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11 injured in Saudi Arabia train station blaze

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Jeddah, Sep 30 At least 11 people were injured in a fire at the Haramain high-speed rail station in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, forcing the suspension of train services.

But as of early Monday morning, the blaze was brought under control by firefighters almost 10 hours later, reports Efe news.

Saudi Arabia Civil Defence and Makkah Province Emirate – on their respective Twitter accounts – said that firefighters were continuing to use assorted techniques to cool down the station.

There were no fatalities in the blaze, but train services has been suspended for the safety of the passengers, officials said.

The Jeddah Health Directorate reported on Twitter that 11 people had been injured, with eight of them remaining hospitalized and in “stable” condition, two having been released after being treated and one having left the hospital voluntarily.

The blaze started in the station’s ceiling on Sunday, according to initial reports.

Videos of the fire circulated on Twitter, showing thick billows of smoke, the Al Arabiya newspaper reported.

Civil defence forces and helicopters were seen trying to put out the fire.

According to the Haramain high-speed railway’s official Twitter page, the fire broke out at 12.35 p.m.

The Haramain high-speed railway, constructed by a Spanish consortium, covers the 450 km between Mecca and Medina, holy cities for Muslims.

Currently, the railway runs 35 commercial trains and a luxury train for the king, and it has a contract to operate and provide maintenance for the system for the next 12 years.

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B’desh to introduce e-passports this week

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Dhaka: Bangladesh is set to begin the distribution of e-passports on Wednesday, it was reported.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to launch the e-passport distribution at an event scheduled to be held at the capital’s Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, bdnews24 quoted Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan as saying on Sunday.

The President and Prime Minister will receive THE e-passports first, he said, adding that anyone can apply for it.

The delivery of e-passports will start in regional offices by the end of 2020. The services will expand in phases, the Minister said, adding that machine-readable passports will remain valid as well.

The Department of Immigration and Passports will issue 48-page and 64-page e-passports with the validity of five years and 10 years, respectively.

The decision on introducing digital passport comes less than a decade after Bangladesh switched from manual to the machine-readable passport.

The government took the initiative to introduce e-passports in the wake of more than one passport being illegally issued against one person in the absence of database of fingerprints of citizens.

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Bangladesh PM calls CAA ‘internal matter’ but ‘unnecessary’

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New Delhi, Even as Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina believes that Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is India’s “internal matter”, she has described the law, which aims to grant citizenship to persecuted religious minorities of the three neighboring Muslim countries, “unnecessary”.

Hasina said this in an interview to the Gulf News at Abu Dhabi, where she is on a visit to hold high-level bilateral meetings. We don’t understand why (the Indian government) did it. It was not necessary,” Hasina told Gulf News.

“Bangladesh has always maintained that the CAA and NRC are internal matters of India. The Government of India, on their part, has also repeatedly maintained that the NRC is an internal exercise of India and Prime Minister Modi has in person assured me of the same during my visit to New Delhi in October 2019,” she added.

The CAA passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019, grants citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian refugees who fled from religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014.

The law came into effect last month. The Opposition and some youth organizations in India have been protesting against the CAA. Some protests turned violent too.

Soon after the CAA was passed, Dhaka canceled its high-level visits and meetings in New Delhi. Hasina’s description of the law now as “unnecessary” is in line with the concerns in Bangladesh establishment that the CAA might trigger reverse migration of Bangladesh illegal immigrants living in India.

However, Hasina in her interview said there was no reverse migration from India to Bangladesh yet. Dhaka has also denied there has been any religious persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh. “But within India, people are facing many problems,” Hasina said vaguely to the Gulf News.

Officials in the Ministry of External Affairs, however, insisted that the CAA is an internal matter. “Necessary or unnecessary is a matter of perception. It has been passed by Parliament,” said an official who did not want to be quoted.

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70 soldiers killed in Yemen missile attack

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Sanaa, At least 70 soldiers were killed in a ballistic missile attack in Yemen’s Marib province, a government source said on Sunday.

Dozens of soldiers were still suffering critical injuries from the attack that took place on Saturday night near a mosque in al-Estikbal military base, the source told Xinhua news agency.

Yemeni government officials have blamed the Iran-allied Houthi rebels for the attack, but the Houthis have not claimed responsibility.

Hours after the Marib attack, the Saudi-led coalition, which backs the Yemeni government forces, launched a series of airstrikes on a Houthi-controlled military base in the southeast of the group-held capital Sanaa, with no casualties reported, according to the residents.

The Arab coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in March 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Houthis who stormed the capital Sanaa and controlled much of the country’s north in late 2014.

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