02/05/2014 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today with me Philippa Thomas.


In Ukraine today, deadly violence in the east and south. There's a


standoff in Sloviansk, where the Ukrainian military has encircled the


rebels but they're still holding the city centre. Two Ukrainian soldiers


were also killed and two helicopters brought down.


And in the southern port city of Odessa, at least three people have


been killed during clashes between protestors for links with Russia and


those for Ukrainian unity. It is obvious to the world that these


Russian groups are not just protesters. They are heavily and


militants who are receiving significant support from Russia.


Around 500 are feared dead as a landslide buries a village in the


north east of Afghanistan. Also coming up: dozens arrested in


the Philippines for luring Internet users into explicit sex acts and


then blackmailing them with the images.


And imagine a gospel according to Mary - we visit the London stage


production that breathes life into a character rarely given a voice. The


church downgraded her to almost silence, to acceptance, to


passivity. This may be seen as lovely virtues in the female form.


Hello and welcome. Rebels in eastern Ukraine have suffered heavy losses


according to a statement from Ukraine's acting president - who


says Kiev's forces have taken control of a number of checkpoints


during today's military operation against pro-Russian activists in the


eastern city of Sloviansk. But government forces have also taken


losses. Two Ukrainian helicopters have been shot down by what Kiev


says appeared to be surface-to-air missiles, with two crew dead.


Meanwhile, in Odessa, at least three people are said to have been killed


and many others injured through clashes with pro-Russian militants


and supporters of the country's unity. More on that in a minute but


first, our Special Correspondent Fergal Keane got to the outskirts of


Sloviansk and this is his report. This was the rebels answer to the


government's offensive, missiles that downed helicopters. These were


the instruments of state power. Two were brought crashing to the


ground, two pilots killed. Here, a wounded crew member is helped by the


rebels who captured him. It was an image that seemed to define a day in


which the government yet again struggled in the face of determined


opposition. The militants had been waiting for some move by the state.


This, the masked face of well-prepared insurgency. Don't


stand behind me, this gunman warns. Here, petrol bombs are being


prepared, ammunition brought forward. And a promise of fire down


the road any soldiers might come. It was here on this bridge that


Ukraine's army was confronted by its own citizens. Helicopters deployed


troops onto the strategic crossing six miles from Sloviansk. But the


people refused to allow them across. Firing in the air, they tried to


push on but it simply increased the emotion. This elderly man was


treated for shock. But as the stalemate on the bridge deep end, we


found a mood of defiance. I am prepared to take the gun if I need


to for my land. You understand me? The soldiers were nervous, far from


Kiev and the government that is giving them orders. You don't seem


very in control here? What is happening? Pointing to the


protesters, he told us, they are the people. The atmosphere on the bridge


remains very tense. There is not an appetite for any more confrontation


from the troops and there is a great deal of anger for the pro Russian


supporters. No -- neither side knows where this is leading.


Let's get the latest on this from the BBC's Sarah Rainsford, who's in


Donetsk. Sarah, is it your understanding that the military


operation is continuing? Yes, certainly that is what both sides


are saying. There is a statement from the pro-Russian forces inside


Sloviansk and they are confirming they have suffered some casualties,


talking about 3 million share and two civilians being killed and


fortified checkpoints being taken over. They say they are building new


check point inside the city as they prepare for another assault by the


Ukrainian military. We have also heard from the interior minister,


talking about what has been happening. He described military


operation as a necessary action. He said, we couldn't not act but we


needed to act carefully. We need to act carefully. Underlining the very


delicate situation that the government is enough it begins the


launch of this military operation, anxious to reassert its control in


Ukraine but nervous about sparking a reaction from Russian troops on the


border, as Russia said they would intervene if they felt their


citizens were in any danger. Thank you.


In the last couple of hours, President Obama and the German


Chancellor, Angela Merkel, have been speaking at the White House about


the Ukraine crisis and urging Russia to take more action to de-escalate


the situation. It is obvious to the world that these Russian backed


groups are not peaceful protesters. They are heavily armed militants who


are receiving significant support from Russia. The Ukrainian


government has the right and responsibility to withhold law and


order within its territory and Russia needs to use its influence to


make these groups disarm and stop promoting -- stop provoking


violence. But Russia's Minister proclaimed that the people of


Ukraine are standing up for themselves. The most striking and


irritating thing is that the requirements of the people in the


east of the country are very simple. They are in a situation


where there is an illegitimate government in the capital, very much


representative of radical elements and people wanted guarantees of


their right, they wanted federalisation. Over a very long


period of time, perhaps two months after the toppling of the legitimate


government, no one took up weapons, at least for a month and a half.


They were waiting for a construct of response from Kiev regarding their


requirements to ensure their legitimate interests.


With me is John Lough, an associate fellow on the Russia and Eurasia


Programme at Chatham House. Clearly an military battle now and still


that battle of propaganda. A proper -- a problem for the Russian --


Ukrainian military is that they want to see if they can assert control


without provoking Russia. That is right. As you just spoke about and


that report, the danger is that a peacekeeping force will come over


the border. At the same time, the Ukrainian military's capacities are


limited so how successful they could be his questionable. What do you


think of President Putin's strategy here? From what we can see, Russia


wants to prevent the election taking place in Ukraine, thus meaning it


would delegitimise a new leader. That would put pressure on Kiev to


agree to reformatting of Ukraine as a country, giving the regions are


much enhanced autonomy, allowing eastern regions to gravitate away


from Kiev, undermining the independence of the country. So the


strategy is not so much to go in and be seen to go in and an incursion as


to make the east ungovernable customer I think that is the intent.


It would be very dangerous if they invaded, as it would probably


unleash war. They wouldn't want to do that. The danger is that they are


escalating the situation in the east of the country and it could get


beyond their control. We saw President Obama and Angela Merkel


talking there but what can they do? The sanctions have been levied. They


could put more sanctions in, stop Russia having access to


international finance. That would have a very marked effect on the


Russian economy. It is something of a nuclear option. It would tip them


immediately into recession. But I do not see any immediate hunger for


that because it would have an effect on the rest of the West as well.


Briefly, is there any other way to de-escalate the situation from


outside? At the moment, I don't see any immediate way of doing that. We


have to hope that the Russians will accept that there are extreme


dangers involved here and they may have to come involved in appeasing


-- peacekeeping way. As many as 500 people are missing,


feared dead, after heavy rains triggered a major landslide in


Afghanistan. A UN spokesman in the country says they died after a hill


collapsed on the village of Hobo Barik in the remote northeastern


province of Badakshan. Local government officials are appealing


for help, including special equipment to help them dig through


the mud. Let's get more from our correspondent who is following


events from Kabul. David, there are various figures for the numbers


missing, feared dead. What are you hearing? I appreciate it is hard to


know this far-flung region. Hard facts are very few and far between


on the ground but we do know that 350 bodies have been confirmed found


in the mud when this huge landslide came down and engulfed not one but


two villages, wrecking 300 houses, threatening 700 more. It is, as you


say, the most remote part of the country. It is the finger of


Afghanistan that stretches up towards the Chinese border in the


north-east. Badakhshan is mountainous, there are deep ravines


and high mountains. It is inaccessible and in a country where


there are many mountainous and desert regions which are hard to get


to, Badakhshan really is the most inaccessible part of the country.


The government -- the governor of the province has told us that he


believed some 2000 people could be missing. There was a wedding going


on in one of the villages, it was a Friday morning, so those that work


away from the village would have been away so those attending the


wedding will have been caught up in this natural disaster. This follows


many days of very heavy rain. We had 150 people killed in the north of


the country last week in floods and bass heavy rain caused the mountain


to collapse downwards. The first pictures which are coming in from


the area show rescuers digging with shovels and their bare hands. Local


rescue officials are saying they need heavy machinery to come in to


see if they can find survivors, miraculously, hidden in the mud. As


we saw in the United States recently, it is very hard to find


people in thick mud settling down in an area like this. The UN have got


teams on the ground and the international forces here say they


stand ready to help if the request comes from the Afghan government.


President Obama has expressed his solidarity with the Afghan people,


calling this a tragedy, and saying the international forces will be


what they can but at the moment, it is just individuals with picks and


shovels trying to find whether there are any survivors under this huge


mudslide. Thank you. The Nigerian capital Abuja has again


been hit by a bomb blast, which has killed at least 19 people, injuring


60 more. The car bomb targeted a busy bus station in the suburbs


which was hit by another deadly explosion last month. The Islamist


militant group, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility. Our correspondent,


Will Ross, reports from the scene. Scenes of chaos on the outskirts of


the Nigerian capital. A man was seen parking a car here and walking away.


Seconds later, the bomb exploded. Is molested extremists -- Islamist


extremists said they carried out the attack. This is the spot where the


car was detonated, overhear the wreckage of other cars which were


loaned out. The great shop here is that this is the second blast in


less than two weeks and people here are wondering why they are being


targeted. In hospitals across the capital, the injured are getting


help. Reza tells me she was waiting for a lift home with a friend when


the bomb exploded. There was fire everywhere and she said she was


thrown to the ground by a nearby car. She has no idea if her friend


survived. Security is getting worst -- worse in Nigeria. These are the


parents of the 200 girls missing after being abducted last month.


They are angry the government has not done enough to rescue the girls.


At the bomb site, foreign forensic teams have come to help with


investigations but feeling vulnerable, many people want to know


what is being done to prevent another attack. This city is due to


hold a huge event, the world economic Forum, next week with heads


of state coming here from all over the world. With results as --


relentless violence in the north-east and now bomb blast,


perhaps it is now time for everyone to admit the strength of the crisis


in Nigeria. Now a look at some of the days other


news. Northern Ireland's Republican party Sinn Fein says police in the


province are asking a judge for more time to question its leader, Gerry


Adams, in connection with one of the most notorious murders of Northern


Ireland's Troubles. Jean McConville, a mother of ten, was shot by the IRA


in 1972. Mr Adams, who denies any involvement, volunteered for


questioning almost 48 hours ago. A truce has been agreed between


Syrian government forces and rebels in the besieged city of Homs. It


allows opposition fighters to withdraw from their positions.


Around 1,000 fighters are expected to leave the city over the next 48


hours. The US Secretary of State, John


Kerry, says the South Sudanese president has agreed to hold peace


talks with his bitter rival Riek Machar. The talks between Salva Kiir


and his former deputy could take place as early as next week.


Here in Britain the celebrity publicist Max Clifford is beginning


an eight year jail sentence tonight for a string of indecent assaults


against young girls and women in the 1970s and 80s. It's a longer


sentence than many expected, but the judge told Clifford that he was


wrong to assume his position in the entertainment world meant he was


untouchable. Police in the Philippines say they


have arrested dozens of suspects linked to an online sexual blackmail


syndicate. In a case relating to what some describe as sextortion 58


people have been arrested, alleged to have persuaded people to expose


themselves in front of webcams, or to send explicit material. Demands


for between ?500 and ?15,000 dollars were made with threats to send the


compromising images to the victims' relatives or friends.


It took place from call-centre style offices on what Interpol


investigators described as an industrial scale. There were


hundreds of victims in Hong Kong and Singapore.


People in the Philippines, the United States and United Kingdom


were also targeted. Among the victims, investigators say, was the


Scottish teenager Daniel Perry who committed suicide last July.


Jim Gamble is the former head of a specialist British police unit the


Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and now runs his


own internet security company tackling a range of issues including


so-called sexploitation cases. He joins us from Belfast.


Welcome to the programme. Tell us what your take is on the industrial


nature of this very systematic exploitation. It is a blend of


grooming techniques that you will see from those people who seek out


children to offend against them online and actually traditional


criminal techniques where conmen for years and years have laboured


vulnerable and susceptible individuals. I am not surprised that


it is industrial. It is almost a call Centre of days gone by when you


would have phoned the sex lines they are able to go online to social


media sites and dating sites and identify men who are either


vulnerable would because of their age, either very young or very old


or because they are out and seeking some kind of sexual engagement so it


must be like shooting fish in a barrel for these criminals. When


they get these men and engage them in a conversation where the men


think they are talking to attractive young women, they are all too quick


to expose themselves in what they think is some form of sexual


gratification and then they are caught, trapped. Is this kind of


Sting, it has been uncovered in the Philippines, are the Philippines a


centre for this kind of abuse) I do not think the Philippines


necessarily. South East Asia has a range of factors apparent within it


around the vulnerability of some groups where we have seen travelling


sex offenders go there in the past. There has been a perception I think


wrongly held by some where police corruption lends itself to people


getting away with this but the police in the Philippines have shown


that there is a real collaborative effort here to identify and locate


and hold these people to account. Let us go to basics. A young boy,


Daniel Perry, was exploited and blackmailed and he took his own


life. What to Police Scotland have done should be applauded, they have


set an example for other police services to follow and they have


relentlessly and ruthlessly pursued the individuals the whole way to the


Philippines to hold them to account to what they did to this young


Scottish man. I must say this is that it is the kind of deterrent


that we need to see, it is a real deterrent that sees 58 people


arrested. If you are listening to this programme tonight and you have


been seduced by one of these exploited groups, please talk to the


police. Once you hand over any financial details and you pay


someone, it never goes away. These people will bleed you and drain you


dry and you might think you can keep it a secret but one day the police


and the Philippines or elsewhere around the world will discover some


of these organisations and they will get into the computer that they have


and your photographs and names will come out anyway. Think about it, the


right time to come forward is when somebody tries to exploit you. Go to


talk to the police, where ever you are, and put the fear where it


belongs, in the predator, so they do not come online looking for people


to exploit for their own financial gain. That is a very important


discussion to have. Jim Gamble in the Belfast, thank you.


She is worshipped, she is an icon of womanhood, but we rarely hear her


words. Now a stage production of Colm Toibin's novel The Testament Of


Mary gives the world's most famous mother a voice. The Virgin Mary is


played in a 90 minute one-woman performance by the actor Fiona Shaw


at London's Barbican Centre. Kasia Madera has been speaking to Shaw and


her producer Deborah Warner. We sat there for a while in silence


because they were afraid of the word. Crucified. I said, yes. Yes.


And that Mary spoke, but it will be a new beginning. I would say the


intention is to open up the imagination of someone without a


religious act dash-mac whip dash-mac without a religious imagination or


with. You open it up to a different keyhole and you see a different


landscape, different and yet familiar. It lets you see something


that you know in a new way. The crucifixion is a scene that is so


well-known. How do you dramatise it. The items that she lives with now.


She lives in a room with the necessary items to prompt her


memory. She has a crown of thorns which is made out of barbed wire.


She has the large nails of the cross. Sponges. It is amazing how


domestic the death of that man was. I grasped. I saw the cross. Given


that she is so iconic and she is such a mythical creature now, this


story is so well-known, it is so important to so many different


people. By playing it in such a way, by making the figure of Mary so


ordinary, are you downplaying it? She does not speak often. If she was


ever downgraded, the Church downgraded her to almost silence, to


acceptance, to passivity. All of this may be seen as lovely virtues


in the female form but if God came to earth as a man, then there is


always a limitation of identity if he is only a man. There has to be


also the female side of that theology. I dream to my son came


back to life it was dawn. We dream to that we were sleeping. There were


left trees in the distance but nothing close by and there was no


sound. We were woken by the sound of water gargling up from the earth and


I put my hand down to see if it was real. Then I heard Mary Garst


because the water seems to be gushing out over the well and then I


saw him. He was rising with the water. He seems -- his hands, his


feet, his forehead where their form and been, there were blue marks,


open and gaping -- where the thorns had been. Mary held him as the water


delivered in. She laid him across my lap. Fiona Shaw giving us The


Testament Of Mary. A final story. Twin sisters who have spent almost


80 years apart have been reunited. They were separated as babies when


one was put up for adoption. Their unmarried mother was in domestic


service and could not afford to keep both girls. The women met in


California after the longest period of separation ever recorded for


twins. A reminder of our main news: Ukraine


says pro-Russian militants have suffered what it called heavy losses


during the government operation against the insurgent-controlled


city of Sloviansk. Ukrainian forces are reported to


have taken control of a number of checkpoints around the city. There


have also been losses on the Ukrainian side. Thank you for being


with us. Hello. It has been a cloudy day


today and the cloud will continue to melt away tonight and it will turn


cold. There will be patches of frost developing overnight even


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