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Gunmen kill eight Shia Muslims on bus in southwest Pakistan: Police

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 23 Oktober 2014 | 08.20

QUETTA: Gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Shia Muslims in the southwestern city of Quetta on Thursday, killing eight of them, just days ahead of the holy month of Muharram, police said.

The latest sectarian violence happened at a fruit and vegetable market on the outskirts of the city, capital of restive Balochistan province.

"At least nine Hazara Shias were sitting in a minibus after buying vegetables when two gunmen opened fire on them with automatic weapons, killing eight of them and wounding another one," senior local police official Imran Qureshi said.

City police chief Abdul Razzaq Cheema also confirmed the incident and casualties.

The Islamic month of Muharram, considered particularly holy for Shias, is due to begin on Saturday or Sunday depending on the sighting of the new moon.

It has frequently been marred by violence in recent years. Clashes between Sunnis and Shias led to at least 11 deaths in the city of Rawalpindi, close to the capital Islamabad, last November.

Ethnic Hazaras, who are predominantly Shia, are among the worst hit because their Central Asian features make them stand out.

The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that as many as 200,000 had fled Baluchistan over the past 10 years, either relocating in the country's major cities or seeking asylum abroad.

At least 24 Hazara pilgrims were killed in June when their bus was targeted by suicide bombers.

Two devastating bombings in Quetta targeting the city's Shias killed nearly 200 people last year and were claimed by LeJ, which has links to al-Qaida.

Vast and sparsely populated but rich in resources, Baluchistan has long been racked by a separatist insurgency that has strong leftist secular elements and reveres Communist icons like Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

But it has also been steady radicalised over the years. Analysts believe the military establishment is tacitly backing militant groups in order to undermine the influence of separatists.

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North Korea warns South over planned high-level talks

SEOUL: North Korea issued a fresh warning on Thursday that planned high-level talks with the South might have to be scrapped because of what it called Seoul's arrogant and provocative behaviour.

"Inter-Korean ties are now standing at the crossroads," the North Korean delegation that would participate in the proposed dialogue said in a lengthy statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency.

The choice facing both sides was to "make the seeds of hard-won inter-Korean dialogue sprout or allow the confrontation to reach an extreme phase and spark off a war", the statement said.

The two Koreas agreed to resume high-level talks during a surprise visit to the South by a top-ranking North Korean delegation earlier this month.

Seoul has proposed an October 30 start date, but the only response from Pyongyang so far has been to warn the talks might not happen at all.

Thursday's statement suggested the peace overtures had been instigated by Pyongyang in good faith, only for Seoul to spurn the opportunity.

It blamed the South for a series of minor military skirmishes on the land and sea border this month, and slammed Seoul's refusal to prevent "human scum" floating anti-North leaflets across the border using giant helium balloons.

The launches by South Korean activists have been repeatedly condemned by the North, which tried to shoot down some of the balloons earlier this month triggering an exchange of heavy machine gun fire.

Military talks on October 15 to address rising tensions broke down with the North accusing the South side of behaving "very arrogantly."

Pyongyang has issued several warnings about the prospects for resuming the high-level dialogue, to which Seoul has simply responded by repeating its offer to meet on October 30.

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Seven killed in cracker shop fire in Rajasthan's Barmer

Times news network

JAIPUR: Seven people were brunt alive while two are feared to be trapped under debris after a firecrackers shop and godown housed in the same building caught fire in Barmer district's Balotara town, some 600 km from Jaipur, early on Thursday.

A preliminary enquiry into the incident suggests that the shop was closed when the incident took place, but some miscreants were bursting crackers near the shop's godown at nearly 1 am in the gross violation of the Supreme Court's directions. Police suspect that a firecracker landed in a garment shop and spread to the the firecracker's godown housed in the same building which led to the mishap.

Barmer SP Hemant Sharma said that the fire broke out in the two storey building housing a garment shop and a firecracker godown and shop.

"We are yet to determine how the fire took place. The bodies of seven people have been taken out of the godown, while two are still missing. The deceased persons are in the age group of 30 years and 50 years," said the officer.

Sources said that when the fire took place in the garment shop, the people staying in the building hid themselves in one of them rooms in the building where firecrackers were kept.

"But the fire spread to the whole building soon. The entire town was shaken by the explosions one after another," said a police officer.

Fire tenders were rushed to the spot; however, the rescue operation is still going on.

"We had doused the fire by 8 am, but the building was completed gutted. There is debris all around," said the officer.

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Rajnath Singh set to visit Israel next month

JERUSALEM: Union home minister Rajnath Singh is set to visit Israel next month, amid a flurry of bilateral engagements signalling deepening of ties.

Singh is expected to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on November 6 while other relevant meetings were being worked out for the high-level four-day trip, senior diplomatic sources here told PTI.

It will be the first visit of an Indian home minister to Israel since June 2000 when LK Advani visited Tel Aviv which marked an upsurge in bilateral cooperation.

Singh's visit comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with his Israeli counterpart Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York last month.

During that meeting, Netanyahu had said that "sky is the limit" in terms of prospects of cooperation between the two countries, seeking "greater and greater" ties with India.

Netanyahu was among the first global leaders to call Modi to congratulate him over his victory in polls.

Meanwhile, Israel's National Security Advisor Joseph Cohen yesterday concluded his three-day visit to Delhi where he met Singh, his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and senior diplomats at the Ministry of External Affairs.

Cohen is said to have discussed "common challenges" faced by the two countries and their solutions during his meetings conveying his country's "willingness to expand cooperation in all fields and in any level".

The two sides will also be holding their annual foreign ministry consultations in the first week of November with a delegation of officials led by secretary (east), Anil Wadhwa, visiting Israel.

India is Israel's largest purchaser of defence equipments and the Jewish state is the second largest supplier of arms and armaments for New Delhi, next only to Russia.

The two countries also have a Joint Working Group on counter-terrorism.

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Six farmers commit suicide in Maharashtra's Vidarbha

NAGPUR: An activist on Thursday blamed official apathy for the suicide by six farmers in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region.

Four of them were from Yavatmal district and one each from Akola and Amravati districts, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari said. The deaths occurred on Wednesday.

"The farmers voted overwhelmingly for the BJP in both the Lok Sabha and assembly elections hoping their suffering will be mitigated," Tiwari told IANS.

He said the Bharatiya Janata Party promised during the election campaign to address issues such as debts, market prices of cotton and soyabean, and compensation for crop failures.

But continuing official apathy has forced the farmers to take their lives, Tiwari said.

The activist urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Vidarbha. He said the monsoon was delayed by two months this year and a dry spell after Sep 15 had hit the crops badly.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 3,146 distressed farmers committed suicide last year in Maharashtra — the highest number for any state.

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Security beefed up in Kashmir ahead of PM Narendra Modi's visit

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 22 Oktober 2014 | 08.20

SRINAGAR: Security has been beefed up here and across the valley as separatists called for a general strike tomorrow against the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in strength and are conducting random checking of vehicles at dozens of places in the city and elsewhere, a senior police officer said.

Special checking points have been set up at various places in the city including entry and exit points as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.

The move was aimed at foiling any attempt by militants to strike in the city ahead or during the Prime Minister's visit, he said.

The Prime Minister on Tuesday said that he would spend Diwali, the festival of lights, in flood-hit Srinagar.

"Will be in Srinagar on Diwali, 23d October & will spend the day with our sisters & brothers affected by the unfortunate floods," Modi tweeted on Tuesday.

This will be his fourth visit to Jammu and Kashmir since taking charge as Prime Minister in May.

While the announcement of the Prime Minister generated hope among the flood survivors of a comprehensive package from the centre to rebuild their lives, two factions of Hurriyat Conference have called for a general strike and peaceful protests against the visit of the Prime Minister.

"Government of India acted as the mute spectator amid worst ever floods in Kashmir and did nothing to mitigate the sufferings of the affected on ground...we will not allow anyone to rub salt into our wounds," hardline faction of Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani said in a statement.

It said when Modi had not even felicitated Muslims on Eid, his celebrating Diwali in the Muslim-majority state is "unacceptable".

Shabir Ahmad Shah led faction of Hurriyat Conference also called for a general strike on Wednesday and asked people to hold peaceful demonstrations against Modi's visit.

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CBI arrests Railway Board official on graft charges

NEW DELHI: CBI on Wednesday arrested a Railway Board official for allegedly receiving a bribe of Rs five lakh from a Mumbai-based tour operator for adding coaches in trains for tourist purposes.

CBI sources said Ravi Mohan Sharma, an Indian Railway Traffic service officer of 1997 batch was arrested at his residence here while allegedly receiving a bribe of Rs five lakh from a tour operator.

The sources said the bribe was allegedly paid by the Mumbai-based operator through hawala channel

They said the alleged bribe was paid to facilitate the running of special trains and additional coaches for tourist purposes.

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Delhi Metro services will be curtailed by only one hour on Diwali

NEW DELHI: Delhi Metro services will be curtailed by only one hour on Diwali on Thursday, with the last trains leaving various terminal stations at 10pm, it was announced on Wednesday. It was stated on Tuesday that the last trains that day will depart from the terminal stations at 8pm, instead of the normal 11pm.

But this was extended on Wednesday till 10pm "in view of the larger public interest", an official statement said.

The terminal stations include Dilshad Garden, Rithala, Jahangirpuri, Huda City Centre, Noida City Centre, Dwarka Sector-21, Vaishali, Kirti Nagar, Inderlok, Mundka, Mandi House, Badarpur and New Delhi.

But between 8 and 10pm on Diwali, the trains will run every 30 minutes or so.

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Ready for assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir: Bharatiya Janata Party

SRINAGAR: BJP on Wednesday said it was ready for assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir any time the Election Commission decides on holding polls in the state.

"As far as BJP is concerned, we were ready yesterday, we are ready today and we are ready anytime for the elections. We have no objections," BJP leader and MoS in Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh told reporters here.

Singh, however, said the timing of the elections in the state was the prerogative of the Election Commission of India.

"When elections are to be held, it is the prerogative of the Election Commission of India. It is an independent institution. It will not be fit for me to comment on that. If anyone does, he must be wiser than us," he added.

Barring National Conference, all political parties in the state have called for holding assembly elections in the flood-hit state as per schedule.

Ruling National Conference has sought deferring the polls in order to focus on relief and rehabilitation of the flood victims in the state.

The Election Commission visited Kashmir last week to assess the situation in the flood-hit areas of the state in order to take a final call on the poll schedule.

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No platform ticket between October 24 and 29 in Delhi: Northern Railway

NEW DELHI: In view of safety of passengers and to avoid over-crowding at platforms and foot-over bridges during Diwali and Chhat festivals, Northern Railway has decided to restrict sale of platform tickets at the five major stations, including New Delhi and Nizamuddin.

Platform tickets at New Delhi, Old Delhi, Nizamudin, Delhi Sarai Rohilla and Anand Vihar stations will not be sold between October 24 to 29, said a senior Northern Railway official.

The official said this has been done to curb rush at busy platforms during the festive season.

However, for persons coming to stations just to assist senior citizens, physically challenged, medically sick, ladies traveling alone or with children, platform tickets will be sold on demand.

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