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12 killed in Mogadishu blasts, Al-Shabaab claims responsibility

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At least 12 people were killed and 16 others injured in Mogadishu blasts that targetted a popular park and a hotel near the Somali presidential palace, police said.

According to police officer Said Muse, the first blast occured at the gate of “peace garden” on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Somalia-based militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

“Car bomb rammed into the gate of garden, which caused more deaths. We can confirm that seven people were killed in the garden,” Muse said.

The officer also noted that another explosion took place near SYL hotel which witnessed attacks before, saying the second explosion resulted in the deaths of 5 women who were employed as cleaners on the streets.

A journalist, who was at the scene the moment of the explosion told Xinhua that the blast was huge.

“I was inside the peace garden when the explosion occurred, and I was shocked and I immediately did not run towards the gate because I was afraid that there is another explosion. I jumped out of the wall. Everyone was in a panic,” Radio Mogadishu journalist Mohamed Roraye who survived the attack, said.

IANS

 

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Hiroshima marks 75th atomic bomb anniversary

Many fear interest in the bombings is fading as they recede beyond the horizon of lived experience and into history.

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75th anniversary of bombing in Hiroshima Nagasaki

Japan on Thursday marked 75 years since the world’s first atomic bomb attack, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing a scaling back of ceremonies to remember the victims.

Survivors, relatives and a handful of foreign dignitaries attended this year’s main event in Hiroshima to pray for those killed or wounded in the bombing and call for world peace.

But the general public was kept away, with the ceremony instead broadcast online.

Participants, many of them dressed in black and wearing face masks, offered a silent prayer at exactly 8:15 am (2315 GMT Wednesday), the time the first nuclear weapon used in wartime was dropped over the city.

Speaking afterwards, Hiroshima mayor Kazumi Matsui warned against the nationalism that led to World War II and urged the world to come together to face global threats, like the coronavirus pandemic.

“We must never allow this painful past to repeat itself. Civil society must reject self-centred nationalism and unite against all threats,” he said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been criticised by some for his attempts to revise a key pacifist clause of the country’s constitution, pledged in his address to “do my best for the realisation of a world without nuclear weapons and peace for all time”.

And UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who addressed the gathering by video message because of the pandemic, warned that “the only way to totally eliminate nuclear risk is to totally eliminate nuclear weapons”.

The bomb attack on Hiroshima killed around 140,000 people, many of them instantly, with others perishing in the weeks and months that followed, suffering radiation sickness, devastating burns and other injuries.

Three days later, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, where 74,000 people were killed.

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Disaster

‘Horror show’: Massive explosion in Beirut kills dozens, wounds thousands in Lebanon’s capital

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Beirut Blast

BEIRUT : A huge explosion in a port warehouse district near the centre of Beirut killed more than 73 people, injured over 3,700 others and sent shockwaves across the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, shattering windows and causing apartment balconies to collapse.

Officials expected the death toll to rise sharply as emergency workers dug through rubble across a swathe of the city to rescue people and remove the dead. It was the most powerful blast to hit Beirut in years, making the ground tremble.

“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen. “There are victims and casualties everywhere – in all the streets and areas near and far from the explosion.”

Three hours after the blast, which struck shortly after 6 p.m. (1500 GMT), a fire still blazed in the port district, casting an orange glow across the night sky as helicopters hovered and ambulance sirens sounded across the capital.

A security source said victims were being taken for treatment outside the city because Beirut hospitals were already packed with wounded. Red Cross ambulances from the north and south of the country and the Bekaa valley to the east were called in to cope with the huge casualty toll.

The blast was so big that some residents in the city, where memories of heavy shelling during the 1975 to 1990 civil war live on, thought an earthquake had struck. Dazed, weeping and, wounded, people walked through streets searching for relatives.

Lebanon’s interior minister said initial information indicated highly explosive material, seized years ago, that had been stored at the port had blown up. The minister later told Al Jadeed TV ammonium nitrate had been in storage there since 2014.

Footage of the explosion shared by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port district followed by an enormous blast, sending a ball of white smoke and fireball into the sky. Those filming the incident from high buildings 2 km (more than a mile) from the port were thrown backwards by the shock.

Lebanon’s health minister said more than 25 people had been killed and more than 2,500 were injured. Lebanon’s Red Cross said hundreds of people had been taken to hospitals.

DAY OF MOURNING

Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for an emergency meeting of the country’s Supreme Defence Council, according to the presidency’s Twitter account. Prime Minister Hassan Diab called for a day of mourning on Wednesday.

The explosion occurred three days before a U.N.-backed court is due to deliver a verdict in the trial of four suspects from the Shi’ite group Hezbollah over a 2005 bombing which killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and 21 other people.

Hariri was killed in another huge blast on the waterfront, although on that occasion it was caused by a truck bomb.

It was not immediately clear what caused Tuesday’s blaze that set off the blast.

Internal Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim, touring the port area, said he would not pre-empt investigations. An Israeli official said Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, had nothing to do with the blast.

The governor of Beirut port told Sky News that a team of firefighters at the scene had “disappeared” after the explosion.

“I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street,” said a Reuters witness.

Residents said glass was broken in houses from Raouche, on the Mediterranean city’s western tip, to Rabieh 10 km (6 miles) east). In Cyprus, a Mediterranean island 110 miles (180 km) across the sea from Beirut, residents heard the blast bangs. One resident in Nicosia said his house and window shutters shook.

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Pakistan Foreign Minister writes to UNSC on Jammu and Kashmir ‘dispute’

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Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Islamabad, Aug 4 : Amid Pakistans plans to mark the first anniversary of the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, on August 5 with protests, rallies and other activities, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has written a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), highlighting Islamabads claims of what it calls “illegal and unilateral measures of August 5 2019 in the Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK)”.

In the letter addressed to the President of UN Security Council, Qureshi has highlighted the ongoing tense situation in the Kashmir Valley and the “violations of human rights committed by the Indian forces”.

“Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has one again written to the President of UN Security Council sharing additional information on India’s continuing massive violations of human rights in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, its attempt to change demography and its escalating ceasefire violations and rhetoric against Pakistan which together pose a threat to regional and international peace and security,” read the statement issued by the Pakistan Foreign Office.

Terming the year-long lockdown and curfew imposed by the Narendra Modi-led government in Jammu and Kashmir as “military siege”, Qureshi maintained that with “internet and communication blackout, imprisoned Kashmiri political leaders and abducted Kashmiri youth, India is seeking to camouflage the ongoing systematic torture, extra-judicial killings and imposition of collective punishment on Kashmiris”.

“These atrocities epitomise India’s brutality in suppressing Kashmiri’s resistance against Indian occupation for over seven decades,” read the letter.

Along with the letter, Pakistan has also circulated two papers as official document for the Security Council: 1) On the legal aspects of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute; 2) On India’s violations of human rights in IIOJK.

As per the press release of the Foreign Office, the legal document “apprises the Council members and the world community of the legitimacy of the Kashmiris’ demand of self-determination”.

The second document details India’s violations of human rights which “will be a permanent and damning testimony of India’s long record of oppression and serious crimes against the Kashmiri people”.

Qureshi has also highlighted the ongoing ceasefire violations by India along the working boundary and the Line of Control (LoC), stating that “India’s belligerent posture towards Pakistan pose a threat to peace and security”.

Qureshi has “urged the Council to strengthen the UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to enable it to report fully and accurately on the gravity of the security environment in occupied Jammu and Kashmir”.

Pakistan has also reminded the Security Council of its responsibility towards maintenance of international peace and security.

“I urge the Council to meet and consider the consequences of India’s military siege in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the serious threats that India’s aggressive posture pose to the peace and security of South Asia,” Qureshi said.

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