News Feed 04-07-2016

Dhaka attack: One Indian among 20 hostages killed in siege, 13 hostages rescued.


Director of Military Operations Brigadier General Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury said the militants slaughtered 20 hostages before the joint operation led by the armed forces began.


Twenty foreigners were brutally murdered with sharp weapons by ISIS militants inside a restaurant popular with expatriates here in the high-security diplomatic zone before elite commandos stormed the cafe today and killed them, ending Bangladesh’s worst hostage crisis.


Director of Military Operations Brigadier General Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury said the militants slaughtered 20 hostages before the joint operation led by the armed forces began. Most of those killed were found with their throat slit, he added.


“Army Para commando Unit-1 led the operation and killed six terrorists within 13 minutes,” Chowdhury told reporters. “During operations, we rescued 13 people including one Japanese and two Sri Lankan citizens.” he added.


The mission codenamed ‘Operation Thunderbolt’ was launched after the Prime Minister ordered the army to intervene to end the hostage crisis.


Hasina vowed to do everything to “uproot the militants and violent extremists” from Bangladesh.

Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency, nearly four hours after the hostage crisis unfolded, according to the US-based SITE Intelligence group, which monitors jihadist activity online.

It later issued a number of photographs of what it said were scenes from inside the restaurant. The pictures showed what appeared to be a number of bodies lying in pools of blood.


119 dead as car bomb rips through Baghdad shoppers


A suicide car bombing claimed by the Islamic State (IS) ripped through a busy Baghdad shopping district on Sunday, killing at least 119 people in the deadliest attack this year in Iraq’s capital.


The blast hit the Karrada district early in the day as the area was packed with shoppers ahead of this week’s holiday, marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The attack came a week after Iraqi security forces recaptured Fallujah from the IS, leaving Mosul as the only Iraqi city under the jihadist group’s control.


The bombing also wounded more than 130 people, security and medical officials said.


Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the site of the attack and vowed “punishment” for its perpetrators, his office said.


The huge blast set buildings in the area ablaze, and firemen were still working to extinguish them some 12 hours later.


Men carried the bodies of two victims out of one burned building and a crowd of people looked on from the rubble-filled street as firefighters worked at the site.


Hussein Ali, a 24-year-old former soldier, said six workers at his family’s shop were killed, their bodies burned so badly that they could not be identified.


“I will return to the battlefront. At least there, I know the enemy so I can fight him. But here, I don’t know who I’m fighting,” Ali told AFP.


IS issued a statement claiming responsibility for the suicide bombing, saying it was carried out by an Iraqi as part of the group’s “ongoing security operations”.


The jihadist group said the blast targeted members of Iraq’s Shia Muslim majority, whom the Sunni extremists consider heretics and frequently attack in Baghdad and elsewhere.


Officials said another explosion in the Shaab area of northern Baghdad killed at least one person and wounded four on Sunday, but the cause of the blast was disputed.


Bombings in the capital have decreased since the IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in June 2014, with the jihadists apparently occupied with operations elsewhere.


But the group has struck back against Iraqi civilians after suffering military setbacks. A video posted on social media showed men throwing rocks toward Mr. Abadi’s convoy.


Cabinet expansion to take place on Tuesday


The Modi government seems set for a Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday morning with inclusions from Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Assam likely in the exercise. Of these, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are States going to poll, and there is much anxiety on who could be included.


The Director General of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) Frank Noronha confirmed the time and date of the reshuffle via Twitter on Tuesday morning, more than six weeks after speculation began.


“There is, at the moment, one vacancy in the Council of Ministers — that of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal — who had held the Sports and Youth Affairs portfolio, that has to be filled by someone from Assam itself. The two names doing the rounds are senior BJP leader Ramen Deka and Rameshwar Singh, first time MP from Dibrugarh,”


There is talk that Arjun Ram Meghwal, Bikaner MP and chief whip of the BJP in the Lok Sabha may be added to the Ministry or that he may even replace Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Nihal Chand Meghwal, who has been summoned in a rape case.


Contenders from Uttarakhand include the Dalit MP from Almora Ajay Tamta, and former Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.


Chandauli MP Mahendra Nath Pandey, Almora MP Ajay Tamta, and Apna Dal MP from Mirzapur, Anupriya Patel, are also likely to be included in the Cabinet.


“The national team of the BJP will also be given a makeover once the Cabinet reshuffle is done. There will be some people who will be sent from the government to the party,” said a senior office bearer in the BJP. He did not however share the names of who they could be.


Monsoon deficit slips to 6% due to heavy showers during weekend

Heavy showers during the weekend have lifted monsoon out of the ‘deficient’ zone, the first real signal of a good kharif harvest that should lower food inflation and pave the way for a cut in interest rates.


The season’s rainfall deficit has contracted to only 6% from a worrying 25% two week ago. The weather office, which regards seasonal shortfall of more than 10% as deficient, has forecast heavy showers in July, including above-normal rain in the north, where monsoon reached on Saturday.


Saturday’s rainfall, 12.7 mm, was 48% higher than normal, while Sunday’s showers surged 66% above average marking the wettest two days for the year as monsoon reached new areas in the north.

It was particularly heavy in Punjab, with five times normal rain on Saturday. This is will speed up planting of crops in the agriculturally crucial areas of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Planting of crops has already accelerated but it is still lagging behind the level reached last year, when rainfall was about 20% above normal towards the end of June before drought like conditions set it.

“Strengthening of monsoon circulation and above normal rain over the country as a whole is expected during July 1-14 — mostly over central and north-west India,” the India Meteorological Department said in its latest advisory to farmers, advising them to continue planting.

For farmers, monsoon surge is a much-needed relief after two years of drought that has hit agricultural output and caused widespread rural distress.

Prolonged dry conditions have also reduced water levels in 91 major reservoirs and caused a spike in food inflation.

The Reserve Bank of India said in its recent monetary policy statement that good rainfall was important to contain inflationary pressures.

“A strong monsoon, continued astute food management, as well as steady expansion in supply capacity, especially in services, could help offset these upward pressures,” it said as it kept key policy rates unchanged after the higher-than-expected surge in inflation in April.


India Abstains on Vote for LGBT Rights at U.N.

India avoided taking a position on the need to end discrimination based on sexual orientation at the Human Rights Council of the UN, as the Supreme Court is yet to “pronounce” on the issue of rights of LGBT persons, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday.


The MEA’s clarification came a day after India abstained from a voting at the UNHRC on a resolution to set up the office of Independent Expert to end discrimination against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual) persons.


“The issue of LGBT rights in India is a matter being considered by the Supreme Court under a batch of curative petitions filed by various institutions and organisations. The Supreme Court is yet to pronounce on this issue. As such, We had to take this into account in terms of our vote on the third UN resolution to institutionalise the office of an Independent Expert to prevent discrimination against LGBT persons,” said Vikas Swarup, MEA spokesperson.


The move to create this special office in support for the LGBT community follows the June 12 mass killing at an Orlando night club in Florida.


The resolution which was backed by the Latin American member states was opposed by Russia and the Islamic countries as India, Philippines and South Africa abstained.


The official for the newly created post of Independent Expert will shortly be appointed for a three-year period and will serve to fight challenges faced by LGBT persons across the world. The debate on the resolution brought out sharp differences among member countries of the Human Rights Council (HRC) as several countries cited cultural traditions against supporting the move. However, the move to have the office of the Independent Expert was supported by 628 NGOs from 151 countries, informed The International Lesbian, Gay, and Trans and Intersex Association.


India has been cited by several human rights reports as one of the countries where the rights of LGBT persons are yet to be secure.


Introspecting on the opposition to the resolution, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an official statement: “We are disappointed that several hostile amendments to the resolution were adopted, but we remain steadfast in our support for the resolution and its goals, despite these unfortunate changes.” The move at Geneva comes after an initiative on June 17 when diplomats posted in 27 embassies in Delhi celebrated the LGBTI “Pride Month”.


Modi Government Takes Big Step towards Implementing Uniform Civil Code; move likely to Trigger Heated Political Debate

NEW DELHI: In a far-reaching decision likely to start a heated political debate, the Modi government has asked the Law Commission to “examine” the issue of implementing the uniform civil code.

This is the first time a government has asked the commission, which has a crucial advisory role on legal reform, to look into the politically controversial issue of a uniform civil code.

A uniform civil code will mean a set of common personal laws for all citizens. Currently, for  Currently, for example, there are different personal laws for Hindus and Muslims. Personal law covers property, marriage and divorce, inheritance and succession.


The political debate on a uniform civil code has been highly charged, and it is often entwined with a debate on secularism.


Those for and against such a code offer differing interpretations of the social and religious impact of a uniform civil code.


Indigenous Tejas joins IAF’s Fighter Squadron

The 2 LCA have been developed by Aeronautical Development Agency and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

Made in India:A prayer being conducted before the induction of LCA Tejas into the Indian Air Force in Bengaluru on Friday.— Photo: K. Murali Kumar.

The first two contemporary or fourth generation Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas,’ designed and built in India, joined the Indian Air Force’s squadron called Flying Daggers in Bengaluru on Friday. It was a ceremonial but low-key affair.

The induction marked the fruition of a 33-year, nearly Rs. 8000-crore national dream to have an Indian fighter in the country’s air defence fleet.

The current IAF fighters are the French-origin Mirage-2000s and the Russian origin Sukhoi-30s and the aged MiGs.

Two more LCA will join No. 45 Squadron in a few months. “With 45 Squadron commencing operations on Friday, soon the Tejas will be employed to defend the Indian skies,” the IAF said.

Group Captain Madhav Rangachari, who flew the squadron’s first flight for 10 minutes, is its first Commanding Officer, with experience in flying both the Mirage-2000 and the MiG-21. His team will initially have six pilots.

Tejas has been developed for the IAF and the Navy by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) starting 1985 and produced by the public sector aircraft manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, both based in Bengaluru.

Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, Southern Air Command, formally inducted the planes with Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal R.K.S. Bhaduria, HAL CMD T. Suvarna Raju and DRDO Chief S. Christopher witnessing the ceremony.


India’s air Defense System Achieves a Hat-Trick

BALASORE: Scoring a hat-trick, India today successfully test fired the new surface-to-air missile developed jointly with Israel from a defence base off Odisha coast in a third consecutive trial of the air defence system.

The missile with a strike range of 70 km was launched at 1020 hours from the Integrated Test Range(ITR) at Chandipur, a Defence statement said.

“With a third consecutive successful test firing today, the Medium Range Surface to air missile (MRSAM) air defence system has achieved a Hat trick,” it said.

“The objective of today’s mission was for maximum range and high manoeuvring target. The missile guided by armoured seeker system hit the last minute manoeuvring target,” the Defence release said.

With this, MRSAM system has proved the air defence capability for three different boundary envelopes of the target, it said.

Defence Research and Development Organisation created history by conducting three consecutive successful trials of the missile for Indian Air Force, a DRDO official said.

The missile had been successfully test-fired twice from the ITR.

The missile, positioned at launch pad-3 of the ITR, swung into action after getting signal from the radars to intercept a pilotless target aircraft over the Bay of Bengal, DRDO officials said.

Apart from the missile, the system includes a Multi Functional Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar (MF STAR) \detection, tracking and guidance of the missile, they said.

The missile, positioned at launch pad-3 of the ITR, swung into action after getting signal from the radars to intercept a pilotless target aircraft over the Bay of Bengal, DRDO officials said.

Apart from the missile, the system includes a Multi Functional Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar (MF STAR) for detection, tracking and guidance of the missile, they said.

“The missile along with MF-STAR will provide the users with the capability to neutralise any aerial threats.

As a safety measure, Balasore district administration in consultation with defense officials had temporarily shifted 3,652 civilians residing within 2.5 km radius of the launch pad No.3 of ITR to nearby shelter centres this morning to ensure a safe launch of the missile, a Revenue official said.

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