23:21 Assad vows to 'cleanse' Syria after mosque attack:
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad today vowed to "cleanse" his country of extremism, a day after a suicide bomber killed more than 45 people in a mosque including a key pro-regime Sunni cleric.
The attack was also condemned by the opposition, who raised the possibility that the regime was behind the deadly blast at the Iman Mosque in Damascus last night. State news agency SANA said that 49 people had been killed, including Mohamed Saeed al-Bouti, the most prominent Sunni Muslim cleric to back Assad's Alawite minority-dominated regime against a Sunni-led uprising.
23:20 UN in rare unity condemns Syria mosque attack:
The UN Security Council put aside its deep divisions and issued a rare statement today condemning "in the strongest terms" the terrorist attack on a mosque in Damascus that killed more than 40 Syrians, including a senior Muslim cleric.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the suicide bombing that killed Sheik Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti, a top Sunni preacher, as he was giving a sermon Thursday "in the strongest terms" and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
23:13 Israel PM mends Turkey ties after flotilla apology:
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today apologised to Turkey for a deadly 2010 flotilla raid and announced a full resumption of diplomatic ties as well as compensation for the families of those killed, his office said.
The breakthrough, which ends a nearly three-year bitter diplomatic rift, was engineered by US President Barack Obama at the tail end of a historic three-day visit to the Holy Land, the first of his presidency.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One shortly after departing for Amman, a senior US official said the Israeli premier had apologised to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a special phonecall from Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.
22:57 Nigerian author Chinua Achebe is no more:
Chinua Achebe, the internationally celebrated Nigerian author, statesman and dissident who gave literary birth to modern Africa with Things Fall Apart and continued for decades to rewrite and reclaim the history of his native country, has died.
He was 82.Mr. Achebe died following a brief illness, said his agent, Andrew Wylie.
"He was also a beloved husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him,' Mr. Wylie said.
22:30 Obama in Jordan on last leg of Mideast tour:
US President Barack Obama arrived in Jordan today to face scrutiny over his Syria strategy, on the last leg of a Middle East tour after challenging Israelis to embrace peace with Palestinians.
The presidential aircraft landed at Queen Alia Airport near Amman at 1445 GMT, and Obama was welcomed by Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and other senior officials. He headed to the royal palace for talks and a private dinner with King Abdullah II, a key US ally, on the agony of Syria's conflict in Jordan, which hosts more than 450,000 refugees from the war-torn country.
21:56 NRHM scam: NBW issued against 3:
A special CBI court today issued non-bailable warrant against senior IAS officer Pradeep Shukla and two other accused in the multi-crore NRHM scam case.
Special Court judge Shyam Lal issued the warrant against Shukla, Devender Rai and Ravinder Mohan. Shukla was allegedly involved in the irregularities in upgrading of 89 district hospitals in the Uttar Pradesh, under National Rural Health Mission scheme, causing a loss of Rs 16 crore to the exchequer.
A bailable warrant was issued against the 55-year-old UP-cadre IAS officer on Janary 31 after he failed to appear in the case. He was arrested by the agency in last May but was released on bail.
21:16 Gang rape: Gag order quashed, media access allowed:
"Open trial is a rule" and the proceedings in the December 16 gang rape case can be accessed by the media as 'seering public interest' is attached to it, the Delhi high court today said quashing the order of the special fast track court barring journalist presence and reporting on it.
"To deny that there is a seering public interest in the prosecution of the case, would be to act like an ostrich, whose head is buried in sand," Justice Rajiv Shakdher said while allowing a representative each from national dailies and news agencies including PTI to cover the day-to-day hearing of the sensational case that had sparked national outrage
"...open trial is a rule, and wherever exceptions are carved out, they are made only to secure the ends of justice," the bench said.
21:07 Pak poll schedule announced:
The process for May 11 elections for the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies in Pakistan will begin on March 24 with the filing of nomination papers.
Announcing the schedule, Pakistan's election commission today said the nomination papers will be accepted for six days till March 29. The papers will be scrutinised from March 30 to April 5.
The last date for filing appeals against decisions by returning officers regarding the acceptance or rejection of nomination papers will be April 9. The last date for withdrawal of candidature will be April 17 and the revised list of candidates will be published on April 18.
The election commission did not give the date of counting of votes.
DMK MP Trichi Siva was admitted to Delhi's RML hospital today after he complained of breathlessness.
He experienced uneasiness while he was talking about the Sri Lankan Tamil issue in the Rajya Sabha. Renuka Chowdhary said that DMK and AIADMK MPs behaved like animals.
The DMK MPs protested and Siva collapsed. After this, the DMK decided to move a privilege motion against Chowdhary. V Narayanasamy visited Siva at the hospital.
20:21 Accused seeks bail in Ponty Chadha shootout case:
A Delhi court today reserved its order on the bail application of an accused in the case of murder of Ponty Chadha and his younger brother Hardeep at a farm house, in which sacked Uttarakhand minority panel chief S S Namdhari has also been chargesheeted.
Narender Alawat, who worked for Ponty Chadha as a manager, has approached Additional Sessions Judge V K Yadav seeking bail on the ground that he had gone to the farmhouse on his directions.
The shootout had taken place in November last year. The court reserved the order after Alawat's lawyer K K Manan and the Delhi police concluded their arguments in the matter.
20:15 Marines row: Italians ask foreign minister to quit:
A decision to return two Italian marines accused of murdering Kerala fishermen to stand trial in India stirred anger in Italy on Friday and calls for Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi to resign, reports NDTV
19:52 UP cops shocker: Who will rape a mother of four? :
The insensitivity of the Uttar Pradesh police on Friday came to the fore, as a senior police officer was caught on camera humiliating a 35-year-old Dalit woman, who had approached him for lodging a rape case, saying, "Who would rape an elderly woman who is a mother of four."
Deoria Additional Superintendent of Police Keshav Chandra Goswami was caught on camera insulting the woman on Thursday night, after she approached him seeking his intervention as a local police station had refused to register a case of rape, which took place on Wednesday.
"Why would anyone rape such an elderly woman," Goswami was heard saying when the woman and her husband met him as her complaint was not registered by Bankata police in the district.
19:19 No deal with Italy, says Salman Khurshid :
There is no deal with Italy. We have just clarified to them based on legal opinion, said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on India's assurance of no death penalty to marines accused of killing two fishermen from Kerala.
Khurshid is expected to the Italy's deputy foreign minister Staffan de Mustura to meet at 7.45 pm today.
18:23 Italian marines land in New Delhi :
The two Italian marines facing trial for killing two Kerala fishermen returned to India this evening, just within the deadline set by the Supreme Court.
They flew down to New Delhi after Rome's dramatic turnaround on its stand that the naval officers will not be sent back.The duo returned on a special Italian Air Force plane.
India had assured Italy that if convicted, the marines will not face the death penalty.
Also read: Inside story: How India and Italy sorted the marines' row
18:04 When Khurshid ditched Delhi's women's press corps:
Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid, flush with the success of solving the row over the Italian marines, arrived Friday afternoon to address the women press corps in New Delhi.
As he prepared to address the nearly 70 assembled journalists, he was handed a chit by an aide, apparently from the prime minister. Seems that it contained summons from the PM.
Khurshid, who was about to begin the conference, that was also being telecast live by some channels, apologised to the waiting audience and excused himself. He said that he had been called to a 'core group' meeting and left saying he would be back soon. Last heard, the women journalists were twiddling their thumbs waiting for the minister.
17:47 UP cop's shocker: 'Who would rape mother of four?':
NDTV: A senior police officer in Uttar Pradesh looked at a woman who said she had been raped, and said, "Why would anyone rape such an elderly woman?" The remark was film by local media in Deoria in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. The police man who insulted the 35-year-old woman, greatly exacerbating the trauma of being raped and chasing policemen for two days to register her case, has been identified as Assistant Superintendent of Police KC Goswami.
"Her oldest child is 17 , why would anyone rape such an elderly woman ?" he asked in front of a crowd.
Read the full report here
17:11 D Y Patil sworn in as Bihar governor:
Well known educationist and Padma Shri awardee D Y Patil was today sworn in as the 34th Governor of Bihar at a function here at Rajbhawan. Chief Justice of Patna High Court Rekha M Doshit administered the oath of office and secrecy to 77-year-old Patil.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, a host of ministers of the state and senior officials were present on the occasion. Patil, who was the governor of Tripura, replaced Devenand Konwar who would take his position in the north-eastern state.
17:09 Rajini 'disturbed' by SC verdict against Dutt:
Tamil superstar Rajinikanth today said he was "disturbed" by the Supreme Court verdict against Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case but expressed hope over the appeals for pardon for the 53-year-old 'Munnabhai MBBS' star.
"I was very disturbed when I heard my friend and a lovely person Sanjay Dutt's verdict (by the Supreme Court). The current support and appeal for his pardon is giving me hope," the Tamil icon said in a statement in Chennai.
"I pray to god that he gets remedy and spends at least the rest of his life peacefully," Rajinikanth said even as many including Press Council of India Chairman, Justice Markandeya Katju sought pardon for Dutt with the Hindi film industry rallying behind the actor.
16:19 India's UNHRC vote will affect ties: Lanka:
CNN IBN: Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Prasad Kariyawasam talks about Sri Lanka's disappointment at the stand taken by India in the UNHRC vote. He also admits that there will be an impact of the resolution in Sri Lanka and adds how the episode could have been avoided.
See the full video here
14:44 Rekha, Sachin skip RS during entire Budget session:
Noted actor Rekha and cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar missed the first part of the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament as they did not attend the Rajya Sabha for even a single day.
The Rajya Sabha today granted Rekha leave of absence from attending the proceedings from February 21 to March 22. E M S Natchiappan, who was in the Chair, informed members that Rekha had sought leave of absence for that period.
Sachin Tendulkar was earlier granted leave of absence from February 21 to March 7, as he had made an application in this regard due to his engagements in the India Australia cricket series.
Rekha and Tendulkar did not attend the House for a single day in the ongoing Budget session of Parliament, which will have a four-week recess from tomorrow.
14:41 Dignity of Indian judicial process upheld: PM:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today welcomed Italy's decision to send back its two marines to face trial in India, saying the integrity and dignity of Indian judicial process has been upheld.
"I am happy that the integrity and dignity of the Indian judicial process has been upheld," Singh told mediapersons in Parliament House complex hours after Italy reversed its decision of not sending back the marines who are facing trial for killing two Kerala fishermen in February last year.
14:06 Govt may consider Katju's views on Sanjay Dutt: IB minister:
With Press Council of India chief Justice Markandey Katju asking Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan to pardon actor Sanjay Dutt in an arms case related to the 1993 Mumbai blasts, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Friday said there are various aspects to this issue, and added that the government will take his statement into cognisance.
Tewari said Justice Katju has been a very eminent judge of the Supreme Court. "Whenever Justice Katju articulates a position on a certain issue, people both inside and outside the government listen to it very seriously; but there are various aspects to this issue," Tewari told mediapersons outside Parliament.
"And I am sure that those people within government, whether at the state government-level or at the level of various other instrumentalities of government who are seized with the responsibility of dealing with this issue would take that statement into cognisance and then if required formulate an appropriate response and come back to you," he added.
In a letter to the Maharashtra Governor, Justice Katju sought pardon for Dutt, who has been sentenced to five years in jail by the Supreme Court in an arms case related to the 1993 Bombay blasts.
14:04 Suspected Hizbul ultra arrested:
A suspected Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist was arrested from Uttar Pradesh, with the police today claiming that they have unearthed a plot to create terror in the city ahead of Holi and are looking out for more operatives who might have sneaked in.
The alleged operative, Liaqat Ali, who hails from Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir, was on the way to Delhi in a train when he was arrested from Gorakhpur railway station, police sources said.
He was produced in a court yesterday which sent him to police custody for 15 days.
14:02 No death for marines, India assures Italy:
As Italy reversed its decision of not sending back its two marines, the government today said India has given assurances to that country that they will not face death penalty and will not be liable for arrest if they return by the deadline of today set by the Supreme Court.
Hours after Italy made the announcement that the marines will return to face trial, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told Parliament that India had given assurances after clarifications were sought on death penalty which was a "concern" to that country.
13:26 Blast in Pak's Balochistan province kills 6:
A powerful bomb went off in a market at Dera Allah Yar town in the restive Balochistan province of Pakistan today, killing six people and injuring 40 others, officials said.
The blast ripped through several shops at Quetta Road, a market in Dera Allah Yar, the headquarters of Jaffarabad district, security officials said.
Three children were among the dead, they said.
13:25 Lok Sabha adjourned for the day, to reconvene on April 22:
The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day today after it failed to transact any business for the third consecutive day following the uproar over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.
The adjournment marks the end of the first part of the Budget Session. The remaining part of the session would start from April 22, after a four-week recess.
12:40 Jennifer Capriati charged with punching and stalking boyfriend:
Former tennis world number one Jennifer Capriati was charged on Thursday, after the police said she punched her former boyfriend on Valentine's Day while he was working out at a gym.
Palm Beach county court records show that the 36-year-old tennis player has been issued a summons to appear before a judge on April 17 on stalking and battery charges, though she has not been arrested, News.com.au has reported.
The North Palm Beach police said that Ivan Brannan had been exercising when the former world number 1 approached him and yelled at him.
Brannan told the police that he tried to get away from Capriati by walking to the men's locker room, but she blocked his path and punched him in his chest.
Brannan told police that he and Capriati separated in 2012 and that she has harassed and stalked him since then.
12:38 Obama can't get enough of wine in Israel:
US President Barack Obama delivered a well-received speech to the people of Israel and finished the second day of his trip with a state dinner at the home of Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday night.
Obama said that since he was getting pretty good at Hebrew, he would propose a toast -- even though his wine was taken away.
According to Politico, Obama also asked for another glass of wine. His toast, delivered in Hebrew, was translated as 'until you're 120 years old'. It ended with 'L'Chaim', to life.
After taking a sip, he said that the wine was good, adding that the photograph should be deleted as people would think that he was having too much fun in Israel.
12:31 Indians may have to pay security bond to enter UK:
Foreigners visiting Britain from 'high risk' countries will have to deposit 'security bonds' costing thousands of pounds to deter them from overstaying in the country.
Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, is set to announce plans to bring in the Australian-style deposits for visitors from certain countries, which will be repaid when they leave the UK.
According to the Independent newspaper, although a list of such nations has not yet been made by the UK Border Agency, it is expected to include Pakistan, other countries in the Indian subcontinent and some in the Middle East.
The move could run into controversy if the list does not include 'white Commonwealth' nations.
Clegg, who chairs the Cabinet's Home Affairs Committee, has asked the Home Office to run a trial 'security bonds' scheme by the end of this year. The bonds would cost at least 1,000 pounds, rising to as much as several thousand pounds for visitors from the countries deemed to pose the highest risk, the report said.
12:21 Italian marines on way back to India: Khurshid:
Two Italian marines, who have been charged with killing two fishermen off the coast of Kerala last year, are on their way to India, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid informed the Lok Sabha on Friday.
12:14 Italian marines may not be arrested today:
The two Italian Marines, who will return to India today, will be received by Italian envoy Daniel Mancini, said media reports.
The two marines will not be arrested immediately.
It is believed that the Indian government has assured the Italian administration that the marines -- charged with killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala last year -- will not be awarded the death penalty.
The Indian government has also reportedly promised that the marines will face trial in a special court set up by the Supreme Court.
11:41 10 million Indians want to move to US: Poll :
More than 100 million people from across the world, including 10 million from India, would like to move permanently to the US, which remains the most popular global destination, according to a latest opinion poll.
Potential migrants who would like to move to the US are logically the most likely to come from some of the most populous countries in the world, the Gallup poll said.
11:41 HC allows media to cover Delhi gang rape case:
The Delhi high court has allowed the media to cover the day-to-day trial of the December 16 gang rape case.
The HC set aside the order of the fast-track court which had restrained the media from covering the trial.
11:17 Did Sonia's influence work in Italy? Centre remains mum:
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today said that diplomatic tactics had resulted in Italy's decision to send back two marines charged in the killing of two Indian fishermen.
He parried questions about reports in the Italian media that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had 'influenced' the government's decision.
Welcoming Italy's decision to send back the two marines, the minister said the decision has to be conveyed to the Supreme Court through proper procedure and he would apprise Parliament about it.
11:14 Parliament adjourned again over Lankan Tamils row:
Another Day. Another adjournment.
Parliament was adjourned till noon on Friday after another uproar over the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils and other issues.
Parliament has virtually been paralysed over the issue this week.
10:45 Rajaratnam's brother charged with insider trading in US:
The younger brother of jailed hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam has been charged by US prosecutors with conspiring in an insider trading scheme to cheat on Wall Street and earn nearly $1.2 million illegally.
Rajarengan 'Rengan' Rajaratnam, 42, of Manhattan, was charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Securities and Exchange Commission with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and six counts of securities fraud.
09:25 US to rebalance its military in Asia Pacific: Pentagon:
As part of its 're-balance' in Asia Pacific, the US is all set to deploy additional military resources, including more aircraft careers and fighter jets, in the region, a top Pentagon official has said.
"Our re-balance means that a higher proportion of our assets will be in the region," Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton B Carter said in a speech in Jakarta on Thursday.
08:48 Suspected terrorist arrested by Delhi police:
The Delhi police on Friday arrested a suspected terrorist from a guest house in the Jama Masjid area.
The suspected terrorist hails from Gorakhpur and is allegedly a member of the Hijbul Mujahideen.
08:42 Marines row: Govt to make a statement in Parliament:
The government is expected to make a statement on the return of the two Italian marines -- who allegedly killed two Indian fishermen -- to face the murder trial.
Italy on Thursday night said it will send back to India the two marines to face trial for killing two fishermen after receiving an assurance from the Indian government about the protection of their fundamental rights.
08:39 Media almost barred from covering Wharton India meet:
Embroiled in a controversy over cancelling its invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, organisers of the annual Wharton India Economic Forum on Thursday announced that no media organisations would be allowed to cover the event except for TV Asia.
The student-run WIEF did not give reasons for such an unprecedented decision, except for confirming that no media outlet would be allowed to cover the day-long event in Philadelphia on March 23.
03:51 Iran's Khamenei threatens to 'annihilate' Tel Aviv:
While President Obama spoke to Israeli students in Jerusalem today, nearly 1,000 miles away Iran's supreme leader issued a fiery threat to the coastal cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.
"At times the officials of the Zionist regime (Israel) threaten to launch a military invasion,' said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a televised speech marking the Persian New Year, Nowruz."
But they themselves know that if they make the slightest mistake the Islamic Republic will annihilate Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,' he said.
The powerful cleric's strong words come a day after President Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. would not stand in the way if Israel decided to take unilateral action.
03:33 Damascus mosque blast kills 42:
An explosion at a mosque in the Syrian capital on Thursday killed at least 42 people, including a senior pro-government Muslim cleric, and wounded 84, the Syrian health ministry said.
State television and anti-government activists earlier had reported 15 dead. The television said a "terrorist suicide blast" hit the Iman Mosque in central Damascus, and Mohammed al-Buti, imam of the ancient Ummayyad Mosque, was among the dead.
03:32 Chavez backers, protesters clash in Venezuela:
Supporters of the late President Hugo Chavez wielding rocks and bottles attacked student protesters as they marched against perceived bias by Venezuela's electoral council.
The attacks yesterday left at least 10 students reported injured and raised tensions in a country already sharply divided ahead of next month's presidential election.
03:32 Rajaratnam's brother charged in Wall St insider case:
US prosecutors unveiled insider trading charges against the brother of disgraced hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam in the latest chapter of a giant Wall Street fraud investigation.
The US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said Rajarengan Rajaratnam was charged with conspiracy and securities fraud related to technology stocks in 2008.
03:31 Everest mountaineer George Lowe dies at 89:
George Lowe, the last surviving climber from the team that made the first successful ascent of Mount Everest, has died, his wife said. He was 89. Mary Lowe said her husband died Wednesday at a nursing home in Ripley, central England, after an illness.
Lowe and his friend Edmund Hillary were the only two New Zealanders on the 1953 British-led attempt to climb the world's highest peak. Lowe was part of a small group that established the final camp 1,000 feet (300 meters) below the mountain's summit on May 28, 1953. The next day, Hillary and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal reached the 29,035 foot (8,850 meter) peak.
02:35 Israel, US and Greece complete joint naval exercise:
Israeli, Greek and US warships concluded a joint two-week Mediterranean naval exercise codenamed "Noble Dina" today, the Israeli military said. "The exercise, which took place in the Mediterranean Sea, was conducted in order to assess the level of operational coordination between the three navies," it said.
It said that participants were drilled in "search and rescue, immediacy and efficiency of the response to maritime emergencies, maritime evacuation, navigation and fire drills." The exercise wound up as US President Barack Obama paid a three-day visit to Israel and the West Bank.
02:09 Gaza hardline Islamists claim rocket attack:
A hardline Islamist group claimed a rocket attack against southern Israel today, in a statement that condemned a historic visit by US President Barack Obama to the region.
In a statement headlined "The demolition of Sderot by rocket bombardment in reaction to the visit of the dog Obama," the Salafist Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis group said it was responsible for an attack launched from Gaza.
01:26 Italy to return marine murder suspects to India:
The Italian government says it will return to India two marines facing murder charges in the shooting deaths of two fishermen. The announcement this evening reversed an earlier decision by the foreign ministry saying the pair would not return on March 22 as agreed when they were granted permission to return home to vote in Italian elections.
The case has escalated tensions between India and Italy. The Indian Supreme Court has announced that the Italian ambassador could not leave the country.
01:01 Assad sympathizers hack BBC twitter account:
came under attack from hackers sympathetic to Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday and warned its staff about attempts to compromise the broadcaster's email network.
Shortly after Assad supporters hijacked several BBC Twitter accounts to post messages that were by turns political, anti-Semitic and comical, the broadcaster said that "phishing" links '" typically fake emails aimed at stealing information '" are being sent around the BBC.
"If you receive these emails it is very important that you do not click on the link," the BBC said in an email to staff that was obtained by the Associated Press.It was not immediately clear if the Twitter hacks and phishing emails were related.
00:41 UN to launch probe into N Korea rights abuses :
The United Nations today said it will for the first time establish a commission of inquiry into grave human rights violations in North Korea that may amount to crimes against humanity.
The UN's Human Rights Council passed a resolution to establish a commission to probe "the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea... with a view to ensuring full accountability, in particular where these violations may amount to crimes against humanity."
Japan and the European Union, with the backing of other Western countries including the United States, had presented the resolution, which passed with full consensus in the 47-member council.