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Government Compound In Falluja Retaken From IS

Iraqi government forces have retaken the main government compound in the city of Falluja from Islamic State (IS) militants, a top commander has said.

Lt Gen Abdul Wahhab al-Saadi said that elite Counter Terrorism Force troops and rapid response forces had “liberated” the city council building.

They earlier reportedly recaptured several areas to the south and east.

Falluja, only 50km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, has been held by IS longer than any other city in Iraq or Syria. The jihadist group overran Falluja in January 2014, six months before it seized control of large parts of northern and western Iraq.

Government forces launched the offensive to recapture Falluja almost four weeks ago, after besieging the city and its suburbs for several months.

On Friday, federal police raised the Iraqi national flag above the city council building, according to a military statement cited by state television. Counter Terrorism Force personnel also entered the area surrounding the Falluja General Hospital and tightened the siege on it, the statement added. “The liberation of the government compound, which is the main landmark in the city, symbolises the restoration of the state’s authority,” federal police chief Raed Shaker Jawdat was quoted as saying by AFP news agency. Mr Jawdat said government forces had met limited resistance as they advanced and were pursuing militants, who are thought to be regrouping in the west.

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Floral Tributes Paid To MP Jo Cox

Tributes have been paid around the world to Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed.

The 41-year-old was attacked after holding a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire on Thursday.

Among those who honoured Mrs Cox was Hillary Clinton, the US Democratic Party’s presidential hopeful, who said: “It is cruel and terrible that her life was cut short.” Mrs Cox’s husband said the mother of two had fought for “a better world”.

Her attacker is reported to have shouted “put Britain first” at least twice. A 52-year-old man, named locally as Tommy Mair, has been arrested. Witness Ben Abdullah, who was working at a café next to the scene of the attack, said he saw “a river of people” coming down the street “screaming and shouting”. “I wasn’t frightened… I don’t know what I was. I thought, ‘it’s like a warzone'”, he said. Mr Abdullah said he heard several shots and saw Mrs Cox on the floor “in a very bad state”.

Mrs Clinton said it was “critical” Britain and the United States “stand together against hatred and violence”.

Another US politician, Gabrielle Giffords, who was the victim of an assassination attempt in 2011, wrote on Twitter that she was “absolutely sickened” by the killing, praising Mrs Cox as “young, courageous, and hardworking. A rising star, mother, and wife”.

Tributes have been paid from across Europe to Mrs Cox, who had campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU. Rachel Reeves, Labour MP for Leeds West, said: “Jo was so loved in her community she was part of it and MPs, if they are going to do their job, need to be part of their community to do these advice surgeries. “We can’t let the behaviour of one man destroy that link between MPs and their constituencies.” Ms Reeves has closed her constituency office with “safety in mind” following Mrs Cox’s death.

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Human Rights Accuse IS Of Genocide Against Yazidis

UN human rights investigators have for the first time accused so-called Islamic State of committing genocide against Yazidis in Iraq and Syria.

A report says IS has subjected members of the religious group it has captured to the “most horrific of atrocities”, killing or enslaving thousands. The group’s aim is to completely erase the Yazidi way of life, it warns.

The report says major powers should do more to help the Yazidis, at least 3,200 of whom are being held by IS. IS, a Sunni jihadist group, regards Yazidis as devil-worshippers who may be killed or enslaved with impunity.

In August 2014, IS militants swept across north-western Iraq and rounded up thousands of Yazidis living in the Sinjar region, where the majority of the world’s Yazidi population was based.

Men and boys over the age of 12 were separated from women and girls and shot if they refused to convert “in order to destroy their identity as Yazidis”, according to the report by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. Women and children often witnessed the killings before being forcibly transferred to locations in Iraq and later Syria, where the majority of the captives remain and are subjected to “almost unimaginable horrors”, the report says.

Thousands of women and girls, some as young as nine, were treated as “spoils of war” and openly sold in slave markets or handed over as “gifts” to IS militants. “Survivors who escaped from [IS] captivity in Syria describe how they endured brutal rapes, often on a daily basis, and were punished if they tried to escape with severe beatings, and sometimes gang rapes,” said commissioner Vitit Muntarbhorn.

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Labour MP In Critical Condition After Attack

An MP is in a critical condition after she was shot and stabbed during an attack in her constituency.

Eyewitnesses said Jo Cox, 41, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was left bleeding on the ground by her attacker. A man also suffered slight injuries.

A 52-year-old man was arrested near Market Street, Birstall, West Yorkshire Police said. The MP holds a weekly advice surgery nearby. Ms Cox’s assistant confirmed she had been attacked.

The MP was taken by ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary, where armed police are stationed outside.

People Screaming

Cafe owner Clarke Rothwell, who witnessed the attack, said he heard a “loud popping noise that sounded like a balloon burst – a loud balloon”. “When I looked round there’s a man stood there in his 50s with a white baseball cap on and a jacket with a gun, an old fashioned looking gun in his hand,” he said. “He shot this lady once and then he shot her again, he fell to the floor, leant over shot her once more in the face area. “Somebody tried to grab him, wrestling with him and then he wielded a knife, like a hunting knife, just started lunging at her with a knife half a dozen times. People were screaming and running from the area”.

Eyewitness Hithem Ben Abdallah, said the 41-year-old mother of two was left lying and bleeding on the pavement after the incident.

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Chinese IBM Employee Charged With Economic Espionage

US authorities have charged Chinese national Xu Jiaqiang with three counts of economic espionage for allegedly stealing valuable source code from his former employer in the US.

The Department of Justice did not name the employer, but it is widely reported to be software developer IBM.

Mr Xu intended to sell the code for his own profit and for the benefit of the Chinese government, authorities said. The source code has been described as “a product of decades of work”.

The US Attorney’s office said Mr Xu had worked as a developer for “a particular US company” from November 2010 to May 2014.

IBM’s website, however, has a Xu Jiaqiang still listed as a developer. The company has not commented.

On Tuesday, the DOJ said Mr Xu planned to share the valuable source code with the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China. The source code in question was a clustered file system – or one that helps a computer’s performance “by coordinating work among multiple servers”.

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