New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 9 Jan 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

‘Terror-Tainted’ Sambhal Locality Is Radio-Networked In Sufi Thoughts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Some local Sufi scholars lead a march during the Eid Milad un Nabi procession in Deepa Sarai locality, Sambhal, on 24 December 2015. PHOTOS: MOHAMMAD AHMED REZA

 

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India

India a tolerant country, Taslima Nasreen says

Pathankot attack: India firm on linking foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan's action on jihadis

Kerry favours continuation of Pak-India peace talks despite hurdles

Mamata: Malda violence not communal incident

Mehbooba Mufti will do better than her father: Muzaffar Husain Baig

When terror checked in: Reconstructing the Pathankot air base attack

China once again condemns Pathankot terror attack

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Pakistan

Pakistan to present list of Taliban open to peace talks at quadrilateral meeting

Saudi defence minister arrives in Islamabad to seek Pakistan's support

China urges Pakistani leaders to resolve issues over CPEC project

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Arab World

GCC backs S. Arabia in row with Iran

Syrian government ready to attend peace talks in Geneva

39 killed in Syria air strike

Iran to Begin Gas Exports to Iraq by Late June

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South Asia

47 militants killed as Afghan forces intensify counter-terror operations

Afghan forces retake control of Darqad district in Takhar

Afghan minister narrowly escapes HIV infection in syringe attack by drug addict

Senior Taliban leader among 17 killed in Takhar operations

Roadmap for Afghan peace talks to be discussed tomorrow

US to attend Islamabad talks on Afghanistan

Traffic accident leaves 18 people wounded on Herat-Farah highway

Drone strike kills 3 foreign terrorists in Kunar

3 civilians killed in Nangarhar explosion

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Mideast

ISIS leader’s second deputy killed in airstrike in Iraq

Iran's needy get winter clothes from 'Walls of Kindness'

2 Palestinians who tried to stab soldiers shot dead

Rights group: 162 civilians have died in Turkey conflict

Iraq denies Turkish forces in north clashed with ISIL ’recently’

Police officer killed in shootout with PKK in eastern Turkey

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Europe

Lassana Bathily: The Muslim who saved Jews in Paris attack

Paris police station attacker lived in German refugee shelter

Merkel talks tough on migrant lawbreakers as assault cases soar

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Africa

Foreign tourists wounded in attack at Egyptian Red Sea resort

US-Led West Preparing to Attack ISIL in Libya

Ankara confirms Egypt to be invited to Turkey summit in April

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Southeast Asia

Cabinet study on religious conversion case only going in circles, says DAP lawmaker

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North America

Is US hinting at covert operation after Pathankot terror attack?

US releases video it says shows Iranian rockets near American warships

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/‘terror-tainted’-sambhal-locality-is-radio-networked-in-sufi-thoughts/d/105937

 

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India

‘Terror-tainted’ Sambhal locality is radio-networked in Sufi thoughts

By MOHAMMED ANAS

9 January, 2016

Some local Sufi scholars lead a march during the Eid Milad un Nabi procession in Deepa Sarai locality, Sambhal, on 24 December 2015. PHOTOS: MOHAMMAD AHMED REZA

In a contrast to the terror tag it earned this December, Deepa Sarai locality of Sambhal, whose original name Kirmani Sarai was a tribute to an erstwhile local Sufi figure Syed Shah Alam Kirmani, is inhabited by Muslims of Sufi thought. A group of youngsters here run a community radio programme linking around 1,000 households of the area to disseminate Sufi thoughts. This programme is designed to appeal to the youth and women and it aims at combating the “influence of Wahhabism-inspired extremism which has also been present in the area”.

Maulana Fazil Miswahi, a man in his early 20s, started this programme, named Dawat e Fikro Amal three years ago. “The motivation for this venture came from similar wire services active in some parts of Mumbai and Rajasthan. The purpose is to propagate knowledge of Sufism and soft version of Islam, which is actually the correct form of Indian Islam according to us,” said Fazil.

Fazil said that around 50 other youths and local clerics of similar leanings assist him, both financially and socially. The group charges a one-time fee of Rs 500 as the installation fee for the wire service, which is valid for a lifetime.

Fazil said that his group operates from a small one-room office and runs speeches of scholars like Tahirul Qadri, Allama Qamaruzzaman Azmi and Maulana Mehmood Ashraf Kichochwi. Kichochwi is a religious figure who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year with a delegation of Sufi scholars. Earlier in 2012 he had launched a campaign to combat the Salafist ideology.

“We are dead against extremism and we abhor the use of violent means in the name of religion. Those who are propagating such violent thoughts are not following Islam at all, whether they are in our locality or anywhere else in the world. We want to spread this message among women and youth of the area as they hold maximum responsibility to shape the outlook of their families. The gist of the speeches and naat (poetry in praise of Prophet Mohammad) which we telecast is that Muslims have to be upright in their personal conduct and they should always be compassionate towards their neighbours and friends. They have to be free of any biases, especially when it comes to their conviction to the law of their land,” added Fazil.

Fazil also said that despite the presence of some Salafist people and ulema in the same locality, his group has not faced any serious opposition and people haven’t even objected to the sound of loudspeakers which play their religious programmes, sometimes very early in the morning, and on occasions somewhat late in the night.

Another figure passionately promoting Sufism in Deepa Sarai is Khwaja Kaleem Ashraf. A government teacher by profession and chronicler of Sufism in the area by passion, he has authored biographies of several local Sufi figures.

“Sambhal has been the resting place of Sufis who have been disciples or followers of great Sufi saints of India like Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, Khwaja Saleem Chisti, etc. Sambhal is divided into localities known as sarai. All sarais bear the name of some Sufi figure — Deepa Sarai (formerly Kirmani Sarai) is dedicated to Syed Shah Alam Kirmani; Sarai Tareen is dedicated to Shah Fateullah Tareen; Hatim Sarai is dedicated to Shah Hatim Saheb; Ruknuddin Sarai is dedicated to Shah Ruknuddin and Fatehullah Sarai bears the name of Shah Fatehullah Sheerazi, and so on. Therefore, khanqayiyat (reverence to shrines) is deeply embedded in the nature of the people here. The area organises one of the biggest Eid Milad un Nabi processions of Uttar Pradesh and all communities, especially people from the well-off Hindu community, have been generous towards seminaries based on Sufi thoughts,” said Ashraf.

He added that khanqayiyat makes people receptive and soft in their approach. “Extremism never creeps in their communication. That’s why those promoting extremism either loathe us or fear us,” added Ashraf.

Ashraf said that his Sufi friends and relatives run a charitable NGO, Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz Trust, which has helped the wedding ceremonies of around 100 poor girls and has organised 15-20 free medical camps in the area.

Ashraf is also the trustee of the largest seminary of Sambhal, Ajmal Uloom, which is located in the heart of a Hindu locality, Ther.

“Yes, this madrasa is adjacent to us and we have respect for those running this seminary. We have never faced any inconvenience because of its location. Rather, many Hindu businessmen of our area are tenants of shops inside the outer periphery of the madrasa as one side of it opens into the menthol market, which is considered to be the largest such market in the entire Asia,” said Kuldeep Gupta, a resident of Ther. The opinion of Kuldeep carries a lot of weight as he is the president of a local outfit, Kalki Sena, which is dedicated to promote the cause of Lord Kalki  and Hindu pilgrimage to Sambhal.

When this correspondent checked with Sambhal Superintendent of Police, Atul Saxena, and two local intelligence officers tasked to gather information about Deepa Sarai, they admitted active Sufi presence in the locality and that “extremist elements were there but very limited.”

Saad Usmani, a resident of Deepa Sarai, and a senior reporter with Hindi daily, Punjab Kesri, said that this area was one of the few Muslim-majority constituencies in pre-partition India where Jinnah’s Muslim League had to face defeat. “A local Maulana Ismail defeated the Muslim League candidate on a Congress ticket in the 1946 elections,” said Usmani.

A book on the history of the locality, Turk and Sambhal: Deepa Sarai Ek Khoj, written by a local principal, Mohammed Usman, lists many freedom fighters hailing from the area: Maulana Ismail, Maulana Sultan Ahmed, Maulvi Qayyum, Maulana Abdul Waheed and Munshi Moinuddin. Moinuddin was hanged by the British.

Mufti Sarfaraz Ahmed Naeemi of Lahore, who was killed in a suicide attack of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan in 2009, also had his ancestry linked to Deepa Sarai.

http://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/2537-%E2%80%98terror-tainted%E2%80%99-sambhal-locality-radio-networked-sufi-thoughts

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India a tolerant country, Taslima Nasreen says

IANS | Jan 10, 2016

NEW DELHI: India is a tolerant country with a few intolerant people and it is time to focus not just on Hindu fundamentalists but on Muslim fundamentalists as well, Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen said.

"I think India is a tolerant country, but some people are intolerant. In every society, there are some people who are intolerant," the self-exiled author said at an event here, while referring to the recent violence in Malda in West Bengal.

She said while there was talk about Hindu fundamentalists, one has to talk of Muslim fundamentalists as well.

Nasreen said absolute freedom of speech was necessary even if it offended some people.

"I think we should have freedom of expression even if that offends some people. If we do not open our mouths, society will not evolve. Of course, we should fight against misogyny, religious fundamentalism and all kinds of evil forces only to make the society a better one."

The writer was participating in a discussion on "Coming of the Age of Intolerance" at the ongoing Delhi Literature Festival at Dilli Haat here on Saturday evening.

The author had drawn the ire of fundamentalists in Bangladesh for her controversial books like 'Dwikhandito' and was forced to leave Bangladesh in 1994 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments with her novel 'Lajja'.

On the other hand, BJP ideologue and writer Sudheendra Kulkarni said absolute freedom could only be exercised with responsibility.

"There is no freedom whatsoever to show any religion in bad light, knowing that it will hurt sentiments and insult others. I completely disagree that writers should have absolute freedom. Freedom must be exercised with responsibility," he said.

Kulkarni said India as a country was "essentially tolerant" and that the debate must not be politicized.

"We should neither exaggerate nor belittle the incidents of intolerance. We should never politicize this debate, making it out as if it is between political parties. It is not that intolerance has begun in May 2014 (when the Narendra Modi government came to power)," Kulkarni said.

In September last year, a debate over what many writers said was a "growing climate of intolerance" saw over 40 writers and filmmakers returning their awards to protest the killings of rationalists and writers like Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi and the lynching on a Muslim man in Dadri over suspicion that ate beef.

He also said a certain kind of marginal intolerance has always been present in Indian society and so it was not right to blame "this party or that party" for it.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-a-tolerant-country-Taslima-Nasreen-says/articleshow/50519168.cms

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Pathankot attack: India firm on linking foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan's action on jihadis

TNN | Jan 10, 2016

NEW DELHI: India remains firm that Pakistan needs to take demonstrable actions like shutting down Jaish-e Mohammad camps and detaining important figures in the jihadi group if the proposed foreign secretary talks are to take place later this month.

Pakistan's decision not to reject out of hand leads given by India and indications of the military supporting the civilian government's commitment are seen as welcome signals but not enough to sustain the Lahore mood.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's expectation that Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif should ensure "prompt and decisive" action needs to be met in certain concrete ways to for the peace initiative to get off the ground.

Though the immediate arrest of Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Maulana Masood Azhar may not be on the cards, action against his group, religious proxy organisations and camps is seen as a "deliverable" by the Indian side.

There is a sense that Pakistan is keen to ensure the talks do take place around mid-January as has been suggested and hectic activity like Sharif's carefully publicised meeting with army and ISI is intended to save the engagement. At the same time, subtle hints that evidence provided by India is not "good enough" are not encouraging signs.

Though India would not be happy to see Modi's peace bid of dropping in on a Sharif family wedding to go abegging, the mood seems to have hardened about the need Pakistan to take verifiable action against Jaish.

This might prove an acid test for Sharif especially if reports of army-ISI involvement are true - as would be the case if the Jaish terror squad trained at a Pakistan airbase -- it is not easy to see a convincing investigation unfolding.

Given the Pakistan military's record of closely monitoring terrorist strikes against India, the possibility of an operation involving ISI being investigated and exposed does not seem very likely.

Yet, after the 26/11 attacks, a Lashkar camp was raided and a top operative Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was held by the Pakistani armed forces.

But the story of Lakhvi's detention did not end well as the anti-terror court trying the 26/11 case made no headway with judges being changed frequently and counsel complaining of being threatened.

In more than one occasion after the 2008 attacks, Pakistan promised action against the 26/11 plotters but in the end the case against Lakhvi collapsed. Despite Sharif's apparent desire to be different, India may await evidence that he can deliver.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pathankot-attack-India-firm-on-linking-foreign-secretary-level-talks-with-Pakistans-action-on-jihadis/articleshow/50515658.cms

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Kerry favours continuation of Pak-India peace talks despite hurdles

Jan 10, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The United States on Saturday said that continuation of India-Pakistan peace talks is in the best interest of the regional stability, Radio Pakistan reported.

US Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and lauded his role in carefully tackling the prevailing situation in the wake of the recent gunmen attack on Indian air base.

Nawaz apprised Kerry that Pakistan is swiftly carrying out investigations into Pathankot incident and will soon unearth the truth.

“World will see our effectiveness and sincerity in this regard,” he added.

Kerry hoped that “talks between Pakistan and India would continue despite efforts to thwart the process”.

Pakistan was eliminating terrorism from its soil and would not allow anyone to use its soil to conduct terror operations abroad, Nawaz told the US Secretary of State.

US Secretary Kerry extended full support to the prime minister in finding out the actual perpetrators behind Pathankot incident.

Earlier on Thursday, a US State Department spokesman had said it was up to the Pakistan government to determine how long it would take to investigate the attack on the Pathankot air base following information provided by India.

The statement came after India said it was awaiting Pakistan’s response on the information provided on the Pathankot incident, following which it will decide on the resumption of bilateral talks scheduled for later this month.

India's foreign ministry said Islamabad has been given actionable intelligence that those who planned the assault came from Pakistan.

"As far as we are concerned, the ball is now in Pakistan's court," spokesman Vikas Swarup told reporters when asked if the talks were on. "The immediate issue in front of us is Pakistan's response to the terrorist attack."

The US State Department spokesman said Pakistan has condemned the attack and has made clear its commitment to investigate it.

Seven Indian security men and four suspected gunmen were killed during an assault, on Indian air base near the Pakistan border, which threatened to undermine the two countries' fragile peace process.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231846/hundreds-of-french-mosques-open-their-doors-to-the-public

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Mamata: Malda violence not communal incident

TNN | Jan 10, 2016, 01.16 AM IST

KOLKATA: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday asserted that the recent violence in Malda district was not communal strife but a fight between BSF personnel and residents of the area.

Banerjee, who at the two-day Bengal Global Business Summit here repeatedly said that there was no communal tension in the state, said the incident was distorted and misinformation was spread about it.

"It has been distorted and misinformed about what actually happened there. It was a struggle between the BSF and the locals and the state is not involved in any way in this matter," Banerjee told mediapersons at the summit.

"The scuffle was between BSF and the locals. We just managed the situation," she said. Strongly objecting to Banerjee's claims, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the chief minister of spreading misinformation.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Mamata-Malda-violence-not-communal-incident/articleshow/50515621.cms

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Mehbooba Mufti will do better than her father: Muzaffar Husain Baig

Sagarika Ghose: Jan 10, 2016

Former Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister and senior PDP leader Muzaffar Husain Beg is known to be a dissenter in his own party, recently speaking out against the PDP's functioning. In an interview, he tells Sagarika Ghose that Mufti's death is a tragedy, but it's also an opportunity for the PDP to make a fresh start. Excerpts:

Mehbooba Mufti is all set to become J&K CM. Will she be able to fill her father's shoes?

I think she will do even better than her father. She will earn more laurels. Mufti's death is a challenge for us, but also an opportunity for the PDP to get a fresh start. You know, I am an insider critic, not a dissenter because I want the government to succeed and I want the alliance to succeed. I told Mufti sahib to his face that how can we be the party of good governance if some of our governors, that is administrators, are not good? The perception of our party among the people in the last couple of years has not been good.

I have always said unless we improve our stock, our image with the people will fall. Some ministers in the government are newcomers, they are arrogant, they don't know the cadres, they don't know who their voters are, they are contemptuous of the cadres. This has to change. The BJP, too, must improve its stock in Jammu otherwise they, too, will fall. This is a time for alliance partners to stop playing games, be humble and focus on the long term health and education priorities of the state. Mehbooba deserves her father's shoes, she has worked for it.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Mehbooba-Mufti-will-do-better-than-her-father-Muzaffar-Husain-Baig/articleshow/50515660.cms

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When terror checked in: Reconstructing the Pathankot air base attack

Harinder Baweja and Chitleen K Sethi, Hindustan Times |

Jan 10, 2016

Security personnel stand inside the Pathankot air force base after the military operation against terrorists ended, in Punjab. (Sameer Sehgal/HTPhoto)

Hours before the long gun battle began at the Indian Air Force air base in Pathankot, one of the terrorists named Nasir called his mother in Pakistan and told her he was on a fidayeen mission. “Host a lavish party,” he said. He wanted his ‘martyrdom’ to be celebrated and informed his mother that she would get a call from ‘Ustad’ once he had attained it. The terrorists had no confusion. They were crystal clear about their task and had come prepared to turn their bodies into missiles.

Unlike the six terrorists who managed to breach the high-security air base despite concrete and credible intelligence that came from Pathankot’s Superintendent of Police (SP), Salwinder Singh, the security establishment was far from prepared for the deadly assault. At first, the Border Security Force (BSF), which guards the international border between Punjab and Pakistan, had no clue that a heavily armed group had infiltrated into India. Even after they were accidentally — and providentially — discovered, the terrorists, armed with assault rifles, were mistaken to be robbers.

Full report at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/when-terror-checked-in-reconstructing-the-pathankot-attack/story-mkFfDiY6mXLh1VgFZIE9EL.html

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China once again condemns Pathankot terror attack

Vishwa Mohan | TNN | Jan 10, 2016

NEW DELHI: China on Saturday condemned the terror attack at Pathankot, saying the country shares the "feeling and anger" of Indian people.

"China is also a victim of terrorist act. We share the feeling and anger of Indian people. We strongly condemn such terrorist attacks, wherever it takes place", said Le Yucheng, Chinese ambassador to India.

The ambassador's remarks came on the day the Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Pathankot airbase where senior officials of defence forces made a detailed presentation about their joint counter-terrorist and combing operation to tackle such a serious terrorist attack.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/China-once-again-condemns-Pathankot-terror-attack/articleshow/50513689.cms?

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Pakistan

Seven-year-old boy in Pakistan 'gang raped and murdered' in Bahawalnagar

Siobhan Fenton | The Independent | Jan 8, 2016

A seven-year-old boy has died after been gang raped in Pakistan, it has been reported.

The Express Tribune reports that the child allegedly went missing on Tuesday.

The following day his body was reportedly found in a field and a post mortem examination revealed that he had been gang raped and then killed.

The alleged attack took place in Bahawalnagar's Christian district, situated in the south east region in the Punjab province.

Local police official Sahar Fareed said that three men have been arrested in connection with the case and operations are ongoing to find a fourth man who is understood to have avoided arrest by fleeing the scene.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Seven-year-old-boy-in-Pakistan-gang-raped-and-murdered-in-Bahawalnagar/articleshow/50500164.cms

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Pakistan to present list of Taliban open to peace talks at quadrilateral meeting

Jan 10, 2016

KABUL: An Afghan official says Pakistan will present a list of Taliban willing to negotiate with Kabul at a meeting this week aimed at reviving the Afghan peace process.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States will meet in Islamabad on Monday to discuss a road map for peace talks. The meeting will not include the Taliban.

Javid Faisal, deputy spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, said Sunday that Pakistan's list will include Taliban who do and do not want talks with Kabul on ending the 15-year war.

Faisal says Pakistan has agreed to cut off financial support to Taliban fighters based in Pakistani cities. He says insurgents based in Pakistan would not be allowed to resettle in Afghanistan.

He says the agreement would also include "bilateral cooperation on eliminating terrorism".

http://www.dawn.com/news/1232040/pakistan-to-present-list-of-taliban-open-to-peace-talks-at-quadrilateral-meeting

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Saudi defence minister arrives in Islamabad to seek Pakistan's support

Jan 10, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, who is also the deputy prime minister and minister for defence, arrived here on Sunday for a daylong trip for seeking Pakistan’s support as the kingdom mulls additional steps against Iran.

This is the second high-profile visitor from Riyadh in three days. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Islamabad on Thursday for discussing Riyadh’s tensions with Tehran and the counter-terrorism coalition that Saudi Arabia has announced.

Prince Muhammad would follow up on the discussions FM Jubeir had here.

A military cooperation arrangement is expected to be concluded

He would meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif and Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif.

Pakistan has indicated it could consider the Saudi invitation to join the 34-nation coalition (proposed by Riyadh before the Iran spat). However, no official announcement has been made so far.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1232053/saudi-defence-minister-arrives-in-islamabad-to-seek-pakistans-support

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China urges Pakistani leaders to resolve issues over CPEC project

Jan 10, 2016

ISLAMABAD: China on Saturday took notice of the recent political divide among local leaders over China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and urged the political parties to address their difference in order to create favourable conditions for the completion of CPEC project.

The People’s Republic hoped that the relevant political parties in Pakistan could strengthen communication and coordination on CPEC to create favorable conditions for the development projects.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1231852/china-urges-pakistani-leaders-to-resolve-issues-over-cpec-project

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Arab World

GCC backs S. Arabia in row with Iran

January 10th, 2016

RIYADH: Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups Arab monarchies, expressed their “total support” on Saturday for Saudi Arabia in its diplomatic row with Iran.

The GCC “forcefully condemns the attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran”, said a statement, referring to the sacking of Riyadh’s embassy and consulate by demonstrators angered over its execution of a prominent Shia cleric and dissident.

The statement, following an extraordinary ministerial meeting of the six-member group, criticised “Iranian interference in Saudi Arabian affairs” over its denunciation of Nimr al-Nimr’s execution a week ago.

It said Tehran’s criticism had “directly incited the aggressions targeting Saudi diplomatic missions”.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1231994/gcc-backs-s-arabia-in-row-with-iran

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Syrian government ready to attend peace talks in Geneva

AP | Jan 10, 2016

DAMASCUS: The Syrian government announced on Saturday that it is ready to attend peace talks later this month with the opposition in Geneva as a new air strike in northern Syria killed and wounded scores of people, including many militants.

However, foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said Damascus also wants to see lists of the opposition groups who will attend and ensure that "terrorist" groups will not be represented.

State news agency SANA said al-Moallem made his comments Saturday while meeting in Damascus with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura. Al-Moallem's comments came shortly before opposition activists said an air strike had killed at least 39 and wounded dozens of others.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 39 people were killed, including many fighters from al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front, as well as detainees in the northwestern town of Maaret al-Numan. It said the targeted area included a jail and a courthouse run by Nusra Front.

The Nusra Front is one of the country's most powerful factions and is opposed to peace talks with the government, saying its aim is to step up an Islamic state in Syria. The group is fighting against government forces, the Islamic State group as well as some US-backed rebel factions. Much like its rival, the Islamic State group, the Nusra Front imposes its own vision of Islamic shariah law in territories it controls — including Islamic courts and prisons.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Syrian-government-ready-to-attend-peace-talks-in-Geneva/articleshow/50517179.cms

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39 killed in Syria air strike

IANS | Jan 10, 2016

DAMASCUS: At least 39 people were killed on Saturday when an airstrike targeted a prison in a rebel-held area in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, a monitor group reported.

The warplane targeted the prison compound and the courthouse of the town of Maret al-Numan with four rockets, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based watchdog said that civilians and inmates as well as rebels were among those killed in the air strike, adding that some of the wounded are in critical condition.

Other activists said the warplane that struck the prison of Maret al-Numan and the courthouse there was Russian, adding that the city is under the control of the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/39-killed-in-Syria-air-strike/articleshow/50517285.cms

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Iran to Begin Gas Exports to Iraq by Late June

Jan 10, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran will begin gas exports to Iraq during March 21-June 21, 2016, said the director for international affairs of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC).

Iran is fully prepared for the purpose, Azizollah Ramezani told Shana adding that the project’s pipelines have been laid completely and its metering station is ready for operation.

Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941019000944

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Official: Iran Rejects India Oil Overdue in Rupees

Jan 10, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Director General of International Affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has denied media reports that Tehran has accepted receiving the outstanding amount of crude oil transactions with New Delhi in Indian rupees.

“If NIOC was to receive the unpaid sum in rupees, it would do it earlier,” Mohsen Qamsari told Shana.

The debts are arising of US-led sanctions which barred money transfers to Iran which are planned to be lifted in coming days in the wake of the nuclear accord with the world powers.

Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941019000940

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South Asia

47 militants killed as Afghan forces intensify counter-terror operations

By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 10 2016

At least 47 anti-government armed militants have been killed in the latest wave of counter-terrorism operations across Afghanistan, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Sunday.

The counter-terrorism operations by the Afghan national security forces have been rampant during the recent week as the anti-government armed militant groups have stepped up terrorist attacks across the country including the capital Kabul.

“In past 24 hours, Afghan National Police conducted several anti-terrorism joint operations with Afghan National Army and NDS to clear some of the areas from terrorists and enemies of peace and stability of Afghanistan,” MoI said.

According to MoI, the operations were conducted in Nangarhar, Takhar, Faryab, Kandahar, Zabul, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Paktika, Paktiya, Herat and Helmand provinces, as a result 47 armed insurgents were killed, seven wounded and eight others were arrested by Afghan National Security Forces.

Also, during these operations, Afghan National Security Forces discovered and confiscated light and heavy rounds ammunition, MoI added.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) urged the Afghan citizens to assist the Afghan national security forces in maintaining peace and stability by reporting suspicious terrorist related activities.

http://www.khaama.com/47-militants-killed-as-afghan-forces-intensify-counter-terror-operations-1963

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Afghan forces retake control of Darqad district in Takhar

By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 10 2016

Afghan armyThe Afghan national security forces have retaken control of Darqad district in northeastern Takhar province of Afghanistan three months after it fell to Taliban control.

Operations to retake Darqad district was launched by the Afghan national security forces on Friday.

Ministry of Interior (MoI) spokesman Sediq Sediqi said at least 20 Taliban militants have been killed during the operations so far.

Sediqi further added that numerous Taliban militants were also arrested by the national security forces as clearing operations firmly continue in parts of Darqad district.

This comes as the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Saturday least 17 Taliban militants have been killed so far as several parts of Darqad has been cleared since the opertion was launched on Friday.

Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-retake-control-of-darqad-district-in-takhar-1961

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Afghan minister narrowly escapes HIV infection in syringe attack by drug addict

By Khaama Press - Sat Jan 09 2016

Afghan public health ministerThe Afghan Public Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz has narrowly escaped a possible HIV infection after he was attacked with a syringe by a drug addict, the officials said Sunday.

There are growing fears of rapid HIV infection spread among the drug addicts in the country as syringes are mostly used by the addicts to inject the drugs into their bodies.

However, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) officials have said the minister has undergone tests which have proven that he was not infected in the attack.

Full report at: http://www.khaama.com/afghan-minister-narrowly-escapes-hiv-infection-in-syringe-attack-by-drug-addict-1959

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Senior Taliban leader among 17 killed in Takhar operations

By Khaama Press - Sat Jan 09 2016, 3:18 pm

A senior Taliban leader has been killed along with several other militants in northeastern Takhar province of Afghanistan as the Afghan national security forces intensify operations to retake control of Darqad district.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said at least 17 Taliban militants have been killed so far as several parts of Darqad has been cleared since the opertion was launched on Friday.

MoI further added that the Taliban group’s shadow district governor for Khwajah Bahauddin was also among those killed during the operations.

The Afghan national security forces have not suffered any casualties as the clearing the operations are successfully behing conducted, MoI added.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Takhar is among the relatively volatile provinces in northeastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in a number of its remote districts.

Takhar is surrounded by two relatively volatile provinces, Badakhshan in the east and Kunduz in the west where Taliban militants are actively operating and frequently carry out insurgency activities in their various districts.

http://www.khaama.com/senior-taliban-leader-among-17-killed-in-takhar-operations-1958

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Roadmap for Afghan peace talks to be discussed tomorrow

KABUL: Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States will hold talks in Islamabad on Monday aimed at reviving the Afghan peace process.

Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni said on Saturday that the representatives would discuss a “roadmap for peace talks”.

The talks were agreed upon during a visit to Kabul last month by Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif.

Monday’s talks do not include the Taliban, who have been battling the US-backed government for nearly 15 years and have recently stepped up their attacks.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1232010/roadmap-for-afghan-peace-talks-to-be-discussed-tomorrow

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US to attend Islamabad talks on Afghanistan

The Newspaper's Correspondent — Updated about 7 hours ago

WASHINGTON: The United States will participate in a quadrilateral meeting on Afghanistan in Islamabad on Monday, says an official US announcement.

“Obviously, we will participate, and we’re looking forward to the discussions,” US State Department’s spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing in Washington.

“We’re obviously looking forward to trying to make some progress here on what has been a very difficult issue,” he added. China and Afghanistan are also sending their senior officials to the meeting.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1232013/us-to-attend-islamabad-talks-on-afghanistan

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Traffic accident leaves 18 people wounded on Herat-Farah highway

By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 10 2016

18 people have been wounded in a traffic accident on Herat-Farah highway.

The incident took place in Durahi Farah Road area of Farah province last night.

Naimatullah Khalil who is an officer of the Afghan National Army (ANA) in the area said that a military vehicle collided with a civilian bus leaving eighteen people wounded.

He further said that all of the victims are passengers of the bus and there is no harm to the commandos.

Unprofessional driving and damaged roads are considered the main causes behind road accidents in Afghanistan which claim the live of dozens of people every year.

http://www.khaama.com/traffic-accident-leaves-18-people-wounded-on-herat-farah-highway-4478

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Drone strike kills 3 foreign terrorists in Kunar

By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 10 2016

A drone strike has killed three foreign terrorists in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

Officials say the militants belong to Bajaur Agency of Pakistan who were targeted by the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) of coalition forces in Shigal District yesterday.

They are identified as Atiqullah, Zishan and Haqyar.

Bajaur is one of the seven tribal agencies across the Durand Line which shares a 52-kilometer border with Kunar province.

The agency is one of the biggest security threats to Kunar where different terrorist groups operate.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which is Pakistan’s primary militant group has a branch in the agency calling it TTP Bajaur which sometimes coordinates attacks with Afghan Taliban.

Pakistani and Afghan Taliban have carried out several joint attacks in Kunar province.

http://www.khaama.com/drone-strike-kills-3-foreign-terrorists-in-kunar-4475

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3 civilians killed in Nangarhar explosion

By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 10 2016

Khost-Explosion-Police at siteThree people have been killed and two others wounded in a bomb explosion in eastern Nangarhar province.

The incident took place close to a school in Mirzakhil area of Kama District around 11:00 am on Sunday.

Eyewitnesses say the bomb went off as a motorcycle was passing through the area.

Ataullah Khogyani, spokesperson for the governor of Nangarhar province has confirmed the incident.

This comes as President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani is in Nangarhar assessing the security situation there.

No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion.

This story would be updated as more details come available…

http://www.khaama.com/3-civilians-killed-in-nangarhar-explosion-4477

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Mideast

ISIS leader’s second deputy killed in airstrike in Iraq

By Khaama Press - Sun Jan 10 2016

Iraq’s Ministry of Defense claims killing second deputy of the leader of the terrorist group of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in an airstrike in western Anbar province.

A statement released by the ministry and seen by IraqiNews.com states that, “The military commander of al-Jazeerah and the second deputy of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the so-called Aasi Ali Nasser al-Obeidi, was killed in an aerial bombardment by the army’s air force in the area of Bruwana,” adding that, “Obeidi was one of the fugitives from Abu Gharib prison.”

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command says that Assi Ali Mohammed Nasser al-Obeidi was a top ISIS military commander in western Iraq and eastern Syria.

Col. Mohammed Ibrahim, a spokesman of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, has told CNN that Obeidi had been a brigade commander in the special forces of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guards, a fugitive from Abu Ghraib prison and a former prisoner in Camp Bucca.

ISIS has not yet approved or rejected the report.

http://www.khaama.com/isis-leaders-second-deputy-killed-in-airstrike-in-iraq-4479

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Iran's needy get winter clothes from 'Walls of Kindness'

Jan 10, 2016

TEHRAN: As a brutal winter set in across Iran, anonymous philanthropists throughout the country painted “Walls of Kindness” and installed rows of hooks, inviting passers-by to leave warm clothes if they could spare them or take clothes if they need them.

The unique variation on the take-a-penny, leave-a-penny jar provides winter clothes to the homeless while sparing them the shame that can come from having to beg for help.

In this Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 photo, an Iranian woman walks past clothes hung on hooks at an outdoor charity wall marked, "Wall of Kindness," next to a subway station entrance in central Tehran, Iran. AP

Pictures of the brightly painted walls have been circulated on social media, helping to spread the initiative.

Dozens of walls have popped up across Iran, and at least one philanthropist has taken things a step further, setting up a refrigerator outdoors and inviting people to leave or take food.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1232051/irans-needy-get-winter-clothes-from-walls-of-kindness

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2 Palestinians who tried to stab soldiers shot dead

AP | Jan 9, 2016

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military says two Palestinians were shot dead after trying to stab soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint.

Saturday's incident is the latest in more than three months of near-daily Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers that have killed 21 people, mostly in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming assaults.

At least 137 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. About two-thirds of them are said by Israel to be attackers, while the others were killed in clashes with troops.

Israel says the bloodshed is fueled by a Palestinian campaign of incitement. Palestinians say it stems from frustration at decades of occupation.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/2-Palestinians-who-tried-to-stab-soldiers-shot-dead/articleshow/50508669.cms

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Rights group: 162 civilians have died in Turkey conflict

January 10, 2016

A Turkish human rights group says as many as 162 civilians have died since August, caught up in the increased fighting between government forces and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members in urban districts.

The Turkish Human Rights Foundation said late Saturday that 32 children, 29 women and 24 elderly people were among civilians killed in districts where authorities have imposed 24-hour curfews as they battle militants linked to PKK.

The security forces have launched large-scale operations in areas where the militants have mounted barricades, dug trenches and set up explosives to keep authorities away. Turkish authorities say 426 militants have died in ongoing operations in the towns of Cizre and Silopi and Diyarbakır's Sur neighborhood.

http://www.todayszaman.com/latest-news_rights-group-162-civilians-have-died-in-turkey-conflict_409248.html

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Police officer killed in shootout with PKK in eastern Turkey

January 10, 2016

A police officer was killed and two others were injured in a shootout during a raid on a house where terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members were hiding in the eastern province of Van on Saturday night.

The Doğan news agency also reported that 12 PKK members in the house were killed in the raid, which was conducted by the Van Police Department.

The two police officers injured in the incident were taken to hospitals for treatment.

http://www.todayszaman.com/latest-news_police-officer-killed-in-shootout-with-pkk-in-eastern-turkey_409249.html

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Europe

Lassana Bathily: The Muslim who saved Jews in Paris attack

AFP | Jan 5, 2016, 09.37 AM IST

PARIS: Lassana Bathily was an undocumented migrant from Mali until he became an unlikely hero by saving shoppers' lives during the jihadist attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris a year ago.

The 25-year-old became the one positive story to emerge from the three days of violence in January, when jihadist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, police and the Jewish Hyper Cacher supermarket in the east of the capital killed a total of 17 people.

"Ah, here is my favourite Frenchman," cried President Francois Hollande when he received Bathily at the Elysee Palace a fortnight after the carnage.

Bathily, a shelf-stacker in the supermarket, helped save shoppers from gunman Amedy Coulibaly on that fateful day, January 9, 2015.

The narrative of a Muslim saving Jews from a jihadist made him a positive symbol of France's diversity.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Lassana-Bathily-The-Muslim-who-saved-Jews-in-Paris-attack/articleshow/50447852.cms

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Paris police station attacker lived in German refugee shelter

AFP | Jan 10, 2016

BERLIN: German police raided an asylum seeker shelter where they said the man who sought to attack a Paris police station on Thursday had lived.

Police found no indications that other attacks had been planned, they said in a statement following the search at the shelter yesterday in western Germany's Recklinghausen.

The police statement did not specify that he was an asylum seeker but a source close to the matter told AFP the man was indeed registered as one.

The man was shot dead by police after trying to storm a police station in northern Paris on Thursday, brandishing a meat cleaver and wearing a fake suicide vest. The attempted attack took place exactly one year since the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks that shook Paris.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Paris-police-station-attacker-lived-in-German-refugee-shelter/articleshow/50516467.cms

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Merkel talks tough on migrant lawbreakers as assault cases soar

AFP, Cologne |  Updated: Jan 10, 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party on Saturday proposed stricter laws regulating asylum seekers after a string of New Year’s Eve sexual assaults and robberies in Cologne blamed largely on foreigners. (AP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday backed stricter laws to expel convicted refugees following a rash of sexual assaults blamed on asylum seekers.

Cologne police said they have now recorded 379 cases of New Year’s Eve violence -- ranging from groping to theft to two reported rapes -- with asylum seekers and illegal migrants making up the majority of suspects.

Full report at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/world/merkel-talks-tough-on-migrant-lawbreakers-as-assault-cases-soar/story-Gw3fg5ojG9t77rhn43JOcJ.html

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Africa

Foreign tourists wounded in attack at Egyptian Red Sea resort

Reuters | Jan 9, 2016

CAIRO: Two armed assailants attacked a hotel in the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Hurghada on Friday, wounding three foreign tourists, Egyptian officials said.

The Security Information Center of Egypt's ministry of interior said in a statement that two Austrians and a Swede had been injured while the attackers were trying to escape. One of the assailants was killed by security forces and another was in custody, the statement said, adding that the attackers were armed with an air gun and knives. It said an investigation was underway.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Foreign-tourists-wounded-in-attack-at-Egyptian-Red-Sea-resort/articleshow/50507069.cms

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US-Led West Preparing to Attack ISIL in Libya

Jan 10, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Informed sources disclosed that the US and other western countries have sent special spying and intelligence units to Africa in preparation for an imminent attack on ISIL in Libya.

The French and the US governments have informed the Algerian government of the western countries' targeted airstrikes on ISIL camps and positions in Libya, the Arabic-language Al-Khabar newspaper quoted an informed source as saying.

The western countries have called for the Algerian government's coordination to reduce collateral damage as Algeria shares border with Libya.

The report said the US and French presidents have decided to carry out coordinated and targeted attacks on the ISIL in Libya after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November.

"The western spy agencies have already gathered and analyzed intelligence on ISIL's activities to prepare the grounds for their countries' massive attack on the ISIL," it added.

The report said the main objectives of the operation will be destroying ISIL's military training camps in Libya as the African country is just the last stop before European waters.

In addition to ISIL's military training camps, the West's targeted airstrikes will also include the militant group's command centers, secret ammunition depots and its administrative centers.

Full report at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941019001423

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Ankara confirms Egypt to be invited to Turkey summit in April

January 09, 2016

In what appears to confirm earlier reports of a possible meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official has said Turkey is to invite Cairo to attend an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit to be held in İstanbul in April.

Commenting on reports that recently appeared in Egyptian media claiming that Sisi will meet Erdoğan in April, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said Egypt -- the term president of the OIC -- would “naturally” be invited to Turkey for the 13th OIC summit to be held April 10-15 in İstanbul. “The decision on the level of the Egyptian representation at the summit will be taken by Egypt's own authorities,” Bilgiç added.

Last week Turkish media quoted Ahmed Moussa, a presenter for Egypt's Sada el-Balad TV station, as saying that Sisi and Erdoğan would meet in April. Erdoğan, however, recently reiterated his refusal to accept Sisi as the legitimate leader of Egypt, saying on Nov. 24 of last year, “I will not reconcile [with Sisi] or accept him.”

Full report at: http://www.todayszaman.com/national_ankara-confirms-egypt-to-be-invited-to-turkey-summit-in-april_409238.html

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Iraq denies Turkish forces in north clashed with ISIL ’recently’

January 09, 2016

Iraq's joint operations command denied on Saturday that Turkish forces based in northern Iraq had been attacked by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or had clashed with the militants, refuting a statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

"The joint operations command denies there was a terrorist attack on the position of Turkish forces in Bashiqa by the terrorist Daesh (ISIL) recently," said a news flash on state television, referring to a military base near Mosul.

Full report at: http://www.todayszaman.com/diplomacy_iraq-denies-turkish-forces-in-north-clashed-with-isil-recently_409228.html

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North America

Is US hinting at covert operation after Pathankot terror attack?

TNN | Jan 10, 2016

NEW DELHI: Though the initial US response to Pathankot was seen as "tepid", some quarters feel that the state department spokesman made an interesting point with a reference to the US' long hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Answering persistent questions on January 7 about America giving Pakistan a long rope years after the Mumbai attacks, spokesman John Kirby said "We obviously want to see all the perpetrators (of 26/11) to be brought to justice ... We know that that can take a long time. It took an awful long time to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, but we did. So it can be hard."

The response was interpreted as not imposing a timeline on Pakistan, but the transcript of the media interaction is also open to interpretation with regard to just how US ultimately disposed of the Osama bin Laden threat when American intelligence did finally zero in on him.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Is-US-hinting-at-covert-operation-after-Pathankot-terror-attack/articleshow/50516124.cms

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US releases video it says shows Iranian rockets near American warships

Jan 10, 2016

WASHINGTON: The US Navy released black-and-white video on Saturday it said was taken by an American helicopter showing an Iranian Revolutionary Guards vessel firing unguided rockets on Dec 26 near warships including the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran on Dec 31 denied that its Revolutionary Guards vessels had launched the rockets as the United States claimed, with a Revolutionary Guards spokesman saying the “false” accusation was “akin to psychological warfare.”

The US Navy said the infrared radar footage showed an Iranian “fast inshore attack craft” launching several rockets on Dec 26 “in close proximity” to the Truman, the guided missile destroyer USS Bulkeley, the French naval frigate FS Provence and commercial ships in the busy waterway.

The dispute underscored the ongoing tensions between the United States and Iran despite last year's international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program.

The video, taken by a Seahawk helicopter, runs about 30 seconds. The Navy said the rockets were fired “within an internationally recognised maritime traffic lane” as the Truman and the other ships were passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1232044/us-releases-video-it-says-shows-iranian-rockets-near-american-warships

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Southeast Asia

Cabinet study on religious conversion case only going in circles, says DAP lawmaker

BY ISTA KYRA SHARMUGAM

10 January 2016

DAP's M. Kula Segaran says the Cabinet study on M. Indira Gandhi's case will come to nothing. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 10, 2016.DAP's M. Kula Segaran says the Cabinet study on M. Indira Gandhi's case will come to nothing. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 10, 2016.Putrajaya's decision to assign three ministers to study the implications of the Court of Appeal judgment, which upheld the unilateral conversion of kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi's children, will come to nothing, says DAP's M. Kula Segaran.

"It will just go around in circles.

"In 2009, the same ministers were in the special Cabinet committee looking into the child conversion issue, what has come of that?

"Another committee was set up again shortly after the 2013 general election but both were ineffective and the leadership was toothless," said the Ipoh Barat MP.

It was reported yesterday that Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom would meet with Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali to discuss the case.

Full report at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/cabinet-study-on-religious-conversion-case-only-going-in-circles-says-dap-l

 

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