- Explosions, shooting heard at U.S. base in Afghanistan
- Hearing for U.S. soldier in WikiLeaks centres on prison treatment
- Italian centre-left party heads into decisive primary
Posted: 01 Dec 2012 07:44 PM PST
JALALABAD, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Two explosions and shooting were heard at a U.S. base in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Sunday, a Reuters witness said.
The Taliban said they carried out an attack on the compound and inflicted casualties. NATO officials were not immediately available for comment.
Security forces surrounded the area.
"We can confirm there have been multiple explosions in the vicinity of the Jalalabad airfield," the U.S.-led coalition said in a statemen.
"Currently, ISAF officials are on the scene gathering facts, and as more information becomes available, we will release it as appropriate."
In February, a suicide car bomber killed nine people at the base at an airport, almost exclusively used by NATO and the U.S. military.
The United States and Afghan government are scrambling to improve security before most NATO combat troops withdraw at the end of 2014.
(Reporting by Rafiq Shirzad; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Ron Popeski)
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
Posted: 01 Dec 2012 04:43 PM PST
FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - A pre-trial hearing for U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who is accused of masterminding a massive leak of classified material to the WikiLeaks website, focused on Saturday on a 2011 incident when he broke down and cried in a military brig.
The hearing is to determine whether Manning should face a court-martial on suspicion of leaking thousands of classified documents, including military reports and diplomatic cables.
Manning's lawyers have sought to have the case against him dismissed, arguing that his treatment after arriving at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, in July 2010 was unduly harsh.
Saturday's proceedings, on the fifth day of the hearing, focused on the events of January 18, 2011, when Manning broke down and began crying after falling while guards were removing his shackles in an exercise room.
Defence attorneys allege that Manning became especially distraught that day because guards were bullying him. Manning himself testified earlier that his guards seemed angry on the morning the incident occurred, making him nervous.
One of Manning's guards at the time, former Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jonathan Cline, acknowledged in his testimony that military personnel at Quantico had been irritated by a pro-Manning protest a day before the incident in the exercise room. The protest had snarled traffic around Quantico.
"They were annoyed by it," Cline said. "It would kind of close down parts of the base and it would kind of hinder them or interrupt the way they would travel to get home or to do other things."
Manning faces up to life in prison if convicted of charges he played a role in the leaking of secrets by WikiLeaks, which stunned governments around the world by publishing intelligence documents and diplomatic cables, mostly in 2010.
Prosecutors have alleged that Manning, without authorization while on intelligence duty, disclosed hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables, military reports and video of a military helicopter attack in Iraq in which two Reuters journalists were killed.
WikiLeaks has never confirmed Manning was the source of any documents it released.
Manning's lawyers are working with the court on the language of a proposed plea involving less serious charges. A prison term of at least 16 years is under discussion, one of his attorneys said, but until a plea is formally entered and accepted, the length of any prison term is uncertain.
(Reporting By Tom Brown; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
Posted: 01 Dec 2012 04:05 PM PST
ROME (Reuters) - The two finalists in a primary to choose the centre-left candidate for prime minister in next year's Italian elections face judgement day on Sunday in a run-off primary after a bitter campaign.
The contest will decide whether Pier Luigi Bersani, 61, or Matteo Renzi, 37, stand in national elections early next year against a still-to-be-chosen centre-right candidate to take over from Prime Minister Mario Monti.
Most polls say the slow-speaking, bald, professorial Bersani will defeat Renzi, who bounces around platforms at rallies in open shirts and jeans.
While markets are wary of Bersani's alliance with a party called Left, Ecology and Freedom, both men have pledged to continue budget discipline started by Monti. They would put more emphasis on economic growth and easing burdens on workers and pensioners.
Bersani, who says he represents experience, won 44.9 percent of the vote in a first-round last Sunday. Renzi, who paints himself as a Kennedy-esque reformer and insists the Democratic Party (PD) needs a big shakeup, got 35.5 percent. There were three other candidates.
A poll by the SWG organisation said Bersani, who is PD leader, would get 53-57 percent in the run-off and Renzi, mayor of Florence, 43-47 percent.
"I don't ask you to like me. I ask you to believe me," Bersani told supporters at a rally on Saturday night, repeating in his stump speech that a steady, experienced hand was what Italy needed in tough financial times.
"A lot of people, and not only in Europe, are watching what happens tomorrow," Bersani told the rally.
The past week has seen bitter argument between the two candidates over whether Renzi violated contest rules by taking out privately-funded advertising urging those who did not participate in the first round to vote for him in the run-off.
Bersani tried to put the spat behind them, saying the party did not need to inflict "friendly fire" on itself.
"As mayor of Florence, I cut costs, I eliminated office cars for city employees," Renzi told a rally on Saturday night in his trademark style, wandering across the stage with a long-lead microphone.
"As prime minister, I will do the rest," he said.
Renzi accused the older generation of the Democratic Party of failing to present a credible alternative, allowing former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre right to govern for so long.
"If the other side wins, nothing will change. If we win tomorrow night, there will be a new Italy," he said.
Monti, favourite of the business community, has insisted that he will not be a candidate next year but has said he will come back if the election does not provide a clear winner.
Another posible future role for him is as president of the republic and guarantor that austerity reforms agreed with Italy's European partners continue.
Italy's gross public debt is equivalent to 126 percent of national output, according to the IMF.
Berlusconi's scandal-plagued right, forced from government by the financial crisis a year ago, is in disarray.
Berlusconi said on Monday he would wait to see who wins the centre-left primary before deciding whether to run himself. He has repeatedly changed his mind in the last few weeks on whether to do so.
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
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