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FBI joins probe into Sikh’s shooting

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Washington, March 6 

The FBI is helping the police in the US city of Seattle hunt for an attacker who shot a Sikh man and told him to “go back to your own country”, authorities said.

A statement on Sunday from the FBI’s Seattle office said the bureau remains “committed to investigating crimes that are potentially hate-motivated”, The Seattle Times reported.

The 39-year-old victim, a US national of Indian origin, was identified by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as Deep Rai.

“I am sorry to know about the attack on Deep Rai, a US national of Indian-origin. I have spoken to Sardar Harpal Singh, the father of the victim,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted.

“He told me that his son had a bullet injury on his arm. He is out of danger and is recovering in a private hospital,” she said.

Rai was working on his car in front of his house in Kent city on Friday night when the gunman, described as white and who had his face partially covered, opened fire at him and fled, the police said.

“This is a top priority investigation, and we are doing everything possible to identify and arrest the suspect,” Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said, adding that the city of about 120,000 should “be vigilant”.

Thomas said the victim has been released from the hospital.

The shooting also created fear within the Sikh community with its members calling on law enforcement to investigate the racially-motivated attack, the Seattle Times reported.

Jaswinder Singh, of the Gurdwara Sikh Center of Seattle, said the group has received many calls and messages of support since the incident.

“It’s kind of scary to hear about things like this, but we definitely have been getting tremendous support from the community,” he said.

The Sikh Coalition, a national civil-rights group, asked local and federal authorities to investigate the shooting in suburban Seattle as a hate crime.

The attack reverberated across the nation, with Mayor de Blasio condemning it from New York.

“As mayor of the city with the nation’s largest Indian community, my message is clear: this is your city and this is your country,” De Blasio tweeted.

Sikh community leader in Washington state, Satwinder Kaur, said: “Everybody who is part of this community needs to be vigilant.”

“It is scary. The community has been shaken up,” he said.

The incident comes after 51-year-old Adam Purinton fatally shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an aviation engineer, and wounded Alok Madasani, both Indian and 32, at a Kansas City bar last month.

Purinton was charged with premeditated murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Authorities are investigating the attack as a hate crime after witnesses said he was drinking hard and started yelling racial slurs, including “get out of my country”.

(IANS)

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India, China and Russia hold consultation on Afghanistan

Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia currently enjoy observer status while Sri Lanka, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal are dialogue partners.

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Nikolai Patrushev

Moscow/Beijing, May 22 : Afghanistan is a major source of terrorist threats for the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said on Tuesday, four days after he held consultation on the issue with India and China.

For the SCO member-states, the threat of terrorism and extremism comes first and foremost from Afghanistan’s territory. We are convinced that any unilateral attempts to solve the situation in the Islamic republic by force bypassing the norms and principles of the international law may only worsen the situation and create additional security risks, Patrushev said.

His comments followed talks India, China and Russia held on Afghanistan and exchanged views in the Russian capital on May 17.

India’s Deputy National Security Adviser Rajinder Khanna, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and Assistant to the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Venediktov consulted each other. Patrushev then held a group meeting with the delegation members of the three countries who took part in the consultation.

The three sides agreed to strengthen coordination and cooperation under the frameworks of the SCO and the BRICS countries, and to hold the next round of consultation in due course, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

They also exchanged views on the situation in the Asia-Pacific region and cooperation under the frameworks of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS countries, reaching broad consensus, said the statement.

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin at their informal summit in Sochi expressed concern over terrorism and radicalisation. In this context, they endorsed the importance of restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan in an atmosphere free from the threat of terrorism, and agreed to work together towards achieving this objective, said the Ministry of External Affairs.

Patrushev said Russia jointly with other SCO members had been calling for restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan through political settlement led by Afghan citizens.

The Tashkent conference on Afghanistan on March 26-27 confirmed the need to step up multilateral cooperation, including in the SCO framework. We view this meeting, and also meetings in the framework of the Kabul process as a logical continuation of consultations as part of the Moscow format and the SCO-Afghanistan contact group, TASS news agency quoted Patrushev as saying.

Any initiatives on the Afghan track should take into account the interests of regional states and rule out the prospects of imposing unacceptable scenarios on them. In this context, we support the Chinese side’s proposal to hold the second meeting of the contact group in Beijing, he said.

The SCO was formed in Shanghai in 2001 by six founding states – Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

In 2017, India and Pakistan became full-fledged members.

Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia currently enjoy observer status while Sri Lanka, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal are dialogue partners.

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16 killed in Afghanistan blast

No group, neither the Taliban or the Islamic State, have claimed responsibility for the incident.

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Kabul, May 22 : At least 16 people were killed when a vehicle, packed with explosives detonated in the southern Kandahar province on Tuesday, authorities said.

Provincial Governor Tooryalai Wesa said that at least 16 people were killed and 38 others wounded in the explosion, Ariana News reported.

According to Wesa, the death toll is expected to rise, as most of the injured were in critical condition.

No group, neither the Taliban or the Islamic State, have claimed responsibility for the incident.

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India’s Ola in 3 more Australian cities

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New Delhi, May 22: Indian ride-sharing major Ola on Tuesday expanded its services in Australia to three more cities — Brisbane, Gold Coast and Canberra.

To celebrate its launch in these cities, Ola is offering discounted rides from Tuesday. Customers can download the Ola app either from Google Play or iOS App Store, register for an Ola account and begin booking their rides.

“Customers in these cities can book discounted rides using Ola app starting Tuesday,” the city-based online cab aggregator said in a statement here. The online transportation network company has been operating in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne since it forayed into the island-nation early in 2018.

So far, over 30,000 driver-partners have registered themselves with the company since its launch in Australia on January 30, the statement said.

“Over the coming months, Ola is working on its rollout in other Australian cities Adelaide, Darwin and Hobart,” it added.

Founded in 2011, Ola has been competing against Uber in the Indian ride-hailing market. The seven-year-old Ola claims to have over 125 million users in 110 cities across India.

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