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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.

Middle East

Yemen’s new PM sworn in, vows to ease sufferings of Yemenis

According to state-run Saba news agency, Hadi congratulated the new Prime Minister and asked him to place economy and basic services as top priorities.

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Maeen Abdulmalik

Aden (Yemen), Oct 19 : Yemen’s newly appointed Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik was sworn in on Thursday to lead the internationally-backed government in the war-torn Arab country.

Maeen was appointed as Prime Minister by Yemen’s President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi earlier this week, replacing his sacked predecessor Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, reported Xinhua news agency.

According to state-run Saba news agency, Hadi congratulated the new Prime Minister and asked him to place economy and basic services as top priorities.

Hadi said he trusted Maeen’s abilities and determination to achieve in the economic field.

“We do understand the obstacles created by the Houthi militia’s war. However it does not exempt anybody from shouldering his responsibilities and explore every possible means to do his duties successfully,” Hadi noted.

Maeen thanked Hadi for his trust, vowing to work with other government members to ease Yemenis’ suffering from the economic collapse.

On Monday, President Hadi sacked Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr over sharp economic crisis and currency slump, and referred him to investigation over “carelessness and failure” of his government.

Earlier this month, the pro-secession Southern Transitional Council blamed the Yemeni government for rampant corruption, calling for a public uprising in the port city of Aden and other neighbouring main cities.

In response, the Yemeni government and its Interior Ministry beefed up security around government institutions in Aden and vowed to protect the city from sabotage elements.

The southern port city of Aden, where Yemen’s government is temporarily based, has been suffering from frequent power outages and lack of basic services including water, leading to public anger against the local authorities.

The impoverished Arab country has been locked into a civil war since the Shiite Houthi rebels overran much of the country militarily and seized all northern provinces, including the capital Sanaa, in late 2014.

IANS

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Middle East

UN seeks immediate action to avoid another war in Gaza

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Palestinians

United Nations, Oct 19 : The United Nations envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, has demanded that Palestine and Israel take immediate action to reduce current tensions in the area and avoid another armed conflict in Gaza.

“We remain on the brink of another potentially devastating conflict, a conflict that nobody claims to want, but a conflict that needs much more than just words to prevent,” said Mladenov in a videoconference speech to the Council on Thursday.

“Barring substantial steps to reverse the current course, this precarious sense of calm is doomed to give way under the mounting pressure. It is already beginning to fray,” he said, reports Efe.

The diplomat called on Hamas and other groups to “immediately” halt all “provocations and attacks” and to stop all violence along the border, while adding that Israel must facilitate access of goods and people to Gaza and ensure that its security forces are acting with maximum restraint.

Mladenov addressed the Security Council to review the new escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, where on Wednesday Israel staged about 20 airstrikes in reprisal for the launching of rockets from the Palestinian enclave.

Mladenov, who is working with Egypt in negotiations to try and stabilize the situation in Gaza and facilitate reconciliation among the Palestinian factions, said that the arrangements that have maintained a certain calm in recent years are breaking down under growing pressure.

The UN official said he was afraid that there is no more time for mere words and that the international community and the local parties must act now.

The upsurge in violence is taking place as Israeli society and members of the country’s Cabinet debate whether to launch a broad new military operation against Gaza to guarantee calm, after six months of mobilizations in the Strip, the launching of hundreds of incendiary balloons and dozens of attempts to damage the border fence and infiltrate into Israel, some by armed militias.

These actions come amid the so-called Great March of Return, which began on March 30 resulting in the deaths of more than 200 Palestinians in demonstrations and in violent incidents or Israeli bombings against militias.

Mladenov emphasized that the situation in Gaza is absolutely not sustainable: “Gaza is collapsing. This is not hyperbole. It is not alarmism. It is a reality.”

He said that the economy of the Strip is in free fall, with unemployment of 53 percent, and 70 percent unemployment among young people.

All the key indicators – humanitarian, economic, security and political – continue to deteriorate, he said.

Mladenov emphasized that there is a clear and growing international consensus about the need to act to respond to the situation, above all with humanitarian initiatives, adding that reducing the humanitarian pressure on the ground will directly reduce the threat of escalation and provide space for efforts led by Egypt to return the legitimate Palestinian government to Gaza, which is currently under the control of the Islamist Hamas movement.

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Saudi Arabia to hit back if US imposes sanctions

“The kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action,” the report added.

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Donald Trump Saudi Prince

Riyadh, Oct 14 : Saudi Arabia threatened on Sunday to hit back if the US were to impose sanctions on Riyadh in the wake of the disappearance of a Saudi journalist, according to the state-run SPA news agency.

US President Donald Trump had warned on Saturday that his administration could severely punish Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, if the kingdom was found responsible for the disappearance and possible murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, reports Efe news.

“The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures or repeating false accusations,” the report by SPA said, citing an unnamed official source.

“The kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action,” the report added.

Earlier on Sunday, the Saudi stock market plunged nearly seven percent amid fears of imminent US sanctions.

Before Saturday’s comments, Trump had been reluctant to criticize Saudi Arabia and had said on Thursday that he was against cancelling the $110 billion US-Saudi arms deal over the journalist’s disappearance.

The possible murder of Khashoggi, a US permanent resident in self-imposed exile who had written critically against the Saudi monarchy, has generated a far stronger international backlash against the kingdom than the ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has caused widespread famine in the already impoverished Arab country.

IANS

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