World: News in brief

At least 7 officials killed in Sudan helicopter crash: news agency

KHARTOUM, December 9 (Reuters): At least seven local government officials were killed in a helicopter crash in Sudan’s eastern al-Qadarif state on Sunday, state news agency SUNA reported. The state’s governor and three security officials were among the dead. A number of people were also injured in the incident, SUNA said. The officials had been carrying out a security tour of the province. It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. State TV earlier reported that a plane, not a helicopter, had crashed. Al-Qadarif state is known for its farmland and agricultural projects.

 

No Brexit can lead to fresh polls: May tells MPs

LONDON, December 9 (IANS): With two days to go until the crucial Brexit vote, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday warned MPs they will face “uncharted waters” if they rejected her deal, saying their actions could lead to a general election, as there was a “very real risk of no Brexit”. Speaking to the Mail, May said a rejection of her proposals would mean “grave uncertainty” for the UK. If the deal is rejected, it is unclear what happens next, with May insisting her deal was best for the country. “When I say if this deal does not pass we would truly be in uncharted waters, I hope people understand this is what I genuinely believe and fear could happen,” May said. “It would mean grave uncertainty for the nation with a very real risk of no Brexit or leaving the European Union with no deal.” Downing Street has already denied newspaper suggestions that May could postpone Tuesday’s vote. “The vote is going ahead,” a spokesman said. In November, the UK agreed a Brexit deal with the EU, however, it still needs to be approved by the Parliament.

 

Chinese police shut down 1,100 social media accounts: Xinhua

BEIJING, December 9 (Reuters): Chinese police said on Saturday that it has closed 1,100 social media accounts, along with 31 websites, this year for unlawful activities such as trolling or blackmailing, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The police found that some social media accounts on Tencent’s Wechat and Sina-owned Weibo fabricated accusations against companies and individuals, Xinhua said, citing the Ministry of Public Security. These accounts then posted negative information online and demanded a ransom in exchange for deleting the posts, Xinhua said. China’s strict online censorship rules have tightened in recent years with new legislation to restrict media outlets, surveillance measures for media sites and rolling campaigns to remove content deemed unacceptable. The authorities this year have shuttered social media accounts for reasons that range from posting lewd content or sensationalist celebrity gossip to articles deemed politically incorrect by censors. In November, the country’s top cyber authority scrubbed 9,800 social media accounts of independent news providers deemed to have posted sensational, vulgar or politically harmful content on the Internet.

 

Catholic Church beatifies 19 Christians in Algeria

ALGIERS, December 9 (Reuters): The Roman Catholic Church in Algeria has beatified 19 Christians killed in a civil war in the 1990s including seven Trappist monks who were beheaded at their monastery by Islamist militants.
The beatification in the port city of Oran is the first of its kind in a Muslim nation. Algerian officials, delegates of Pope Francis and friends of the victims were among 1,200 people at the ceremony.”These brothers and sisters died among tens and tens of thousands of Algerian” Muslims,” said Archbishop Paul Desfarges of Algiers at the ceremony, which opened with a minute’s silence. The war started after the military-backed government cancelled legislative elections in 1992 a radical Islamist party was poised to win. 200,000 people died in the conflict and the economy stalled. Pope Francis said in a message he hoped the beatification would “heal the wounds of the past and create a new dynamic of meeting and living together”. Christians are a tiny minority in the Sunni Muslim nation. Most of the 19 Christians who were killed were French. The Trappists were kidnapped from their monastery east of the capital and then executed.