Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 175.5 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 3.79 Mn
Washington, June 13: The overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 175.5 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 3.79 million, 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 and death toll stood at 175,567,564 and 3,791,126, respectively.
The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 33,457,378 and 599,664, respectively, according to the CSSE.
In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 29,359,155 cases.
The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (17,374,818), France (5,799,459), Turkey (5,325,435), Russia (5,133,938), the UK (4,574,445), Italy (4,243,482), Argentina (4,111,147), Spain (3,733,600), Colombia (3,724,705), Germany (3,722,295) and Iran (3,020,522), the CSSE figures showed.
In terms of deaths, Brazil comes second with 486,272 fatalities.
Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are India (367,081), Mexico (230,097), the UK (128,160), Italy (126,976), Russia (123,961) and France (110,540).—(IANS)
China’s Aggressive Behaviour Can Spark Crisis: United States
Describing China as a pacing challenge, United States Defence Secretary Llyod Austin said Beijing’s “aggressive behaviour” in the Indo-Pacific could spark a crisis in the region.
Responding to questions from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on the annual budget of the Pentagon, he stressed on having a direct line of communication between the militaries and also between government officials.
As we look at some of the aggressive behaviour that we have witnessed from China in the Indo-Pacific, I’m concerned about something that could happen that could spark a crisis,” Austin said on Thursday.
“We need the ability to be able to talk with our allies and partners and also with our adversaries or potential adversaries. So, I think there needs to be a direct line of communication between the military and also between government officials as well,” the defence secretary said.
Austin described the US’ relationship with China currently as one of competition.
“They desire to be the preeminent country on the planet. Their mid to long-term goal is to do that. They look to compete with us, not only militarily but across a spectrum of activity,” he said.
“What you see us doing, the military and other sectors in our government, is making sure that we remain competitive, economically; making sure that we continue to develop the best scientists in the world and the most comprehensive research. So it is a competition across a broad spectrum of activity,” Austin said.
During the Senatorial hearing, Senator Angus King said that he believed one of the “most serious risks the US faces today is an accidental conflict with China”, of some kind of conflict in the South China Sea, the Strait of Taiwan, and the danger of escalation from that accidental conflict of some kind.
“It’s concerning to me that we don’t seem to have an effective hotline with China. I understand the Chinese are reluctant about this, but I believe this should be a national security priority,” King said.
Austin described China as a pacing challenge for the United States.
“China is our pacing challenge. So we’ve really weighted our main effort there to the Indo-Pacific region. My first trip overseas was out to the region, along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. We visited South Korea, Japan, and India as well,” he said.
“We truly value the importance of strong relationships with our allies and partners. I think there’s a great capacity that can be leveraged there. So, in some areas through those partnerships, while still strong, we will remain focused on that,” he said.
Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 174.7 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 3.76 Mn
Washington, June 11: The overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 174.7 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 3.76 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
In its latest update on Friday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 174,759,974 and 3,769,088, respectively.
The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 33,427,481 and 598,728, respectively, according to the CSSE.
In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 29,183,121 cases.
The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (17,210,969), France (5,791,608), Turkey (5,313,098), Russia (5,108,217), the UK (4,558,926), Italy (4,239,868), Argentina (4,066,156), Spain (3,729,458), Germany (3,718,617) and Colombia (3,665,137), the CSSE figures showed.
In terms of deaths, Brazil comes second with 482,019 fatalities.
Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are India (359,676), Mexico (229,580), the UK (128,131), Italy (126,855), Russia (123,178) and France (110,432).—(IANS)
Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 174.3 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 3.75 Mn
Washington, June 10: The overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 174.3 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 3.75 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
In its latest update on Thursday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 174,311,218 and 3,754,914, respectively.
The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 33,413,999 and 598,760, respectively, according to the CSSE.
In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 29,089,069 cases.
The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (17,122,877), France (5,787,125), Turkey (5,306,690), Russia (5,096,657), the UK (4,551,687), Italy (4,237,790), Argentina (4,038,528), Germany (3,715,870), Spain (3,715,454) and Colombia (3,633,481), the CSSE figures showed.
In terms of deaths, Brazil comes second with 479,515 fatalities.
Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are India (353,528), Mexico (229,100), the UK (128,124), Italy (126,767), Russia (122,802) and France (110,364).—(IANS)
Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 173.1 Mn Deaths Surge To More Than 3.72 Mn
Washington, June 7: The overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 173.1 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 3.72 million, 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 and death toll stood at 173,197,944 and 3,726,107, respectively.
The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 33,362,471 and 597,627, respectively, according to the CSSE.
In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 28,809,339 cases.
The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (16,947,062), France (5,774,361), Turkey (5,287,980), Russia (5,067,246), the UK (4,532,802), Italy (4,232,428), Argentina (3,955,439), Germany (3,708,782), Spain (3,697,981) and Colombia (3,571,067), the CSSE figures showed.
In terms of deaths, Brazil comes second with 473,404 fatalities.
Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are India (346,759), Mexico (228,754), the UK (128,173), Italy (126,523), Russia (121,171) and France (110,160).—(IANS)
Door To Door Distribution Of Essential Food Items By Co-ordinator Of Kushwaha Relief Collection Gunananda Mahato
Coordinator Gunananda Mahato at the door to distribute food items With Mulnara saying, “If you can help, stay safe at home.” A team including Gunananda Mahato, coordinator of Kushwaha Relief Collection and Distribution Campaign, has distributed food items to poor and vulnerable families of Wada Nos. 1, 5 and 12 of Biratnagar today.
The locals are very happy to get food items like rice, pulses, salt and oil. Kushwaha Relief Collection Maha Abhiyan member and Maha Abhiyan Ram Narayan informed with hard work. Our great campaign continues. If the time of detention is extended, we will bring relief materials again. If you have any problem, stay calm. Inform us immediately. Maintain social distance.
According to Bablu Mehta, another member of Maha Abhiyan and Maha Abhiyan, we had distributed health items in the first phase and from today in the second phase.He said that food items have been provided in the campaign. Gunananda Mahato, coordinator of Kushwaha Relief Collection and Distribution Campaign, informed that all preparations have been made to distribute food items to the poor and needy families of all the wards of the metropolis.
Mangal Mahato, a senior member of Maha Abhiyan, requested all the supportive hands to come from their places and help to make Maha Abhiyan a success.
Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 172 Mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 3.69 Mn
Washington, June 4: The overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 172 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 3.69 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
In its latest update on Friday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 172,005,004 and 3,698,128, respectively.
The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 33,325,514 and 596,395, respectively, according to the CSSE.
In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 28,441,986 cases.
The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (16,803,472), France (5,755,554), Turkey (5,270,299), Russia (5,040,390), the UK (4,515,778), Italy (4,225,163), Argentina (3,884,447), Germany (3,701,692), Spain (3,687,762) and Colombia (3,488,046), the CSSE figures showed.
In terms of deaths, Brazil comes second with 469,388 fatalities.
Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are India (337,989), Mexico (228,146), the UK (128,075), Italy (126,342), Russia (120,604) and France (109,990).—(IANS)
United States Troop Withdrawal From Afghan 30-44 Percent Complete: CENTCOM
Washington, Jun 2: The US Central Command has said that an estimated 30 to 44 per cent of American troops have been withdrawn from Afghanistan until last month, inching closer to achieve President Joe Biden’s ambitious target of 100 per cent removal of its military from the war-torn country by September 11 this year.
The US has also officially handed over six facilities to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defence, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in an update on the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan till May 31.
“US Central Command estimates that we have completed between 30-44 per cent of the entire retrograde process,” it said on Tuesday.
President Biden in April announced that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11 this year, thus bringing to end the country”s longest war, spanning across two decades.
Since the President”s decision, the Department of Defence has retrograded the equivalent of approximately 300 C-17 loads of material out of Afghanistan and have turned nearly 13,000 pieces of equipment to the Defence Logistics Agency for disposition, CENTCOM said.
The US and the Taliban signed a landmark deal in Doha on February 29, 2020 to bring lasting peace in war-torn Afghanistan and allow US troops to return home from America”s longest war.
Under the US-Taliban pact, the US has agreed to withdraw all its soldiers from Afghanistan in 14 months.
There are currently 2,500 American troops left in Afghanistan, the lowest level of American forces in the war-torn country since 2001.
Since the US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban after the September 11, 2001 attacks, America has spent more than USD 1 trillion in fighting and rebuilding in Afghanistan.
About 2,400 US soldiers have been killed, along with tens of thousands of Afghan troops, Taliban insurgents and Afghan civilians.—(PTI)
Saudi Arabia Lifts Travel Ban From 11 Countries Excluding Pakistan
Riyadh, May 30: Excluding Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has allowed people from 11 countries to travel to the middle eastern country as it lifted travel ban from Sunday that was imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, Gulf News reported.
Citing people familiar with the development, Saudi Newspaper said that the travel ban will be lifted from 11 countries starting 1 am on Sunday (local time). The travelers from these countries will, however, be required to go through institutional quarantine.
Travelers from the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the United States, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Japan, will be allowed entry from Sunday.
“Due to stability in the epidemiological scene and effective pandemic-controlling efforts in those countries, Saudi Arabia has decided to allow travelers coming from the 11 countries, starting from Sunday 1 am, Gulf News reported quoting an official source at the Saudi Interior Ministry.
International passengers coming into Saudi Arabia are all required to undergo a seven-day mandatory quarantine period at their own expense, starting from the day of arrival, at one of the kingdom’s quarantine facilities the publication reported.
On the seventh day, they must take a PCR test, after which they will be allowed to leave quarantine if its comes back negative.
In February, Saudi Arabia temporarily halted flights with several countries, exempting Saudis, diplomats and health workers from the ban.
The 20 countries on the ban list were Argentina, the UAE, France, Germany, the US, Indonesia, India, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, the Swiss Confederation, Lebanon, and Egypt.—(ANI)
One Dies Another Sustains Injuries In Electrocution Incident In Budgam Central Kashmir
Srinagar, May 22: A 48-year-old worker has died and his colleague having sustained injuries in an electrocution incident in Sonpah area of Beerwah in central-Kashmir’s Budgam district on Saturday morning.
Reports reaching said that the duo, working in a joinery mill, was doing some renovation work at the enterprise when a tin sheet they were holding touched a high-tension wire. In the incident one worker identified as Farooq Ahmad Najar (48) son of Mohammad Sadiq a resident of Bonn Zanigam Beerwah and Ghulam Mohmmad (56) son of Mohammad Sideeq a resident of Khatrila Najan, Beerwah sustained injuries.
The duo was immediately evacuated to hospital, however the 48-year-old Farooq Ahmad Najar succumbed to his critical injuries on way.
The injured has been referred to Srinagar for advanced treatment, where his condition is said to be stable, on filing of this report.
Meanwhile a police official has confirmed the incident and said that a team is being sent to the spot to assess the cause of incident. (GNS)
Global Covid-19 Caseload Tops 165.8mn, Deaths Surge To More Than 3.43 mn
Washington, May 22: The overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 165.8 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 3.43 million, 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 and death toll stood at 165,862,407 and 3,438,086, respectively.
The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 33,084,897 and 589,223, respectively, according to the CSSE.
In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 26,031,991 cases.
The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (15,970,949), France (5,979,369), Turkey (5,169,951), Russia (4,926,717), the UK (4,473,772), Italy (4,183,476), Germany (3,646,600), Spain (3,636,453), Argentina (3,482,512) and Colombia (3,192,050), the CSSE figures showed.
In terms of deaths, Brazil comes second with 446,309 fatalities.
Nations with a death toll of over 100,000 are India (291,331), Mexico (220,493), the UK (127,972), Italy (125,028), Russia (115,764) and France (108,343).—(IANS)
Saudi King Affirms Continuous Efforts To Support Palestine
RIYADH: Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi affirmed on Friday his country’s continuous efforts to support Palestine, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The king made the remarks during a phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during which Abbas expressed the appreciation for the support of the Saudi government through international, Islamic, and Arab organizations.
Meanwhile, the Saudi foreign ministry welcomed in a statement on Friday the declaration of a ceasefire in the Gaza strip, expressing its appreciation for the efforts of Egypt and international organizations in this regard.—(Xinhua)
Gaza Death Toll In Israeli Attacks Rises To 248, Including 66 Children
JERUSALEM, May 22: The death toll from the Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip which ended after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas has risen to 248, including 66 children and 39 women, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
At least 1,948 people have been injured, the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement regarding the loss of lives in the 11-day attacks of Israel.
The search and rescue activities of the civil defense and medical teams in Gaza gained momentum following a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian resistance group, which took effect at 2 a.m. Friday (2300GMT Thursday).
The Egyptian-brokered truce came after 11 days of Israeli airstrikes on the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military has staged airstrikes across the Gaza Strip since May 10, leaving behind a massive trail of destruction across the seaside territory.—(Anadolu Agency)
Israeli Airstrikes Kill 6, Level Large Family Home In Gaza
Gaza City, May 19: Israeli airstrikes killed at least six people across the Gaza Strip and destroyed the home of a large extended family early on Wednesday.
The military said it widened its strikes on militant targets to the south amid continuing rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled territory.
Residents surveyed the piles of bricks, concrete and other debris that had once been the home of 40 members of al-Astal family. They said a warning missile struck the building in the southern town of Khan Younis five minutes before the airstrike, allowing everyone to escape.
The Israeli military said it struck militant targets around the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah, with 52 aircraft hitting 40 underground targets over a period of 25 minutes. Gaza”s Health Ministry said a woman was killed and eight people were wounded in those strikes.
Hamas-run Al-Aqsa radio said one of its reporters was killed in an airstrike in Gaza City.
Doctors at the Shifa hospital said his was among five bodies brought in early Wednesday. The fatalities included two people killed when warning missiles crashed into their apartment.
The latest strikes came as diplomatic efforts aimed at a cease-fire gathered strength and Gaza”s infrastructure, already weakened by a 14-year blockade, rapidly deteriorated. The Palestinian territory is ruled by Hamas, an Islamic militant group.
US officials said the Biden administration was privately encouraging Israel to wind down its bombardment of Gaza.
Egyptian negotiators also were working to halt the fighting, and while they have not made progress with Israel, they were optimistic international pressure would force it to the table, according to an Egyptian diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing diplomatic efforts.
The fighting began May 10 when Hamas fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem in support of Palestinian protests against Israel”s heavy-handed policing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint site sacred to Jews and Muslims, and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers.
At least 219 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes, including 63 children and 36 women, with 1,530 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not break the numbers down into fighters and civilians. Hamas and Islamic Jihad say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed, while Israel says the number is at least 130.
Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy, have been killed in rocket attacks so far.
A rocket attack on Tuesday near Gaza killed two Thai workers and wounded another seven. The Israeli military said rockets also were fired at the Erez pedestrian crossing and at the Kerem Shalom crossing, where humanitarian aid was being brought into Gaza, forcing both to close. It said a soldier was slightly wounded at Erez.
The Israeli military has launched hundreds of airstrikes it says are targeting Hamas” militant infrastructure, while Palestinian militants have fired more than 3,700 rockets at Israel, with some 550 falling short. Israel says its air defenses have a 90 per cent interception rate.
Medical supplies, fuel and water are running low in Gaza, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians and has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Some 47,000 Palestinians have fled their homes.
Israeli attacks have damaged at least 18 hospitals and clinics and destroyed one health facility, the World Health Organization said. Nearly half of all essential drugs have run out.
The Gaza Health Ministry said it had salvaged coronavirus vaccines after shrapnel from an Israeli airstrike damaged the territory”s only testing facility, which also administered hundreds of vaccines. The medical operation was relocated to another clinic. (AP)
Seven Killed, Over 230 Injured After 2 Tornados Strike Chinese Cities
Beijing, May 15: Two powerful tornadoes walloped the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Suzhou, killing at least seven people and injuring 239 others, state-media reported on Saturday.
Six people were killed and 218 others injured after a tornado, packing winds of 23.9 meters per second, ripped through the Caidian District of Wuhan at 8:39 p.m on Friday, toppling some construction site sheds and snapping a large number of trees, the Xinhua news agency reported.
According to an initial investigation by local authorities on Saturday morning, 27 houses collapsed. Two tower cranes and 8,000 square meters of construction site sheds also were damaged.
Another tornado hit Shengze Town, under the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province in which one person was killed and 21 others injured.
The tornado around 7 p.m. on Friday also damaged electricity facilities and toppled several factory buildings, the Xinhua report said.
The tornados came as a surprise to the locals as it is quite rare in the region.—(PTI)
UN Chief Calls For Unified Security Council Over Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
New York, May 15: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for a unified Security Council over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and regretted the lack of multilateralism.
Asked what the secretary-general expects from Sunday’s emergency meeting of the Security Council on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian escalation, Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “What we would like to see is … a strong, unified voice for de-escalation, for a cessation of hostilities and a push to get the parties back on track to find a political solution to this conflict that has been going on and on and on.”
Asked for the secretary-general’s comment on the fact that one single Security Council member blocked the proposal for a Friday meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just days after all council members pledged support for multilateralism, Dujarric said Guterres is concerned about the state of multilateralism “as we’ve seen it during the pandemic and as we’ve seen it in other aspects.”
“We would like to see member states put to action the ideals that we all have to live up to within this organization,” he added.
With regard to the Security Council, he said the more unified the council is, the stronger its voice and the stronger its impact.
The Security Council on May 7 held a high-level debate on the need to uphold multilateralism and all council members came out in support of it. Yet days later, the United States, an ally of Israel, blocked the proposal for a Friday Security Council meeting, according to diplomats. The Security Council later agreed on such a meeting on Sunday.—(ANI/Xinhua)
Death Toll Rises To 144 From Israeli Attacks On Gaza
JERUSALEM: Israeli attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip killed eight more Palestinians early Saturday, taking the death toll to 144, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
Six children and two women were killed by Israeli forces in the latest attack against a residential house.
The sole survivor was a 2-month-old baby, said Health authorities in Gaza who stated that a “massacre” was not adequate to describe what happened.
Meanwhile, Hamas’ military wing, the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, announced that Ashdod, Beersheba, was hit by rockets in response to an attack on a house in the Al-Shati refugee camp and to avenge Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank.
Three Palestinians, including two siblings, were killed in late-night attacks by Israeli war jets on the Tel Kuleybu area in northern Gaza.
Total fatalities in Gaza includes 37 children and 22 women, while the number injured exceeds 950 since Monday, said a statement from the ministry.
Israeli forces carried out nearly 30 airstrikes between Friday evening and Saturday morning targeting northern Gaza.
The Kuleybu Mosque was completely destroyed in an attack, Gaza’s Ministry of Foundations and Religious Affairs said in a statement.
Before that attack, Israel killed seven civilians, including five children and two women.
Witnesses said the bodies were taken to Shifa hospital after the bombing of a house belonging to the Abu Hatab family in the Al-Shati refugee camp.
A search for missing people under the rubble is underway, they said.
Israeli warplanes resumed airstrikes Friday on the blockaded Gaza Strip, causing heavy damage to residential buildings across the enclave.
Meanwhile, 11 Palestinians were killed Friday as Israeli forces clashed with demonstrators to disperse rallies in parts of the West Bank.
Also, Lebanese authorities announced that a Lebanese youth was killed when Israeli artillery fire targeted protesters along the Israeli security fence in the south of the country.
Tensions have been running high in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Damascus Gate since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan as Israeli forces and settlers assaulted Palestinians.
Tensions moved from East Jerusalem to Gaza after Palestinian resistance groups there vowed to retaliate against Israeli assaults on Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah if they were not halted.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.—(Anadolu Agency)
US Blocks Friday UN Security Council Meeting On Gaza, Israel
WASHINGTON, May 14: The US blocked a public virtual meeting of the UN Security Council to address the escalating conflict in the Gaza Strip and Israel, diplomats familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The open meeting was requested by China, Tunisia and Norway to be held Friday, but the US said “an open meeting tomorrow will not support these de-escalatory efforts,” diplomats told Anadolu Agency.
Instead, the US proposed an open debate on Tuesday, according to the diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The US blocked a Security Council statement on Wednesday regarding the spiraling violence as Israel continues to pound densely-populated Gaza with airstrikes amid continued rocket attacks from Palestinian groups.
The nixed statement followed a second council briefing from UN Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Peace Tor Wennesland.
It “expressed deep concern about the latest situation in Gaza, and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities,” and further “expressed concern about the tensions and violence in East Jerusalem, especially in and around the holy sites.”
“Council members demanded immediate cessation of all acts of violence, provocation, incitement and destruction. They called for respect for international law, including international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians,” it said.
The death toll from Israel’s continuing offensive on Gaza has left 103 dead, including 27 children and 11 women, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. An additional 580 people have been injured.
Seven Israelis have been killed in recent violence — six in rocket attacks in addition to a soldier who was killed when an anti-tank guided missile struck his jeep.
Tensions have been running high in the Sheikh Jarrah area in occupied East Jerusalem over the past month as Israeli settlers have repeatedly clashed with residents following a court order for the eviction of Palestinian families in the area. The Israeli Supreme Court later delayed a hearing on an appeal.
Palestinians protesting in solidarity with residents of Sheikh Jarrah have also been targeted by Israeli forces and settler groups.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980 — a move that has never been recognized by the international community.—(Anadolu Agency)
Car Bombing At Afghan School In Kabul Kills 55, Injures Over 150
KABUL Explosions caused by a car bomb and mortars outside a school in the Afghan capital Kabul killed at least 55 people and wounded over 150, mostly female students, officials said, in an attack President Ashraf Ghani blamed on Taliban insurgents.
A senior security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that most of the casualties were students coming out of the Sayed ul Shuhada school, and many were badly wounded in hospital.
Footage on TV channel ToloNews showed chaotic scenes, with books and school bags strewn across a bloodstained road, and residents rushing to help victims.
“It was a car bomb blast that occurred in front of the school entrance,” an eyewitness told Reuters, asking not to be named. He said all but seven or eight of the victims were schoolgirls going home after finishing their studies.
At the Sayed ul Shuhada high school, girls and boys study in three shifts, the second of which is for female students, Najiba Arian, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education, told Reuters. The wounded were mostly female students, she said.
A spokesman for the interior ministry, Tariq Arian, said the death toll was at least 30 with 52 injured.
SONS AND DAUGHTERS
At a nearby hospital, staff wheeled in injured students while dozens of distressed relatives searched for their sons and daughters, according to a Reuters witness.
“I do not know what country we are in … We want peace and security,” a grieving relative of one of the victims told Reuters.
Kabul has been on high alert since Washington announced plans last month to pull out all U.S. troops by Sept. 11, with Afghan officials saying the Taliban have stepped up attacks across the country following the announcement.
No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied the group was involved and condemned the incident.
Although Ghani blamed the Taliban, Saturday’s explosions were in a heavily Shi’ite Muslim neighbourhood that has faced brutal attacks by Islamic State militants over the years, including one on a maternity ward almost exactly a year ago.
Ghani said: “The Taliban, by escalating their illegitimate war and violence, have once again shown that they are not only reluctant to resolve the current crisis peacefully and fundamentally, but are complicating the situation.”
Washington’s top diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, condemned the attack in a post on Twitter: “With scores murdered, this unforgivable attack on children is an assault on Afghanistan’s future, which cannot stand.”
The Taliban and United States last year signed an agreement to end the 20-year war, which started with U.S. and allied forces invading Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States by al Qaeda, whose leader, Osama bin Laden, was being given shelter by the Taliban government.
Under the agreement, Washington was to pull out troops in exchange for Taliban security guarantees and for the group to start peace talks with the Afghan government. Talks began last year but have since stalled.
Taliban attacks on foreign forces have largely ceased, but they continue to target government forces. A number of journalists, activists and academics have also been killed in attacks blamed on the Taliban, who deny involvement.
Neighbouring Pakistan, which has considerable influence over the Taliban and is pushing them to restart peace talks and agree to a ceasefire, also condemned the attack.
Last month, Washington said it was pushing back the troop withdrawal deadline from May 1 to Sept. 11, which the Taliban warned could have consequences for the agreement.(Reuters)
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan Vow To Reset Ties Strained Over Kashmir Issue
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and longstanding ally Pakistan signed several agreements and vowed to reset ties strained by months of disagreement over policy on the Kashmir dispute.
On his seventh visit to the wealthy kingdom since his 2018 election, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was given a warm welcome by Saudi officials in the western coastal city of Jeddah.
He was greeted by Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the airport, before holding talks with Saudi officials at Jeddah’s Al-Salam Palace.
“They affirmed the depth of relations between the two brotherly countries and underscored the importance of expanding and intensifying aspects of bilateral cooperation and coordination,” a Saudi statement said.
Although the kingdom was the first foreign country Khan visited after taking office, Riyadh appeared frustrated with Islamabad last year.
In a sharply worded statement in August, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called on the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to convene a high-level meeting on Kashmir.
The call raised eyebrows in Riyadh, where it was widely seen as a warning that Pakistan was preparing to call for a session outside OIC auspices.
Saudi Arabia prides itself on its role as guardian of Islam’s holiest sites and is particularly sensitive about any move that might undermine its leadership of the 57-member pan-Islamic body.
And while the wealthy nation has supported Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid and loans in recent years, observers say the kingdom is also keen not to upset India, a key business partner and importer of Saudi oil.
The kingdom recalled $1 billion of a $3 billion loan to cash-strapped Pakistan, and an expired multi-billion-dollar oil credit facility to Islamabad has not been renewed, a diplomatic source told AFP in September.
Prior to that, Pakistan rebuffed calls to send ground troops to support the troubled Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen’s Huthi rebels.
– ‘Exceptional cordiality’ –
But Khan’s visit appeared to have restored cooperation between the two Islamic countries that are both heavily engaged in the “war on terror” which requires effective intelligence sharing.
“The two sides stressed the need for concerted efforts by the Islamic world to confront extremism and violence, and reject sectarianism,” the Saudi statement said.
The official Saudi Press Agency said the two sides signed agreements addressing the treatment of criminals, and crime.
They also agreed two memorandums of understanding on combating drug trafficking, and on financing energy, water and infrastructure projects.
The two countries also agreed to establish a Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council (SPSCC).
“During the meeting, it was agreed to further strengthen, deepen and diversify the existing bilateral political, economic, trade, defence and security ties,” a Pakistani statement said.
“The talks were marked by exceptional cordiality and a commitment to fortify the upward trajectory in the bilateral relationship,” it added.
– Saudi-Iran moves –
Pakistan has close links with Saudi Arabia, with more than 2.5 million of its nationals living and working in the kingdom, but it also maintains close ties with Iran and represents Tehran’s consular interests in the United States.
For decades, Pakistan has tried to balance its strong relationship with Saudi Arabia and its ties with Iran, with which it shares a near 1,000-kilometre (625-mile) border.
In 2019, Khan travelled between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to calm animosities between the rival Muslim powers.
His visit to Jeddah comes as Saudi Arabia and Iran hold secret talks in Iraq, the first significant effort to defuse tensions since the regional powers cut ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters, infuriated over the kingdom’s execution of a Shiite cleric, attacked Saudi diplomatic missions.
“The prime minister of Pakistan’s visit to Saudi Arabia is an important milestone in bilateral relations,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan tweeted Saturday.
“The kingdom is keen to further strengthen relations between the brotherly countries as well as enable broader economic cooperation.”—(AFP)
Clashes, Prayers In Jerusalem on Muslim Laylat Al-Qadr
Jerusalem, May 9: Clashes erupted between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police outside the Old City of Jerusalem on Saturday as tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers prayed at the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque on Islam’s holy night of Laylat al-Qadr.
Palestinian youth threw stones, lit fires and tore down police barricades in the streets leading to the walled Old City gates as officers on horseback and in riot gear used stun grenades and water cannons to repel them.
At least 53 people were injured, the Palestine Red Crescent said. Israeli police said at least one officer was hurt.
Tensions have mounted in the city throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, amid growing anger over the potential eviction of Palestinians from Jerusalem homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers.
In the Palestinian Gaza Strip, hundreds of protesters gathered along the border with Israel. The Israeli military said the crowds threw burning tyres and firecrackers toward the troops.
“We salute the ppl. of Al-Aqsa, who oppose the arrogance of the Zionists & we call on our ppl. in Palestine to support their brothers by all means,” Moussa Abu Marzouk, a leader of the armed Islamist group Hamas that rules Gaza, said on Twitter.
Israel said it was beefing up security forces on Saturday in anticipation of further confrontations in Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and Gaza after fierce clashes erupted the previous night at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
A Palestinian official said Egypt was mediating between the sides to prevent further escalation and Saturday’s violence appeared less pronounced than Friday’s events.
On Friday, police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades towards rock-hurling Palestinian youths at the mosque on the Noble Sanctuary/Temple Mount plaza holy to both Muslims and Jews.
At least 205 Palestinians and 18 Israeli officers were injured in Friday’s confrontations, which drew international condemnations and calls for calm.
Clashes have erupted nightly in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah – a neighbourhood where numerous Palestinian families face eviction in a long-running legal case. Police said dozens of protesters threw stones at officers there on Saturday.
Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai said extra officers were being deployed in Jerusalem on Saturday to “enable freedom of worship and maintain order and security.”
“At the same time, we will not allow violent riots, lawbreaking or the harming of police officers. We ask everyone to calm the spirits and violence, particularly on such an important day for the Muslim religion,” Shabtai said in a statement.
The Israeli military said it was boosting troops in the West Bank and near the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians have sent incendiary balloons over the border, igniting brushfires in Israeli territory. A military spokesman said extra forces there would largely be firefighting ones.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that law and order would be maintained in Jerusalem as would the right to worship.
Television footage showed buses of Muslim worshippers heading from Israeli Arab cities to Al-Aqsa being stopped by police on the main highway to Jerusalem.
Word of the roadblock spread on social media, drawing hundreds of young men from nearby Arab villages and from Jerusalem.
Dozens drove their cars the wrong way down the now-empty Jerusalem-bound lanes, picking up fellow Muslims who had abandoned their own vehicles to start the uphill trek on foot. Some chanted in Arabic: “With our souls and our blood, we will redeem you, Al-Aqsa!”
Police said it was stopping only those planning to take part in riots before the buses were allowed to proceed. Scuffles broke out and footage showed officers firing stun grenades.
Tension was expected to remain high over the next few days. Israel’s Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the Sheikh Jarrah evictions on Monday, the same day that Israel marks Jerusalem Day – its annual celebration of its capture of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East war.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Israel claims the entire city as its eternal, indivisible capital. Its annexation of the eastern section was not recognised internationally.—(Reuters)
ICC Player Of The Month: Babar Azam And Alyssa Healy Among Those Nominated For April
Dubai, May 5: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, opener Fakhar Zaman and Nepal’s Khushal Bhurtel are the men players nominated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for April’s ICC Player of the Month Awards. In the women’s category, Australia’s Alyssa Healy and Megan Schutt and New Zealand’s Leigh Kasperek have been nominated.
In the month of April, Babar became the No.1 ranked batsman in the ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings, ending India captain Virat Kohli’s long reign at the top of the charts. His compatriot Fakhar Zaman also produced a stellar showing during the month, scoring two centuries in the ODI series victory over South Africa, including a magnificent 193 in the second match in Johannesburg.
Completing the men’s shortlist, Nepal’s Bhurtel was the leading run-scorer as his team won a tri-series also featuring the Netherlands and Malaysia. His significant contribution with the bat totalled 278 runs, including four half-centuries in five matches.
In the women’s category, Australia’s Alyssa Healy played three ODIs versus New Zealand, scoring 155 runs at an average of 51.66 and a strike rate of 98.72. Her efforts saw her finish as the leading run-scorer in Australia’s series victory over New Zealand that extended their record-winning streak to 24 ODIs. Her teammate Megan Schutt became Australia’s leading wicket-taker in the same series, taking seven wickets at an average of 13.14.
New Zealand’s Leigh Kasperek played two ODIs against Australia, achieving career-best figures of six for 46 in the second match of the series, and followed this up with three more wickets in the final match, finishing with nine wickets at an average of 7.77.
The three nominees for either category are shortlisted based on on-field performances and overall achievements during that month (the first to the last day of each calendar month).
This shortlist is then voted on by the independent ICC Voting Academy and fans around the world. The ICC Voting Academy comprises prominent members of the cricket family including senior journalists, former players, broadcasters, and some members of the ICC Hall of Fame.
The Voting Academy will submit their votes by email and retain a 90 per cent share of the vote. Additionally, fans registered with the ICC will be able to vote via the ICC website once the shortlisted players are announced and will have a 10 per cent share of the vote. Winners are announced every second Monday of the month on the ICC’s digital channels.—(ANI)
Myanmar’s Military Government Blocks Social Media, Internet To Gain Control Over Information
Naypyitaw [Myanmar], May 3: The Burmese military regime has arrested journalists and banned independent media in order to gain control over information and crackdown on protesters and the opposition movement.
Since February 1 coup, Myanmar’s media has been under pressure due to restricted access to social media and the internet, reported DW News Agency.
On February 4, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp were blocked, followed by Twitter and Instagram ban by the ruling junta.
Blocking Facebook was a crucial move as about half of the country’s citizens use the social media giant as their main news source. The military has also imposed nationwide internet blockades since February 15, which have regularly lasted from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Mobile internet was shut down on March 15, with only broadband connections providing access to the internet. The move worked as large parts of the population now receive their news almost exclusively from sources permitted by the military, reported DW News Agency.
In addition to cutting off online communication, the state television station MRTV has been brought into line. The broadcaster now regularly shows photos of activists and demonstrators, naming them as alleged enemies of the state.
Military broadcaster Myawaddy TV recently announced that for the first time in 30 years, 19 people had been sentenced to death for killing a soldier.
The state-owned newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar has reported in detail the military’s legal and moral obligations for ousting the elected government, reported DW News Agency.
Meanwhile, independent or private media outlets such as Mizzima, Democratic Voice of Burma, Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now, 7Day News and others have also been banned. Most have retreated to parts of the country controlled by ethnic minorities and their troops, such as Karen state on the border with Thailand. From there, they continue to publish their views against the military government.
According to Human Rights Watch, some 48 journalists are currently in detention, 23 others were detained but have since been released.
Most have been accused of violating a new section of the penal code which criminalizes the dissemination of “statements, rumors or reports” that can lead to fear among the population and may incite people to “attack the state and public order” or to lead to “attacks between different classes and communities,” reported DW News Agency.
The journalist from the southern coastal town of Myeik livestreamed police shooting near his apartment as they detained him in a crackdown on March 1. He remains in custody.—(ANI)
At Least 30 Killed In Car Bomb Blast In Eastern Afghanistan
Kabul, May 1: At least 30 civilians were killed and 70 others wounded as a car bomb blast rocked a crowded road outside a provincial hospital in Pul-e-Alam, capital of Afghanistan’s eastern Logar province on Friday, a local source confirmed.
The initial information found a suicide bomber detonated the car bomb roughly at 6:50 p.m. local time, minutes after people were breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramadan, the source told Xinhua anonymously.
“The death toll may rise as many of the wounded were in critical condition. The building and ambulances of the main provincial hospital were destroyed by the force of the explosion,” he said.
Several medical personnel were also affected. Ambulances from private hospitals and nearby districts were rushing to the site to help the victims, the source said.
According to him, most of the victims were students who came from Logar districts to attend a university entrance exam earlier in the day and gathered in small restaurants around the hospital to have meal and break their fast.—(ANI/Xinhua)