Category Archives: International News

43 Killed In Fire At Bangladesh Chemical Container Depot: Report

43 Killed In Fire At Bangladesh Chemical Container Depot: Report

Dhaka, Jun 5: At least 43 people were killed and over 450 injured in a massive fire caused by an explosion that swept through a private chemical container depot in southeastern Bangladesh, officials said on Sunday.

On Saturday night, the fire broke out at BM Container Depot in the Kadamrasul area in Sitakunda Upazila in Chittagong.

“So far 43 dead bodies have been brought to the morgue,” Sitakunda Shahadat Hossain, a senior government official, was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune.

“Over 450 people have been injured in this incident of which, at least 350 are at state-run Chattagram Medical College Hospital (CMCH),” Istakul Islam, chief of the Health & Service Department at Red Crescent Youth Chittagong was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune.

“The death toll could be more at other hospitals,” Islam said.

Meanwhile, Chattogram Divisional Commissioner (DC) Ashraf Uddin further said that families of the deceased are being given USD 560 (Taka 50,000) by the DC office. Meanwhile, USD 224 (Taka 20,000) is being given to the families of the injured, the Daily Star reported.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mourned the death of people and ordered the mobilisation of all facilities for the salvage campaign. Officials formed a high-powered investigation committee demanding it to submit a report in the next three days.

A Fire broke out at the container depot around 9 pm on Saturday, Sub-Inspector Nurul Alam stationed at CMCH said.

As Fire Service units worked to put it out, there was an explosion and then the fire spread.

Nurul added that initially it was being suspected that the container depot caught fire due to chemicals, the report added.

Around 11:45 pm, there was a massive explosion and the fire spread from one container to another due to the presence of chemicals in one of the containers.

“The depot was largely empty, the firefighters, policemen and other rescuers rushed to the scene after the fire initially broke out and the explosion of containers after containers filled with chemicals killed them,” a witness told PTI over the phone.

The explosion shook the neighbourhood and shattered glasses of windows of nearby houses, the report added.

Media reports, including TV footage, showed the blast shattered the windows of several buildings nearby and was felt from areas as far as 4 km away, creating panic.

Chittagong Fire Service and Civil Defence Assistant Director Md Faruk Hossain Sikdar said: “Around 19 firefighting units are working to douse the blaze and six ambulances are also available on the spot.” “Several types of chemicals like hydrogen peroxide were stored in containers at the depot and the chemicals have visibly sparked the fire,” fire service chief Brigadier General Mohammad Mainuddin told newsmen at the scene in the Sitakunda area on the outskirts of the port city.

The state-run Chattagram Medical College Hospital accommodated most of the fire wounded patients while several others including scores of firefighters were being treated at a military hospital and some private facilities.

In a statement, Mujibur Rahman, director of the BM Container Depot, said it was not clear what caused the fire. “But I think the fire started from the container”.

“Arrangements are being made to ensure that the injured get the best treatment. We will bear the entire cost of the treatment. Those who were injured in the accident will be given the maximum compensation,” Rahman was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.

“In addition, we will take responsibility for all the families of all the victims,” he added.

BM Container Depot is set up as an inland container depot which has been operating since May 2011. The private container depot was built on 21 acres of land in the Sitakunda area of Chattagram adjacent to the Bay of Bengal coastlines.

Bangladesh has a history of industrial disasters. Past industrial tragedies have often been attributed to safety lapses.

Last year, a fire engulfed a food and drink factory in Bangladesh, killing at least 52 people.

In February 2019, a blaze ripped through a 400-year-old area cramped with apartments, shops and warehouses in the oldest part of Dhaka and killed at least 67 people.

In 2012, about 117 workers died when they were trapped behind locked exits in a garment factory in Dhaka. The country’s worst industrial disaster occurred the following year, when the Rana Plaza garment factory outside Dhaka collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people.

Another fire in Old Dhaka in a house illegally storing chemicals killed at least 123 people in 2010.–(PTI)

Omar Abdullah Requests MEA To Facilitate The Return Of Kashmiri Engineer’s Dead Body From Saudi Arabia

Omar Abdullah Requests MEA To Facilitate The Return Of Kashmiri Engineer’s Dead Body From Saudi Arabia

Srinagar, Mar 28: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday requested the Ministry of External Affairs India to coordinate with Saudi authorities and help expedite the return of a Kashmiri engineer who passed away in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Mustakeen Ahmad Pandit (26), son of Nazir Ahmad Pandit from Yaripora Kulgam died in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

The young man was working at ‘Al-Yamama’ Company, in Riyadh Saudi Arabia as an Engineer and reportedly died of a heart attack.

After the family of the deceased requested LG Manoj Sinha and MEA to facilitate the transportation of the body, the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah requested the same to authorities.

Omar Abdullah tagged his tweet to MEA India and wrote: “Request the Ministry of External Affairs to coordinate with Saudi authorities and help expedite the return of the body of Mustakeen Ahmad Pandit, 26-year-old Kashmiri engineer from Kulgam who passed away in Saudi Arabia yesterday.” 

Over 7,000 Russian Troops Killed Since Start Of Invasion – Ukrainian Official

Over 7,000 Russian Troops Killed Since Start Of Invasion – Ukrainian Official

Reuters 3: Over 7,000 Russian servicemen have been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while hundreds have been taken prisoner including senior officers, a military adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

A Russian army commander was taken to Belarus after being severely wounded, adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said in a televised briefing.

Chechen Leader, A Close Putin Ally, Says His Forces Have Deployed To Ukraine

Chechen Leader, A Close Putin Ally, Says His Forces Have Deployed To Ukraine

REUTERS: Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on Saturday that Chechen fighters had been deployed to Ukraine and urged Ukrainians to overthrow their government.

In a video posted online, Kadyrov boasted that Chechen units had so far suffered no losses and said Russian forces* could easily take large Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, but that their task was to avoid loss of life.

“As of today, as of this minute, we do not have one single casualty, or wounded, not a single man has even had a runny nose,” Kadyrov said, denying what he said were false reports of casualties from Ukrainian sources.

“The president (Putin) took the right decision and we will carry out his orders under any circumstances,” said Kadyrov.

Kadyrov has often described himself as Putin’s “foot soldier” and his words echoed those of the Russian leader who on Friday urged Ukrainians to rise up against their own government, which he said was made up of “neo-Nazis”. Ukrainian officials say that description of them is absurd.

Kadyrov has deployed his forces abroad to support Kremlin military operations before – in Syria and Georgia.

Kadyrov released his video as Russian forces pounded Ukrainian cities with artillery and cruise missiles on Saturday for a third day running and a defiant President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the capital Kyiv remained in Ukrainian hands.

*A short video published by the state-backed Russian news channel RT, which it said was from Friday,* showed thousands of Chechen fighters gathered in the main square of the region’s capital Grozny in a show of readiness to fight in Ukraine.

It was not immediately clear whether those fighters, who numbered some 12,000 according to RT, had already been deployed to Ukraine. RT said on Friday that they were awaiting an order from Putin to go in.

Moscow fought two bloody wars with separatists in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region in southern Russia, after the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union, but has since poured huge sums of money into the region to rebuild it and given Kadyrov a large measure of autonomy to run things.

Hajj 2022: Final Quota Announcement For Jammu And Kashmir Expected By March Ist

Hajj 2022: Final Quota Announcement For Jammu And Kashmir Expected By March Ist

Srinagar, Feb 20: The final quota of Hajj 2022 for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is expected by March 1 and that it depends on the quota whether all pilgrims registered till February 15 would perform Haj or the Haj committee would go for draws.

This was stated by the Executive Officer Hajj Committee of J&K Dr Abdul Salaam Mir said on Saturday. “The last date of submitting the forms for Hajj 2022 was February and there was no further extension. So far, 11500 applications from Jammu, Kashmir and Leh. A few hundred applications are in the pipeline that include those who have incomplete forms and invalid passports etc,” he said. Mir said that at all India level, 90,000 applications have been received so far.

Asked whether all 11500 registered Hajj pilgrims would perform Haj this year, he said it was up to the quota to be allotted to J&K and Leh. “This all depends on how much quota Saudi government would allot to India. If given quota is good, then I believe all the registered Hajj pilgrims will be allowed to proceed for the pilgrimage. But if it is less, then we will have to go for draws,” Mir said.

He said that the final announcement by the Saudi government about Hajj 2022 quota is expected by March 1. “Things will be clear by March 1,” he said.

He, however, said that it would be after two years that Haj will be allowed by the Saudi government this year. “We lost two years to pandemic—2020 and 2021. Now that Umrah is going on and pilgrims are allowed to perform Umrah and visit both holy cities of Mecca and Madina, we expect good quota,” Mir said.

The Hajj officer said that this time around, every pilgrim has to have Covid vaccination certificate. “This is mandatory as per the fresh guidelines,” he said. Pertinently, Saudi government has announced that this year annual pilgrimage of Hajj will be allowed amid strict adherence to Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB).kno

Relationship With India Stands On Its Own Merit, Not Impacted By Tensions With Russia: United States

Relationship With India Stands On Its Own Merit, Not Impacted By Tensions With Russia: United States

Jha Washington Feb 4: America’s relationship with India stands on its own merit and has not been impacted by the ongoing tension with Russia, the Biden administration has said. We have a relationship with India that stands on its own merits, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Thursday.

He was responding to a question if the US ties with India have been impacted due to the tension with Russia over Ukraine crisis. For the second time this week, the State Department spokesperson refrained from responding to questions related to India’s position on Ukraine in the United Nations Security Council.

I will leave it to our Indian partners to discuss their stance in the UN Security on this particular issue, Price said. We have been in touch with literally dozens of countries around the world, including our Indian partners, on our concerns regarding Russia’s military buildup and its unprovoked potential aggression against Ukraine, he maintained. These are conversations that the United States is having at different levels, he said.

As I was saying in a different context earlier, Russian aggression against Ukraine and a Russian invasion of Ukraine would have implications for the security environment well beyond that neighbourhood. Whether it is the PRC or India or countries around the world, the implications would be far-reaching. And I think there is a broad understanding of that, the official added. (PTI)

Number Of Jailed Journalists Reached Global High In 2021, At Least 24 Killed For Their Coverage: CPJ Report

Number Of Jailed Journalists Reached Global High In 2021, At Least 24 Killed For Their Coverage: CPJ Report

December, 9: The number of journalists worldwide who are behind bars reached a global high in 2021, according to a new report from the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists, which says that 293 reporters were imprisoned as of Dec. 1 this year. At least 24 journalists were killed because of their coverage, and 18 others died in circumstances that make it too difficult to determine whether they were targeted because of their work, the CPJ said on Thursday in its annual survey on press freedom and attacks on the media.

While the reasons for jailing reporters varies between countries, the record number reflects political upheaval around the world and growing intolerance of independent reporting, according to the U.S.-based nonprofit. “This is the sixth year in a row that CPJ has documented record numbers of journalists imprisoned around the world,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon in a statement. “The number reflects two inextricable challenges – governments are determined to control and manage information, and they are increasingly brazen in their efforts to do so.”

The journalists who were killed in 2021 include Danish Siddiqui, a Reuters photographer who died in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan in July, and Gustavo Sanchez Cabrera, who was shot and killed https://cpj.org/2021/06/mexican-reporter-gustavo-sanchez-shot-and-killed-in-oaxaca in Mexico in June. China imprisoned 50 journalists, the most of any country, followed by Myanmar (26), which arrested reporters as part of a crackdown after its Feb. 1 military coup, then Egypt (25), Vietnam (23), and Belarus (19), the CPJ said.

For the first time, the CPJ’s list includes journalists incarcerated in Hong Kong – a byproduct of the 2020 national security law, which makes anything Beijing regards as subversion, secession, terrorism, or colluding with foreign forces punishable by up to life in prison. Mexico, where journalists are often targeted when their work upsets criminal gangs or corrupt officials, remains the Western hemisphere’s deadliest country for reporters, according to the CPJ.–(Reuters)

Turkey: 10 Ambassadors From Western Countries Are No Longer Welcome

Turkey: 10 Ambassadors From Western Countries Are No Longer Welcome

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that he had told his foreign ministry to expel the ambassadors of the United States and nine other Western countries for intervening in domestic affairs

“I gave the necessary order to our foreign minister and said what must be done: These 10 ambassadors must be declared persona non grata (undesirable) at once. You will sort it out immediately,” Erdogan said in a speech in the northwestern city of Eskisehir.

“They will know and understand Turkey. The day they do not know and understand Turkey, they will leave,” he said to cheers from the crowd.

Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 240.6 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 4.89 Mn

Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 240.6 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 4.89 Mn

Washington, Oct 18: The global coronavirus caseload has topped 240.6 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 4.89 million and vaccinations soared to over 6.61 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Monday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload, death toll and the total number number of vaccine doses administered stood at 240,658,812, 4,898,374 and 6,617,433,262, respectively.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 44,933,336 and 724,317, according to the CSSE.

In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 34,067,719 cases.

The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (21,644,464), the UK (8,488,665), Russia (7,870,529), Turkey (7,630,133), France (7,189,566), Iran (5,784,815), Argentina (5,272,551), Spain (4,984,386), Colombia (4,981,532), Italy (4,717,899), Germany (4,382,019), Indonesia (4,234,758) and Mexico (3,755,063), the CSSE figures showed.

Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are Brazil (603,282), India (452,124), Mexico (284,321), Russia (219,342), Peru (199,816), Indonesia (142,952), the UK (138,997), Italy (131,541), Colombia (126,865), Iran (124,075), France (118,183) and Argentina (115,666).—(IANS)

Eastern Ladakh Standoff: India, China To Hold Military Talks On Sunday

Eastern Ladakh Standoff: India, China To Hold Military Talks On Sunday

New Delhi, Oct 9: India and China will hold another round of high-level military talks on Sunday with a focus on making some forward movement in the disengagement process in the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh, government sources said.

The talks are scheduled to start at 10:30 AM at the Moldo border point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, the sources said on Saturday.

The Indian side is expected to seek disengagement as soon as possible in the remaining friction points besides pressing for resolution of issues in Depsang Bulge and Demchok.

The 12th round of talks had taken place on July 31. Days after the talks, the two armies completed the disengagement process in Gogra, which was seen as a significant forward movement towards the restoration of peace and tranquillity in the region.

The 13th round of talks is taking place in the backdrop of two recent incidents of attempted transgressions by the Chinese troops — one in the Barahoti sector of Uttarakhand and another in the Tawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh.

Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a brief face-off near Yangtse in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh last week and it was resolved within few hours following talks between commanders of the two sides as per established protocols, people familiar with the development said on Friday.

Last month, close to 100 soldiers of China”s People”s Liberation Army (PLA) transgressed the LAC in the Barahoti sector.

The transgression took place on August 30, and the Chinese troops returned from the area after spending few hours.

Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravne on Saturday said the military build-up by China in the eastern Ladakh region and new infrastructure development to sustain the large-scale deployment are a matter of concern.

He also said if the Chinese military maintains the deployment through the second winter, then it may lead to an LoC-like situation (Line of Control) though not an active LoC as is there on the western front with Pakistan.

The Indian delegation at Sunday”s talks is to be led by Lt Gen PGK Menon, the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps.

The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 last year following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in the Gogra area in August.

In February, the two sides completed the withdrawal of troops and weapons from the north and south banks of the Pangong lake in line with an agreement on disengagement.

Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the LAC in the sensitive sector.—(PTI)

Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 229 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 4.69 Mn

Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 229 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 4.69 Mn

Washington, Sep 21: The global coronavirus caseload has topped 229 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 4.69 million and vaccinations soared to over 5.93 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Tuesday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload, death toll and vaccination tally stood at 229,031,974, 4,699,187 and 5,935,372,422, respectively.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 42,286,531 and 676,059, respectively, according to the CSSE.

In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 33,478,419 cases.

The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (21,247,667), the UK (7,500,513), Russia (7,189,445), France (7,045,422), Turkey (6,874,917), Iran (5,442,232), Argentina (5,241,394), Colombia (4,942,249), Spain (4,935,534), Italy (4,638,516), Indonesia (4,192,695), Germany (4,155,160) and Mexico (3,569,677), the CSSE figures showed.

Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are Brazil (590,955), India (445,133), Mexico (271,503), Peru (199,036), Russia (195,438), Indonesia (140,634), the UK (135,588), Italy (130,354), Colombia (125,924), Iran (117,526), France (116,759) and Argentina (114,518).—(IANS)

Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 225.7 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 4.64 Mn

Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 225.7 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 4.64 Mn

Washington, Sep 15: The global coronavirus caseload has topped 225.7 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 4.64 million and vaccinations soared to over 5.74 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Wednesday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload, death toll and vaccination tally stood at 225,763,017, 4,647,792 and 5,747,547,990, respectively.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 41,360,450 and 663,923, respectively, according to the CSSE.

In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 33,289,579 cases.

The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (21,019,830), the UK (7,316,519), Russia (7,072,825), France (7,007,374), Turkey (6,710,636), Iran (5,340,656), Argentina (5,229,848), Colombia (4,932,998), Spain (4,918,526), Italy (4,613,214), Indonesia (4,174,216), Germany (4,102,252) and Mexico (3,516,043), the CSSE figures showed.

In terms of deaths, Brazil comes second with 587,797 fatalities.

Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are India (443,213), Mexico (267,969), Peru (198,840), Russia (190,793), Indonesia (139,415), the UK (134,773), Italy (130,027), Colombia (125,713), France (116,454), Iran (115,167) and Argentina (113,816).—(IANS)

Strong Quake Hits Near Acapulco, Buildings Sway In Capital

Strong Quake Hits Near Acapulco, Buildings Sway In Capital

Mexico City, Sep 8: A powerful earthquake struck near the Pacific resort city of Acapulco on Tuesday night, causing buildings to rock and sway in Mexico City nearly 200 miles away.

The US Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 and was centred 17 kilometres (about 10 miles) northeast of Acapulco.

There were no immediate reports from the quake zone.

In Mexico City, the ground shook for nearly a minute in some parts of the capital, but was less evident in other parts. Some people evacuated their buildings briefly, but most quickly went back inside on a rainy night.

Mexico City authorities said there were no early reports of significant damage in the city, though they said electricity was knocked out in some neighbourhoods.—(AP)

India Reaches Out To Taliban,Indian Envoy Meets Senior Taliban Leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai In Doha

India Reaches Out To Taliban,Indian Envoy Meets Senior Taliban Leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai In Doha

New Delhi: In the first formal and publicly acknowledged contact, Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai on Tuesday and conveyed India’s concerns that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the discussions also focused on the safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan and the travel of Afghan nationals, especially members of minority communities to India.

The meeting took place at the Indian embassy in Doha at the request of the Taliban side and came two weeks after the outfit seized control of Kabul.

The MEA said the Taliban representative assured the ambassador that “these issues” would be positively addressed.

“Today, Ambassador of India to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of Taliban’s Political Office in Doha. The meeting took place at the Embassy of India, Doha, on the request of the Taliban side,” the MEA said in a statement.

It said the discussions focused on safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan and the travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit India also came up.

“Ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner.

People familiar with India’s ties in Afghanistan said it was the first publicly acknowledged contact between the two sides in over at least two decades.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, replying to questions during his weekly briefing in the last few months on whether India has reached out to the Taliban, has been maintaining that New Delhi is in touch with all stakeholders.

It was learnt that India had opened a channel of communication with the Taliban but it was never acknowledged officially.

The meeting between Mittal and Stanekzai took place hours after the US completed the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, ending its 20-year-long military campaign in the country.

The last American aircraft left the Kabul airport in the early hours.

On Saturday, Stanekzai, in a clear overture, described India as an important country in the region and said the Taliban wants to maintain Afghanistan’s trade, economic and political relations with it.

“We attach great importance to our trade, economic and political relations with India and want to maintain that relation,” he had said.

“We also need to keep the air trade open,” the Taliban leader was quoted as saying by Pakistani media outlet Independent Urdu.

He was referring to the air corridor between India and Afghanistan that was established to boost trade between the two countries in view of Pakistan’s denial to allow transit access.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on August 20 held talks with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani on the Afghan crisis during a stopover in Doha on his way back home from a four-day visit to the US.

Doha has been the venue for the intra-Afghan peace talks and the Gulf country has emerged as a crucial player in facilitating the Afghan peace process.

Political leaders of the Taliban have been residing in Qatar for years.

In September last year, an Indian delegation attended the inaugural ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations featuring various stakeholders including the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha. Jaishankar had joined it through a video conference.

Meanwhile, a high-level group comprising Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval and a number of other senior officials is focusing on India’s immediate priorities in Afghanistan following the drawdown of American forces from the country.

Official sources said that the group has been meeting regularly over the last few days following a direction from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

COVID-19: DGCA Extends Suspension Of International Commercial Passenger Flights Till Sep 30 2021

COVID-19: DGCA Extends Suspension Of International Commercial Passenger Flights Till Sep 30 2021

New Delhi, August 29: Amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Director-General of Civil Aviation on Sunday extended the suspension on scheduled international commercial passenger flights till September 30, 2021, said a circular by the office of DGCA.

However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on case to case basis.

This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA, the circular further said .

“In a partial modification on a circular dated June 26, 2021, the competent authority has further extended the validity of the circular issued on the subject cited above regarding Scheduled International commercial passenger service to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of 30th September 2021,” stated the DGCA circular.

“This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA. However, International Scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on case to case basis,” further stated the circular.

Earlier, the scheduled international flights were suspended until August 31, said the circular issued by the DGCA on July 30, 2021.—(ANI)

Another Attack At Kabul Airport Highly In 24-36 Hours United States President Joe Biden

Another Attack At Kabul Airport Highly In 24-36 Hours United States President Joe Biden

Aug 29 2021 Washington: President Joe Biden vowed to keep up airstrikes against the Islamic extremist group whose suicide bombing at the Kabul airport killed scores of Afghans and 13 American service members.

Another terror attack, he said, is “highly likely” this weekend as the US winds down its evacuation.

The Pentagon said the remaining contingent of US forces at the airport, now numbering fewer than 4,000, had begun their final withdrawal ahead of Biden’s deadline for ending the evacuation on Tuesday.

After getting briefed on a US drone mission in eastern Afghanistan that the Pentagon said killed two members of the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate early Saturday, Biden said the extremists can expect more.

“This strike was not the last,” Biden said in a statement. “We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay.” He paid tribute to the “bravery and selflessness” of the American troops executing the hurried airlift of tens of thousands from Kabul airport, including the 13 US service members who were killed in Thursday’s suicide bombing at an airport gate.

The evacuation proceeded as tensions rose over the prospect of another IS attack.

“Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours,” Biden said, adding that he has instructed them to take all possible measures to protect their troops, who are securing the airport and helping bring onto the airfield Americans and others desperate to escape Taliban rule.

The remains of the 13 American troops were on their way to the United States, the Pentagon said. Their voyage marked a painful moment in a nearly 20-year American war that cost more than 2,400 US military lives and is ending with the return to power of a Taliban movement that was ousted when US forces invaded in October 2001.

The remains of troops killed in action overseas are usually flown back to the US via Dover Air Base in Delaware, where fallen troops’ return to US soil is marked by a solemn movement known as the “dignified transfer.”

The White House did not say if Biden would travel to Dover for the troops’ return. Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said shortly after the attack that the president “would do everything he can to honor the sacrifice and the service” of those killed.

The Pentagon released the names of those killed; 11 Marines, one Navy sailor and one Army soldier. Twelve of them were in the 20s; some were born in 2001, the year America’s longest war began. The oldest was 31.

Another Kabul Attack Likely Before United States Leave Afghanistan Warn National Security Officials

Another Kabul Attack Likely Before United States Leave Afghanistan Warn National Security Officials

28 Aug 2021: Members of the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a Sunni Islamist militant group, wave the Taliban flags as they celebrate the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

National security officials warned US President Biden on Friday (local time) that another terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, is “likely” in the final days of the US military mission in the country.

Biden and Vice President Harris met with Pentagon officials and members of the president’s national security team one day after a suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport attributed to ISIS killed more than a dozen US service members and dozens of Afghan civilians. The Hill reported.

“They advised the president and vice president that another terror attack in Kabul is likely, but that they are taking maximum force protection measures at the Kabul airport,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing.

“They reported that even in the face of those threats, our courageous servicewomen and men are continuing to operate a historic evacuation operation,” she added.

“The US military is airlifting out thousands of people every few hours.”

“The next few days of this mission will be the most dangerous period to date,” Psaki said.

Pentagon officials had warned in the aftermath of Thursday’s bombing that another attack, including one using a car bomb or some other device, was still a possibility, The Hill reported.

US Central Command, Marine Corps General Kenneth F McKenzie Jr on Thursday (local time) said that an Islamic State terrorist attack at the Kabul airport killed 12 US troops and injured 15 more.

Four US Marines are among the 35 people who were reportedly killed in twin bomb blasts outside Kabul airport on Thursday.

The first blast was reported at the Abbey Gate in Kabul airport while the second one was near the Baron Hotel.

Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 215 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 4.48 Mn

Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 215 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 4.48 Mn

Washington, Aug 28: The global coronavirus caseload has topped 214.5 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 4.48 million and vaccinations soared to over 5.12 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Saturday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload, death toll and vaccination tally stood at 215,357,973, 4,484,434 and 5,123,427,298, respectively.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 38,700,164 and 636,667, respectively, according to the CSSE.

In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 32,603,188 cases.

The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (20,703,906), France (6,778,133), Russia (6,747,681), the UK (6,697,770), Turkey (6,311,607), Argentina (5,167,733), Colombia (4,901,163), Iran (4,869,414), Spain (4,831,809), Italy (4,517,434), Indonesia (4,056,354), Germany (3,925,190) and Mexico (3,291,761), the CSSE figures showed.

In terms of deaths, Brazil comes second with 578,326 fatalities.

Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are India (436,861), Mexico (256,287), Peru (198,031), Russia (176,904), the UK (132,566), Indonesia (130,781), Italy (129,002), Colombia (124,648), France (114,291), Argentina (111,270) and Iran (105,287).—(IANS)

United States Hits Back At ISIS-K Days After Kabul Attack, Kills Terrorists Planner In Drone Strike In Afghanistan

United States Hits Back At ISIS-K Days After Kabul Attack, Kills Terrorists Planner In Drone Strike In Afghanistan

28 Aug 2021: The US struck back at the Islamic State on Saturday bombing a member of the ISIS-K in Afghanistan, in a retaliatory airstrike days after a bombing claimed by the Islamic State killed as many as 169 Afghans and 13 American service members, news agencies reported.

According to the Pentagon, the drone strikes by the US military targeted a ‘planner’ of the IS outfit. A spokesperson for the US Central Command said the unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangahar province of Afghanistan. The initial indications hint that the target has been killed, while there have been no civilian casualties, the spokesperson said.

Evacuations Resume After Kabul Bombings As Toll Now Over 100

Evacuations Resume After Kabul Bombings As Toll Now Over 100

Kabul, Aug 27: Evacuation flights from Afghanistan resumed with new urgency on Friday, a day after two suicide bombings targeted the thousands of desperate people fleeing the Taliban takeover and killed more than 100.

The US says further attempted attacks are expected ahead of the Tuesday deadline for foreign troops to leave, ending America”s longest war.

As the call to prayer echoed through Kabul with the whine of departing planes, the anxious crowd outside the airport was as large as ever.

In one location, dozens of Taliban members with heavy weapons about 500 meters from the airport were preventing anyone from venturing forward.

Thursday”s bombings near Kabul”s international airport killed at least 95 Afghans and 13 US troops, Afghan and US officials said, in the deadliest day for US forces in Afghanistan since August 2011.

An official said Friday that the true toll could be higher because other people may have taken bodies away from the scene, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

In an emotional speech, President Joe Biden blamed the Islamic State group”s Afghanistan affiliate, far more radical than the Taliban militants who seized power less than two weeks ago.

“We will rescue the Americans; we will get our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on,” Biden said. But despite intense pressure to extend Tuesday”s deadline, he has cited the threat of terrorist attacks as a reason to keep to his plan.

The Taliban, back in control of Afghanistan two decades after they were ousted in a US-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks, insist on the deadline. The Trump administration in February 2020 struck an agreement with the Taliban that called for it to halt attacks on Americans in exchange for the removal of all US troops and contractors by May; Biden announced in April he would have them out by September.

While the US on Thursday said more than 100,000 people have been safely evacuated from Kabul, as many as 1,000 Americans and tens of thousands more Afghans are struggling to leave in one of history”s largest airlifts. Gen Frank McKenzie, the US Central Command chief overseeing the evacuation, on Thursday said about 5,000 people were awaiting flights on the airfield.

Yet more were arriving. Thursday”s attacks led Jamshad, who gave just his one name, to come early Friday with his wife and three small children, clutching an invitation to a Western country he didn”t want to name. This was his first attempt to leave, he said: “After the explosion I decided I would try because I am afraid now there will be more attacks and I think now I have to leave.”

“Believe me, I think that an explosion will happen any second or minute, God is my witness, but we have lots of challenges in our lives, that is why we take the risk to come here and we overcome fear,” said Ahmadullah Herawi, also seeking to flee.

The scenes at the airport, with people standing knee-deep in sewage and families thrusting documents and even young children toward US troops behind razor wire, have horrified many around the world as far-flung efforts continue to help people escape.

But those chances are fading fast for many. Some US allies have said they are ending evacuation efforts, in part to give the US time to wrap up its evacuation work before getting 5,000 of its troops out by Tuesday.

Britain said Friday its evacuations from Afghanistan will end within hours, and the main British processing center for eligible Afghans has been closed. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News there would be “eight or nine” evacuation flights on Friday, and they will be the last. British troops will leave over the next few days.

The Spanish government said it has ended its evacuation operation. And the French European affairs minister, Clement Beaune, said on French radio Europe 1 that France will end its evacuation operation “soon” but may seek to extend it until after Friday night.

Untold thousands of Afghans, especially ones who had worked with the U.S. and other Western countries, are now in hiding from the Taliban, fearing retaliation despite the group”s offer of full amnesty. The militant group has claimed it has become more moderate since its harsh rule from 1996 to 2001, when it largely confined women to their homes, banned television and music and held public executions.

But Afghans in Kabul and elsewhere have reported that some Taliban members are barring girls from attending school and going door to door in search of people who had worked with Western forces.

No one knows how effective the Taliban will be at combating the Sunni extremists of IS, who have links to the group”s more well-known affiliate in Syria and Iraq and have carried out a series of brutal attacks in Afghanistan, mainly targeting its Shiite Muslim minority.—(AP)

No Proof Of Osama Bin Ladin’s Role In 9/11 Attack On United States, Claims Taliban Leader Zabiullah Mujahid

No Proof Of Osama Bin Ladin’s Role In 9/11 Attack On United States, Claims Taliban Leader Zabiullah Mujahid

26 August 2021: The Taliban have claimed that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11 terror attacks on the United States, was not involved in the attacks and it was used as an excuse by the Americans to wage war on Afghanistan.

Speaking to NBC News, Taliban spokesman Zabibullah Mujahid said in an interview, “Even after 20 years of war, there is no evidence of his (Osama bin Laden) involvement (in the September 11, 2001 attacks).”

“There was no justification of this war, it was used as an excuse by the Americans for war,” said Mujahid.

Asked if the Taliban can guarantee Afghanistan will not again become a host to terrorist organisations like the al-Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban spokesperson said that they have repeatedly made promises that terrorism won’t get a safe haven on the Afghan soil.

Zabibullah Mujahid said, “When Laden became a problem for the Americans, he was in Afghanistan. But there was no proof of his involvement and we have now promised that the Afghan soil won’t be used against anyone.”

Asked about the women who are living in fear of losing their rights under the Taliban rule, Mujahid said, “We respect women, they are our sisters. They should not be afraid. The Taliban have fought for the country. The women should be proud of us, not scared.”

In the NBC interview, when asked about the thousands of Afghans who are leaving the country fearing the Taliban regime, Mujahid said, “We don’t want our countrymen to leave the country. Whatever they have done in the past, we have given them amnesty. We need our country people, the young and educated folks for the nation. But if they want to live, it’s their choice.”

Afghanistan fell to the Taliban blitz on August 15 after the Talibs swept through almost the entire nation. Thousands of desperate Afghans have since been trying to flee the country and are waiting outside the Kabul airport.

Afghan Woman Gives Birth To Baby Girl On United States Military Plane In Germany

Afghan Woman Gives Birth To Baby Girl On United States Military Plane In Germany

August 23: Berlin: An Afghan woman gave birth to a baby girl on a US military plane shortly after arriving on an evacuation flight to Germany, the US Air Force tweeted.

During the flight from a staging base in the Middle East, the woman went into labour and began to experience complications, it said.

“The aircraft commander decided to descend in altitude to increase air pressure in the aircraft, which helped stabilise and save the mother’s life,” the US Air Mobility Command said later on Twitter.

Immediately on landing at the Ramstein base, US military medics helped the woman deliver her baby in the cargo hold of the plane.

Mother and child were then transferred to a nearby medical facility “and are in good condition”, it said.

Footage released by the US military showed the mother lying on a stretcher being carried off the plane by US soldiers at the base in southwest Germany.

A week after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, evacuation operations from foreign countries continue under extreme conditions marked by scenes of panic and desperation at Kabul airport.

Since 14 August, about 17,000 people have been evacuated by the US, including 2,500 Americans, the US government said earlier.

The US got the green light from Berlin for some of the evacuees to be directed to Germany, where it has a number of bases.

About 1,150 people landed at the Ramstein base on Saturday, from where they are expected to depart for the United States within days, a base spokesman said.

United Kingdom Will Work With Taliban If Necessary: Boris Johnson

United Kingdom Will Work With Taliban If Necessary: Boris Johnson

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK’s diplomatic efforts to find a solution in Afghanistan remain ongoing, which leaves open the prospect of working with the Taliban “if necessary”.

Speaking to the media after an emergency Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBRA) meeting to discuss the crisis in the region on Friday, Johnson said “formidable” challenges remain around the evacuation of British nationals and supporters from Kabul airport but the situation was getting “slightly better”.

“What I want to assure people is that our political and diplomatic efforts to find a solution for Afghanistan, working with the Taliban, of course if necessary, will go on and our commitment to Afghanistan is lasting,” Johnson said.

“The situation is getting slightly better and we are seeing a stablisation at the airport. So yesterday [Thursday] we were able to get out about 1,000 people and today [Friday] another 1,000 people; a lot of those UK eligible persons coming back to this country and a lot of them people coming back under the Afghanistan Resettlement and Assistance Programme (ARAP) interpreters and others to whom we owe debts of gratitude and honour,” he said, adding that the operation will continue at a fast pace.

“So the operation is becoming faster, but I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy. The logistical challenges are formidable and they are doing an outstanding job in very difficult circumstances,” he said.

Johnson also defended his Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, who has come under fire from the Opposition over a missed phone call with his Afghan counterpart in the now fallen Ashraf Ghani government at the peak of the crisis last weekend.

Pressed on whether he believed suggestions from the new Taliban regime in charge that it may be more moderate in the future, Johnson said that it was important to take “people at face value”.

“We hope they mean what they say. But again, as I said in the House of Commons, and I think that this is the position of everybody from the President of the United States, President Macron of France, [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel, everybody that I talked to everybody is agreed that we will judge them on their actions, and that is the important thing,” he said.

Since last Saturday, the UK says has evacuated 1,615 people, including 399 British nationals and their dependants, 320 embassy staff, and 402 Afghan nationals who worked for the UK government in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the government has announced 5 million pounds for local councils in England, Scotland and Wales offering to house Afghans who have arrived under the ARAP programme.

Under the scheme, Afghans who face threats from the Taliban having worked for the UK in Afghanistan, have been allowed to come to Britain. PTI

Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 211.3 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 4.42 Mn

Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 211.3 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 4.42 Mn

Washington, Aug 22: The global coronavirus caseload has topped 211.3 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 4.42 million and vaccinations soared to over 4.89 billion, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Sunday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload, death toll and vaccination tally stood at 211,304,126, 4,422,259 and 4,898,302,934, respectively.

The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 37,667,889 and 628,276, respectively, according to the CSSE.

In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 32,393,286 cases.

The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (20,556,487), Russia (6,633,521), France (6,682,952), the UK (6,491,529), Turkey (6,177,660), Argentina (5,130,852), Colombia (4,883,932), Spain (4,770,453), Iran (4,640,695), Italy (4,478,691), Indonesia (3,967,048), Germany (3,870,095) and Mexico (3,197,108), the CSSE figures showed.

In terms of deaths, Brazil comes second with 574,209 fatalities.

Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are India (433,964), Mexico (252,080), Peru (197,752), Russia (172,257), the UK (131,909), Italy (128,728), Indonesia (125,342), Colombia (124,023), France (113,472), Argentina (110,217) and Iran (101,354).—(IANS)

Ashraf Ghani Is A Total Crook, Never Had Full Confidence In Him: Donald Trump

Ashraf Ghani Is A Total Crook, Never Had Full Confidence In Him: Donald Trump

AUG 20: Former United States president Donald Trump, who has emerged as one of the strongest critics of the current US administration over the worsening situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover, hit out at former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani.

Ghani, who fled Afghanistan on August 15 after the Taliban took over the capital city of Kabul, has been facing global criticism for abandoning the people of his country.

A slew of allegations has surfaced against him, including fleeing Kabul with four cars and a helicopter full of cash and stealing $169 million from state coffers.

Donald Trump, who was giving an interview to Fox News on Tuesday night, said he “never had full confidence in Ashraf Ghani”. “I said that openly and plainly I thought he was a total crook.

He spent all his time wining and dining our senators,” Trump said, adding the senators were always in Ghani’s pockets.

The Republican leader accused Ghani of getting away with murder in many, many different ways. However, he didn’t elaborate on what these ways were.

Trump also echoed the above allegations against Ghani and said that he suspected that the former Afghan president did leave Kabul on Sunday with cash.

Meanwhile, Ashraf Ghani, who is currently in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with his family on ‘humanitarian grounds’, said that he is currently in talks to come back home. Releasing a video statement on Wednesday, Ghani said he was forced to leave Afghanistan “with one set of traditional clothes, a vest and the sandals”, adding he also left the country in an attempt to avoid bloodshed.

The former president also dismissed allegations of fleeing Kabul with suitcases full of cash by calling them baseless. “Do not believe whoever tells you that your president sold you out and fled for his own advantage and to save his own life,” he said in the video statement.