BBC news 2013-12-24

BBC News with Jerry Smit.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned warring parties in South Sudan that they will be held to account for crimes against humanity. He once again called on President Salva Kiir and opposition leaders to hold talks. Nada Tawfik reports.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that the world is watching all sides in South Sudan. He demanded an immediate end to attacks on civilians and peacekeepers and said that reports of ethnically targeted killings were especially worrisome. The United Nations has been straining to provide basic needs to some 45,000 people seeking protection at its bases. Mr. Ban said that he will recommend that the Security Council approve more troops and assets for the UN's mission in South Sudan. Meanwhile, the US military is preparing its forces for another possible evacuation of US and other citizens.

A judge in Chile has sentenced 8 former members of a military death squad to up to 15 years in jail for the killing of 14 political prisoners decades ago. Matiere Kabetzer reports.

For the victims' families, this has been a long wait for justice. On the 19th of October, 1973, the 14 men were picked up from a local prison in the northern Chilean city of Antofagasta. They were blindfolded, driven away and shot dead. The judge Leopoldo Llanos said the 8 former army officers had played a role in their killing. They were all members of a military death squad known as the caravan of death which carried out dozens of executions of political prisoners during the military government of Augusto Pinochet.

A court in Argentina has ruled that the former President Fernando de la Rua did not bribe senators to pass controversial labor reform in the year 2000. The judges said no evidence was found to prove the bribery had taken place in the Argentine senate. Seven other people who were accused of taking or facilitating bribes including his former labor minister were also found innocent.

The designer of the Kalashnikov assault rifle Mikhail Kalashnikov has died. He was 94. Kalashnikov was born into poverty in the remote Altai mountains of Russia. Jonathan Marcus reports.

Mikhail Kalashnikov was a young sergeant in the Soviet army when he began to develop his new rifle. He created a rugged, simple and reliable weapon that could withstand the rigors of service in the field though some of its technology may have been borrowed from German weapons from late War II. His 1947 design became the standard equipment of the Soviet and Warsaw Pact armies. Versions were manufactured in several other countries including China. The Kalashnikov rifle with its distinctive curved magazine became a revolutionary icon in the hands of militants and insurgents around the globe.

World News from the BBC.

A prominent Syrian campaign group says it's believed more than 300 people including 87 children have been killed over the past week in a bombing campaign in the northern city of Aleppo. The UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which opposes the government says Syrian war planes have been targeting areas held by rebels.

Suicide bombers have attacked a local television station in Iraq killing at least 5 journalists. Police say the 4 militants tried to take over the headquarters of the Salaheddin station in Tikrit. The security forces say they were able to retake control of the building after killing the militants.

Two members of the Russian punk band  Pussy Riot who have been released from jail say they will carry on their political protests. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were jailed for hooliganism after a protest performance at Moscow's main cathedral in February last year. Bridget Kendall has more.

Today's release of the two Pussy Riot protesters was not unexpected. As mothers of young children, both were eligible under a recent Russian prison amnesty. But once free to speak out again, they were as defiant as ever, denouncing the decision to let them out as a publicity hoax, and declaring they'd continue their fight for human rights in Russia. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova compared the whole country to a penal colony. Maria Alyokhina promised new protests.

The authorities in Honduras say they are extraditing 18 Mexicans who posed as TV journalists and tried to smuggle more than 9 million dollars into the country. They were arrested last year when they tried to enter Honduras posing as reporters from Mexico's Televisa station. Police seized TV equipment and found the cash and traces of cocaine hidden in their vehicles. They were later sentenced by a tribunal in Honduras to up to 18 years in jail.

BBC News.