhr provided additional transcripts and copies of photos with racist captions that were found on Liu's phone to The Associated Press Thursday.
Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered a new ‘pleasure squad’ of teenage girls to serve his every whim. The North Korean leader originally stopped the practice – which has been employed in the country for decades – following the death of his father and predecessor, Kim Jong-il, in 2011. Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs, told The Telegraph, that at first Kim Jong-un stopped the practice because he didn’t trust the girls.
Five people were killed in a gun and grenade attack in a district of Burundi's capital which is stronghold of opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza, police said. Thursday night's attack struck a bar in Bujumbura's Musaga neighbourhood, where protests were held against the president last year, said deputy police spokesman Moise Nkurunziza.
A man who was shot by police after claiming to have a bomb strapped to his chest was in fact wearing a life jacket with chocolate bars attached. The suspect, who was wearing a hedgehog onesie, entered a Baltimore news station and told staff he had an
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Heffernan v. City of Paterson, a case that involved the First Amendment, political speech, and the innocuous actions of a police officer helping his bedridden mother. The main question the Court was tasked with answering was whether government employees violate the First Amendment if they punish subordinates for their political speech, even if a superior was mistaken and the subordinate was not actually engaging in political expression. The case was brought by Jeffrey Heffernan, a police officer in Paterson, New Jersey, who was seen by fellow officers holding a yard sign for Lawrence Spagnola, a candidate in the city’s mayoral election.
Occupied, banned from having its own armed forces, and entirely dependent on the United States for transportation, Japan's National Police Reserve asked domestic automakers for an alternative to the Jeep. Toyota responded. Resurrecting a wartime design, Toyota built heavily, with a B-series 3.4-liter inline six engine in a one-ton chassis, for a vehicle they called the Toyota Jeep, or BJ, for short.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Polish Ambassador to Russia Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalecz was summoned to Russia's Foreign Ministry on Friday, a representative of the embassy told Reuters. RIA news agency reported the ambassador had been summoned over
Large parts of Australia's Great Barrier Reef could be dead within 20 years as climate change drives mass coral bleaching, scientists warned Friday. The World Heritage-listed reef is currently suffering its worst bleaching in recorded history with 93 percent of corals affected due to warming sea temperatures. Experts from the government-backed ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science said in a study that if greenhouse gases keep rising, similar events will be the new normal, occurring every two years by the mid-2030s.
South Sudan's transitional unity government was sworn into office Friday, with President Salva Kiir sharing power with ex-rebels in a key step in a long-delayed peace process. Under terms of an August 2015 peace deal, the 30 ministerial posts are split between Kiir, former rebel chief turned first vice president Riek Machar, opposition and other parties. "We are going to work together," Kiir said after the ministers were sworn into office, and he shook hands with Machar.
INCHEON, South Korea (AP) -- For much of the world, North Korea is a Stalinist nightmare, an isolated enclave of prison camps, poverty and hunger. But for tens of thousands of people scattered across South Korea and
A "regime of calm" will be enforced in parts of Syria's Latakia and Damascus regions from 1:00 a.m. (2200 GMT) on April 30, in order to "secure the implementation of the agreed cessation of hostilities", a Syrian military statement said on Friday. A statement from the Syrian Army General Command did not mention the city of Aleppo, focus of fighting, and did not explain what military or non-military action a "regime of calm" would involve.
Plans have been unveiled for a new tower in Dubai, which will be the tallest in the world. Emaar Properties, the Dubai-based property developers, are planning to build ‘The Needle’, which will reach slightly higher than the 2,716 ft Burj Khalifa - the current record holder.
Two California brothers were arrested in connection with the shooting deaths of their parents, who were popular fixtures at their mosque for three decades and had helped relatives emigrate from their native Bangladesh. Hasib Bin Golam Rabbi, 22, and his 17-year-old brother were taken into custody Thursday, after their parents were found slain Sunday in their San Jose home on a quiet cul de sac. Word of the deaths of Shamima and Golam Rabbi and the arrest of their sons sent shock waves through the close-knit Muslims who worship at nearby Evergreen Islamic Center.
Published in the journal Current Biology, the study into ‘perceived age’ was set up by Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and Unilever. Evidence pointed towards a variation of the MC1R gene, which is responsible for skin pigmentation and protection adjacent UV rays from the sun. More research is planned, and Unilever hopes that it will lead to a product to help people look younger.
Sony's latest financial briefing has offered an insight into the PlayStation 4's strength, as the company said it had shipped 17.7 million consoles over the 12 month period ending March 31, 2016. The number puts the total amount of PlayStation 4 shipments at 40 million. Japanese entertainment giant Sony had previously disclosed total sales at the end of 2015, with these shipment figures providing an additional but more approximate yardstick by which to measure the games machine's popularity.
By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Lawyers for 850 asylum seekers held in a controversial detention center in Papua New Guinea said on Friday they planned to seek potentially billions of dollars in compensation, as Australian officials prepared to travel to PNG for emergency talks. PNG announced this week the closure of the detention center it operates on behalf of Australia, which has pursued a hardline immigration policy criticized by the United Nations and international human rights organization. The closure of the Manus Island facility - which holds asylum seekers fleeing violence in the Middle East, Afghanistan and South Asia - has the two South Pacific neighbors at loggerheads at a politically sensitive time for Australia.