Archive for the ‘tanks’ Category

Israeli Tanks Move into Gaza; Mortar, Rocket Fire from Palestinian Militants

November 18, 2008

Israeli tanks forged into the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, drawing mortar fire from Palestinian militants and intensifying violence that has chipped away at a tenuous cease-fire.

By IBRAHIM BARZAK, Associated Press Writer

Israel and Hamas have been trading fire for two weeks after nearly five months of relative quiet. The June 19 truce is due to expire next month, and both sides might be trying to dictate more favorable terms in anticipation of the agreement’s renewal.

The Israeli military described the activity as “a routine operation to uncover explosive devices near the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip.” It said two mortars were fired at troops, causing no injuries or damage.

Militant groups said they fired both mortars and rockets.

Palestinian Hamas supporters take part in a protest in Gaza ... 
Palestinian Hamas supporters take part in a protest in Gaza November 18, 2008. The rally on Tuesday was organized by the Hamas movement against the arrest of Hamas members by the security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.REUTERS/Suhaib Salem (GAZA)

The tanks, backed by a bulldozer and military jeep, rumbled about a quarter-mile into the tiny seaside strip, residents and Gaza security officials said. Residents said they leveled lands along the border east of the city of Rafah. It was the first ground action in a week.

The tanks did not respond to the Palestinian fire.

Read the rest:

Russia’s Defense Industry Hit by Credit Crunch, Ivanov Says

November 11, 2008

Russia’s defense industry is facing difficulties in meeting orders from the state because of the global credit crunch, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said.

Sergei Ivanov
Sergei Ivanov

Many companies are suffering from cash-flow problems, Ivanov said in remarks carried on state television. The financial crisis is “hitting some defense companies quite hard,” and the situation could prove “troublesome” for the industry, he said.

This video grab from Russian NTV channel shows the Russian nuclear ... 
Above: This Russian submarine had an on board non nuclear accident that killed 20 this week.  She was on sea trials and scheduled to be tranferred to India.  She is now emblematic of Russia’s failing defense industry.

By Sebastian Alison, Bloomberg

Banks in which the state holds a large stake, including OAO Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank, VTB Group, the second largest, and state development bank Vnesheconombank, should consider lending to defense contractors, he said.

Ivanov was speaking today at a meeting in Moscow of a government commission on strategic enterprises and the defense industry.

“We’re talking about an industry with a lot of expenses and not too much revenue,” said Masha Lipman, an analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center. She noted that Russia has recently made major arms sales to countries like Venezuela on credit with no repayments due for years.

Lipman said Russia’s Defense Ministry has been sending out mixed signals, for example by announcing cuts in military staffing numbers. This will produce tens of thousands of unemployed officers and the cost of retraining them for civilian jobs will be high, she said.

“Probably we will see that no such cuts will be made, because if you cut expenses in one place, you create them in another place,” she said.

Georgia War

Russia approved 344 billion rubles ($13 billion) in new defense spending last month following its five-day war with Georgia in August, Ivanov said on Oct. 16.

“Additional funds will be spent on purchases of modern weaponry, especially aircraft,” Ivanov, a former defense minister, said during a meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev.

At the same time, Russian state revenue may slump as the price of oil, its biggest export, plunges and capital flight accelerates on concern the global economy is entering a recession.

Read the rest:

Vietnam War Hero, With His 600 Men, Stopped 20,000 Enemy and 200 Tanks

November 3, 2008

Retired Marine Col. John Ripley, who was credited with stopping a column of North Vietnamese tanks by blowing up a pair of bridges during the 1972 Easter Offensive of the Vietnam War, died at home at age 69, friends and relatives said Sunday.

Associated Press

Ripley’s son, Stephen Ripley, said his father was found at his Annapolis home Saturday after missing a speaking engagement on Friday. The son said the cause of death had not been determined but it appeared his father died in his sleep.

In a videotaped interview with the U.S. Naval Institute for its Americans at War program, Ripley said he and about 600 South Vietnamese were ordered to “hold and die” against 20,000 North Vietnamese soldiers with about 200 tanks.

“I’ll never forget that order, ‘hold and die’,” Ripley said. The only way to stop the enormous force with their tiny force was to destroy the bridge, he said.

“The idea that I would be able to even finish the job before the enemy got me was ludicrous,” Ripley said. “When you know you’re not going to make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you’re going to save your butt.”

Ripley crawled under the bridge under heavy gunfire, rigging 500 pounds of explosives that brought the twins spans down, said John Miller, a former Marine adviser in Vietnam and the author of “The Bridge at Dong Ha,” which details the battle.

Miller said the North Vietnamese advance was slowed considerably by Ripley.

“A lot of people think South Vietnam would have gone under in ’72 had he not stopped them,” Miller said.

Read the rest:

Owners Give Ransom; Pirates Release 22 At Sea

October 18, 2008

SEOUL (AFP) – Somali pirates released 22 sailors they kidnapped last month after the South Korean ship owner paid a ransom, an official said Friday.

Somali pirates prey on ships that pass through one of the most ... 

The eight South Koreans and 14 Myanmarese were freed Thursday. They had been held since their 15,000-tonne cargo ship was seized off the coast of the east African nation on September 10.

Koo Ja-Woo, an executive director of J and J Trust, which owns the ship, said his company paid an unspecified sum to the pirates through a foreign middleman with experience in dealing with the seizure of ships.

“As a result, we could secure the early release of the sailors. But I cannot disclose the amount,” he told Yonhap news agency.

J and J officials and South Korea’s foreign ministry were not immediately available for comment.

Somali pirates seized the Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina -- which ...
Somali pirates seized the Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina — which is laden with tanks and weapons — in September 2008. As Somalia sinks ever deeper into hunger and despair, attacking foreign ships bottle-necking into the Gulf of Aden is proving to be one of the few profitable activities in the country.(AFP/Jason R. Zalasky)

The ministry said earlier the South Koreans were expected to return home on October 26.

Somali waters are the world’s most dangerous for piracy. The International Maritime Bureau reported more than 24 attacks in the area between April and June alone.

Maritime experts say many attacks go unreported along Somalia’s 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) of largely unpatrolled coast. Pirates operate high-powered speedboats and carry heavy machine guns and rocket launchers.

A South Korean tuna ship with 25 crew was hijacked by Somali pirates in April 2006. The ship and its crew were released after four months when a ransom was paid.

Last year Somali pirates seized two South Korean vessels and 24 crew including four South Koreans.

The crew were released in November after six months in captivity. Local media reports said the pirates had demanded a ransom of five million dollars before reducing the sum to an undisclosed figure.

Puntland coastal guards stand on the deck during a sea-patrol ...
Puntland coastal guards stand on the deck during a sea-patrol near the northern port town of Bosasso October 17, 2008. Somali security forces freed a Panamanian ship from pirates two days after they killed one of the hijackers in a gun battle.REUTERS/Abdiqani Hassan (SOMALIA)

Puntland coastal guards gather after a sea-patrol near the northern ...

Somali pirates free 22 sailors seized in September

October 16, 2008

SEOUL, South Korea – Pirates who seized a cargo ship off the coast of Somalia more than a month ago on Thursday freed the 22 sailors and the vessel, a South Korean official said.

Somali pirates seized the Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina -- which ... 
Somali pirates seized the Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina — which is laden with tanks and weapons. As Somalia sinks ever deeper into hunger and despair, attacking foreign ships bottle-necking into the Gulf of Aden is proving to be one of the few profitable activities in the country.(AFP/Jason R. Zalasky)

The crew members — eight South Koreans and 14 citizens from Myanmar — were heading toward a U.S. Navy vessel in the area after being set free earlier in the day, Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young told reporters.

Moon said the sailors were all safe but declined to comment whether a ransom was paid.

The South Korean cargo vessel was hijacked by Somalia pirates on Sept. 10 in the Gulf of Aden — one of 29 ships hijacked this year off the African coast. The latest is a Philippine bulk carrier seized in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday with a crew of 21.

Also being held off the coast is the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying weapons and tanks. U.S. warships have surrounded the Faina as the pirates who seized it demanded millions of dollars in ransom.

Officials say 10 hijacked ships remain in the hands of pirates, along with about 200 crew members. With no effective government, Somalia cannot protect its coastline. It is located along the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean and is one of the world’s busiest waterways with some 20,000 ships passing through it each year.

But international pressure on the pirates is growing….

Read the rest:

Somalia: Pirates Rethink Blowing Up Ship

October 16, 2008

The Somali pirates who hijacked a freighter full of weapons appeared Wednesday to be backing down from earlier threats to blow up the ship if they were not paid a ransom. A pirate speaking by satellite phone said Wednesday that an excessive number of mediators had been hampering the negotiations, but that the pirates did not plan to harm the crew. People on shore near the ship said that the pirates had recently hauled aboard enough spaghetti, rice and goat meat to last them several months. The freighter was hijacked Sept. 25 off Somalia’s coast, and the pirates have demanded millions of dollars before they set it free.

Somali Pirates Uncertain on Deadline to Destroy Ship

October 13, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Somali pirates holding an arms-laden Ukrainian tanker off Somalia may extend the deadline on their threat to destroy the vessel, a spokesman said Monday.
The Ukrainian ship MV Faina has been held by priates off the coast of Somalia since September 25.

Above: The Ukrainian ship MV Faina has been held by priates off the coast of Somalia since September 25.

In Kiev, angry relatives of the ship’s crew members demanded that Ukraine’s government stop delaying and just pay a multimillion-dollar ransom to the pirates.

The pirates have said they will destroy the MV Faina on Monday night or early Tuesday unless a ransom is paid.

They may extend the deadline following requests from the ship’s owner and other unidentified people, pirate spokesman Sugule Ali said.

The pirates were reviewing the deadline to see whether to “modify it and if that is not possible, to execute it,” Ali told The Associated Press by satellite telephone from the ship.

The crew members’ relatives tried and failed to meet with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev over the ransom demand, which began at euro14.7 million ($20 million) and has since appeared to drop. They vowed not to leave the president’s office.

“We will not leave until we meet with the president,” said Yelena Priskha, 41, as she stood outside Yushchenko’s office. “We will sleep on the stairs and will collect the money ourselves.”

Somali pirates die at sea in fighting

October 13, 2008

by Mustafa Haji Abdinur

MOGADISHU (AFP) – Forces from the Somali breakaway region of Puntland on Sunday attacked pirates holding a Somali cargo freighter, triggering clashes that killed two pirates and a soldier, an official said.

Four others, including another Puntland soldier, were wounded when the forces attempted to rescue MV Awail, owned by a Somali trading company with a crew of 13 Syrians and two Somalis, which was seize Thursday off the region’s shores.

A handout photo provided by the US Navy shows the Belize-flagged ... 
A handout photo provided by the US Navy shows the Belize-flagged Ukrainian cargo MV Faina in the Indian Ocean. Pirates holding a Ukrainian arms ship off the Somali coast have rejected a local mediator, delaying efforts to free the freighter laden with battle tanks and others arms(AFP/Jason R. Zalasky)

The fighting comes amid mounting pressure over piracy in the waters around Somalia, with US and international navies blockading a kidnapped Ukrainian vessel loaded with tanks and weapons.

“They surrounded the (Somali) ship this morning near Hafun area, where they exchanged fire with pirates killing two of them. One of our men also died,” said Muse Gelle Yusuf, governor of Puntland’s Bari region.

Read the rest:

Eyewitness Accounts: Anti-China Rioting in Tibet Clashes

March 14, 2008

 There have been violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Tibet’s main city of Lhasa as rallies against Chinese rule, said to be the largest in 20 years, continue.

Witnesses have been describing the protests and the Chinese security forces’ response.  

The following accounts are from the BBC:

“Well it’s early evening here, and the old Tibetan quarter of Lhasa still is very much in the control of the ethnic Tibetans who have been rioting for the last several hours since midday.

Car burning after clashes in Lhasa, 14 March 2008

The unrest began earlier this week

Some of them are still attacking Chinese properties, shops, restaurants, owned by ethnic Chinese. Some of them are looting those shops, taking out the contents and throwing them on huge fires which they’ve lit in the street.

Now I think the big question on everybody’s mind is what’s next? The troops for the time being are still standing there and we don’t know what’s holding them back.

It could be a political question, indecision in Beijing over how to handle this, because if they do move in there could be bloodshed and that could have implications for the holding of the Olympics.”

–James Miles, The Economists

“The street is pretty much in flames. I saw a huge amount of military in the town.

It went crazy all of a sudden. All the Chinese shops were put on fire by Tibetans.

Tanks in the street. Tear gas. I saw people being carried away on stretchers and ordinary Tibetans going crazy.”

–Anonymous eye witness


“We saw policemen, uniformed policemen, which were unusual – we hadn’t seen them in any of the temples in the days before but there were two of them at least there visible crackling into their radios.

As the monks ran down suddenly people, policemen just appeared almost as if out of nowhere and started beating, pulling and kicking them as they streamed down towards the main entrance of the temple.”

–Anonymous eye witness


“I just returned from Lhasa yesterday. I was in Lhasa for about 6 days, and I had just arrived at the famed Sera Monastery to see the debating monks, when they suddenly stormed out of their ‘debating courtyard’ and rushed for the entrance of the temple.

The Buddha Halls were immediately shut in our faces by security officials. Members of our group saw monks being beaten and kicked by the security forces that swarmed all over the temple precincts.

The monks were forced to sit in rows, surrounded by a double-phalanx of riot cops, brandishing clubs.

Our group was ushered out of the temple, and as we headed back in the direction of central Lhasa, we passed incoming troop-carriers ferrying camouflaged army regulars, with other army units marching in on foot from close locations.

All roads leading in were closed off. ”

–John; Tourist


“I was in Tibet from the 6th to the 12th of March, and was also witness to the monks fleeing from Sera Monastery and being beaten by police.

Our group was denied access to the monastery, and we were told that all the tourist access has been cut off.

We were told not to take any photos by our Chinese guide, and there were police staring at us as we waited in our bus watching the monks trying to get out of the monastery.”

–Leslie from Canada 


Monday: China Covered in Snow, Fog, Displaced People

February 4, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 4, 2008

Overnight our friends and colleagues in China sent us a deluge of reports all with a familiar ring: masses of Chinese people remain engulfed in snow, fog, troops holding them back and just a crush of humanity unable to move or make progress.

The snow emergency is now in its fourth week and a nation that now has been revealed as a place totally ill-equipped for a major snow “event,” as weathermen love to say in the U.S., is now using military armoured vehicles (“Tanks”) to pack down snow on freeways.

Armed vehicles are deployed to crush ice covering roads in Chenzhou, ...
Armed vehicles are deployed to crush ice covering roads in Chenzhou, Hunan province, in this picture distributed by China’s official Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008. The power supply of the city was cut off as the heavy snow and ice damaged seriously the power facilities including the transmission towers and lines, Xinhua News Agency said. Picture taken February 3, 2008.

Troops are beeng used in formations two and three deep to create a wall of uniformed men to block surging crowds from their intended objective.  But this tactic has not been foolproof.  Last week a crowd broke through the wall of troops and crushed a man to death in the process.

Freezing storms have killed scores of people and left travelers stranded before the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival — the only opportunity many people have to take a holiday all
year — or perhaps years.

The poor, nomadic migrant workers in China, sometimes estimated at up to 100 million people or one-third the total population of the U.S., do not have but this one opportunity to return home each year.  But our colleagues have spoken to dozens who have not been home for three or four years.  These people have very limited human rights and no advantages in life.

And getting home for the Lunar New Year is deeply important.  Paying respect to one’s parents and elder family in person at the start of the Lunar New Year makes one lucky all year.  To miss the event can evoke ill will from the household gods for the entire year.

A man lights candles at a stall selling foods  in Chenzhou in ...
A man lights candles at a stall selling foods in Chenzhou in China’s southern Hunan province Monday, Feb. 4, 2008. The city of four million has been without electricity for ten days.  Most electric power generating plants run off coal which cannot be distributed without trains.  The trains are blocked by snow and their power lines are felled by ice.
(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Lunar New Year is a deeply significant cultural event without an analogy in the West — especially among the rural, under educated and poor.

President Hu Jintao chaired a second emergency Politburo meeting in a week on Sunday.  Yet the communist leadership, despite its best effort and calling out over one million troops, simply does not have the experience or resources to effectively deal with a snow emergency of this magnitude.

“We have to be clear-minded that the inclement weather and severe disaster will continue to plague certain regions in the south,” said a statement issued after Sunday’s Politburo meeting. “Relief work will continue to face challenges, posing a tough task.”

The China Meteorological Administration said the weather was the coldest in 100 years in central Hubei and Hunan provinces, going by the total number of consecutive days of average temperature less than 1 degree Celsius (33.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

But there is hope for milder days said the weather agency.

“The weather over the disaster-stricken regions is likely to turn better in the next several days, but it is still necessary to remain alert for possible low temperatures, frozen rain, snow, freezing and heavy fog,” it said in a statement.

The state controlled communist government is already in full “spin” mode saying that the economic impact of the snaow is limited and is likely to create new investment.

“There is no doubt that such a big economy will encounter various difficulties each year, but the Chinese economy is maintaining stable growth momentum,” said Fan Gang, director of China’s National Institute of Economic Research.

The snow is likely to stimulate investment on items such as upgrading the national power grid or improving the transportation network for coal, Fan was quoted as saying.

AFP reported this:
“The economic situation has become complicated with the new factors cropping up,” said Wu Jinglian, an analyst at the State Council Development Research Centre, the central government’s think tank, according to the paper.

China’s economy, the world’s fourth-largest, grew by a blistering 11.4 percent in 2007, the highest level in 13 years.

Investment accounted for 4.3 of those 11.4 percentage points, more than the 2.7 percent accounted for by net exports, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The World Bank Monday also predicted limited impact on the economy, as it lowered the 2008 growth forecast for China from 10.8 percent to 9.6 percent, not because of the snow, but because of the global slowdown.

“Natural disasters normally call for economic activity to repair the damage,” David Dollar, the head of the bank’s China office, told a briefing in Beijing.

Most of the impact of the storms — including rising food prices and a decline in industrial output over January and February — will turn out to be temporary, World Bank economists said.

There “could be some pick-up (later in the year) as investment takes place to solve the bottlenecks,” said Louis Kuijs, a senior economist with the bank.

Thousands of passengers wait to get on trains outside the railway ...
Thousands of passengers wait to get on trains outside the railway station in China’s southern city of Guangzhou. A double row of troops keeps the migrants in place.  Heavy fog descended Monday on large parts of southern China, complicating the task of helping millions of workers stranded by winter weather that in some areas is the worst in 100 years.
(AFP/Liu Jin).

China Confirms Man Killed in Stampede; Winter Chaos Continues
Blizzard Strikes: What Happens in China Different From in the U.S.?
Snowstorms damage China’s reputation