UN: At least 733 killed in violence during Jan. in Iraq, excluding Anbar province
BAGHDAD — The United Nations said Saturday that at least 733 Iraqis were killed during violence in January, even when leaving out casualties from an embattled western province.
The figures issued Saturday by the U.N.’s mission to Iraq show 618 civilians and 115 members of the security forces were killed in January. But the UNAMI statement excluded deaths from ongoing fighting in Anbar, due to problems in verifying the “status of those killed.” The figures also leave out insurgent deaths.
Also, the U.N. said at least 1,229 Iraqis were wounded in attacks across the country last month.
Baghdad was the worst affected province, with 297 killed and 585 wounded.
Al-Qaida-linked fighters and their allies seized control of the city of Fallujah and parts of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi last month after authorities dismantled a protest camp by Sunnis angry at what they consider second-class treatment by the Shiite-led government.
UN chief Ban presses US, Russia to help ensure Syria peace talks resume Feb. 10
DAMASCUS, Syria — The United Nations’ secretary-general pressed the U.S. and Russia to help ensure that peace talks aimed at stemming Syria’s civil war can soon resume, while Russia’s foreign minister said Saturday that it was “very difficult” to push Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to make concessions.
A week of peace talks ended in Geneva on Friday with no concrete progress and no immediate commitment from Assad’s envoys to return on Feb. 10 for more meetings with the Western-backed opposition as suggested by mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a conference of global security officials in Munich that he urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a meeting on the sidelines “to use their influence to ensure the talks proceed as scheduled on Feb. 10.”
The U.S. has insisted that Assad cannot be part of a transitional government, while Russia has been a key ally of Assad’s government.
Clashes erupt in Bangkok on eve of election; 7 wounded
BANGKOK — Gunfire rang out across a busy intersection in Thailand’s capital for more than an hour Saturday as government supporters clashed with protesters trying to derail tense nationwide elections one day before the vote begins. At least seven people were wounded, including an American photojournalist.
The exchange of fire was the latest flare-up in a monthslong struggle by protesters to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s beleaguered government, which they accuse of corruption. The turmoil raises the prospect of more violence Sunday, when polls open for an electoral contest that has devolved into a battle of wills between the government and protesters — and those caught in between who insist on their right to vote.
As public access to records lessens, SC to decide if autopsy reports are public
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Are autopsies medical records or public records?
South Carolina’s Supreme Court will begin grappling with that question Wednesday, when it hears a lawsuit by a Sumter County newspaper against the county’s coroner.
The Item newspaper wants the high court to toss out a lower court’s ruling that said autopsies do not have to be made public because they do not fall under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
The coroner says autopsies should be considered medical records that are exempt from public view. The newspaper says autopsy reports are investigative tools, not medical records.
By wire sources