Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Kayani has warned the US that it will have to think “10 times” before taking any unilateral action in North Waziristan.
He said that the US should focus on stabilising Afghanistan instead of pushing Pakistan to attack militant groups in the crucial border region.
Washington has for many years urged Islamabad to deal with militants in the area, especially the Haqqani network.
It has been blamed for a series of recent attacks in Afghanistan.
“If someone convinced me that all problems will be solved by taking action in North Waziristan, I’d do it tomorrow,” a parliamentarian who attended a briefing given by Gen Kayani quoted him as saying.
“If we need to take action, we will do it on our schedule and according to our capacity.”
Gen Kayani told the closed-door parliamentary defence committee meeting in Rawalpindi that any withdrawal of American assistance would not affect Pakistan’s defence capabilities.
October 19, 2011, 9:11 a.m.
WASHINGTON — Citigroup has agreed to pay $285 million to settle civil fraud charges that it misled buyers of complex mortgage investments just the housing market was starting to collapse.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that the big Wall Street bank bet against the investors in 2007 and made $160 million in fees and profits. Investors lost millions.
The payment includes the fees and profit Citigroup earned, $30 million in interest and a $95 million penalty. The money will be returned to investors in the deal, the SEC said.
Citigroup neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s allegations in the settlement.
“We are pleased to put this matter behind us and are focused on contributing to the economic recovery, serving our clients and growing responsibly,” Citigroup said in a statement.
The penalty is the biggest targeting Wall Street firms that mislead investors ahead of the 2008 financial crisis since Goldman Sachs & Co. paid $550 million to settle similar charges last year. JPMorgan Chase & Co. also settled similar charges in June and paid $153.6 million.
All of the cases have involved so-called collateralized debt obligations. Those are securities backed by pools of other assets.
In a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday, the SEC said Citigroup traders discussed in late 2006 the possibility of buying financial instruments to essentially bet on the failure of the mortgage assets being put together in the deal.
Rating agencies downgraded most of the investments that Citigroup had bundled together just as many homeowners stopped paying their mortgages in late 2007. That pushed the investment into default and cost its buyers — hedge funds and investment managers — several hundred million dollars in losses.
Among the biggest losers were Ambac, a bond insurer, and BNP Paribas, a European bank. Ambac had sold Citigroup protection against losses on the investment, allowing Citigroup to bet against it.
Kenyan jets struck al-Shabaab positions in Somalia Wednesday in a bid to rid the border area of Islamist rebels they blame for a spate of abductions, including that of a French woman who died in captivity.
Kenyan ground troops guided by pro-government Somali forces prepared for a fresh assault against the insurgents with the blessing of the Western-backed government in Mogadishu and its Ugandan protectors.
Nairobi’s unprecedented military incursion into Somalia, which it said had already killed dozens of Shabaab fighters, triggered dire warnings by top Shabaab leader of bloody retaliation.
The foreign ministry in Paris announced the death of Marie Dedieu, a 66-year-old wheelchair-bound woman who was snatched from her beach house in the Kenyan resort of Lamu earlier this month and taken to Somalia by her kidnappers.
‘Our aircraft are involved in the operations,’ army spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said, on the fourth day since Kenya declared war on the Shabaab militia and confirmed it had sent its army across the border.
Heavy air strikes are reported to have been hitting Shabaab positions in efforts to dislodge the militants, before Kenyan-backed Somali government ground troops move in to drive out rebels, according to witnesses.
‘Our forces are in good shape to fight this battle to the end,’ Chirchir said.
The main forward base of Kenyan operations is at Qoqani, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the border, as they prepare to push forward to seize Afmadow, which Somali government forces are already fighting to secure.
‘In terms of injuries, the first attack saw the death of 73 Shabaab,’ Chirchir said, adding that the only Kenyan deaths were five killed in a helicopter crash.
However, a police source in the Kenyan border town of Garissa told AFP that there were Kenyan casualties, including both dead and wounded soldiers.
Kenya’s shock assault against the hardline Shabaab has sparked a fierce reaction with the militants warning of reprisals on ‘all fronts’.
The Shabaab deny any involvement in the recent kidnapping of foreigners, which have raised questions about Kenya’s ability to host the million tourists who visit each year and one of the world’s largest aid communities.
On Tuesday, a car bomb exploded near the foreign ministry in Mogadishu even as two top Kenyan ministers were holding talks nearby to coordinate the ongoing military operation.
According to medics and witnesses, at least five civilians died in the blast, in addition to the suicide bomber, who a government statement lost control of his explosives-laden vehicle when he encountered a patrol.
On Wednesday, a roadside bomb went off in Mogadishu, injuring two.
‘There was a roadside bomb near the sea port, two people were slightly hurt,’ said Ali Said.
Kenya’s decision to invade came after a British tourist was snatched from a Kenyan resort last month, the French woman from her beach house in Lamu and two Spanish aid workers from Dadaab refugee camp last week.
A French government statement said the conditions of Dedieu’s detention and the fact that her captors had probably failed to give her medication led to her death.
Kenya’s assault — dubbed Linda Nchi (‘Defend our Country’ in Swahili) — began without a mandate but Somalia’s government and Kenya signed a deal Tuesday to ‘cooperate in undertaking security and military operations,’ limiting Kenyan operations to the Lower Juba region.
Uganda, which provides the bulk of the 9,000-strong African Union force protecting the Western-backed Somali government in Mogadishu, said it welcomed Kenya’s military operation.
‘Kenya has a right of defence when their security is threatened,’ Ugandan acting foreign affairs minister Henry Okello-Oryem told AFP Wednesday.
It was unclear how many Kenyan troops were involved and how long they intended to stay but the last time a neighbour invaded Somalia was in late 2006 when Ethiopia decided to toppled the new Islamist leadership in Mogadishu.
Ethiopia had tens of thousands of troops for two years but failed to root out the Shabaab and ensure the establishment of a robust central government.
Witnesses in southern Somalia said heavy rains have bogged down Kenyan troops with reports of vehicles making slow progress on mud tracks.
Officials said the only Kenyan casualties had been the crash of a military helicopter inside Kenya, reportedly due to mechanical failure.
LONDON, Oct 19 (Reuters) – An external lawyer for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp told a UK hearing on Wednesday he did nothing when he realised the company was not telling the truth to parliament over the phone hacking scandal.
Julian Pike said he had been aware in 2008 that the practice of people hacking into phones to secure stories had been more widespread than the company acknowledged.
But he told the Commons Culture Committee he had “not done very much” to dispute the firm’s claims that only one rogue reporter was involved.
He also told the committee he thought James Murdoch had made mistakes in his recollection of what he knew and when regarding the hacking.
Pike worked for Farrer & Co, known in Britain as the Queen’s solicitors, who had been advising the News of the World on its handling of the affair and the many civil cases it was facing, until the two sides announced they had parted company earlier this month.
Both Rupert and James Murdoch appeared before the Commons Culture Committee in July.
James Murdoch, chairman of the UK newspaper arm, had for years argued that the phone hacking was solely the work of royal reporter Clive Goodman and a private investigator who had already gone to jail.
But Pike said that in 2008 he thought there were three journalists other than Goodman involved in phone hacking.
“They were also advised by counsel and ourselves that there was a powerful case to support [the existence of] a culture of illegal accessing of information to get stories,” he added.
Since it became clear that the criminal activity went much further, the investigation has centred on an email which was obtained by a hacking victim, soccer executive Gordon Taylor, and which contained transcripts of intercepted voicemails unrelated to the activities of Goodman.
Pike said the email in 2008 clearly showed there was a wider problem with phone hacking than had been acknowledged. He said the company then negotiated to settle with Taylor and that James Murdoch had been involved in that process.
He said James Murdoch was originally briefed on the situation in May by the paper’s then editor and not in June, which James Murdoch had originally told the committee.
He had also told the internal lawyer at the time that he thought three journalists were involved in hacking.
The allegations of hacking, which had been circulating for two years, fully erupted in July this year when it emerged that people working for the News of the World tabloid had hacked the phones of thousands, ranging from celebrities to crime victims, in search of exclusive stories.
News Corp closed the 168-year-old paper at the height of the drama and pulled its highly prized $12 billion bid for pay-TV group BSkyB as politicians in the country turned on News Corp and its long-held influence in Britain.
Nearly 20 journalists and executives have since been arrested over the scandal.
James Murdoch has denied knowing about the hacking but he has been criticised for his handling of the fallout and analysts believe his chances of one day replacing his father at the top of the company have been damaged by the affair.
Pike worked for Farrer & Co, known in Britain as the Queen’s solicitors, who had been advising the News of the World on its handling of the affair and the many civil cases it was facing, until the two sides announced they had parted company earlier this month. In a second hearing, Mark Lewis, the lawyer who has represented many of the victims, said News Corp had hugely overpaid in the Taylor case as it fought to keep the illegal activity out of the public domain.
He also said he was working on a lawsuit in the United States because some of the victims had their phones hacked when they were in the U.S.
(Reporting by Kate Holton)