Tag Archives: Sunday

Jordan bolsters defense on Iraq border

A member of the Iraqi security forces takes position during a patrol looking for militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) at the border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, June 23, 2014.

A member of the Iraqi security forces takes position during a patrol looking for militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) at the border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, June 23, 2014.

Reuters – Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Jordan beefed up its border defenses with Iraq on Sunday after Sunni gunmen seized territory close to its border in Anbar province and appeared to have also taken control of the only land crossing with its large eastern neighbor, officials and witnesses said.

Two officials said the border crossing almost 575 km (357 miles) from the Iraqi capital and nearly 320 km (199 miles) from Amman was effectively closed after Sunni gunmen took control of the crossing.

A Jordanian minister earlier told Reuters traffic had halted and there were signs of chaos at the crossing that serves as a major artery for passenger and trade flows between the two countries.

“The last traffic was around 7:30 pm (1630 GMT) and border officials are saying the situation is not normal on the other side of the border,” Minister of State for Media and Communication Mohammad al-Momani said.

Earlier, Iraqi Sunni gunmen had seized control of the town of Rutba, just 90 miles (145 km) east of the border with Jordan.

An army source confirmed that army units had been put in a state of alert in recent days along the 181-km (112-mile) border with Iraq, redeploying in some areas as part of steps to ward off “any potential or perceived security threats”.

Truck drivers who arrived in Jordan before traffic halted after crossing the border said Sunni tribal militants were now running and manning checkpoints along large stretches of the Baghad-Amman highway that runs through the crossing.

A security source who requested anonymity said the border crossing on the Iraqi side had fallen earlier in the day to local Sunni tribal gunmen who permitted customs officials to continue to run it administratively until later on Sunday.

U.S. ally Jordan was expected to formally close the border to traffic as soon as the Iraqi government formally announces its loss of control over the crucial trade and passenger crossing, he added.

On Sunday, militants overran a second frontier post on the Syrian border, extending two weeks of swift territorial gains as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) pursues the goal of its own caliphate straddling both countries.

ISIL thrust east from a newly captured Iraqi-Syrian border post on Sunday, taking three towns in Iraq’s western Anbar province after seizing the frontier crossing near the town of Qaim on Saturday, witnesses and security sources said. They seized a second, al-Waleed, on Sunday. The gains have helped ISIL secure supply lines to Syria, where it has exploited the chaos of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad to seize territory.

The loss of the Iraqi border crossing with Jordan was not seen as an immediate security threat to the kingdom although some were unnerved by the prospect of al Qaeda-affiliated groups along the border with Iraq, another official said.

It was difficult to see security-conscious Jordan, which has almost cut off any flow of militants across its heavily sealed northern border with Syria, allowing itself to become a launching pad or supply route for Islamist jihadists into Iraq, he added.

Jordan, grappling with the mounting impact of the grinding conflict in neighboring Syria, is one of the closest U.S. allies in the Middle

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ISIS ‘execute’ 1,700 Iraqi soldiers, post gruesome pictures (GRAPHIC)

An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) executing dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province.

Radical Sunni militants who have been capturing cities in northwest Iraq claimed on Twitter that they executed 1,700 Iraqi soldiers. The radicals posted graphic photos as evidence.

The photographs, which were posted on the Twitter account associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), came with captions that described their alleged massacre. They did not provide a date or location, but chief military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said the killings took place in Salahuddin province, located north of Baghdad.

Some of the images show dozens of captured men in civilian clothes loaded onto trucks, with the captions saying that they were taken to their deaths.

An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) transporting dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province ahead of executing them.

Another image shows men lying down in a ditch with their arms behind their head. Some of the final photographs show bodies covered in blood with several gunshot wounds.

It is impossible to independently verify the photographs and the number of people killed.

Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, confirmed the photos’ authenticity on Sunday, adding that he is aware of mass executions of captured Iraqi soldiers in areas controlled by ISIS.

Following the analysis of the images by military experts, it was concluded that about 170 soldiers were shot to death by the militants, he told the Associated Press.

An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) executing dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province.

Violence continued to escalate in Iraq on Sunday, with local residents telling to Reuters that ISIS insurgents attacked and took control of the town of Tal Afar, located in northwestern Iraq.

Iraqi Gen. Mohammed al-Quraishi confirmed to CNN that the city fell to Sunni rebels. Tal Afar is located in the Nineveh province and has a population of about 80,000 people, most of whom are Iraqi Turkmen.

Meanwhile, the US announced it will be increasing security at its embassy in Baghdad and moving some of its personnel out of the capital. Less than 100 US Marines and other military personnel are headed to Iraq to reinforce security at the US embassy in Baghdad, Reuters reported, citing a military official.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also said that a number of embassy staff were withdrawn from Baghdad on Sunday. “The Australian embassy remains open with reduced staffing levels,” DFAT stated. “We are unlikely to be able to provide consular assistance in Iraq at the current time.”

An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) standing next to dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province ahead of executing them.

Earlier, ISIS insurgents seized Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul in the north of the country as well as Tikrit – the capital of Salahuddin province, where the alleged massacre of soldiers took place.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Friday that the organization received a number of reports of “summary executions and extrajudicial killings” as ISIL militants raided Iraqi cities. The number of people killed last week may be in the hundreds, she added.

Once an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, ISIS fell out with the global terrorist network. The hyper-fundamentalist group, which is active in Iraq and Syria, gained notoriety for its ruthless tactics which include publicly crucifying and beheading those who violate their strict religious interpretations.

Iraq came under the influence of a Shia-majority government after the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime in 2003. Since the withdrawal of US troops in 2011, sectarian tensions have boiled over, resulting in Sunni insurgents increasingly waging war against the central government.

BREAKING NEWS – Pakistan’s Karachi airport under attack

File Photo: Pakistani policemen cordon the airport in Karachi.

File Photo: Pakistani policemen cordon the airport in Karachi.

Gunmen attacked a cargo and VIP area of Karachi‘s international airport late on Sunday night, engaging in a heavy firefight with security forces and killing at least four of them, Pakistani security officials said.

The officials said that at least eight attackers were involved, and that the fighting was continuing early on Monday morning.

Security forces sealed off the airport, and flights began being diverted away from Karachi within minutes of the fighting. Witnesses saw smoke rising from the airport’s old terminal, and one Pakistani news channel aired footage of at least one plane on fire nearby.

Senior police official Rao Muhammad Anwar says the militants are armed with automatic weapons and grenades and exchanging gunfire with security officials.

 

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In Lugansk, federalization supporters proclaim creation of a “people’s republic”

They demand “an amnesty for all participants in the protest movent in Ukraine’s east, recognition of the Russian language as a state one, and the holding of a referendum on matters concerning self-determination of the region”

DONETSK, April 28. ITAR-TASS.

In Lugansk, federalization supporters at a meeting on Sunday proclaimed the establishment of a “Lugansk People’s Republic”, Ukraine’s radio “Freedom” reports.

In that city, where a joint headquarters of the country’s South-East was established several days ago to coordinate the work of other headquarters in other districts, federalism supporters delivered an ultimatum to the Kiev authorities on Sunday.

In particular, the protesters demand “an amnesty for all participants in the protest movent in Ukraine’s east, recognition of the Russian language as a state one, and the holding of a referendum on matters concerning self-determination of the region”.

If their demands are not met by April 29, they promise “to move on to energetic actions”.

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Turkey to vote in crucial local elections amid graft scandal and social media ban

Supporters of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) wave Turkish and party flags during an electioSupporters of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) wave Turkish and party flags during an election rally at Kadikoy in Istanbul on March 29, 2014.n rally at Kadikoy in Istanbul on March 29, 2014.

With Twitter bans, YouTube blocks, damning leaks and a ‘shadow government’ pulling strings behind the scenes, municipal elections in Turkey are only the beginning of a crucial 15-month voting cycle that could determine Turkey’s future for decades to come.

The polls are set to open across the country on Sunday in what would normally regarded as small town politics replete with the nuts and bolt issues of governing like streets, schools and trash collection. But these are not ordinary times in Turkey, and what would normally be considered local fare is now being viewed as a much broader referendum on the ruling party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP].

During the last poll in 2009, AKP clinched 39 percent of the vote, light years ahead of the socially liberal and Kemalist Republican People’s Party (CHP), which only managed 23 percent. While AK Party actually took a 2.6 point hit compared to their 41.6 percent showing in 2004, analysts believe anything below 40 percent this time around will be considered a blow to Erdogan.

Along with CHP, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Justice and Development Party (BDP) are also hoping to dethrone AK after over a decade in power.

The nationwide municipal poll is also the first time Turks will vote since last summer’s antigovernment demonstrations, which left 11 dead and over 8,000 injured.

Despite a series of scandals which have completely changed the landscape of Turkish politics, opinion polls suggest the Islamist AK Party, which was first swept to power in 2002, will win on Sunday as well. That victory is viewed as a stepping stone in once against asserting its dominance in a year-plus voting cycle which will see the presidency up for grabs in August and the culminate in the June 2015 Turkish general election.

The mayoral elections in Ankara and Istanbul are viewed as the most important litmus test for Erdogan’s rule, with many believing Sunday’s result is vital to Turkey’s very survival as a democratic state.

Istanbul, the 15-million-megapolis where Erdogan first tested his mettle as the city’s mayor over 20 years ago, is viewed as the epicenter of events. As the old Turkish political aphorism goes: “The one who takes Istanbul, takes Turkey.”

Mustafa Sarigul, the 57-year-old mayor of Istanbul’s wealthy district of Sisli and CHP candidate, hopes to dislodge AK party incumbent Kadi Topbas in elections.

In the Turkish capital, Ankara, meanwhile, five-time AK Party incumbent Melih Gokcek is taking on the CHP’s Mansur Yavas in the mayoral race. Gokcek bested Yavas during the previous race in 2009.

Meanwhile, the run-up to the local elections have been marked by constant rancor, with allegations of fraud adding to the protests over corruption and the suppression of political and civil freedoms from the opposition.

The latest scandal first erupted on December 17, when three AK Party cabinet ministers’ children were arrested on corruption charges, and several government figures were targeted in graft investigations.

In February, a firestorm was sparked when audio recordings in which Erdogan is reportedly heard telling his son, Bilal, get rid of tens of millions of dollars, were posted on YouTube.

Erdogan has responded by purging thousands of police and prosecutors, lashing out at “traitors” and “terrorists” for organizing the campaign against him. Chief among them is rival Fethullah Gulen, the US-based head of the Gulen movement whom Erdogan has accused of organizing a “parallel state.”

Then in a move that has since sent shockwaves through liberal sections of Turkish society, Erdogan moved to do away with the medium in which both the damning leaks and protests against his rule were publicized: social media.

Last week, Turkey blocked access to Twitter just hours before Erdogan promised to “wipe out” the social media network during a campaign rally in the northwestern city of Bursa.

Then on Thursday, access to YouTube was also cut off in Turkey after an explosive leak of audiotapes that appeared to show ministers talking about provoking military intervention in Syria.

Meanwhile, whatever Sunday’s result, Erdogan, who will complete his third term next year, technically cannot run for a fourth term due to an AKP bylaw.

He does have the option of running for president in Turkey’s first publicly-elected presidential elections later this year. There has also been talk of lifting the three-term limit to allow Erdogan to run for PM once again.

Critics fear that Erdogan’s long-heralded “Turkish model”, described as an example of a modern, moderate Muslim state that works, is steadily devolving into authoritarianism.

The popular Turksih daily Hurriyet published an open letter to Erdogan urging him to unite the country of 76.6 million people before it becomes irrevocably fractured.

“Whatever percentage of the votes you get, it should be your and all of your duty to defuse the dangerous polarization and tensions that has spread throughout the whole country.”

Sunday could prove pivotal as the country struggles through what one senior government official called one of the biggest crises in Turkish history.

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Kerry to Russia: U.S. Will Not Accept Outcome of Crimea Referendum

Pro-Russian protesters hold a Russian, Crimean and Soviet flags during their rally at Lenin Square in Simferopol, Ukraine, March 16, 2014

Pro-Russian protesters hold a Russian, Crimean and Soviet flags during their rally at Lenin Square in Simferopol, Ukraine, March 16, 2014

The United States told Russia on Sunday that it would not accept the results of Crimea’s referendum on seceding from Ukraine and it continued to urge a political resolution on Moscow, a senior U.S. State Department official said.

The official, describing a telephone conversation between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday morning, the day of the Crimean vote, urged Russia to back constitutional reform in Ukraine that would protect the rights of minorities such as Crimea’s Russian-speaking population.

Kerry also said Russia must pull back its forces to their bases and raised strong concerns about Russian military activities in Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast on Saturday, as well as continuing provocations in eastern Ukraine, the official said.

In their Sunday phone conversation, Kerry appeared to be trying to sketch out a way forward for Crimea that would keep it in Ukraine, but it remained unclear if Russian President Vladimir Putin was interested in such an outcome or simply wants to cement Russian control of the region.

— Reuters

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Flight MH370 : last message to Malaysia sent ‘after communications disabled’

Revelation suggests person who delivered ‘All right, good night’ message from missing plane knew system had been shut down

The person in control of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 issued their last communication to air traffic control after the first set of aircraft communications was disabled, Malaysian authorities have confirmed, adding further weight to suspicion that the plane was hijacked.

The latest revelation suggests that the person who delivered the “All right, good night” message to Kuala Lumpur air traffic controllers just before the Boeing-777 disappeared from their radar at 1.22am and diverted from its scheduled flightpath to Beijing was also aware that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (Acars) had been manually shut down.

Investigations still do not appear to know who was at the helm and what their intentions were when the aircraft disappeared from civilian radar more than a week ago.

Experts on aircraft maintenance have explained that the plane’s communications system can only be disabled manually – a process that requires switching a number of cockpit controls in sequence until a computer screen necessitates a keyboard input.

Authorities have not yet disclosed whether the person who issued the last message to controllers was Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, or an unknown third person. It is also unclear if such messages are recorded by air traffic control and are available for expert analysis to determine who the voice belongs to.

Malaysia Airlines could not be reached for comment and Malaysia’s transport ministry declined to comment.

Malaysia’s police chief, Khalid Bakar, has said authorities were investigating all crew, passengers and ground staff involved with MH370 under a penal code that includes hijacking, sabotage and terrorism. Police had questioned Zaharie’s friends and family, and dismantled and reassembled at headquarters a flight simulator Zaharie kept in his house on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Police also searched Fariq’s home, although it was unclear if anything was confiscated.

According to Malaysia Airlines, the pilot and co-pilot did not ask to fly together, reducing the probability of a co-ordinated plan between the pilots to hijack the aircraft.

Khalid told reporters that all 239 people on board – 228 passengers and 11 Malaysian crew – were being investigated for suspicious activity, but that police were waiting for background information from some of the nations whose citizens were on the plane.

Eight days after the Boeing-777 vanished, with no concrete leads on its whereabouts, investigators are now searching for the plane along two possible flight corridors from the its last known location at 2.15am last Saturday over the Malacca strait – one stretches south from Indonesia towards the Indian Ocean, a vast expanse with very little radar coverage; the other reaches north from Thailand up towards central Asia, a heavily militarised area whose airspace is carefully scrutinised.

There are 25 countries assisting in the search, said Malaysia’s defence and acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein – raising the additional challenges of co-ordinating ground, sea and aerial efforts as well as the delicate diplomatic issue of sharing significant sensitive information, from satellite data to primary and secondary radar playback, as well as any ground, sea and aerial co-ordination efforts.

“This is a significant recalibration of the search,” Hishammuddin told reporters on Sunday. “From focusing mainly on shallow seas, we are now looking at large tracts of land, crossing 11 countries, as well as deep and remote oceans.

The search was already a highly complex, multinational effort. It has now become even more difficult.”

Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, has already spoken with the heads of state of Bangladesh, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and India; the foreign ministry has briefed at least 22 countries regarding the new search efforts as well as any additional countries that may be able to provide assistance.

Those countries include Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia, with special assistance regarding satellite data requested from the US, China and France.

Surveillance airplanes and maritime vessels will also be needed in the search for the missing jet along the southern corridor, where the Indian Ocean can reach depths of two miles and radar coverage is patchy at best.

Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that the plane departed for Beijing with enough fuel only to reach its scheduled destination, so it would have been likely to run out after about seven hours’ flight time – if flying at normal cruising altitudes. But with reports emerging that the aircraft may have been flying at altitudes as high as 45,000ft, authorities also confirmed on Sunday that the plane need not have been flying for the duration of the period it was picked up by satellites.

The satellite “pings” that were last read at 8.11am on Saturday – six hours after Malaysian military radar last detected the aircraft over the Malacca strait at 2.15am – could still have been transmitting data from the ground, if the plane were to have landed, said Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, Abdul Rahman.

“The plane can still transmit pings from the ground as long as there is electrical power,” he said.

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Gunmen kill 100 in central Nigeria

Gunmen killed more than 100 people in an attack on three villages in central Nigeria, an area where longstanding disputes over land, religion and ethnicity often erupt into violence, two local government officials said on Sunday.

The police confirmed the attacks by Fulani herdsman late on Friday but declined to give a death toll.

 euronews,.

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Israel: Gaza-bound Iranian rockets had 100-mile range

Israeli soldiers work around containers with boxes containing missiles and weapons unloaded from the seized KLOS C civilian cargo ship, in the military port at the Red Sea city of Eilat, southern Israel, Sunday, March 9, 2014

EILAT, Israel – Israel’s military said Sunday that a cargo ship it intercepted in the Red Sea last week carried 40 rockets with a range of up to 100 miles.

Israel has alleged the shipment was orchestrated by Iran and was intended for Islamic militants in Gaza, a claim denied by Iran and the rockets’ purported recipients.

An Egyptian security official said Sunday the rockets also might have been intended for militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which borders Gaza. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to brief reporters.

Neither Israel nor Egypt provided evidence for their claims. Questions remain, including how the rockets would have been smuggled into Gaza, largely cut off from the world by a border blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt.

Israel’s government has used the interception to bolster claims that Iran remains dangerous and that the world powers should break off negotiations with Tehran over the country’s nuclear program.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon alleged Sunday that the weapons shipment “uncovered the true intentions of the regime in Tehran, a regime that is sly, dangerous and without restraint, that continues to train, finance and arm terror groups in the Middle East and beyond and whose aim is destabilize the area and the whole world.”

In a further attempt to highlight Iran’s alleged role in arming militants, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to hold a news conference Monday in Israel’s Red Sea port of Eilat, where the Panama-flagged KLOS C docked under Israeli navy escort Saturday.

Israel’s military said Sunday that 40 rockets of the type M-302, with ranges of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) – or enough to reach Israel’s main cities – were unloaded from the vessel. In addition, the military said it counted 181 mortar shells on the ship, along with some 400,000 rounds of ammunition.

It remains unclear to what extent the intercepted rockets would have raised the threat level against Israel.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas and the smaller group Islamic Jihad already possess thousands of rockets, though apparently with a shorter range. During eight days of fighting in 2012, armed groups from Gaza fired 1,500 rockets into Israel, including several that reached the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

From the north, the Iranian-allied Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah also is believed to have thousands of rockets and missiles that could reach deep into Israel.

Israel intercepted the cargo ship last Wednesday, about 100 miles off the coast of Sudan. Israel has said the raid was a result of months of painstaking intelligence work.

Israeli officials said the rockets were flown from Syria to Iran months ago, then shipped from Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to Umm Qasr, Iraq, before being loaded onto the KLOS C, a civilian ship destined for Sudan.

From there, Israeli officials said they were to be smuggled overland through Egypt to Gaza – a route that has been used in the past.

The Egyptian security official said he believed the vessel’s final destination was close to Ras Mohammed, a nature reserve in the Sinai.

Since last summer, the Egyptian military has destroyed or sealed many of the dozens of smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. However, the official said he believes some of the rockets could have made it through the tunnels despite the crackdown.

Iran, as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have denied any involvement with the shipment.

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Malaysia Airlines : four passengers’ identities under investigation

No trace of plane found and airline ‘fearing the worst’ as scrutiny of two passengers who travelled on stolen passports widens

Malaysia Airlines staff at a media conference in Beijing on Sunday. Photograph: Feature China/Barcroft Media

The identities of four passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight are under investigation, the country’s transport minister said on Sunday, as the company confirmed that it was “fearing the worst”.

Investigators are examining the entire passenger manifest after European diplomats said late on Saturday that two of the 227 passengers were travelling on stolen passports. Hishamuddin Hussein, who is also defence minister, said Malaysia would work with the FBI and other international agencies and that two more names were being checked.

“All the four names are with me,” he said, according to Reuters.

He spoke as the multinational hunt for any sign of the Malaysia Airlines flight missing with 239 people on board widened on Sunday, with officials saying search and rescue teams had so far found no trace of it.

Hishammuddin also said there was a chance the aircraft had turned back in mid-air.

“We are looking at the possibility of an aircraft air turn back, in which case different locations will have to be identified,” he said.

Citizens from 14 nations were on board, though the vast majority were Chinese. The 12-strong flight crew were all from Malaysia.

On Saturday night, diplomats confirmed that two Europeans listed on the passenger manifest – an Italian, Luigi Maraldi and an Austrian, Christian Kozel – had not been on the flight and were safe and well. Maraldi had his passport stolen in Thailand last year and Kozel’s was stolen in the region two years ago.

The flight was a codeshare with China Southern and the two people named as Maraldi and Kozel on the list booked together via the Chinese airline, Chinese media reported.

The company said it had CCTV footage of the two people who checked in as Maraldi and Kozel.

The Boeing 777 disappeared from radar screens just 40 minutes into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of Saturday morning. It was last detected over the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam.

On Sunday morning the Malaysian director-general of civil aviation, Azaruddin Abdul Rahman, told reporters the search had expanded to a larger area of the South China Sea area and west coast of Malaysia, the Straits Times reported.

Warships from Singapore and China were heading to the area and the United States also offered vessels and aircraft.

In a statement issued on Sunday morning, Malaysia Airlines said: “More than 24 hours after the loss of contact with Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the search and rescue teams are still unable to detect the whereabouts of the missing aircraft.

“In fearing for the worst, a disaster recovery management specialist from Atlanta, USA will be assisting Malaysia Airlines in this crucial time.”

An earlier statement began with the words: “Malaysia Airlines humbly asks all Malaysians and people around the world to pray for flight MH370.”

Vietnam’s deputy transport minister, Pham Quy Tieu, said no wreckage had been seen in the vicinity of two oil slicks detected late on Saturday, but that the search continued.

The pilot of another flight told a Malaysian newspaper he had made brief contact with the plane via his emergency frequency, at the request of Vietnamese aviation authorities who had been unable to reach it as expected. Vietnam has said it believes the flight never entered its airspace.

The unnamed man said his Japan-bound plane was deep into Vietnamese airspace when officials asked him to relay to MH370 to establish its position, and that he succeeded at about 1.30am local time.

“The voice on the other side could have been either Captain Zaharie [Ahmad Shah, 53,] or Fariq [Abdul Hamid, 27], but I was sure it was the co-pilot.

“There were a lot of interference … static … but I heard mumbling from the other end.

“That was the last time we heard from them, as we lost the connection,” he told the New Straits Times.

He sakd he did not think any more of it at the time, as losing connections was common.

Malaysia Airlin

es executives have said the flight was at 35,000 feet when it vanished and had given no indication of problems when last in contact.

William Waldock, who teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical university in Arizona, told Associated Press the lack of a distress call ‘‘suggests something very sudden and very violent happened”.

Both Malaysia Airlines and Boeing-777s have strong safety records.

CNN reported that an FBI team was flying to Malaysia to assist in the investigation because three Americans were on board. It cited an unnamed official.

via Malaysia Airlines: four passengers’ identities under investigation | World news | theguardian.com.

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