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Arms (Amendment) Bill turns law, gets President’s nod

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New Delhi: The new Arms (Amendment) Act has come into force with President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent to a Bill cleared by Parliament earlier this week to help the government in controlling proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition in the country.

Kovind gave his approval on Saturday to the Act which provides for enhancement of period of arms licence from three years to five years and issuance of arms licence in its electronic form for rationalising and facilitating the licensing procedures for use of firearms by individuals as well as to curb crimes committed by using illegal firearms.

The Act aimed at providing effective deterrence against violation of law.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Arms (Amendment) Act, 2019 (48 of 2019), the Central Government hereby appoints the 14th day of December, 2019, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,” a Gazette notification issued on Saturday reads.

The Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was cleared from Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, a day after it was passed from the Lok Sabha, proposing stringent punishment for illegal weapons and ammunition traffickers.

The Act is an amendment to the six-decade-old Arms Act, 1959 to effectively curb crimes committed by using illegal firearms in the wake of spurt in illegal arms smuggling.

It bans the manufacture, sale, use, transfer, conversion, testing or proofing of firearms without a license. As per the amendment, even the punishment for offences under the act has been increased to between seven years and life imprisonment, and a fine.

Previously, the punishment for offences under the act was between three to seven years, along with a fine. The security forces this year, seized 438 illegal guns and 30,480 ammunition, said the Minister, adding that in coming years the government will add provision to give licence in form of smart card and will do away with the licence book.

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Nine drug addicts killed in Afghanistan shooting

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Kabul, Nine drug addicts were shot to death in an overnight shooting in a non-residential area in western side of Kabul, Afghanistan, the capital police said on Sunday.

“The shooting occurred at side of Qurugh Mountain in Police District 6 roughly at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday. Personnel of Kabul Criminal Investigation Police Department shifted the bodies to Forensic Science Service Department near Kabul University shortly after the shooting was reported,” Ferdaus Faramarz from Kabul police told Xinhua.

One arrest was made after the shooting and the motive behind the incident remained unclear. Further investigation is on, police added.

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31 civilians killed in Yemen airstrike: UN

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An airstrike in the Yemeni northeastern province of al-Jawf has killed at least 31 civilians and injured 12 others, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen said in a statement on Sunday.

“We share our deep condolences with the families of those killed and we pray for the speedy recovery of everyone who has been injured in these terrible strikes,” Lise Grande said in the statement obtained by Xinhua.

“Under international humanitarian law parties which resort to force are obligated to protect civilians. Five years into this conflict and belligerents are still failing to uphold this responsibility,” she added.

The victims were killed in the airstrike on Saturday that targeted a gathering of people at the site where a Tornado warplane of the Saudi-led coalition crashed in al-Masloub district in the southwest of al-Jawf, according to a local tribal source.

The victims were members of three relative families, the source said on condition of anonymity. The strike came hours after the Houthi rebels claimed to have shot down the Tornado warplane.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition confirmed that a Tornado warplane crashed in al-Jawf during an operation to support Yemen’s government forces. The coalition held Houthis responsible for the lives and safety of the plane’s crew, according to a statement carried by the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television.

The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Iran-allied Houthi rebels since its intervention in the Yemeni conflict in March 2015 to support the internationally-recognized government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

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Japan confirms 70 new coronavirus cases from cruise ship

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Toky, Another 70 people aboard the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan’s Yokohama have been tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total to 355 cases, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato confirmed on Sunday.

The health ministry said that the 70 new cases came out of 289 people tested, bringing the total number of those who have undergone tests to 1,219, Japan Times reported.

The cruise ship arrived in Japan earlier this month with more than 3,700 passengers and crew members from more than 50 countries and regions.

With global attention increasingly focused on the situation, the US Embassy sent a letter on Saturday to Americans aboard saying that a chartered aircraft, set to arrive in Japan on Sunday, would repatriate those who wished to leave the ship.

The US aircraft is set to depart from Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Monday, according to Japanese official japan will also cooperate with other countries that make similar arrangements to evacuate their citizens on the ship, Japanese government officials said.

More than a week has passed since the cruise ship was put under a two-week quarantine at Yokohama port after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to be infected with COVID-19, the pneumonia-causing coronavirus.

Japan’s health ministry had initially planned to keep all of the passengers and crew confined on the vessel until Wednesday, when the quarantine is scheduled to end.

But the ministry decided last Thursday to let passengers 80 and older, as well as their traveling companions, leave before the end of the quarantine after they were screened for infection.

Those with pre-existing conditions or who were staying in cabins without windows were prioritized for disembarkation.

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