New Age Islam
Wed Oct 21 2020, 09:56 AM

Islamic World News ( 27 Oct 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Harmony in Colours: Muslim Students Etch Rangolis for Diwali









Seeking to spread the message of communal harmony on the occasion of Diwali, over hundred Muslim students from a school in Ahmedabad created beautiful rangoli artwork on Thursday

JeM Chief Masood Azhar Is a ‘Terrorist’, Says Musharraf

Daesh Militants 'Shave Beards’ As Pressure Builds On Mosul

Turkey’s Religious Body Issues Fatwa against Underage Marriage

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India

Harmony in Colours: Muslim Students Etch Rangolis for Diwali

Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation to Be Banned Soon

Quran Best Guide on Triple Talaq: RSS Muslim Wing

‘Islamic Preacher, Failed Grocer Were Easy Prey for ISI’

Signature Campaign In Favour Of MPLB Needs To Be Intensified: Communist Leader

Pakistan provokes with multiple attacks along LoC, India hits back hard

Pak a failed state will cease to exist on world map: J&K Dy CM

‘Terror A Weapon Of Cowards’: Home Minister Slams Pak for ‘Proxy War’ Against India

Supreme Court has done well in defining secularism, not Hinduism

India condemns Pakistan’s decision to remove high commission official

Pak spy racket: Visa agent from Jodhpur arrested

Farooq Abdullah meets PM, presses for dialogue in Kashmir

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Pakistan

JeM Chief Masood Azhar Is a ‘Terrorist’, Says Musharraf

Balochistan Seeks Powers under FCR to Fight Terrorism

FPCCI hints at reviewing trade ties with India

PTI conspiring against democracy: Fazl

Sheikh Rasheed arrives at Rawalpindi's Committee Chowk as police push back protesters

Security Forces Kill Lashkar-i-Jhangvi Militants Linked To Quetta Police Attack

10 die after consuming toxic liquor in Jhelum

Hotels warned not to host PTI, PAT members

Shahbaz, Dar discuss situation with COAS

SCBA chief slams govt for extending army’s stay in Islamabad

Govt must resign after Quetta incidents: JI chief

COAS praises military drill with China

HRCP urges president to halt execution

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Arab World

Daesh Militants 'Shave Beards’ As Pressure Builds On Mosul

Houthi Ballistic Missile Shot Down Near Makkah

Syrian Army Repels Terrorists' Offensive in Eastern Damascus

Russian Airstrikes Reduce ISIL's Oil Export by 70 Percent

King reiterates Saudi support for Syrians

Saudi forces foil another Houthi attack near Jazan

Riyadh ready to join battle for Raqqa

Saudi forces foil another Houthi attack near Jazan

Radical terrorists hold up Iraqi Army south of Mosul

Bomb-making facility discovered

Iran executed three Turks days after visit of President Erdoğan

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Mideast

Turkey’s Religious Body Issues Fatwa against Underage Marriage

At Least 100 PKK Militants ‘Neutralized’ In Six Days in Turkey’s East, Southeast

US issues travel warning over marches on Turkey’s Republic Day

Eight Turkey-backed rebels, two ISIL militants killed in Euphrates Shield operation

EU lawmakers criticize Turkey over press freedom

Turkey to US: Drop PYD, let’s free Raqqa together

Former Chief of Staff says resigned due to pressures from gov’t

Turkish Defense Ministry dismisses 195 personnel from land, naval forces

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Europe

In Germany, Syrians Find Mosques Too Conservative

Islamic State Jihadis “WILL Unleash Attacks on Europe as Payback for Mosul”

Daesh slaughtered at least 232 people near Mosul: UN

Chechnya Authorities to Attend Islamic Weddings to Check Guests’ Dancing, Getting Drunk Or Firing Guns

For EU's religious freedom envoy, Middle East is key arena

Sweden Bans Christmas Lights In Public to Avoid Angering Muslim Refugees

UNICEF: Syrian school attack potential war crime; toll rises

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Southeast Asia

Islamic State Philippines Wing Made over $7 Million in First Half of 2016

Myanmar captures 8 more border post attackers

Philippine mayor, 9 guards killed in police shoot-out

Rohingya women say Myanmar soldiers raped them amid crackdown

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South Asia

6 Soldiers Martyred, 66 Insurgents Killed In the Past 24 Hours: MoD

13 ISIS Loyalists Killed In an Airstrike in East of Afghanistan

ISIL Underlining the Importance of NATO Presence in Afghanistan: Stoltenberg

4 arrested in Kabul for selling counterfeit Dollars and Afghanis in the city

Pakistan eyes Central Asia access via Peshawar-Kabul motorway

4 ‘HuJI Men’ Arrested With Bombs, Knives In Gazipur

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North America

$170 Million Straight From Civil Service Pension Fund into Najib's Personal Account!

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Africa

Islamic Finance Leaders Set To Gather In Djibouti to Boost Trade Flows

Bashir to appoint PM for 1st time since coup

Terrorists Hamper Polio Eradication Efforts in Africa

Kenya declares curfew in Strife hit Mandera

Bosnia and Iran to co-operate on terrorism

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/harmony-in-colours--muslim-students-etch-rangolis-for-diwali/d/108946


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Harmony in Colours: Muslim Students Etch Rangolis For Diwali

Oct 28, 2016

Seeking to spread the message of communal harmony on the occasion of Diwali, over hundred Muslim students from a school in Ahmedabad created beautiful rangoli artwork on Thursday.

Excited students soaked in the festivities, as they churned out elaborate and detailed rangolis to symbolise the presence of cultural diversity in India. From rangolis depicting a peacock to the neatly etched tricolour, each student had an interesting theme to narrate.

For Dosani Firdosh, a student of FD school in Ahmedabad’s Juhapura, the festival of Diwali marks the larger narrative of cultural diversity. Along with the usual line of firecrackers, Firdosh also loves the lip-smacking sweets that form an integral part of India’s festival of lights.

India, the world’s largest democracy, has often been at the centre of communal unrest. Ever since its independence, divisive forces have fanned the flames of communal passion in grave violation of the country’s secular principles. Data provided by the Union Home Ministry shows that In 2015 alone, India witnessed a 17% jump in communal violence.

Hopefully, such activities will stop the tear in the social fabric and enhance the feeling of brotherhood amongst communities.

Source: thequint.com/videos/2016/10/28/harmony-in-colours-muslim-students-etch-rangolis-for-diwali

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JeM chief Masood Azhar is a ‘terrorist’, says Musharraf

October 28, 2016

New Delhi: Former Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf has described Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a “terrorist”, saying he has been involved in bomb blasts even in his country.

He, however, he did not give a clear reply as to why Pakistan has not been asking China to get Azhar declared as an international terrorist by the United Nations.

“Why should China be involved when it has nothing to do with him (Azhar),” Musharraf told News Nation, according to a release issued by the TV channel.

A proposal is pending before the UN Security Council for declaring Azhar as an international terrorist but China has been blocking it, claiming that there is not enough evidence to prove that he is a terrorist.

When asked about the espionage case busted today in Delhi involving an employee of the Pakistan High Commission, the former Pakistan Army Chief initially parried the issue saying, “I am not aware of it”. But then he added that “if at all it has happened, (it) shouldn’t be encouraged”, the release said.

It also quoted Musharraf as saying that the Nawaz Sharif government lacks aggression.

The channel said Musharraf accepted Pakistan government’s diplomatic failure on international front. He, however, said it does not mean that Pakistan should be taken for granted.

To a question on whether a political leadership or Army is better suited for Pakistan’s development, Musharraf said the country had witnessed growth when Army was in power.

When asked about terror camps in PoK, he feigned ignorance saying “I don’t know”. However, with a smile, he said, “I will let you know only once I get the count of these camps which you are talking about”.

On Pakistan’s diminishing relations with United States, he said there are certain contentious issues which are being addressed by Pakistan Army.

When referred to the ‘surgical strike’ and military might of India, he said, Pakistan is a nuclear power with a strong army which can’t be bullied.

On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden visit to Pakistan and his meeting with Sharif, he said shaking hands is just an artificial move, but for a formal solution, something concrete needs to be done.

Source: siasat.com/news/jem-chief-masood-azhar-terrorist-says-musharraf-1051588/

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Daesh militants 'shave beards’ as pressure builds on Mosul

Wednesday 26 October 2016

An iraqi soldier arrests a suspect Daesh member in the village of Tob Zawa, about 9 kilometers from Mosul, Iraq, on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

KHAZIR, Iraq: Daesh group fighters were shaving their beards and changing hideouts in Mosul, residents said, as Iraqi forces moved ever closer to the city Wednesday and civilians fled in growing numbers.

Reached by AFP inside Mosul, several residents said the jihadists seemed to be preparing for an assault after recent advances on the eastern front brought elite Iraqi forces to within five kilometers of city limits.

“I saw some Daesh (IS) members and they looked completely different from the last time I saw them,” said a resident of eastern Mosul who gave his name as Abu Saif.

“They had trimmed their beards and changed their clothes,” the former businessman said. “They must be scared... they are also probably preparing to escape the city.”

Residents and military officials said many IS fighters had relocated from eastern Mosul to their traditional bastions on the western bank of the Tigris river, closer to escape routes to Syria.

The sounds of fighting on the northern and eastern fronts of the Mosul offensive could now be heard inside the city, residents said, and US-led coalition aircraft were flying lower over the city than usual.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi fighters have been advancing on Mosul from the south, east and north after an offensive was launched on October 17 to retake the last major Iraqi city under Daesh control.

The assault is being backed with air and ground support from the US-led coalition which launched its campaign against Daesh two years ago, shortly after the jihadists seized control of large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Living in terror

Iraqi federal forces, allied with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, have taken a string of towns and villages in a cautious but steady advance over the last week in the face of shelling, sniper fire and suicide car bombings.

Some 3,000 to 5,000 Daesh fighters are believed to be inside Mosul, Iraq’s second city, alongside more than a million trapped civilians.

Aid workers have warned of a major potential humanitarian crisis once fighting begins inside the city itself.

An Iraqi minister said Wednesday that more than 3,300 civilians fleeing the fighting had sought help from the government the day before, the most for a single day so far.

There was “a big wave of displaced people that is considered the greatest number since the start of the military operation to liberate Nineveh province,” Displacement and Migration Minister Jassem Mohammed Al-Jaff said in a statement.

Numbers of displaced residents were growing but stood at a relatively low 8,940 on Wednesday, according to a UN tally, because most of the fighting so far has taken place in sparsely populated areas.

Civilians in villages on the eastern outskirts of Mosul were being bused to a camp near Khazir, an AFP correspondent reported.

“The army made us get out, they told us to leave and said we would see about the details of our settlement” in a camp, said Umm Ali, a 35-year-old woman.

“We used to live in terror night and day, the shelling was coming closer. The Islamic State controlled our lives, so we decided to flee,” said Essam Saadou, a 22-year-old student.

A wave of displaced residents was also expected Wednesday from Al-Shoura, an IS stronghold between Mosul and Qayyarah, the main staging base on the southern front, federal police said.

Noose tightens

As the noose tightened on Mosul, 13 defense chiefs from the 60-nation coalition meeting in Paris set their sights on Syria’s Raqqa, which would be the last major city under Daesh control if it loses Mosul.

“We have already begun laying the groundwork for our partners to commence the isolation of Raqqa,” US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said after the talks.

The coalition — which also includes Britain and France — has provided support in the form of thousands of air strikes, training for Iraqi forces and advisers on the ground.

France said Wednesday it had extended the mission of its aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, in the eastern Mediterranean until at least mid-December to help the offensive on Mosul.

President Francois Hollande decided to extend the mission after France’s defense council “reviewed the military, humanitarian, political and security stakes involved in the recapture of Mosul,” a statement issued by his office said.

Leaders in Paris on Tuesday also discussed the post-Daesh future of Mosul, which is an ethnically and religiously mixed region and where achieving a political compromise might prove even harder than a military victory.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1002736/middle-east

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Turkey’s religious body issues fatwa against underage marriage

Friday 28 October 2016

Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) has issued a fatwa against underage marriages, saying they “shattered the lives of children.”

The fatwa, included in a release responding to frequently asked questions from the public, said underage marriage could never be approved from a religious perspective.

It added that underage marriage put children “under biological, psychological and economic burdens they cannot deal with, as it also causes them to fall behind in their education and stops them from having a proper childhood.”

The fatwa noted that the practice is wrong both between underage couples and between one underage person and an adult.

The note came at a time when Turkish authorities have moved to overhaul a law on child abuse, prompted by public outrage that peaked after a controversial decision was taken by the Constitutional Court in July.

According to a decision taken by the Court that went into effect on July 13, not all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 will be regarded as “sexual abuse.”

The decision stirred outrage from academics and women’s rights activists, who warned that it would lead to cases of child abuse going unpunished. The ruling of the court, which was an annulment of an earlier local court ruling, also echoed abroad, with Austria and Sweden issuing condemnations.

Following a diplomatic spat between Sweden and Turkey, authorities in Ankara moved to increase - rather than decrease – minimum sentences for child abuse. 

As part of the plans initiated by Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, gradual punishments based on the age of the victims will go into law.

The law aims to make a distinction made between victims aged under 12 and those aged between 12 and 18, with the new law toughening sentences for offenders targeting children under 12.

In sexual abuse cases with victims under the age of 12, the minimum sentence will be 10 years, while in rape cases with victims under 12 the minimum sentence will be 18 years.

In sexual abuse cases with victims aged between 12 and 18, the current sentence term of eight to 15 years will remain the same, while in rape cases with victims aged between 12 and 18, the current minimum sentence of 16 years in jail will also remain the same.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-religious-body-issues-fatwa-against-underage-marriage-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105464&NewsCatID=339

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India

Harmony in Colours: Muslim Students Etch Rangolis For Diwali

Oct 28, 2016

Seeking to spread the message of communal harmony on the occasion of Diwali, over hundred Muslim students from a school in Ahmedabad created beautiful rangoli artwork on Thursday.

Excited students soaked in the festivities, as they churned out elaborate and detailed rangolis to symbolise the presence of cultural diversity in India. From rangolis depicting a peacock to the neatly etched tricolour, each student had an interesting theme to narrate.

For Dosani Firdosh, a student of FD school in Ahmedabad’s Juhapura, the festival of Diwali marks the larger narrative of cultural diversity. Along with the usual line of firecrackers, Firdosh also loves the lip-smacking sweets that form an integral part of India’s festival of lights.

India, the world’s largest democracy, has often been at the centre of communal unrest. Ever since its independence, divisive forces have fanned the flames of communal passion in grave violation of the country’s secular principles. Data provided by the Union Home Ministry shows that In 2015 alone, India witnessed a 17% jump in communal violence.

Hopefully, such activities will stop the tear in the social fabric and enhance the feeling of brotherhood amongst communities.

Source: thequint.com/videos/2016/10/28/harmony-in-colours-muslim-students-etch-rangolis-for-diwali

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Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation to be banned soon

October 27, 2016

An NGO promoted by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik will soon be banned under the anti-terror law, with the Home Ministry preparing a draft cabinet note for it. Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) will be declared an ‘unlawful association’ under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act after investigations by the Home Ministry found it to be allegedly having dubious links with Peace TV, an international Islamic channel, accused of propagating terrorism, an official source said.

According to the draft note, which is also based on the inputs from Maharashtra Police, Naik, who heads the IRF, has allegedly made many provocative speeches and engaged in terror propaganda. Maharashtra Police has also registered criminal cases against Naik for his alleged involvement in radicalisation of youths and luring them into terror activities, a source said.

Naik also transferred IRF’s foreign funds to Peace TV for making “objectionable” programmes. Most of the programmes, which were made in India, contained alleged hate speeches of Naik, who had reportedly “urged all Muslims to be terrorists” through Peace TV, sources claimed.

Two educational trusts run by Naik have also come under the scanner of the Home Ministry and agencies are looking into their activities. The draft note will soon be placed before the Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for its approval, sources said.

Naik is accused of radicalising youths into terror and receiving foreign funds and spending those to lure young people into terrorism.

He came under the scanner of the security agencies after Bangladeshi newspaper ‘Daily Star’ reported that one of the perpetrators of the July 1 terror attack in Dhaka, Rohan Imtiaz, ran propaganda on Facebook last year quoting Naik.

Naik in a lecture, aired on Peace TV, had reportedly “urged all Muslims to be terrorists”. The Islamic orator is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speech aimed against other religions. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia.

He is popular in Bangladesh through his Peace TV, although his preachings often demean other religions and even other Muslim sects. The Mumbai-based preacher has not returned to India ever since the controversy came to light.

Source: indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/zakir-naiks-islamic-research-foundation-to-be-banned-soon-dhaka-attack-terrorism-peace-tv/

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Quran best guide on triple talaq: RSS Muslim wing

Oct 28, 2016

Nagpur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have raised voice against the system of triple talaq, calling it to be injustice to Muslim women but the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its Muslim wing, the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), have adopted a guarded approach on the matter.

A day before RSS' conclave ended at Hyderabad, its general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi was quoted as saying that triple talaq is an internal matter of the community. The MRM, which plans to hold a mega convention in Agra on November 27, has maintained a stance that the community will go by the Islamic law. If at all any changes have to be made, it will be in the light of Quran and Hadith.

Formed in 2004, MRM is a brainchild of RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar. "Bhaiyyaji Joshi has given a statement on the issue and we will go by it," Kumar told TOI, preferring not to speak more at the juncture as the convention had just ended.

Sources say the MRM activists had tried to impress upon the leadership that opposing triple talaq per say will not go well with the community at large.

"The entire issue of triple talaq should not be misunderstood. There is a well-laid system in the Quran and Hadith, and it is not easy to just get rid of one's spouse. Even the wife has the right to walk out of the marriage under Khula. Since the Shariat law is ultimate for the community, there is no chance to go beyond that," said Farooq Shaikh, the state head of MRM.

Shaikh said All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) can act as an intervener in the Supreme Court litigation admitted against triple talaq. "The religion itself discourages divorce and considers it to be one of the most undesirable acts," he said.

Dr Sayid Akhtar, the national convener, told TOI that the organization is planning to conduct a study related to divorce laws in Islamic countries and find if any changes have been made. Laws in countries like Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan will be studied and a report is expected to be put up before Indresh Kumar in a month or so. Akhtar, however, said MRM is not a unit under RSS but an organization led by a RSS leader.

However, any change if needed will only be done considering the Shariat law, said Akhtar. "The MRM, which has opposed any ban on triple talaq, also wants that organizations like AIMPLB should ensure that the proper procedure laid down for divorce is followed," he said.

Now, as the matter is being dragged to the court, it is time that AIMPLB and religious leaders take a proactive stance like having counselling centres, he said.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/Quran-best-guide-on-triple-talaq-RSS-Muslim-wing/articleshow/55099620.cms

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‘Islamic preacher, failed grocer were easy prey for ISI’

SHIV SUNNY

October 28, 2016

The two persons arrested in Delhi on Thursday on the charge of passing on defence related information to Pakistan were paid meagre amounts for their efforts to collect information, according to investigators.

“The amount varied between Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 a month. Each time, the spies would bring in a thick stack of documents, some of them useful, others not,” said Ravindra Yadav, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime).

Pakistan High Commission staffer Mahmood Akhtar, who is accused of being an ISI agent and their handler, allegedly asked his contacts in Rajasthan and Gujarat to target men who were struggling for money.

Of the two arrested, Maulana Ramzan Khan was a teacher in a mosque in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district. Also an “Islamic preacher,” he served as the caretaker of the mosque as well as taught around 40-50 children.

“He was being paid Rs. 2,000 for taking care of the mosque and Rs. 3,000 for his role as a teacher. That made him an easy target,” said a senior police officer.

Public image

But what really made him a potential spy was because of his public image in the area. “His visitors included many serving and retired personnel from the Army and the BSF,” said the investigator.

Moreover, living close to the India-Pakistan border, he was familiar with the topography of the area. So, around one-and-half-years ago, Akhtar allegedly asked him to build on his contacts and seek defence related information, also promising him much better pay for his efforts.

The other arrested person, Subhash Jangir, too was an “easy prey.” At the time of his ''induction'' as a spy around a year ago, he was running a grocery shop that was not doing well.

Jangir was lured by Khan as they lived in the same area. “Jangir was under heavy debt and Khan, being aware of his financial condition, saw him as a soft target,” said Mr. Yadav.

Bank accounts under lens

But Khan allegedly introduced Jangir as a paramilitary officer in his bid to extract more money from Akhtar, the officer said.

Investigators said the bank accounts of the arrested men would be analysed to identify whether any Army or BSF personnel suspected of being hand in glove were receiving money.

A hunt is also on for many other others suspected to be spying for Pakistan.

Police said they have credible clues regarding the identity of some of them and expect to gather more information based on the interrogation of Shoaib, a third suspect who was apprehended from Jodhpur by the Rajasthan Police late Thursday afternoon.

Source: thehindu.com/news/national/indian-spies-in-espionage-case-islamic-preacher-grocer-were-easy-prey/article9277562.ece

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Signature Campaign In Favour Of MPLB Needs To Be Intensified: Communist Leader

October 28, 2016

Hyderabad: Supporting Muslim Personal Law Board on Uniform Civil Code issue, former MP and senior communist leader Mr. Syed Aziz Pasha said that protest meetings, rallies and sit-ins will help communal forces succeed in their nefarious plans hence we should work according to the strategy announced by Muslim Personal Law Board to protest against Uniform Civil Code and run large scale signature campaign against it.

Addressing a round table conference organised by All India Muslim Minority Organisation, at BC Bhawan Himayatnagar on the topic of welfare and prosperity of Muslims and 12 percent reservations, Mr. Syed Aziz Pasha said Uniform Civil Code and triple Talaq are two different issues. Central government is trying to link them so that it can easily exploit minority votes during proposed Uttar Pradesh elections.

Mr. Aziz Pasha advised to finalise protest programmes to oppose Uniform Civil Code by adopting democratic means. As far a Talaq issue is concerned the rate of divorce among Muslims is 23 pc while in Hindus it is 65 pc and it is the highest in Gujarat state. He said linking Talaq issue with Uniform Civil Code is violation of Indian Constitution.

Source: siasat.com/news/signature-campaign-favour-mplb-needs-intensified-aziz-pasha-1051945/

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Pakistan provokes with multiple attacks along LoC, India hits back hard

October 28, 2016

Jammu: Pakistani troops continued ceasefire violations on Friday with firing and mortar shelling on Indian posts and civilian areas along the LoC and international border in Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts, leaving a girl injured.

BSF and Army have responded “appropriately and befittingly” a defence spokesman said.

“There was unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan Army in Sunderbani, Pallanwala and Nowshera sectors of Rajouri and Jammu districts today,” the spokesman said.

They used small arms, automatics, 82 mm mortars and 120 mm mortars in the firing and shelling, he said.

“They are being responded appropriately and befittingly. No casualties to our troops have been reported,” he said.

Firing and shelling continued overnight along the international border. Some Pakistani posts and villages received heavy damages due to the shelling

BSF on Thursday said it had killed a Pakistani paramilitary jawan and wounded another after a BSF jawan died and six civilians were injured in shelling and firing from across the International Border in R S Pura and Arnia sectors since last night.

Pakistani troops also violated ceasefire along LoC in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri district on Thursday.

“BSF troops in Arnia and R S Pura sectors killed one Pakistani Ranger and seriously injured another in the retaliatory firing,” a senior BSF officer had said.

Pakistani Rangers somehow managed to evacuate their grievously injured colleague in the vehicle amidst exchange of fire, officer said.

“Pakistani has resorted to very heavy firing which is being responded in the befitting manner,” he said.

Earlier, a BSF jawan died and six civilians were injured when Pakistani troops shelled over 15 Indian border outposts and 29 hamlets with mortar bombs and fired heavily from automatic weapons overnight in R S Pura and Arnia sectors along the International Border (IB) in Jammu district.

Source: siasat.com/news/jk-pakistan-provokes-multiple-attacks-along-loc-india-hits-back-hard-1051872/

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Pak a failed state, will cease to exist on world map: J&K Dy CM

October 28, 2016

New Delhi: Accusing Pakistan for “destabilising” Jammu and Kashmir, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh on Thursday said the neighbouring country is a “failed state” and time would come when it will “cease to exist on the world map”.

“Time will come when Pakistan will not be on the map of world. It will have similar fate as that in the period when Bangladesh was carved out,” Singh said.

He said Pakistan has turned “jittery” following surgical strikes on terror launch pads by Indian Army in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

“It is now resorting to continuous ceasefire violations and pushing in militants to destabilise Jammu and Kashmir. It also engineering what is happening in Kashmir Valley,” Mr Singh said.

“Pakistan has been isolated with the proactive and strong campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi across the globe. It has been isolated on the global map and has become a failed and a terrorist state,” he claimed.

He was speaking at a function to commemorate the 69th Martyrdom day of Brigadier Rajendra Singh (MVC posthumous), organised at latter’s birth place Bagoona at Rajinderpura village in Samba district.

Recalling the bravery and sacrifice of Rajendra, the Deputy Chief Minister said personalities like him inspire us to stand for the sovereignty and integration of the country.

He exhorted upon the youth to remember and emulate the bravery of such heroes.

Mr Singh said the government is committed to the welfare of soldiers and their families and informed that it was contemplating to formulate a policy for providing jobs and compensation for wards of martyred soldiers.

Source: siasat.com/news/pak-failed-state-will-cease-exist-world-map-jk-dy-cm-1051718/

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‘Terror A Weapon Of Cowards’: Home Minister Slams Pak For ‘Proxy War’ Against India

October 28, 2016

Greater Noida: Home Minister Rajnath Singh made a veiled attack on Pakistan on Friday, accusing it of indulging in a proxy war and trying to harm India by taking “cowardly” aid of terrorism.

“The neighbouring country has been carrying out a proxy war. But terrorism is not a weapon of the brave but of cowards. Those who fight from behind are called cowards, they take the help of terrorism,” he said.

Speaking at the 55th raising day event of border guarding force Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) at its camp in Noida, he said strict vigil by the force has resulted in 60 per cent less transgressions into the Indian territory by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army this year.

Referring to the current tensions between the two countries, he said the neighbour has been trying to harm India and was attempting to break and “destabilise” it by resorting to terrorism.

Singh said an “evil eye” is being cast on India to thwart its progress as it is marching on as one of the fastest growing economies of the world.

Situation along the Indo-Pak border continues to remain tense after terrorists attacked an Army camp in Uri killing 19 soldiers on September 17.

In a retaliatory action, Indian Army carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads in PoK on September 27. Firing by both Indian and Pakistani forces towards each other’s positions have been continuing leading to several deaths on both sides.

Singh had earlier instructed border guarding forces not to fire towards the enemy first, but not to count bullets if they are fired upon.

Later, while taking questions on the ceasefire violations by Pakistan, he said, “Our soldiers are responding to them befittingly.”

To a question on the espionage case involving a diplomat of the Pakistani High Commission in India, he said the government is taking necessary action.

Source: siasat.com/news/terror-weapon-cowards-rajnath-slams-pak-proxy-war-india-1052089/

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Supreme Court has done well in defining secularism, not Hinduism

Oct 28, 2016

A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court hearing the case of using religion during elections to seek votes asked a question on Thursday (28 October) that should have been asked a long ago.

In our public discourse, we hear a lot about “secularism”. But can secularism remain aloof from religion?, the Apex Court asked, saying “ it will be difficult to accept as a proposition that a political party should have nothing to do with religion and those who have something to do with it must cease to be political parties”. But this was not all. The Bench then went on to ask, “Secularism does not mean aloofness to religion but giving equal treatment to every religion. Religion and caste are vital aspects of our public life. Can it be possible to completely separate religion and caste from politics?”

While an answer to the ticklish question that the Supreme Court has asked will be different from different parties that have approached (are approaching, something the CPM did on Thursday) the Court, the most notable component of that question happens to be “secularism”. The Apex Court now defines secularism to be “equal treatment to every religion”, a definition that has eluded the political and intellectual consensus in this country so far.

Supreme Court of India. ReutersSupreme Court of India. Reuters

Ironically, "secularism" has been never defined by its political and intellectual champions in India. Though the 42nd Amendment in 1975 by Indira Gandhi’s Congress government did incorporate the word "secularism" to the preamble of our Constitution, it did not define what secularism was. Ironically, her Congress party, which dominated the then Rajya Sabha in 1978, foiled an attempt to actually define secularism as "equal respect to all religions" by defeating an amendment bill to that effect, the bill that had already been cleared in the Lok Sabha during the Janata regime of Morarji Desai.

In my considered view, the absence of a clear definition of secularism in our political parlance has created two problems. One, it has resulted in a situation where we witness "communal politicians" becoming "secular" overnight and vice versa, with everything depending on the political convenience of the parties and their supporters. Secondly, the way it has been practiced in India, secularism has been reduced to be essentially anti-Hindu but pro-minorities viewpoints or measures. And this has been systematically promoted by what is known as Nehruvianism, the Left-Liberal framework that dominates Indian public discourse.

It is instructive here to note that in 1949, Nehru had said that 'to talk of Hindu culture would injure India's interests'. He had admitted more than once that by education he was an Englishman, by views an internationalist, by culture a Muslim, and a Hindu only by accidental birth. In 1953, Nehru had written to Kailash Nath Katju: "In practice, the individual Hindu is more intolerant and more narrow-minded than almost any person in any other country.”

Of course, Nehru did the right thing by trying to remove some degraded practices within Hinduism, but the problem with him was that he was not bothered about the similar reforms in other religions. Nehru codified the Hindu personnel laws (concerning Hindus’ diverse customs, rituals and practices) in 1956, but he backtracked on doing so towards Muslim personal law. No wonder why J B Kriplani, a veteran socialist, opposed the Hindu Code Bill on the ground that the Nehru government was “communal”. Kriplani had told Nehru, “If you want to have a divorce for Hindu community, have it; but have it for Catholic community also. I tell you this is the democratic way, the other is the communal way. It is not the Mahasabhites who alone are communal, it is the government also that is communal, whatever it may say. I charge you with communalism because you are bringing forward a law about monogamy only for the Hindu community. You must bring it to the Muslim community. Take it from me that the Muslim community is prepared to have it but you are not brave enough to do it."

It is under Nehruvian secularism that the Government appoints trustees to manages Hindu temples (and maths) of Viswanath, Tirupati, Puri, Nathdwara and Guruvayur. But the same Government considers it “communal” to do likewise in the case of masjids, churches and Gurudwaras. Secularism of the Nehruvian variety says that it is “progressive” to denounce a Hindu Swami for trying to influence his or her followers, but it is “communal” to raise finger at those who issue fatwas and hukamnamas.

As Arun Shourie has pointed out in his book Religion in Politics, “during the freedom struggle, if you looked upon a Muslim as being someone apart, as being someone other than just a human being like yourself, the ‘progressive’ was bound to brand you ‘communal’. Today, unless you look upon the Muslim as separate, that is, unless you see him as a Muslim rather than as just a human being like yourself, the ‘progressive’ brands you ‘communal’. Fifty years ago when a Hindu scholar by his deep study perceived and wrote about The Essential Unity of All Religions’ – the title of Bhagwan Das’ famous work – that was looked upon as humanist scholarship at its best. Today when a scholar points to the identity of what is taught in Granth Sahib and what is taught in say, the Hindu Bhakti tradition, it is taken as proof positive of a deep conspiracy to swallow Sikhism”.

In fact, India today is much more divided than what it was at the time of partition in 1947, thanks to the perverse manner in which secularism or for that matter “the identity politics” is being practiced in the country. The victims of any crime or injustice these days are being seen in terms of their religions and castes, not as normal human beings who are all equal under Indian laws. What is worse, depending on their identities, both the victims and the guilty must get “different” treatments, if we go by the demands of the so-called secularists.

And these “secular” double standards are seen in the politics of the country.

In fact, the Congress manifesto in January 1989 for the Mizoram election promised to promote ‘Christian socialism’. It stated “As Christians, it is our bounden duty to proclaim the gospel. To fulfill this irreversible responsibility we need secularism in letter and spirit… It is but reasonable that the Christian should lend support to the Congress.”

Similarly, in his book Communal Road to Secular Kerala, sociologist George Mathew has described how late Indira Gandhi wooed the Church to issue directives to vote in favor of the Congress lead UDF in the early 1980s. The Christian Bishops appealed for support to only those candidates who believed in God, with an obvious reference to UDF led by the Congress. And we all know how the Rajiv Gandhi government overturned the Supreme Court judgment on the famous Shah Bano case by bringing about a fresh legislation in the Parliament, with a clear motive to woo the Muslim electorate.

The moral of the story is thus clear. There cannot be true secularism unless all the religions in India are treated equally under Indian laws and politics is liberated from the hegemony (not necessarily influence) of religion. The Supreme Court has done well in providing a definition of secularism. In that sense, the ongoing case should be the referral point for defining secularism, not Hinduism.

Source: firstpost.com/politics/supreme-court-has-done-well-in-defining-secularism-not-hinduism-3077828.html

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India condemns Pakistan’s decision to remove high commission official

October 28, 2016

New Delhi: India on Friday condemned Pakistan’s move of declaring persona non grata an officer posted in its high commission in Islamabad.

“Government notes with regret the government of Pakistan’s decision to declare Surjeet Singh, Assistant Personnel and Welfare Officer in the High Commission of India in Islamabad, persona non grata and expel him and his family members,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“No justification has been provided by the government of Pakistan except for the completely baseless and unsubstantiated allegation that his activities were not in keeping with diplomatic norms,” it stated.

“The government condemns Pakistan’s step.”

Pakistan’s move came hours after Indian authorities detained a Pakistani High Commission official, Mehmood Akhtar, in New Delhi on Thursday on charges of running a spy network.

The Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned the Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit and asked that Akhtar, a visa officer, be sent back within 48 hours.

On Thursday evening, in what was obviously a retaliatory move, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry summoned Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale in Islamabad and declared Indian high commission official Surjeet Singh as persona non grata and asked that he leave the country by Saturday.

“It is obvious that the step is an afterthought following yesterday’s apprehension of Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar in Delhi while indulging in anti-India activities,” the External Affairs Ministry statement said.

“Pakistan’s action further confirms that it continues to be in denial of its anti-India activities, including cross-border terrorism,” it added.

Source: siasat.com/news/india-condemns-pakistans-decision-remove-high-commission-official-1051966/

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Pak spy racket: Visa agent from Jodhpur arrested

October 28, 2016

New Delhi: After getting a tip-off, police had on Wednesday nabbed Pakistan High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar along with two Indians identified as Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir at Delhi Zoo while the visa agent Shoaib had managed to escape.

Shoaib was detained near Jodhpur last evening and after being brought here, he was arrested, a senior police officer said today.

While Akhtar was yesterday declared persona non grata, Subhash and Maulana has been arrested on charges of sharing of sensitive information and defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border. They were sent to 12-day police custody.

It was found that Shoaib was responsible for recruiting Subhash and Maulana in the module.

Shoaib had come in contact with Maulana around one-and- a-half years back and lured him into activities of collecting vital information about the installations of army and paramilitary forces in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the officer said.

“We had sent a request to Jodhpur Police about detaining Shoaib and yesterday evening he was detained,” said the officer.

Shoaib’s questioning is likely to reveal information about other spies in the racket.

Source: siasat.com/news/pak-spy-racket-visa-agent-jodhpur-arrested-1051964/

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Farooq Abdullah meets PM, presses for dialogue in Kashmir

October 28, 2016

New Delhi: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the situation in the Kashmir Valley which continues to witness unrest for over 100 days.

During the meeting, Abdullah stressed for an early dialogue with all the stakeholders who were willing to come to the table for negotiation so that the stalemate can end in the Valley.

The former Chief Minister, who has been touring the entire state, said that the Prime Minister listened patiently to him and was receptive to the suggestions he made. “I am sure that the Prime Minister will urgently address all the issues that have been flagged by me and others from the state,” Abdullah told PTI after the meeting.

The former Chief Minister said that National Conference has played the role of a constructive opposition party and would continue to do so. “We are willing to do anything for the people of the state who have been victims of unrest for over three months now.

“The education sector has suffered. Tourism industry, which is the mainstay of the economy, has been hit badly. The people living along the Line of Control and International Border are suffering. I have requested to take into consideration all these factors and make attempts to bring some relief to the people in the state,” he said.

Abdullah,however, refused to share other details about the meeting. “The meeting took place in the most cordial atmosphere and the Prime Minister was equally concerned about the situation in the state,” the NC leader said.

As many as 85 people, including two policemen, have been killed and thousands of others injured in the unrest in the Valley triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July. Around 5,000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.

Source: siasat.com/news/farooq-abdullah-meets-pm-presses-dialogue-kashmir-1051933/

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Pakistan

JeM chief Masood Azhar is a ‘terrorist’, says Musharraf

October 28, 2016

New Delhi: Former Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf has described Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a “terrorist”, saying he has been involved in bomb blasts even in his country.

He, however, he did not give a clear reply as to why Pakistan has not been asking China to get Azhar declared as an international terrorist by the United Nations.

“Why should China be involved when it has nothing to do with him (Azhar),” Musharraf told News Nation, according to a release issued by the TV channel.

A proposal is pending before the UN Security Council for declaring Azhar as an international terrorist but China has been blocking it, claiming that there is not enough evidence to prove that he is a terrorist.

When asked about the espionage case busted today in Delhi involving an employee of the Pakistan High Commission, the former Pakistan Army Chief initially parried the issue saying, “I am not aware of it”. But then he added that “if at all it has happened, (it) shouldn’t be encouraged”, the release said.

It also quoted Musharraf as saying that the Nawaz Sharif government lacks aggression.

The channel said Musharraf accepted Pakistan government’s diplomatic failure on international front. He, however, said it does not mean that Pakistan should be taken for granted.

To a question on whether a political leadership or Army is better suited for Pakistan’s development, Musharraf said the country had witnessed growth when Army was in power.

When asked about terror camps in PoK, he feigned ignorance saying “I don’t know”. However, with a smile, he said, “I will let you know only once I get the count of these camps which you are talking about”.

On Pakistan’s diminishing relations with United States, he said there are certain contentious issues which are being addressed by Pakistan Army.

When referred to the ‘surgical strike’ and military might of India, he said, Pakistan is a nuclear power with a strong army which can’t be bullied.

On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden visit to Pakistan and his meeting with Sharif, he said shaking hands is just an artificial move, but for a formal solution, something concrete needs to be done.

Source: siasat.com/news/jem-chief-masood-azhar-terrorist-says-musharraf-1051588/

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Balochistan seeks powers under FCR to fight terrorism

October 28, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Balo­chistan government has demanded pre-1958 powers under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) to curb crimes and prevent acts of terror in the province.

“The provincial administration has no legal powers in Balochistan that has become a war zone,” Home Secretary Mohammad Akbar told a meeting of the Senate’s Functional Committee on Human Rights on Thursday.

Committee members, esp­ecially Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal, criticised both the federal and provincial governments for their failure to stop acts of terror in the province.

Dr Jamaldini lost his son in the Aug 8 suicide attack on Quetta’s Civil Hospital that claimed the lives of more than 70 people, including lawyers.

Though not on the agenda of the meeting, the security situation came under discussion, especially after the Oct 24 gun-and-suicide attack on the Police Training College, Quetta, in which over 60 cadets died. The senators said they wanted know who had powers in Balochistan to restore stability there.

Mohammad Akbar said: “Balochistan has become a cocktail of insurgencies, religious extremism and other criminal activities. We cannot hide that the system has failed in Balochistan.”

The Senate committee recommended that standard operating procedures be followed when there was information about and threat of possible attacks so that precious lives could be saved.

The committee asked about the number of people killed and bodies found dumped in Balochistan over the past five years, copies of FIRs, DNA tests of the victims and whether there was any nexus between those reported missing and those killed and dumped. The home secretary sought one month to furnish the replies.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292733/balochistan-seeks-powers-under-fcr-to-fight-terrorism

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FPCCI hints at reviewing trade ties with India

October 28, 2016

KARACHI: The Federa­tion of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Thursday said it would consider suspending trade with India if the situation did not improve soon.

FPCCI president Abdul Rauf Alam said that Pakistan had no compulsions of any sort to continue business and trade relations with India under the current hostile conditions. The entire Pakistani business community, he said, was united to take any decision and given the tense situation in the region, it was not possible to continue trade relations with India.

He pointed out the role of the Saarc Chamber of Com­m­erce and Industry and said that it left them with no choice but to promote trade relations with ECO and D-8 countries.

Read: ‘Trade with India not to affect Pakistan economy’

The Kalabagh dam and the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) were also facing controversies and losing such opportunities could be damaging for the country, said Mr Alam, adding that the CPEC was a game-changer, but there was little awareness among the business community about the project. He advised the community to work in unison and avoid politics of accusations in order to improve the image of the apex body of trade and industry (FPCCI).

Mr Alam was of the opinion that without making payments of outstanding sales tax refunds to exporters, the country would not progress and falling exports would also not improve.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292742/fpcci-hints-at-reviewing-trade-ties-with-india

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PTI conspiring against democracy: Fazl

October 28, 2016

NOWSHERA: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Mau­lana Fazlur Rehman has ac­­cused the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) of hatching conspiracies against democracy and democratic institutions in the country. But, he said, political forces of the country would not allow the PTI to derail the system.

Addressing his party’s youth convention here on Thursday, he said that cases related to Panama Papers were in the court and, therefore, there was no justification to give a call for the lockdown of Islamabad on Nov 2 on the issue.

The Maulana criticised PTI chief Imran Khan for what he called his stubbornness and said he would achieve nothing from such protests. The lockdown of the federal capital was dangerous for the system, he added.

He alleged that during its three-month-long Islamabad sit-in in 2014, the PTI promoted obscenity. “Change can’t be brought through dance and songs. Imran Khan has failed to make any positive example in politics and he just wants to abuse other politicians,” he added.

The JUI-F chief said change could be brought through parliament and for it a democratic role was needed. He said the role of religious leaders in Pakistan could not be ignored.

He said the country was passing through a critical time and it was the need of the hour to show political maturity. Indian forces were killing innocent Kashmiris and despite human rights violations in held Kashmir international community was supporting India, he said, adding that this was the time for all political parties of the country to shun their differences and support the Kashmiri people. He said that at a time when a black day was being obser­ved in India-held Kashmir and Kashmiris were protesting against Indian brutalities, the PTI’s plan to create anarchy in the country was unjustified.

The JUI-F chief said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shoul­d not be afraid of PTI’s protests.

He said it was strange that the PTI chief, who himself owned an offshore company, was launching protest over the issue of Panama Papers. He accused the PTI’s provincial government in Khyber Pakhtun­khwa of having been invol­ved in massive corruption.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292737/pti-conspiring-against-democracy-fazl

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Sheikh Rasheed arrives at Rawalpindi's Committee Chowk as police push back protesters

October 28, 2016

As the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Awami Muslim League (AML) vowed to go ahead with their planned protests against the government, police and opposition activists came face to face at Rawalpindi's Committee Chowk near the Lal Haveli residence of Sheikh Rasheed.

TV footage showed baton-carrying police pushing back PTI activists. Soon after, activists started pelting stones at the police.

Police push back protesters.

Speaking to DawnNews, Rashid said police are beating up activists of his party. "They did not even spare children. They are not letting ambulances reach Lal Haveli."

The political atmosphere in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi turned tense with the PTI calling for countrywide protests on Friday after police stormed a youth convention of the party and arrested activists in the federal capital late on Thursday.

The AML earlier vowed to go ahead with its plan of holding a political meeting at Shaikh Rashid's Lal Haveli residence, despite a ban on public gatherings.

Rashid was scheduled to arrive at Lal Haveli by 2pm today. However, he just stated in a tweet that his driver and security guard have been arrested. He also said he would show up to the planned protest.

Meanwhile, PTI's top brass, including Asad Omer and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, has been stationed at the residence of Imran Khan in Banigala. They are reviewing the situation and have made preparations in connection with today's protest rally.

Despite the plans announced for today's protest, normal traffic could be witnessed on Murree road, the main artery connecting Rawalpindi and Islamabad, and education institutions, offices and businesses were functioning as per usual in the twin cities. However, the turnings on the road that lead to Lal Haveli where the AML gathering is scheduled for the afternoon have been blocked with containers.

Furthermore, authorities have suspended the Metro Bus Service in the twin cities "till further orders". And although skeleton staff was present, entrance gates of all bus stops have been locked for public since Thursday evening.

Also read: Ignoring the larger threat to democracy

Section 144 was imposed in the twin cities a day earlier, leading to a ban on public gatherings and usage of loudspeakers.

PTI's plan for today

The PTI has devised a strategy for the day after a meeting of the party's top leaders.

Imran Khan directed party workers to reach Banigala by 1pm to take out a rally from his residence to Lal Haveli in Rawalpindi where Sheikh Rasheed of AML has planned a political convention.

Late in the night, three buses carrying Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel reached the residence of the PTI supremo and troops were deployed in the area. Police deployment also began in the area early Friday.

Meanwhile, PTI activists also took positions in front of Khan's residence. A PTI volunteer earlier claimed that around 2,500 party workers have already reached Banigala.

The AML convention was scheduled as a warm up exercise ahead of the Nov 2 showdown by the PTI. AML, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) of Tahirul Qadri, Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid (PML-Q) have announced to join the Nov 2 'lockdown'.

Since last night, all the five ways leading to Shaikh Rashid's residence, where PTI Chairman Imran Khan is due to address a gathering, have been sealed. Shops around the area were also sealed by authorities ahead of the meeting.

Rashid, who slept at a friend's residence last night, arrived at Committee Chowk on Friday morning where he vowed to hold a programme after Friday prayers "at all cost". He said the convention would be held at the Committee Chowk as administration had sealed roads to Lal Haveli where the program was scheduled to take place. Earlier, Rashid in a video statement urged his followers to offer Friday prayers in nearby mosques and assemble at Lal Haveli.

Earlier on Thursday, he announced to "tear Section 144 into 144 pieces" as the administration announced the section's imposition.

"On Nov 2, Rawalpindi will be closed down no matter what anyone does," he said.

Panama Papers

PTI and the government have locked horns since the names of members of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family appeared in the Panama Papers leaks.

After months of verbal duels between the parties, Imran Khan announced plans to lay siege on the capital on Nov 2, and vowed to stay put until Prime Minister Nawaz resigns or presents himself for accountability in the backdrop of the Panama Papers scandal.

Imran claims the revelations in Panama Papers are proof of the PM's corruption and that the latter should give up his position. In contrast, the ruling PML-N has accused Khan of sowing anarchy with his plans and claimed that the party leadership and PM's family were ready for accountability through proper channels.

In a new development, the Supreme Court on Friday constituted a larger bench to hear petitions in connection with the Panama Papers leaks.

Chief Justice (CJ) Anwar Zaheer Jamali will be chairing the bench while Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Amir Hani Muslim, Justice Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Hassan are the other members.

Although Panama Papers leaks has been a running theme with the PTI's demands for accountability, the latest calls to protest come at the heels of a scheduled changeover in the military high command and at a time when ties between the civilian leadership and the army top brass are coming across as complex if not downright fraught.

Questions are being asked as to whether the army would step in in case the protests get out of hand. There is ample speculation about street protests, possible bloodshed and an escalating situation creating space for the army to intervene.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292801/police-push-back-protesters-at-rawalpindis-committee-chowk

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Security forces kill Lashkar-i-Jhangvi militants linked to Quetta police attack

October 28, 2016

Security forces raided a compound in Quetta and killed four militants linked to an attack on a police academy earlier in the week, officials said Friday.

The raid in Quetta, the capital of strife-riven Balochistan province, was carried out late Thursday following an intelligence tip-off about the presence of fighters from the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) militant group.

“A team of anti-terrorist force (ATF) raided the compound and killed four militants after an exchange of gunfire,” a senior local police official Abdullah Afridi told AFP.

Speaking off the record, a police official said the militants belonged to the LJ — a faction of which claimed it had worked with the Islamic State group to carry out the Monday night raid that killed 61 people, the deadliest assault on a security installation in Pakistan's history.

IS had previously also claimed the raid and released photos of the fighters involved, one of whom bore a strong resemblance to an attacker who was killed by security forces in the assault.

The extent of any material support to local groups from IS remains unclear, but affiliation with the notoriously brutal outfit brings the promise of a far higher profile.

The Balochistan government has also formed a joint investigation team (JIT) comprising officials from the army, police and intelligence agencies to probe Monday's attack.

Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency since shortly after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, though overall levels of violence have dropped following a series of military offensives in the country's western tribal regions.

Monday night's raid though served as a grim reminder that militant groups are still able to carry out major assaults from time to time.

The emergence of IS in Pakistan is seen as a major blow to the country's long-running efforts to quell the insurgency, and comes as the group's key rival Al Qaeda is losing strength in what was once its “home ground”.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292807/security-forces-kill-lashkar-i-jhangvi-militants-linked-to-quetta-police-attack

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10 die after consuming toxic liquor in Jhelum

October 28, 2016

At least ten people died on Friday after drinking toxic alcohol in Jhelum.

Deaths were reported in Jhelum's Christian Colony area which, widely known as 'sharab ghot' amongst locals, is notorious for its production of alcohol.

Amongst those who have died were guests attending a wedding celebration last night.

The alcohol produced in this area is sold widely within Jhelum and deaths have also been reported in areas beyond Christian Colony where alcohol produced at 'sharab ghot' has been consumed.

The development comes a day after the Sindh High Court order an immediate closure of all wine shops across Sindh.

The incident highlights the proliferation of low-grade liquor in the country, which officially bars people from drinking in the country.

While higher income Pakistanis buy bootlegged higher grade alcohol at heavily inflated prices, the poor often resort to home-brews that can contain methanol, commonly used in anti-freeze and fuel.

Consumption of methanol can lead to blindness, liver damage and death. In 2007, 40 people were killed in Karachi after drinking contaminated liquor.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292803/10-die-after-consuming-toxic-liquor-in-jhelum

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Hotels warned not to host PTI, PAT members

October 28, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The owners and managements of guest houses, inns, motels and hotels in the capital city have been warned by police not to rent rooms to leaders, workers and supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek from Oct 26 until the conclusion of their protest, the police said.

The written warning was issued by station house officers of various police stations, where owners of various lodging establishments were warned of dire consequences if they didn’t t comply with the orders. Records of these establishments will be checked and searches will also be conducted, the police said. Police officials told Dawn that though the government has not given clear directions to the police regarding the PTI’s plans to lay siege to the city, the police has made a list of the party leaders, activists and supporters to arrest.

“The list includes the names of individuals to arrest if the government issues orders,” a police official said, adding that the list was drafted after extensive surveillance and also includes the location of individuals at particular times.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292718/hotels-warned-not-to-host-pti-pat-members

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Shahbaz, Dar discuss situation with COAS

October 28, 2016

ISLAMABAD: With the political temperature running high ahead of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s planned lockdown of federal capital, a powerful government team on Thursday met Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif to discuss with him the overall situation.

The official team comprised Punjab Chief Minis­ter Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

According to the Inter Services Public Relations, the military’s public affairs wing, the meeting held at the Army House continued from 4pm to 5.30pm.

“The delegation briefed COAS on the progress of investigation and recommendations related to planted story of National Security breach of 6 Oct,” said a press release issued by the ISPR.

ISI Director General Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar was also present during the meeting.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292722/shahbaz-dar-discuss-situation-with-coas

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SCBA chief slams govt for extending army’s stay in Islamabad

October 28, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Barrister Ali Zafar has said that by invoking Article 245 of the Constitution to extend stay of the armed forces for another 90 days in Islamabad — the venue of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) plan­ned lockdown — the federal government has shown that it has already panicked.

In a statement issued on Thursday, he said that the government had the legal right to call in the armed forces, but the power should be exercised with utmost caution and as a last resort that too when police and civil authorities failed to control riots and life and public property were at stake. Such a situation has not yet arisen.

Under the law, he said, the government could take such an action as a pre-emptive step if it had credible and clear information that the protest would be violent. If this is the case then before issuing such a notification, the government should have disclosed the information to public.

No such information had been disclosed till date and as such the government notification was based on an anticipated presumption, Mr Zafar said.

“Thus this is a premature and prima facie unconstitutional action by the government,” he said, adding that the armed forces could not and should not be used to control protests — a job which should be handled by police and civil authorities.

Barrister Zafar said that to him protests did not pose any danger to democracy but were part of it. Moreover, presently the armed forces are seriously concerned about national security.

The government, political parties and people must do much more, both domestically and in international relations, to support them (the military) without hesitation in the fight against terrorism and any covert or overt external aggression, the SCBA chief said.

“This is the time when the National Security Council should be set up and made operational by law,” he said and urged the government to rebuild confidence so that it could handle matters rel­a­ting to the country’s security.

About PTI demonstrations, Barrister Zafar said the protest against corruption was the constitutional right of a political party and the legal fraternity had always raised its voice against corruption.

But, he added, while exercising the right to protest, the PTI — as a mature party — must ensure that the right of Islamabad people to freely continue their daily life was not infringed.

Referring to the Islam­abad High Court’s decision against the PTI sit-in, the lawyers’ leader said that it was not the duty or obligation of courts to control law and order, rather the government and the administration were responsible for it.

Involvement of the courts in such matters would lead to difficulties if people chose to defy court orders or the government misused its authority in an enthusiastic reliance on court orders, he added.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292741/scba-chief-slams-govt-for-extending-armys-stay-in-islamabad

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Govt must resign after Quetta incidents: JI chief

October 28, 2016

QUETTA: Jamaat-i-Islami chief Senator Sirajul Haq has called upon the rulers to step down as they have failed to fulfil their constitutional responsibility of protecting the life and property of citizens.

Talking to journalists at the Quetta press club after visiting the Quetta Civil Hospital to inquire after the health of police cadets injured in the Oct 25 militant attack, he said it had been an agenda of the enemy to destabilise Balochistan through such acts.

However, he added, Balochistan must not be allowed to become a place like Syria and Iraq and the government should sit down with the leadership of Balochistan and chalk out a strategy to eradicate terrorism and restore peace.

He alleged that the rulers had left the masses at the mercy of terrorists and they themselves were living in palaces protected by barbed wires and scores of police posts.

“Rulers should show moral courage and resign for their failure to protect the life and property of the people who voted them to power,” said Mr Haq.

Militants attacked Quetta’s Civil Hospital in August and now the Police Training College, he said, adding that had the culprits behind the hospital assault been arrested, the attack on the police college would not have taken place.

He appreciated the prompt visit by the prime minister and the army chief to Quetta after the Oct 25 attack, but said they should have stayed here to review the implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism.

The JI chief condemned the transportation of bodies of the police cadets by public vehicles to far-off areas and said this was an insult to those who had sacrificed their lives to protect their motherland. He said the federal and provincial governments should be asked to answer for this injustice.

He regretted that the rulers moved around in helicopters all the times, but bodies of the fallen cadets were transported to their native towns in an improper way.

The JI chief demanded immediate shifting of the seriously injured cadets to Karachi hospitals so that their lives could be saved. He said it was the responsibility of the government to look after the families of the deceased cadets.

He said the government had to explain why the cadets were called back after they had completed their training.

He said the government should have given special attention to this point after the arrest of RAW agent Kulbhushan Jadhav and the Indian prime minister’s statement about Balochistan.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292743/govt-must-resign-after-quetta-incidents-ji-chief

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COAS praises military drill with China

October 28, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif on Thursday visited the National Counter Terrorism Training Centre (NCTC) at Pabbi and witnessed the Pakistan-China Joint Special Forces exercise ‘YOUYI-VI 2016’.

The two-week-long exercise was focused on exchange of experiences of counterterrorism operations and field combat between the two armed forces.

The army chief congratulated the participants for displaying a high level of professionalism and combat skills.

He said such exercises would consolidate the special relationship with Chinese armed forces and help eliminate terrorism from the region.

“We are sharing our experiences with the world for the benefit of humanity and as an obligation towards international peace,” he added.

The COAS was received by Corps Commander Lt Gen Umar Farooq Durrani and Inspector General Training and Evaluation Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Minis­ter of State for Defence Af­­fairs Dr Khalid Bin Muham­mad Al Attiyah called on the army chief at the General Headquarters, Rawalpindi, to discuss matters related to defence and stability.

The meeting discussed issues of mutual interests, including defence and security cooperation, said an Inter Services Public Rela­tions (ISPR) press release.

The visiting dignitary acknowledged Pakistan’s success in the fight against terrorism and efforts for ensuring regional peace and stability. Earlier on his arrival at GHQ, the Qatari defence minister laid a wreath at Yadgar-i-Shu­h­­a­da and was presented a guard of honour by a contingent of the Pakistan Army.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292744/coas-praises-military-drill-with-china

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HRCP urges president to halt execution

October 28, 2016

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) urged the authorities on Thursday to halt the imminent execution of a mentally-challenged death row prisoner who is scheduled to be hanged in Vehari on Nov 2.

In a communication, the HRCP brought to President Mamnoon Husain’s attention the disposal by the Supreme Court last week of a plea regarding death row prisoner Imdad Husain, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The court concluded that simply because schizophrenia was a “recoverable disease”, it did not fall within the definition of “mental disorder” under the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001.

The HRCP expressed concerns regarding the reasoning of the court in the matter and stated that the decision raised the question whether judges could decide on their own matters which by their very nature needed to be judged on the basis of expert advice.

It said that in reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court had disregarded universally recognised diagnostic tools, including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and jurisprudence under the Pakistani case law on mental health, and instead relied upon Indian case law, in particular on a judgment by the Indian Supreme Court on the Hindu Marriage Act regarding the dissolution of marriage.

The HRCP said the court ruling also set a dangerous precedent for the treatment of accused persons with schizophrenia by the criminal justice system. It called upon the president to urgently intervene to ensure that Imdad’s imminent execution is halted and the pursuit of hanging mentally challenged persons is abandoned.

Source: dawn.com/news/1292765/hrcp-urges-president-to-halt-execution

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Arab World

Daesh militants 'shave beards’ as pressure builds on Mosul

Wednesday 26 October 2016

An iraqi soldier arrests a suspect Daesh member in the village of Tob Zawa, about 9 kilometers from Mosul, Iraq, on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

KHAZIR, Iraq: Daesh group fighters were shaving their beards and changing hideouts in Mosul, residents said, as Iraqi forces moved ever closer to the city Wednesday and civilians fled in growing numbers.

Reached by AFP inside Mosul, several residents said the jihadists seemed to be preparing for an assault after recent advances on the eastern front brought elite Iraqi forces to within five kilometers of city limits.

“I saw some Daesh (IS) members and they looked completely different from the last time I saw them,” said a resident of eastern Mosul who gave his name as Abu Saif.

“They had trimmed their beards and changed their clothes,” the former businessman said. “They must be scared... they are also probably preparing to escape the city.”

Residents and military officials said many IS fighters had relocated from eastern Mosul to their traditional bastions on the western bank of the Tigris river, closer to escape routes to Syria.

The sounds of fighting on the northern and eastern fronts of the Mosul offensive could now be heard inside the city, residents said, and US-led coalition aircraft were flying lower over the city than usual.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi fighters have been advancing on Mosul from the south, east and north after an offensive was launched on October 17 to retake the last major Iraqi city under Daesh control.

The assault is being backed with air and ground support from the US-led coalition which launched its campaign against Daesh two years ago, shortly after the jihadists seized control of large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Living in terror

Iraqi federal forces, allied with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, have taken a string of towns and villages in a cautious but steady advance over the last week in the face of shelling, sniper fire and suicide car bombings.

Some 3,000 to 5,000 Daesh fighters are believed to be inside Mosul, Iraq’s second city, alongside more than a million trapped civilians.

Aid workers have warned of a major potential humanitarian crisis once fighting begins inside the city itself.

An Iraqi minister said Wednesday that more than 3,300 civilians fleeing the fighting had sought help from the government the day before, the most for a single day so far.

There was “a big wave of displaced people that is considered the greatest number since the start of the military operation to liberate Nineveh province,” Displacement and Migration Minister Jassem Mohammed Al-Jaff said in a statement.

Numbers of displaced residents were growing but stood at a relatively low 8,940 on Wednesday, according to a UN tally, because most of the fighting so far has taken place in sparsely populated areas.

Civilians in villages on the eastern outskirts of Mosul were being bused to a camp near Khazir, an AFP correspondent reported.

“The army made us get out, they told us to leave and said we would see about the details of our settlement” in a camp, said Umm Ali, a 35-year-old woman.

“We used to live in terror night and day, the shelling was coming closer. The Islamic State controlled our lives, so we decided to flee,” said Essam Saadou, a 22-year-old student.

A wave of displaced residents was also expected Wednesday from Al-Shoura, an IS stronghold between Mosul and Qayyarah, the main staging base on the southern front, federal police said.

Noose tightens

As the noose tightened on Mosul, 13 defense chiefs from the 60-nation coalition meeting in Paris set their sights on Syria’s Raqqa, which would be the last major city under Daesh control if it loses Mosul.

“We have already begun laying the groundwork for our partners to commence the isolation of Raqqa,” US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said after the talks.

The coalition — which also includes Britain and France — has provided support in the form of thousands of air strikes, training for Iraqi forces and advisers on the ground.

France said Wednesday it had extended the mission of its aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, in the eastern Mediterranean until at least mid-December to help the offensive on Mosul.

President Francois Hollande decided to extend the mission after France’s defense council “reviewed the military, humanitarian, political and security stakes involved in the recapture of Mosul,” a statement issued by his office said.

Leaders in Paris on Tuesday also discussed the post-Daesh future of Mosul, which is an ethnically and religiously mixed region and where achieving a political compromise might prove even harder than a military victory.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1002736/middle-east

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Houthi ballistic missile shot down near Makkah

Friday 28 October 2016

JEDDAH: Saudi ground defenses intercepted late on Thursday a ballistic missile launched by Houthi militias targeting the holy city of Makkah.

The Arab coalition said in a statement that the missile was downed 65 km from Makkah, adding that the coalition jet fighters attacked the rocket launchers in Saada and destroyed them.

Meanwhile, Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr on Thursday said Iran has trained thousands of Houthi fighters in Iran and Beirut, paving the way for the rebel militias' aggression.

“The war in Yemen did not start on March 26, 2015. It, in fact, started when Houthis raised the guns against their political rivals and against the state with clear support from Iran, which trained around 6,000 Houthis in Iran or in Beirut under military experts,” Bin Daghr said following a meeting with French Ambassador to Yemen Christian Tisti.

“The government never sought war, but it was imposed on us and on the Yemeni people when Houthis mobilized their war machines from Sida to Imran to Sanaa and to the rest of the Yemeni governorates and started killing people and bombing houses,” he said.

“The world will eventually realize that the Houthis are a problem not only for Yemen but also for the region and beyond,” the Yemeni official said, stressing that the Yemeni government, while seeking to arrive at a truce, is actively pursuing a long-lasting, permanent peace based on UN resolutions, the GCC initiative and the outcomes of the Yemeni national dialogue.

Meanwhile, US Navy and allied nations' warships have intercepted four shipments of weapons from Iran to war-ravaged Yemen since April 2015, a US admiral said Thursday.

Saudi Arabia has been repeatedly saying that Iran must be stopped from sending weapons to the Houthi militias, and called on the UN Security Council to take action against Iran for violating UN resolutions pertaining to it, particularly Resolution 2216.

In a previous interview with Arab News, Saudi Ambassador to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said Iran’s intervention in Yemen is in total violation of the United Nations' resolutions; he called on the international community to stop Iran's interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

US Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan told reporters at an undisclosed military base in Southwest Asia: “Either US ships or coalition ships... intercepted four weapon shipments from Iran to Yemen.  We know they came from Iran and we know the destination.”

Donegal said the shipments contained thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, anti-tank missiles, sniper rifles and “other pieces of equipment (and) higher-end weapons systems.”

Naval officials were able to determine the destination of the boats by analyzing GPS settings and interviewing the crew. One of the shipments had been declared an illegal weapon shipment by the UN, said Donegal.

His comments come after last week's US military's Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel's declaration that Iran may have played a role in suspected Houthi missile attacks against US warships in the Red Sea.

“We believe that Iran is connected to this in some way,” Donegan said.

Given the heavy traffic around the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf, the three-star admiral said “plenty” of other shipments would have gone through to Yemen.

In April 2015, Iran tried to send a convoy of seven ships, guarded by two Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels, to Yemen.

Donegan said these were filled with coastal-defense cruise missiles, explosives and other weapons.

The Shiite Houthi militias are believed to be behind this month's attacks in which surface-to-surface missiles were fired at the USS Mason on at least two occasions.

In response, on Oct. 13, US cruise missiles struck Houthi radar sites believed to have been used to target the ships.

The Mason and two other warships were likely targeted in a third missile attack on Oct. 15, but officials have not conclusively confirmed what the threat was or where it was coming from.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1003366/saudi-arabia

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Syrian Army Repels Terrorists' Offensive in Eastern Damascus

October 28, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian military forces fended off Jeish al-Islam's attack on government forces' positions near a key town in Eastern Ghouta, inflicting major casualties on the terrorists.

Jeish al-Islam began the offensive by storming the Syrian soldiers' defense lines near the football fields in the town of al-Reihan, resulting in fierce clashes that lasted for nearly two hours.

The terrorist group failed to prevail over government forces' position and retreated from the battlefield towards the hilltop village of Tal Kurdi after leaving behind several dead members.

A military source said on Thursday that the Syrian army along with popular forces made a major advance in Eastern Ghouta of Damascus and came close to Douma city and al-Shifouniyeh town.

According to the source, fierce clashes were underway near the farms of the two towns of Jesrin and al-Mohammadiyeh in Eastern Ghouta and the Syrian fighter jets were heavily pounding the terrorist groups' positions in the region.

"The Syrian army continues its offensives from the strategic region of al-Reihan and Tal al-Kurdi to break the militants' defense lines in Douma," the source added.

Also, other sources reported that the army forces could regain control over certain parts of al-Reihan town, including its military school and continue their advance to fully liberate the town.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950807000253

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Russian Airstrikes Reduce ISIL's Oil Export by 70 Percent

October 28, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Heavy airstrikes by the Russian Air Force on the infrastructure and oil facilities of the ISIL terrorist group in Syria have reduced ISIL's incomes from black market oil sales by %70, a report by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences said.

"The Russian warplanes' air attacks have kept long-term pressure on ISIL's economy and logistics. In the meantime, the increasingly empty coffers of ISIL Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's caliphate have greatly weakened the terror group's battlefield capabilities and subsequently, helped to shrink its territory," the Russian institute said.

The Syrian army launched heavy fire an ISIL fuel convoy in Aleppo province, blowing up most of the tankers, as the terrorists are sustaining growing loss in the illegal trade of black gold in Syria.

"The Syrian army troops carried out a special operation against the ISIL along the Aleppo-Raqqa highway in Eastern Aleppo which resulted in the destruction of at least 20 trucks," a army source said.

According to the source, the tankers were moving from Deir Hafer towards al-Bab but the army blocked their way and demolished them.

In a relevant development on Monday, the Syrian military forces stormed the concentration centers and gatherings of ISIL terrorists in two regions in Eastern Sweida, destroying several fuel tankers.

ISIL's bases in al-Bayader region and in the Eastern side of the village of al-Rashideh came under heavy attack by the Syrian army troops, destroying a base, several oil tankers and killing a number of militants.

In a similar raid on Friday a number of ISIL vehicles, carrying fresh forces and ammunition in the Southern province of Sweida, came under attack by the Syrian Army troops, adding that most of the vehicles were damaged in the offensive.

"Syrian military forces, tipped off by intelligence agents, stormed a long convoy of ISIL's vehicles in Tal Dhafla region, inflicting major damage on the armored and supply vehicles," field sources said.

"Several ISIL members were killed and several more were wounded in the attacks," the sources added.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950807000296

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King reiterates Saudi support for Syrians

Thursday 27 October 2016 

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman meets with General Coordinator of the Supreme Commission for Negotiations of the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces Riad Hijab, in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)

RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman met with Riad Hijab, the general coordinator of the Supreme Commission for Negotiations of the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, and members of the commission at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The king confirmed Saudi Arabia’s support to the Syrian people to achieve their aspirations, ease their sufferings and help them overcome their current crisis. King Salman also emphasized the support of the Kingdom in reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis in accordance with the Geneva 1 statement.

The meeting also discussed the latest developments in Syria.

Hijab expressed thanks and appreciation to the king for the support and stand of Saudi Arabia and its role in supporting the Syrian people. The commission said in its statement that the king praised the role of the commission and its comprehensive vision for a political solution based on United Nation resolutions.

The statement said the talks discussed the deteriorating situation in Syria and the crimes the Syrian people face from the Assad regime, Russia and Iranian sectarian militias. The meeting also discussed the conditions of the Syrian citizens in the Kingdom, as visitors and residents, in terms of education, medical treatment and the possibility of exempting them from any relevant fees in addition to granting them work permits.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1003121/saudi-arabia

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Saudi forces foil another Houthi attack near Jazan

Thursday 27 October 2016

JEDDAH: The Yemeni government on Wednesday reiterated it did not receive any peace plan from the United Nations’ Yemen envoy or any other party.

It stressed it will reject any settlement that is not based on "UN Resolution 2216 and the GCC initiative, and if it does not take into consideration the outcome of the national dialogue,” Yemeni government spokesperson Rajeh Badi told Arab News on Wednesday.

The UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed handed an outline for a peace plan to Houthi rebels in control of the capital, which includes divesting President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, their rival, of his authority and stipulates the withdrawal of militias from major cities, a Houthi-affiliated politician told AP.

According to a politician who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly on the issue, the peace plan also includes transferring the powers of the internationally recognized president to a new prime minister and a vice president.

It proposes a one- to two-year transitional period paving the way for presidential elections.

The Yemeni government convened on Wednesday and discussed the recent political and military developments in the country.

During the meeting, Hadi stressed that he was keen to “save the Yemeni people and put an end to the dominance of the Houthi rebels who have no regard for the lives of Yemeni civilians whom they are killing indiscriminately.”

He also condemned the continuous Houthi aggression against Saudi border cities.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Saudi Border Guard and artillery troops repelled a Houthi offensive off Al-Khubah in Jazan. Saudi artillery shelled the rebels' sites, killing 20 Houthi and Republican Guards members.

Fierce clashes between the Yemeni Army and the militias are raging in Sanaa's Nihm area, with the Saudi-led coalition aircraft providing intensified air support to the army forces, pounding the rebels' sites in the western and northwestern mountainous heights of Nihm.

The artillery also struck Houthi fortifications near the clashes area; the Yemeni Army is advancing in Al-Houl district as breakdowns are witnessed within the militias' ranks.

In Hifan, south of Taiz, fighting erupted between the national army and its allied resistance militants and the Houthi militias, and the Arab coalition fighter planes pounded Houthi targets near a health care center, killing and injuring a number of militants.

Clashes occurred in Serwah, west of Maarib province, after the coalition's air defense intercepted six ballistic missile attacks that were targeting Maarib city.

Observers say the ballistic missile attacks on Maarib were the most violent since legitimate forces of Yemen took control of the city.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1003141/saudi-arabia

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Riyadh ready to join battle for Raqqa

Friday 28 October 2016

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter takes a selfie with children after recapturing Fadiliya village from Daesh extremists in Nawaran, north of Mosul. (Reuters)

JEDDAH/IRBIL: Saudi Arabia is committed to fighting terrorism and is willing to participate in the upcoming battle for Raqqa against Daesh if asked to do so, Arab coalition spokesman Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri told Arab News on Thursday.

“We are part of the international coalition against Daesh, which includes 62 countries. Since 2014, we have carried out more than 200 sorties and airstrikes against Daesh militias. Saudi Arabia is committed as part of the international coalition to fighting Daesh in Syria either by deploying its jetfighters from inside the Kingdom or via its warplanes based at the Incirlik base in Turkey,” he said.

As for land troop mobilization, Al-Assiri said the member states of the international coalition, during their last meeting in Washington, DC, agreed that only local Syrian ground troops should be involved in the battles against Daesh, supported by air coverage from the coalition air forces.

Regarding the Iraqi battle for Mosul, Al-Assiri said Saudi Arabia has no interest in taking part in the ongoing battle, adding that the Kingdom never participated in any operations in Iraq before, and that it cannot be involved in operations in which the Iranian-backed Shiite militias are involved.

Meanwhile, the United States said Thursday up to 900 Daesh radicals have been killed in the offensive to retake Mosul, as camps around the city filled with fleeing civilians.

Iraqis who fled their homes expressed joy at escaping Daesh’s brutal rule as they were given shelter and assistance, in some cases reuniting with relatives they had not seen in more than two years.

The offensive, launched on Oct. 17, is seeing tens of thousands of Iraqi fighters advancing on Mosul from the south, east and north in a bid to retake the last major Iraqi city under Daesh control. Backed with air and ground support from a US-led coalition, federal forces allied with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have taken a string of towns and villages in a cautious but steady advance.

Gen. Joseph Votel, who heads the US military's Central Command, told AFP the offensive was inflicting a heavy toll on the extremists.

“Just in the operations over the last week and a half associated with Mosul, we estimate they've probably killed about 800-900 Daesh fighters,” Votel said in an interview.

There are between 3,500 and 5,000 Daesh militants in Mosul and up to another 2,000 in the broader area, according to US estimates.

Votel also said he had spoken with Iraqi military leaders late Tuesday who told him that as of that time, 57 members of the Iraqi security forces had been killed and another 255 or so wounded.

For the Kurdish regional Peshmerga forces, numbers were lower, with about 30 killed and between 70 and 100 wounded.

The offensive has so far been concentrated in towns and villages around Mosul, with Iraqi forces later expected to breach city limits and engage the terrorists in street-to-street fighting.

Iraq's Ministry of Displacement and Migration said Thursday that more than 11,700 people had been displaced since the operation began.

“There's been quite a dramatic upturn in the last few days. As the Iraqi troops get closer to Mosul, more people are getting displaced, there are more populated areas,” said Karl Schembri, regional media adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council.

At a camp in Khazir, about mid-way between Mosul and the Iraqi Kurdish capital Irbil, Massud Ismail Hassan peered through a chainlink fence, looking for family members as Peshmerga fighters registered the displaced.

Saddam Dahham, who lived under Daesh control in a village near Mosul for more than two years, fled to Khazir with his wife and their three children.

“We were not allowed to smoke, to use phones, not allowed to watch TV and we had to let our beards grow long,” said the 36-year-old.

One of the first things he did after arriving at the camp was joyfully shave the “heavy thing dangling from my chin,” Dahham said. “I'm finally going to resume a normal life,” the former truck driver said.

Meanwhile, Turkey's president told his American counterpart that Turkey is ready to kick Daesh out of their capital Raqqa in Syria.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkey-backed opposition fighters inside Syria will eventually reach Raqqa after securing the towns of Al-Bab and Manbij.

“Last night we had a long conversation with Obama and shared our plans with him . We said, 'Come let's kick Daesh out of Raqqa together,'” he said. Erdogan added that he urged that the operation take place without involvement of Syrian Kurdish forces.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1003411/saudi-arabia

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Radical terrorists hold up Iraqi Army south of Mosul

Thursday 27 October 2016

Iraqi refugees who fled Mosul due to the Iraqi government forces offensive to retake the city at the UN-run Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria’s Hasakeh province. (AFP)

QAYYARA/BAGHDAD: Daesh fighters on Wednesday kept up their fierce defense of the southern approaches to Mosul which has held up Iraqi troops on the southern front and forced an elite army unit east of the city to put its more rapid advance on hold.

Ten days into the offensive, Iraqi army and federal police units are trying to dislodge the militants from villages in the region of Shora, 30 km south of Iraq’s second largest city.

The frontlines in other areas have moved much closer to the edges of Mosul, the last major city under control of the militants in Iraq, who have held it since 2014.

The elite army unit which moved in from the east has paused its advance as it approaches built-up areas, waiting for the other attacking forces to close the gap.

“As Iraqi forces move closer to Mosul, we see that Daesh resistance is getting stronger,” said Maj. Chris Parker, a coalition spokesman at the Qayyara airbase south of Mosul that serves as a hub for the campaign.

The combat ahead is also likely to get more deadly as 1.5 million residents remain in the city and worst-case United Nations’ forecasts see up to a million people being uprooted.

In the worst case scenario, Grande said it was also possible that Daesh men could resort to “rudimentary chemical weapons” to hold back the impending assault.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that his country was determined to clear Syrian Kurdish fighters from a strategic border town in northern Syria “as soon as possible.”

In August, Turkey began an ambitious military operation to back moderate Syrian opposition fighters to remove extremists from its border and stop the westward advance of Syrian Kurdish forces that Ankara considers “terrorists.”

“We are determined to clear the PYD terror organization from Manbij as soon as possible,” Erdogan said, referring to the Kurdish Democratic Union.

“They will have to get out, leave and go beyond the Euphrates. If they do not go, we will do what is required,” he told a group of neighborhood chiefs in Ankara.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1003031/middle-east

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Daesh slaughtered at least 232 people near Mosul: UN

October 28, 2016

Last Wednesday 232 civilians were reportedly shot to death, says rights office spokeswoman.

Daesh group fighters killed at least 232 people in and around Mosul last week as Iraqi troops advanced on the city, the UN rights office said on Friday.

"Last Wednesday 232 civilians were reportedly shot to death. Of these there were 190 former Iraqi Security Forces officers," rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

"These reports have been corroborated to the extent possible," she added, stressing that the number of people killed in recent days could be higher.

Source: khaleejtimes.com/region/mena/daesh-slaughtered-at-least-232-people-near-mosul-un

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Bomb-making facility discovered

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Iraqi special forces east of Mosul probed a network of underground tunnels and uncovered a bomb-making facility on Thursday in a village recently retaken from the Islamic State group as their allies battled the militants in a push toward the city from the south.

Special forces commanders said the operation was proceeding as planned, but that they were waiting for forces in the south to advance further before resuming their push toward the country's second largest city, which fell to IS in 2014.

"The operation has not been stopped and is proceeding as planned," special forces Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil said.

Iraqi army Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jabori said forces south of Mosul retook the town of Staff al-Tut in the Tigris River valley the day before, and are now 20 miles from the city. He said local tribal and militia forces have been deployed to protect the gains while his troops regroup for their next push toward the city.

The special forces, who are 51/2 miles east of the city, continued cleanup operations in the village of Tob Zawa. They found a tire shop that had been converted into a factory for making roadside bombs and attaching armor to vehicles.

They also found a tunnel equipped with fans and lights that ran from beneath a mosque out to a road. Iraqi forces have found extensive tunneling networks in areas retaken from IS, which the militants used to elude U.S.-led coalition warplanes. IS has also rigged homes and other buildings with explosives to slow the troops' advance.

Many fear IS may resort to more brutal tactics as the forces converge on the city.

The U.N.'s public health agency said Thursday it has trained 90 Iraqi medics in "mass casualty management," with a special focus on chemical attacks. The extremist group is believed to have crude chemical weapons capabilities.

Source: timesunion.com/news/article/Bomb-making-facility-discovered-10419003.php

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Iran executed three Turks days after visit of President Erdoğan

Friday 28 October 2016

Iranian authorities executed three Turkish nationals for drug trafficking last year only 11 days after a high-profile visit to Tehran by Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it has emerged.

Iran – which executed nearly 1,000 people last year, more than any other country apart from China – usually refrains from sending foreign nationals to the gallows, especially in cases involving countries with which Tehran has maintained friendly relations.

The family of a 46-year-old man, Faruk Güner, a father of nine children, confirmed to the Guardian that he was executed. He was a lorry driver working between Afghanistan and Turkey who passed through Iran. “We tried for four years to save him. They didn’t tell us that he was going to be executed. They hanged him in the morning; we got the news in the afternoon,” Güner’s brother said.

The information about the executions was first received by the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR), which closely monitors Iran’s use of capital punishment. The group said two other Turkish nationals, identified as Mehmet Yilmaz and Matin, whose surname is not known, were executed at the same time. Activists say drug traffickers do not usually receive a fair trial in Iran.

Most executions in Iran are for drug offences. As a neighbour of Afghanistan, a leading supplier of the world’s drugs, Iran faces big challenges at home, with a young population susceptible to an abundance of cheap and addictive drugs. However, the alarming rate of executions has sparked a debate inside the country and parliamentarians are considering a proposal to replace the death penalty in such cases with imprisonment.

The three Turks were executed in April 2015, a little more than a week after Erdoğan met with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran.

The countries, which have maintained good ties for several decades, have been at odds over regional issues in recent years and relations were frosty at the time of Erdoğan’s visit. However, they have since improved. Iran firmly backed Erdoğan against the failed coup attempt earlier this year and Turkey is realigning itself towards Russia, Tehran’s main ally.

IHR said the convicts were executed at Vakilabad prison in the eastern city of Mashhad after being arrested separately for alleged drug trafficking. “These three prisoners were reportedly not granted their last prison visit with family members before they were executed,” it said. “Additionally, close sources say that the Iranian authorities did not inform their families of the executions” until late April but “their bodies were reportedly returned to Turkey” in May.

Güner’s brother said his family’s pleas to Iranian as well as Turkish authorities fell on deaf ears. “We asked help from many places; nobody helped us,” he told the Guardian via telephone. “We found a lawyer and we went to Iran; we tried to prove that he was innocent, but one day they just executed him. This is inhuman. He had nine kids.”

The Turkish foreign ministry did not respond to emails seeking its reaction on the news and on why it did not publicise the executions at the time.

“They think that they are Muslim, but they are not. If my brother were in Israel, even in Israel, he would be alive,” Güner’s brother said. “We asked help from Turkish authorities; they didn’t help. We couldn’t even see him for the last time,” the brother added. “There are no laws in Iran. If he were in another country, at least we would be able to see my brother for the last time. They just executed him without telling us. Everything happened suddenly.”

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, IHR’s spokesman, said it was not clear if the cases were discussed by the Turkish president in Tehran. “It’s also unclear whether the Turkish government took any action to help save their lives. [The] timing of the executions and lack of public reactions by the Turkish government is highly questionable,” he said.

Michael, Mehmet Yilmaz’s son, told the IHR: “I travelled to Iran seven times in order to deliver my dad’s medication to him. The Turkish authorities did nothing for my dad. All they did was introduce our family to a lawyer. The Iranian authorities confiscated my dad’s truck, which was worth 80,000 Turkish lira (£21,000). My family is currently still paying off the truck through monthly instalments.”

Madyar Samienejad, who monitors the human rights situation in Iran, said more than 450 people have been put to death in the country this year. He said at least 264 of them were executed for drug offences. Iran has also been reported to have executed at least seven people who committed their crimes while they were under the age of 18 - two of those executions have been confirmed.The execution of juveniles is prohibited under international law.

“More than any other time, people in Iran, including those in the government and the judiciary or media, are debating whether to abolish [the] death penalty,” Samienejad told the Guardian.

“On 26 October, [reformist newspaper] Etemaad ran a front-page editorial on abolition of [the] death penalty, which talked about how ineffective this punishment has been. It’s the first time this debate is taking place at such a national level and it’s a positive development highlighting the work of abolitionist activists.”

Source: theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/28/iran-executed-three-turks-days-after-visit-of-president-erdogan

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Mideast

Turkey’s religious body issues fatwa against underage marriage

Friday 28 October 2016

Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) has issued a fatwa against underage marriages, saying they “shattered the lives of children.”

The fatwa, included in a release responding to frequently asked questions from the public, said underage marriage could never be approved from a religious perspective.

It added that underage marriage put children “under biological, psychological and economic burdens they cannot deal with, as it also causes them to fall behind in their education and stops them from having a proper childhood.”

The fatwa noted that the practice is wrong both between underage couples and between one underage person and an adult.

The note came at a time when Turkish authorities have moved to overhaul a law on child abuse, prompted by public outrage that peaked after a controversial decision was taken by the Constitutional Court in July.

According to a decision taken by the Court that went into effect on July 13, not all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 will be regarded as “sexual abuse.”

The decision stirred outrage from academics and women’s rights activists, who warned that it would lead to cases of child abuse going unpunished. The ruling of the court, which was an annulment of an earlier local court ruling, also echoed abroad, with Austria and Sweden issuing condemnations.

Following a diplomatic spat between Sweden and Turkey, authorities in Ankara moved to increase - rather than decrease – minimum sentences for child abuse. 

As part of the plans initiated by Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, gradual punishments based on the age of the victims will go into law.

The law aims to make a distinction made between victims aged under 12 and those aged between 12 and 18, with the new law toughening sentences for offenders targeting children under 12.

In sexual abuse cases with victims under the age of 12, the minimum sentence will be 10 years, while in rape cases with victims under 12 the minimum sentence will be 18 years.

In sexual abuse cases with victims aged between 12 and 18, the current sentence term of eight to 15 years will remain the same, while in rape cases with victims aged between 12 and 18, the current minimum sentence of 16 years in jail will also remain the same.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-religious-body-issues-fatwa-against-underage-marriage-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105464&NewsCatID=339

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At least 100 PKK militants ‘neutralized’ in six days in Turkey’s east, southeast

Friday 28 October 2016

Over 100 militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were “neutralized” during operations in Turkey’s east and southeast between Oct. 20 and 26, the military said on Oct. 28, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.

The security forces captured 105 PKK militants, according to a statement released by the Turkish General Staff.    

Operations took place in eight provinces including Hakkari, Ağrı, Şırnak, Diyarbakır, Bingöl, Batman, Bitlis and Siirt.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/at-least-100-pkk-militants-neutralized-in-six-days-in-turkeys-east-southeast.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105453&NewsCatID=341

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US issues travel warning over marches on Turkey’s Republic Day

Friday 28 October 2016

The U.S. Department of State has issued a travel warning over marches on Turkey’s Republic Day on Oct. 29.

“The U.S. Embassy Ankara informs U.S. citizens that several political groups have announced that their supporters will march in Ankara from the old Parliament building in Ulus to the Anitkabir mausoleum on Oct. 29, 2016.

“The governorate of Ankara has banned all demonstrations, rallies and public gatherings in the Province of Ankara, inclusive of the city of Ankara, until November 30, 2016, citing security concerns.  Thus, simply being at or near a public gathering could lead to your arrest or detention by Turkish authorities.

“Even gatherings intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of large gatherings, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations,” the Department of State said in a statement posted on Oct. 27.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/us-issues-travel-warning-over-marches-on-turkeys-republic-day.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105454&NewsCatID=341

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Eight Turkey-backed rebels, two ISIL militants killed in Euphrates Shield operation

Friday 28 October 2016

Eight Turkey-backed Syrian fighters were killed and 34 were wounded during clashes in the ongoing Euphrates Shield operation, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement on Oct. 28, while two Islamic State Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants were killed in air operations conducted by U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition powers.

Some 127 ISIL targets in northern Syria were with fired on by the Turkish military, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

One armed vehicle and one heavy weapon belonging to ISIL were destroyed.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/eight-turkey-backed-rebels-two-isil-militants-killed-in-euphrates-shield-operation.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105456&NewsCatID=352

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EU lawmakers criticize Turkey over press freedom

Friday 28 October 2016

The European Parliament has called on Ankara to release all journalists in prison without proof of alleged involvement in the July 15 failed coup attempt.

Meeting in Strasbourg, the parliamentarians passed a resolution calling on Turkey to “narrow the scope of emergency measures, so that they can no longer be used to curtail freedom of expression.”

They asked the EU’s foreign service, the European External Action Service, to continue monitoring the implications of the ongoing state of emergency to ensure Ankara did not use the “broadly defined Turkish anti-terrorism legislation” to punish journalists and others.

Turkey last week extended its state of emergency, declared in the wake of the coup at-tempt on July 15, for another 90 days. At least 32,000 people have been arrested since Ju-ly, among them soldiers, police officers, teachers, members of the judiciary and the press.

According to the latest figures from watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Turkish authorities have shut down at least 125 media outlets in recent months.

More than 2,500 journalists have lost their jobs due to the closures, and at least 130 journalists are currently in prison, more than in China or Iran. According to the Turkish Journalists’ Association, the journalists have been denied the right of access to a lawyer and are kept in inhumane conditions.

“Turkey has become the world’s biggest prison for journalists,” said Julie Majerczak, head of the RSF Brussels office. In its latest World Press Freedom index, RSF ranked Turkey 151 out of 180 countries – and, as Majerczak pointed out, the ranking was made before the at-tempted coup.

Speaking with DW by phone from Turkey, Human Rights Watch Director Emma Sinclair-Webb said Turkey has “grossly misused its terrorism legislation to restrict freedom of asso-ciation and expression.”

She said the parliament’s resolution was very timely, in light of the continuing crackdown.

During the debate in Strasbourg ahead of the resolution, several lawmakers spoke out against the EU’s continued negotiations with Turkey over EU membership, pointing out that Ankara’s record on press freedom and human rights “was not exactly great even before the coup attempt.”

But Sinclair-Webb said that continuing a “sincere engagement with Turkey is very im-portant,” given the ongoing discussion on the refugee deal and other political, cultural and economic fronts.

“Europe has every interest in Turkey being a rights-respecting country on its borders,” she said.

Meanwhile, a total of 33 journalists and writers have organized an autograph session in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district in order to show solidarity with the imprisoned writer Aslı Erdoğan and linguist Necmiye Alpay. The writers and journalists also called for solidarity with all imprisoned writers and journalists.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/eu-lawmakers-criticize-turkey-over-press-freedom-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105465&NewsCatID=351

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Turkey to US: Drop PYD, let’s free Raqqa together

Friday 28 October 2016

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told U.S. President Barack Obama to exclude the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) from the upcoming Raqqa operation to oust jihadists, reiterating Ankara’s determination to continue its military offensive toward al-Bab, Raqqa and Manbij in northern Syria.

“We do not need terrorist organizations like the PYD and YPG [Kurdish People’s Protection Units] in the Raqqa operation. Let us work together to sweep DEASH [the Arabic acronym of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] from Raqqa, I told him,” Erdoğan said Oct. 27 following a phone call with Obama.

The two leaders conducted a lengthy phone conversation early Oct. 27, discussing the fight against ISIL in Syria and in Iraq, a written statement issued by the Turkish presidency said, noting that the pair voiced support for the territorial integrity and political independence of Iraq.

Erdoğan also said the current operations in Mosul to rid the Iraqi city of ISIL should be conducted with sensitivity.

Obama said he was pleased with the dialogue process between Turkey and Iraq regarding Ankara’s participation in the anti-ISIL coalition and appreciated Turkey’s contribution to the anti-ISIL fight, especially for the use of Syrian Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear ISIL elements from the Turkish border.

The U.S. president also called for close cooperation in the fight against ISIL, the White House said in a statement. “Obama noted the need for close coordination between the United States and Turkey to build on these successes and to apply sustained pressure on ISIL in Syria to reduce threats to the United States, Turkey and elsewhere.”

In addition, the U.S. president called for more dialogue on what he called “the appropriate level and form of Turkey’s participation in the counter-ISIL coalition’s efforts in Iraq.”

Turkey to advance on Manbij, Raqqa

Erdoğan gave more details about his conversation with Obama in an address to the families of fallen soldiers and veterans on Oct. 27. “Now we’re advancing toward al-Bab because it’s one of their important centers. They will have to abandon al-Bab as well and then we’ll head to Manbij and Raqqa. I had a long conversation with Mr. Obama last night and I told him that we’ll take these steps,” he said.

“I also told him this: We don’t need terror organizations like the PYD and the YPG in Raqqa. The PYD and PKK are the same. ‘Let’s together oust DAESH from Raqqa together. We have this power,’ we told them. What are they? They’re a simple terror organization,” the president said.

Turkish, American defense minister meet

In the meantime, the Turkish and American defense ministers, Fikri Işık and Ash Carter, met in Brussels on the sidelines of the NATO ministerial meeting and discussed the ongoing anti-ISIL fight in Iraq and Syria.

Işık told reporters on Oct. 27 that Turkey was calling on the U.S. to change its stance toward the PYD and to embrace the Free Syrian Army as the local ground force to free Raqqa. “We will be insistent on this issue up to the end,” he said, warning the U.S. that any attempt by the PYD to change the demography of Arab-dominated areas would cause severe results.

Işık said he observed a more flexible U.S. approach on Turkey’s demands while informing that both countries’ militaries would begin working together to coordinate military plans on the Raqqa operation and the Euphrates Shield Operation.

Işık: We want more dialogue with Iraq

Işık and Carter also discussed Turkey’s participation in the Mosul operation, with the latter calling on both parties to reduce the tone of public statements against each other. “We are willing to engage in more dialogue with Iraq. Iraq is our neighbor and tension between the two countries will serve neither. We are aware of this. We are of the opinion that close cooperation between Turkey and Iraq is necessary and beneficial for the region. On this, we thank and appreciate the contribution provided by the U.S.,” he said.

The U.S. has been leaning on Ankara and Baghdad to reduce the tension and to find a way for Turkey to participate in the ongoing Mosul operation.

Sinjar not to become second Kandil

Another important issue for Turkey is the PKK’s alleged plans to establish a new regional headquarters in Sinjar. “We’ll continue to pursue this struggle in Kirkuk, Mosul, Telafer and Sinjar. Why? Because Sinjar is about to become a new Kandil. We won’t allow this,” Erdoğan said.

Kandil is a mountain in northern Iraq where the PKK has had its headquarters since the early 1990s. Turkey’s government claims the PKK is moving camps to Sinjar.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-to-us-drop-pyd-lets-free-raqqa-together.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105423&NewsCatID=352

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Former Chief of Staff says resigned due to pressures from gov’t

Friday 28 October 2016

Former chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner has said the reason behind his 2011 resignation was to avoid pressure from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to make him appoint and retire army officers who were, at the time, suspected of planning to overthrow the government.

“Through Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) decisions, I was going to be forced to suspend all of them. This was not possible. If I had done it, I would have been part of this crime. We would have been complicit in the days that would have begun this calamity that we face today. I was not complicit in it, but I cannot say that I was successful in explaining it,” said Koşaner as he testified on Oct. 26 in front of parliament’s special commission to investigate the July 15 coup attempt.

Koşaner said he was reluctant to be part of an alleged plot that would see a number of military officers’ suspension from the army on charges that they were involved in an attempt to overthrow the AKP, an accusation which prompted lengthy prosecutions against soldiers, known today as the Ergenekon and “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) cases.

Referring to the cases, Koşaner said they were suspected of being a part of a plan to denigrate the Turkish Armed Forces and “suspend whoever they want from the army.”

“We know they were not guilty. But since the issues were carried to the judiciary, we did not have an opportunity to raise our voices because otherwise we would have been seen to be interfering against the judiciary,” said Koşaner.

He also added that they had received information from the National Intelligence Agency and police concerning the army members who were suspected of having links with the Gülenists and that they were duly trying to sever these people’s ties from the military.

“We were being informed that the organization tried to put students from their dorms into the military schools. The organization was trying to raise a generation for themselves. We were following it, but there was nothing to do. All we could do was inform the authorities about these happenings,” he said.

“But there were attempts to block our actions by wrongly interpreting the personnel dismissed through YAŞ and by making false propaganda that we were dismissing soldiers who pray and who do not drink alcohol,” said Koşaner, adding that their activities at YAŞ, which is responsible for deciding on promotions and demotions from the army, were gradually limited.

“In the last eight to nine years, the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] has come to a position in which it cannot protect itself. Therefore, these people cemented their presence, they became stronger, saw promotions and received high rankings. Taking high positions became possible with the cases that were based on false information,” said Koşaner.

He also said they had made the necessary warnings regarding the presence of Gülenists within the army but that nothing was done about it.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/former-chief-of-staff-says-resigned-due-to-pressures-from-govt.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105462&NewsCatID=338

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Turkish Defense Ministry dismisses 195 personnel from land, naval forces

Friday 28 October 2016

The Defense Ministry dismissed 195 more personnel from Turkey’s land and naval forces as part of the investigation into the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, widely believed to be behind the July 15 military coup attempt.

A statement from the ministry on Oct. 28 said the suspensions came after the probe found evidence that these personnel had links to what the government and prosecutors call the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ).

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-defense-ministry-dismisses-195-personnel-from-land-naval-forces.aspx?pageID=238&nID=105463&NewsCatID=509

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Europe

In Germany, Syrians find mosques too conservative

Fri Oct 28, 2016

Hani Salam escaped civil war in Syria and survived the journey from Egypt to Europe. But when he saw men with bushy long beards at a mosque near his current home in Cologne last November, he was worried.

The men's appearance reminded him of Jaish al-Islam, the Islamist rebels who took over his hometown near Damascus, said Salam, 36, who wears a mustache but no beard. One of them told Salam that "good Muslims grow beards, not moustaches," he recalled – a centuries-old idea that he dismisses.

"Everything about this mosque made me feel uneasy," he said.

Syrians in Germany say many of the country's Arab mosques are more conservative than those at home.

Over two months, a dozen Syrians in six places of worship in three cities told Reuters they were uncomfortable with very conservative messages in Arabic-speaking mosques. People have criticized the way the newcomers dress and practice their religion, they said. Some insisted the Koran be interpreted word-for-word.

It is a highly contentious issue in a country where Europe's migrant influx is already having deep political and social consequences. In Germany this year Alternative for Germany, a populist party that says Islam is incompatible with the German constitution, has gained ground. There have been several attacks by militant Muslims. Syrians and others say the mosque problem is adding to mistrust.

In Germany, other different faiths are traditionally supported by the state. But most of the country's four million Muslims originally came from Turkey and attend Turkish-speaking mosques which are partly funded by Ankara.

Last year around 890,000 asylum-seekers, more than 70 percent of them Muslims, entered the country. Around a third came from Syria. Many of them do not want to go to Turkish mosques because they do not understand the sermons. They prefer to worship where people speak Arabic.

Yet in these mosques, other problems arise. They are often short of funds, or else supported by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Some back ultra-conservative or highly literal interpretations of Islam, such as Wahhabism or Salafism.

"Unfortunately it is true that a large majority of Arabic-speaking mosques are more conservative than Turkish mosques," said Professor Mouhannad Khorchide, who heads the Centre for Islamic Theology at Muenster University. That poses problems for integrating those who are less conservative.

"How can one absorb these people if they are interested in their religion?" said Khorchide. "When there is a shortage of offers the Salafists try to fill the gap."

"PURE ISLAMIC TEACHINGS"

In Cologne, Salam said that 75 Syrians live in the same hotel as his family. Of them, only one veiled woman prays at the nearest Arabic mosque.

"One time when I was there, a Salafist asked a young Arab man to leave because he was wearing shorts," he added. "At the Turkish mosque no one cares what you're wearing."

In a windowless ground floor room inside the Arabic mosque one Friday in August, some 200 men, including about two dozen with bushy beards and trimmed moustaches typical of ultra-Orthodox Muslims, crowded for prayers.

Afterwards, a worshipper scolded three Lebanese men for saluting him when he entered the mosque. They had interrupted the sermon, which he said was forbidden. "Your Friday is gone!" he told them, lifting his hands toward his face and pressing his fingers together to emphasize that their actions had made their prayers void.

The imam who led the prayers said the community is not political or violent. Asked about the Syrians who felt uncomfortable at mosques like his, he said: "It's an honor to be called a Salafist. We are only interested in giving members of our community pure Islamic teachings."

Even though Salam can't understand the sermons in Turkish, he said he has started going to a Turkish mosque instead.

"BRAINWASHED"

A 2008 survey of Muslims and Christians in Europe by the state-funded WZB Berlin Social Science Centre found fundamentalist attitudes were less prevalent among German Muslims than elsewhere in Europe, but still quite widespread: For example, nearly half the Muslims it surveyed in Germany felt religious law to be more important than secular law.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency has recorded more than 320 attempts by Salafist Muslims to contact refugees last year, often by offering food, clothes, free copies of the Koran and help with German to asylum seekers living in shelters.

Earlier this month, a Syrian committed suicide in prison after he was arrested on suspicion of planning to bomb an airport. His brother and friends in Germany have said he was "brainwashed" by ultra-conservative imams in Berlin.

The intelligence agency has advised local authorities against housing asylum-seekers near Salafist or Wahhabi mosques.

"We know of at least 90 Islamist mosques where activities aimed at refugees are taking place. These mosques are largely Arab-dominated and influenced by Salafism," said Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the agency.

At the al-Nur mosque in Berlin, which is run by Wahhabis, Syrian Abed al-Hafian said he was alarmed by a strict interpretation of the Koran and Hadith, a collection of sayings of the prophet. He recalled a sentence from Hadith that the preacher quoted on his first Friday: 'Every novelty (in religion) is innovation, and every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance leads to the hellfire.'

"I had never heard that sentence in Syria," said the 42-year-old father of three, who arrived in 2014. "The message is clear and is directed at us Muslims: 'Don't you dare interpret your religion. Take the Koran word for word.' It's a problem."

He said he decided to take what he wants from the sermons and "ignore the rest."

Even though officials accept that not all Salafists are violent, some Syrians worry that if they go to Arabic-speaking mosques, they may be seen as radicals.

In Hamburg, Syrian Kurd Abu Mohammad said he has avoided going to a mosque since he arrived in Germany two years ago because his parents, who came here a decade ago, told him it could only bring trouble.

"The government is obviously monitoring  Salafists," said the 32-year-old father of six, using a nickname because he said he fears for his safety and that of relatives still living in Damascus.

FUNDING GAP

The problem may be rooted in the schisms in Islam, but it is made worse by the structure of religious funding in Germany. Since the start of the 20th century Germany has had a system of collecting taxes for worship, which are then paid out to religious groups like Catholics, Protestants and Jews.

Muslims cannot benefit from this, because the four main organizations that represent Muslims in Germany can't agree to merge into one religious body, a requirement to receive taxes.

"Most communities can't even afford a proper mosque ... And most can't pay a well-educated imam to serve their community," said Daniel Abdin, co-chairman of the Shura Council in Hamburg, an umbrella organization for the city's Muslim community.

"So you end up with a situation where people with little or no knowledge of modern theology are serving as imams."

Five years ago, the government set up five Islamic theology centers to train imams and Islamic educators with a 20-million-euro ($22 million) grant from the Education Ministry. The strategy has been partly successful: Islamic studies are taught to Muslim pupils in many schools.

But few of the more than 1,800 students who have graduated from the theology centers have gone on to serve as local imams.

Nonetheless, Khorchide and other Islam experts are hopeful that the influx of Muslim asylum-seekers with an open approach to religion is an opportunity to promote a more "moderate" Islam in the Arabic-speaking mosques.

In Hamburg, Abu Mohammad says he has stopped attending mosque at all.

"I pray at home," he said. "I'm sure Allah listens."

Source: reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-germany-mosques-insig-idUSKCN12S0HE

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Islamic State jihadis “WILL unleash attacks on Europe as payback for Mosul”

October 28, 2016

A counter-terrorism expert warns that Europe should brace itself for more terror attacks once the Islamic State has been crushed in Mosul. The IS has been long threatening to attack America “at its heart” and has vowed to revenge on the West for its strikes in Syria through lone wolf attacks.

The intense hatred jihadists have for the West, and all non-Muslims, was revealed in an Islamic State declaration:

Even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam.

Pair this hatred with a humiliating loss in Mosul, and the fact that there have been “about 30,000 foreign fighters that have gone in from about 100 countries to join” the Islamic State, and there should be no surprise about about the threat of “ISIS jihadis” unleashing revenge attacks against Europe.

The larger question is: are leaders in Europe and the West prepared to strategize and implement realistic counter terrorism strategies, which should include the monitoring of mosques and Islamic centers, many of which are vehicles of radicalization doctrines?

“BRITAIN TERROR WARNING: ISIS jihadis ‘WILL unleash attacks on Europe as payback for Mosul’”, by Charlie Bayliss, UK Express, October 26, 2016:

Karin von Hippel – who served under US General John Allen as part of a special envoy to counter ISIS – claimed as many as 30,000 foreign Daesh fighters from around 100 different countries could spread across the continent once the terror group is crushed in its Iraqi stronghold.

Dr von Hippel warned: “I don’t think it will be the beginning of the end. I think once they lose territory in Iraq and Syria and probably Libya… they will likely go back to a more insurgent style operation versus a terrorist group that wants to try and hold onto territory.

“There has been about 30,000 foreign fighters that have gone in from about 100 countries to join. Not all of them have joined ISIS, some have joined al-Qaeda and Kurds and other groups, but the vast majority have gone to join ISIS.

“These people will disperse. Some of them have already been captured or killed but many will disperse and they’ll go to European countries.

“They may not go back to where they came from and that is definitely keeping security forces up at night in many, many countries.”

Dr von Hippel – who has also worked for the UN and EU in Kosovo and Somalia – added it was just a matter of time before Daesh is defeated in Iraq’s second city, but warned the twisted killers will not go down without a fight.

She added: “They will start to leave as they’re outnumbered but they will leave IEDs, they will probably take civilians with them as human shields. So the question in the immediate aftermath is what is the state of the city.

“They’re going to be significantly outgunned, and the Iraqis were only ever going to move on Mosul when they are ready.

“There has been talks to re-take Mosul for over a year and so Iraqis really were in charge and wanted to do it when they felt they were ready and got some successes under their belt.”

The director-general of military think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) added that the next step after Mosul would be to crush any hope militants have of fleeing to the Syrian city of Raqqa…..

Source: rightsidenews.com/us/islam-in-america/islamic-state-jihadis-will-unleash-attacks-on-europe-as-payback-for-mosul/

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Daesh slaughtered at least 232 people near Mosul: UN

October 28, 2016

Last Wednesday 232 civilians were reportedly shot to death, says rights office spokeswoman.

Daesh group fighters killed at least 232 people in and around Mosul last week as Iraqi troops advanced on the city, the UN rights office said on Friday.

"Last Wednesday 232 civilians were reportedly shot to death. Of these there were 190 former Iraqi Security Forces officers," rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

"These reports have been corroborated to the extent possible," she added, stressing that the number of people killed in recent days could be higher.

Source: khaleejtimes.com/region/mena/daesh-slaughtered-at-least-232-people-near-mosul-un

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Chechnya Authorities to Attend Islamic Weddings To Check Guests’ Dancing, Getting Drunk Or Firing Guns

28 October 2016

Chechnya's security forces have appointed an official 'wedding police' to crackdown on fun at marriage parties in the strict republic within Russia.

Law-enforcement officials will attend weddings to monitor guests' behaviour, including ensuring no guns are fired, men and women keep at a distance on the dancefloor and the bride doesn't cut the cake or dance, in keeping with cultural and Islamic traditions.

'We will set up special working groups, whose representatives will be present at weddings in public places, and check that the demands of a traditional wedding are met,' a Chechen Ministry of Culture representative told Russian state news agency Tass.

'If they see clothes that do not match our mentality, or incorrect dance movements, they will intervene.'

The 'wedding police' announcement comes after new guidelines were issued last year by the Department of Culture in Grozny, the capital city, to safeguard the 'spiritual and moral development' of young people.

As this collection of photographs from bride Zara Khasanova's wedding illustrate, the female guests all have their heads covered and line up on one side of the dance floor - while the men remain on the other.

In one image Zara is shown dressed in national costume is surrounded by her relatives, as she waits for her wedding ceremony to begin in Grozny.

Others show the Chechen bride sharing a tender hug with her mother and later watching the festivities from a balcony, as she does not traditionally take part in the dancing or other celebrations and can only sit down when granted permission.

The collection of photographs, which were taken at a wedding last year, prove that many of the rules are already being adhered to.

The guidelines carry significant weight as Chechens are increasingly under pressure to adopt conservative and Islamic ways under the Caucasus republic's strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

In recent years, young people have become increasingly liberal with their behaviour at weddings, neglecting more conservative Chechen traditions, according to Madina Shagidaeva, a member of the city's culture department.

'I don't want to see immoral behaviour,' Shagidaeva said. 'I want to see a dress code.'

Restaurant and banquet hall owners will be encouraged to enforce the new regulations and discuss expectations with clients beforehand about how guests should conduct themselves.

If guests don't behave on the dance floor, the music will be shut off until order is restored, said Zubair Bairakov, owner of a local wedding planning agency.

Shooting from any sort of weapon is also now considered undesirable behaviour, according to the code.

Traditionally at Caucasian weddings, members of the wedding party fire guns into the air to celebrate. However, this practice has been met with increasing annoyance in the capital where an influx of Caucasian immigrants has brought with it an increase in Chechen weddings.

Such celebrations are a big spectacle and feature a succession of live shows, singing, dancing, musical and pantomime numbers.

The Chechen word for 'wedding' is translated as 'play'. Weddings are seen as a kind of elaborate festival - the feast and traditional dancing can go on for up to three days.

Chechen weddings are traditionally paid for by the groom and attended by his family members only. They are seen as a sad occasion by the bride's family.

Guests give various things to the newlyweds. Women give them useful things for the home such as linen or crockery. Men bring either money or sheep. And then, everyone is invited to partake of a sumptuous meal.

Once the meal is over, guests ask the bride to give them a drink of water. All of them talk amongst themselves, share jokes and discuss the bride's looks. The bride must keep her mouth shut because verbosity is seen as a sign of empty-headedness and immodesty. The bride can only offer the guests a drink of water and wish them all good health.

On the third day musical instruments are played and dancing guests lead the bride to a river. Cornmeal pancakes are thrown into the water, to be shot at, after which the bride draws some water from the river and goes home. This ritual is supposed to protect the young woman from the spirit of the river.

It is usually in the evening of the third day of the wedding festival that a man empowered to act for the bride's father and the bridegroom goes to the register office. It is usually the mullah (sacred law) who gives, on behalf of the girl's father, consent to the marriage, and the next day the bride becomes the young lady of the house.

Most young men are married by the age of 20 while many girls are married at 17 or 18. Most couples have children soon after marriage.

Source: dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3881596/Chechyna-sends-fun-police-Authorities-attend-weddings-prevent-guests-enjoying-dancing-getting-drunk-firing-guns.html

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For EU's religious freedom envoy, Middle East is key arena

Oct 27, 2016

CNA/EWTN News).- The genocide of Yazidis and Christians in the Middle East and the refugee crisis should be a priority for Europe, the EU special envoy for religious freedom has said.

Jan Figel told CNA that even though “there many other places where religious freedom is liquidated, discriminated and oppressed,” the Middle East is an unavoidable focus.

“It is evident that what it is going on the Middle East affects the rest of the world,” he said at a media symposium organized by Alliance Defending Freedom International in Brussels.

Figel, a Slovak who served as EU Commissioner for Education from 2004 to 2009, was chosen to be the union's special envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union. The position is an observer role and has a one-year term.

“I deem that the religious persecutions against Yazidis and Christians can be labeled as genocide, and this is the reason why the Middle East is a priority: there is a crime committed in the geopolitical center of the world, where three continents meet and the most important religions live together,” he explained.

Figel stressed the need to aid countries at the frontlines of conflicts that involve religious persecution and mass refugee displacement.

“Europe should provide more cooperation and assistance, as there are countries, like Jordan, that cannot sustain the flow of refugees that is coming to their lands,” Figel said. “Jordan did not close its borders, it is open to refugees from Syria and Iraq, and needs and deserves more EU support and comprehensive cooperation.”

Figel has focused on the plight of Christians in the Middle East in his own work. For his first official overseas trip, he visited Jordan Oct. 18-19, meeting with representatives of government and religious and civil society leaders.

The EU envoy praised Jordanian Muslim leaders’ work against extremism.

Authorities in Jordan “are very much committed in dialogue and action against radicalization, violence and extremism,” Figel said.

This is despite “an increasing climate of tensions” following the assassination of Nahed Attam, a Christian writer killed Sept. 25 because he shared a cartoon on Islam deemed offensive.

 Figel praised the Jordanian commitment to fighting the Islamic State, known locally as Daesh.

“Jordan is a member of anti-Daesh coalition,” he said.

The country’s work is also cultural. It puts into action “significant initiatives to show that Islam is a moderate religion beyond any extremist interpretations.”

The EU envoy praised Jordanian initiatives for dialogue like the Amman Message, which King Abdullah II of Jordan issued in 2004 as a call for tolerance and unity in the Muslim world.

The message recognized eight legal schools across various branches of Islam, rebuked sectarian attitudes like declaring other Muslims apostate, and set conditions to counter illegitimate edicts issued in the name of Islam; it drew support from 200 Islamic scholars from more than 50 countries.

Jordan also backed the 2009 letter “A Common Word Between Us and You,” a response to the controversy following Benedict XVI’s 2005 Regensburg speech that discussed Islam, religion and reason.

With Benedict XVI’s initiative, the letter grew into a forum that meets every three years. The endeavor aims to find common ground of dialogue between Catholicism and Islam. The initiative’s facilitator is Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, the king’s first cousin.

King Abdullah and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad also launched the World Interfaith Harmony Week, marked in the first week of February.

Source: catholicnewsagency.com/news/for-eus-religious-freedom-envoy-middle-east-is-key-arena-56109/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email

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SWEDEN BANS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN PUBLIC TO AVOID ANGERING MUSLIM REFUGEES

Oct 27, 2016

ORIGIN:A news item posted by the Swedish news service SVT on 23 October 2016 reported that Trafikverket, the Swedish Transport Administration, will no longer allow local municipalities to hang Christmas lights on the street poles under its control, citing two reasons: first, the law doesn't authorize the agency to share its electricity, and second, the poles aren't designed to bear extra weight, so Christmas decorations are a safety hazard.

This wasn't happy news for small towns like Hestra, in western Sweden, where residents have adorned the main street with poinsettias every Christmas for the past 20 years, SVP reported. They asked for and received a two-year exemption on the ruling, which means they'll be able to decorate as usual this Christmas and next, but what happens after that is a question mark. Several municipalities have vowed to fight the decision.

Though there wasn't a single mention of religion, immigrants, or refugees in the original report, various unreliable web sites quickly recast it as a "War on Christmas" story. For example, the conspiracy theory site InfoWars presented the Christmas light policy as a "capitulation to Islam":

Towns across Sweden have banned Christmas street lights in the name of “security,” but the real reason is almost certainly because the country has completely capitulated to Islam after importing countless Muslim migrants over the last two years.

Breitbart contributor Milo Yiannopoulos posted an article questioning the Swedish Transport Administration's justification of the policy:

So what changed? The weight of these holiday lights? The durability of street poles? Or maybe it was the massive influx of Muslim migrants that dramatically altered the demographic landscape of Sweden over the past two years…

Indeed, it seems the only real “security” concern is offending Muslim migrants — the same ones responsible for destroying local businesses.

The Morning News USA web site took the cake for hyperbole, headlining its article, "Sweden No Longer Celebrating Christmas: Bans Holiday for Fear of Offending Muslim Migrants." Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Sweden hasn't banned Christmas, nor has it banned any form of Christmas decorations apart from those attached to street poles. Its justification wasn't "fear of offending Muslim migrants," but rather unauthorized use of electricity and public safety concerns.

As part of their apparent effort to generate anti-immigrant hysteria, some of these sites also repeated false reports of "no-go zones" overrun with lawless migrants in Swedish cities. In September 2016, according to the news site The Local, an official of the Swedish Embassy in Hungary (where rumors of immigrant-caused chaos in Sweden and other parts of Europe were proliferating) said no such zones, "however they are labelled or defined," exist in Sweden.

Source: snopes.com/sweden-bans-christmas-lights/

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UNICEF: Syrian school attack potential war crime; toll rises

Friday 28 October 2016

BEIRUT: The UN’s children’s agency on Thursday raised the death toll from a brutal attack the previous day on a school in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province to 28, including 22 children and six teachers, and suggested it may have been the deadliest attack on a school in the country’s civil war.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an immediate and impartial investigation of the attack.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said their reconnaissance means have registered a US attack drone in the area where the school bombing took place.

A US’ MQ-1B Predator drone has been seen in the area, the ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

The airstrikes struck the village of Hass around midday Wednesday, hitting a residential compound that houses a school complex. The Syrian Civil Defense first responder team and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday that the airstrikes killed at least 35 people, mostly children.

The Observatory said 15 students were killed, as well as four teachers and three other women. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the separate figures, but divergent death tolls are not uncommon in a conflict-torn Syria that has been largely inaccessible to international media for over two years.

UNICEF and the Syrian Civil Defense said the death toll is likely to rise as rescue efforts continue. They said that two schools in the area were hit with 11 airstrikes around midday.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake called the airstrikes an “outrage,” adding that if found to be deliberate the attacks would be considered a war crime.

“This latest atrocity may be the deadliest attack on a school since the war began,” Lake said in a statement. “When will the world’s revulsion at such barbarity be matched by insistence that this must stop?”

Idlib has regularly been hit by Syrian and Russian warplanes as well as the US-led coalition targeting Daesh militants. An activist at the scene said as many as 10 airstrikes were believed to have hit Hass on Wednesday.

Juliette Touma, regional UNICEF chief of communication, said Wednesday’s attack was the deadliest attack on a school in 2016, bring the overall death toll of children killed in such attacks in 2016 to 54.

Russia, however, said it had nothing to do with airstrikes.

“The Russian Federation has nothing do with this terrible tragedy, with this attack,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, adding that Moscow demanded an immediate investigation. According to Touma, 591 children were killed in 2015 in Syria.

Prior to Wednesday’s attack, the deadliest assault on a school was reported in April 2014 when 30 children were killed in airstrikes that hit a school in the rebel-held part of Aleppo city, according to UNICEF.

UNICEF said it has verified at least 38 attacks on schools this year across Syria, whether in government-held areas or rebel-controlled territory, compared to 60 attacks last year.

“In general there are one in three schools in Syria that can’t be used anymore because they were damaged or destroyed or used for military purposes or sheltering the displaced,” Touma told The Associated Press, speaking from Amman, Jordan.

Separately, in Thursday, Syria’s state TV said two students were killed and 13 others were wounded by projectiles fired by rebel fighters at a school in the government-held western part of Aleppo.

Elsewhere, at least eight people were killed in government shelling of Doumas, a rebel-held suburb east of the capital Damascus, according to the Syrian Civil Defense team and the Observatory. The first responders said that there was a child among the eight who died.

UNICEF says over 1.7 million Syrian children remain out of school in 2016, a staggering figure but a drop from 2014 when 2.1 million were recorded as not attending classes. The UN agency says another 1.3 million are at risk of dropping out this year. In the rebel-held part of Aleppo, teachers and volunteers have set up underground schools to ensure some classes continue amid a punishing bombing campaign and a siege that has tightened since July.

In other developments Thursday, UN official Jan Egeland, speaking in Geneva, said efforts will be renewed to secure the evacuation of nearly 200 wounded from eastern Aleppo districts, and allow medical and food supplies into the besieged part of the city.

Egeland said a lack of trust, fear, and misunderstandings, as well as unacceptable preconditions, have prevented evacuations. “We are not giving up,” Egeland said.

However, he said the Syrian government has denied humanitarian access to eastern Aleppo as part of a monthly UN plan to access 25 besieged and remote areas in Syria.

“We need to overturn that decision because east Aleppo needs humanitarian supplies, they need it urgently,” Egeland said. “If not ... it will be the worst winter in now the six winters we have had in the conflict.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended Russia’s support for the army’s siege of the rebel-held eastern districts of the city of Aleppo, saying it’s necessary to crush the militants there.

Putin spoke on Thursday to international foreign policy experts in Sochi. He says there is choice between “keeping a terrorist nest there or crushing that nest while minimizing civilian casualties.”

Putin shrugged off the calls to end the onslaught on Aleppo, arguing that the US-backed, Iraqi-led siege of Mosul should also be halted then, and the prospective attack on “ by the US-led coalition should not be launched at all.

Separately, the European Union on Thursday added 10 top Syrian officials to its sanctions blacklist for their role in the “violent repression” of the civilian population.

“The persons... include high-ranking military officials and senior figures linked to the regime,” who will now face travel bans and asset freezes, it said in a statement.

The names of those targeted will be released in due course.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1003496/middle-east

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Southeast Asia

Islamic State Philippines Wing Made over $7 Million in First Half of 2016

27 Oct 20162

While the struggle to eradicate the Islamic State terrorist group focuses largely on Syria and Iraq, its affiliates outside of the Middle East have been gaining strength, largely through the generation of revenue. The Philippines affiliate, Abu Sayyaf, reportedly generated over $7 million in ransoms in the first six months of 2016.

That figure comes from a new report published by the Philippine government, which found that the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group had raised an estimated $7.3 million in ransom payments between January and June 2016. These payments largely came from the families of abducted Indonesians, as the Philippines has an official policy of not paying ransoms to save those abducted by terrorists.

The Philippine Star notes that the terrorist organization, which operates mostly in the southern, Muslim region of the Philippines, has “turned to abductions of foreign tugboat crewmen as military offensives restricted the militants’ mobility.”

Those returned to their families for the most money, the Star adds, were “14 Indonesian and 4 Malaysian crewmen who had been held at Abu Sayyaf jungle bases in Sulu province,” according to the government.

The report also noted that the government appears to have reduced the number of terrorists belonging to the group, but that Abu Sayyaf has increased the number of terrorist attacks executed in response: “Government offensives have reduced the number of militants to 481 in the first half of the year from 506 in the same period last year but they managed to carry out 32 bombings in that time — a 68 percent increase — in attempts to distract the military assaults.”

Abu Sayyaf’s most recent international attack was the kidnapping of the crew of a South Korean cargo ship earlier this month off the southern coast of the Philippines. The men remain in Abu Sayyaf custody and both Philippine and South Korean authorities are working to return them to safety.

Abu Sayyaf is a far older group than the Islamic State — it established itself in 1991 — but pledged allegiance to ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and currently operates as a wing of the global jihadist outfit. Its most prominent act of terror this year has been the beheading of hostage John Ridsdel, a Canadian, abducted alongside Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad. Sekkingstad was eventually freed.

Abu Sayyaf is one of a number of Islamic State affiliates exacerbating its attacks in their respective regions as a U.S.-led coalition prepares sieges against ISIS’s largest centers of command: Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq. The Islamic State Khorasan Province, the Afghan affiliate, is striving to establish itself in the face of challenges from al-Qaeda and the Taliban, according to U.S. military officials on the ground. “Right now we see them very focused on trying to establish their caliphate, the Khorasan caliphate, inside Afghanistan,” commander Gen. John Nicholson said this week.

In Nigeria, the Islamic State West Africa Province — more commonly known as Boko Haram — killed dozens of soldiers this week in a spate of new attacks. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had claimed Boko Haram no longer existed in an active state in December 2015.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June, initially attempted to establish a dialogue with Abu Sayyaf, stating in a speech shortly after his election victory that the Philippines’ Muslims were the victims of “historical wrongs.”

After a series of Abu Sayyaf attacks in response, Duterte changed his tune.

“I will eat you in front of people,” Duterte warned Abu Sayyaf in September. “If you make me mad, in all honesty, I will eat you alive, raw.”

Source: breitbart.com/national-security/2016/10/27/islamic-state-philippines-wing-made-7-million-first-half-2016/

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Myanmar captures 8 more border post attackers

OCT 28, 2016

Myanmar government troops have captured eight more attackers on one of its three border posts in Maungtaw, western Rakhine state, according to the military-run Myawaddy News Friday.

The arrest was made when the government troops carried out an area clearance operation in Ngarsarkyu village in Maungtaw Thursday.

On the same day, the government's vessel patrol group also found two suspicious boats in the creek during a patrol in the Nat River, arresting five Bengalis, the sources added.

On Oct. 18, the government troops had arrested 11 armed men in Ngakhuya village, identified to have been involved in Oct. 9 violent attacks on the three border posts in Maungtaw when the government troops and police launched a clearance operation there.

A total of 30 attackers including two women have been killed and 12 others captured in a series of armed clashes between Myanmar government troops and hundreds of armed men in Maungtaw since three border posts were violently attacked.

Five soldiers and eight policemen also died in the clashes.

The three border posts are Kyikanpyi in Maungtaw , Kotankauk in Rathedaung and Ngakhuya Office.

The government claimed that it has exposed an organization "Aqa Mul Mujahidin", led by Havistoohar and linked with terrorist organization-- "Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO)" as attackers in the Oct. 9 assault on the three border posts, supported financially by foreign terrorist organizations and the attacks involved some Islamic extremists.

Source: globaltimes.cn/content/1014522.shtml

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Philippine mayor, 9 guards killed in police shoot-out

OCT 28, 2016

A Philippine mayor accused of drug trafficking was killed along with nine bodyguards in a shoot-out with police today, authorities said, hours after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to intensify his crackdown on crime.

Samsudin Dimaukom, the mayor of the southern town of Saudi Ampatuan, was one of more than 150 local government officials, judges and police identified by Duterte earlier this year as being involved in the illegal drug trade.

The deadly crime war has claimed more than 3,800 lives and drawn criticism from the United States, the United Nations and international rights groups who have accused police of summarily executing suspects.

Police spokesman Superintendent Romeo Galgo said that Dimaukom and his security personnel opened fire after anti-narcotics police stopped their vehicles at a checkpoint on suspicion they were transporting illegal drugs.

Officers returned fire, killing the men in the town of Makilala, about 950 kilometres (600 miles) south of the capital Manila.

"Suspects (were) heavily armed and fired upon the law enforcers, which prompted them to fire back," Galgo said.

Dimaukom made a name for himself by funding the construction of a pink mosque in Saudi Ampatuan in a plea for peace in the town which has been wracked by violence.

Muslim rebels have been waging a separatist insurgency in the southern Philippines for decades.

Duterte, who swept to power in May elections on a pledge to eradicate drugs, has described his critics as "fools" and said he is not breaking any domestic laws by threatening to kill criminals.

After returning from a trip to Japan late Thursday, he threatened to step up police killings of drug suspects.

"If my wish to get rid (of illegal drugs) in my country is not granted, you can expect about 20,000 or 30,000 more. There is a war going on," he said.

Source: thedailystar.net/world/philippine-mayor-9-guards-killed-police-shoot-out-1305766

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Rohingya women say Myanmar soldiers raped them amid crackdown

Fri Oct 28, 2016

Dozens of Rohingya Muslim women in Myanmar’s Rakhine state say government forces have committed acts of rape or sexual assault against them.

Eight Rohingya women, all from the remote U Shey Kya village, described in detail how soldiers last week raped them at gun point, while raiding their homes and looting property, according to Reuters news agency on Friday.

Myanmar deployed troops to Rakhine earlier this month following alleged attacks on police posts along the border with Bangladesh, which authorities blamed on Rohingya Muslims.

One 40-year-old woman said four soldiers raped her and assaulted her 15-year-old daughter, while stealing jewelry and cash from the family.

“They took me inside the house. They tore my clothes and they took my headscarf off…,” she said.

Another woman, 32, described being knocked off her feet by soldiers and repeatedly raped. “They told me, ‘We will kill you. We will not allow you to live in this country,’” she said.

The women said the soldiers took gold, money and anything that was valuable from their bamboo huts and burned down village homes and spoiled rice stores by pouring sand on them.

One 30-year-old woman said she did not have clothes or food to eat after everything was destroyed. "I’m feeling ashamed and scared,” Reuters quoted the unnamed woman as saying.

Five more women from U Shey Kya also detailed how soldiers had raped them. The accounts were confirmed by at least three male residents of the village and a Rohingya community leader.

U Shey Kya village’s official administrator, Armah Harkim, said he was verifying the accounts which most residents believed to be true. The residents said about 150 soldiers attacked U Shey Kya on October 19.

A presidential spokesman accused the villagers of fabricating the news while confirming that government troops had conducted a sweep of the village on October 19.

Most male residents have reportedly left the village as they believed they would be suspected as militants. The women said they stayed behind fearing that the military would burn down empty homes.

Residents said the soldiers dismantled the fences around the houses after the military declared northern Rakhine State an “operation zone.”

The UN has called on Myanmar to investigate new reports of human rights violations, including the killing of unarmed people and torching of rural settlements in Rakhine state.

Rights groups say troops have gone on a rampage, which has forced terrified civilians to flee their homes.

Rakhine, where Rohingya Muslims form the majority population, has been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012.

Hundreds of people have been killed, while tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and live in squalid camps in dire situations in Myanmar and other countries in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

According to the UN, Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. The government denies full citizenship to Rohingya population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even as many trace their lineage in Myanmar back generations.

Source: presstv.ir/Detail/2016/10/28/491011/Rakine-Asia-Myanmar-Rohingya-Muslims-Crackdown-Rape

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South Asia

6 soldiers martyred, 66 insurgents killed in the past 24 hours: MoD

Fri Oct 28 2016

At least 6 soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces lost their lives in the latest counter-terrorism operations, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.

The soldiers lost their lives as they were conducting counter-terrorism operations in various provinces of the country in the past 24 hours that led to the killing of at least 66 militants.

According to a statement by MoD, at least 30 loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were also among those killed and around 23 others were wounded while 11 others were detained.

The statement further added that the operations were conducted with the support of the Afghan Air Force and artillery units of the Afghan National Army.

The operations covered the restive parts of Nangarhar, Laghman, Paktia, Paktika, Ghazni, Maidan Wardak, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Ghor, Badghis, Herat, Farah, Faryab, Baghlan, Kunduz, and Helmand provnces.

According to MoD, at least 30 of the militants belonging to ISIS terrorist group were killed in nangarhar, 6 were wounded and and 13 others were killed in Greshk district of Helmand.

MoD also added that 9 militants were killed in Nerkh district of Wardak and 5 others were killed in Deh Yak and Moqor district of Ghazni province.

8 others were killed during a separate operation conducted in Gulistan district of Farah, MoD added.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban group and loyalists of ISIS terrorist group have not commented regarding the report so far.

Source: khaama.com/6-soldiers-martyred-66-insurgents-killed-in-the-past-24-hours-mod-02157

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13 ISIS loyalists killed in an airstrike in East of Afghanistan

Fri Oct 28 2016

At least 13 loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in an airstrike in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

Local security officials in Nangarhar province said the militants were killed in Pacher Agam district of Nangarhar.

The officials did not disclose further information if the airstrike was carried out by the Afghan Air Force or the US forces based in Afghanistan.

However, the officials said the local residents did not suffer any casualties in the airstrike.

Pacher Agam district is among the volatile areas of Nangarhar province where the anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents and ISIS fighters are actively operating.

The loyalists of ISIS terrorist group launched a coordianted attack on Pacher Agam district few days back and set several houses on fire during the attack.

Both the Afghan forces and the US forces in Afghanistan are conducting regular raids against the Taliban insurgents and ISIS loyalist in the districts where they are conducting insurgency activities.

The US forces increased airstrikes against the Taliban insurgents and ISIS loyalists earlier this year after the Obama administration granted a broader role to the American forces.

Source: khaama.com/13-isis-loyalists-killed-in-an-airstrike-in-east-of-afghanistan-02156

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ISIL underlining the importance of NATO presence in Afghanistan: Stoltenberg

Fri Oct 28 2016

The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the presence of the loyalists of the Islamic State Of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Afghanistan is underlining the importance of the NATO in the country.

Stoltenberg was responding regarding the alliance’s contribution in the fight against the terror group in Iraq and Syria led by a coalition of forces.

“NATO contribute to the fight against ISIL and terrorism in many different ways. All NATO allies participate in the coalition and it is of great importance for the coalition that NATO allies, two decades of joint operations and exercising and exercises, have been able to develop interoperability, the ability to work together in this kind of military operations. So in that sense the coalition takes great advantage of interoperability that has been developed through NATO over the decades. Secondly, we provide direct support by the training of Iraqi officers,” Stoltenberg said.

He also added that “Our presence in Afghanistan, NATO’s biggest military operation ever is, of course, part of our efforts to fight international terrorism and we also see an ISIL present in Afghanistan which is just underlining the importance of our presence there.”

The remarks by Stoltenberg came as the US officials expressed concerns regarding the attempts by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also known as the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) terrorist group to expand foothold in Afghanistan.

The State Department spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday “It is no secret that we have been long concerned about ISIL’s eyes on Afghanistan and their desires to have a presence there.”

Earlier, top US commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson said the terrorist group is attempting to establish a caliphate inside Afghanistan.

“Right now we see them very focused on trying to establish their caliphate, the Khorasan caliphate, inside Afghanistan,” General Nicholson told NBC News.

He said the push is “principally a non-Afghan movement”, adding that the U.S. has seen foreign fighters, particularly Uzbeks from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, joining the Islamic State Khorasan, or IS-K.

According to Gen. Nicholson the US also sees many Pakistani Pashtun from the Pakistani Taliban who joined IS-K moving into Afghanistan to fight.

Source: khaama.com/isil-underlining-the-importance-of-nato-presence-in-afghanistan-stoltenberg-02159

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4 arrested in Kabul for selling counterfeit Dollars and Afghanis in the city

By KHAAMA PRESS - Fri Oct 28 2016, 10:27 am

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money-forgerers-arrested-in-kabul_censoredAt least four people were arrested in connection to the sale of counterfeit Dollars and Afghanis in the city, the security authorities said Friday.

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), said the four individuals were arrested as they were attempting to sale 446,000 Afghanis and 5,000 US Dollars in the city.

NDS further added that the individuals have been identified as Adam Khan son of Zadran, Abdul Karim famous as Hashmat son of Mohammad, Shaheen son of Sher Agha, and Abdul Bair son of Abdul Ghafar.

The detained individuals have confessed that they were selling counterfeit 1000 banknotes and 500 banknotes in the city before they were arrested.

This comes as at least five foreigners were arrested along with three million counterfeit Dollar and Euro currencies in capital Kabul late in the month of December in 2014.

NDS said the intelligence operatives also confiscated chemicals which are used to produce counterfeit currencies.

According to NDS the suspects were demanding up to $100,000 from the Afghan people to buy chemicals from Dubai and use them to produce counterfeit currencies in Kabul.

Source: khaama.com/4-arrested-in-kabul-for-selling-counterfeit-dollars-and-afghanis-in-the-city-02158

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Pakistan eyes Central Asia access via Peshawar-Kabul motorway

Thu Oct 27 2016

peshawar-kabul-motorwayPakistan aims to access the Central Asian markets as Islamabad mulls to start work on the construction of Peshawar-Kabul motorway, it has been reported.

According to the local media reports, Islamabad has given a go-ahead to the National Highway Authority (NHA) to begin the process of hiring consultants who will carry out a feasibility study on the proposed Peshawar-Kabul Motorway.

The Express Tribune which has obtained documents related to the project, reported that NHA is undertaking the process to hire consultants for the project.

According to the concerned officials,  the preliminary cost of the project is Rs80 billion and will be completed over a period of almost three years.

The project will not only help boost trade between the two neighbouring countries, but will also give Pakistan an access to Central Asia, the paper reported.

A spokesman for the National Highway Authority, Kashif Zaman, said feasibility study of the project is expected to be completed in the next six months.

Zaman further added that the total length of the motorway is 281 kilometres and is divided into three packages: Peshawar-Torkham (50km) which will be constructed from scratch meanwhile the existing structure of Torkham-Jalalabad (76km) and Jalalabad-Kabul (155km) will be upgraded, he said.

Source: khaama.com/pakistan-eyes-central-asia-access-via-peshawar-kabul-motorway-02160

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4 ‘HuJI men’ arrested with bombs, knives in Gazipur

Fri Oct 28 2016

Police have arrested four suspected members of the banned extremist group Harkat-ul-Jihad Al Islami (HuJI) from Gazipur.

They were caught with bombs and extremist literature, Md Harun Ur Rashid,superintendent of police (SP), told a press briefing at noon on Friday.

Those arrested are Khairul Islam, 26, of Kautalia, Aminul Haque, 49, of Tangail Sadar, Shahid Ullah, 43 and Golam Kibria Khan, 25 of Mymensingh.    

Among them Khairul Islam and Golam Kibria were students at Gazipur’s Islamic University of Technology (IUT) and Shahid Ullah was a militant who had returned from Myanmar’s Arakan, the SP said.

The arrests were made after police raided ‘Sufia Cottage’, an abandoned one-storey house at Joydebpur’s Nanduyain on Thursday night, SP Harun told reporters at his office.

“We detained the four men and recovered two knives, one machete, 14 petrol bombs, four hand bombs, electronic devices and extremist literature.”

Shahid Ullah, he said, had gone to Arakan ‘to die a martyr’, while Aminul Islam was in charge of providing instructions on Jihad.

Source: bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2016/10/28/4huji-men-arrested-with-bombs-knives-in-gazipur

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North America

$170 Million Straight From Civil Service Pension Fund Into Najib's Personal Account!

28 October 2016

Speaking to an audience in Geneva yesterday DAP Finance Spokesperson, Tony Pua detailed the simple steps by which US$170 million was transferred out of the Civil Servant Pension Fund, KWAP into Najib’s personal AmBank spending account in 2011.

The transfer, long suspected by observers, represents one of the final missing jigsaw pieces in the tale of theft at 1MDB and raises further questions about the transactions of yet another Swiss Bank Julius Baer and also the role of Standard Chartered Bank, which held the bogus Blackstone Asia account in Singapore.

A total of RM4 billion was raised by SRC (set up as a subsidiary to 1MDB in 2011) with the first draw-down of RM2 billion of that money taking place in August of that year. It was then transferred abroad, supposedly for ‘international investments’, thereby making it harder for Malaysian investigators to trace.

However, in three short steps the following November, the money was simply transferred back into Malaysia and into Najib’s own personal bank account!

The intermediary was SRC International’s account at the Swiss bank Julius Baer’s Hong Kong branch in a transfer partially uncovered by Sarawak Report in March of this year.

$170 million was transferred from the Malaysian fund to its account at Julius Baer under the guise of funding foreign investments, Pua stated. The sum was then passed on to the bogus BVI company Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners (identified by the US Dept of Justice as being controlled by Jho Low through his associate Eric Tan) and then on during the same month of November into Najib’s KL account.

Amounting to around half a billion ringgit in Malaysian currency, this represents a large chunk of  the SRC missing money long suspected to have been almost entirely pilfered by the Prime Minister and his associates. Earlier this month the Swiss authorities confirmed that they had evidence that $800 million (the vast majority of the KWAP loan) was indeed misappropriated according to their international banking investigations, but failed to release the details.

MACC (Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission) investigations have already established that over RM60 million was transferred directly from SRC locally to other accounts held by Najib at AmBank. That money was passed by Nik Faisal Arif Kamil (another associate of Jho Low) who was appointed Chief Executive of SRC and had also been given authorised status to manage these accounts for the Prime Minister.

‘Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud ‘

Najib has long sought to explain the massive payments into his account by referring to what he said were donations from a bogus Saudi ‘Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud ‘. When it was clearly proven by MACC investigators that at least RM67 million had been merely directed locally straight from SRC to his accounts set up by Nik Kamil, he issued the excuse that he had not realised this to be the case.

Najib informed the new Attorney General he had just appointed (since the old one was about to prosecute him) that he had understood the money came from the alleged Saudi donation. This excuse was accepted by his new AG, Apandi Ali, who did not request him to repay the money to the pension fund.

Meanwhile, a new document obtained by Sarawak Report sheds fascinating light on the reality behind the so-called Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud, whose purported letters of explanation were sent to AmBank each time one of these enormous payments were made into Najib’s account.

No one has been able to identify this particular Saudi Royal, even though the payments are so large that he would have to have been one of the richest members of the Saudi ruling family to afford them. Indeed the letter sent to AmBank in November 2011 gives two different versions of this character’s name and one of the bank accounts later used to make another payment, allegedly by him, uses another name entirely, Prince Faisal bin Turkey bin Bandar Alsaud

The letter referred to Najib’s alleged good works through his pet project for impressing the Americans, entitled the Global Movement of the Moderates, which this Saudi Wahabi Prince was allegedly supporting.

The document bears a striking resemblance to the letter head of another close associate of Jho Low, the beneficial shareholder of PetroSaudi, Prince Turki bin Abdullah. Prince Turki was paid millions of dollars in back-handers by Low for allowing his shell company PetroSaudi to be used as a front for the 1MDB joint venture, which siphoned $1.83 billion of borrowed money out of Malaysia.

The Department of Justice has also confirmed that Prince Turki passed $20 million from money removed from that joint venture deal straight to Najib’s own bank accounts.

Sarawak Report has a copy of Turki’s own letterhead used for business ventures later spearheaded by PetroSaudi in Venezuela and it bears a remarkable resemblance to the apparently bogus figure behind the payments into Najib’s AmBank account.

Did Jho Low and his team use his pal’s letter head to simply forge a similar ‘royal looking’ document? The fugitive billionaire has yet to answer any questions on his role at 1MDB and Malaysia has closed down all investigations on the AG’s decision that ‘there has been no wrongdoing’

However, Najib’s press man Paul Stadlen has been informing international journalists that reports that Prince Abdulaziz was indeed Prince Turki should be taken as being well-founded.

The only problem being that Prince Turki is just one of scores of Saudi Princes, whose personal means are limited when it comes to donating on a scale of hundreds of millions of dollars. Indeed, to the contrary it is Prince Turki who got the backhanders from Malaysia, which is probably why he is considered the perfect person to keep his mouth shut.

Source: mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/1580abe0e2dcd727

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Africa

Islamic finance leaders set to gather in Djibouti to boost trade flows

October 28, 2016

Over the past few years there has been a significant growth in trade and investment between Africa and the major markets across the world, and the continent has made great strides in building strong investment ties especially with the Middle East and broader OIC markets.

Over the coming years, Islamic banking is set to become much more integrated with the broader financial sector, and its impact is already being felt on the competitive landscape. The International Islamic Banking Summit Africa: Djibouti 2016, hosted by the Central Bank of Djibouti will begin next month.

The conference has an innovative and interactive format spread over 2 days and will be officially inaugurated on the 2nd of November 2016 with opening keynote addresses by Ahmed Osman, Governor, Central Bank of Djibouti; Abdelrahman Hassan Abdelrahman Hashim, Governor, Central Bank of Sudan; Getahun Nana Jenber, Vice Governor, National Bank of Ethiopia; and Khaled M. Al Aboodi, Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector. This opening keynote plenary focuses on Building the Regulatory Infrastructure Essential to Creating a Strong Future for Islamic Finance in Africa.

Speaking ahead of his keynote address, Ahmed Osman, Governor of the Central Bank of Djibouti commented: “The International Islamic Banking Summit Africa: Djibouti 2016 is an innovative gathering which regularly convenes global industry leaders to boost economic development and facilitate greater trade and investment flows between Africa and the OIC markets through Islamic finance. Islamic banking brings several key value propositions to Africa; most notably in the areas of enabling infrastructure finance, boosting international trade & investment flows, and deepening financial inclusion; and accordingly this year’s Summit will focus on Harnessing the Driving Forces for the Successful Development of Islamic Finance in Africa”.

Another major highlight of the International Islamic Banking Summit Africa: Djibouti 2016 is the Leader’s Dialogue Live! interview session which will be presented as a live onstage one-on-one discussion with a leading player in the global Islamic finance industry. This will be a unique opportunity to engage directly with the key issues and gain a fresh perspective and first-hand insights into what we can expect from the Islamic finance industry going forward. The live interview session features renowned industry leader and global Islamic banker, Afaq Khan who will be interview by seasoned Islamic banker, Moinuddin Malim, the Managing Partner of Alternative International Management Services (AIMS Dubai).

The Summit continues with a number of innovative sessions that focus on important issues such as The Path Towards a Digitalized Islamic Bank; Trade & Investment; Infrastructure Finance; and Innovation & Financial Inclusion. Each of these sessions will be led by Islamic finance leaders from Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Source: pakobserver.net/islamic-finance-leaders-set-to-gather-in-djibouti-to-boost-trade-flows/

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Bashir to appoint PM for 1st time since coup

Thursday 27 October 2016

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir addresses a news conference in Cape Town South Africa, in this November 7, 2007 file photo. (Reuters)

KHARTOUM: Sudanese President Omar Bashir is to appoint a prime minister, reinstating a post abolished after he came to power in a 1989 coup, officials said Wednesday.

The delegation of certain powers to a prime minister would fall in line with reforms proposed by a national dialogue held between Bashir’s government and some opposition groups. Bashir himself had abolished the post of premier after he led a bloodless coup almost three decades ago against then premier Sadiq Al-Mahdi with the help of the late Hassan Al-Turabi.

But on Wednesday, a top aide to Bashir told the Sudanese Parliament that the president will now appoint a prime minister to head his government. “The president’s proposal forms part of changes to be made in the country’s constitution based on recommendations from the national dialogue,” said Al-Rashid Haroon.

A prime minister is expected to be appointed within the next two months, officials said. “This is a positive step because the prime minister will have some of Bashir’s powers,” Al-Noor Ahmed, editor of leading Sudanese daily Assayha, told AFP.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1003041/middle-east

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TERRORISTS HAMPER POLIO ERADICATION EFFORTS IN AFRICA

October 28, 2016

On World Polio Day, the international campaign to end the paralyzing disease takes stock of what has been accomplished and recommits to eradicating polio worldwide. And this year, the campaign—by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Rotary International—is facing a reassessment.

In August, virologists proved that polio has been lingering in Nigeria, in a corner of the country with porous borders and shifting populations where travel had been blocked by terrorism. Now, even though the number of cases is small, Nigeria has been re-declared “endemic,” a place where polio has never stopped circulating—and planners worry the disease could spill from there into other parts of Africa.

The discovery is discouraging because success seemed so close. When the international campaign launched in 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio paralysis every year, mostly in children. Last year, there were 74. So far this year, including four in Nigeria, there have been 27. As cases dwindled, it was assumed that the last places to harbor the virus would be Pakistan and Afghanistan, which for the past two years produced the only cases of natural polio in the world.

“We have never been as close to eradication as we are right now,” Dr. Reza Hossaini, UNICEF’s director of polio eradication, told me.

He cited a number of reasons: the low case count, but also the occurrence of polio in only limited areas in each country, as well as diminishing genetic diversity in the viruses being retrieved from the wild. All of those factors increase the opportunity to draw a noose of vaccination around the areas where cases are still occurring.

But, Hossaini said, “we are still challenged to reach every single child, with an adequate number of rounds of immunization, in order to create enough immunity to entrap the wild virus.”

In the campaign’s favor: In the three countries where polio is entrenched, it is about to be the dry season. Polio virus, which hides in feces, moves through the environment more easily when the weather is damp. Not in its favor: For every known case, there may be up to 200 more cases of people carrying the virus without visible symptoms, and case counting has been affected by the same political difficulty that allowed the Nigerian virus to persist.

“This really is a reflection of the issue of security,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC’s director, told me. “The lack of security and lack of access meant that we did not have adequate surveillance, and polio spread for five years without being recognized. This is a warning for countries all over the world, but particularly in Africa.”

What happens next in polio eradication—in Africa and in the disease’s stubborn redoubts in Afghanistan and Pakistan—will be examined today in a press conference and World Polio Day observances at the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters.

THE ROLE OF BOKO HARAM

Planners might have predicted that Nigeria would be the African country where polio surged back. It has repeatedly been a polio hot spot, out of a combination of politics, religious disagreements, and random bad luck.

In 2003, Muslim imams in Kano state in Nigeria’s northern tier began preaching that parents should not allow vaccination, claiming the vaccine had been contaminated in order to harm Islamic children.

That may have been an authentic belief or part of political maneuvering between the Muslim north and Christian south of the country—but whatever the motivation, the result was a freeze on vaccination in northern Nigeria for more than a year. Any children who were not yet vaccinated, including the ones born in those months, were vulnerable. So much infection boiled up that the disease leaked over borders to reinfect 14 other African countries, which had already eliminated polio and turned their attention and vaccination funds to other problems.

In Nigeria, lingering distrust kept vaccination rates low for years afterward. So many children went unprotected that, in 2006, a random mutation of the weakened virus used in the oral polio vaccine, which took the virus back to its wild disease-causing state, sparked a national epidemic.

During the time that spike was being controlled, the terrorist militia Boko Haram—best known for kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls in 2014—began gaining control of the same parts of the north where vaccination had been low. They cut off entire provinces, blocking the access needed by teams vaccinating children and epidemiologists counting cases. When the Nigerian military forced the militia out of parts of Borno state, in Nigeria’s northeast corner, the polio campaign discovered that wild polio virus had been circulating there for years.

POROUS BORDERS AND RISING RISK

Now the entire area—Borno and three other Nigerian states and the adjoining countries of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, which touch Nigeria at Lake Chad—are caught in what the World Health Organization calls a “complex emergency,” with more than 150,000 people fleeing across national borders and more than two million people internally displaced. Malnutrition and diseases of all kinds are rising, and the risk of polio is rising too.

“I’m quite worried about the Lake Chad area, because there are weaknesses of surveillance, and there are nomadic populations which could be introducing polio to a wider area,” Frieden said.

Lake Chad shifts in size with the seasons and is surrounded by wetlands, where the national borders are not monitored. Hossaini said: “It’s really hard to say what the population movement across the borders is, because the borders are so porous. There are checkpoints, but people cross for trade, and often they are crossing with children.”

In response to the discovery of polio in Borno in August, the eradication effort and the governments of Nigeria and five nearby countries mounted a vast emergency vaccination campaign: six rounds of vaccination covering more than five million children each time. But getting to them is challenging. According to maps prepared by the polio campaign, much of the northern half of Borno remains under the control of Boko Haram, and the militia conducts raids into Cameroon, Chad, and Niger as well.

In Borno, “certain (local government areas) are totally accessible, but they are very few,” Hossaini said. “Some are accessible, but high risk. And there are a few where the military has not been able to free them up. The military has created corridors where people can come from the rural areas into internally displaced persons camps, but outside those corridors only the military can go. We think the majority of the population is accessible in that manner, but we don’t know how many more families and children are still in areas where we don’t have access.”

Boko Haram is an explicitly anti-Western movement—its name has been translated as “Western education is a sin”—so to have any hope of succeeding, the polio campaign has to be led by locals.

“The Nigerian [polio] program is very robust,” Frieden said. “Anywhere they can get in, they do a really good job. They vaccinated 830,000 kids in the first two weeks” after the first two cases were found.

‘WE HAVE TO SAVE THE CHILDREN’

Since its beginnings in the 1980s, volunteers from Rotary International have been the boots on the ground for the eradication campaign. They do not buy vaccines (other agencies in the campaign handle that), but their emergency donations cover training and rental cars and radio ads—even town criers in places where there is no power or mobile-phone coverage—and they volunteer as vaccinators themselves.

John Germ, Rotary’s president, said their knowledge of local politics is crucial. “We have a strong committee in Nigeria,” he told me. “They are working with the governmental leaders, religious leaders, and they are trying to work with some of the conflict leaders, to allow us to get in where the children are. Getting in there with volunteers is very, very difficult to do.”

The challenge facing the campaign is to ring-fence the disease before the virus manages a repeat of its 2006 feat, leaking into surrounding countries where polio has not been present and vaccination has therefore slowed down.

That may be an even more difficult task than in Afghanistan or Pakistan. In those countries, most of the areas where polio survives are remote, with little traffic in or out. Nigeria, on the other hand, is the most populous country in Africa, and a crossroads for the rest of the continent.

There is no quick fix that can make the risk of onward spread go away; it requires yet more of the hard, grinding, repetitive work that eradication campaigners have been doing for almost 30 years.

“I think we will eventually eradicate polio back from Nigeria, and we will get it out of Pakistan and Afghanistan also,” Germ told me. “We have to save the children. We will get to that last child.”

Source: nationalgeographic.com.au/people/terrorists-hamper-polio-eradication-efforts-in-africa.aspx

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Kenya declares curfew in Strife hit Mandera

October 28, 2016

Kenya Defence Forces soldiers arrive at the scene of a bomb attack claimed by Shabaab militants in the northeastern town of Mandera, Northern Kenya.

Kenya’s government has announced a 60-day dusk to dawn curfew in the northeastern town of Mandera, which has been hit by two deadly terrorist attacks in three weeks.

at a hotel in Mandera town on Tuesday, and will remain in place until December 27.

It will be enforced along a 20km buffer zone of towns and territory reaching to the Somalia border.

The al Shabaab militant group turned its sights on Kenya when its army was sent into Somalia in 2011 to fight the Islamic insurgents.

Since then the militants have targeted civilians in different parts of Kenya.

Source: africa.tvcnews.tv/2016/10/28/kenya-declares-curfew-strife-hit-mandera/#.WBM5-9J97IU

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Bosnia and Iran to co-operate on terrorism

Friday 28 October 2016

Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the promotion of business cooperation and mutual investment.

The document was signed by the countries’ officials in the presence of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the visiting chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegović, during a ceremony at Tehran’s Sadabad Complex on Tuesday.

It envisages the expansion of cooperation among the countries’ enterprises and industrial parks.

The Bosnian statesman arrived in the Iranian capital earlier in the day at the head of a high-ranking political, economic, and cultural delegation on a four-day visit.

Rouhani said during the ceremony that, ever since Bosnia’s independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992, Iran and Bosnia have maintained favorable bilateral relations.

He said there was peaceful coexistence among Muslims, Serbs, and Croats in the European country, which could function as a proper basis for peace and security there.

Rouhani referred to Islam as the religion of mercy, which he said invited the people of the world toward such coexistence, saying, “The promotion of moderate Islam can serve as a major cultural basis for European Muslims, including those of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

“Radicalism … compromises our [Muslim] faith and presents it in the wrong light,” Izetbegovic said, after discussing the fight against terrorism with Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani.

“Bosniaks – Bosnian Muslims – and Iranians will work to show our faith in the right light. Islam is peace, reconciliation, light,” he added.

The four-day visit this week, by a delegation which includes Trade Minister Mirko Sarovic and Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak, also saw the two countries sign a memorandum of understanding to increase bilateral investment in small and medium enterprises.

This is linked to a further proposal to loosen the rigid visa regime between the two countries, which Izetbegovic said “should be urgently addressed to facilitate the movement of capital”.

A joint commission to be held in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo in December is to examine and finalize the list of the areas of cooperation between the two countries, the Iranian chief executive said.

Source: worldbulletin.net/world/179230/north-dakota-pipeline-mass-arrests-by-riot-police

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