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Microsoft to Buy Skype for $8.5 Billion, NATO Launches Strikes on Tripoli

Tony Avelar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft said Tuesday that it plans to purchase Skype, the Internet phone and video communication services with a reach of 663 million customers, for $8.5 billion in cash, with the intent of expanding its telecommunications offerings and combining Skype services with Xbox and products.

Though Skype is the world’s most-used Internet calling service, the Luxembourg-based company has a reported $775 million in debt and has had difficulty upgrading those who use the free service into paying customers. It has also faced new competitors, including Google voice and Fring.

Read Microsoft’s press release.

NATO Aims Strikes on Tripoli, Rebels Claims Advances

NATO planes launched fresh strikes in the Libyan capital Tuesday, striking several government buildings and military targets, a move that comes after weeks of stalemate. NATO has been criticized for not doing enough to help rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.

Fighting was also reported in the east near Ajdabiya, where rebels have been fighting for weeks. The opposition fighters have asked for heavier arms and assistance, largely without new aid from other countries.

Humanitarian concerns continue in Misrata, which was reportedly shelled by Gadhafi’s troops again Tuesday. The International Committee of the Red Cross has a docked ship carrying medical supplies in Misrata, which remains largely surrounded and has paid a heavy price in civilian casualties.

Bodies are being recovered after a ferry carrying 600 people near Tripoli sank on Friday.

Hundreds of Insurgents Attack Afghan Police in Nuristan

Just days after an assault on government buildings in Kandahar province, hundreds of Taliban fighters launched an attack early Tuesday on a police compound in Nuristan province, a mountainous area near the border with Pakistan. The remote province is largely under Taliban control and has no Afghan army presence. NATO officials said they were not aware of the attack. The province’s police chief estimated that 400 insurgents were involved.

Kandahar and Nuristan are both contested regions and bases for launching attacks on NATO and Afghan troops, especially during the spring offensive. In March, Taliban fighters overran a small district capital in Nuristan.

Syrian Tanks Enter Daraa, Government Claims Progress in Crackdown

Syrian tanks entered the city of Daraa Tuesday, where an intensified crackdown has included raids and arrests. Security forces are conduction similar raids in other cities in an effort to squelch what President Bashar al-Assad’s government has called an armed uprising, spurred by terrorists.

In addition to hundreds of civilian deaths, human rights groups estimate several hundred more have been detained as a result of the raids. Foreign journalists have not been allowed in to verify or report on the events in Syria directly.

A senior adviser to President Assad said the government has an advantage in the crackdown. “I hope we are witnessing the end of the story,” Bouthaina Shaaban said. “I think now we’ve passed the most dangerous moment.”

Syria’s government, which has been subject to international condemnation for its brutal response to anti-government demonstrators, has been unwilling to yield, saying “armed thugs,” foreigners and extremists were behind the unrest.

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