Pro-Kurdish protests halt train services in Manchester, London

People protest at the Manchester Piccadilly train station, in Manchester, Britain. (Photo: Courtesy of @Siiiriol via Reuters)
Updated 12 March 2018
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Pro-Kurdish protests halt train services in Manchester, London

LONDON: Manchester Piccadilly railway station has reopened after being closed for three hours when 100 protesters demonstrated on the railway tracks, British news reports have said.
The demonstrators, who carried signs that read “Stop Turkey from helping ISIS (Daesh) terrorists,” blocked the rail tracks at around 1pm GMT on Sunday, preventing trains from entering or leaving the station.
It was reopened at about 4pm and a normal service is not expected to resume until 6.30pm, according to Network Rail.
British National Rail said in a statement earlier in the day: “The station will remain closed until all protesters have been removed. All trains will remain at the station until it opens. Trains on routes using the station will be terminated short of their destination.”

Images on social media showed protesters sitting on train tracks with yellow banners in support of the YPG (People's Protection Units), a Kurdish militia group.
And just hours later, Kings Cross station, in London, was also closed due to protests.
At around 6pm, National Rail confirmed it was receiving reports police were dealing with an incident outside the London station.


The protests have resulted in services being halted, affecting customers across the country.
Train operators said customers could use their tickets “on reasonable routes” with other companies.
Superintendent Mark Cleland, of British Transport Police (BTP) said: "While we appreciate and respect the right to peaceful protest, when this compromises the safety of the public and the protesters themselves, any offenders will attract the full investigative resources of BTP.
About a hundred protesters believed to belong to the Kuridsh community blocked the railway on Sunday in response to the Turkish government's military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG two months ago to clear them from Afrin in north-western Syria.
Similar events are taking place across Europe. At a protest against the Turkish offensive held at the airport in Dusseldorf, brawls broke out between Kurdish and Turkish demonstrators.


Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

Updated 24 June 2018
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Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

  • The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but a government spokesman said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.
  • After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue.

KABUL: The Afghan government is confident of holding peace talks with Taliban militants despite a recent surge of attacks by insurgents, a palace spokesman said.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi said the announcement last week of a brief truce by the Taliban over Eid, the increasing movement of extremists and some field commanders to government-held areas, and a call for peace by the Imam of Makkah and the Saudi monarch were the basis of the government’s optimism.

The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but Murtazawi said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.

“A new chapter has been opened and the broad support for a cease-fire and an end to the war are the causes for our optimism,” he told Arab News.

“The fact that Taliban announced a truce and their commanders came into towns and celebrated Eid with government officials are positive signs that the extremists will be ready for talks with the government.”

However, no contact has been established with leaders of the group since the militants called off their truce, Murtazawi said.

After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue. Scores of Afghan troops have been killed in a spate of attacks, including assaults on military bases where the insurgents joined government forces to celebrate Eid.

Some tribal chiefs and local officials are calling for “safe zones” where extremists can hold initial talks with the government, according to a local official who refused to be named.