Gunmen kill 6 Egyptian soldiers at checkpoint – National

WATCH: Aftermath footage of Egyptian checkpoint attack, six military police officers dead

CAIRO – Gunmen stormed an Egyptian army checkpoint outside Cairo early Saturday morning and killed six soldiers, including some still in their beds, officials said, in what amounted to an escalation by militants on military targets near the capital.

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Just days earlier, masked men opened fire on a busload of military police inside city limits, another rare attack on soldiers this far from the restive Sinai Peninsula, where the army is fighting a counter-insurgency campaign.

READ MORE: UN declaration criticizes Egypt over violence used against protesters

Provincial security chief Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Yousri told state news agency MENA that the gunmen also planted explosive devices after Saturday’s attack in Shubra al-Kheima, but bomb disposal experts managed to diffuse two and detonate another in a controlled explosion.

The military blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the attack, calling the group “terrorists” and saying they had planted the additional bombs to target rescue workers rushing to the scene.

Armed Forces Spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said the soldiers, of a military police unit, were attacked just after morning prayers. The Health Ministry confirmed the death toll.

“These cowardly operations will only increase our determination to continue the war against terrorism,” Ali said in comments on his official Facebook page.

Amr Darrag, former head of the Foreign Relations Committee for the Brotherhood’s political party, condemned the attack on his 桑拿会所 account and denied responsibility.

“How can the (Brotherhood) be accused (a) few minutes after the attack with no evidence or investigation?” he wrote.

Egyptian authorities say the Brotherhood has orchestrated a series of bomb attacks on police and other targets following the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Islamist group. This week, prosecutors referred about a dozen Brotherhood members to trial for allegedly forming an armed unit that has carried out attacks in the Nile Delta.

READ MORE: Freelance Canadian photographer killed in bomb attack in Syria, family says

They have produced little evidence open to public scrutiny to bolster these claims, however, and most attacks have been claimed by the country’s most active militant group, an al-Qaida-inspired organization based in the Sinai called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or Champions of Jerusalem. The Brotherhood denies being involved in the attacks.

Authorities in recent days have also said they arrested a number of individuals they accuse of planning attacks on the police, including a group of 12 in the Delta governorate of Menoufia and others in northern Sinai.

Separately, Champions of Jerusalem said that one of its founding leaders was killed when a bomb he was carrying was set off by a car accident.

In a statement posted on militant websites early Saturday, the group said Tawfiq Mohammed Freij died Tuesday when an accident set off a “heat bomb” he was transporting in his car. It did not say where the accident took place.

READ MORE: Parents of jailed Australian journalist haunted by his appearance in Egyptian court

It said Freij, also known as Abu Abdullah, was one of the founders of the group, who masterminded its attacks on pipelines to stop Egyptian gas supplies from being shipped to Israel.

It called him the “field commander” of an August 2011 cross-border attack into southern Israel that targeted a bus and other vehicles near the resort city of Eilat, killing eight people. Egypt’s Interior Minister identified Freij as a key figure in the extremist group in January. David Barnett, a research associate with the Washington-based Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said that Freij is the highest ranking member of the Ansar identified thus far.

The wording of the most recent statement suggests that Freij moved from either Sinai or Gaza to Cairo or elsewhere in Egypt in early 2013 to supervise the group’s operations, including a failed suicide car bomb attack on the interior minister in Cairo in September 2013.

The statement could not be independently authenticated, but militant groups regularly use the websites to make announcements.

Also Saturday, a Cairo court sentenced 68 members of the Brotherhood and other youth movements to two years jail for participating in a protest without a permit. They had been arrested during protests on the third anniversary of the 2011 uprisings that led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Authorities have been cracking down on Morsi supporters and other regime critics since the Islamist’s overthrow last summer, saying they seek to establish law and order.

Following Saturday’s attack, the National Defence Council, headed by the president and attended by military chief and other security officials, held a meeting in which members discussed security arrangements in advance of the upcoming presidential elections. They stressed the need for an atmosphere of “security and peace” to ensure a high turnout.

Meanwhile, Giza’s criminal court sentenced Zohair Garana, the Mubarak-era tourism minister, to five years in jail on corruption charges. He still faces other corruption charges in a pending case.

©2014The Canadian Press

UPDATE: Police investigate Edmonton condo fire – Edmonton

(Above: Fletcher Kent reports on the latest developments in Saturday’s condo fire)

EDMONTON – The developer of a southwest Edmonton condo that was destroyed by a fire Saturday morning is blaming arson.

In a statement, Cove Properties says “From the initial review of the footage captured by our security cameras on site, it appears an individual broke into our building early Saturday morning and set one or more fires inside.”

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On Sunday, the developer said he could no longer comment as the Edmonton Police Service had taken over the investigation.

“Right now this is becoming more and more of a police investigation,” said Fire Investigator Daryl Brennan on Monday. “They do have some security video that they are reviewing.”

“We’re trying to look at those areas and see if we can find some kind of trace evidence that might be usable.”

The developer says its security team immediately called 911. Emergency crews arrived at around 3:30 a.m. at the complex, which is located in the area of 10 Ave. and 173 St. southwest.

The condo complex – called Essence at Windermere South – was under construction and there are no reports of anyone being hurt in the blaze.

A massive blaze destroys a condo in south west Edmonton, Saturday, March 15, 2014.

Darlene Young, Global News

A massive blaze destroys a condo in south west Edmonton, Saturday, March 15, 2014.

Darlene Young, Global News

A massive blaze destroys a condo in south west Edmonton, Saturday, March 15, 2014.

Darlene Young, Global News

A massive blaze destroys a condo in south west Edmonton, Saturday, March 15, 2014.

Charles Taylor, Global News

Cove Properties says there were 79 units in the building, 50 were sold.

Roughly 12 fire trucks were called out to respond, and about 50 fire fighters.

Eight homes were evacuated on the west side of the condo project as a precaution.

“We could actually feel heat through the house,” said Albert Wong, who lives nearby.

“It felt like it was summer time already, at that point.”

“We looked outside and thought, ‘oh, it’s morning already.’ Actually, it’s not, there’s a whole huge ball of fire outside.”

“We left the house quickly grabbed our dogs and our valuables and got in the car and drove off, unfortunately fearing for our home,” Wong added.

“911 was very cooperative,” he told Global News. “They were really on top of things right off the bat.”

“When we opened up the garage door, we felt this big camp fire hitting our face, so it was extremely scary,” said Wong.

“There was a huge explosion that blew off too, when we were leaving the house.”

(Watch the video above: Kelsey Cochrane was in a vehicle travelling past the fire when she captured the footage)

The fire was under control shortly after 4:40 a.m.

Crews say they will let the fire burn out, and try to prevent it from spreading to nearby buildings.

“Something like this, if there’s no risk of life in the structure, we’re going to contain it and try to minimize the damage to nearby structures, surround and drown as we call it,” said District Fire Chief Trevor Whyte.

“The concern that we had was propane, and I think there were four 200-pound propane tanks,” explained Whyte. “That was the cause of the evacuation on these homes.”

Cove Properties says it’s working with police to determine who is responsible for committing the act.

“They’re doing everything that they can do,” said Brennan.  “They’re putting up security cameras.”

The developer adds it will rebuild the condo building “immediately.”

Meanwhile, Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes says he’s interested in the results of the investigation.

“If there are learnings out of that, we’ll certainly take those on and take a look.”

It’s a “real concern, obviously, to see people’s potential homes destroyed in a fire like this.”

This isn’t the first fire to destroy a condo that is under construction.

In July 2007, a blaze in MacEwan destroyed a condo complex and several homes around it.

Last September, another fire gutted a building in Rutherford. Investigators have determined both of those were started by an arsonist.

“We’re going to take a good look at all of this because it’s not a pattern we want to see continue,” said Hughes.

©2014Shaw Media

Canadians keep close watch as Crimea referendum nears

WATCH: Toronto’s Ukrainian community keeping close watch on Crimea referendum. Global’s Cindy Pom reports.

TORONTO – Canadians are following the escalating crisis in Ukraine closely on the eve of the Crimea referendum to decide whether the region should be annexed by Moscow.

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Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued a statement Saturday saying the Canadian government remains “extremely concerned” about the situation in Ukraine, including acts of violence that have left at least two people dead.

“Such violence is completely deplorable and does not form the basis of a pretext for further violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Baird. “Canada renews its condemnation of Russia’s illegal military intervention on the Crimean peninsula and its continued provocations along the Ukrainian border.”

WATCH: Tensions rise in Crimea as referendum vote approaches between Russia and Ukraine. Paul Johnson reports.

READ MORE: Russian forces seize town outside Crimea border

Earlier Saturday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution proposed by the U.S. declaring the referendum illegal. The final vote on Saturday was 13 members in favour, China’s abstention, and Russia as a permanent council member using its veto.

“Crimea is part of Ukraine today, it will be part of Ukraine tomorrow, it will be part of Ukraine next week,” said Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. following the vote.

Members of Toronto’s Ukrainian community, some with relatives and friends in Crimea, are worried about the future of the region if it becomes a part of Russia.

For long time family friends Adile and Alie Khalilova who are both Tatar, a Muslim minority in Crimea, they fear their community will be targeted by Russian supporters.

“With pro-Russians here… I feel like Crimean Tatars, we look slightly different, our language is different, I think Crimean Tatars would suffer the most,” said Adile via Skype from Ukraine. “I do not want my president to be Putin. So I’m 100 per cent against that.”

READ MORE: What you should know about Crimea’s referendum

Currently the majority of Crimea’s population are ethnic Russians. Sunday’s referendum ballot will ask voters whether to reunify Crimea with Russia or keep the country as a part of Ukraine.

On Sunday the Ukranian Canadian Congress will hold a rally at Dundas Square in Toronto against the Crimean referendum. The protesters will then march towards the Russian Consulate.

Khalilova, an immigrant from Crimea, says she’ll be joining the protest in support of her friend and to voice her opposition to Russia.

“We try to protect our country just with our heart, and with our brain,” said Khalilova.

*With files from Cindy Pom

©2014Shaw Media

Aboriginal police officer recruitment in Saskatoon grows – Saskatoon

Watch the video above: Aboriginal police recruits reach all time high in Saskatoon

SASKATOON – The Saskatoon Police Service, dignitaries and RCMP attended SIAST’s Aboriginal Police Preparation Program graduation on Friday in Saskatoon.

Jazmyne Black was honoured to graduate from the program. Her dad was an RCMP officer and she hopes to follow in his footsteps.

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  • Aboriginal woman becomes top cop in Saskatchewan as head of RCMP division

“Because of him, it inspired me to become somebody like him. He has a good head on his shoulders and he’s very knowledgeable. He just makes me feel determined to be a better person,” she explained.

Officers like Black’s dad helped to pave the way for future generations.

Ernie Louttit is a retired officer from the Saskatoon Police Service, he joined the force in 1987.

“When I first started with Saskatoon police, I was the third native officer, and there was an old boys’ club. And they didn’t want to work with women, they didn’t want to work with natives,” said Louttit.

He also encountered backlash from the aboriginal community.

“It was both ways, so a lot of native people would call me an ‘apple’ – like I was red on the outside and white on the inside, and that I was betraying my people by being a police officer,” Louttit explained.

Several decades later, Saskatoon police not only embraces diversity, but says it’s essential.

“It helps our officers understand the diversity, understand the culture, and hopefully come up with some solutions to some of the issues we’ve had historically,” said police chief Clive Weighill.

Saskatoon police has joined forces with several groups around the province to form the Saskatchewan Police Aboriginal Recruiting Committee.

“We’re up now to about 11 per cent composition of either First Nations or Métis, so that’s come up from about four or five per cent beginning at the year 2000,” said Weighill.

The Saskatoon Police Service says it’s not easy for anyone to become an officer and that its rigorous application process catches many applicants off-guard. But those with the right skills and determination make it through.

The service hopes 16 per cent of its force will be aboriginal by 2020.

Chicago River dyed green in annual St. Patrick’s Day tradition – National

WATCH: Timelapse of the Chicago River being turned green for St. Patrick’s Day (March 15)

CHICAGO – The Chicago River is glowing a bright emerald green Saturday as the city kicks off its St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Thousands of cheering onlookers clustered along downtown bridges as members of Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Local 130 began dumping containers of dye into the river from motorboats Saturday morning. The annual tradition began at 9:30 a.m. and immediately precedes the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

GALLERY: Thousands gather to see Chicago River dyed green

Elizabeth Saathoff left, and Scott Wrobel right, both of Chicago, photograph themselves with a smartphone after the Chicago River was dyed green ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago, Saturday, March 15, 2014. (AP Photo/ Paul Beaty)

The Chicago River being dyed green ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago, Saturday, March 15, 2014. (AP Photo/ Paul Beaty)

Kayakers float on the Chicago River after being dyed green ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago, Saturday, March 15, 2014. (AP Photo/ Paul Beaty)

The Chicago River being dyed green ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago, Saturday, March 15, 2014. (AP Photo/ Paul Beaty)

The Chicago River being dyed green ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago, Saturday, March 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

The union has done the dyeing since 1962. Organizers had feared that large chunks of ice would impede the process, but recent warm temperatures kept the river clear. The hue typically lasts about six to 12 hours.

The parade began at noon. The route winds through downtown and ends at the landmark Buckingham Fountain.

A second parade on the city’s South Side takes place Sunday.

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©2014The Canadian Press

Community works together to help Moose Jaw fire victims – Regina

MOOSE JAW – Three days after a devastating fire, more than 20 people are trying to put their lives back together.

“We just drove down the street a couple nights ago, and now to see this, it’s devastating,” said Mark Gabel, whose wife’s businesses burned down.

The fire ripped through a historic building late Wednesday night, destroying five businesses and many tenants are now scrambling for a new home.

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“I’m looking at places around town, but without the Red Cross I’d probably be on the street somewhere,” said Chris Hall, a tenant.

The Red Cross extended their 72-hour initial response program until Monday. They’re providing accommodations and working with the Salvation Army to gather donations for the tenants, such as food and clothing.

“Their immediate needs are taken care of, but we’re looking with various agencies and assisting the tenants to move forward and get them reestablished,” said Bill Green of the Canadian Red Cross.

Some community members are hosting fundraising events for those affected.

“Insurance won’t cover everything that was lost,” said Morgan Gabel, whose mother’s businesses burned down. “Being able to raise some money and give it to them right now, I think that would help a lot.”

Morgan set up a Facebook fundraising app for the business-owners, hoping to raise $5,000.

Then on April 3rd, Morgan will host a steak night at Chillers Brew Pub in Moose Jaw to raise money for apartment tenants who lost their homes.

GALLERY: Orcas hunt dolphins in Blind Channel near Squamish, B.C.

Members of the Squamish Yacht Club had an up-close encounter with orcas hunting dolphins in Blind Channel Saturday.

Gord Gunner said he he was walking his dog near Blind Channel at around 11:30 a.m. when he saw a pod of 100 to 200 white-sided dolphins swim into the bay.

Gunner said he then spotted a group of 12 to 15 orcas swimming at the mouth of the channel, seemingly trapping dozens of the dolphins inside.

A few of the orcas then swam into the channel and started “playing” with the dolphins, leaping into the air with the smaller mammals in their mouths before eating them.

The sight garnered hundreds of onlookers Saturday afternoon. By 3 p.m., Gunner said there were hundreds of vehicles parked in the area to see the demonstration of the circle of life.

PHOTOS: Dolphins and orcas in Blind Channel

Hundreds of dolphins surprised boaters in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

Mandy Jensen

Hundreds of dolphins surprised boaters in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

Mandy Jensen

Hundreds of dolphins surprised boaters in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

Mandy Jensen

Hundreds of dolphins surprised boaters in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

Mandy Jensen

Hundreds of dolphins surprised boaters in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

Mandy Jensen

Hundreds of dolphins surprised boaters in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

A pod of orcas swim in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

Mandy Jensen

A pod of orcas swim in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

Mandy Jensen

A pod of orcas swim in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

Mandy Jensen

A pod of orcas swim in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

Mandy Jensen

A pod of orcas swim in Blind Channel near Squamish Saturday.

Mandy Jensen

On Thursday, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue volunteers were out on the water in southern Howe Sound, between Fisherman’s Cove and Bowen Island, when hundreds of dolphins surrounded their boat.

WATCH: Raw video of dolphins in Howe Sound

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Saskatoon photo exhibition reflects crisis in Ukraine – Saskatoon

Watch the video above: Photo exhibit reflects crisis in Ukraine

SASKATOON – This week a photographic exhibition is being held at the Musee Ukraina Museum in Saskatoon.

It depicts the crisis in Ukraine and the exhibition is also a fundraiser to support the families of those impacted by the violence overseas.

There’s anger and heartache in some of the photos taken in Kyiv, but in others, there’s hope.

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  • Province donating $60K humanitarian aid to Ukraine

  • Crimeans overwhelmingly vote to leave Ukraine, join Russia

The exhibit’s curator Taras Polataiko is a renowned Ukrainian-Canadian artist. He reached out to six photographers in Kyiv and asked them to send him their photos.

Polataiko says the shots are filled with protesters who never wanted turmoil, only freedom.

“These are not soldiers. They are people like me and you. You have to decide if you’re going to be a slave, or stand up for your dignity,” he explained.

In early March, the Saskatchewan government pledged $60,000 for humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

“We have a very strong Ukrainian community and a very strong organized community, and just within the last couple of weeks we’ve come together with the opportunity to host this event, and the museum definitely wanted to be a participant,” said Martin Hyniuk, Musee Ukraina board member.

Crimea is set to hold a referendum on Sunday on whether to merge with Russia.

Russia vetoed a UN resolution declaring Sunday’s referendum illegal.

READ MORE: Crimea votes on Ukraine split

“What’s happening in Crimea right now, it’s unconstitutional, and I can’t begin to fathom that another government can come in and step in the way that Russia is right now,” said Andrea Kopylech, with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’ Saskatoon branch.

She said local Ukrainian-Canadians are left praying that democracy and freedom will eventually prevail.

The exhibition will run every night at 7 p.m. until March 21.

Kevin Spacey fires back at Ford Nation slight with group ‘photo’ – Toronto

TORONTO – Kevin Spacey has fired the latest salvo in the social media spat between Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his city councillor brother Doug Ford.

The two-time Oscar-winning actor tweeted a crudely edited group photo of himself with the Fords Saturday morning.

Spacey’s tweet was in response to the most recent episode of Ford Nation, the YouTube show produced by the brothers.

During the segment, Doug Ford alleged that while the mayor was waiting to appear on late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Fords were told they couldn’t talk to or take a picture with Spacey, who is currently starring in House of Cards.

WATCH: Doug Ford calls actor Kevin Spacey an “arrogant S.O.B.”

Doug Ford said while Spacey is “an incredible actor,” he also thinks the star is “an arrogant S.O.B.”

He says Spacey should get off his “high horse and be real and take pictures with people.”

Rob Ford took a more muted approach, saying he doesn’t watch movies and wouldn’t know Spacey if he ran over him.

Spacey is a two-time Oscar winner (The Usual Suspects, American Beauty) and a frequent guest of the Toronto International Film Festival. He made the 2010 movie Casino Jack in Toronto.

WATCH: Kevin Spacey takes a shot at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Spacey, who appeared on Kimmel’s show ahead of the mayor’s main appearance, was asked about sharing a dressing room with the controversial politician to which he responded: “Well, he threw up all over it, but those are the chances you take.”

– with files by Global News

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  • The Fords strike back at opponents in episode 2 of Ford Nation

©2014The Canadian Press

UPDATE: Premier Redford attends ‘no holds barred’ PC meeting

EDMONTON – The on-going power struggle in the Alberta Conservative Party continued Saturday in Calgary, and it appears Premier Alison Redford is still firmly in charge.

Premier Redford attended a meeting of Alberta Tory executives at the Clarion Hotel in Calgary.

“The premier did an excellent job. She didn’t back away from any of the rather hard hitting questions that she was asked, and she was very frank with us, as we were very frank with her,” said Jim McCormick, PC Party president.

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  • MLA Len Webber quits Tory caucus, slams Redford

  • Premier Redford reacts to PC party executive’s call for her resignation

  • Redford to pay back South Africa trip expenses

McCormick called it a wide-ranging “no holds barred” meeting. The questions ranged from the $45,000 in travel expenses the premier announced this week she would reimburse, to accusations of bullying made by Calgary MLA Len Webber who on Friday announced his departure from caucus.

“This has not been a highlight of a week for behavior or very mature conversation on a lot of levels,” said Redford.

“I think a lot of people were quite emotional, probably said a lot of things that they regret, and I think it’s time for us to move and start talking about what matters to Albertans which is the future of the province.”

But at least one constituency president would like the PC Party to move on without Redford as leader.

On Friday, Steve Robson, the head of a PC riding association in northeast Edmonton, called for Redford’s resignation.

“It appears to me from a number of sources that Alison Redford is not the least bit interested in input from elected MLAs or what the constituents of the MLA’s have to say,” said Robson.

Redford says she is listening to what people are saying.

“I work very hard to work with people, to bring people together and I’ll continue to do that. Whether that means everyone is going to have an opinion of me that is exactly the same, I can’t comment on that. I mean, we don’t agree on absolutely everything, but I do my best every day.”

Saturday’s meeting didn’t produce any requests for the premier’s resignation.

“The premier got a standing ovation. Absolutely everybody was on their feet. This conversation that we had today was incredible,” said McCormick.

With files from Global News Carolyn Kury De Castillo

©2014Shaw Media