- Italy rescues more than 3,500 migrants, Renzi asks for help
- Turkish police fire teargas against protesters on anniversary of mass demos
- Six Ukranian separatists killed around Donetsk airport
Posted: 31 May 2014 10:03 AM PDT
ROME (Reuters) - Italian navy patrol ships rescued more than 3,500 migrants including hundreds of women and children from boats coming from North Africa, authorities said on Saturday, while Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for help from the European Union.
The rescues, which the coast guard said have been going on since Friday evening, are the latest in a seemingly endless succession as the chronic migrant crisis in the southern Mediterranean has picked up this year.
A total of 3,612 migrants from Syria and North Africa were picked up from 11 boats and taken to ports in Sicily and the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, a coastguard spokesman told Reuters.
Some 43,000 people have crossed from North Africa to Italy so far this year, the same amount as in the whole of 2013, the coastguard said.
That leaves the annual total set to surpass the 60,000 who made the trip in 2011 when the Arab Spring revolutions loosened border controls, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.
The near daily arrivals of migrant boats, mostly leaving from ports in Libya, was an issue in Italy in the European parliamentary elections on Sunday.
The anti-immigrant Northern League, which had lost much of its support over the last two years due to corruption scandals and leadership changes, recovered to win more than 6 percent of the vote.
Renzi said in an interview with several European newspapers on Saturday that the European Union and the United Nations were not doing enough to help Italy handle the surge of migrants.
"Europe has to call on the United Nations to intervene in Libya and more generally it must show a capacity to manage the immigration phenomenon," he was quoted as saying in the Italian daily La Stampa.
(Reporting By Gavin Jones; Editing by Rosalind Russell)
Posted: 31 May 2014 10:02 AM PDT
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police on Saturday used teargas in central Istanbul to disperse protesters seeking to mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in decades.
Several hundred people gathered on streets leading to Taksim Square, shouting for the government's resignation, when police fired teargas at the crowd, which quickly scattered.
Earlier in the day, authorities closed roads and public transportation to deny access to Taksim to prevent demonstrations. Efforts to save a park at Taksim from government development plans sparked last year's unrest.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Wriging by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Pravin Char)
Posted: 31 May 2014 10:01 AM PDT
DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukrainian separatist leader Denis Pushilin said on Saturday six rebels had been killed while trying to collect the bodies of comrades who had died under Ukrainian army fire earlier this week close to Donetsk airport.
Ukrainian forces regained control of the airport in the east of the country on Monday, killing at least 50 separatists, after a Sunday presidential election which gave billionaire Petro Poroshenko an overwhelming victory.
It was the first time the Ukrainian side had unleashed its full force on the pro-Russian two-month rebellion, caused partly by the ouster of a Moscow-friendly president and the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russian troops.
"They died trying to take back the Ukrainian airport, and our boys were trying to get their bodies out," Pushilin said over the telephone, without giving further details of the violence. He said the six had died during the day on Friday.
Though fighting has died down for now in Donetsk, the stand-off over the city airport remained unresolved on Saturday with amateur video footage showing a cargo plane taking off and releasing decoy flares as it was fired at from the ground.
Regional newsagency Interfax cited the prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic as saying the separatists will ask the International Red Cross to remove corpses by the aiport. It was unclear how many remained.
A spokesman for the Kiev-led "Anti-terrorist operation" or ATO said earlier in the day two new attacks on the airport had been repelled by Ukrainian forces with no injuries to their side, Interfax reported. It was not clear whether the attacks were in fact attempts by separatists to clear bodies.
In Donetsk itself, 2,000 people gathered in the city's central Lenin Square on Saturday, waving Russian flags and chanting "Russia! Russia!" in support of the self-proclaimed republic, which has sought help from Moscow.
"I have no other objective but to make Donbass a part of Russia," said Alexander Boroday, the self-styled prime minister of the republic, referring to a wider eastern Ukrainian region containing heavy industry, coalmining and steel works.
Further away from the city centre, rebels built up two new barricades overnight: by the sprawling residence of multi-billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, the country's richest man, and by the headquarters of the heavily armed, pro-Russian Battalion Vostok militia.
At a cemetery in the adjacent town of Makievka, 10 rebels fired into the air to honour their commrade, Vasily Burov, 46, killed on Thursday in a firefight with the Ukrainian army.
(Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska in Donetsk and Natalya Zinets in Kiev; Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Peter Graff)
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