Category Archives: World

Malaysia summons North Korean ambassador, recalls envoy

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia‘s foreign ministry summoned North Korea‘s ambassador on Monday over allegations he had made over the Southeast Asian country’s handling of the investigation into the murder in Kuala Lumpur of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un‘s half-brother.

Malaysia also recalled its envoy from Pyongyang “for consultations”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the North Korean ambassador Kang Chol was summoned for “an explanation on the accusations he made against the Government of Malaysia in his press conference on 17 February 2017”.

“In his press conference, the Ambassador…insinuated that…the Malaysian Government had ‘something to conceal’. The Ambassador also alleged that Malaysia was ‘colluding and playing into the gallery of external forces’,” the statement said.

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Hundreds of Rohingya 'return home' from Bangladesh

DHAKA: Hundreds of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar have returned home, community leaders said Sunday, adding that most had gone back temporarily to fetch relatives.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled across the border from Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine since October to escape a bloody crackdown by troops and police.

Dudu Mia, a refugee camp leader in the coastal town of Teknaf, said nearly 1,000 Rohingya — mostly young men — had returned to their home villages to collect elderly family members left behind earlier.

“Most of those men are hoping to bring their relatives back to Bangladesh. It’s been four months and they have barely even talked to their parents back home,” Mia told AFP.

Myanmar’s army has halted its operations in the north of Rakhine, a senior official said last week, ending the four-month crackdown which the UN has warned may amount to crimes against humanity.

Hundreds from the Rohingya Muslim minority are thought to have died and almost 70,000 have fled to Bangladesh since the military launched a campaign to find militants who attacked police border posts.

Bangladeshi authorities estimate 400,000 Rohingya refugees are now living in Bangladesh, including the 70,000 most recent arrivals.

Escapees have given harrowing accounts of how security forces raped, killed and tortured Rohingya and burnt their houses to the ground.

Another Rohingya leader said some of the refugees had left Bangladesh permanently because their home villages had not been damaged by the Myanmar army and they had properties to protect.

“They left (their homes) because they were panicked. They didn’t want to stay here as beggars, rather they would live in their own houses and work at land back home,” he said on condition of anonymity.

The Border Guard Bangladesh confirmed that some Rohingya refugees had gone back to Myanmar.

“Scores of Rohingya people have reportedly returned home in last few days,” said local commander Abujar al-Jahid.

“But we’re remaining on high alert about any illegal infiltration.”

A satellite image published last year by Human Rights Watch showed how Myanmar troops burned down Rohingya villages, displacing thousands.

Most of the Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh are now living in squalid conditions in refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar district, which borders Rakhine and is also home to the country’s biggest tourist resort.

Bangladesh has already approved a controversial plan for their relocation to an island and instructed officials to identify undocumented Myanmar nationals as part of the campaign.

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10 dead after boat capsizes off Sri Lanka's southwest coast

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: At least 10 people were killed and seven others rescued Sunday after the boat they were traveling in capsized off of Sri Lanka’s southwestern coast, police said.

The boat was among 19 that took part in a religious festival procession from the fishing town of Beruwala, around 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of the capital, Colombo, said police spokesperson Priyantha Jayakody.

The tragedy occurred when the boats were returning from the festival.

It was unclear how many people were traveling in the boat that capsized. The navy was deployed to help search for any other survivors.

Fishing families in Beruwala travel by boat every year to the Roman Catholic church feast in the town of Kalutara.

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Avalanche kills seven in northern Pakistan

CHITRAL, PAKISTAN: An avalanche killed at least seven labourers in northern Pakistan on Sunday, a senior official said, with up to four more trapped beneath the snow.

The accident, which also injured seven, happened near the Lowari Tunnel which connects the districts of Dir and Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, senior local administration official Shahab Hameed told AFP.

“Efforts are also being made to pull the remaining workers out alive,” he added.

Rescue teams have rushed to the area to help travellers stranded by the avalanche and provide medical attention for the injured.

At least 13 people were killed and 20 homes destroyed by avalanches and heavy rain which struck the region earlier this month — while the death toll in neighbouring Afghanistan rose to almost 200.

Severe weather hits Pakistan every year, with avalanches in winter and flash floods in summer.

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Blast in Somalia kills 15 in Mogadishu marketplace

MOGADISHU, Somalia: A Somali police officer says a blast at a busy market in the western part of Somalia’s capital killed at least 15 people.

Capt. Mohamed Hussein said the powerful blast thought to be from a car bomb tore through shops and food stands in Mogadishu’s Madina district Sunday. He said the bomb also wounded more than 10 others and casualties may rise as many of the wounded victims suffered horrific wounds.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast. However, Somalia’s homegrown Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, often carry out such attacks.

Despite being ousted from large parts of south and central Somalia, al-Shabab continues to carry out guerrilla attacks in this Horn of Africa nation.

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Iran main sponsor of global terror: Saudi foreign minister

MUNICH: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Sunday rejected Iranian calls for dialogue saying Tehran was the main sponsor of terrorism in the world, a destabilising force in the Middle East and wanted to “destroy us.”

“Iran remains the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the Munich Security Conference. “It’s determined to upend the order in Middle East … (and) until and unless Iran changes its behaviour it would be very difficult to deal with a country like this.”

Al-Jubeir said Iran was propping up the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, funding the Houthi separatists in Yemen and violent groups across the region. He said the international community needed to set clear “red lines” to halt Iran’s actions.

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350,000 children trapped in west Mosul: Save the Children

LONDON: Around 350,000 children are trapped in western Mosul, Save the Children warned on Sunday as Iraqi forces launched a fresh offensive on jihadists defending the strategic city.

“Iraqi forces and their allies, including the US and UK, must do everything in their power to protect children and their families from harm, and avoid civilian buildings like schools and hospitals as they push deeper into the city,” said the London-based charity’s Iraq country director, Maurizio Crivallero.

He warned that escape is not an option for most families, who risk summary execution by fighters from the Islamic State group, sniper fire and landmines — but they are also running out of food, water and medicine.

“This is the grim choice for children in western Mosul right now: bombs, crossfire and hunger if they stay — or execution and snipers if they try to run,” Crivallero said in a statement.

He added: “Safe escape routes for civilians must also be established as soon as possible.”

The offensive to retake Mosul’s west bank that began on Sunday could be the most brutal fighting yet in a four-month-old operation on Iraq’s second city, where the leader of the Islamic State group declared a “caliphate” in 2014.

The Iraqi government launched an offensive to reconquer Mosul on October 17, and declared east Mosul “fully liberated” on January 24.

Federal forces now face what was always one of the toughest challenges — the narrow streets of the Old City in Mosul’s west bank, which are impassable for many military vehicles.

Save the Children warned that “the impact of artillery and other explosive weaponry in those narrow, densely-populated streets is likely to be more deadly and indiscriminate than anything we have seen in the conflict so far”.

The 350,000 figure relates to people under the age of 18, a charity spokesperson confirmed.

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Putin critic leaves Russia for treatment after 'poisoning'

MOSCOW: A Russian opposition politician who fell into a coma due to poisoning this month has left the country for treatment abroad after his condition improved, his lawyer said Sunday.

“This morning Vladimir Kara-Murza flew out of the country… to go through rehabilitation treatment after his second acute poisoning,” lawyer Vadim Prokhorov wrote on his Facebook page.

“The diagnosis in his hospital discharge report is still the same: ‘toxic influence of an unknown substance’,” he added.

Kara-Murza, 35, previously experienced sharp deterioration of health due to poisoning two years ago, which included kidney failure and nearly killed him.

Tests in laboratories abroad found high levels of heavy metals in his blood, but the Russian Investigative Committee denied his request to probe whether he was a target of intentional poisoning.

His family said that the latest collapse, which saw him put on a ventilator and renal dialysis in a Russian hospital, could be a result of the 2015 incident.

Kara-Murza was an ally of the late opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead close to the Kremlin in February 2015.

He currently works with the Open Russia foundation of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oil tycoon who served 10 years in jail after openly opposing President Vladimir Putin.

Prokhorov said that Kara-Murza plans to continue his political work. The lawyer said that most likely Kara-Murza was intentionally poisoned.

Besides his work with Khodorkovsky, Kara-Murza has been deeply involved in lobbying in the United States for the expansion of the Magnitsky Act, which Prokhorov said “could be one of the reasons” for the poisoning because it targets Russian elites.

The 2012 sanctions list originally targeted Russian officials involved in the case of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in prison after uncovering a government corruption scheme.

Since it was passed it has been expanded to include other individuals, including the Russian Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin, who was added only in January.

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Iran dismisses new US pressure, calls for 'mutual respect'

MUNICH: Iran’s foreign minister brushed aside new pressure from the United States on Sunday, declaring that his country is “unmoved by threats” but responds well to respect.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran, the US and five other world powers, under which Tehran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions, but hasn’t said what he plans to do about it.

His administration has said Iran was “on notice” over a recent ballistic missile test, and imposed new sanctions on more than two dozen Iranian companies and individuals.

“Iran doesn’t respond well to threats,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of top diplomats and defense officials. “We don’t respond well to coercion. We don’t respond well to sanctions, but we respond very well to mutual respect. We respond very well to arrangements to reach mutually acceptable scenarios.”

“Iran is unmoved by threats,” he said.

“Everybody tested us for many years _ all threats and coercions were imposed on us,” Zarif added. He mocked “the concept of crippling sanctions,” which he said merely ended with Iran having acquired thousands more centrifuges, used for enriching uranium.

Iran has always said it has no interest in nuclear weapons. Asked how long it would take to make one if it did decide it wanted such weapons, Zarif replied: “We are not going to produce nuclear weapons, period. So it will take forever for Iran to produce nuclear weapons.”

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'Malaysia police probe shows N Korea behind Kim murder'

SEOUL: Malaysia’s investigation into the murder of the North Korean leader’s half-brother shows that the Pyongyang government was behind the assassination, South Korea said today.

Malaysian police have arrested one North Korean suspect and are seeking four more North Koreans who left the country last Monday, the day Kim Jong-Nam was poisoned at Kuala Lumpur’s main airport.

“Based on various factors, our government is certain that the dead man is Kim Jong-Nam, and considering that the five suspects are North Korean nationals, we view that the North Korean government is behind the incident,” said Seoul’s unification ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee.

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