'Black widow' suspected in Moscow airport blast

Moscow: A suspected 'black widow' is said to be behind the suicide blast in Russia's busiest Domodedovo International Airport in which at least 35 were killed and 178 injured, reports said today.
'Black widow' suspected in Moscow airport blast
One of the eyewitnesses questioned by the investigators said he had seen how the hand baggage of a woman dressed in black exploded, according to Interfax.
"The eyewitness declared that the young woman was dressed in black and the explosives were in the bag or suitcase on the floor next to her," a source was quoted as saying by the agency.
It said the security agencies were aware of the possible terror attacks, and were looking for 'Black Widows' of the slain militants from the Caucasus, who had carried out all suicide attacks in past, including twin blasts in Moscow metro stations in March 2010.
"Security agencies were misguided as Domodedovo attack was carried out by men," Interfax quoted another source in the secret services. Insufficient security measures in Moscow's Domodedovo airport are to blame for yesterday's deadly blast, which left dozens dead, a spokesman for Russia's national anti-terrorism committee (NAC) said today.
'Black widow' suspected in Moscow airport blast
"Security measures in the Domodedovo airport were insufficient, otherwise the terrorist attack would have never taken place," Nikolai Sintsov told the Rossiya 24 TV channel.
According to state-run Rossiya 24 news channel the police are also looking for four men suspected of involvement in yesterday's blast in the international arrival lounge of the airport. "They were spotted on the CCTV footage," the TV said.
The absence of security check at the International Arrival's gate was used by the alleged terrorists to sneak in with explosives, the TV channel reported. At least 35 people were killed and over 178 injured in the attack at the airport.
RIA Novosti had said there was at least one suicide bomber with explosives with five kilo TNT equivalent. Investigation Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said the power of the blast was between 5-10 kg equivalent of TNT.
The bomb went off at 1902 IST in the baggage claim area of the international arrival sector yesterday, Itar-Tass had quoted Tatyana Morozova of the Russian investigation committee as saying. Interfax did not rule out that the explosives were in a suitcase.
Source: Agencies
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Moscow Airport Explosion

MOSCOW (AP) -- An explosion shook the busiest airport in the Russian capital on Monday afternoon and an aviation official said an unspecified number of people were killed.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the explosion in the international baggage-claim area at Domodedovo airport.

Russia's Investigative Committee said there were at least 20 casualties in the blast and the state news agency RIA Novosti quoted a spokesman for the Russian aviation agency, Sergei Izvolsky, as saying there were dead among the casualties.

You can follow live updates as the situation develops here.

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Taiwan show of strength backfires as one in four test missiles miss their targets to leave president embarrassed

  • Military told to up its game after public display flops dramatically
Weeks after its neighbour China confirmed its growing military power with a test of its new stealth fighter jet, Taiwan has attempted to show its own hand with a public missile display.
Yet the test firing of 19 surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles left the Taiwanese government with red faces today after a quarter of the ballistics missed their targets.
President Ma Ying-jeou admitted his exasperation after the tests, which were the first to be held in full view of the media for almost a decade.
Mixed results: A US-made RIM-7 Sparrow missile is launched during a live fire test at Jeoupeng military base at Pingtung County, southern Taiwan
Mixed results: A US-made RIM-7 Sparrow missile is launched during a live fire test at Jeoupeng military base at Pingtung County, southern Taiwan

Firepower: Taiwan showed its force during a live-fire missile exercise today
Firepower: Taiwan showed its force during a live-fire missile exercise today
Bullseye: A surface-to-air missile hits its target, but a quarter missed the mark
Bullseye: A surface-to-air missile hits its target, but a quarter missed the mark
'I'm not satisfied with the results,' he told reporters when the test was concluded.
'I hope the military will find out the reasons and improve its training.'

 
The test, Mr Ma said, had been intended 'to bring more transparency into military affairs and allow the public to view the military's readiness'.
But under a cloudy sky, five of the missiles failed to hit their targets, including one RIM-7M Sparrow, which cascaded harmlessly into the South China Sea less than 30 seconds after launch.
Other missiles tested included Sky Bow IIs - which have a range of 125 miles - MIM-23 Hawks and FIM-92 Stingers.
Disappointed: President Ma Ying-jeou demanded improvements after a quarter of missiles tested today missed their targets
Disappointed: President Ma Ying-jeou demanded improvements after a quarter of missiles tested today missed their targets

Surface-to-air success
Surface-to-air success
Surface-to-air success: A TK2 (left) and a U.S.-made Hawk missile is launched during one of the most public displays of Taiwan's military power in the last ten years

Local tensions: Taiwanese soldiers check US-made Hawk missiles at the Chiupeng missile base in southern Pingtung county
Local tensions: Taiwanese soldiers check US-made Hawk missiles at the Chiupeng missile base in southern Pingtung county
Mr Ma had recently faced criticism that his reconciliation policy with China has undermined the Taiwan's deterrence against Beijing's rising military strength.

And the public failure of today's missile tests is likely to increase opposition to Mr Ma's strategy of lowering tensions with its neighbour across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait.

Since their split after civil war in 1949, Taiwan has been threatened with invasion by China should it attempt to make its de facto independence permanent.

Taiwan's ability to defend itself from potential Chinese incursion came under question earlier this month after pictures of China's J-20 stealth jet emerged.
Airborne attack: An air-to-air missile is fired from a Taiwan Air Force Mirage 2000-5 jet during today's drill
Airborne attack: An air-to-air missile is fired from a Taiwan Air Force Mirage 2000-5 jet during today's drill

Lift-off: China's J-20 stealth plane made a successful test flight this month, coinciding with U.S. defence secretary Robert Gates' visit to Beijing
Lift-off: China's J-20 stealth plane made a successful test flight this month, coinciding with U.S. defence secretary Robert Gates' visit to Beijing
The J-20, which looks larger than the active American F-22 or the Sukhoi T-50 being tested by Russia, will be of concern to the Taiwanese government, whose antiquated aircraft and radar systems would provide little resistance to radar-evading Chinese jets.

The U.S. has claimed China would not be capable of developing a stealth jet for years and production of the F-22 was recently capped.

But the J-20's successful test, coupled with reports of the development of an aircraft carrier and missile system, confirms China's growing military might.
READ MORE - Taiwan show of strength backfires as one in four test missiles miss their targets to leave president embarrassed

Pak plumbs new depths; Taseer killer ‘soldier of Islam’

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was an anachronism in present day Pakistan. He was a liberal in a Talibanised cauldron, that Pakistan increasingly resembles. In a polity dominated by the feudal lords, he was a hugely successful self-made entrepreneur. And, in a society seeped in conservatism, he made no bones of the fact he drank Scotch every evening, never fasted and prayed, even ate pork.
Pak plumbs news depths; Taseer killer ‘soldier of Islam’
But it was not his lifestyle, but his opposition to the notorious blasphemy law in Pakistan that got him in the end. Not only had he vociferously voiced his opinion on the issue but had publicly called for pardon for Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old Christian mother of five, who was sentenced to death under the law. He even met her at a prison in Sheikhupura along with his family.
From that moment, Taseer's death was an event foretold.
It brought threats on his life from the hardliners in Pakistan, including most prominently from Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. But he was unrepentant and event defiant. "I was under huge pressure sure 2 cow down b4 rightist pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I'm the last man standing," Taseer wrote on Twitter on the eve of this New Year.
Tragically, it seems that Taseer was prescient. Indeed, he was the last man standing. For, the aftermath has shown a shocking blowback by the Islamists. The hardliners not only justified the killing but eulogized and praised the killer, 26-year-old Elite Force police commando Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, as a hero - a 'soldier of Islam'.
Pak plumbs news depths; Taseer killer ‘soldier of Islam’
Regrettably, it was not just the Mullahs and the extremists but the literate sections of the Pakistani society who have exhibited a dangerously fanatical bend of mind. Believe it or not, Taseer's killer turned hero on Facebook.
Nearly 2,000 Facebook users welcomed the killing of Salman Taseer as a strike against reformers of the country's tight blasphemy laws. Nearly 2,000 Facebook users joined one group on the social networking site praising Qadri, and dozens of "fans" joined other pages set up in Qadri's honour in the hours after the shooting, reported a leading agency.
All the pages had been removed by Wednesday. Other private account holders used their Facebook status updates to make comments such as: "We salute you Mumtaz Qadri," "thank God he (Taseer) is not alive (any) more" and praise for the attacker as "a soldier of Islam".
This show of fanatical support for cold blooded killing of a public figure, who had the courage of conviction to stand and be counted was not restricted to the lunatic fringe in Pakistan. Even the mainstream media was not immune to echo the clarion call of the extremists.
Pakistan's leading Urdu daily, Jang, proclaimed on its front page: "There should be no funeral for Salman Taseer and no condemnation for his death...a supporter of a blasphemer is also a blasphemer." In a related story it noted that more than "500 religious scholars and clerics had paid tribute to Qadri".
Pak plumbs news depths; Taseer killer ‘soldier of Islam’
The story does not end there. The scheduled court appearance of killer Qadri before the Anti-Terrorist Court in Rawalpindi had to be shelved as a crowd of extremist lawyers and madrassa students descended on the building in support of Qadri, and prevented the judge from leaving for court.
Faced with the ire of the Islamists and the reality of Taseer's murder, the only other person in Pakistan's troubled cauldron who has been fighting a losing battle against obscurantism, as represented by the blasphemy law, parliamentarian Sherry Rahman has gone underground.

What compounds the issues is the near silence of the other political parties and civil society, which is deafening. With the extremists on the rampage and utter lack of spine exhibited by others, the liberal space in the country, which has be fast shrinking, is now almost completely eroded.

Declan Walsh, writing in The Guardian, put it best on the dilemmas facing Pakistan, "The ordinary, moderate people who do not favour extremism or violence, and only want their society to thrive -- were saying nothing. But in Pakistan, that is no longer good enough. Silence kills".
Problem is, so does speaking!
Source: India Syndicate
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China Stealth Fighter? Photos Released Online Raise Speculations

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/234147/thumbs/s-CHINA-STEALTH-FIGHTER-large.jpgBEIJING — Photos leaked online that appear to show a prototype of China's first stealth fighter jet were discussed in state media Wednesday – a move that supports claims the country's military aviation program is advancing faster than expected.

Both the English and Chinese language editions of the Global Times ran front-page articles on the photos of what appears to be a future J-20 fighter, along with extensive reports on the buzz the pictures have generated overseas.

Photos of the plane appeared on unofficial military news websites and hobbyist blogs last week and were still viewable Wednesday.

The Global Times did not comment on the authenticity of the pictures, but since the government wields extensive control over state media, the report's appearance and the fact that censors have not removed images from websites suggest a calculated move to leak the information into the public sphere.

That in turn would reflect the growing confidence of the traditionally secretive People's Liberation Army, which is pushing for greater influence and bigger budgets.

But the U.S. Defense Department said it wasn't worried about the reports.

"It is not of concern that they are working on a fifth-generation fighter," Marine Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said, since the Chinese are "still having difficulties with their fourth-generation fighter."

Calls to the spokesman's office at the Defense Ministry rang unanswered.

Aviation websites said the photos were taken from outside a fence at the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute's airfield in southwestern China. The plane appeared to be undergoing a taxiing test of the sort that precedes an actual flight test.

A future Chinese stealth fighter has long been considered an inevitability. Deputy air force chief He Weirong told state broadcaster CCTV in November 2009 that China's fourth-generation fighter – a reference to stealth technology – would begin flight testing soon and could enter service within eight to 10 years.

China's aviation industry – both military and civilian – has made rapid progress in recent years but still relies heavily on imported technology. Propulsion technology has been a particular problem, with Russian engines still employed on China's homemade J-10 fighter jets and the J-11, a copy of Russia's Su-27 fighter jet.

Stealth technology is even more difficult to master because it relies on systems to hide the presence of the plane while equipping the pilot with enough information to attack an enemy. Emissions must be hidden and the plane's fuselage sculpted to avoid detection by radar and infrared sensors.

Chinese progress in that field calls into question U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' decision to cap production of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter at 187 planes. Supporters of the F-22 have warned of growing threats from China, as well as Russia, which has developed a stealth prototype that is already in the test flight stage.

Analysis of the J-20 photos shows it to be larger than either the Russian or U.S. planes, likely allowing it fly farther and carry heavier weapons.
READ MORE - China Stealth Fighter? Photos Released Online Raise Speculations
 
 
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