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Football: Top Iraq club coach quits fearing Baghdad attacks
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) June 02, 2013

Iraq attacks kill seven people; five kidnapped
Fallujah, Iraq (AFP) June 02, 2013 - Attacks killed seven people in Iraq's western province of Anbar on Sunday, while gunmen kidnapped five others, officials said.

The dead included three Syrian truck drivers, while three police were among those kidnapped.

Armed men killed the truck drivers and set their vehicles on fire near the town of Al-Rutba, close to the Syrian border, officials said.

A civilian and a policeman were kidnapped near the site where the truck drivers came under attack, while armed men abducted two more police and a civilian north of Al-Rutba.

It was unclear if the same group of gunmen carried out all the kidnappings.

In separate attacks in and around Fallujah, meanwhile, four people were killed, including two soldiers and a policemen, while three others were wounded.

Iraq has been hit by a wave of violence that killed more than 600 people in May, raising fears of all-out sectarian conflict.

Violence has fallen from its peak in 2006 and 2007, when more than 1,000 people were killed in some months, but death tolls have started to rise again.

The manager of Iraq's top local football side quit on Sunday after refusing to travel to Baghdad over a spike in violence that has sparked fears of a return to all-out sectarian war.

Rodion Gacanin and Arbil FC agreed to a mutual termination of the Croatian coach's contract more than halfway through the season as the team looks to defend its football league title and go on to win its fifth in six years.

"The coach told us that he could not stay in his position because of the daily violence in the capital," Arbil FC president Abdullah Majid told AFP.

"We suggested that he accompany the team for the matches in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities by aeroplane, or that he be personally accompanied with security measures, but he insisted on leaving."

In addition to dual car bombs that struck a short distance from Baghdad's national stadium on Monday, Majid said Gacanin pointed in particular to a car bomb near another football club's grounds on Thursday.

Attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq have risen sharply, with May the country's deadliest month since 2008, as persistent political rows have given fuel and room for militant groups to up their activities.

Blair warns of 'profound, dangerous' Islamist threat
London (AFP) June 02, 2013 - Former British prime minister Tony Blair warned Sunday that the Islamist ideology allegedly behind the murder of a British soldier in a London street was "profound and dangerous".

Blair, now an international Middle East peace envoy, said it was time to admit the breadth of a "strain within Islam" harbouring views incompatible with free societies.

Blair, a Roman Catholic who says he reads the Koran daily, said most Muslims in Britain would be horrified at the murder of Lee Rigby on May 22.

"There is not a problem with Islam," he wrote in The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

"There is a problem within Islam -- from the adherents of an ideology which is a strain within Islam. And we have to put it on the table and be honest about it.

"I am afraid this strain is not the province of a few extremists. It has at its heart a view about religion and about the interaction between religion and politics that is not compatible with pluralistic, liberal, open-minded societies.

"At the extreme end of the spectrum are terrorists, but the world view goes deeper and wider than it is comfortable for us to admit. So by and large we don't admit it."

He said that made Islamic extremists think "we are weak", which in turn makes those within Islam who want to tackle the issue "lose heart".

The former Labour Party leader said revolutionary communism was resisted by being resolute on security, "but we defeated it by a better idea: freedom. We can do the same on this.

"The better idea is a modern view of religion and its place in society and politics.

"Religion must have a voice in the political system but not govern it."

Blair suggested that the "problem within Islam" could start to be tackled by "educating children about faith".

Two men charged with murdering Rigby are due to appear in separate London court hearings on Monday.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, who has also been charged with the attempted murder of two police officers and possession of a firearm, was to appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Michael Adebowale, 22, also charged with possessing a firearm, was due to appear for a bail application at the Old Bailey central criminal court, ahead of a pre-trial hearing on June 28.

Both Muslim converts of Nigerian descent, they were shot by police at the scene of the killing near Rigby's barracks in Woolwich, southeast London.

An inquest into Rigby's death heard that he was run over by a car before being attacked by two men armed with a cleaver and a knife.

Adebowale made his first court appearance on Thursday, speaking only to confirm his name and address before being taken back into custody.

The murder is the first fatal Islamist attack in Britain since suicide bombers killed 52 people in the London transport network in 2005.


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Over 1000 dead following worst violence in Iraq since 2008
Baghdad (AFP) June 01, 2013
Iraq was hit in May by its worst violence in five years, further stoking fears of all-out sectarian strife, as its top two political rivals publicly embraced on Saturday in a symbolic move aimed at easing tensions. Authorities have failed to bring the wave of unrest under control, nor addressed the underlying political issues that analysts say are driving the attacks, and the UN envoy to Ira ... read more

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