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131 killed as 2 blasts rip through Ramadan crowds at Baghdad shopping areas

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Two blasts have ripped through busy market areas in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, killing at least 131 people and injuring 200 others. Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

People gather at the site of a suicide car bomb in the Karada shopping area, in Baghdad [Khalid al Mousily/Reuters]

nterior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan confirmed that the first blast had come from a suicide truck bomb.

“It was like an earthquake. I wrapped up my goods and was heading home when I saw a fireball with a thunderous bombing,”eyewitness Karim Sami told AP. “I was so scared to go back and started to make phone calls to my friends, but none answered.”

Karrada was busy at the time as Iraqis eat out late during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends next week.

A video posted on social media showed a large blaze in the main street of Karrada after the blast. Reuters TV footage taken in the morning showed at least four buildings severely damaged or partly collapsed.

A roadside explosive device also blew up around midnight in a market in al-Shaab, a popular Shi’ite district in the north of the capital, leaving at least two killed, police and medical sources said.

Iraqi forces last month dislodged Islamic State militants from Falluja, their stronghold just west of the capital that had served as a launch pad for such attacks.

 

People inspect the site of a suicide car bomb in the Karrada shopping area, in Baghdad, Iraq July 3, 2016.

People inspect the site of a suicide car bomb in the Karrada shopping area, in Baghdad, Iraq July 3, 2016.

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India To Host G20 Summit In 2023: Grouping’s Declaration

India looks forward to taking forward the G20 agenda in 2023 after the Italian and Indonesian presidencies, the source said.

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G20 leaders announced on Sunday that India will host the summit of the high-profile grouping in 2023 — a year later than what was decided earlier.

India was earlier slated to host the summit in 2022 with the Osaka declaration of the G20 stating last year that “we look forward to meeting again in Saudi Arabia in 2020, in Italy in 2021 and in India in 2022”.

“We thank Saudi Arabia for hosting a successful Riyadh Summit and its contribution to the G20 process. We look forward to our next meetings in Italy in 2021, Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024,” the G20 Riyadh Summit Leaders Declaration said.

On India now hosting the summit in 2023, a source said, “The order of the rotating presidency is decided among member states on the basis of consultations and mutual convenience.”

India looks forward to taking forward the G20 agenda in 2023 after the Italian and Indonesian presidencies, the source said.

In a statement on the summit, the Ministry of External Affairs said it was decided that the G20 presidency will be held by Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024.

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Middle East

G20 leadership vital in defence against Covid: UN chief

It means broadening the eligibility of the G20 debt initiatives to all vulnerable developing countries, including the middle-income ones that need it, he said.

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the leadership of the Group of 20 (G20) is vital in the global struggle with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our greatest defence against Covid-19 is solidarity and cooperation,” the UN chief was speaking at a virtual summit of G20 leaders under the theme “Building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future,” where he highlighted the importance of G20 leadership in the fight against the pandemic and the effort to build back better, Xinhua news agency reported.

First of all, the Secretary-General said that the G20 leadership is critical in “halting the further spread of the pandemic.”

“Yesterday, I was encouraged by the broad recognition that vaccines – as well as tests and treatments – must be global public goods, available and affordable for all,” he said, referring to the progress in the first-day meeting of the summit.

“But I want to repeat the call on G20 members to support the ACT-Accelerator and its COVAX facility. There is a financial gap of 28 billion US dollars and we need 4.2 billion dollars of that immediately for mass manufacturing, procurement and distribution around the world,” he said.

The top UN official also said, the leadership is also vital in mobilizing the resources to build forward better.

“There will be no different and better future without stronger action now to provide the necessary liquidity and tackle the debt emergency of the most vulnerable,” he explained.

“It means strengthening the firepower of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and other international financial institutions in support of the developing world, including through a new issuance of Special Drawing Rights and the reallocation of unused SDRs,” Guterres added.

It means broadening the eligibility of the G20 debt initiatives to all vulnerable developing countries, including the middle-income ones that need it, he said.

The UN chief believed that the third important role of the G20 leadership is aligning their recovery efforts with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

To build an inclusive, resilient and sustainable post-COVID world, public spending must be linked with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, said the Secretary-General.

“We have a moral obligation to ensure that the trillions of dollars for Covid-19 recovery – money that we are borrowing from future generations – does not leave them burdened by a mountain of debt on a broken planet,” he said.

“The recovery must help to reconcile humankind and nature on all fronts. From climate to biodiversity, from protecting the oceans to stopping deforestation and land degradation,” he added.

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Rocket launched from Gaza toward southern Israel

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Rocket Hits

Jerusalem: A handmade rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel, according to Palestinian and Israeli security sources.

The Palestinian sources told Xinhua news agency that the rocket, which was fired on Saturday from northern Gaza, caused an explosion in the border areas.

Meanwhile, Avichai Adraee, spokesman of the Israeli army, said in a statement that “Palestinian militants launched a handmade rocket from the Gaza Strip toward an Israeli territory”.

No injuries were reported, according to Adraee.

No Palestinian faction claimed responsibility for launching the rocket.

In retaliation on Sunday morning, the Israeli army struck several Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, the army said.

Rocket sirens sounded in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on Saturday night, and locals reported hearing explosions.

Police said a building in Ashkelon was damaged but there were no injuries or casualties.

Last week, two rockets launched from Gaza fell in open areas in Ashdod and the central city of Rishon Letzion Israel after the Iron Dome missile defence system failed to intercept them, the Haaretz newspaper said in a report.

The latest developments come after Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on November 16 warned that his country will launch a heavy attack on the Gaza Strip if rocket fire from the besieged enclave continued.

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