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Monday, May 23, 2011

Erekat: If '67 lines are an illusion, peace is an illusion

Erekat: If '67 lines are an illusion, peace is an illusion

Saeb Erekat

Palestinian Authority negotiator says Netanyahu needs to say one line for PA to return to peace talks: "Negotiations should lead to two states along 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."
Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the Palestinians need to hear one line from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in order to return to the negotiating table. "There's one line," Erekat told Army Radio Monday, that "negotiations should lead to two states along 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."

The PA, he repeated, is "waiting to see if
 Prime Minister Netanyahu says he accepts two states on 1967 lines with agreed swaps. Until we hear that, I think it would be a waste of time to speak about any other issue.

Taliban deny report of Mullah Omar’s death, say leader is alive and in Afghanistan

Taliban deny report of Mullah Omar’s death, say leader is alive and in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban are denying a report in the Afghan press that Mullah Mohammad Omar has been killed in neighboring Pakistan, saying the leader of the insurgent group is alive and in Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in a phone call Monday that the report is “absolutely wrong.”
He said, “It’s only propaganda and we completely deny these rumors. He is inside Afghanistan and he is busy directing military operations with his commanders.”
Afghan news channel Tolo quoted an anonymous Afghan intelligence official as saying that Omar had been killed in Pakistan. Officials with the Afghan intelligence service contacted by the AP said they had no such reports. They spoke anonymously because they were not official spokesmen.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pak terror attack: Taliban destroys 2 planes, kills 7 personnel

Pak terror attack: Taliban destroys 2 planes, kills 7 personnel

Nearly 12 hours after storming Pakistan navy's key airbase in the heart of the port city of Karachi, heavily-armed Taliban militants were still holding onto parts of the base after destroying two US-made surveillance aircraft and killing seven security personnel.
Pakistan army's elite Special Service Group (SSG) and naval commandos backed by helicopters were hunting down a group of 15-20 militants who attacked the naval premises last night in the worst assault on a military base since the Army Headquarters was besieged in October 2009 in Rawalpindi.
Security forces were engaged in a deadly gun battle with armed militants since last night after the militants sneaked into the PNS Mehran, the naval air station within Faisal airbase, from three residential points adjacent to the air base.
Fifteen loud explosions were heard from the base, the headquarters of Pakistan's naval air arm, following the attack and intermittent firing was reported till this morning.
Pakistan Navy spokesperson Commodore Irfan-ul-Haq said seven people had been killed in the gun battle including six naval officers and a shooter of the para-military rangers.
"Six naval officers lost their lives in the battle with the militants while one officer of the rangers was also killed," Haq said and added that so far 14 security personal had been wounded in the gunbattle.
The security forces also killed four militants and have captured four alive, a senior security official said.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who was sent to Karachi by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to monitor the situation, said the terrorists entered the airbase from three directions.
"A building in the premises is still under their control from where they are exchanging fire with soldiers," he said as the militants blew up two US supplied PC-3 Orion long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
"The situation is being tackled delicately to secure assets, minimise human losses and defeat the terrorists completely," he said, adding, "It is not just an attack on a navy establishment, it is an attack on Pakistan."
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has stepped up attacks on security installations since the May 2 death of Osama bin Laden, has claimed responsibility for the assault.
"We had already warned after Osama's martyrdom that we will carry out even bigger attacks," Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan told foreign agencies from an undisclosed location in northwest Pakistan.
He said the attackers sent into PNS Mehran naval base had enough supplies to survive a three-day siege.

Google Spends $4.9 Million On Modu Patent Portfolio

Google Spends $4.9 Million On Modu Patent Portfolio

Remember Modu, the Israeli phone maker who never quite found a market for its itty bitty cell phones? That’s ok if you don’t, because the semi-omniscient Google does. Back in 2008, Modu came up with a tiny modular cell phone that could slip into a number of different sleeves to be able to perform different actions and functions.
Now, over three years later, Google has received permission to buy Modu’s patent portfolio, in what we assume are plans to resuscitate the forgotten phones that were only previously picked up by a few carriers. Shortly after Modu’s entrance into the mobile arena, the company whipped out its latest and greatest phone models in preparation for an IPO, but unfortunately had to shut down operations after running out of cash.

    British parlimentarians take on treatment of teens in Israeli military court

    British parlimentarians take on treatment of teens in Israeli military court

    Israel's West Bank military court was debated in two sessions of the House of Lords, with a focus on the issue of the detention and sentencing conditions for Palestinian minors by the Israeli military.

    By Amira Hass
    Half a year after the lower chamber of the British Parliament, the House of Commons, discussed the Israeli military court at Ofer, it was taken up by the upper chamber, the House of Lords. In both sessions, on December 7, 2010 and May 4, 2011, respectively, the court was specifically mentioned with regard to the detention and sentencing conditions for Palestinian minors by the Israeli military. In both sessions, the debates followed visits by members of Parliament.
    Lord Alf Dubs made the following statement to the House of Lords on May 4: "My Lords, I recently visited the West Bank; it was my first time there. Of course any solution must acquire security for Israel, but also dignity, self-respect and justice for the Palestinians.
    "As part of the visit I went to see the Israeli military courts in Ofer. I believe that the way in which these courts operate is an obstacle to achieving a just peace in the region. We went to see how children are treated by this system of military justice. Approximately 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted every year in these courts, and at the end of January this year some 222 were in jail. In the court we visited we saw a 14 year-old and a 15-year-old, one of them in tears, both looking absolutely bewildered. What shocked me as much as anything was to see that these young persons - children - had chains or shackles around their ankles while sitting in court. They were also handcuffed as they went into court. Although the handcuffs were taken off while they were in court, they were put on again as they left the court.
    "When being interrogated these young people do not have the security of video recordings, lawyers or parents present. In fact, if parents want to visit, their permission might take 60 days to come through, by which time the young person might have served his or her sentence.
    "The court proceedings are in Hebrew, with translations of a doubtful quality. The verdicts are mostly based on uncorroborated confession evidence. The evidence against one young person that we saw was of throwing stones at an Israeli armoured vehicle, for which he is likely to get 60 days in custody.
    "I do not believe that this process of humiliation represents justice. I believe that the way in which these young people are treated is in itself an obstacle to the achievement by Israel of a peaceful relationship with the Palestinian people. I think that the Israelis should apply proper standards of human rights to the way in which they treat them."
    Dubs was not entirely precise. We recently learned of the interrogation of a minor that was recorded on video, that of a 14-year-old from the village of Nabi Salah, near Ramallah, identified by his initials, A.D. The video indeed made it easier for the defense attorneys (Gaby Lasky and Neri Ramati ) to prove that the interrogation of this minor, just a few hours after being pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, was filled with faults. A.D. was detained for 10 weeks. Had the defense not insisted on holding a trial within a trial (about the inappropriate interrogation ) and merely agreed to a plea bargain, including an admission of guilt (for throwing rocks at security vehicles 20 times "during a period unknown to the prosecution" ) without calling witnesses, A.D. would have been released sooner. That has been the case for many minors whose attorneys choose an earlier release over challenging the military judges using standard legal procedures. But in keeping with Nabi Salah's rebellious spirit, principle was chosen instead.
    A.D. was released to house arrest. The prosecution refused to withdraw charges. Last Monday, attorney Lymor Goldstein testified as to how he was prevented from meeting with his young client before his interrogation. (If the honorable lord expects the Israeli military judicial system to grant minors the right to have a lawyer present during their interrogation, then he is mistaken. ) The trial of a 14-year-old has to do with more than guilt or innocence. It is also a discussion about the legality of arresting children in nighttime raids and interrogating them in deliberately stressful conditions, while taking advantage of their childishness and wringing from them confessions that incriminate the leaders of the popular uprising.
    The issues that are of interest to British MPs are not those that occupy Israeli Knesset members. But perhaps Lord Dubs himself, of Britain's Labor Party, would interest our legislators. At the age of six he was one of 669 mostly Jewish children that British citizens evacuated from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.
    With him on his visit to Israel was Lord Mohammed Sheikh, a businessman and philanthropist who was born in Kenya to parents from the Indian subcontinent. Unlike Lord Dub the Holocaust survivor, Lord Sheikh had visited Israel before, and also went to Gaza "with the consent of those on my Front Bench and the Conservative Party," as he told the House of Lords.
    He also told the upper chamber that during their April visit, "We also spent the best part of a day with an Israeli army officer and high officials in the Israeli Foreign Office to hear the Israelis' point of view."
    If not for this column's reticence about futuristic speculations and idle promises, the following sentence by Lord Sheikh might have become a headline: "[Palestinian] Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that, if and when the Palestinians get full independence, the half a million Israelis [in the settlements] would be welcome to stay in the West Bank."
    Lord Sheikh failed to mention that Palestinian leaders such as the late Faisal Husseini, former PA minister for Jerusalem, have said that settlers who agree to be citizens of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and who do not have a record of violent attacks against Palestinians, will be allowed to remain there. The settlements will not remain deluxe ghettos for Jews only, but will be open to all. And Jewish citizens of the Palestinian state will not retain the special privileges and separate legal status that characterize their present, illegal sojourn in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem ).

    Europe monitors Icelandic volcano

    Lightning is seen through smoke and ash pouring out of the erupting Grimsvoetn volcano. Photograph: Ragnar Axelsson/AFP/Getty Images
    Lightning is seen through smoke and ash pouring out of the erupting
     Grimsvoetn volcano. Photograph: Ragnar Axelsson/AFP/Getty Image

    An eruption by Iceland's most active volcano is set to keep the island's main airport shut today, while other European nations watched for any impact on their air routes from a towering plume of smoke and ash.
    However, experts said they saw little chance of a repeat of last year's six-day closure of airspace, which also hit transatlantic flights, when another Icelandic volcano erupted, although airlines have been warned the new ash cloud will drift.
    So far Iceland, particularly the towns and villages to the south and east of the Grimsvotn volcano, has suffered most as a thick cloud of ash descended on the area, smothering cars and buildings.
    The cloud had also begun to drift over the capital Reykjavik by late yesterday evening, and the civil aviation authority said the prospects for reopening the main international airport today were not good.
    Europe's air traffic control organisation warned on its website that ash could spread southwards.
    "Ash cloud is expected to reach North Scotland on Tuesday 24th May. If volcanic emissions continue with same intensity, cloud might reach west French airspace and north Spain on Thursday 26th May," Eurocontrol said in a traffic bulletin.
    Iceland's meteorological office said the plume from Grimsvotn, which last exploded in 2004, had fallen in height from a peak of about 25km in the hours after the eruption and was now holding steady.
    "It has been steady all night just below 10 kilometres," met office forecaster Teitur Arason said, adding current wind conditions were spreading the ashes in separate directions.

    Taliban Fighters Storm Pakistani Naval Base

    Armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, Taliban militants infiltrated a Pakistani naval air base in the Arabian Sea port of Karachi, setting off explosions that illuminated the night sky and sparking a 12-hour gun battle. At least seven people were killed, Pakistani officials said.
    Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
    Flames and smokes belched out early Monday from a Pakistani military air base after an attack by militants in Karachi that began Sunday.
    The Pakistan Taliban, an offshoot of the Afghan insurgent movement, said its fighters attacked the base in revenge for the May 2 U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, making Sunday's assault the second major strike by the militant group since the al Qaeda leader's death at the hands of an U.S. Navy SEAL team.
    "We can attack anyone at any moment in Pakistan, Europe and America," said Pakistan Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Eshan in a telephone interview, adding that the assailants had supplies for three days of fighting.
    The attack and the ensuing fight to clear the base, which was still going on 12 hours after the militants set off the first explosion, was quickly proving the latest in a series of embarrassments for Pakistan's military. The force is ordinarily accustomed to adulation from most Pakistanis, yet it has been subjected to a torrent of criticism for failing to detect or stop the U.S. raid against bin Laden, and, to a lesser extent, for not finding the al Qaeda leader itself.
    By Monday morning, it was also facing a determined force of Taliban fighters inside the perimeter of a supposedly secure military base in Pakistan's largest city, raising questions about whether the attackers had help on the inside.
    With the base sealed off by military authorities, there were conflicting and fragmented reports of what was taking place inside. Pakistan navy spokesman Irfan ul-Haq said between 10 and 15 militants had slipped into the base Sunday night. They then split into small groups and began setting off explosions shortly after 10:30 p.m. local time.
    Shortly thereafter, Pakistan TV stations were broadcasting images of flames leaping from a hangar at the base, Pakistan Naval Station Mehran, which is located inside a larger air force base. One news channel, Epxress 24/7, reported as many as 13 explosions in the three hours after the fighting began. Witnesses reported lines of ambulances waiting to get into the base, and gunfire could be heard throughout the night.
    Armed security forces preparing to enter the Mehran naval aviation base in Karachi, Pakistan, which was attacked by militants Sunday.
    Mr. ul-Haq, the navy spokesman, said six navy personnel and a paramilitary Pakistan Ranger were killed in the fighting. It wasn't clear how many, if any, of the militants had been killed.
    At least one U.S.-made maritime-surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft was destroyed in the initial fighting around midnight, he and other officials said.
    By morning, Pakistani military helicopters could be seen hovering over the base as hundreds of Pakistani navy commandos and marines and paramilitary soldiers tried to flush out the militants. Sporadic gunshots could still be heard as noon approached, and snipers could be seen scanning for targets from rooftops.
    Rescue workers and journalists took cover outside the Mehran naval aviation base in Karachi, Pakistan, as a firefight continued between security forces and militants who attacked the base Sunday.
    Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who flew to Karachi overnight, said militants were in control of a building on the base. But officials dismissed reports that the militants were holding hostages.
    Mr. ul-Haq said the operation was going slowly because Pakistani forces were taking care not to damage the expensive aircraft stored at the base.
    Officials said the focus of the initial attack appeared to be a hanger housing U.S.-made P-3 Orion aircraft, which are used for maritime surveillance and anti-submarine operations. Pakistan is the process of buying eight of the aircraft from the U.S. Navy, and the aircraft destroyed was delivered to Pakistan last year.
    U.S. personnel work at Mehran, and the U.S. Embassy said they were all safe and accounted for. It wasn't immediately clear what the Americans do at the base and if they work on the Orions.
    —Follow Matthew Rosenberg on Twitter @mjrosenberg

    Pakistani troops hunt militants on naval base

    KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistani commandos cornered a team of Taliban militants in a naval base Monday after the insurgents raided the complex the night before, destroying two U.S.-supplied surveillance aircraft and killing at least 12 security officers, the navy said.
    The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault in the city of Karachi, saying it was part of their revenge for the May 2 American raid that killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and that their men were under orders to fight until the death.
    "They do not want to come out alive, they have gone there to embrace martyrdom," said spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan.
    Between 10 and 15 insurgents armed with grenades, rockets and automatic weapons stormed Naval Station Mehran late Sunday before splitting into smaller groups, setting off explosions and hiding in the sprawling facility. Some or all of them were still holding out 12 hours later, navy spokesman Irfan ul Haq said.
    The raid was one of the most audacious in years of militant violence in Pakistan. The insurgent's ability to penetrate the high-security facility rattled a military establishment already humiliated by the unilateral American raid on Bin Laden, and raised the possibility they had inside help.
    At least 11 navy personnel and one paramilitary ranger were killed, while 14 security forces were wounded, Haq said, adding it was unclear how many militant casualties there were.
    The attack resembled the 2008 siege of Mumbai, India, and a number of other similar raids in Pakistan in which heavily armed squads of insurgents go out in teams, occupy a property and fight to the death. It was one of the first such strike in Karachi, the country's largest city and economic hub.
    When asked about reports of hostages, Haq said the militants were "not in possession of anything." By Monday morning, the militants were confined to an office building, trading fire with commandos, he said. Navy helicopters were flying over the base.
    "Because of the presence of several assets on the base, the operation is being carried out in a cautious, smart way," Haq said, referring to military aircraft. "That's why it's taking so long."
    The unilateral U.S. raid on bin Laden's compound in the northwest Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad has triggered a strong backlash here against Washington as well as rare domestic criticism of the armed forces for failing to detect or prevent the American operation. Pakistani leaders insist they had no idea the al-Qaida boss had been hiding in Abbottabad.
    In claiming responsibility, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said the attack was part of their planned response to the death of the al-Qaida chief, and that Pakistan is the top target. The Pakistani Taliban hate the government in Islamabad because of its alliance with the U.S. and because, under American prodding, the Pakistani army has staged offensives aimed at its insurgents.
    This is the third major attack the group has claimed since the bin Laden killing, including a car bombing that slightly injured American consulate workers in the northwest city of Peshawar and a twin-suicide attack that killed around 90 Pakistani paramilitary police recruits.
    Sunday's raid appeared to be the most serious against the military since October 2009, when militants attacked the army headquarters close to the capital, Islamabad. They held dozens hostage in a 22-hour standoff that left 23 people dead, including nine militants.
    The fact that militants were able to enter the naval base late Sunday is another embarrassing blow to the Pakistani military. Just as the October 2009 attack on the army headquarters did, it raises speculation over whether anyone in the military ranks aided the insurgents. Many in Pakistan's military establishment are believed to have sympathy for Islamist causes.
    That the militants this time targeted U.S.-supplied aircraft draws attention to American aid to the military, something generals here do not talk about, fearing criticism from the county's fiercely anti-American population.
    Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack, saying such a "cowardly act of terror could not deter the commitment of the government and people of Pakistan to fight terrorism."
    The raid began with at least three loud explosions, which were heard by people who live around the naval air station. It was unclear what caused the explosions, but they set off raging fires that could be seen from far in the distance. An Associated Press reporting team outside the base heard at least six other explosions and sporadic gunfire.
    Authorities sent in several dozen navy and police commandos to battle the attackers, who responded with gunfire and grenades, said Salman Ali, another navy spokesman. At least two P-3C Orions, maritime surveillance aircraft given to Pakistan by the U.S., were destroyed, he said.
    The United States handed over two Orions to the Pakistani navy at a ceremony at the base in June 2010 attended by 250 Pakistani and American officials, according to the website of the U.S. Central Command. It said by late 2012, Pakistan would have eight of the planes.
    At least one media report said a team of American technicians were working on the aircraft at the time of the strike, but U.S. Embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said no Americans were on the base. Ali also stated there was no foreigners inside the base.
    Karachi, a city of around 18 million people, has not been spared the violence sweeping the country, despite being in the south far from the northwest where militancy is at its strongest. In April, militants bombed three buses taking navy employees to work, killing at least nine people.
    The Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups have little direct public support, but the army and the government have struggled to convince the people of the need for armed operations against them. The militants' identification with Islam, strong anti-American rhetoric and support for insurgents in Afghanistan resonates with some in the country.

    Associated Press writers Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan and Rasool Dawar in Peshawar contributed to this report.

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    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Abbas departs for consultation with Jordan's Abdullah

    Abbas departs for consultation with Jordan's Abdullah

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas departed for Jordan to consult with King Abdullah on US President Barack Obama's speech last week on the Middle East and the peace process, Israel Radio reported Sunday.

    On Saturday, Abbas requested that the Arab League to convene a special session to discuss Obama's vision for peace, a Palestinian official said. The meeting would likely be scheduled for the end of May.

    Hamas, Fatah officials meet in Moscow to bolster reconciliation

    Hamas, Fatah officials meet in Moscow to bolster reconciliation

    The Russian initiative to bring Hamas and Fatah officials together is set to focus on solidifying ties between the recently reconciled factions, find common ground for negotiations with Israel, reports Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.

    Top Palestinian officials from both Hamas and Fatah are conducting meetings with members of the Russian Foreign Ministry in the coming days at a guesthouse near Moscow, according to a report by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.

    The meetings are reportedly being conducted under the auspices of the Institute for Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, with the help of a Russian foundation for science and Islamic culture.

    The Palestinian representatives were invited to Moscow by the head of the university, Vitaly Numkin, who is also heading the meetings, according to ITAR-TASS. The meetings are reportedly intended to solidify ties between the two recently reconciled factions. An additional stated goal is finding a common ground for Hamas and Fatah to begin possible negotiations with Israel, the report said.

    Former rivals Hamas and Fatah signed a unity deal in Cairo earlier this month, a step that many view as crucial to establishing a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. However, the factions still disagree on many core issues. West Bank-based Fatah has adopted diplomatic means toward statehood, while Gaza-based Hamas has engaged in terror warfare against Israel and refuses to recognize its right to exist.

    Experts believe this is the first time in recent history that Russia has taken an active measure to assist the Middle East peace process, making the initiative to bring the factions together a significant step for the country.

    Meetings are to take place Sunday and Monday, with the Palestinian representatives meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

    Syrian forces shoot dead at least five mourners and injure dozens at funeral procession

    Shots fired during funeral of eight anti-government protesters killed the day before

    Syrian security forces have shot dead at least five people after opening fire on a massive funeral procession for eight anti-government protesters killed the day before.

    The violence took place in Homs at the city's Nasr cemetery yesterday where tens of thousands of people turned out to mourn the dead.

    Witnesses said the shooting began as mourners started to leave the cemetery and dozens of people wounded.

    Mourning: People shout as a coffin is lifted onto a vehicle during a mass funeral for people killed in the latest crackdown on protests in Homs, Syria

    Mourning: People shout as a coffin is lifted onto a vehicle during a mass funeral for people killed in the latest crackdown on protests in Homs, Syria

    Dead: Syrian security forces shot dead at least three mourners in the central city of Homs yesterday during the funeral

    Dead: Syrian security forces shot dead at least three mourners in the central city of Homs yesterday during the funeral

    Some reports say up to 11 people were killed although this has not been confirmed.

    It follows Friday's violence when 44 people were shot dead - including a 10-year-old boy - as mass protests swept the country after prayers.

    The latest bloodshed has pushed the death toll to over 900 lives raising questions over whether sanctions and harsh words from the U.S. and its allies will stop President Bashar Assad's regime from using extreme force to crush the biggest challenge to its 40-year-rule.

    Volcano forces closure of Iceland's main airport


    REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Iceland closed its main international airport and canceled domestic flights Sunday as a powerful volcanic eruption sent a plume of ash, smoke and steam 12 miles into the air.

    Airport and air traffic control operator ISAVIA said Keflavik airport was closed at 0830 GMT (4:30 a.m. EDT), and no flights were taking off or landing.

    Spokeswoman Hjordis Gudmundsdottir said the ash plume was covering Iceland, but "the good news is that it is not heading to Europe."

    She said the ash was blowing northwest toward Greenland instead.

    She said officials were investigating whether Iceland's other airports could take Keflavik-bound flights.

    Trans-Atlantic flights were being diverted away from Iceland, and there was no sign yet that the eruption would cause the widespread travel disruption triggered last year by ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

    In April 2010, officials closed the continent's air space for five days, fearing the ash could harm jet engines. Some 10 million travelers were stranded.

    The Grimsvotn volcano, which lies under the uninhabited Vatnajokull glacier about 120 miles east of the capital, Reykjavik, began erupting Saturday for the first time since 2004.

    University of Iceland geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said the new eruption was 10 times as powerful as the one in 2004, which lasted for several days and briefly disrupted international flights.

    He told broadcaster RUV that the eruption was Grimsvotn's largest for 100 years.

    Another geophysicist, Pall Einarsson, said last year's eruption was a rare event and Grimsvotn would likely have much less effect on international air traffic.

    "The ash in Eyjafjallajokull was persistent or unremitting and fine-grained," Einarsson said. "The ash in Grimsvotn is more coarse and not as likely to cause danger as it falls to the ground faster and doesn't stay as long in the air as in the Eyjafjallajokull eruption."

    Sparsely populated Iceland is one of the world's most volcanically active countries and eruptions are frequent.

    Eruptions often cause local flooding from melting glacier ice, but rarely cause deaths. Police closed a main road near the volcano Sunday as heavy ash fell, coating cars and buildings in a gray film.

    The Grimsvotn volcano also erupted in 1998, 1996 and 1993. The eruptions have lasted between a day and several weeks.