BBC News with Marion Marshall
France has deployed military forces in Mali to help the government fight Islamist rebels that have taken over half of the country. The French president, Francois Hollande, said terrorists were threatening Mali’s very existence. Hugh Schofield reports from Paris.
France has been taken aback by the speed of the Islamist advance from the north of Mali in the last few days. On Thursday a request for military aid came in a letter from Mali’s president, Traore. In view of the gravity of the situation, President Hollande said that France had no choice but to act. What form the French intervention has taken is unclear, but it’s likely that jet fighters stationed in Chad have been used to stop the column of armoured jeeps and trucks in which the Islamists are pushing south.
The government of the Central African Republic and rebel groups have agreed to form a national unity government as part of a ceasefire deal. The announcement came after several days of peace talks in Gabon. Under the deal President Francois Bozize will stay in office until his term ends in 2016 and a member of the opposition will be appointed prime minister. There are also plans to hold parliamentary elections in one year. Rebels resumed fighting in the Central African Republic last month.
President Obama and the Afghan President Hamid Karzai have agreed an early handover of combat operations to Afghan troops. After talks at the White House, Mr Obama said Nato would switch to support operations by the Afghan spring time, several months earlier than the planned deadline of mid-2013. Mr Karzai said he was happy with an agreement for the imminent return of all detention centres and detainees to Afghan sovereignty. He also welcomed a plan to open an office in Qatar to conduct peace talks with the Taliban.
“We agreed on allowing a Taliban office in Qatar, in Doha, where the Taliban will engage in direct talks with the representatives of the Afghan High Council for Peace, where we will be seeking the help of relevant regional countries including Pakistan.”
The Shia community targeted in two bomb attacks in the Pakistani city of Quetta on Thursday has refused to bury its dead unless the military takes control of the city. Orla Guerin reports.
Mourners placed coffins onto the streets. That’s where they’ll stay, according to Shia leaders, until their vulnerable minority community gets some protection. There was known last night at a crowded snooker club, a suicide bomber came first, then as the rescue workers rushed in, there was another massive blast. The attack was Muslim on Muslim, Sunni extremists targeting Shias who they say as heretics. Sunni death squads are increasingly active here and operates with impunity.
World News from the BBC
A police report into the late BBC star Jimmy Savile has said he was a prolific, predatory sex offender, whose abuse spanned six decades. The report details more than 200 offences on BBC premises and in hospitals where he was a voluntary worker. Most of the victims were under 18. The authorities have apologised for not prosecuting him before he died in 2011. The police commander in charge of the investigation said Jimmy Savile had groomed a nation.
The American air industry regulator, the FAA, is launching a review into Boeing’s newest plane, the 787 Dreamliner. Several of the aircraft were hit by technical problems this week. From Washington, Paul Adams.
The Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the review would be comprehensive covering design, manufacturing and assembly of the Dreamliner. Michael Huerta of the Federal Aviation Administration said emphasis would be put on electrical systems and how these and the plane’s sophisticated mechanical systems interact. He said he was confident about the safety of the Dreamliner, and made it clear he had not even considered grounding the 50 aircraft currently in service around the world.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has appointed women to the country’s most important advisory council for the first time. In a decree King Abdullah said that women would take up one fifth of seats on the Shura Council, an unelected body that reviews Saudi legislation but has no formal powers. A BBC correspondent says it’s a significant step in a country where women aren’t allowed to drive or travel around unaccompanied by a male guardian.
Bolivia has scored a victory in its campaign to decriminalise the chewing of coca leaves for medicinal and ritual purposes. The country’s been readmitted to the United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs with a special dispensation recognising the centuries-old tradition as legal in Bolivia. The Andean country withdrew from the convention last year in protest at its classification of the coca leaf as an illegal drug.
1.armoured adj. 装甲的；铠装的；蛇皮管的
These front-line defences are backed up by armoured units in reserve.
2.imminent adj. 即将来临的；迫近的
They warned that an attack is imminent.
3.detainee n. 未判决囚犯；被扣押者
The detainee who helped piece this together says the plot also targeted Britain.
4.coffin n. 棺材
We draped the flag round the coffin.
5.heretic n. 异教徒，异端者
Thousands of heretics were burned at the stake.
6.prolific adj. 多产的；丰富的
During the Seventies, Rundgren was astonishingly prolific.
7.ritual n. 仪式；惯例；礼制 adj. 仪式的；例行的；礼节性的
There they are engaged in an entirely different ritual.
1.France has been taken aback by the speed of the Islamist advance from the north of Mali in the last few days.
take aback 使吃惊；惊吓
I was taken aback by the news of his death.
The manager was taken aback by his directness.
2.After talks at the White House, Mr Obama said Nato would switch to support operations by the Afghan spring time, several months earlier than the planned deadline of mid-2013.
switch to 切换到；转到；转变成
The chairman decided to switch the factory over to bicycle production.
Let's switch to 5. There's crime thriller.