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21 April 2019

21 April:Over 180 dead including foreigners,about 500 wounded in blasts at churches,hotels in S Lanka/ World leaders condemn /Attack in S.Lanka is same as one in Christchurch Mosques:Turkey


NEWS DIGEST, EVENING 
21 April 2019: 15 Shaban 1440:Vol: 11, No:181
s. lANKA BLASTS
Sri Lanka Easter bombings:Over 180 dead including foreigners,about 500 wounded in churches,hotels
Sri Lankan capital Colombo has been hit by at least two new blasts, one of them at a hotel near the national zoo killing at least two more people, police said.The latest blast hit the suburb of Orugodawatta in the north of the capital, but there were no further details on what was targeted, AFP said on Sunday.A total of 8 explosions in a single day have hit luxury hotels and churches in Sri Lanka, killing over 180 people and wounding about 500 as worshippers were attending Easter Sunday services. 3 of the explosions took place in Catholic churches while three other explosions were reported in luxury hotels - the Cinnamon Grand, Kingsbury and Shangri-La - located in the heart of Colombo.The first explosion was reported in a church located in the capital. The other blasts followed within half an hour.One of the churches targeted was St Anthony's Shrine in Colombo. The other two were St Sebastian's in Negombo, about 30km from the capital and another in Batticaloa, 250km east of the capital. An official at the Batticaloa hospital told AFP more than 300 people had been admitted with injuries following the blast there. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe convenened Sri Lanka's top military officials at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council following the blasts. He has also called for an emergency convening of the nation's parliament on Monday. Reports said at least 35 foreigners are among the dead. There were no immediate claims of responsibility. Only around 6% of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups."Sri Lanka had a terrible time under Tamil Tiger terrorism for about 25 years and then there was a great sense of relief, which I am afraid the West has been fighting with us about, when we got rid of the tiger terrorists," Rajiva Wijesinha, ex MP said."But the tiger terrorists were never as well organized never and never quite as brilliant in synchronisation and this is obviously something on a much larger scale which is frankly quite terrifying and you know the reactions I've heard suggest people are moving into panic mode again," he said.Aljazeera/news18
Sri Lanka Blasts LIVE: 8th Explosion Rocks Island Nation, Over 185 Killed in Decade's Worst Attack
"Keeping Close Watch": Sushma Swaraj After Sri Lanka Serial Blasts
New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said India is keeping a close watch on the situation in Sri Lanka closely after at least 156 people were killed in multiple blasts in and around Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital."I am in constant touch with Indian High Commissioner in Colombo. We are keeping a close watch on the situation,"Ms Swaraj tweeted.PM Narendra Modi, in a tweet, condemned the blasts and said: "India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka." ndtv
Heinous terror attack in Sri Lanka is same as one in Christchurch Mosques:Turkey condemns attacks
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan today condemned multiple bomb attacks in Sri Lanka.In a Twitter post, Erdogan said:"I condemn in the strongest terms possible the Easter terror attacks in #SriLanka. This is an assault on all of humanity."“On behalf of the Turkish people, I offer my condolences to the families of the victims and the people of #SriLanka, and wish a speedy recovery to the injured," he added.“This barbaric attack in Sri Lanka once again demonstrated the need for a decisive fight against all kinds of terrorism,” Erdogan said in a separate statement Sunday.Erdogan also expressed his solidarity with Sri Lanka against terrorism. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also condemned the attacks "targeting innocent people in churches and hotels during Easter".“No matter what the motive is, the heinous terror attack in Sri Lanka is the same as the one in Christchurch [New Zealand]: cowardly, barbaric and cruel. Terror has no religion, no nation, no geography," he said.Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin offered his condolences to the wounded and condemned the attacks. Anadolu Agency
World leaders condemn Easter bombings in S.Lanka
INDIA
Sexual harassment allegation: CJI Gogoi’s presence on Bench raises eyebrows
New Delhi :The participation of CJI Ranjan Gogoi on the Supreme Court Bench, which heard the “extraordinary” session on Saturday into the online publication of sexual harassment allegations levelled against him by a former apex court employee, raises two pertinent questions. One, did the CJI become a judge in his own cause by being part of the Bench? After all, the allegations directly pertain to him. Two, is there a formal procedure to deal with allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI?Senior advocate Indira Jaising said the CJI should have “absolutely not” been part of the Bench.In her response, senior lawyer Vrinda Grover said it was the “cardinal and basic rule of fair play that a person cannot be judge in his own cause”.“In the circumstances of this case, where the charge of sexual harassment, victimisation and intimidation has been made against a person holding the highest judicial office of the country, it is imperative that for the credibility of the institution, and confidence of the people in the judiciary as well as for the right to justice of the woman complainant, no hearing presided by the CJI ought to have been held,” Ms. Grover said.A Supreme Court notice announced the Bench would hear a “matter of great public importance touching upon the independence of the judiciary”. The case was taken up as a suo motu writ petition. The court order said the Supreme Court had exercised its “inherent jurisdiction”.thehindu
‘Preserve neutrality, fairness’: Women lawyers say CJI should not hold office until inquiry is over
Women in Criminal Law Association demanded an inquiry “at the earliest” into the sexual harassment allegation against CJI Ranjan Gogoi and said he should not hold office during the process. The group distanced itself from the statement by Bar Council of India, which had called the allegation “false and cooked up”.In its statement, the Women in Criminal Law Association said: “Even before the allegations properly came to light, the stated purpose of the sitting sought to change the conversation.”Over 700 people have endorsed the statement so far. “We believe that the complaint should be treated as per procedure and principles of fairness and justice, including the fundamental right to equality before law,” the statement said.It further said: “The said procedure must be in accordance with the in-house procedure applicable to the judges of the Supreme Court and the letter and spirit of the POSH Act [Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013], the Supreme Court Sexual Harassment Regulations, 2013 and service rules if applicable.”The complainant should have the utmost opportunity to present her case, as must the respondent to present his defence, the statement said. “It is our opinion that, due to the immense disparity in power and position, the Hon’ble CJI cannot continue to hold office during the inquiry,” it added.The statement also said that “to preserve neutrality and fairness”, such an inquiry should not involve the judges who were part of the sitting on Saturday, the court’s Secretary General, and Attorney General and Solicitor General.scroll.in
Fired for seeking seating change, taking day off for child: complainant names 9 officials of the court
Jharkhand lynching: Fact-finding team questions complicity of police
Local police may have been complicit in the lynching of Prakash Lakda, a 50-year-old Adivasi of Jurmu village in Gumla’s Dumri block, on April 10, 2019, when he and 3 others were beaten up by a right-wing mob. He was killed by a mob of men from the Sahu community of the neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries.According to a fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, the four victims, along with other men and children of their village, were carving a dead ox on the bank of a river that flows near their village. The adivasis and other communities (such as Ghasis and Lohras) of this area traditionally eat beef.Some people from Jurmu were told by the owner of the dead ox to carve it for meat and its hide. While the Adivasis were doing so, they were attacked by a mob of about 35-40 persons from Jairagi. “The mob was led by Sandeep Sahu, Santosh Sahu, Sanjay Sahu and his sons. While others managed to flee, Prakash, Peter, Belarius and Janerius were caught by the mob and beaten with lathis. They were beaten all the way to Jairagi chowk, about a kilometre away from the place where the violence started. The mob chanted slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Bajrangbali’ and also forced the victims to chant the slogans. They were beaten for refusing to chant the slogans or not chanting them loud enough,” states the report. “According to the Adivasis of Jurmu,people of other communities (including Sahus) routinely ask them to take away dead bovines. Dispute over consumption of bovine meat never took place amongst the different communities of the village in the past,” highlights the report. The fact-finding team has demanded that the government must withdraw the false case of cow slaughter filed against the Adivasis of Jurmu, arrest all the perpetrators involved in the killing and file charges against them under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act).nationalheraldindia
In 5 years, 75% of industrial investments in Gujarat flowed to just four districts
Ahmedabad :Of the total Rs 2.44 lakh crore of industrial investments that have flowed into Gujarat during the last 5 years, 75 per cent have been given to just 4 districts of Ahmedabad, Kutch, Surat, and Bharuch. Gujarat government figures show during the period between 2013-18, there are districts like Junagadh that have seen zero investments.Data tabled by the Gujarat govt in the Gujarat assembly in response to an unstarred question asked by Bhavesh Katara, a Congress MLA from Jhalod constituency of Dahod district reveals that a total of Rs 2,44,699 crore of investments flowed into 29 districts of Gujarat through 1,718 industrial projects between July 2013 and June 2018. During this period, the annual investments in the state grew at an impressive 123 per cent, from Rs 25,436 crore in July 2013-June 2014 to Rs 56,837 crore in July 2017-June 2018.A phenomenal 75 per cent of the total investments have made their way into just four districts. Ahmedabad with an investment of Rs 69,384 crore in 350 projects tops all the 33 districts of the state, accounting for 28 per cent of the total investments made in these five years. Kutch follows with Rs 52,759 crore in 133 projects. The districts of Surat with Rs 33,285 crore in 209 projects, Bharuch Rs 30,073 cr in 211 projects, Panchmahal Rs 10,525 cr in 43 projects, Morbi Rs 10,031 crore in 227 projects and Vadodara Rs 9,347 cr in 127 projects, also received sizeable investments.indianexpress
24-year-old maulvi from Amroha held in  terror case:TOI report
Lucknow:NIA has arrested a 24-year-old ‘maulvi’ in Amroha on charges of planning ‘fidayeen attacks’ in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.“Mohammad Gufran was a key conspirator of the group Harkat Ul Harb-e-Islam that was highly motivated and radicalised by the ideology of ISIS with its handlers based in Afghanistan and Syria. The other 12 members of this group, including mastermind Mufti Mohammed Suhail, were arrested on December 26,” said an NIA official. He added it was Gufran’s idea to conduct terror strikes in India. “Gufran was studying ‘maulviyat’ and got in touch with Suhail who also hailed from Amroha. The 2, along with others, came to be a part of Harkat Ul Harb-e-Islam,” said Alok Mittal, IG, NIA. Gufran will be produced in Patiala House court, in Delhi, on Sunday. Members interacted over Telegram and Signal apps to avoid being traced, said NIA.
Terror case: NIA conducts raids in Hyderabad, takes 4 persons in custody
Indian naval ships arrive, Pakistan to miss Chinese navy’s fleet review
Beijing:2 Indian battle ships, including the biggest indigenously built stealth destroyer INS Kolkata, have arrived at the port city of Qingdao to take part in the Chinese Navy’s fleet review while the Pakistan naval ships will be conspicuous by their absence at the event. China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is celebrating its 70th founding anniversary on April 23 with a grand fleet review. 10 countries, including India, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam, will deploy 20 vessels to join a naval parade.INS Kolkata, which is the first of a new class of three destroyers built by India, is accompanied by tanker INS Shakti, a fleet support ship, to take part in the event.However, PLAN’s naval fleet review will be held without the ships from its closest ally Pakistan.PTI
ELECTIONS
PM Modi will not contest Lok Sabha polls from Gujarat, but can he still tilt the balance in his home state?
This is an election of the sort Gujarat hasn’t seen since Narendra Modi first burst onto the scene in 2001. For the first time since then, he isn’t a candidate on the ballot paper in the state. While the BJP, which won all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2014, is still seeking votes in the Prime Minister’s name, for the first time in a long time, Modi isn’t top of the mind for most of the state electorate either.As The Sunday Express travels across Gujarat, from areas where the Patidar anger is now reduced to a footnote and places where the Dalits haven’t forgotten the Una flogging, to where the farmer woes are now aligned with a common national narrative, calculations across parties seem based on an old familiar: caste. It may still be a long way from when the Congress had it sealed with its KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, Muslim) formula, but having reduced the BJP to its lowest tally of 99 out of 182 seats since 1995, in the 2017 Assembly elections, and dealt a public humiliation to the BJP over a Rajya Sabha seat, the party hopes to make more progress.That is, if it gets its act together. The Assembly high is already frittered away with the BJP wooing five of its 77 MLAs so far. In the run-up to the polls, the Congress failed to strike any alliances, not even with old ally NCP, while talks with the Bharatiya Tribal Party’s Chhotu Vasava for Bharuch didn’t pan out.Congress president Rahul Gandhi did all of five rallies in the state, that votes on April 23, mostly talking about the Rafale deal and accusing the BJP of protecting rich bank defaulters. Modi has held six so far and is scheduled to do one more in Patan on Sunday. At his meeting in Amreli on April 18, an emotional PM urged people to “gift 26 lotuses” to him as he was “their man in Delhi”.indianexpress
‘I climbed atop Babri Masjid to raze it, extremely proud of it,’ says Pragya Thakur, gets EC notice
Election Commission has issued a notice to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pragya Singh Thakur for her remark expressing “extreme pride” at her role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992, ANI reported. This was the second notice to Thakur on Saturday. She was also served a notice for her claim that Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare died in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks because she had cursed him.Thakur is the BJP’s candidate from the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency. On Saturday, Thakur told TV9 Bharatvarsh that those who had gone to demolish the mosque had eliminated a “disgrace to the nation”. “I have extreme pride that God gave me this opportunity and strength that I was able to do this work,” she told the news channel. “We will build Ram temple there itself.”Thakur said she had strong conviction that the temple would be built. Asked when that would be, she said: “We will tell you, we will build it, after all we had gone to demolish it. I climbed atop the structure and demolished it.”Thakur later told Aaj Tak that she does not regret being part of the group that demolished Babri Masjid.scroll.in
W.Bengal: Clerics to Muslims: Don’t be rash, think before you vote
Kolkata: Prominent Muslim clerics in the state have issued a cautiously crafted message exhorting the community to vote carefully, a move that political analysts feel is an attempt to prevent a division in Muslim votes and to blunt the strategy of certain political outfits attempting to marginalise the community, constitutionally and politically.The appeal neither identifies any candidate the community should put its weight behind, nor cautions them against any political party. But it urges Muslims to think carefully before casting the vote because any mistake will mean a wait of five years before it can be rectified.The message has been signed by All India Milli Council president Qari Fazlur Rahman, who leads the Eid prayers on Red Road, and vice-president Qari Mohammad Shafique, also the imam of the prestigious Nakhoda Mosque.On Saturday, TOI reported Easter messages from the Christian clergy similarly urging their community to vote out hatred and choose peace.TOI
Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit faces 'tough' battle in West Bengal's Jangipur
Jangipur:Ex-President Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit Mukherjee faces a tough battle in West Bengal's Jangipur as he seeks a hat-trick of wins from the constituency which had sent his father to Parliament twice.Amid a desperate drive by state's ruling TMC for its maiden victory in Jangipur and BJP's growing strength across districts, the fight is going to be harder for Abhijit after the collapse of the seat adjustment talks between Congress and Left. The seat has been a Congress bastion over the past 15 years, electing its then veteran leader Pranab Mukherjee in 2004 and 2009.Abhijit made his Lok Sabha debut in 2012 by winning a by-election to the Jangipur seat after his father resigned from the house to contest in the presidential polls.Mukherjee junior, however, won with a slender margin of just 2,536 votes even though the Trinamool was not in fray.He retained the seat in 2014 defeating CPI-M's Muzaffar Hossain by a slim margin of 8,161 votes. State's ruling Trinamool nominee S.K. Nurul Islam stood third. Party supremo Mamata Banerjee has campaigned heavily in Jangipur for TMC nominee Khalilur Rahaman. Banerjee has been repeatedly alleging that RSS was helping Abhijit to win the election.BJP candidate Mafuja Khatun, the party's only Muslim woman candidate in the 2019 polls, and CPI (M) nominee Md. Zulfikar Ali rubbished "Mamata's RSS theory" calling it an attempt to consolidate minority voters as over half of the electors in Jangipur is Muslims. But in the same breath they accused the sitting Congress MP of failing to address the plight of bidi workers and the Ganges river erosion. Both Khatun and Ali also dismissed Banerjee's allegation that CPI (M)-BJP-Congress have formed a nexus to defeat TMC.Jangipur goes to the hustings on April 23 in the third phase of the Lok Sabha polls.economictimes
Shameful that people from Bangladesh campaigning for TMC: PM Modi slams Mamata for 'minority appeasement’
PM Narendra Modi amped up the attack on West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee saying she had only fooled people in the name of ‘maa, mati and manush’.Calling her speedbreaker Didi, he said that West Bengal CM had lost her sleep after the first two phases of the Lok Sabha Polls in West Bengal.Speaking about instances of Bangladeshi actors campaigning for TMC, he said: “It is shameful that people from neighbouring country are campaigning for the TMC, which was done to appease the minority community.”Attacking her for questioning the Balakot air strike, Modi said: “Mamata Banerjee should seek proof against those behind chit fund scams, instead of asking for proof of the Balakot strike.”Popular Bangladeshi actor Ferdous Ahmed, who was expelled by the Indian govt, has apologised for campaigning for a candidate in West Bengal, terming it as an "inadvertent mistake" and a step taken out of love of the people of the state. Indian govt on Tuesday issued a 'Leave India' notice to Ahmed and cancelled the business visa given to him for allegedly campaigning for a TMC candidate in the state.The actor has also been "blacklisted" by the Union Home Ministry, jeopardising the chances of his future travel to India.DNA
Sambit Patra in trouble after Election Commission’s flying squad files FIR for poll code violation
BJP’s Puri Lok Sabha candidate Sambit Patra has found himself in trouble after a flying squad of the Election Commission registered an FIR against him for the violation of Model Code of Conduct. The FIR was filed at Puri’s Sea Beach police station.According to local media reports, Patra was using Lord Jagannath’s name on his vehicle while on his campaign trail to seek votes. Patra is also alleged to have held several election rallies without obtaining required permissions.jantakareporter
Elections: AAP Gives Unconditional Support To LDF In Kerala
AAP has extended unconditional support to all candidates of Left Democratic Front in Kerala for Lok Sabha elections, party leader Somnath Bharti said. CPI(M) leader Nilotpal Basu thanked AAP for the support. “Our main aim is to remove NDA and stop communal tension and polarisation done by them and in this direction, we are campaigning in different states. We thank AAP for supporting us,” he told reporters in a joint press conference with Bharti.Meanwhile, AAP suspended its Kerala convener C R Neelakandan for allegedly announcing the party’s support to Congress in the southern state without any consultation with the party's political affairs committee.Bharti said Neelakandan held a press conference in Kerala and said AAP supports the candidates of the Congress in the state. “That press conference was unauthorised and conducted without the knowledge or consultation of AAP. AAP’s political affairs committee has condemned his move and decided to suspend Neelakandan from the primary membership of the party,” he said.PTI
AIUDF created space for rise of BJP & saffron brigade in Assam, claim Assam Minority Students' Union, party rejects
Guwahati: In the final phase of the Lok Sabha election in Assam, more than 31 lakh Muslim voters will play a decisive role in the four seats of Barpeta, Dhubri, Kokrajhar and Gauhati. And they blame AIUDF for the rise of the saffron brigade in the state.Muslim voters form 40% of the combined electorate of 74.77 lakh in the four constituencies-the largest concentration of the religious minority group of the three phases. What they are looking for is a political party that can save them from the "rule of Hindutva"."The rule of Hindutva came with BJP coming to power in Assam. So many incidents of atrocities on Muslims have been reported across the state. From lynching to forcing a Muslim to eat pork - mobs have been emboldened to commit such acts in recent times, widening the gap between Muslims and BJP," Azizur Rahman, president of the influential All Assam Minority Students' Union (Aamsu), said.But behind the rise of BJP and saffron fringe groups, he adds, is Badruddin Ajmal's AIUDF."Muslim voters believe the rise of Hindutva in Assam is because of AIUDF. Ajmal formed AIUDF and polarized voters on religious lines, which BJP took advantage of," Rahman added. Ajmal himself is seeking a third term from Dhubri, where 80% of the voter base is Muslim.AIUDF general secretary Haidor Husain Bora rejects the Aamsu theory."What Aamsu is saying is anti-AIUDF propaganda. Had it been an accurate assessment, BJP would have come to power in Assam immediately after AIUDF was formed in 2005. BJP came to power much later, in 2016. In between, it was just Congress. There was an anti-Congress and pro-BJP wave across the country and Assam, too, gave in to it." TOI
Zari art inching closer to its end in Rampur, artisans claim
Rampur:Amidst the battle of nerves between Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan and BJP candidate Jaya Prada in Rampur parliamentary seat in western UP, Zardozi workers in the town are struggling to make their ends meet and want the government to extend a helping hand to save the traditional craft from ending abruptly.Rampur is famous across the world for one of the oldest forms of hand embroidery, Zardozi. In Persian, Zarin means 'gold' and Dozi signifies 'embroidery'. An imperial craft, it involves making appealing designs with precious gems and stones like diamond, pearls, and emeralds. These gems are sown into the fabric to give a royal look to a garment.The use of zari embroidery as ornamentation on the attire of Hindu deities is mentioned in Rig Veda. The craft started seeing a rough phase in 17th century owing to the high cost of raw material as it was not easy for craftsmen to procure the materials easily. However, zardozi workers somehow survived after India gained independence and government put efforts to save and promote the traditional art."I am working in this industry for 30 years. We never faced any difficulty so far but now our condition is getting pathetic. We are not able to earn Rs 100 to Rs 200 per day. As workers are not educated they do not know about GST due to which it is difficult for us to survive. People are not happy in this work and their interests are shifting towards unskilled jobs," zardozi worker Umaid Khan said.Hundreds of workers known for their unmatched skills are driving e-rickshaws as growing technology and machines have almost killed this art."People are even riding rickshaws to earn more. We hope a new govt come to power and it works for us.We went to several government officers to seek help but no one was willing to help us. They all are selfish and want to fulfil their own interest first.When Jaya Prada was in SP,she said that she will bring more projects and help us with buying of materials. Sadly, she also made hollow promises," Umaid said."We have to vote as it is our right. But our votes cannot bring any change in our lives as no one listens to us," he asserted.ANI
BJP IT Cell Head Edits Yogendra Yadav Speech, Claims It’s Communal
BJP’s head of IT operations Amit Malviya tweeted a video purportedly of an old speech by politician and psephologist Yogendra Yadav on Friday, claiming that Yadav had indulged in communal politics.Malviya, in his tweet, said that Yadav had bragged about “his Muslim identity” while delivering a speech in a Muslim-dominated constituency in Haryana.The caption shared with the video read:“I usually don’t carry TV debates to social media but making an exception to expose Yogendra Yadav’s Janus face. Here is a video where he can be seen bragging his Muslim identity to a largely Muslim audience in Muslim dominated Mewat. If this isn’t cynical politics, then what is?”The video has clearly been produced, with overlaid text graphics and background music. It starts with the text: “At a Mahapanchayat in Muslim dominated Mewat in Haryana, Yogendra Yadav makes it a point to inform the gathering about his ‘Muslim identity’ and tells them that his name is Salim.”After showing around a minute of Yadav’s public address, the video concludes with the text: “When are you withdrawing from public life?”THE QUINT
WORLD
Separate attacks kill nearly 50 Syrian soldiers
Syrian government forces came under separate attacks from ISIL and al-Qaeda-linked rebels in different parts of the country that killed nearly 50 soldiers and allied fighters.In one attack, ISIL fighters ambushed Syrian forces in the desert of central Homs province on Thursday night, setting off two days of clashes that killed 27 soldiers, including four officers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday.A pro-government militia, known as Liwa al-Quds, confirmed the ambush saying it had sent its fighters to liberate the two besieged battalions, made up of nearly 500 soldiers, east of the town of al-Sukhna.In a Facebook post, the militia said it successfully broke the siege and liberated the surviving soldiers before pulling the bodies of those killed and damaged vehicles to safety.aljazeera/AP
Iraq summit brings together rivals Saudi and Iran
A summit organised by Iraq brought together regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran on Saturday as part of a broader effort by Iraqi leaders to fashion the country's image as a friend among neighbours.Scarred by more than three decades of war, Iraq is recasting itself as a mediator among neighbours who are often at odds over weighty issues, including the civil war in Syria and US sanctions against Iran.The summit, hosted by Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi, brought together top legislators of Iraq's six neighbours: Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and Kuwait."Today, Iraq is building a promising strategic partnership with all neighbouring countries without any reservations or favouring any party," said al-Halbousi.The regional meeting follows months of high-profile diplomacy that has involved Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and President Barham Salih to engage with the neighbours.aljazeera
Heavy clashes near Libya's Tripoli amid 'new phase of attack'
Heavy clashes broke out in the southern districts of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, as forces loyal to the country's UN-recognised government launched a counterattack to repel fighters allied to renegade General Khalifa Haftar. Residents of the city said they could hear sustained rocket and artillery fire in several districts of Tripoli on Saturday, after several days of stalemate on the ground. Haftar's Libyan National Army, which is allied to a rival administration in the country's east, launched an offensive to seize Tripoli more than two weeks ago, but it has been stopped in the city's southern outskirts by forces allied to the Govt of National Accord (GNA).The shelling was louder and more frequent on Saturday than in previous days, residents said, and audible in central districts more than 10km away from the front line.Both sides claimed progress in southern Tripoli, but no more details were immediately available.aljazeera
Sudanese authorities arrest members of Bashir’s party
Sudanese authorities have arrested several members of the former ruling party of ousted President Omar al-Bashir, an official of Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) said.Sudan’s attorney general has also asked the country’s intelligence and national security agencies to lift the immunity of a number of their officers suspected of killing a teacher who died in custody after protests in February, state news agency SUNA said.The moves appear to be part of a widening crackdown on officials from Bashir’s administration intended to placate protesters who want the Military Council, which took over after toppling Bashir, to hand power to civilians.Attorney General Al-Walid Sayed Ahmed also ordered the formation of a committee to oversee investigations into crimes involving public funds, corruption and criminal cases related to recent events, SUNA said, citing a statement from his office.Thirty-nine protesters have been killed since the protests erupted in December, according to official figures. Some opposition groups say as many as 60 died.middleeastmonitor
Mali Govt Resigns Amid Growing Insecurity Following Ogossagou Massacre
Bamako: Mali‘s prime minister and his whole government resigned , 4 weeks after a massacre of some 160 Fulani herders by an ethnic vigilante group shocked the nation.“The President accepts the resignation of the prime minister and that of the members of government,” a statement from President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s office said.It gave no reason for the departure of Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, but legislators had discussed on Wednesday a possible motion of no confidence in the government because of the massacre and failure to disarm militias or beat back Islamist militants.The March 23 killings by suspected hunters from the Dogon community on Ogossagou, a village in central Mali populated by rival Fulani herders, were bloody even by the recent standards of Mali‘s ever-worsening violence.Reuters
Egyptian voters urged to allow el-Sissi rule until 2030
Cairo:Egyptian pro-government media are urging a “Yes” vote on the second day of a nationwide referendum that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030.Polls reopened at 9 am on Sunday. Voting will continue through Monday to allow maximum turnout, which the government hopes will lend the referendum legitimacy.Election officials say results are expected within a week.Opposition parties have called on voters to reject the changes, blasted by critics as a major step back to authoritarianism.Voting comes amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since the 2013 military ouster of an elected but divisive president.AP
Turkey's AK Party submits new petition to cancel Istanbul poll
Turkey's ruling party on Saturday appealed to Turkey’s election authority submitting a new petition including list of non-eligible voters with a view to cancel and renew last month's Istanbul poll.Speaking to Anadolu Agency, ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's deputy chairman Ali Ihsan Yavuz said 14,712 voters who were dismissed from public posts with a presidential decree were found out to have voted in Istanbul during March 31 local elections.Yavuz said AK Party submitted to Supreme Election Council the petition with the list of voters as an attachment to their extraordinary appeal submitted on April 16.Millions of Turkish voters cast their votes nationwide on March 31, in local elections to choose mayors, city council members, and other officials for the next five years.Anadolu Agency
Hamas: Fatah’s recent remarks about reconciliation a media stunt
GAZA, (PIC) Islamic Movement has described recent remarks made by Fatah officials about the Palestinian reconciliation as “a mere media stunt,” affirming that the leadership of Fatah refuses to lift its sanctions on Gaza and rejects political partnership.“What is being circulated by Fatah leaders about the issue of the reconciliation and submitting papers in this regard is nothing more than a maneuver and a media stunt,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a press release on Saturday.“Such Fatah move is only aimed at covering up the separatist steps taken by its chief Mahmoud Abbas and the crime of his punitive measures against our people in the Gaza Strip,” Barhoum added.The spokesman stressed the need for Fatah to remove its measures against Gaza, respect the principle of partnership and start to honor previous reconciliation agreements, especially the 2011 Cairo agreement and the 2017 Beirut understandings. Fatah officials recently claimed through their media outlets that their leadership had sent a message to Hamas through Cairo about the national reconciliation.
Flash: views & NEWS
Like January last year, all eyes on what SC does: will its in-house gender panel act?Kaunain Sheriff M
Sadhvi Pragya: Cherry-picking innocence, Hindutva style:Vivek Deshpande
Giving Sadhvi Pragya a ticket to enter public life is puzzling and wrong:Tavleen Singh
Life after lynching: The widows of Nuh:Namita Bhandare
100 years of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: On display in Lahore, documents that detail horrors committed by the British in 1919:Divya Goyal
Why meteorological department’s monsoon forecast is often inaccurate:Jayashree Nandi
Sexual harassment cases relating to Supreme Court judges in legal grey area: HT
The Election Fix: Muslims are constantly discussed but seriously underrepresented in Indian politics:Nithya Subramanian & Shoaib Daniyal

Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 3:52 PM)

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