Gunmen in Pakistan Attack 2 Mosques

Gunmen stormed two Pakistani mosques belonging to a minority sect in Lahore on Friday, taking worshippers hostage and sparking gun battles with police that left 17 people dead, officials said.

Gunfire and blasts rang out as the attackers, at least one of whom wore a suicide vest, stormed a mosque in the upscale neighborhood of Model Town and another in the busy area of Garhi Shahu as people gathered for weekly prayers.

They are both mosques of the Ahmadis, also known as Qadiani, and have tens of thousands of members. Rights groups say the sect has long been persecuted in Pakistan and has remained an occasional target of sectarian attacks.

Dunya TV showed one of the attackers atop the minaret of one of the mosques, firing an assault rifle and throwing hand grenades.

The mosques were several miles (kilometers) apart from each other, police officer Haider Ashraf said.

Officers outside one of the mosques in the Garhi Shahu district of Lahore were engaged in a fierce gunfight with the attackers, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.

Pakistan has seen scores of attacks by groups of Islamist militants against Western, government and security force targets over the past three years. Lahore, the second largest city in the country and a vital a military and political center, has been the scene of several.

Many Islamist militants believe it is permissible or honorable to kill non-Muslims, or even those Muslims who do not share their extreme views.

The Ahmadis call themselves Muslims but believe their founder declared himself a prophet centuries after Muhammad, who other Muslims believe was the final prophet. They have long been subject to informal and state-sanctioned discrimination in Pakistan.

The government has declared them a non-Muslim minority and they are prohibited from calling themselves Muslims or engaging in Muslim practices such as reciting Islamic prayers.
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Israel bombs Gaza in night raid wounding two seriously

Israel has launched two night-time air strikes on the Gaza Strip which has left a number of people wounded, Palestinian medical sources said.

The Israeli air force bombed a target in the north of Gaza and struck tunnels in the south, near the border with Egypt.

Palestinian medical sources told reporters that about 22 people had been injured, two seriously.

The attacks come a day after militants in Gaza fired mortars into Israel.

One of the seriously wounded Palestinians was 15, Palestinian medical sources said.
The Israeli Defense Forces confirmed the attacks in Beit Hanoun, east of Gaza City, and Rafah in the south.

"The tunnels were dug 1km from the security fence and were intended for infiltrating into Israel and executing terror attacks," a spokesman told the news agency Agence France Presse.

The attacks come just hours after donkey cart carrying dynamite exploded on the border between Gaza and Israel.

The donkey was killed in the explosion, which was aimed at blowing a hole in the security fence.

Militants later fired two mortars into Israel, but there were no reported casualties.
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Thailand Issues Terrorism Arrest Warrant for Thaksin

A Thai soldier walks by a poster of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra left behind by anti-government protesters in Bangkok, Thailand, 21 May 2010
A Thai court issued an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra Tuesday, on terrorism charges.

Special investigations Chief Tharit Pengdit told reporters there is enough evidence to believe that Mr. Thaksin was the mastermind behind mass protests in Bangkok by the anti-government Red Shirt movement.

The former Thai leader, now in exile in Dubai, is considered as a hero by many Red Shirts, mostly rural and urban poor, for his populist policies.

Thai officials say protest-related violence killed at least 88 people and wounded almost 1,900 since March.

Terrorism charges carry a maximum penalty of death in Thailand.

Thailand's Cabinet has extended a curfew in Bangkok and 23 provinces for four more nights.

Officials said Tuesday the prime minister and Cabinet ministers decided not to extend the curfew for a full week as suggested by emergency officials because they wanted to limit the impact on the public.

Authorities re-opened streets in Bangkok's commercial hub to traffic Monday for the first time since opposition Red Shirt protesters began occupying them in mid-March.

Trading resumed this week on the Thai stock exchange following its closure Wednesday amid the fighting. The main stock index ended Monday's session down 2.8 percent.

The Thai government said the country's economy grew 12 percent in the first three months of the year from the same period a year earlier. But it said the unrest that began toward the end of that quarter likely will cut Thailand's economic growth for 2010 by 1.5 percent.

Human rights workers began Monday investigating the protests and the government's response to them. A Law Society of Thailand member said many people suffered rights violations. He called on the government to hold an independent inquiry into those abuses.

Opposition lawmakers allied to the Red Shirts filed a parliamentary motion Monday to censure Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and other ministers for their handling of the crisis. The motion was likely to fail because Mr. Abhisit's coalition has a majority in the assembly.

The Red Shirts have demanded early elections to replace a government they see as elitist and illegitimate.
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68 killed, 100 injured in accidents, forest fire in China

At least 68 people were killed and over 100 injured today in a train accident, two major road mishaps and a forest fire in China.

Nineteen passengers were killed and 71 others were injured when a passenger train from Shanghai to the scenic city of Guilin in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region derailed after ramming into landslides in Jiangxi Province.

The condition of the 11 injured passengers was stated to be serious, Xinhua newsagency reported.

A spokesman of the Railway headquarters said 8,000 cubic meters of mud and rocks from the landslide were removed from the tracks, after 2,000 rescuers using heavy machinery completed the rescue operation. Several compartments of the train became a twisted mettle crushing many passengers.

The engine along with eight of the 17 carriages of the train derailed and some even overturned in the mountainous area. One carriage was twisted and crushed on the other.

"Each of the train carriages has 118 seats. It is not yet immediately known how many passengers were on board," said a police officer surnamed Luo.

Meanwhile, 32 people were killed after a bus and truck collided on an expressway in Fuxin City, northeast China's Liaoning Province. Three people on the truck and 28 passengers on the bus were killed on the spot. One of the 22 injured died in hospital.

A spokesman with the Liaoning Public Security Bureau said the accident happened in the early hours when the truck turned the wrong way coming out of a service area. The two vehicles collided head on and caught fire.

The coach, with 53 people on board was en route from Tianjin to Harbin, capital of the northeastern Heilongjiang Province.

Meanwhile, another 12 people were killed in forest fire in in south western China after they volunteered to douse it. The victims were the villagers from Yunnan province who joined to help the authorities to fight a fire that broke out last afternoon, Xinhua news agency reported.

In yet another road accident, five people were killed after a bus rammed into the road side barrier and veered off an expressway in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

The bus was carrying 47 people and heading to Chongqing rom Kaixian County, when the accident happened in the early hours, said Chongqing police.

Six injured people have been rushed to Dianjiang County People's Hospital. None of them was in critical condition, said the police.
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Afghan police find bodies at plane crash site

Search teams in Afghanistan have reached the rubbles of a passenger plane in a remote mountain site north of the capital Kabul.

Aviation Minister Mohammadullah Batash said some bodies had been found but there were no sign of any survivors among the 44 people on board.

The Pamir Airways flight from Kunduz to Kabul crashed in the mountainous Shakardara district on Monday.The cause of the crash is not yet clear.

"Parts of the crashed plane are lying in front of me. There are a number of bodies scattered around here," Mr Batash told the AFP news agency by telephone from the crash site.

"It is too soon to say that no-one has survived. But so far, we cannot see anyone alive and the situation here is extreme - cold, snow, wind."

He said the snow and "very high winds" was making the search operation tough, but they planned to stay until all the bodies had been recovered.

The wreckage of the airline was spotted on a 13,500ft (4,100m) mountain by a search plane on Thursday.

Photos from Nato showed the plane had broken into four pieces and was scattered across the mountainside, the Associated Press reports.

Three Britons and one American were among the 6 foreigners on board.

Pamir Airways is one of Afghanistan's private carriers and operates mainly domestic routes across the country.
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4 soldiers, 60 Taliban killed in Orakzai clash

Aerial bombardment has been used in addition to ground operations in the fight against militants in Orakzai.
At least 60 Taliban and four soldiers were killed in clashes between the security forces and Taliban, military sources said on Wednesday.

More than 200 Taliban attacked a security post in Dabori area of Orakzai Agency on Wednesday, in which 4 soldiers were killed and 20 injured. The attack set off a clash between the security personnel and Taliban, in which at least 60 Taliban were killed and 70 others injured, military sources said.

The sources said that the Taliban first launched rocket propelled grenades at the security forces check-post and then opened gunfire, adding that the forces quickly responded and repulsed the attack after a fierce battle, which lasted for around 3 hours.

Also on Wednesday, jet fighters bombed Taliban hideouts in Dabori area, killing 5 Taliban and injuring several others. 3 Taliban hideouts were also destroyed in the airstrikes.

The clashes came as US National Security Adviser Jim Jones and CIA director Leon Panetta are in Pakistan to urge the government to step up pressure on terrorist groups following a botched car-bombing in New York’s Time Square.

Over 700 terrorists have been killed during the past 2 months in the military operation against the Taliban in the Tribal Areas, official sources said.

The military had increased its attacks in Orakzai and Khyber in recent weeks after largely clearing Taliban strongholds in other areas.
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Suicide Bomber Attacks U.S. Convoy in Kabul

U.S. soldiers carried a body at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul on Tuesday.
A man driving a Toyota minivan laden with explosives steered into an American convoy on Tuesday morning and set off his payload, killing at least 10 people, including 5 Americans, and wounding 47 more, nearly all of them civilians caught in rush-hour traffic in the Afghan capital.

The blast scattered body parts for 200 feet, as the wounded, many of them women and children, some without limbs, lay in the road moaning for help.

In a passenger bus, an Afghan woman lay dead in her seat, cut in half, with her squirming baby still in her arms. Fifty yards away, a man’s head lay on the hood of a truck.

“I just dove on the ground to try to save myself,” said Mafouz Mahmoodi, an Afghan police officer. “And then I got up, and I saw the terrible scene.”

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack in a posting on its Website, saying the group had dispatched a young man named Nizamuddin, a resident of Kabul. The Taliban said that Nizamuddin carried 1,500 pounds of explosives in his van.

It seemed likely that the bomber had cruised the city for some time searching for a target.

It was the worst such attack in Kabul in many weeks. The insurgency is a largely rural phenomenon in a largely rural country, and on most days the capital is quiet. Tuesday morning, it was not.

The attack came shortly before President Hamid Karzai prepared to speak to the press. Mr. Karzai had just returned from meeting with President Obama in Washington. The Karzai government is preparing, with the Americans and their NATO allies, to launch a major offensive around the southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban’s spiritual home.

A fireball went up after the attack as cars and trucks burned. Body parts and pieces of metal were scattered along the road, and the driver of a minibus was seen slumped dead at the wheel of his vehicle.

Two United States military helicopters arrived quickly at the scene and took away the American casualties. A large unit of American troops also arrived and sealed off the site.

“I got to the scene right afterward, and people were calling, ‘Help me, help me,’” said an ambulance driver, Yusef Tahiri, who evacuated six dead and two wounded. “There were body parts everywhere.”‘

He said an Afghan soldier approached him with a large red trash bag and said, “This is a bag of brains. What do you want me to do with this? Do you want me to bury it or do you want to take it?”

Abdul Hafiz, a guard at a nearby veterinary hospital, saw the explosion and ran into the street. “It was very dangerous,” he said. “It was very horrible.”

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Thai red-shirts commander dies of head injury

Chief military adviser to anti-government protesters, Khattiya Sawasdipol, died on Monday morning, Thai News Agency reported.

His death at 09:20 a.m. local time was confirmed by the Vajira Hospital. Major General Khattiya was admitted there for treatment after being shot in the head at a rally site nearby the Silom Road -- the business area -- in central Bangkok. He was shot in the head, while talking to journalists inside the perimeter of the protest zone on Thursday.

Troops started to seal off the anti-government "red-shirts" fortified encampment late on Thursday (May 13), prompting fierce clashes in which the renegade Khattiya, was shot by an unknown gunman.

The death toll from clashes between the red-shirt protesters and troops over the past four days has risen to 35, according to the Erawan emergency centre of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Monday morning.

The centre said 241 people were wounded since fresh clashes broke out in Thai capital Bangkok on Thursday evening.

The clashes occurred as the government led by prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva resoluted to seal off the red-shirt-occupied Rathchaprason Intersection, where the anti-government protesters have been camped out since early April, demanding Abhisit to dissolve the lower house of parliament and hold snap election.
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16 dead in bloody street battles in Bangkok

An anti-government demonstrator throws a cement block at fire trucks in downtown Bangkok
Clashes between anti-government protestors and Thai troops have claimed 16 dead and left dozens wounded in 2 days of fighting that has turned the heart of the capital into a war zone, official sources said Saturday.

The government on Thursday launched an offensive against the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to force them from their protest site at Ratchaprasong Road, Bangkok’s upmarket commercial district. It escalated into bloody street battles to secure all access points to the area Friday.

According to Bangkok Metropolitan Medical Centre, 16 civilians died and 141 sustained wounds, including 3 journalists, in street fighting Thursday and Friday. Troops used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition against protestors mostly armed with Molotov cocktails, stones and sticks .

Fighting was reported Friday night at Ratchaprasop and Din Daeng roads where troops had set up barricades to prevent red shirt protestors from joining the UDD leaders at Ratchaprasong.

There are an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 red shirts within the protest site, now a sprawling city within the city, which is protected by barricades of tyres and sharpened bamboo sticks.

Roads surrounding the Ratchaprasong district have been closed to traffic by troops.

UDD leaders have pledged to remain at the site, even if it leads to civil war. The movement, which claims to be fighting for democracy and a better deal for the long-neglected rural and urban poor, has many supporters in the countryside.

The UDD has occupied the Ratchaprasong neighbourhood since April 3, in a bid to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and hold elections.

On May 3, Mr. Abhisit agreed to hold an election on November 14 and to set up a national reconciliation road map to address some of the social issues raised by the UDD protest and pave the way for peaceful polls on the condition that the UDD end its protest.

But the UDD insisted that Mr. Abhisit and his deputy Prime Minister in charge of security, Suthep Thaugsuban, be legally accountable for a previous crackdown on its followers on April 10, which left 25 dead.

Since the UDD protest began on March 12, a total of 45 people have died in clashes and attacks, and more than 1,000 have been injured.

The last time the country witnessed such violence was in May 1992, when an anti-military demonstration was mowed down by soldiers, leaving 44 dead and more than 100 missing.
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Times Square probe: three arrested in raids

FBI investigators enter a home in Watertown, Massachusetts, Thursday, May 13, 2010.
Federal investigators conducted raids on Thursday in 3 north-eastern states in connection with the probe into the botched car bombing of Times Square in New York.

Federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that search warrants were exercised in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts in hunt of leads in the case arising from the attempt to explode a vehicle earlier this month in New York City’s landmark shopping and entertainment centre.

“We can confirm that search warrants have been executed in several locations in the north—east in connection with the investigation into the attempted Times Square bombing,” authorities said in a joint statement.

3 people found during the raids were arrested on suspicion of immigration status violations, the FBI said.

The raids were conducted based on evidence arising from the Times Square probe but “do not relate to any known immediate threat to the public or active plot against the United States,” the statement said.

Searches took place in the Boston area and in Watertown and Brookline, Massachusetts, and on New York’s Long Island, as well as in New Jersey.

A car crammed with fuel, fireworks and other flammable substances was left on May 1 in Times Square but did not detonate. It was discovered by police after witnesses noticed smoke emitting from the sport—utility vehicle.

A naturalized US citizen from Pakistan, Faisal Shahzad, was arrested 2 days later awaiting takeoff on an airliner leaving the country. He has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the Times Square incident, and has reportedly been cooperating with law enforcement.

Shahzad has apparently admitted his role in planting the would-be car bomb in Times Square and described having received bomb—making training from militants in Pakistan, where he had recently visited before the attempted attack.

In Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder mentioned the investigation in testimony to a congressional committee.

“When questioned by federal agents, (Shahzad) provided useful information. We now believe that the Pakistan Taliban was responsible for the attempted attack,” Holder said Thursday.

“We are currently working with the authorities in Pakistan on this investigation, and we will use every resource available to make sure that anyone found responsible, whether they be in the United States or overseas, is held accountable. This attempted attack is a sober reminder that we face aggressive and determined enemies.”
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Dutch child is lone survivor of Libya plane crash that kills 105

A Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 from South Africa disintegrated on landing at Tripoli airport, killing 105people, but leaving a Dutch child as the sole miracle survivor,on Wednesday.

Libyan transport minister Mohammed Ali Zidan said the survivor is in hospital. The Dutch foreign ministry said at The Hague that the child was undergoing surgery at the al-Sabia hospital for broken bones.

Afriqiyah Airways said 58 Dutch passengers, six South Africans, two Britons, two Libyans, two Austrians, one German, one French national and one Zimbabwean were on board.

The nationalities of 19 other passengers has not yet been confirmed but the airline said the 11 crew were all Libyan.

A statement on the airline's website said: "Afriqiyah Airways confirms as per the information received from the Libyan authorities the death of the 103 passengers on board flight 8U771 from Johannesburg to Tripoli May 12, 2010. Only one survived the accident (a Dutch child)."

The Foreign Office said Afriqiyah Airways Flight 8U771 from Johannesburg had been due to land at 0610 local time (0410 GMT) and the plane crashed close to the airport.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Libyan officials have informed us that Afriqiyah Flight 8U771 from Johannesburg crashed at Tripoli International Airport.

"Afriqiyah Airways have set up a helpline for those concerned about relatives."
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Seven killed, 20 injured in attack at China kindergarten

At least seven young children died and 20 others were wounded on Wednesday after an attack at a kindergarten in northern China's Shaanxi province, the state media said.

The dead children were 'hacked to death' in the early morning attack at the kindergarten in Nanzheng county near Shaanxi's Hanzhong city, Liu Xiaoming, a local publicity official, told the government's Xinhua news agency.

At least 20 other people were injured in the attack, the agency said without giving details.

'The injured have been rushed to hospital,' it quoted Mr. Liu as saying.

The attack is the latest of several similar incidents at Chinese primary schools and kindergartens, including three on consecutive days in late April.
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Russia's Medvedev creates commission, urges investigation in coalmine blasts

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday instructed First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov to fly to the scene of a coal mine in west Siberia after two blasts killed at least 32 people to manage cleanup efforts.

More than 70 people were also injured and 58 others still unaccounted for after 2 explosions hit the mine, near the town of Mezhdurechensk in the Kemerovo Region, in the space of 4 hours late on Saturday and early on Sunday.

"On my instructions, the government has created a special commission, which will be headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Zubkov," Medvedev said during a videoconference in the president's Situation Room with key ministers and rescue workers, adding: "I instruct you [Zubkov] to fly to Kemerovo Region to control the process on the spot."

Medvedev also instructed Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to begin investigations into the cause of the blasts in the Raspadskaya mine and to find those responsible for the disaster.

"Investigations need to be held within the frameworks of the criminal case, understand how well the law on worker safety was followed," Medvedev said.

Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu is already at the mine controlling rescue efforts.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said earlier the state would pay one million rubles (just over $33,000) to the families of the deceased. He also said those people who suffered serious injuries would receive 400,000 rubles and people with less serious injuries 200,000 rubles.

"We will utilize all measures so that all rescue operations are equipped and that the family members of those killed or missing get appropriate help," Zubkov told the president during the meeting.
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Eight killed in Siberia coal mine blast

At least 8 miners were killed and more than 60 were trapped underground after a methane explosion occurred inside a coal mine in Russia's west Siberian region late Saturday night, the emergency situations ministry said.

The explosion took place at 8.55 p.m. Moscow time (1655 GMT) Saturday at the Raspadskaya coal mine in Kemerovo, when at least 359 people were inside, emergencies official Yelena Kalabushkina was quoted as saying by Xinhua Sunday.

After the explosion, 282 miners were rescued by relief workers, Natalya Anayeva, a spokesperson for the Investigative Committee of Russian Prosecutor General's Office, was quoted as saying.

Rescuers from 12 teams have established contact with some of the trapped miners.

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu has briefed President Dmitry Medvedev on measures adopted to save the miners.

"Medvedev ordered the Emergencies Ministry head to report about the rescue efforts and use every opportunity to rescue people," the Kremlin press service said.

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has also discussed the situation with regional governor Aman Tuleyev.

Founded in 1973, the Raspadskaya coal mine is one of Russia's leading coal producers, with total coal reserves estimated at 782 million tonnes.

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Clashes hit Nepal 'peace rally' in Kathmandu

Police fired teargas as clashes broke out between Maoist supporters and demonstrators at a "peace rally" to protest against the Maoist strike.

In the first rally of its kind, about 30,000 people gathered in Nepal's capital Kathmandu to demand an end to the Maoist-enforced shutdown.

The rally was organised by the business community and civil society groups.

The Maoist strike has entered its sixth day and has affected transport, businesses and schools across Nepal.

The BBC's Joanna Jolly in Kathmandu says the protest indicates that the Maoists may have not been able to capture the hearts and minds of ordinary people in Kathmandu.

The Maoists want the government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to stand down, arguing that it has no popular support.

They say the government has not consolidated Nepal's peace process and has failed to draft a new constitution.

The prime minister has said he will consider stepping down, but only if the Maoists pursue their demands through dialogue and meet certain conditions.

These include resolving who would lead a government of national unity, disbanding the Maoist paramilitary wing and returning property they seized during their 10-year conflict with the state.
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Ash cloud to close some Scottish airports

Lava and ash explode out of the caldera of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano April 22, 2010.

Airports in a few parts of Scotland are set to close again because of risks from a rise in volcanic ash levels.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said no flights would be permitted from Glasgow, Prestwick and Campbeltown between 0700 BST and 1900 BST.

However, airports in Edinburgh will stay open and Inverness airport is set to be closed in the morning only.

The CAA warned the situation "remains changeable" and advised passengers to ensure with airports before travelling.

No-flight restrictions are also expected to be introduced between 0700 BST and 1900 BST at Stornoway, Benbecula, Tiree, Islay and Barra in the Hebrides.

The situation in the skies has been varying almost hour by hour, meaning the picture for air travelers is unclear.

Emergency committee

Forecasts show the 60 nautical-mile buffer zone imposed around high concentrations of ash is close to a few northern airports.

However, the latest opinion issued by the CAA at 0200 BST said airports in Edinburgh and north-west England could safely stay open on Wednesday, despite the proximity of the ash.

In a statement, the CAA said: "The situation remains changeable, so passengers expecting to travel from airports in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the north of England and north Wales should contact their airlines to check whether their flight is operating."

The Scottish government has reactivated the emergency response committee which was formed in the wake of the flight chaos caused by the Eyjafjallajokull ash cloud last month, which left thousands of Scots stranded abroad.

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney said the situation remained unpredictable and had the potential to cause further disruption.

He added: "I appreciate that people will feel inconvenienced, some frustrated, at any further cancellations but I hope they will understand the need to follow the precautionary principle that the overriding consideration must be to ensure their safety."

Flights to and from the west coast islands of Tiree, Islay, Barra and Benbecula, and Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula, were affected by the ash on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.
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