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3 killed in 2 suicide car bombs in Iraq’s Basra

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Car Bomb

Baghdad, May 20 : At least three security members were killed and others wounded in two suicide car bomb attacks targeting a security checkpoint in the Iraqi southern province of Basra, a police source said.

The attack occurred before the sunset when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car near a checkpoint on the road leading to the oil field of Rumaila, Xinhua reported.

Afterwards, another suicide car bomb attack apparently was foiled when the security forces blew up the attacked car bomb near another checkpoint outside the oil-hub city of Basra.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the Islamic State (IS) militant group, in most cases, is responsible for most of such suicide attacks targeting the security forces and crowded areas, including markets, cafes and mosques across Iraq.

The attacks came as the Iraqi security forces backed by anti-IS international coalition are carrying out a major offensive to drive out the IS militants from their major stronghold in the western side of Mosul in northern Iraq.

Health

Israeli Health Minister diagnosed with coronavirus

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Yaakov Litzman Israel

Jerusalem, April 2 : Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman went into isolation on Thursday after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, his office said, forcing more senior officials into self-quarantine.

Litzman, leader of the Jewish ultra-Orthodox party of United Torah Judaism, is in isolation with his wife who has been infected, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The Minister and his wife feel well and are being treated,” the Health Ministry said in an official statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had frequent meetings with Litzman, “was updated with the details”, the statement said.

The two were seen side by side during televised remarks eight days ago.

In addition, the Health Ministry’s Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov, who has been running Israel’s efforts to halt the rapid spread of the virus, also went into isolation for his contact with Litzman.

He will continue to work and coordinate the efforts from a designated facility in the Sheba Hospital outside Tel Aviv, the Ministry said.

Meanwhile, the Hebrew-language Ynet news site reported that Yossi Cohen, chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, has been placed under quarantine for the same reason.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu came out of two-day isolation after one of his advisors was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

As per the latest updates, 6,211 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Israel and 31 have died so far.

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Disaster

Iran extends furloughs for prisoners amid coronavirus fight

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Tehran, March 30 : Iran’s Judiciary on Sunday announced the extension of furloughs for 100,000 inmates amid the nationwide fight against COVID-19, state TV reported.

Furloughs were extended until April 19 for the prisoners who had already been granted a leave until April 3, Iran’s Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said, reported Xinhua news agency.

Such extension does not include the released prisoners who carried out an illegal or criminal act during their furloughs, he added.

Iran’s Judiciary has temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in prisons.

Iran is the worst-hit country by the virus in the Middle East.

Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education on Sunday reported the total number of 38,309 cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, of whom 2,640 have died.

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Disaster

UN Relief and Works Agency warns of COVID-19 spread in Gaza Strip

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Gaza Border

Gaza, March 30 : A senior official of UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Sunday warned of the consequences of the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Gaza Strip.

Director of the UNRWA in Gaza Matthias Schmale told reporters that the organization is gravely concerned about the spread of the virus in light of Gaza’s vulnerable situation, stressing that managing such a crisis would be “extremely difficult”, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said Gaza Strip is suffering from a severe lack of resources in light of 13-year-old Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave.

“It is unreasonable to think that a place like Gaza can be isolated from the world, which puts everyone, including the people, under the responsibility of stopping the spread of the virus,” he said, adding that “the worst scenario is the spread of the virus under a total closure.”

Schmale called for lifting the blockade that has been imposed on Gaza since 2007 and stressed the importance of providing respiratory equipment and preventative medical equipment to Gaza.

The total number of Palestinians infected with the coronavirus has reached 108, including nine in the Gaza Strip.

UNRWA provides basic services, including health, education, sanitation and food supplies to more than one million Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip, a home for two million Palestinians.

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