Top of the Morning: Tsunami Alert Issued in Indonesia and Thailand; Huge Escalation of Sudan-South Sudan Conflict as South Captures Key Oilfield; As Ceasefire Deadline Passes, Kofi Annan Visits Tehran; Suicide Bombings Kill 19 in Afghanistan

Breaking News: Tsunami Alert Issued in Indonesia and Thailand

An 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck near the coast of Indonesia has lead to a Tsunami watch in the region. Al Jazeera is keeping an updating blog of the latest warnings, reports and events. Waves in the ~3 meter range are expected to hit the Andaman coast of Thailand in the next hour.

Huge Escalation of Sudan-South Sudan Conflict as South Captures Key Oilfield 

A Sudanese military spokesman says Sudan’s forces were defeated outside of Heglig, near the border with South Sudan. This means that Sudan’s largest oilfield is now under the control of the South Sudanese military. BBC’s James Copnall explains the deeper significance of this development. “Sudan doesn’t admit to many military defeats, so acknowledging a reverse outside Heglig is already extremely significant. The fact that Sudan’s biggest oilfield is now apparently in the hands of the South Sudanese army is astonishing. It is legitimate to wonder why Sudan’s military – which has the advantage of air power and greater weaponry – wasn’t able to stop the South Sudanese advance. Perhaps the Sudan Armed Forces are simply over-stretched: as well as the South Sudanese army, they are fighting rebel groups in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Khartoum alleges the rebels are supported by South Sudan. Sudan will certainly respond, and a programme showing “martyrs” who “sacrificed themselves for their country” is already being shown on Sudanese TV.” (BBC

As Ceasefire Deadline Passes, Kofi Annan Visits Tehran

The date by which the ceasefire was set to commence passed, apparently ignored by Syria. Kofi Annan is in Tehran, meeting with Syria’s only real regional ally to try and press upon the Iranians the importance of a ceasefire. Speaking to reporters in Tehran, Annan said there is still time for a truce to take hold and repeated the final deadline of 6 am tomorrow as when we will firmly know whether or not this ceasefire plan has a chance of success. Annan repeated his claim that “any further militarization of the conflict would be disasterous”  which was a clear warning against efforts to arm the rebels. (Boston Globe

Suicide Bombings Kill 19 in Afghanistan

Perhaps this is the start of the seasonal Taliban offensive. “At least 19 people, most of them police officers, died and dozens of others were injured Tuesday in three suicide bombing attacks on government buildings in western and southern Afghanistan, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility on their website for two strikes on a police compound in southern Helmand province, an insurgent stronghold from which the Obama administration plans to withdraw U.S. forces later this year. The third and bloodiest attack took place in Herat, a western province where U.S.-led NATO forces turned security over to Afghan forces last year…Twelve people died and 29 others, including five women, were wounded when two insurgents detonated explosive vests and a cargo of explosives after guards stopped their vehicle entering the district governor’s compound in Guzara district, near the provincial airport.” (Miami Herald