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Christmas explosion in Midsayap

MANILA (SE): An explosion outside the Shrine of Sto. Niño in the township of Midsayap in North Cotabato at 9.20pm on Christmas Eve left 12 people wounded, including one police officer, CBCP News reported.

The explosion occurred as Mass was about to begin, taking police who had been deployed to assure the safety of people at the church by surprise.

Orlando Cardinal Quevedo said that initial investigations show that the main target of the attack by two unidentified men was the police. “The church was not the objective,” he said. “It was the patrol car near it.”


Vatican aid to Ukraine

ROME (SE): The Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the social service body of the Holy See, is to deliver around US$6.7 million ($52.08 million) in humanitarian aid to the Ukraine.

The aid will be delivered to the regions affected by the continued fighting in eastern part of the country, which has seen nearly 10,000 deaths in the past two years.

The funds would be used to provide food, housing, medicine and hygienic supplies to those in need, regardless of their religious or ethnic background.


Church mediated agreement in Congo

KINSHASA (SE): An unexpected agreement in principle has been reached in Church-mediated talks between supporters of the president, Joseph Kabila, and opposition leaders, Reuters reported on December 23.

Kabila, who has ruled since 2001, has stayed in office beyond his constitutional mandate and declined to call new elections—leading to protests that have resulted in the arrests of hundreds and at least 34 deaths.

Under the agreement, Kabila would stay in power for one more year, but will not seek reelection.

However, talks have since stalled.


Canada supplying arms challenged

OTTAWA (AsiaNews): The Canadian government has admitted for the first that the armoured vehicles it plans to sell to Saudi Arabia might be used in the fighting in Yemen.

Université de Montreal professor, Daniel Turp, is suing the government, alleging that it is breaking Canadian regulations and international law by selling heavily-armed vehicles to the autocratic state.

Canada’s legal defence contends that the minister for Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion, has the authority to decide what does and does not constitute a legal weapons sale—not the court.

Weapons could be used in a conflict that the Canadian government has repeatedly condemned.


Colonising Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK (AsiaNews): Chinese now represent 77 per cent of all expatriates living in Kyrgyzstan according to figures from the State Migration Service released on December 8.

The number has been growing since mid-last year with an agreement for some 40 Kyrgyz enterprises, some on the brink of bankruptcy, to be run by the Chinese.

The agreement requires 80 per cent Kyrgyz level of employment with a ceiling of 13,500 migrants per year, but Erkin El claims that there are up to 300,000 Chinese in Kyrgyzstan.

In recent months China has acquired a large amount of resources in Kyrgyzstan like oil, coal, natural gas and precious metals.


Priest president of French state university

PARIS (SE): Father Michel Deneken has been named president of the state-run University of Strasbourg, provoking protests from some who see the move as an infringement on the secular nature of the state.

Father Deneken was the vice-president of the university before being elected by the faculty to the top post. But several professors charged that the appointment would compromise the school’s reputation because of the new president’s close ties to religious authorities.

Father Deneken said that the protests represent a false view of secularity, which he described as “a policy of neutralisation, so religions must be banned from the public sphere,” the Religious News Service reported.


Kidnapped priest pleads for help in video

ROME (CWN): Father Tom Uzhunnalil, the Indian priest who was kidnapped in Yemen early in March last year, appeared on the Internet on December 26.

While the authenticity of the five-minute video clip has not been confirmed, friends say that the man in the clip is Father Uzhunnalil.


“I am very depressed. My health is deteriorating,” Father Uzhunnalil says, complaining that little has been done to secure his release, even though his captors have contacted the Indian government.

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