Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 27th 2013 Contents A19
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United Nations said yester-
day it plans to contact the
United States over a report
that the US National Security
Agency bugged its New York
headquarters and warned
that countries are expected to
respect the world body s
Citing secret US docu-
ments obtained by fugitive
former intelligence contrac-
tor Edward Snowden, Ger-
many s Der Spiegel reported
on Sunday that the United
States succeeded in gaining
access to the internal UN
video conferencing system in
"We re aware of the reports
and we intend to be in touch
with the relevant authorities
on this," UN spokesman
Farhan Haq told reporters.
Der Spiegel also said the
European Union and the
UN s Vienna-based nuclear
watchdog, the International
Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), were among those
targeted by US intelligence.
According to the docu-
ments, the NSA runs a bug-
ging programme in more
than 80 embassies and con-
sulates worldwide called
"Special Collection Service."
BEIRUT/AMMAN---UN chemical weapons
experts yesterday interviewed and took
blood samples from victims of last week s
apparent poison gas attack in a rebel-held
suburb of Syria s capital, after the inspec-
tors themselves survived sniper fire that
hit their convoy.
Military chiefs from the United States
and its European and Middle Eastern allies
met in Jordan for what could be a council
of war---should they decide to punish Syria
for the worst reported chemical weapons
attack in 25 years.
Washington said President Barack Obama
was considering options to respond to what
the United States believes was the mass
gassing of civilians by President Bashar al-
Assad s forces on August 21.
Many hundreds of people died in Dam-
ascus suburbs in what appears to have been
the worst chemical weapons attack since
Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds
to death in 1988.
UN investigators crossed the frontline
from the centre of the capital, which remains
under Assad s control, to inspect the
Mouadamiya suburb, one of at least four
neighbourhoods hit by the poison gas last
Wednesday before dawn.
The United Nations said one vehicle in
its convoy was crippled by gunshots fired
by "unidentified snipers." The team con-
tinued on after turning back for a replace-
"I am with the team now," a doctor who
uses the name Abu Karam said by telephone
"We are in the Rawda mosque and they
are meeting with the wounded. Our medics
and the inspectors are talking to the patients
and taking samples from the victims now."
Wassim al-Ahmad, an opposition activist,
said members of the Free Syrian Army
umbrella rebel organisation and the oppo-
sition s Mouadamiya Local Council were
accompanying the inspectors on their tour
of the suburb.
"The inspectors are now examining vic-
tims being treated at a makeshift hospital
in Mouadamiya and are taking blood samples
from them," Ahmad said.
Video filmed at the site showed inspectors
in black and blue body armour and blue
UN helmets walking through a street as
curious onlookers came up to watch.
They shook hands with men who
appeared to be rebels wearing camouflage
vests, and were accompanied by doctors
and local residents.
The group descended into the basement
of a building where they were told injured
survivors were being treated below ground
to protect them from more shelling. Another
video showed an inspector interviewing a
patient and taking notes.
Activists say at least 80 people were killed
in Mouadamiya when the district was hit
with poison gas. Hundreds of people were
also killed in three other rebel-held dis-
tricts---Irbin, Ain Tarma and Jobar.
An opposition activist said a large crowd
of people gathered to air their grievances
to the UN team. There was also a plan for
the experts to take samples from corpses.
The inspectors later returned to their
hotel, and within an hour residents reported
that the shelling of Mouadamiya resumed.
The decision to proceed with the mission
despite coming under attack thwarted an
apparent attempt to halt their work before
"The first vehicle of the Chemical
Weapons Investigation Team was deliberately
shot at multiple times by unidentified snipers
in the buffer zone area," the United Nations
said in a statement.
"It has to be stressed again that all sides
need to extend their cooperation so that
the team can safely carry out their important
Syrian state television blamed rebel "ter-
rorists" for the shooting. The opposition
blamed it on pro-Assad militiamen.
The inspectors had been stuck in a down-
town luxury hotel since the attack, waiting
five days for government permission to visit
the scene a few miles away.
They had arrived three days before the
incident, with a mandate to investigate ear-
lier, smaller reports of chemical weapons
Death toll rises in
migrant train crash
Hundreds of Central Americans riding atop a cargo
train in hopes of getting to the United States were
being threatened and extorted by armed men before
the train derailed and killed at least six, survivors told
the Associated Press yesterday.
Many who had sneaked onto the roof of the train
known as "The Beast" were thrown loose when eight
of its 12 cars derailed as it hauled tons of metal junk
through a remote, swampy stretch of southern
Mexico. At least some of the dead were trapped
because they had tied themselves to the train to avoid
slipping as they rode between cars.
Witness accounts offered a close-up look at the
horrifying conditions faced by the tens of thousands
of Central Americans who cross Mexico in increasing
numbers in hopes of finding work in the US, even as
Mexican migration slows. Gangs of armed men prowl
the train line, robbing, kidnapping, extorting and raping
those trying to cross Mexico.
Hundreds squeeze together atop the train. Others
ride between cars for lack of space, or to obtain
shelter from the rain and wind.
"Those are the ones who died," Jose Hector Alfonso
Pacheco, a 48-year-old Honduras, told the Associated
Press in a shelter where Mexican authorities were
housing dozens of the estimated 250 who had been
riding on the train.
Rescue workers moved tons of wreckage yesterday
in search of more bodies. At least five migrants
suffered grave injuries, with dozens of others less
seriously hurt. Mexican authorities said the accident
victims could stay in Mexico legally for a year and
apply for citizenship if they wanted.
The dead migrants were between 19 and 58 years
old. Authorities said the train was crawling at about
two miles an hour when it derailed. (AP)
QALANDIA REFUGEE CAMP
talk after attacks
Palestinian officials said they called off a planned
round of peace talks yesterday after Israeli soldiers
killed three protesters during clashes following an
arrest raid in the West Bank.
But in comments that suggested the meeting had
gone ahead as planned, a US official in Washington
said "no meetings have been canceled." The official,
speaking on condition of anonymity because he was
not authorised to discuss the matter with the media,
refused to elaborate. Israeli officials refused to
The violence, the deadliest incident in the area in
years, dealt a new blow to US-led peace efforts, which
resumed late last month after a nearly five-year break.
Palestinian officials have accused the Israelis of
stonewalling and using the process as a cover to build
new Jewish settlements. The deaths of Palestinians
further soured the atmosphere.
It was not known when talks will resume, but
Palestinian officials said the break was expected to be
brief. They spoke anonymously as they were not
authorised to talk to media.
Yesterday's clashes broke out when Israeli forces
entered the Qalandia refugee camp, just outside of
Jerusalem, on an overnight arrest raid. Shai Hakimi, a
spokesman for the paramilitary border police, said
hundreds of Palestinians poured into the streets and
hurled firebombs, concrete blocks and rocks at
The Israeli military said soldiers rushed to the scene
to provide backup and opened fire after they felt their
lives were in "imminent danger." (AP)
UN to contact US over spying claim
A UN chemical weapons expert meets with residents and activists at one of the sites of an
alleged poison gas attack in the Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya yesterday. AP PHOTO
Setback to Syria chemical attack probe
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