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Islamic World News ( 22 March 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Westminster Attacker ‘Known’ To Police, PM May Calls Terror Strike ‘Sick and Depraved’















The building of the city hall in Tel Aviv’s Rabin square in Israel is illuminated in solidarity with Britain for the attack on Westminster Bridge in London March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Nir Elias

 

Westminster Attacker ‘Known’ To Police, PM May Calls Terror Strike ‘Sick and Depraved’

US: White Sword Killer Went To New York To Attack Black People, Says Police

Cleric Alleges Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif Blasphemed Islam in Holi Speech

Muslims Handle Cows, Finances at Yogi Adityanath’s Gorakhnath ‘Math’: Report

Helmand’s Sangin District Has Reportedly Fallen to Taliban

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Europe

Muslim Community Condemns London Attack, Says Terror Is ‘An Enemy of Islam’

The Atrocities against Civilians That Coincided With London's Attack

Westminster terror attack: Donald Trump Jr faces backlash for ‘disgraceful’ tweet against

London Mayor

UK Parliament terror attack: What we know so far

Westminster terror attack: Australian PM calls it ‘attack on parliaments, freedom and

Democracy everywhere’

Police officer, woman killed in UK Parliament terror attack

7 arrests after UK Parliament terrorist attack – Scotland Yard

Russia underplayed losses in recapture of Syria’s Palmyra

Angela Merkel’s conservatives extend lead in Germany’s Forsa poll

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North America

Don’t Use Islamophobic Language: Indian-American Congressman to Donald Trump

ISIS leader Baghdadi to be killed soon: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Police officer, 3 others killed in Wisconsin

Westminster terror attack: Canada bolsters security despite ‘moderate’ threat level

US suspects North Korea in the USD 81 million Bangladesh central bank theft, states report

US leaders discuss possibility of India becoming partner

Muslim teen denied entry into US despite being a citizen

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Pakistan

Pak Court May Block FB to Prevent Blasphemy

Pakistan’s Shariah compliant segment expected to reach $17.6b

Pak ex-CJ, son told to get in line at Jeddah airport

Suspected terror bid foiled at Lahore airport

Pak military courts get two-year extension

Pervez Musharraf wanted ‘secret deal’ to form joint govt: Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan court asks for final arguments in Hafiz Saeed’s detention case

Indian President Mukherjee greets Pakistanis on national day

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India

Babri Masjid Demolition Case: SC to Decide Today on Criminal Charges against Advani, MM

No Indian casualty in London attack: External affairs minister

For Talks, Pakistan Should Commit To End Terror: Govt

'Surgical operation has cut terror attacks'

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South Asia

6 Militants Killed While Planting Bomb on a Roadside in Helmand

India eyes deal to repair Afghan aircraft, deepening military ties

Global Coalition hails Afghan govt and forces efforts to counter ISIS

Policeman kills his 9 comrades in an insider attack in North of Afghanistan

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Mideast

Erdogan Warns Europeans ‘Will Not Walk Safely’ If Current Attitude Persists

Israeli Ban Targeting Boycott Supporters Raises Alarm Abroad

Iran steps up support for Houthis in Yemen’s war: Sources

Iranians flock to Turkey’s Van for shopping, nightlife

Turkey summons Norway’s envoy over granting asylum to NATO soldiers, military

Israel criticizes ‘Nazi’ accusations against Germany

Turkey condemns London terror attacks

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Arab World

Damascus: Over 150 Al-Nusra Terrorists Killed in Jobar

Aleppo: Syrian Army Establishes Military Control over Deir Hafer

Syria: 33 dead in US-led air strike as coalition meets today

Five killed as Islamic State IEDs target civilians fleeing Kirkuk

Islamic State shells recaptured areas in west Mosul

Syrian army sends reinforcements to Hama province

Mosul displacement gathering pace as Iraq battles IS: UN

Al-Nusra's Massive Offensive in Northern Hama Warded Off by Syrian Army

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Africa

Multiple Bomb Blasts Rock Migrant Camp In Nigeria

Nigeria: Blasts kill four, injure 18 in northeastern city

United Nations struggles to raise funds to avert famine in Somalia

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Southeast Asia

Indonesians Promote Sharia Economy in UK

Myanmar praises China for suspending rebels’ bank account

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/westminster-attacker-‘known’-to-police,-pm-may-calls-terror-strike-‘sick-and-depraved’/d/110507

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Westminster attacker ‘known’ to police, PM May calls terror strike ‘sick and depraved’

March 23, 2017

Five people were killed and 40 others injured when a terrorist suspect mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and stabbed a police officer outside parliament complex before being shot dead by Scotland Yard officers in an incident inspired by “international terrorism.”

The knife-man behind the attack in the heart of London was shot dead by armed Scotland Yard officers.

The Metropolitan Police named the police officer killed as 48-year-old Keith Palmer and also confirmed that the attacker was “known” to the police.

London Attack: 5 Killed, Dozens Injured In Shootout Outside British Parliament

“I can also now confirm three members of the public also lost their lives in this attack. And I confirmed earlier, the suspected attacker was shot dead by an armed officer – therefore meaning we now have five people in total who have died, said Mark Rowley, national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing and the Acting Deputy Commissioner.

“I will not comment at this stage on the identity of the attacker, but our working assumption that he was inspired by international terrorism,” Rowley said.

“Also, at this stage, but it may change – we believe approximately 40 people were injured, some with serious injuries, including three police officers, two of whom are in a serious condition,” he said.

westminster attack, UK attack, britain attack, british parliament attack, westminister terror attack, UK terror attack, theresa may A woman assists an injured person after an incident on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the terror strike as “sick and depraved” attack on democratic values, which was “doomed to failure”.

May also paid tributes to the “exceptional men and women” of the police force who responded to the attack.

“We will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart,” she said.

Scotland Yard had earlier called on the public to “remain vigilant” and said a review of policing strategy across the city was underway, with additional police officers being deployed across London.

The Indian High Commission in London has set up a special “Public Response Unit” for any Indians caught up in the terror attack.

The incident unfolded on Wednesday afternoon as a man tried to gain entry into the British Parliament via the main entrance and stabbed a police officer. Plainclothes armed officers shouted warnings at him before shooting a number of rounds. He was later seen being covered by blankets, presumed dead.

UK Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the stabbed police officer but said he “died at the scene”. In an incident just minutes earlier, a speeding grey Hyundai i40 mowed down several pedestrians on Westminster Bridge nearby before ramming into the iron railings of the side of the House of Commons building.

The driver of this vehicle then ran out of the vehicle to try and enter the Parliament building, where he attacked the police officer and was eventually shot dead.

Dozens of injured people were rushed to hospital from the scene and one woman was confirmed dead by doctors at St Thomas Hospital near Parliament hours later.

“We are working closely with other members of the emergency services at the scene, with our priority being to ensure patients receive the medical help they need as quickly as possible,” London Ambulance said in a statement.

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said French school pupils are among the injured and offered “solidarity with our British friends, and full support” for the wounded students and their families.

Commons Leader David Lidington, who suspended the Parliament session as this unfolded outside, told MPs the “alleged assailant was shot by armed police”.

“It seems that a police officer has been stabbed, that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police. An air ambulance is currently attending the scene to remove the casualties,” Lidington said.

“There are also reports of further violent incidents in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster but I hope colleagues on all sides will appreciate that it’d be wrong of me to go into further details until we have confirmation from the police and from the House security authorities about what is going on,” he added.

Witnesses said the attacker was shot by police as he approached a second officer clutching his knife during the incident.

May, who had just completed her weekly Prime Minister’s Questions, was seen being ushered into a car as gunfire rang out at Parliament during the incident.

Downing Street said the PM was “safe” as an emergency services helicopter was seen landing in Parliament Square, which has been cordoned off and closed to traffic. “The Prime Minister was brought back to Number 10 from Parliament. She is currently monitoring the situation,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

May chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee at Downing Street. MPs and peers were in lockdown inside the Parliament building for an extended period before being walked down across the road to Westminster Abbey.

Workers and members of public in buildings in surrounding areas were also held up behind the cordoned off area. A number of schoolchildren were also held back until the police cordon was lifted. Tourists on the famous London Eye attraction were among those trapped in the pods as part of the lockdown.

There was chaos in the area as people were seen running and being pushed back by Scotland Yard officers.

In a statement, Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Reports suggest the ongoing incident in Westminster this afternoon is extremely serious. “Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrific attack, (their) families and friends. The police and security

staff have taken swift action to ensure the safety of the public, MPs and staff, and we are grateful to them.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan said his thoughts were with those affected and expressed his gratitude to the city’s police and emergency services who “work so hard to keep us safe and show tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult circumstances.”

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/westminster-attacker-known-to-police-pm-may-calls-terror-strike-sick-and-depraved-britain/

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US: White Sword Killer Went To New York To Attack Black People, Says Police

March 23, 2017

A white US Army veteran from Baltimore bent on making a racist attack took a bus to New York, the “media capital of the world,” randomly picked out a black man who was collecting bottles on the street and killed him with a sword, police have said. James Harris Jackson turned himself in at a Times Square police station early Wednesday, about 25 hours after Timothy Caughman staggered into a police precinct bleeding to death.

“I’m the person that you’re looking for,” Jackson told police, according to Assistant Chief William Aubrey. Jackson, who was arrested on suspicion of murder, told police he’d harbored feelings of hatred toward black men for at least 10 years, authorities said. He traveled to New York on March 17 and had been staying in a Manhattan hotel.

“The reason he picked New York is because it’s the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement,” Aubrey said. Jackson was wandering the streets in a long overcoat concealing a 26-inch sword when he encountered Caughman, who was collecting bottles from trash cans, police said. Jackson stabbed him repeatedly in his chest and back, they said.

Caughman, who was 66 years old and lived nearby in a transitional house, was taken to a hospital by police shortly after he arrived to the station house. He died at the hospital. According to his Twitter page, he was an autograph collector and a music and movie lover who tweeted about John Lennon, Chuck Berry and the best St. Patrick’s Day writing. He said he’d like to visit California someday.

After the attack, Jackson, who’s 28, went to the bathroom of a nearby restaurant and washed off the blood from the killing, authorities said. Investigators said they believed Jackson was considering other attacks but surrendered after noticing his photo in media reports. He had two knives and told investigators where they could find the sword, police said. The sword was retrieved from a trash can not far from the scene.

Video surveillance captured Jackson in the days leading up to the attack, and investigators said he had walked purposefully toward a black man but didn’t attack him. Jackson was expected to appear in court later Wednesday. It was unclear when he might get a lawyer who could comment on his case. He said nothing to reporters as he was led from a police station. A call to his family’s home phone rang unanswered.

A former neighbor who tangled with Jackson over an apartment in Baltimore recalled him as “a piece of work” who fell months behind on rent.

“He’s just one of those people that you wish you never met,” said Marcus Dagan, who had been informally managing the building on behalf of its then-owner and took Jackson to court over the rent.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/us-white-sword-killer-went-to-new-york-to-attack-black-people-says-police-4581441/

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Cleric alleges Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif blasphemed Islam in Holi speech

March 22, 2017

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif committed blasphemy when he said Islam does not allow forced conversion and discrimination against minorities in his speech on Holi, a hardline cleric has alleged. Allama Ashraf Jalali, a leader of Pakistan Ahle Sunnah wa Jama’ah group and secretary of Sunni Ittehad Council, alleged Sharif committed blasphemy and attacked Pakistan’s ideological basis in the speech he delivered in Karachi, according to a video of the cleric’s speech circulating online.

“The prime minister said such anti-Islam and blasphemous words that the Earth should have exploded,” he claimed, adding that Sharif “violated his oath, ideology of Pakistan, The Quran and Sunnah of Prophet. His speech is a dangerous attack on Islam.” “We demand a public apology from the prime minister (for his anti-Islam speech),” the cleric said in the video.

It’s not clear when and where the cleric was speaking and who his audiences were. However, it could be categorised as a hate speech and attract action under the anti-terrorism laws. The Pakistan government has not reacted to the cleric’s speech so far.

On March 14, Sharif had given a bold and inclusive message saying forced conversion and discrimination against minorities were not allowed in Islam and under the laws in Pakistan. In his greetings to the minority Hindus, Sharif had also warned against destruction of the places of worship of other religions, describing them as “a crime in Islam”.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan and those accused of committing it have been targeted by extremists in the past. Former governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was killed by his police guard for criticising the blasphemy law introduced in 1980s by then military ruler Zia-ul Haq. Analysts say the draconian law, under which an accused can be sentenced to death, is a powerful tool to muzzle criticism in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/cleric-alleges-pakistan-pm-nawaz-sharif-blasphemed-islam-in-holi-speech-4580873/

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Muslims Handle Cows, Finances at Yogi Adityanath’s Gorakhnath ‘Math’: Report

21 Mar 2017

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been widely criticised for raising issues like “love jihad” which were seen as an attack on the Muslim community.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been widely criticised for raising issues like “love jihad” which were seen as an attack on the Muslim community.

After his name was announced as the new Chief Minister of UP, apprehensions were raised over how he would treat around 20 per cent Muslim population in the state.

However, the reality is that the Yogi shares cordial relations with members of the Muslim community at his Gorakhnath math.

Yogi Adityanath, in fact, relies on members of the Muslim community for taking care of cows as well as finances at his ‘math’, according to a report in Times of India.

The report says that a Muslim man named Yasin Ansari has supervised all construction work inside the Gorakhnath temple for the last 35 years, adding that a number of shops in the temple precincts are also run by Muslims.

Ansari claimed that he has never faced any discrimination in the Gorakhnath math.

"I have very cordial relation with Chhote Maharaj (Yogi Adityanath). Whenever he's here, he calls me and takes all information about work. I move freely in his living quarters, from the kitchen to his bedroom, and also take my meals with him,” Yasin Ansari told Times of India.

Refuting all charges of religious discrimination against Yogi Adityanath, Ansari said that his mother-in-law, Hamida Begum, was the supervisor of the kitchen and his father-in-law was a gardener in the ‘math’.

“I was the temple cashier from 1977-83. Since 1984, I've been the temple's construction supervisor. I have seen him help the poor irrespective of their religion or caste. Maharaj always participates in my family marriage functions,” he added.

Interestingly, there are around 400 cows in the Gorakhnath temple and their chief caretaker is Maan Mohammad.

"Earlier, my father took care of the cows. Now I'm doing the work. I wake up at 3 am, milk the cows and give them fodder. Chhote Maharaj takes care of all us," Mohammad told TOI.

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Azizunnisa, a Muslim woman, went to the extent of calling Yogi Adityanath a real saint and said that he never showed any disrespect to anyone.

“I've been running a shop at the temple. I've never felt any disrespect or discrimination on the part of Yogiji. He's a real saint," Azizunnisa told TOI.

http://www.indiatvnews.com/politics/national-muslims-handle-cows-finances-at-yogi-adityanath-s-gorakhnath-math-report-373326

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Helmand’s Sangin district has reportedly fallen to Taliban

Thu Mar 23 2017

The control of the key Sangin district in southern Helmand province has reportedly fallen to Taliban control.

An Afghan army source with the 215th Maiwand Corps confirmed that the Afghan forces were forced to retreat from the district.

The source further added that the retreat was made after growing number f troops casualties and lack of supplies by the government.

The Taliban group in a statement said the group’s fighters have taken control of the district by issuing a statement.

However, another source the security forces have only left a security post without any clash.

Helmand is among the relatively volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

This comes as the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are busy conducting counter-terrorism and clearance operations against the Taliban insurgents in some of the volatile districts of Helmand.

The Taliban insurgents have sustained heavy casualties during the operations which are being conducted with the support of the foreign forces based in Afghanistan who are mainly providing close-air support.

http://www.khaama.com/helmands-sangin-district-has-reportedly-fallen-to-taliban-02447

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Europe

 

Muslim community condemns London attack, says terror is ‘an enemy of Islam’

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Muslim Community in Malta has condemned yesterday’s terror attack in London, which left five people dead.

In a statement Imam Mohamed Elsadi said: “We condemn the terror criminal attack at Westminster in London, irrespective of the identity or ideology of the criminal perpetrators and whatever were their motives.

Certainly, this coward savage attack targeted innocent people, regardless of their faith or nationality. We consider any aggression against Europe as an aggression against all Muslims who live in Europe.

It is a serious threat to the Muslim harmonious peaceful life in different European countries.

Terrorism is the enemy of Islam and Muslims are fighting terrorism and work to eliminate its evils.

In these hard times we express our solidarity with the British people, the injured and their families. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who lost their lives in the tragic incident.”

http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2017-03-23/local-news/Muslim-community-condemns-London-attack-says-terror-is-an-enemy-of-Islam-6736171978

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The atrocities against civilians that coincided with London's attack

23 March, 2017

As London reels from the shock of another sickening terrorist attack, the rest of the world has extended their condolences and messages of solidarity to the British people.

Five people were killed and 40 more injured by an attacker outside Parliament and the surrounding area in Westminster.

While this attack was continuing, other atrocities of a similar and horrific nature were also happening on Wednesday.

This is a selection of news stories that occurred from across the Muslim-majority world on Wednesday.

Somalia

25 people were confirmed to have starved to death in Somaliland on Wednesday, after another 26 people were reported to have died in Puntland on Tuesday.

According to the United Nations, there are more than 50,000 children who face death by starvation as a result of the country's on-going drought.

More than half the population of Somalia – 6.2 million people – need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 2.9 million at risk of famine.

Hama, Syria

Around 10,000 people fled a massive outbreak of fighting in Syria's fourth-largest city, Hama, after a group of Syrian rebels launched a massive attack on the town.

Islamist fighters, supported by suicide vehicle attacks, attacked regime forces in the villages and towns surrounding Hama.

There were also two fresh attacks by rebel fighters in the Syrian capital, Damascus - causing civilians to flee a fresh bout of fighting.

Abu Ghraib, Iraq

One person was killed and five others were wounded after an improvised bomb exploded in a civilian area in Abu Ghraib, Iraq.

There has been a large spate of car-bombs in Baghdad and its surrounding areas in recent months, as IS is largely defeated in the north of Iraq.

On Monday, 27 people were killed and around 45 people injured after teh car-bomb hit a predominantly Shia area of the city.

Raqqa, Syria

US-led coalition airstrikes killed 58 people in 24 hours in the area surrounding Raqqa in northern Syria.

The first air-strike hit a refugee centre close to the Islamic State group-held town of al-Mansoura, killing 33 people on Wednesday.

Another 25 people were killed in the neighbouring town of al-Tabqa later the same day. Continued coalition airstrikes have had a heavy human cost recently, as ground forces prepare for to take Raqqa from IS.

Balochistan, Pakistan

A grenade was thrown at a girls' school in the Balochistan region - bordering Afghanistan - on Wednesday morning.

The incident was the first of its kind in recent history and took place in the Killi Pir Alizai neighbourhood of Killa Abdullah.

No injuries or deaths were recorded.

"Fortunately, the girls were inside their classes at the time of attack," Zamarak Achakzai, the parliamentary leader of Awami National Party (ANP) said.

Sinjar, Iraq

Three Peshmerga fighters were wounded after a number of unidentified gunmen opened fire on their patrol vehicle in Sinjar, west Iraq.

Hakar Amedi, a Peshmerga commander in the city, told Rudaw the incident took place near the local market at around 14:50 GMT.

A large number of villages in the local region are still held by Islamic State (IS) in the local region - a majority Yazidi area.

There has also been an escalation in violence between Kurdish groups loyal to Baghdad and those loyal to Erbil for at least three weeks.

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/3/22/the-atrocities-against-civilians-that-coincided-with-londons-attack

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Westminster terror attack: Donald Trump Jr faces backlash for ‘disgraceful’ tweet against London Mayor

March 23, 2017

Hours after the Westminster terror attack unfolded in London, Donald Trump Jr posted a tweet disgracing London Mayor Sadiq Khan for his comment on terror attacks in the city. Trump Jr tweeted a link to a 2016 article of the Independent where Khan had been quoted as saying “terror attacks were part and parcel of living in a big city.” “You have to be kidding me,” Trump Jr said in the tweet that went viral with screenshots pasted everywhere.

Photo published for Sadiq Khan: London mayor says terror attacks 'part and parcel' of living in a major city

Sadiq Khan: London mayor says terror attacks 'part and parcel' of living in a major city

Sadiq Khan has said he believes the threat of terror attacks are “part and parcel of living in a big city” and encouraged Londoners to be vigilant to combat dangers.

Khan had followed his comment up by saying that he wanted all agencies and individuals involved in taking care of the city and preventing such incidents have the requisite resources in order to be able to respond to an emergency. “I want to be reassured that every single agency and individual involved in protecting our city has the resources and expertise they need to respond in the event that London is attacked,” he had said. Khan had made these comments after the 2016 bombing in New York that injured 29 people.

Trump Jr received backlash for his comment from the US and UK, with many pointing out that the mayor is talking about threats of terror attacks. Wes Streeting, the MP for Ilford North and former president of the National Union of Students, called it a ‘disgrace’. “You use a terrorist attack on our city to attack London’s Mayor for your own political gain. You’re a disgrace,” Streeting said.

@DonaldJTrumpJr You use a terrorist attack on our city to attack London's Mayor

Trump Jr had earlier invited backlash for comparing Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles in September 2016.

The terror attack in London killed five people and injured 40 others when a terrorist suspect mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and stabbed a police officer outside parliament complex before being shot dead by Scotland Yard officers. Police says the suspect was ‘known’ to them.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/westminster-parliament-terror-attack-donald-trump-jr-faces-backlash-for-disgraceful-tweet-against-london-mayor-sadiq-khan-4581437/

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UK Parliament terror attack: What we know so far

Mar 23, 2017

Five people were killed, including the assailant, and 40 injured after being run over and stabbed in a terror attack at the heart of Britain's seat of power attributed by police to "Islamist-related terrorism". The lightning attack unfolded on Wednesday across Westminster Bridge in the shadow of Big Ben, a towering landmark that draws tourists by the millions and stands over Britain's Houses of Parliament -- the very image of London. The attacker was shot dead by police within the perimeter of UK Parliament. Here's what we know:

THE ATTACK

The attacker used a car to run down several pedestrians on the iconic Westminster Bridge. At least one woman and one other person were killed by the vehicle and others were left with "catastrophic injuries," according to police. Three police officers were among those injured on the bridge.

The driver then rammed his car into the Parliament fence and fatally stabbed a police officer as he tried to enter the building.

According to the British police, four people were killed, including one police officer and a woman. Forty people, including three police officers, were wounded. The attacker was shot dead by the cops when he tried to enter the iconic building in London.

The police officer was identified as Keith Palmer (48) Palmer, a member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, had worked as a police officer for 15 years.

British port officials said they pulled a woman from the Thames River after the attack. She was injured but alive.

French high school students were among the injured, according to French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. The Associated Press reported that two Romanian tourists and five South Korean visitors were also injured in the attack, citing South Korea's Foreign Ministry.

ANOTHER TERROR ATTACK?

The new Scotland Yard has declared the attack near Parliament Square as a terror incident. However, the London city police said they believe there was only one attacker, who was shot dead by police outside the entrance to Parliament, "but it would be foolish to be overconfident early on," Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism chief Mark Rowley said.

Interestingly, Wednesday was the anniversary of suicide bombings in Brussels, Belgium, last year that killed 32 people and wounded hundreds. According to police, there is no evidence so far that the London attack was related.

Meanwhile, the Parliament has been placed on lockdown and it is expected to resume normal operations from tomorrow.

In a statement from Downing Street, British Prime Minister Theresa May called the incident a "sick and depraved terrorist attack."

"The United Kingdom's threat level has been set at severe for some time and this will not change," she said. Londoners and visitors "will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart," May said.

Earlier, May was seen being ushered into a car at Parliament as the gun shots were being fired. May later confirmed she was in Parliament at the time of the "terror attack".

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement at Downing street in

After being briefed by his national security adviser, US President Donald Trump spoke to May and called the incident "big news."

"We obviously condemn today's (Wednesday) attack on Westminster, which the United Kingdom is treating as an act of terrorism," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, adding that the US would support British law enforcement officials.

I spoke with PM Theresa May of the United Kingdom to offer my condolences on

In Paris, the lights of the Eiffel Tower were dimmed to pay respects to the victims. "Terrorism affects us all, and France knows the pain the British people are enduring today," French President Francois Hollande said in a statement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country had 12 people killed and dozens injured after a truck attack on a popular street Christmas market in December, equally condemned the attack and pledged her support.

"Even if the background of these actions is more precise awareness, I reiterate for Germany and its people: in the fight against any form of terrorism," Merkel said on Facebook. "We stand firmly and resolutely on the side of Great Britain."

After learning of the attack, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his shock and sadness, adding that Canadians were fully behind the people of the United Kingdom.

"Canadians stand united with the British people in the fight against terrorism," Trudeau said in a statement. "We will continue to work together with the U.K. and all our allies to show the world that freedom and democracy will always triumph."

Photo published for Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the attack in London, United Kingdom

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the attack in London, United Kingdom

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the attack in London, United Kingdom (U.K.):“We strongly condemn today’s attack in

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi too expressed sadness over the attack on the UK's house of democracy and said India stands with the Britian at this difficult moment.

"Deeply saddened by the terror attack in London. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," PM Modi tweeted.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/uk-parliament-terror-attack-what-we-know-so-far/articleshow/57784703.cms

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Westminster terror attack: Australian PM calls it ‘attack on parliaments, freedom and democracy everywhere’

March 23, 2017

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Thursday strongly condemned the UK Parliament terror attack describing it as “an attack on parliaments, freedom and democracy everywhere”. In a statement, Turnbull said, “Australia’s heartfelt sympathy and resolute solidarity is with the people of the UK with whom we stand today as we always have in freedoms cause. Staunch allies in the war against terrorism.”

“The attack on the British Parliament is an attack on parliaments, freedom and democracy everywhere,” he said adding that Westminster is rightly known as the mother of parliaments.

“We send our condolences, especially to the families of the victims, those injured, including a police officer murdered by the terrorist as he attempted to enter the Houses of Parliament,” Turnbull said.

“It is a reminder of the risk that our security agencies, our police forces, or intelligence services, and the men and women of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the risk to their lives and safety that they take on as they defend us every day” he said.

“We owe them our deepest gratitude every day for their service in keeping us secure. The Metropolitan Police in London have confirmed that they are treating it as a terrorist attack,” he added.

“We have conveyed our condolences to the British government through the Ambassador and the High Commissioner,” Turnbull said.

He reassured that Australian agencies were working relentlessly to keep Australians safe.

“We are very alert to the vulnerabilities of places of mass gathering and the risk of lone attackers, like the perpetrator, the terrorist in London,” he said.

“Keeping Australians safe is our highest priority. It is the first duty of my government, and, indeed, every government,” he added.

Meanwhile, in Canberra the security was beefed up around the parliament house following the UK attack.

Turnbull said Australian Federal Police Commissioner has confirmed that there will be an increase in police present at Parliament house in Canberra.

“That is an appropriate response,” he said.

He mentioned that Australia was working very, very closely indeed with its allies, including the United Kingdom and the United States and many other partners around the world.

“But we must be clear-eyed about the risk. It is real and that is why the threat, the terror threat level is set at probable,” he said.

Five people were killed and 40 injured as terror struck the British capital yesterday when a man mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and stabbed a police officer outside parliament complex before being shot dead by Scotland Yard officers.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/westminster-terror-attack-australian-pm-calls-it-attack-on-parliaments-freedom-and-democracy-everywhere-4581493/

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Police officer, woman killed in UK Parliament terror attack

March 23, 2017

A police officer and a woman were killed on Wednesday near the British Parliament complex, in what Scotland Yard are describing as a “terrorist incident”. The woman was among several pedestrians struck by a car on Westminster bridge, before it crashed into railings.

An officer was stabbed in the Houses of Parliament by an attacker, who was shot by police.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility and it was not clear if there was more than one attacker.

London Attack: 5 Killed, Dozens Injured In Shootout Outside British Parliament

Police said there were “a number of casualties” and a “full counter-terrorism inquiry” was under way.

Some of those injured were French high school students, France’s prime minister said.

“The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] has responded to an incident in the area of Parliament Square and the Senior National Coordinator has declared this a terrorist incident,” Metropolitan Police Commander Ben-Julian Harrington said in a statement.

“Although we remain open minded to the motive, a full counter terrorism investigation is already underway – this is led by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. We know that there are a number of causalities, including police officers, but at this stage we cannot confirm numbers or the nature of these injuries,” he said.

He called on the public to “remain vigilant” and said a review of policing strategy across the city was underway, with additional police officers being deployed across London.

The Indian High Commission in London has set up a special “Public Response Unit” for any Indians caught up in Wednesday’s terror attack.

The incident unfolded this afternoon as a man tried to gain entry into the British Parliament via the main entrance and stabbed a police officer.

Plainclothes armed officers shouted warnings at him before shooting a number of rounds.

He was later seen being covered by blankets, presumed dead.

UK Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the stabbed police officer but said he “died at the scene”.

In a related incident, a speeding grey Hyundai i40 mowed down several pedestrians on Westminster Bridge nearby before ramming into the iron railings of the side of the House of Commons building.

Dozens of injured people were rushed to hospital from the scene and one woman has been confirmed dead by doctors at St Thomas Hospital near Parliament.

One injured woman was seen being rescued from the river Thames by emergency services.

Junior doctor Colleen Anderson from the hospital confirmed the death of the woman and said a number of other people were hurt – some with “catastrophic” injuries.

“There were people across the bridge.

There were some with minor injuries, some catastrophic.

Some had injuries they could walk away from or who have life-changing injuries.

There were maybe a dozen [injured],” she said.

“We are working closely with other members of the emergency services at the scene, with our priority being to ensure patients receive the medical help they need as quickly as possible. We have declared a major incident and our priority is to assess patients and ensure that they are treated and taken to hospital as soon as possible,” London Ambulance said in a statement.

It remains unclear exactly how many attackers may have been involved in the terror incident.

While initial reports suggest the same knife-man was behind the mowing down of the pedestrians and the attack on the police officer at Parliament.

However, some latest reports indicate as many as two different attackers may have been involved in the terrorist attack.

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said French school pupils are among the injured and offered “solidarity with our British friends, and full support” for the wounded students and their families.

Commons Leader David Lidington, who suspended the Parliament session as this unfolded outside, told MPs the “alleged assailant was shot by armed police”.

“It seems that a police officer has been stabbed, that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police. An air ambulance is currently attending the scene to remove the casualties,” Lidington said.

“There are also reports of further violent incidents in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster but I hope colleagues on all sides will appreciate that it’d be wrong of me to go into further details until we have confirmation from the police and from the House security authorities about what is going on,” he added.

Witnesses said the attacker was shot by police as he approached a second officer clutching his knife during the incident.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who had just completed her weekly Prime Minister’s Questions, was seen being ushered into a car as gunfire rang out at Parliament during the incident.

Downing Street said the PM was “safe” as an emergency services helicopter was seen landing in Parliament Square, which has been cordoned off and closed to traffic.

“The Prime Minister was brought back to Number 10 from Parliament. She is currently monitoring the situation,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

May is to chair a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee later on Wednesday.

MPs and peers were in lockdown inside the Parliament building for an extended period before many of them being walked down across the road to Westminster Abbey.

Workers and members of the public in buildings in surrounding areas were also held up behind the cordoned off area.

A number of schoolchildren were also caught up in the police lockdown of the area.

Tourists on the famous London Eye attraction were among those trapped in the pods as part of the police cordon.

There was chaos in the area as crowds of people were seen running and being pushed back by Scotland Yard officers.

Police helicopters continue to fly over central London area since the incident took place at around 1440 GMT.

In a statement, Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Reports suggest the ongoing incident in Westminster this afternoon is extremely serious.

“Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrific attack, (their) families and friends. The police and security staff have taken swift action to ensure the safety of the public, MPs and staff, and we are grateful to them.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan said his thoughts were with those affected and expressed his gratitude to the city’s police and emergency services who “work so hard to keep us safe and show tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult circumstances”.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/police-officer-uk-parliament-terror-attack-british-parliament-scotland-yard-4581060/

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7 arrests after UK Parliament terrorist attack – Scotland Yard

23 Mar, 2017

A total of seven suspects have been arrested in raids at six different locations in connection with Wednesday’s attack near the UK Parliament, Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer has said.

The raids were conducted overnight in Birmingham and at several other locations across the country.

Police are currently wrapping up the final searches around Parliament Square.

“We have searched six addresses and made seven arrests. The inquiries in Birmingham and other parts of the country are continuing,” Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations Mark Rowley told reporters outside London’s police headquarters on Thursday.

The attack left four people dead, another 29 have been treated in hospitals, Rowley said, adding that seven people are now in critical condition. He noted that police still believe the attacker acted alone.

“It is still our belief… that this attacker acted alone and was inspired by international terrorism. At this stage we have no specific information about further threats to the public,” Rowley said.

Police say they know the identity of the attacker but have not made his name public yet.

According to Mark Rowley, the victims are of different nationalities, but he did not specify. One of the four people killed is a policeman who was stabbed by the assailant. Two are pedestrians, a woman in her 40s, and a man in his 50s. The fourth is the attacker himself.          

UK Defense Minister Michael Fallon said on Thursday that the attack may be related to Islamic terrorism in some form.

“The police are investigating this man, his associates, where he came from. [They are] checking urgently whether other people were involved in this. Their working assumption is that this is linked to Islamic terrorism,” Fallon told BBC Radio on Thursday. He also stated that security around the UK Parliament will be reviewed.

“The police and agencies that we rely on for our security have forestalled a large number of these attacks in recent years, over a dozen last year. This kind of attack, this lone-wolf attack, using things from daily life, a vehicle, a knife, are much more difficult to forestall,” Fallon pointed out, noting that “we’re dealing with an enemy, a terrorist enemy, that is not making demands or taking people hostage, but simply wants to kill as many people as possible.

“This is a new element to international terrorism,” the minister said. 

The attack on Wednesday started when the assailant rammed pedestrians while speeding across Westminster Bridge in a car. He then ran towards Parliament and stabbed a policeman attempting to block him, before being shot.

https://www.rt.com/uk/381940-london-parliament-attack-arrests/

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Russia underplayed losses in recapture of Syria’s Palmyra

March 22, 2017

Syria war, Syrian civil war, Aleppo fighting, Aleppo conflict, Syria aid trucks, aid trucks from paris, world new, latest news, indian express Eighteen Russian citizens fighting alongside Moscow’s allies, the Syrian government forces, have been killed since Jan. 29, as per Reuters. (REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail/File Photo)

Russia’s force in Syria has suffered losses since late January more than three times higher than the official toll, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, a tally that shows the fight in Syria is tougher and more costly than the Kremlin has disclosed.

Eighteen Russian citizens fighting alongside Moscow’s allies, the Syrian government forces, have been killed since January 29 ,  a period that coincided with intense fighting to recapture the city of Palmyra from the Islamic State group.

The Russian defence ministry has publicly reported only five servicemen’s deaths in Syria over the same period, and its officials’ statements have not mentioned any large-scale Russian ground operations in the fight for Palmyra.

Military casualties abroad are not as politically sensitive in Russia as in some other countries but send a negative message ahead of a presidential election next year which is expected to give President Vladimir Putin a fourth term.

The toll was revealed in interviews with relatives and friends of the dead men, cemetery workers, local media reports of funerals and evidence collected by a group of investigative bloggers, Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT).

In each case, Reuters has independently verified information about the death by speaking to someone who knows the dead man.

The casualties since the end of January represent one of the highest tolls for the Russian contingent in Syria since the start of Moscow’s military intervention 18 months ago.

An official with the Russian foreign ministry referred questions about them to the defence ministry. The Russian defence ministry did not respond to Reuters questions about the casualties and about military operations in Syria. The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Most of the dead were not regular Russian soldiers but Russian civilians working as private military contractors under the orders of Russian commanders. Moscow has not officially acknowledged the presence of the contractors in Syria.

One of the 18 men killed was Yuri Sokalsky, a 52-year-old from the Russian Black Sea resort of Gelendzhik who, according to a person close to him, signed up to go to Syria in January with a group of private contractors.

In one of his last phone calls home, the person close to him said, he expressed surprise at the large numbers of Russian contractors being despatched to Syria, and relayed what he had been told about the intensity of the combat.

“Out of every 100 people, 50 are coming back in caskets,” the person recalled Sokalsky as saying. The person asked not to be identified, fearing repercussions for revealing information that is sensitive for the Russian authorities.

SYMBOLIC CITY

On March 14 last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial drawdown of Russian forces in Syria, saying their mission had, “as a whole, been fulfilled.” The fight for Palmyra this year tells a different story.

The 18 fatalities documented by Reuters include the five regular soldiers whose deaths were announced by the defence ministry, four private military contractors in one unit killed on the same day, seven other such contractors, and two regular soldiers whose deaths the defence ministry has not announced.

The period examined by Reuters coincided with the start of a major Russian deployment to the area around Palmyra, according to several people close to the dead fighters.

Several relatives of people killed in Syria said they had received phone calls from people involved in recruiting private military contractors warning them not to speak to media.

Out of the 18 dead, at least 10 were killed in the region of Palmyra, which Islamic State fighters seized in December for a second time in a year – a major reversal for Syrian government forces and their Russian backers.

On January 10, Sokalsky, a land mine specialist, left his home in Gelendzhik and set off for Rostov, in southern Russia, to join a group of private contractors being despatched to Syria.

On his one previous tour to Syria, only fighters over 35 were being hired, selected to carry out specialist technical roles or train Syrian units rather than for out-and-out combat.

“This time they were taking everyone,” said the person close to Sokalsky.

Two official documents seen by Reuters show that on Jan. 31, Sokalsky died from shrapnel injuries in Tiyas, in Syria’s Homs province about 60 km west of Palmyra. Three other members of his unit, all private military contractors, were killed the same day, according to relatives, friends and cemetery officials. They were Alexei Nainodin, Roman Rudenko, and a third man whose name Reuters was not able to establish.

Another private military contractor, Dmitry Markelov, was also killed at Tiyas, site of the Syrian military’s T4 air base, on Jan. 29, according to people close to him.

Four regular Russian servicemen were killed in the same area on Feb. 16, Russian state media cited a defence ministry statement as saying. The soldiers, described by state media as “advisors” to the Syrian military, were not named. A fifth regular serviceman, Artyom Gorbunov, was killed near

Palmyra on March 2, state media quoted the ministry as saying. A further eight members of the Russian contingent were killed since the end of January at unknown locations in Syria, the evidence gathered by Reuters showed. They were contractors Konstantin Zadorozhny, Ivan Slyshkin, Vasily Yurlin, Alexander Sagaydak, Alexander Zangiyev, and Alexander Tychinin, and regular Russian soldiers Igor Vorona, and Sergei Travin.

Local media reports and social media posts point to more Russian deaths in Syria since the end of January than the 18 casualties, but Reuters has not been able to verify that information independently.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/russia-underplayed-losses-in-recapture-of-syrias-palmyra-4580271/

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Angela Merkel’s conservatives extend lead in Germany’s Forsa poll

March 22, 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives widened their lead over their Social Democrat (SPD) rivals in a poll on Wednesday, six months before what should be a tight election in Europe’s biggest economy.

However, the Forsa poll showed 59 percent of those asked also wanted change in the top leadership, possibly pointing to an appetite for a different coalition. Merkel, in power for 11 years, has governed with the SPD since 2013.

She wants to win a fourth term in the Sept. 24 election but faces an unexpectedly strong challenge from the SPD’s new leader Martin Schulz, who has boosted his party’s support by around 10 points since he was chosen nearly two months ago.

The poll, conducted just before a weekend party meeting that formally endorsed Schultz as leader, showed his positive impact waning slightly and put the SPD down one point at 31 percent.

Merkel’s conservative bloc – her Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) – was up 1 percentage point at 34 percent from the last poll a week ago.

It also showed that in a theoretical direct vote for chancellor, Merkel would win 41 percent of the vote, up two points from last week, and Schulz would get 33 percent, down three points.

The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) was unchanged at 9 percent.

Schulz, trying to put social justice at the centre of the election campaign, wants to form a leftist coalition with the Greens and possibly the radical Left party. The Forsa poll said only 19 percent of Germans backed that option.

The poll put the Greens and Left on 7 percent each.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/angela-merkels-conservatives-extend-lead-in-germanys-forsa-poll-4580413/

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North America

 

Don’t Use Islamophobic Language: Indian-American Congressman to Donald Trump

March 22, 2017

Worried over frequent hate crimes against Indian-origin people in the US, a senior Indian-American Congressman has urged President Donald Trump to refrain from using Islamophobic language that pits one group against another. “We’re certainly hearing that there’s some anxiety,” Indian-American Congressman Dr Ami Bera, a three-term Democratic lawmaker from California told PTI. Now increasingly playing the role of mentorship to other aspiring Indian-American politicians and other elected leaders, Bera said it is important for community to speak out against such hate crimes.

“It’s not reflective of who I believe we are as a country, we’re a nation of immigrants and I think the majority of Americans understand we’re a nation of immigrants,” he said. He is the senior most Indian-American lawmaker in the US House of Representatives which now has three other members from the community – Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Pramila Jayapal. Bera, 52, said he would like President Trump to speak out more forcefully against these hate crimes.

“In fact, some of the hateful language that he used on the campaign trail I think has actually allowed some of the groups (involved in hate crimes) to come out of the shadows,” he said. “You’ve seen some of the high profile crimes, like what happened in Kansas, what happened in Washington State and South Carolina … Again, that’s not the country that I believe we are as America,” said Bera. Though the number might not be that big, but the community is now a vibrant part in the US, he said.

“It’s the most affluent demographic in America. Many of the start-ups and the innovations that are occurring in America are coming out of the Indian-American community.”

“Go to any State across this country, you have Indian American doctors, entrepreneurs, engineers working in fully integrated into the community. So, we are a part of the fabric of America. I think it’s important for the community to come together and let America know that this is not okay. It’s not who the US is,” he asserted.

Urging Trump to stop tweeting, Bera said he would tell the US President to not use language that pits one group against another. “Certainly, he has used some Islamophobic language. The travel ban is the wrong direction because I think it’s targeting the specific group of individuals,” he said, adding that he is also worried a bit about America’s reputation taking a hit across the world. “I think it’s important for people like myself to speak out and make sure people around the world and places in India understand we’ve not changed what our values are, the people of America haven’t changed.”

“Many of us believe the strength of America is this integration of different cultures, different religions, people coming together. That’s unique in the world and that’s something which has always made America a special place,” he said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/dont-use-islamophobic-language-ami-bera-to-donald-trump-4580224/

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ISIS leader Baghdadi to be killed soon: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

March 23, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will be killed as nearly all of his deputies are now dead and it is “only a matter of time” that he meets the same fate.

“Nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies are now dead, including the mastermind behind the attacks in Brussels, Paris, and elsewhere. It is only a matter of time before Baghdadi himself meets the same fate,” Tillerson said yesterday at a ministerial plenary for the 68-nation Global Coalition to defeat Islamic State (ISIS).

The coalition, of which India is not a part, has made significant progress in the fight against ISIS. In addition to the latest meaningful financial contributions, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into Syria and Iraq is down 90 per cent over the past year. It is harder for terrorists to get in, and more importantly, harder for them to get out to threaten these countries, he said.

Tillerson said the ongoing Iraqi-led retaking of Mosul is pushing ISIS out of a key stronghold and liberating more than a million civilians.

“This Mosul campaign could not have succeeded without the cooperation between the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga,” he said.

Noting that the expansion of ISIS has necessitated a large-scale military response, Tillerson said the offensive measures are reclaiming areas in Iraq and Syria in which ISIS has had a large and destructive footprint.

“Our end goal in this phase is the regional elimination of ISIS through military force. The military power of the coalition will remain where this fraudulent caliphate has existed in order to set the conditions for a full recovery from the tyranny of ISIS,” he said.

“Under President Trump’s leadership and with the strength of this historic coalition, our common enemy will remain under intense pressure,” he said.

Tillerson said the military strength will stop ISIS on a battlefield, but it is the combined strength of the coalition that will be the final blow to ISIS. In order to stay ahead of a global outbreak, the Secretary of State called for adoption of several countermeasures.

“First, continue to persist with in-country counterterrorism and law enforcement operations. All of us must maintain pressure on ISIS’s networks within our own countries and take decisive law enforcement action to stop its growth. ISIS is connected across every continent, and we must work to break every link in its chain,” he said.

“INTERPOL is the newest member of our coalition and is critical to closing all routes through which ISIS terrorists seek to travel and threaten our homelands,” he added.

“Second, we need greater intelligence and information sharing within our own domestic intelligence agencies and among our nations,” Tillerson said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/isis-leader-baghdadi-to-be-killed-soon-us-secretary-of-state-rex-tillerson/

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Police officer, 3 others killed in Wisconsin

March 23, 2017

Representational image, A police officer and three other people were shot and killed at three locations in northern Wisconsin, USA

A police officer and three other people were shot and killed when a domestic dispute at a bank escalated into shootings at three locations in northern Wisconsin, investigators said. A suspect was in custody.

The shootings happened yesterday afternoon at a bank, a law firm and an apartment complex, where officers, including a SWAT team, had a standoff with the suspect for several hours before ending in a volley of gunfire around 5 pm.

Authorities took no questions in a brief news conference late yesterday and gave no details on the four victims or suspect. They said there was no remaining threat to the public.

Jason Smith, a deputy administrator for the state Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation said more than 100 officers were investigating and more information would be released today.

The violence unfolded in a cluster of small towns south of Wausau, about 90 miles west of Green Bay. The officer worked for Everest Metro, a small, 27-officer force that serves Schofield and Weston.

“I would like to send all my thoughts and ask everybody listening, ‘Thoughts and prayers to all the victims and their families.’ Everest Metro Chief Wally Sparks said. “Please keep them in your prayers and be with our officers.”

The first shooting was reported shortly after midday at Marathon Savings Bank in nearby Rothschild. Officers responding to a reported “domestic situation” at the bank arrived to find two people had been shot. They said the suspect was gone when they arrived.

A second call came about 10 minutes later from the Tlusty, Kennedy and Dirks law firm in nearby Schofield. The third shooting happened at 1:30 pm at an apartment complex in Weston.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/police-officer-3-others-killed-in-wisconsin/

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Westminster terror attack: Canada bolsters security despite ‘moderate’ threat level

March 23, 2017

Westminster shooting, britain shooting, UK terror attack, Canada UK shooting, Canada security, britain parliament attack, Theresa May, UK, UK attack, UK shooting, UK parliament shooting, world news

Armed police walk past emergency services attending to injured people on the floor outside the Houses of Parliament, London, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP).

Canada has tightened security, especially on Parliament Hill, after the deadly attack outside parliament in London, an official has said. Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale yesterday said Ottawa had taken measures in light of the attack in which least three people were killed and 20 injured when a man mowed down pedestrians with a car then stabbed a police officer outside parliament before being shot dead.

“The appropriate response has been taken by every police and security service in Canada, including those that function on Parliament Hill,” he told a press briefing.

“Canadians can be assured that everything that could be done is being done by the appropriate authorities here in Canada,” Goodale stressed.

The threat level, however, had not been raised. It is at moderate, he added.

On October 20 and 22, 2014 two self-styled jihadists killed a total of two Canadian military staff in separate strikes; one was in Quebec and one in Ottawa, near parliament.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/westminster-terror-attack-canada-bolsters-security-despite-moderate-threat-level-4581547/

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US suspects North Korea in the USD 81 million Bangladesh central bank theft, states report

March 23, 2017

US federal prosecutors suspect the North Korean government directed last year’s theft of USD 81 million from Bangladesh’s account at the New York Federal Reserve Bank, according to a media report. Citing unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal yesterday said prosecutors were developing cases showing Chinese middlemen helped the North Korean government orchestrate the enormous theft from the Bangladesh central bank.

In February 2016, thieves transferred the funds from Bangladesh’s account at the New York Fed to accounts in the Philippines using authenticated international bank access codes in the SWIFT system, not by hacking the bank.

It was unclear when or if any charges would be filed but any case might implicate North Korea without charging North Korean officials.

Researchers at the security firm Symantec previously had linked the huge theft to a series of cyber-attacks on the US financial system and the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/us-suspects-north-korea-in-the-usd-81-million-bangladesh-central-bank-theft-states-report-4581456/

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US leaders discuss possibility of India becoming partner

March 22, 2017

The possibility of India becoming America’s partner in the 21st century world order was discussed by top Senators, diplomats and security leaders who feel that the US faces challenges to its global dominance.

Testifying before a Congressional committee, ex-national security advisor Stephen Headley felt that such a partnership between the world’s largest and oldest democracy is possible; while former secretary of state Madeline Albright said it is worth exploring as the US at this point of time does not want to run the world on its own and would prefer partners.

“India certainly would be the world’s largest democracy, would be one that you would think would join some sort in order that the US would be the leader of or be a significant impact on it. Can we do that? We did it once with the Soviets,” Congressman Mike Conway asked during a hearing on America’s Role in the World convened by the House Armed Services Committee.

“Can we do it again with having both the Chinese and the Russians out there, versus what the rest of the world would be trying to do?” Conway asked Headley and Albright, both of whom testified before the key Congressional committee.

“I think China we can still bring into a revitalized order and I think very much India, we can do so. So I’m hopeful that we can pull this off but it is a challenge,” Headley said in response.

“I think Madeleine would agree the current conception of the international order is not sustainable, that’s why we say it needs to be revised and revitalized. We may have made huge investments in helping Europe, Japan, South Korea emerge to be the healthy, prosperous societies they are. We helped China integrate into the international system. We have seen the growth of India,” he said.

“These countries need to be given a greater role to play in the international system. But that, of course, comes with some responsibilities and part of that responsibility is not only responsible action and constructive action, but also to foot some of the bill,” he said, adding that there has to be a readjustment and a rebalancing, a look at division of labor and division of responsibilities.

“But if we step out from that process and do not lead it, an international order that will emerge in the traditional way, which is it will benefit the big powers like Russia and China at the expense of the little powers,” Headley warned.

Albright that Russians believe that the post Cold War they have not been treated and respected well by America. The Chinese, themselves, never felt that they were part of the post World War II order, she said.

“I do think that the way the world is, the United States doesn’t want to run the world. We prefer to have partners in it. And so as an academic, I think it would be kind of on track to begin to think about some different world order here where we ask the others to be participants in creating it. At the moment, we are not in that position,” Albright said.

“We are deterring Russia and we are trying to figure out what China’s role is as they now that they are more liberal capitalistic and are moving into a vacuum that we have left,” Albright said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/us-leaders-discuss-possibility-of-india-becoming-partner-4580397/

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Muslim teen denied entry into US despite being a citizen

Mar 23, 2017

A 17-year-old from Knoxville was denied entry to her flight over the weekend

A Muslim teen was denied permission to board a Turkish Airline plane on her flight back to America over the weekend—despite being a United States citizen.

Zubaidah Alizoti, a high school student from Knoxville, was returning from the Middle East with her family when airline security prevented her from boarding the plane. However, the officials allowed the 17-year-old’s family to board the flight to Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

The teen’s mother, Sabrina Sadaf Siddiqi, wrote a Facebook post explaining the situation to friends and family.

“I've been absent from my social media because I was taking an epic journey to surprise my mother, father, family & friends by going with them to umrah again Alhamdullilah! (Pictures to come soon iA),” she wrote. “But today, as we tried to board our flight back to America my daughter, my 17 year old, my kind, my courteous, my loved by many, my Tennessee born daughter was denied entry back to her country, my country, our country.”

Paul Galloway, the executive director at the Center for American Outreach, told the Associated Press that the Siddiqi family joined a group of nearly 50 people who made the trip to Mecca.

In a separate Facebook post on Monday, Siddiqi said that she attempted to meet with members of the US Consulate but was told that she would need to make an appointment. The family will attempt to board a new flight on Wednesday.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero expressed concern over the situation and has reached out to state Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander.

"I saw the Facebook posts about the Siddiqi family's situation, and I was concerned," she said. "I contacted the offices of Congressman Duncan and Senators Alexander and Corker, and they all responded promptly and promised to reach out to the Siddiqis. I have heard from Sabrina Siddiqi that she has heard from them, and she appreciates the support."

The Transportation Security Administration said on Monday that Turkish Airlines failed to provide essential information required in order for the teen to board the flight.

"International carriers are tasked with providing security information to the federal government before a passenger can fly into the United States," a TSA spokesperson told the paper. "That did not happen in this case."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/muslim-teen-denied-entry-into-us-despite-being-a-citizen-a7644071.html

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Pakistan

 

Pak court may block FB to prevent blasphemy

Omer Farooq Khan

Mar 23, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad high court is considering blocking social media sites like Facebook to prevent dissemination of "blasphemous" content against Islam.The court will take the decision on March 27.

Blasphemy against Islam is punishable by penalties ranging from fine to death in Pakistan. While hearing a petition, IHC chief justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said, "Block Facebook till the issue is resolved." "We don't need social media if it cannot stop blasphemy ." The petition heard by Justice Siddiqui was filed against five bloggers, Salman Haider, Ahmed Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, Ahmed Raza Naseer and Samar Abbas who have been accused of spreading blasphemous content through FB.The five bloggers recently went missing. The Federal Investigation Agency informed Siddiqui that a case was registered against the "blasphemers". "One person was also arrested on suspicion of spreading blasphemous content," the director general of FIA told the court.

He said that around 70 people running controversial pages on social media had been identified but many of them were living abroad. He said the FIA had contacted Facebook and Interpol.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-court-may-block-fb-to-prevent-blasphemy/articleshow/57783763.cms

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Pakistan’s Shariah compliant segment expected to reach $17.6b

March 23, 2017

LAHORE: Provincial minister for finance Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha said on Wednesday that Islamic banking services in Pakistan will continue to grow, estimating that the Shariah-compliant segment will reach $17.6 billion in assets by 2018.

Islamic finance body drafts new standard for centralised sharia boards

Speaking at the 5th Global Forum on Islamic Finance organised by COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in Lahore, Pasha said that Islamic banking has gained enormous attention both globally and locally.

“Due to its resilience in financial crisis, Shariah compliant finance models have gained popularity in many economies,” she said. “Alongside this, Islamic finance also features investment in real assets and risk-sharing, hence it has grown tremendously in the past few decades.”

The provincial minister for finance added that Pakistan has a mature financial industry that has been focusing on broadening the Shariah compliant sector in a country with more than 190 million people.

“Islamic finance is expected to take off in Pakistan in the coming years due to new regulations on Shariah compliant banking, new industry supporting regulatory bodies, as well as the rising demand from foreign investors,” she said, adding that the country’s Islamic banking industry has been growing at over 30% per annum over the past five years, which is above the average global rate.

“If this trend continues, it can be expected that by 2018, Islamic banking assets in the country would be worth $17.6 billion.”

According to Pasha, the growth strategy is being supported by the State Bank of Pakistan, which seeks to double the number of Islamic banking branches.

“The government is serious in supporting the growth of Islamic banking in the country. It has taken steps required for effective implementation of Islamic finance that includes formation of task force to undertake amendments in legal and regulatory framework,” she said.

Assets of Islamic banks double from Rs837b to Rs1.6t

“The issuance of Sukuks by the government during the last three years, including the recent issuance of $1 billion international Sukuk, is proof of the commitment to Islamic finance. Currently, we are also exploring options of Islamic borrowing instruments at the provincial level,” she added.

Recently, the International Monetary Fund endorsed the principles of Islamic finance by saying that it can help promote macroeconomic and financial stability.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1363189/pakistans-shariah-compliant-segment-expected-reach-17-6b-2018/

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Pak ex-CJ, son told to get in line at Jeddah airport

Mar 23, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's exChief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and his son faced humiliation at Jeddah airport after being told by one of the passengers to stand passengers to stand at the back of the queue. In the video, which has gone viral, Chaudhry's son can be seen arguing with a passenger asking him to go at the back of the line as people queued up to board a plane to London at King Abdul Aziz International airport. The video shows both father and son out of the queue, when a man shouts, "You're not in the queue, you're pushing in.

Upon this, the chief justice's son, Arslan Iftikhar, tries to justify his action saying they are travelling in business class. "Business class passengers were asked to come to the front of queue," Arslan, who is said to have misused his father's position when he was in power, said. "No, he told you to go back," the man replied, hin ting towards an air ting towards an air port official. "No he doesn't know anyt hing, I came from the counter," Arslan re plied. "Talk to those at the counter but don't push in the queue. We have been waiting," the man said. Amid the heated debate, Iftikhar Chaudhry intervened, saying it "doesn't matter" as he walked out of the frame in video, perhaps to the end of the queue. "Arslan thought this was a Pakistani airport and he could just barge into the line and cut it," read one of the comments on video.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-ex-cj-son-told-to-get-in-line-at-jeddah-airport/articleshow/57783730.cms

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Suspected terror bid foiled at Lahore airport

Mar 22, 2017

LAHORE: Pakistan's security forces today foiled a suspected terror bid at the international airport here and seized weapons and ammunition.

During a routine inspection at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, the Airport Security Force personnel stopped a vehicle and found a weapon and a huge cache of ammunition upon checking, Dawn reported, quoting officials.

LOL...I guess the ISIS terrorist were doing mock drill...

The security personnel confiscated a .223 bore rifle, seven magazines, and dozens of bullets from the vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle, a resident of Lahore, was detained and handed over to the police for further interrogation.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/suspected-terror-bid-foiled-at-lahore-airport/articleshow/57771838.cms

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Pak military courts get two-year extension

Omer Farooq Khan

Mar 22, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad: Pakistan's National Assembly passed on Tuesday the constitution amendment bill to reinstate and expand the jurisdiction of military courts to try civilians for terrorism-related offences.

Banana courts of a banana republic. The most famous banana court verdict was

The Constitution (Twenty Eighth Amendment) bill and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) were passed amid opposition with twothirds majority . Following the attack by Pakistani Taliban on Army Public School in Peshawar that killed 148, government had created military courts in 2015 for a twoyear period.

UN, human rights organisations, and the opposition had raised serious concerns about trying civilians before military courts, the secrecy of military court trials, and other fair trial issues. At least 17 people have been executed after being convicted by a military court.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-military-courts-get-two-year-extension/articleshow/57763298.cms

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Pervez Musharraf wanted ‘secret deal’ to form joint govt: Nawaz Sharif

March 22, 2017

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that former dictator Pervez Musharraf had offered him a “secret deal” to return to the country from exile in Saudi Arabia to form a joint government in 2008. At a meeting of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PLM-N) parliamentary committee on Tuesday, Sharif said, “Musharraf wanted a secret deal with me in 2007”, according to a report in Dawn.

“Musharraf offered me the deal directly, but I turned it down,” he said. Sharif said Gen Musharraf was willing to meet him and made several attempts to do so in the past. “But I declined.”

The revelation about the going-ons in Pakistan’s polity in 2007 has come for the first time from Sharif, who at the time was living in Saudi Arabia after his government was toppled by Gen Musharraf in a coup in 1999.

Many members of the Sharif family too had to live in the Gulf nation after the coup until their return to Pakistan in November 2007.

“We left the country in a miserable condition and were not allowed to return for a long time,” Sharif said, and made it clear he would do the same to Gen Musharraf, who left Pakistan last year for Dubai ostensibly for medical treatment.

“Now Musharraf can’t come back to Pakistan, this is retribution,” Geo News quoted the prime minister as saying.

However, according to the report in Dawn, Sharif’s claims were disputed by former Musharraf aide Ahmed Raza Kasuri. “I have been working with Gen Musharraf for a long time and I have never heard any such thing,” he said.

Kasuri said everyone knew that the Sharifs went abroad under an agreement for 10 years and there could be no question that Musharraf offered him a deal to form a joint government.

“It was, in fact, Nawaz Sharif who was begging to return to the country in 2007,” he maintained.

“[The claim is] absolute rubbish and [a] bundle of lies, which has only been propagated for [the prime minister’s] image-building that was badly affected due to his lies in the Panama scandal,” Kasuri concluded.

On November 3, 2007, then-ruler Gen Musharraf had declared an emergency, suspending the Constitution, which lasted until December 15, 2007. The move then had appeared as an effort by him to reassert his fading power in the face of increasing opposition from the Pakistani Supreme Court and the political parties.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/pervez-musharraf-wanted-secret-deal-to-form-joint-govt-nawaz-sharif-4580699/

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Pakistan court asks for final arguments in Hafiz Saeed’s detention case

March 22, 2017

A Pakistani court has directed the Punjab government and the JuD counsel to present their final arguments on March 27 on a petition challenging the detention of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and four others under the anti-terrorism law. Saeed, the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief, along with Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdur Rehman Abid, Qazi Kashif Hussain and Abdullah Ubaid has filed the petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) through senior advocate A K Dogar.

Hearing their petition on Tuesday, LHC Justice Syed Kazim Raza Shamsi observed that Section 11-EEE(1) of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 required the government to furnish reasons for the detention of a citizen. During the hearing, advocate Dogar said the government detained JuD chief Saeed and four aides on the pressure from the US and India.

“India has always tried to cause harm to Saeed,” he alleged. He argued that a UN resolution was used in the past to detain the JuD chief and the court had set the detention aside in 2009. “The government has failed to produce any evidence against Saeed or his organisation. There are ulterior motives and mala fide intention behind the impugned act of the government.”

Dogar said the government had no evidence that the petitioners were a risk to security of Pakistan and merely on the basis of UN resolutions their liberty could not be curtailed. The court adjourned the case till March 27 directing the petitioners’ counsel and a provincial law officer to come up with final arguments.

The government on January 30 had put Saeed and four leaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat (FIF) under house arrest in Lahore under the country’s anti-terrorism act. Besides Saeed, the names of 37 other JuD and FIF leaders had earlier also been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL), barring them from leaving the country.

Saeed was also put under house arrest after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, but he was freed by court in 2009. Saeed has a bounty of USD 10 million on his head for his role in terror activities.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/pakistan-court-asks-for-final-arguments-in-hafiz-saeeds-detention-case-4580625/

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Indian President Mukherjee greets Pakistanis on national day

Mar 23, 2017

"India is committed to building ties with Pakistan in an environment free from terror and violence," says Mukherjee.—Reuters/File

"India is committed to building ties with Pakistan in an environment free from terror and violence," says Mukherjee.—Reuters/File

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday took to twitter to extend greeting to Pakistani nation and the government in connection with the national day celebrations.

"Greetings to (the) government and people of Pakistan on their national day," tweeted Mukherjee.

He further wrote, "India is committed to building ties with Pakistan in an environment free from terror and violence."

Greetings to Government and people of Pakistan on their National Day

India is committed to building ties with Pakistan in an environment free from

The greetings were extended as the nation celebrates 77th Pakistan Day with national zeal and fervour.

The day marks the historic event of 1940, when the Lahore Resolution was passed demanding a separate homeland for Muslims of the subcontinent.

Earlier, President Mamnoon Hussain in his address at the main celebration and parade ceremony in Islamabad said, "We are ready for dialogue with India and want to resolve the issue of incomplete agenda of the division of the subcontinent, in accordance with the UN resolutions on Kashmir."

He also made it clear that Pakistan's traditional atomic power is to ensure regional peace and stability. He cautioned that India's irresponsible behaviour has been jeopardising the peace of the region.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1322338/indian-president-mukherjee-greets-pakistanis-on-national-day

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India

 

Babri Masjid demolition case: SC to decide today on criminal charges against Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti

March 23, 2017

babri masjid, babri masjid demolition, lk advani, murli manohar joshi, news, india news, sc, sc hearing babri masjid, latest news, bjp leaders babri masjid

Babri Masjid demolition case: SC will decide today if criminal conspiracy charges against BJP leaders should be retained or dropped. Express photo by Ravi Kanojia.

The Supreme Court will on Thursday hear the criminal conspiracy charges against BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti in connection with the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case.

The apex court, which was supposed to hear the matter on Wednesday but adjourned it for Thursday, will hear the CBI’s plea against the Allahabad High Court’s order dropping criminal conspiracy charges against the BJP leaders in the case.

There are two sets of cases – one against BJP veteran leader Advani and others, who were on the dais at Ram Katha Kunj in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 when the Babri mosque was demolished. The other case was against lakhs of ‘karsevaks’ (volunteers) who were in and around the disputed structure.

Babri Masjid Demolition: Effects Still Far Reaching

The CBI had chargesheeted Advani and 20 others under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (false statements, rumours etc. circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

It had subsequently invoked charges under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC, which was quashed by the special court whose decision was upheld by the high court.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/babri-masjid-demolition-case-sc-to-decide-today-on-criminal-charges-against-advani-mm-joshi-uma-bharti/

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No Indian casualty in London attack: External affairs minister

Mar 23, 2017

NEW DELHI: External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday night said there is no Indian casualty so far in the 'terror' attack near UK Parliament in which three people have been killed and over 20 people are injured.

The external affairs minister said she is in constant touch with the Indian High Commission and it will extend all possible help to Indians in London.

Sushma Swaraj also released two numbers of High Commission's Public Response Unit for people who needed any help or information.

Indian High Commission is there to help all Indian nationals in London. Please

Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in London has advised people to strongly avoid Parliament Square and check Metropolitan Police website for further details on the attack.

"There is no place in democracies and civilized societies for terrorism," the external affairs ministry said in its reaction.

At least three people were killed and 20 injured as terror struck the British capital when a man mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and stabbed a police officer outside Parliament complex before being shot dead by Scotland Yard

May be Indians suffered no casualty.. but every single incident torments us for our spineless past.. India is the biggest contributor to Islamic fanaticism and

The head of counter-terrorism at London's Metropolitan Police, Mark Rowley said the dead policeman was among the armed officers who guard Parliament while the other victims died on Westminster Bridge after the attacker mowed down pedestrians in a car, leaving at least 20 people injured.

At least three other police officers were also injured in the attack.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/no-indian-casualty-in-london-attack-sushma-swaraj/articleshow/57781620.cms

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For talks, Pakistan should commit to end terror: Govt

Mar 22, 2017

NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday clearly put the onus on Pakistan for resumption of dialogue, asserting that it should commit to end the state-sponsored terrorism.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh also said in the Rajya Sabha that the government was ready to talk to all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to normalise the situation there.

"Pakistan should at least make a beginning and say it is willing to talk and end the terrorist activities and seek the support of any country in the world (in ending terrorism). Pakistan should take an initiative," he said.

Singh was responding to questions by members as to why talks are not being held with Pakistan.

"The previous (UPA) government had also placed a condition for Pakistan to give a commitment to end state-sponsored terrorism," he added.

To questions over the situation in Kashmir, the Home Minister said, "We are ready to talk to everyone... The entire nation wants the situation to normalise in Kashmir. We are ready to cooperate with everyone and have taken all initiatives in this regard." He noted that he had visited the Kashmir valley thrice during the unrest last year.

"When there was unrest, I went to the Kashmir valley thrice. I have spoken each time. The government wants the Kashmir situation to improve. We have taken every initiative," he said.

"I also want to inform the House that there has been no dearth of official communication," he said.

While talking about steps and schemes initiated to normalise the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the home minister said he does not, at the same time, dismiss the work done by the previous governments.

"We never want to take credit of anyone. We don't claim that we alone can improve the situation and solve the Kashmir problem. The support of every political party and every citizen is required to solve the Kashmir problem," he said.

He said the Modi government was trying to take forward the initiatives taken by previous governments.

Listing some of the intiatives taken, he said the selection process for the armed police forces is over and job opportunities for Kashmiri youth have increased.

He added that never before have there been recruitment of as many as 10,000 SPOs in Kashmir valley and five new India Reserve Battalions have been raised there with as many as 4,500 personnel.

Besides, he said, central armed police battalions have been raised in J&K with 1200 personnel.

Referring to the visit of an all-party delegation to Kashmir during the unrest last year, Singh said Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had even written a letter, "inviting all such (separatist) forces to talk to the visiting delegation. However they still did not turn up."

Mentioning about the snub given by separatist Hurriyat leaders to some members of the delegation when they tried to meet them, he said, "These people (the delegation comprising Yechury and others) were forced to beat a hasty retreat. What do they expect from us?"

The home minister said there were 322 incidents of terrorist violence in 2016 and 150 terrorists were killed, but in 2017, as many as 32 terrorists were killed.

The home minister, while talking about the benefits given to the soldiers, mentioned out-of-turn promotions and honour to soldiers involved in surgical strike.

"We have decided that under any circumstances the family of a jawan martyred will get overall financial support of more than Rs 1 crore," he said.

He said although sacrifices of the jawans cannot be measured in monetary terms, "they got less money earlier".

He added, "Whenever our soldiers are martyred, we take full precautions to send his body to his village and the district authorities as well as the MLAs and MPs concerned are informed to be present in the funeral ceremony."

Earlier, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad asked what the government has done in the Kashmir valley to normalise the situation.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) asked why the government is not engaging in a dialogue with Pakistan to normalise the situation in Kashmir.

"Why have you closed the road? Why don't you talk? Why do you want to suppress everything with the force of gun? Why has the agenda of governance not been implemented, as the demand has been made by the state chief minister also? The process of dialogue is shut and there are no talks (with Pakistan)," he asked.

Sitaram Yechury (CPM) said Jammu and Kashmir situation is not just a law and order problem. He said the trust deficit is growing by the day in the Kashmir Valley.

"Why not the commitment of starting a dialogue with all stakeholders? Merely tackling terrorism is not going to solve the problem," he said, adding that talking to Pakistan was also raised by the chief minister.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/for-talks-pakistan-should-commit-to-end-terror-govt/articleshow/57773717.cms

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'Surgical operation has cut terror attacks'

Mar 23, 2017

NEW DELHI: Terrorist violence and ceasefire violations in J&K have come down after the surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the government told Parliament on Wednesday. It also said that Pakistan would have to commit to halting state-sponsored terrorism if it wanted to resume dialogue with India.

According to data furnished by the government in the Rajya Sabha, terrorist incidents fell to 87 between October 1 and December 31, 2016, from 110 between July 1 and September 30 that year.

Union minister of state for home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir told the House that 34 security personnel were killed three months prior to the surgical strikes carried out in September post the terror attack on an Army camp in Uri, while only 19 died in the subsequent quarter. Civilian killings, too, fell from 7 to 6 in the corresponding period.

The fall in the number of terrorist incidents is also attributed to weakening of violent protests that broke out af ter Hizbul commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter in July , sources said.

Holding that ceasefire violations by Pakistan had also come down post the surgical strikes, home minister Rajnath Singh said the onus is on Islamabad to give a commitment on stopping state-sponsored terrorism if it wanted resumption of bilateral dialogue. "Pakistan should at least make a beginning, say it is willing to talk, willing to fully end terrorist activities, and is ready to seek support of any country in the world (to end terrorism) if required. Pakistan should itself take the initiative," Singh told the RS, responding to questions on why talks were not being held with Islamabad.The minister said the previous UPA government had also placed a similar condition on Islamabad.

Singh also stressed that the Centre was ready to talk with all stakeholders in J&K. He said this in reply to MPs like Sitaram Yechury (CPM) and Sharad Yadav (JD-U) who asked why the government had not taken forward its own commitment for a political dialogue in the strife-torn state.

Singh said the government had taken several initiatives since it wanted the situation to improve in the state. "J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti had even written a letter inviting all such (separatist) forces to talk to the visiting (all-party) delegation. But they still did not turn up," said Singh. Taking a swipe at Yechury and Yadav, who had independently gone to meet the Hurriyat leadership, the minister said they were "forced to beat a hasty retreat".

Hitting out at the Centre, leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the manner in which the government was replying to such an important matter, the issue was being "killed" and "butchered" as never seen before in Parliament.

'PM never named ISI in Kanpur train case'

Its a shame that opposition leaders like yechuri, yadav and ghulam are ready to blame Indian govt for Strife in J&K. These shameless opposition leaders do not

Union home minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday that PM Narendra Modi had not directly blamed Pakistan or ISI for the conspiracy to derail the Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur last November, in which over 140 passengers were killed, while holding that the NIA probe into the case was still under way.

This came after the opposition cornered the government in the Rajya Sabha for making contradictory statements about the train accident. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said the PM, during an election rally at Gonda (UP) on February 23, had proclaimed that "police had found a huge conspiracy hatched by people sitting across the border" but the home ministry had submitted that the investigation was still in progress.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/surgical-operation-has-cut-terror-attacks/articleshow/57783620.cms

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South Asia

 

6 militants killed while planting bomb on a roadside in Helmand

Wed Mar 22 2017

At least six militants were killed while planting an explosive device on a roadside in the restive Helmand in South of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the militants ere blown up as they were fixing the homemade Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Loy Bagh area located in Nad-e-Ali district.

The source further added that four militants also sustained injuries in the incident.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

The anti-government armed militants including the Taliban insurgents frequently use Improvised Explosive Device (IED) as the weapon of their choice to target the security forces and government officials.

However, in majority of such incidents the ordinary civilians are targeted besides incurring casualties to the security forces.

In some cases the militants are killed by their own explosives which go off prematurely, normally when they plant an explosive device or while manufacturing them.

http://www.khaama.com/6-militants-killed-while-planting-bomb-on-a-roadside-in-helmand-02445

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India eyes deal to repair Afghan aircraft, deepening military ties

Mar 23, 2017

KABUL: India is considering whether to pay for repairs to grounded helicopters and transport planes from Afghanistan's air force, signalling a willingness to step up military assistance for Kabul that has irked Pakistan in the past.

India estimates it would cost close to $50 million for new parts and repairs to 11 grounded Soviet-made Mi-35 helicopters and seven transport aircraft, after sending a team of experts to assess the Afghan air force's needs last year, the Indian ambassador to Kabul told Reuters.

Afghanistan has repeatedly asked India to increase military assistance, as it struggles to fight Afghan Taliban insurgents who have taken swathes of territory since most foreign troops left the country in late 2014.

New Delhi's readiness to provide more military help, while limited, underlines its desire to help Kabul as other regional powers including Russia and China look to increase their influence in Afghanistan.

"We have been looking at the scale of the challenge the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) faces, particularly in one segment, close air support," ambassador Manpreet Vohra said in an interview in Kabul this week.

"We are trying to see how we can help. They have a large number of attack helicopters and transport aircraft grounded for want of spares, for expiry of certification," he said.

India will decide whether to approve the proposal after final costing is done within a few months.

Most of Afghanistan's small air force dates from the Soviet era, but sanctions against Russia mean Western donors that fund the military cannot pay to get grounded aircraft flying again.

India is not bound by such restrictions, but aside from the transfer in 2015 to Afghanistan of four attack helicopters, New Delhi has been reluctant to commit direct military support, saying it does not have the resources and prefers to help Kabul with development aid.

Close relations

Under the agreement with Afghanistan, India would pay for the transportation of the aircraft to Russia or other former Soviet states where the planes were manufactured and must be fixed according to licencing agreements, as well as for new parts and repairs, Vohra said.

The ambassador is due to meet the Afghan air chief in the next few weeks.

Russia's federal service for military-technical cooperation did not respond to a request for comment.

India enjoys close relations with Afghanistan, and both accuse common neighbour Pakistan of not doing enough to stop Islamist militants operating on its territory.

Pakistan has previously warned that India should not be allowed to use Afghan soil to create instability in Pakistan.

India has been one of Afghanistan's biggest allies in the war against the Taliban, training thousands of security personnel, but was not included in the first round of recent Russia-led talks to reboot a stalled peace process.

Afghan and US officials are increasingly worried that any deepening of ties between Russia and the Taliban could complicate the security situation, and analysts say India risks being sidelined in future talks.

Moscow has said its contacts with the Taliban are aimed at ensuring the safety of its citizens and encouraging peace talks.

Russian government officials have said that Afghan troops, backed by US special forces, have not done enough to stem the spread of Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan, according to Afghan and US officials.

Afgan people are very good friends of India & also helped much in independence.

Vohra said India would back Afghanistan at the next round of talks, scheduled for April, in arguing that the Taliban remained the biggest threat to the country.

He said India remained a close partner of Afghanistan's, pointing to an additional $1 billion aid pledge announced last year and the completion of a nearly $300 million hydroelectric dam.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-eyes-deal-to-repair-afghan-aircraft-deepening-military-ties/articleshow/57784895.cms

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Global Coalition hails Afghan govt and forces efforts to counter ISIS

Thu Mar 23 2017

The Global Coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group has hailed the Afghan government and security forces for their counter-terrorism efforts.

“We commend the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan, along with its National Defense and Security Forces, in the fight against ISIS and in implementing its National Strategy against ISIS,” a statement by Ministers of the Global Coalition said.

The Foreign Ministers of the Coalition met in Washington on Wednesday at the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to review and accelerate the campaign for the lasting defeat of ISIS.

“We remain firmly united in our outrage at ISIS’s atrocities and in our determination to eliminate this global threat and overcome its false, destructive narrative. We reiterate our commitment to an integrated, multidimensional, and comprehensive approach to defeat ISIS and its global networks, fully recognizing this will require sustained, focused efforts,” the statement added.

According to the coalition “Overall, the number of ISIS fighters has been reduced by half. They have been scattered in Libya and pressed on multiple fronts elsewhere, including Afghanistan and Africa. Outside of Iraq and Syria, we have put greater pressure on ISIS’ branches and global networks. Coalition partner information sharing, diplomatic engagement, and military strikes have put pressure on ISIS finances. Multinational cooperation has disrupted potential attacks worldwide, degraded ISIS’ ability to operate across international borders and diminished its on-line influence.”

The offshoot of the terrorist group started operations in Afghanistan nearly three years ago from the eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The Afghan government last year approved the strategy to fight against the terrorist group amid concerns that they were attempting to expand their foothold in the country.

http://www.khaama.com/global-coalition-hails-afghan-govt-and-forces-efforts-to-counter-isis-02449

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Policeman kills his 9 comrades in an insider attack in North of Afghanistan

Thu Mar 23 2017

A policeman killed nine of his comrades in an insider attack in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan, local officials said Thursday.

The incident took place late on Wednesday night after the assailant policeman belonging to the Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces opened fire on his comrades, leaving nine of them dead.

A spokesman for the 808th Spinzar Zone in North of Afghanistan Mahfuzullah Akbari confirmed that the incident took place on Kunduz-Aliabad highway.

According to the local officials, the assailant policeman likely had links with the Taliban group as he has escaped from the post after the attack, taking with him the weapons available in the post.

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

This comes as at least eight policemen lost their lives in a similar attack carried out nearly two weeks ago in southern Zabul province.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Gul Islam Sayal confirmed the incident and said the two assailants managed to flee area after the attack.

He said the policemen belonged to the Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces and the assailants also managed to take several weapons from the check post with them.

Earlier, at least eleven policemen lost their lives in a similar attack carried out by their comrades in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

http://www.khaama.com/policeman-kills-his-9-comrades-in-an-insider-attack-in-north-of-afghanistan-02448

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Mideast

 

Erdogan Warns Europeans ‘Will Not Walk Safely’ If Current Attitude Persists

March 22, 2017

With Turkey embroiled in a diplomatic row with Germany and Netherlands over the barring of campaigning for support for the April referendum, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Europeans across the world would not be able to “walk safely on the streets if they kept up their current attitude”. At an event for local journalists in Ankara, Erdogan said, “If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy.”

Turkey goes to referendum on April 16, and Turkish officials have been campaigning in Germany and the Netherlands to draw up support from Turkish expatriates. But Germany and Netherlands have barred such campaign appearances by these officials in their countries. Earlier in March, Erdogan had lashed out at the campaigning ban by Germany and compared it to “Nazi practices”. Several German towns have prevented appearances by Erdogan’s ministers, citing security and safety concerns. The cancellations have infuriated the Turkish government, which accused Berlin of working against the “Yes” campaign in the referendum and summoned the German ambassador to the foreign ministry in protest.

“You will lecture us about democracy and then you will not let this country’s ministers speak there,” Erdogan had said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish leaders said they will not hold any further campaign rallies in Germany before the referendum after an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they were not welcome. Meanwhile, a German foreign ministry source reportedly said it should allow a peaceful start to voting by some 1.4 million Turkish citizens living in Germany who are eligible to vote in the referendum.

The referendum, which will be held on April 16, will put to vote 18 proposed amendments to the Turkish Constitution. One of them would be to set up an executive presidency which would replace the existing parliamentary system. Many believe that the proposed amendments would give total control in the hands of Erdogan.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/turkey-april-referendum-europe-erdogan-germany-netherlands-4580472/

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Israeli ban targeting boycott supporters raises alarm abroad

March 22, 2017

A law barring foreigners from entering Israel if they back boycotts against the country is causing alarm among liberal American Jews and others who perceive an attempt to suppress critical political opinion. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government has long campaigned against the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, describing it as anti-Semitic and an attempt to erase Israel’s legitimacy.

The movement, launched in 2005 as a non-violent campaign to press Israel to heed international law and end its occupation of territory Palestinians seek for a state, has gathered momentum in recent years even if its economic impact remains negligible. On March 6, Israel’s parliament passed legislation saying any individuals or representatives of groups supporting BDS-type boycotts – excluding Israeli citizens and permanent residents – would be barred from the country.

Before the law was published and took effect on March 14, some foreigners were denied entry, including a British activist from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. This week, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan went further, calling for a database of any Israelis involved with BDS, including tracking their activity on social media.

In a further sign of a crackdown, one of the founders of the BDS movement, Qatari-born Palestinian Omar Barghouti, who cannot be banned under the law because he’s married to an Israeli-Arab and is a permanent resident of Israel, was arrested this week on suspicion of tax evasion, local media reported. American Jews who frequently visit Israel say they are alarmed by the law. While they may not support BDS, they oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – which most of the world regards as illegal under international law – and support pressure on the government to end it.

“I was horrified by the ban because it seemed to announce that people would be excluded from Israel because of political views,” said Rabbi Arthur Green, a well-known scholar of Jewish mysticism at Hebrew College in Boston, who visits Israel regularly. “I feel it emboldens extremists on both sides.” Green and other prominent Jews abroad published an open letter in the Israeli press last week denouncing the ban and challenging the government to arrest them when they arrive.

WHERE IS ISRAEL GOING?

Others see the legislation as an attack on free speech and question what it says about the right-wing government’s openness to criticism. Internally, Israel tolerates a large diversity of opinion, but commentators say it appears not to accept it so readily from the outside.

This can put the nation in conflict with Jewish communities abroad that might normally be natural defenders of Israel. “I would map it within deep divisions among Jewish and Israeli communities about where Israel should be and is going,” said Moshe Halbertal, a professor of philosophy at Hebrew University and a leading authority on ethics.

“It really harms the case of Israel in a serious way, and the idea that it’s a country that invites open debate and discussion.” One of the chief concerns about the law is that it does not distinguish between general boycotts of Israel and boycotts targeting Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want for their own state.

Several European Union countries, for example, label products made in Israeli settlements. Israel calls this a boycott of settlement goods. The countries involved say it is about identifying where the goods come from and clearly separating between Israel and the land it occupies.

Jennifer Gorovitz, vice president of the left-leaning New Israel Fund, a US non-profit group, said the new law seemed to erase the line between Israel and the Palestinian territories, making all criticism, including of settlements, unacceptable.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/israeli-ban-targeting-boycott-supporters-raises-alarm-abroad-4580743/

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Iran steps up support for Houthis in Yemen’s war: Sources

March 22, 2017

Iran is sending advanced weapons and military advisers to Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement, stepping up support for its Shi’ite ally in a civil war whose outcome could sway the balance of power in the Middle East, regional and Western sources say. Iran’s enemy Saudi Arabia is leading a Sunni Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in the impoverished state on the tip of the Arabian peninsula – part of the same regional power struggle that is fuelling the war in Syria.

Sources with knowledge of the military movements, who declined to be identified, say that in recent months Iran has taken a greater role in the two-year-old conflict by stepping up arms supplies and other support. This mirrors the strategy it has used to support its Lebanese ally Hezbollah in Syria.

A senior Iranian official said Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Qods Force – the external arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – met top IRGC officials in Tehran last month to look at ways to “empower” the Houthis.

“At this meeting, they agreed to increase the amount of help, through training, arms and financial support,” the official said. “Yemen is where the real proxy war is going on and winning the battle in Yemen will help define the balance of power in the Middle East.”

Iran rejects accusations from Saudi Arabia that it is giving financial and military support to the Houthis in the struggle for Yemen, blaming the deepening crisis on Riyadh.

But Iran’s actions in Yemen seem to reflect the growing influence of hardliners in Tehran, keen to pre-empt a tougher policy towards Iran signalled by US President Donald Trump.

Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, spokesman for the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis, told Reuters: “We don’t lack information or evidence that the Iranians, by various means, are smuggling weapons into the area.

“We observe that the Kornet anti-tank weapon is on the ground, whereas before it wasn’t in the arsenal of the Yemeni army or of the Houthis. It came later.”

A Houthi leader said coalition accusations that Iran was smuggling weapons into Yemen were an attempt to cover up Saudi Arabia’s failure to prevail in an intractable war in which at least 10,000 people have been killed.

“The Saudis don’t want to admit their failings so they are searching for false justifications … after two years of the aggression that the United States and Britain are involved in,” the Houthi leader, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Iran’s activities have alarmed Sunni Muslim countries in the Middle East, with one senior official from a neighbouring country saying: “We want Iran to stop exporting Shi’ism in the region, whether in Yemen or elsewhere.”

Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to back President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after he was ousted from the capital Sanaa by the Houthis. Government forces in the south and east hold most of Yemen’s territory, while the Houthis control most population centres in the northwest, including Sanaa.

A former senior Iranian security official said Iran’s hardline rulers planned to empower Houthi militia in Yemen to “strengthen their hand in the region”.

“They are planning to create a Hezbollah-like militia in Yemen. To confront Riyadh’s hostile policies … Iran needs to use all its cards,” the former official said.

A Western diplomat in the Middle East agreed: “Iran has long been trying to cultivate portions of the Houthi militias as a disruptive force in Yemen.

“This is not to say that the Houthis are Hezbollah, but they do not need to be to achieve Iran’s goals, which is to encircle the Saudis, expand its influence and power projection in the region and develop levers of unconventional pressure.”

SHIPPING SUPPLIES

Sources say Iran is using ships to deliver supplies to Yemen either directly or via Somalia, bypassing coalition efforts to intercept shipments. Western sources say once the ships arrive in the region, the cargoes are transferred to small fishing boats, which are hard to spot because they are so common in these waters.

Favoured areas are believed to include fishing coves around the port of Mukalla, even though that would require smuggled men or equipment to make a long risky journey to the main Houthi-controlled districts.

The coalition ejected al Qaeda from the area last year, but still cannot prevent the smuggling of weapons and people, according to sources familiar with the waters.

The Arab coalition’s General Asseri acknowledged the difficulties of policing 2,700 km of coastline around Yemen. “You cannot observe this length of coast even if you bring in all the navies of the world,” he said. “If we stop movement of those small boats, this will affect fishing by normal people.”

From September 2015 until March 2016, the French and Australian navies frequently intercepted weapons which officials said were most likely bound for the Houthis. A US defence official said Iranian weapons smuggling to the Houthis had continued apace since March last year, when the seizures stopped. The equipment included long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching deep into Saudi Arabia.

“There is no plausible explanation for these weapons’ appearance other than outside assistance. We assess that assistance has likely come from Iran,” the US official said.

Nic Jenzen-Jones, a military arms specialist and director of Armament Research Services, which has tracked Iranian equipment ending up in Yemen, also said quantities had increased.

“We have seen some more success in sea-based transfers over the last few months and I suspect the general uptick in the frequency of Iranian arms that we are documenting is partially a result of more successful deliveries by sea,” Jenzen-Jones said.

DEVASTATING IMPACT

In a study of Iranian technology transfers to Yemen released on Wednesday, Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said it had evidence showing that the Qasef-1 UAV drone was made in Iran and was not of indigenous design and construction “in contrast to Houthi statements”.

The drones were used by the Houthis and forces aligned to ex-Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to target coalition missile defence systems in ‘kamikaze’ attacks, the monitoring group said.

It said this showed the Houthis’ ability to use cheap technology against the coalition’s sophisticated military assets. Evidence of more sophisticated equipment suspected of being used by the Houthis has emerged in recent attacks.

On Jan. 30, a Saudi frigate was attacked near the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah, in an operation that Saudi official media blamed on the Houthis. The US Navy said an unmanned remote-controlled boat laden with explosives rammed the Saudi vessel in the first known strike by a “drone” attack boat, and the Houthis had likely used technology supplied by Iran.

In another development this month, a Yemeni government source told Reuters a coast guard boat was destroyed near al-Mokha by mines laid by the Houthis. Jenzen-Jones said the quality of Iranian munitions had improved of late.

“Recent transfers of arms and munitions have also included Iranian Ababil series UAVs (drones), fitted with high explosive warheads and used by Houthis to engage high-value targets, such as radar and Patriot missile batteries,” he said.

Anti-ship and man-portable missiles were also suspected to have been transferred, he said. In addition to the weapons, Iranian and regional sources said Tehran was providing Afghan and Shi’ite Arab specialists to train Houthi units and act as logistical advisers. These included Afghans who had fought in Syria under Qods Force commanders.

Reuters has reported this same covert approach was used in Syria in 2014 before Iran took a more open role in that war.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/iran-steps-up-support-for-houthis-in-yemens-war-sources-4580444/

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Iranians flock to Turkey’s Van for shopping, nightlife

Zeynep Bilgehan

March/23/2017

Iranians celebrating the Nevruz holiday, which started mid-March and will last until the beginning of April, have flocked to the eastern province of Van for its nightlife and shopping.

There are no available rooms left in the province and several hotels have turned their meeting halls into rooms to be able to meet the demand of Iranian tourists.

The streets, shopping malls and restaurants are full, and shopkeepers are content from the interest shown to Van. 

There are signs in Persian that say “Sale” outside shops in one of Van’s most popular venue, the Cumhuriyet Street, as crowds carrying large pockets are a common sight. Shopkeepers greet customers with smiling faces.

All the hotels in the province, of which two are five-starred, are completely full. The general manager of one of the hotels said they are surprised by the interest.

“There has been a decrease in demand in the last four seasons. We’re now surprised. We didn’t expect such a high interest. There are some people who agree to stay as eight people in rooms of four,” Merit Şahmaran Hotel’s general manager, İpek Turul, told daily Hürriyet on March 23.

A significant portion of the Iranians spend the daytime going shopping. The attention shown to Turkish textile brands in Van’s only shopping mall, which opened in 2015, is very high.

“We have three celebrations in Van; the Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Nevruz. We’ve been making preparations for this week for a very long time. We are among the top 10 branches in Turkey that is making the most sales this week,” a shopkeeper said.

Iranians tend to shop more in cash and find the prices in Van cheaper than the ones back home. 

“This place is cheaper than Iran. In addition, there are a lot of brands,” Iranian tourist Bahar Youssufzade, who looked exhausted from carrying shopping bags, told daily Hürriyet, adding that she and her husband came to the province for shopping.

Another tourist, a musician from Urmia, said they visited Van to perform.

“Van is close and we see it as one of our own cities. Some 80 percent of the people around are Iranians. Previously, we were afraid to visit Van because of the incidents. Then we saw that it can happen in any country. That’s why we are more relaxed now,” musician Heyri said, referring to the recent attacks in Turkey staged by either the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

When nighttime approaches, cars with Iranian license plates fill the streets of Van and the crowds never break up. There are events organized only for Iranians in nightclubs, which have become popular spots in the province in recent years, and where leaflets in Persian are being distributed by nightclub staff.

Iranian singers and DJs take the stage in a number of nightclubs, as tourists prefer to spend time with each other.

The vivacious nightlife is among the reasons why Iranians prefer Van. Mena Muderrezzih, an Iranian steward who has been working in Van for the last three years and who has also been working as a guide for Iranians, said she loves Turkey a lot.

“Van is really close to Iran. There is no music in Iran. Here, nightlife is unconstrained and Iranians are relaxed,” Muderrezzih said, as she waited in front of a nightclub in the early hours of the day.

The dance floor is almost never empty, as an Iranian DJ plays songs in Turkish and Persian. Families enjoying the night can also be seen. The manager of the nightclub, Nedim Sönmez, said they also wanted to make families spend a relaxed time.

A tourism plan lies under Van’s success in attracting Iranians, and the organizer of the plan is the Van Industry and Trade Chamber (VATSO).

“We determined the basic needs of Iranians; shopping and having fun in a modern city. We launched the Shopping Fest. We hung posters in Iran. The number of five-star hotels rose to two. With cafes, entertainment centers, we have become the center of attraction,” VATSO head Necdet Takva said, adding that Persian courses were being given to employees in the province.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/iranians-flock-to-turkeys-van-for-shopping-nightlife.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111153&NewsCatID=341

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Turkey summons Norway’s envoy over granting asylum to NATO soldiers, military March/23/2017

Turkey summons Norway’s envoy over granting asylum to NATO soldiers, military attaché

Norway’s ambassador to Turkey has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry after Norway granted asylum to five former Turkish military officers allegedly linked to the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) after the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt, a ministry spokesperson said on March 22.      

“It is saddening and unacceptable to see an allied country supporting the efforts of individuals who were recalled from their state duty and who abused the political, social, and economic resources of their country of residence instead of returning to Turkey,” according to spokesperson Hüseyin Müftüoğlu.  

The asylum-seekers include a former military attaché and four military officers who worked at a NATO education center in Norway.      

They had previously denied any connection with the attempted takeover in an interview with the Norwegian daily VG and said they had already been dismissed from their posts, while also fearing that they would face prosecution upon their return.

Along with the soldiers and the military attaché, Oslo also accepted the asylum applications of their family members. They have reportedly been residing in a secret address in the country.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-summons-norways-envoy-over-granting-asylum-to-nato-soldiers-military-attach.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111146&NewsCatID=510

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Israel criticizes ‘Nazi’ accusations against Germany

March/23/2017

Israel has criticized recent comparisons of the current German government to the Nazi regime, implicitly referring to recent comments from Turkish government officials.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told dpa that such comments are “unacceptable.”

“The state of Israel is against anything that might diminish or trivialize the memory of the Holocaust,” Nahshon said, adding that “there is no place for these kinds of comparisons.”

While not mentioning Turkey directly, his comments come after accusations by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 19 that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been employing “Nazi methods.”

Erdoğan had claimed that “Germany’s mission was not to support terrorist organizations.”

“Merkel, now you’re applying Nazi methods against my brothers who live in Germany, and against my ministers and lawmakers who visit there. Does this suit the ethics of politics? Your mission is not to support terrorist organizations, but to extradite them,” he said at an event in Istanbul, adding that Germany would “like to reopen Nazi gas chambers.”

“If they weren’t ashamed, they would revive the gas chambers,” he added.

Ankara has been embroiled in a row with Berlin and other European capitals over campaigning among the Turkish diaspora for the April 16 referendum that will decide whether the current parliamentary system should be shifted to an executive presidency.

NATO ally Turkey has repeatedly accused Germany of using “Nazi” tactics” to ban ministerial appearances and has caused anger in Germany by detaining German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel. 

Merkel said on March 20 that her demand that Turkey cease drawing Nazi comparisons with Germany and its allies applies “without ifs or buts,” pointing to a government threat that it could prevent Turkish politicians from entering the country.

“My comment that the Nazi comparisons on Turkey’s part must end is valid without ifs or buts,” Merkel said at a joint press conference with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Hannover.

“Unfortunately we see that these comparisons have not ceased, and we are not going to allow ... every taboo to be broken with no regard to the suffering of those who were persecuted and murdered under Nazism,” she said.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/israel-criticizes-nazi-accusations-against-germany-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111148&NewsCatID=352

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Turkey condemns London terror attacks

March/23/2017

Top Turkish officials condemned the suspected terrorist attack outside Britain’s parliament on March 22 in which five people were killed and around 40 injured. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a letter of condolences to British Prime Minister Theresa May.  

“I want to emphasize that Turkey deeply feels and shares the United Kingdom’s sorrow. Turkey always stands in solidarity with the friendly and allied United Kingdom in the fight against terrorism, one of the greatest threats to international peace and security,” Erdoğan said.      

He also offered condolences via Twitter to the people of the country.      

“I extend my sympathies to the victims’ families and the British people. I wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured,” Erdoğan wrote.      

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also condemned the attack, urging unity in the fight against terrorism.

“Solely associating terrorism with Muslim countries is a grave mistake. Terrorism is a global catastrophe,” Yıldırım said.    

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu condemned the attack on his official Twitter account. 

“We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks in London that took place in the Westminster area where parliament is located. Turkey and the Turkish people, who have been subjected to similar attacks many times, share the sorrow of Britain and the British people,” Çavuşoğlu wrote.      

Turkish EU Minister Ömer Çelik, meanwhile, called for an “all-out fight” against terror.

“Terrorism is a threat to all countries. An all-out fight should be waged against terrorism without making any distinction between terror organizations,” Çelik wrote on his official Twitter account.      

The Foreign Ministry also condemned the attack on its official Twitter account.

“This heinous attack demonstrated once again the brutal and merciless nature of terrorism that targets the lives of innocent people,” it stated, stressing that Turkey will maintain its solidarity with the international community and its allies against all kinds of terrorism and violence.

“Our country will continue to provide all kinds of support to the U.K. in the fight against terrorism,” it added.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-condemns-london-terror-attacks.aspx?pageID=238&nID=111145&NewsCatID=510

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Arab World

 

Damascus: Over 150 Al-Nusra Terrorists Killed in Jobar

Thu Mar 23, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army, supported by the air force, repulsed terrorists' attacks in the Northern parts of Jobar, killing more than 150 militants.

A military source said that the Syrian army forces repelled the al-Nusra (Fatah al-Sham) Front terrorists' repeated attacks to break the siege on militants stationed in al-Qazal plants region in Northern Jobar, adding that the army units have killed over 150 militants, including foreign commanders and members, and wounded hundreds of others during the operations.

Also, The Syrian troops smashed 3 tanks, 4 armored vehicles, 5 mortar-launchers, 3 artilleries and 15 machinegun-equipped vehicles of the terrorists in the battle.

According to the source, clashes continue between the army and terrorists in Northern Jobar and the army units are targeting the militants' gathering centers and moves in Jobar and the nearby areas by artillery and missile fire.

The source added that the Syrian air force has also launched heavy airstrikes on the terrorists' positions and supply routes from Eastern Ghouta to the North of Jobar region, inflicting heavy casualties and damage on the militants.

On Monday, the Syrian army forces had pushed back the terrorists' massive offensive on their positions in the Northern parts of Jobar and laid siege on tens of militants in the region after launching a new military operation.

The Syrian soldiers could besiege a large number of terrorists who had attacked the army bases in Jobar, in the buildings near al-Ma'amel district.

The army had sent recruitments and military equipment to Jobar after the terrorists attacked the region from al-Qalamoun.

According to field sources, the army commanders have called on the besieged terrorists in al-Ma'amel district to lay down their arms and surrender to the government forces.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960103000145

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Aleppo: Syrian Army Establishes Military Control over Deir Hafer

Thu Mar 23, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army continued operations in Eastern Aleppo and gained military control over Deir Hafer city after winning back several towns and a strategic hill surrounding the city.

The Syrian army units engaged in heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists and seized control of Laleh Mohammad, al-Akouleh, al-Ahmadiyeh and al-Kabariyeh towns and the strategic Tal al-Sous hill.

The army troops also deployed along the Aleppo-Raqqa road after winning control over Um Adaseh, Jafireh and Jafar Mansoul towns and fully cut the supply routes towards Deir Hafer from Maskaneh and other nearby towns.

During the operations, tens of ISIL terrorists were killed, 5 bomb-laden vehicles were destroyed and several vehicles carrying weapons and ammunition were seized by the army.

A military source reported that the Syrian army forces will soon enter Deir Hafer and start cleansing operations after besieging the city.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the army troops regained control of the two towns of Abu Saleh and Kharayej Daham in the Eastern parts of al-Sharimeh village and al-Qusayer town near Deir Hafer after heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists.

Meantime, the Syrian fighter jets pounded ISIL's bases, military vehicles and moves in Um Adasa Khalileh, Maskaneh, Atshaneh Maskaneh and Laleh Mohammad in the Eastern parts of Aleppo province, inflicting tens of casualties on the terrorists.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960103000118

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Syria: 33 dead in US-led air strike as coalition meets today

March 22, 2017

A US-led coalition strike is reported to have killed 33 civilians in northern Syria ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of top officials in Washington focused on defeating the Islamic State group. Rebels and jihadists pressed offensives inside the capital Damascus and the central province of Hama, just a day before new UN-brokered peace talks open in Geneva. Years of diplomatic efforts have failed to end Syria’s raging six-year conflict, which began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad. The war has killed more than 320,000 people, sparked a major refugee crisis, and dragged in world powers including the US-led air coalition bombing Syria’s jihadists since 2014.

A reported coalition strike in the northern province of Raqa early yesterday has killed 33 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The monitor said today that the strike hit a school being used as a temporary shelter for displaced families, about 30 kilometres west of IS-held Raqa city. “We can now confirm that 33 people were killed, and they were displaced civilians from Raqa, Aleppo and Homs,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

“They’re still pulling bodies out of the rubble until now. Only two people were pulled out alive,” Abdel Rahman told media. “Raqa is Being Slaughtered Silently,” an activist group that publishes news from IS-held territory in Syria, blamed the coalition for the strike. “The school that was targeted hosts nearly 50 displaced families,” it said.

The US-led coalition is backing twin offensives to defeat IS in Raqa — the Syrian heart of the group’s so-called “Islamic caliphate” — and Mosul in neighbouring Iraq. Top officials from the 68-nation alliance are set to meet in Washington to hear more about a revised plan drafted by the Pentagon and presented to US President Donald Trump in February.

Earlier this month, the coalition said its campaign in Syria and Iraq had unintentionally killed at least 220 civilians, but monitors say the real number is far higher. In addition to bombing raids by the coalition, Russia is carrying out strikes in support of its ally Assad and Turkey has provided air cover for rebel groups in the north.

Control of war-ravaged Syria is divided between myriad armed groups — rebels, jihadists, Kurdish militia and Syrian government forces. This week, rebels and allied jihadists launched two surprise offensives on government positions in Damascus and central Hama province, opposition groups and the Observatory said. In Damascus, anti-regime factions are battling to link up territory they hold in the eastern district of Jobar with their encircled forces in the Qabun neighbourhood to the north. Clashes continued today as at least nine air strikes pounded rebel positions, the Observatory said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/syria-33-dead-in-us-led-air-strike-as-coalition-meets-today-4580899/

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Five killed as Islamic State IEDs target civilians fleeing Kirkuk

by Mohamed Mostafa

Mar 23, 2017

Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Five people died when two explosive devices planted by Islamic State militants exploded near civilians fleeing Kirkuk province, according to DPA.

The agency quoted Anwar al-Assi, chief of the Ebeid tribes of Iraq, saying five civilians were killed and four others were wounded at the Hamreen Mountains region when they were trying to escape Islamic State-held areas in Hawija, southwest of Kirkuk.

Assi said the civilians were trying to reach locations held by the pro-Iraqi government paramilitary groups, al-Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units).

Hawija, Kirkuk (google maps)

Islamic State has been holding areas in southwestern Kirkuk since the group emerged in 2014 to announce a self-styled “Islamic Caliphate” In Iraq. It has executed hundreds of civilians in Kirkuk for collaborating with security forces or attempting to escape those areas.

The Iraqi government is expected to launch an offensive to retake IS-occupied areas in Kirkuk once it is done with eradicating IS from Mosul, the group’s biggest bastion in Iraq where U.S.-backed government troops and allied militias have entered a sixth month of operations seeking to recapture the city.

IS’s reign of terror as well as battles between the group and security forces have so far displaced at least 355.000 civilians. The government says a total of more than four million have been internally displaced since the appearance of IS in 2014.

http://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/five-killed-islamic-state-ieds-target-civilians-fleeing-kirkuk/

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Islamic State shells recaptured areas in west Mosul

March 22, 2017

The battle for Mosul, Islamic State’s last stronghold in Iraq, is entering its sixth month with Iraq forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition air strikes and advisers now controlling the east of the city and more than half of the west. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

Islamic State militants shelled areas recaptured by Iraqi forces in western Mosul, hitting civilians fleeing the fighting early on Wednesday as troops edged their way through the narrow, dangerous streets of the Old City. Heavy mortar fire killed at least five civilians and wounded more than 20 in Mosul Jadida and Rifak districts – areas that the militants had recently lost to Federal Police and Rapid Response brigades, military officials said.

The battle for Mosul, Islamic State’s last stronghold in Iraq, is entering its sixth month with Iraq forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition air strikes and advisers now controlling the east of the city and more than half of the west. Fighting is focused on capturing the strategic Al Nuri mosque in the Old City, where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al—Baghdadi declared his caliphate in July 2014 after the militants had seized large areas of Iraq and Syria.

As many as 600,000 civilians remain in the western sector of Mosul, complicating the battle. Thousands escape daily to camps or areas in the government-controlled east. Baghdadi and other leaders are believed to have left Mosul, but Islamic State fighters are countering with snipers hiding among the population, car bombs and armored suicide trucks smashing into Iraqi positions around the Old City.

“Daesh shelled liberated, populated areas to distract our troops. They have wounded dozens,” a federal police spokesman said. At federal police frontlines near the Old City, forces blocked off roads with earthen barricades to stop suicide car bombers reaching their troops. Tanks and rocket teams stood guard at barricades while troops with RPGs manned rooftops. “We are clearing streets and buildings of booby-traps and roadside bombs,” a federal police officer said.

On another front, Counter Terrorism Service forces advanced in Yabsaat district and the old industrial area in the west of the city, Maan al-Saadi, a CTS officer told state television.

Losing Mosul would be a symbolic blow for Islamic State whose forces are also coming under attack in the Syrian city of Raqqa across the border. Aid agencies are rushing to cope with surging numbers of displaced from the west, building new camps and supplying food and water. The number displaced from both sides of Mosul since the start of the offensive has reached 355,000, according to government figures.

U.S. officials estimate around 2,000 fighters remain inside the city.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/islamic-state-shells-recaptured-areas-in-west-mosul-4580819/

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Syrian army sends reinforcements to Hama province

March 22, 2017

The Syrian army is sending reinforcements to face a major rebel offensive in Hama province, a Syrian military source told Reuters on Wednesday, as insurgents pressed an attack in a western area critically important to President Bashar al-Assad.

The assault spearheaded by jihadist fighters got under way on Tuesday and follows two attacks on Assad’s seat of power in Damascus in recent days, showing the lingering threat posed by rebels even as Assad enjoys the military upper hand in the war.

The areas of Hama province targeted in the latest assault form part of the western region of Syria where Assad has shored up his rule during the six-year-long war with crucial military support from Russia and Iran.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organisation that monitors the war, said insurgents had captured the towns of Soran, some 20 km north of Hama city, and Khattab, some 10 km northwest of it, confirming rebel accounts.

The military source said there were clashes in both places but the situation was not yet decided, adding that the insurgents had mobilised large numbers for the assault.

“Reinforcements are now being sent” by the army, the source said. “There are fierce battles between the two sides.”

The attack is being led by Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance of Islamist factions dominated by a group that was formerly al Qaeda’s official affiliate in the Syrian war. Groups fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner are also taking part.

An FSA rebel commander, in an interview with the pro-opposition Orient TV, said the Hama assault had been long in the planning, and insurgents were ready for a protracted fight.

“The battle – praise God – has been prepared for a long time and all capacities have been prepared for it so that we can wage a long battle,” said the FSA commander identified as a lieutenant in the Ezza Army group.

The escalation in Hama province follows two rebel assaults on government-held areas in Jobar in Damascus, launched by opposition fighters from the Eastern Ghouta, an opposition stronghold east of the capital.

State media said on Wednesday the army was waging fierce clashes with insurgents in northern Jobar.

The Ezza Army commander said the rebel attack in Hama was coordinated with the one in Damascus. He also said that more attacks would be launched “in a number of other areas”.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/syrian-army-sends-reinforcements-to-hama-province-4580731/

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Mosul displacement gathering pace as Iraq battles IS: UN

March 22, 2017

The United Nations says around 45,000 people have fled the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in western Mosul over the past week, a 22 percent increase from the previous week. The U.N. humanitarian aid office said Wednesday that the latest wave brought the total number of people displaced from western Mosul to about 135,000. OCHA says camp construction and site expansion “are accelerating to meet needs.”

US-backed Iraqi forces launched an operation on Feb. 19 to drive IS from the western half of Iraq’s second largest city after declaring eastern Mosul “fully liberated” the previous month. OCHA says about 330,000 people have been displaced since the Mosul operation began in October. Of those, only 72,000 have returned.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/mosul-displacement-gathering-pace-as-iraq-battles-is-un-4580302/

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Al-Nusra's Massive Offensive in Northern Hama Warded Off by Syrian Army

Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:58

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army units fended off massive attacks of the al-Nusra (Fatah al-Sham) Front on their positions in Souran and Khattab in Northern Hama, inflicting heavy casualties on the militants.

The army troops engaged in heavy clashes with al-Nusra terrorists who had attacked Souran city and Khattab town, and repulsed their offensive.

Meantime, the Syrian and Russian fighter jets launched fierce attacks on terrorists' bases in Kafr Zita, al-Latamineh, Khan Sheikhoun and Taybat al-Imam, killing tens of militants, including an Egyptian commander named Abul Ala Abd Rabbah.

A military source underlined that heavy clashes are still underway near Souran and Khattab, adding that the army has sent a large number of military convoys of its forces and allies to the villages and towns bordering the battleground in Hama to prevent the terrorists' advances and prepare for retaking the villages.

Heavy clashes had erupted between the army forces and al-Nusra terrorists in Maardas and Souran on Tuesday night.

The al-Nusra militants launched massive attacks by detonating bomb-laden cars against the army positions and then clashed with the government troops, but failed to make a breakthrough and sustained another defeat in the region.

A field source also said that the al-Nusra terrorists have failed to gain control over the two towns after hours of battle against the Syrian army.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960103000176

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Africa

 

Multiple bomb blasts rock migrant camp in Nigeria

Mar 22, 2017

NIGERIA: Suicide bomb blasts rocked a camp for migrants who have fled Boko Haram insurgents near Nigeria's restive northeastern city of Maiduguri early Wednesday, officials said.

"There were four explosions inside the camp," the coordinator of the Muna camp Tijjani Lumani told AFP. "The bombers struck at different locations around 4:30 am.

"The explosions triggered fires which burned down many tents", he said, adding that casualties details were not known.

The emergency services confirmed the attacks.

"There were some suicide explosions in Muna camp. Our men have mobilised to the scene," Ibrahim Abduljkadir of the National Emergency Management Agency in the

Muna camp, on the edge of Maiduguri, is currently home to tens of thousands of people who have fled Boko Haram.

The Islamist insurgency has killed at least 20,000 people and forced more than 2.6 million others from their homes since it began in northeast Nigeria in

Boko Haram has continued to target the internally displaced people (IDPs) and there have been several attempted suicide bomb attacks near Muna camp, which is not fenced off and is easily accessible.

Aid workers said last week that the Muna camp residents are facing a severe lack of water, compounding widespread food shortages and security fears.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/multiple-bomb-blasts-rock-migrant-camp-in-nigeria/articleshow/57769897.cms

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Nigeria: Blasts kill four, injure 18 in northeastern city

March 22, 2017

Multiple blasts at camps for people who have fled the Islamist militants Boko Haram killed four and injured 18 in the northeastern Nigeria city of Maiduguri, the state police commissioner said on Wednesday.

The attacks were the latest in a series in the past week. In a video circulated on Friday, a man claiming to be Boko Haram’s leader claimed responsibility for bombings in Maiduguri and a raid in a nearby town last week. Bombings near the city killed four on Sunday .

Borno Police Commissioner Damian Chukwu said the latest blasts happened at around 04:30 a.m. (0330 GMT).

“Three bomb explosions occurred this morning at three different locations near Muna Garage, Maiduguri. Four people were killed and 18 people injured,” he said.

Chukwu said two of the blasts happened at camps for people displaced by Boko Haram. The frequency of attacks has increased since the end of the rainy season in late 2016.

Maiduguri has been the city worst hit by Boko Haram’s eight-year-old campaign to create an Islamic caliphate in northeastern Nigeria. Its attacks have killed about 15,000 people and forced more than 2 million to flee their homes.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/nigeria-blasts-kill-four-injure-18-in-northeastern-city-4580307/

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United Nations struggles to raise funds to avert famine in Somalia

March 23, 2017

The United Nations children’s agency warned Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 that almost 1.4 million children are at “imminent risk of death” as famine threatens parts of South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

The United Nations has raised less than a third of the funding needed to prevent famine in Somalia, a spokesman said, ahead of a Security Council meeting on the crisis in the drought-hit country. The humanitarian crisis is worsening in Somalia with more than 300 deaths from cholera and diarrhoea since the beginning of the year, according to UN figures.

About USD 864 million is needed for Somalia this year and so far only 31 per cent has been pledged, said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

The appeal is expected to be revised soon to take into account the growing needs stemming from the risk of famine, he added.

The United Nations estimates that 6.2 million people –more than half of Somalia’s population — are in need of emergency food aid, including 363,000 acutely malnourished children.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will on Thursday chair a council meeting on Somalia that will focus heavily on stepping up the humanitarian response.

At least 260,000 people died in the 2011 famine in Somalia — half of them children under the age of five, according to the UN World Food Program.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/united-nations-struggles-to-raise-funds-to-avert-famine-in-somalia-4581434/

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesians promote sharia economy in UK

London (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Sharia Economic Community in the UK (MES UK) organized road shows in cities in the UK to promote Sharia economy through various channels, MES UK Secretary General Randi Swandaru informed ANTARA News here, Thursday.

Meanwhile, MES UK Chairman Ebi Junaidi expressed confidence that the road shows will motivate the Indonesian community in the UK to reap the benefits and support Sharia economic development.

Junaidi stated that apart from holding the road shows, MES UK will also develop the Sharia economic policy research, human resource capacity and networking, and optimize websites and social media.

"In summer, we will also hold an Indonesian conference on Islamic Economics and Finance. With these programs, we hope that the people would realize and take advantage of the real impacts of MES UK," Junaidi noted.

Earlier, Junaidi had delivered a speech on economics and Islamic finance through an online forum to Indonesians in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

"God willing, the Islamic economic road show program will continue to disseminate information on the benefits more widely," he added.

(Uu.KR-LWA/INE/KR-BSR/F001)

http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/110090/indonesians-promote-sharia-economy-in-uk

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Myanmar praises China for suspending rebels’ bank account

March 22, 2017

Myanmar’s government praised China on Wednesday for suspending a Chinese bank account used by ethnic rebels fighting Myanmar troops, in a move to prevent potential damage to diplomatic ties.

Reuters has revealed that an ethnic rebel armed group fighting Myanmar forces near the Chinese border had been openly soliciting funds via China’s giant state-owned lender Agricultural Bank Of China (AgBank).

Myanmar’s peace process – started under the previous semi-civilian administration – has lost momentum after Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi came to power in 2016, with some of the militias accusing her of a one-sided approach and refusing to join a major peace conference.

Relations with China have been strained by the ethnic conflicts spilling over the border, and some observers say Beijing uses ethnically Chinese insurgent groups as a means of leverage over Myanmar.

The decision to suspend AgBank was welcomed by Suu Kyi’s government.

“We appreciated this action. Stability and peace in border area is common interest for both sides,” Myanmar’s presidential spokesman, Zaw Htay, told Reuters. “(It was a) very positive move from China.”

Zaw Htay shared the Reuters story on his widely-followed Facebook page and Twitter accounts, tagging key negotiators in Myanmar’s peace process.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was not aware of the specifics about the decision on AgBank.

“We consistently persevere in not interfering in other countries internal affairs and respect the entirety of Myanmar’s sovereign rights and territory. We will not allow any group or individual to use China’s territory to undermine China-Myanmar relations and the border regions’ stability,” she said.

“For any illegal activity, we will deal with it according to law.”

Over nearly two years, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) raised more than $500,000, deposited directly in an AgBank account or sent it via two mobile payment services – Tencent Holdings’ WeChat Pay and Alipay, part of Ant Financial, which is affiliated with U.S.-listed Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The account was suspended over the weekend, shortly after Reuters had sent AgBank a list of questions regarding the transactions, which compliance experts said could point to a weakness in controls aimed at stopping the global financial system being used to fund terrorism or facilitate crime.

There is no evidence that Agbank, or other financial entities that handled transactions for the MNDAA, have broken Chinese law.

Earlier this month, insurgents from the predominantly ethnic Chinese MNDAA attacked government troops in northeastern Myanmar. Some 20,000 people fled across the border to China to escape the fighting, prompting Beijing to call for a ceasefire.

In a rare move, Myanmar army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing disclosed on his official Facebook page that he had summoned the Chinese ambassador and defence attaché on Tuesday to discuss the conflict, and how to cooperate to bring about peace and stability.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/myanmar-praises-china-for-suspending-rebels-bank-account-4580312/

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