30/10/2013 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today with me, Katya Adler.


Controversy amid the celebration as four Frenchmen return home from Mali


where they were held at gunpoint for three years.


The men were captured by Al-Qaeda militants and held hostage in the


Sahara desert. Did France pay a multi-million dollar ransom for


their release? Chinese police now call Monday's car


crash in Tiananmen Square a terrorist attack. Five people are


arrested. Also coming up. Rare video from the


front line in Syria, evidence that Iranian soldiers are supporting


Assad's forces despite Tehran's denials.


And the stars of British and Irish music await the winner of this


year's Mercury Prize. Could David Bowie become the oldest winner yet?


We will take a look at the nominees.


Fellow and welcome. The French government has denied that a


multi-million dollar ransom has been paid for the release of four men who


were held hostage by gunmen linked to Al-Qaeda leader. They were


kidnapped three years ago in the north of Niger were a French company


runs a uranium mine. A French newspaper claims the French


government handed over $27 million for their release.


They spent over 1000 days in captivity, in constant fear of their


lives in the baking heat of the African desert. Their wives and


loved ones have lived every day of that torment. Their homecoming was a


tearful celebration for them and, perhaps, for the whole country. They


have followed every twist of this story. When Thierry Dol, Daniel


Larribe, Pierre Legrand, Marc Feret were seized in the northern -- in a


Northern town of Niger, Francois Hollande was still a minor


politician. These negotiations have been long, difficult and intense, he


says. We must express gratitude to the president of Niger. We now have


to win the release of the other still being held. On the first night


of freedom, the men slept on the floor, said the foreign minister, it


will take time to readjust. The questions motoring to how their


release was secured. The newspaper Le Monde says 20 million euros was


paid from a secret fund. But report echoes earlier comments from a


member of the family 's group that a ransom was paid. At least seven


other French hostages are being held by Al-Qaeda linked groups. President


Hollande has said his government does not ransom hostages.


As we heard there, the homecoming of these four men was some welcome news


for Francois Hollande on what is otherwise a miserable week for the


French leader. He's now officially the most


unpopular French president on record. His approval rating stands


at just 26 per cent according to the latest BVA poll, the worst score for


a French leader since it began polling 32 years ago.


French political commentator Anne-Elisabeth Moutet joins me from


Paris. What is going so wrong for him? He


has slapped many taxes on the French, and they have been


increasingly badly received. First, there was a feeling he was taxing


the rich, then a feeling he was taxing the entire middle classes. He


does not seem to be able to make his mind up about practically anything.


The only evidence of decisiveness was when he went to war when Marley


was threatened by jihadists. -- Mali. Le Monde, which are not -


which is not newspaper on the right, is saying a ransom has been paid.


Do you think that is credible? Officially, it no longer pays ransom


is, the French government that is. Would he be so desperate? In one


word, yes, I think this is something they have been considering for weeks


and months. There is the real tragedy of the hostages, but it is


well known that we have always paid. France does now that part of Africa


are quite well but it would have been part of genital negotiations.


Tipping the balance would always have had to happen. We are looking


at these disastrous poll ratings for Francois Hollande, but is this not


actually more of a crisis for French politics in general? Or middle of


the road politics. President Sarkozy, just before he left power,


he had 30% approval rating. The National front is doing incredibly


well. Is this a general crisis in French politics? There certainly is


a general crisis in mainstream politics. President Sarkozy was


unpopular, yes, but for different reasons. But Francois Hollande, even


in his own party, he is being increasingly questioned, by the left


of his party as well. He is questioned by his green allies. But


mostly, he is questioned by everyone because he is incapable of sticking


to a decision. Whether it is the 75% supertax, or the ecological tax


which was withdrawn last weekend, or the tax on savings, or any kind of


decision. He looks at things and if it does not work too well, it is not


even scientific, he will take things back. He was a fairly efficient head


of our party when the party was in a position. But this republic is not


geared for compromise. You always have to bang your fist on the


table. I am sorry to interrupt, it was a pleasure to talk to you.


Return to China. China's national broadcaster, CCTV, says police have


confirmed that the calf ration - car crash and fire in Tiananmen


Square on Monday was a terrorist attack. Five suspects have now been


arrested. It is now clear this was no accident


but a terrorist attack say Chinese police. They say the Jeep was driven


by a man, his wife and his mother who deliberately crashed the vehicle


and died when the ignited petrol inside it. Two tourists also lost


their lives. After the incident in Tiananmen Square, police cleared


away the evidence. They now say the vehicle had licence plates licensed


in the western region of Xinjiang and they found knives and a banner


inside it. Five suspects have been arrested. They were detained within


hours of it happening. In Beijing, there are still extra police checks


in place. The name police have given for the driver of the Jeep indicates


he may be from China's minority Uighur people. There is a fielder


mean OBR security clamp-down in Xinjiang. -- there is a fear there


may be a security clamp-down. Alim Seytoff is a spokesman for the World


Uighur Congress. He joins me from Washington.


Was this a terror attack by the Uighur minority? We are not exactly


sure of what took place. The Chinese government claims this was a


terrorist attack, but without independent evidence, it cannot be


accepted as fact. In the past, the Chinese government have attempted to


link Uighurs with acts of terrorism. On the day, when foreign news


agencies went to report, they were detained by Chinese police. This was


a terror crime scene, that the government claimed the scene


immediately. -- cleaned. So far the government is saying... Sorry, the


government is now saying that in the car they found extremist banners and


knives and that the three people in the car, their names suggest that


they could have been from the Uighur men are pretty -- from the Uighur


minority. Yes, the name suggests that the meal is a Uighur -- male is


a Uighur, but this raises more questions than answers. Why would a


man bring his own wife and his mother to do such an act? If he did,


there were witnesses that he was honking his horn while he drove into


the crowd. The Chinese government claimed that they found jihadist


banners in the car. But the whole car was burned and individuals


inside burned to death, and we are surprised that a banner survived


such a fire. Questions are being raised. Briefly, could you just tell


us a little bit about the Uighur minority. There is definitely an


rest in the western province where the Uighur are half the population.


Yes, there have been a lot of protests against the Chinese


government's brutal rule. In one instance, in July of 2009, Chinese


security forces attacked and killed hundreds of Uighurs. Unfortunately,


Chinese also died and the government called it a terrorist incident. The


Chinese government used 9/11 to crackdown on the Uighur people,


labelling of eager people as terrorists. -- Uighur people. Since


the new president took power, several hundred Uighur people have


been executed. The Chinese government's ethnic policies have


basically failed but instead of addressing the legitimate grievances


of the Uighur people, the government has introduced more depression and


pointing -- more repression and pointing the finger of blame at the


Uighur people. The court in London where two former editors of a


British tabloid newspaper are facing charges related to phone-hacking has


been told that three journalists on the same paper - the now-defunct


News of the World - have pleaded guilty to similar charges. Rebekah


Brooks, and David Cameron's ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson, are accused of


conspiring to intercept telephone voicemails. A warning, this report


from Tom Symonds contains flash photography.


Former tabloid editor, former media executive. For Rebekah Brooks the


fight for her reputation and possibly her liberty has started for


real. Andy Coulson, once a spokesman for David Cameron, arrived


separately. But Rebekah Brooks was seated alongside Andy Coulson in the


dock. Some defendants were accused of phone hacking, some of paying


public officials for stories. Some from hiding evidence from police.


Rebekah Brooks was accused of all three. The prosecutor denied that


the trial would be an attack on the freedom of the press but he said


journalists were not entitled to break the law and there was no


justification for them to get involved in phone hacking. When


public officials took payments for stories, he said, it is not the same


as a conscience driven whistle-blower. Where there is a


payment there is a crime. And on allegations of hiding evidence from


police, there can be no justification for anyone interfering


with the police enquiry. The revelation in 2011 that murdered


schoolgirl Milly Dowler 's phone targeted lead to News International


admitting widespread hacking. This trial is about who knew it was going


on. The prosecution says it has built a case licking Glenn


Mulcaire, the private investigator contact that the newspaper called


on, with Ian Edmondson, a News of the World desk editor. It is claimed


his name appears in Glenn Mulcaire' notebooks. The money is followed to


the man in charge of keeping the financial records. And that the


phone hacking continued after Rebekah Brooks's successor, Andy


Coulson, took over. For the first time we can reveal that three other


journalists, Greg Miskiw, James Weatherup and Neville Thurlbeck


pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hack phones. Glenn Mulcaire has admitted


new hacking charges. The defendant left court tonight having been told


that this complex case will continue with further prosecution statements


tomorrow. Now a look at some of the day's


other news. Government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo have


captured one of the last remaining strongholds of the M23 rebel group.


Officials say the town of Bunagana on the Ugandan border is now back in


government hands. It's the latest in a string of Congolese army victories


against the M23, which took up arms last year, allegedly with Rwandan


backing. Police in Egypt have detained Essam


el-Arian, the fugitive deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's


political wing. He is expected to go on trial next Monday accused of


inciting the killing of ten protesters during clashes last


December. Mr al-Arian's detention sparked angry protests by some


students at Cairo's al-Azhar University.


President Putin has beaten President Obama to the title of Most Powerful


Person in The World, as ranked by the US business magazine, Forbes.


Its annual list penalises the American leader for what it calls


his "lame duck period" during the US government shutdown and says the


Russian president has solidified control over his country, after 12


years dominating the Kremlin. Now, to an extraordinary insight


into the role Iran is playing in the Syrian conflict. Officially, Tehran


says it is assisting Damascus by sharing its "experience" by sending


advisers from its elite Revolutionary Guards. But now we can


show you pictures of Iranian fighters on the front line. The


video was captured by an Iranian cameraman, who had been embedded


with the Revolutionary Guards. His camera was later obtained by rebels.


The BBC's Yalda Hakim has more. This story begins in September when


a group of Syrian rebels said they had captured video footage after a


battle. They said it proved that Iranians armed forces were on the


ground in Syria and supporting the Assad regime. The captured footage


was filmed by a cameraman embedded with Iranian Revolutionary Guards.


Its authenticity has been verified by BBC experts. In this segment of


the footage the cameraman is being driven to the Iranians will it in


southern Aleppo. The man sitting on the right-hand side is a


Revolutionary Guards commander. He is relaxed and humorous. But he


nevertheless has an ideological view of the Syrian conflict and the role


of Iran in it. The captured footage shows the


Iranians instructing and organising a new pro-regime militia known as


the National defence Force. But it seems the body are not just been


trained on the ground in Syria. And the Revolutionary Guards are not


just providing training. They also engage in behind the lines combat


operations. The sun rises over Aleppo. But this


will not be a peaceful day. Reports are coming in that a force of rebels


is moving in on a nearby regime stronghold known as the poultry


farm. This is a military emergency. Two truckloads of fighters head to


the poultry farm as fast as they can. There are about 40 fighters now


gathered here and all these men know that an attack is coming. The leader


leads his men out of the base to secure the right-hand flank of the


battlefields. At first glance the remaining group look well equipped


for a fight. They spot movement on the horizon. But there are far more


than just three rebels. This footage was filmed by the rebels cameraman.


It shows the rebel force both outnumbers the Iranians squad and


has much heavier weapons, including this tank. The Iranians are heading


into an ambush. The others tried to retreat but it


is too late. These are the last images that were filmed. Two days


later Revolutionary Guards commander is buried with military honours in


Iran. It is final confirmation of his important role in the


Revolutionary Guards. In spite of continued denials of military


involvement, this story has shone a light on the covert war of Iran in


Syria. Here in Britain, rock and pop stars


are right now attending the Mercury Prize ceremony, which celebrates the


best new album by a British or Irish band. Among the contenders is David


Bowie, who could become the oldest ever winner at 66.


But the favourite to scoop the award is Laura Mvula, who just a year ago


was working as a receptionist for the City of Birmingham Symphony


Orchestra. With me is Sam Wolfson, Executive Editor of the music


website Noisey.com. The Mercury Prize is seen as cutting edge. The


very new in British and Irish music and bands. Who can we expect to win


and in your opinion would they deserved to win? I think David Bowie


is in with the good shot. That is reflect off quite as safe list


overall. He probably does not need the prize-money! If you look at past


awards that money has really changed the lives of young artists at street


level. So there is a question of whether these awards are doing the


job that they should or that they claim to do, which is to be urgent


and reflective of British music It is judging process in mystery. We do


not find out who the judges are until the awards are actually handed


out. Presumably so that they do not come under pressure from individuals


or record labels. But there have been some complaints about this It


is a good idea in the sense of if you look at the Oscars and the


financial pressures put on the judges, but when the list was come


out you find it is quite a narrow group. From rock back ground,


middle-aged, Normandy. It does not seem that they could find the next


kind of new scene, the young scene on the street. Well you are an


expert on what is new in Britain and Ireland. Where did you go if you


want to hear cutting edge and the new front line? I think Kim Krool,


he is from south London and is speaking to a new wave of young


people at the moment. Swindall, that is a mixture of grime and jazz.


There are records that are proud of their political connections. And


these guys just do not seem to follow that line.


That is all from us on the programme. Next the weather. But for


now from me and the rest of the team, goodbye.


No sign of the weather settling down in the next few days. We have a


weather front crossing the country right now which has brought rain too


many areas. It is reaching the


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