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India, US, Japan to kick off mega naval exercise from Friday

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Chennai, July 6:  Warships, submarines, aircraft and personnel from India, Japan and the US are to participate in the Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal from July 7-17, amid reports of the presence of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean.

Malabar 2017 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises that has grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Asia Pacific, a US embassy statement said.

The exercise will feature both ashore and at-sea training.

While ashore in Chennai, training will include subject matter expert and professional exchanges on carrier strike group operations, maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations, surface and anti-submarine warfare, medical operations, damage control, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), helicopter operations, and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations.

The at-sea portions will be conducted in the Bay of Bengal and are designed to advance participating nations’ military-to-military coordination and capacity to plan and execute tactical operations in a multinational environment.

Events planned during the at-sea portions include liaison officer professional exchanges and embarks; a photo exercise; submarine familiarization; high-value unit defence; air defence exercises; medical evacuation drills; surface warfare exercises; communications exercises; search and rescue exercises; helicopter cross-deck evolutions; underway replenishments; gunnery exercises; VBSS exercises; and anti-submarine warfare, the release said.

Participants from the US Navy include the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) with embarked Carrier Air Wing 11; the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59); guided-missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG 83), USS Shoup (DDG 86), and USS Kidd (DDG 100); a P-8A Poseidon aircraft; and a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine.

Indian, Japanese and US maritime forces have a common understanding and knowledge of a shared working environment at sea. Each iteration of this exercise helps to advance the level of understanding between our Sailors, and we hope to be able to continue this process over time. As members of Indo-Asia-Pacific nations, our maritime forces are natural partners, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our bonds and personal relationships, it said.

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ships JS Izumo (DDH 183) and JS Sazanami (DD113) will be participating in the exercise.

The Indian flotilla is expected to have six to seven frontline warships.

IANS

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Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam gets 20 years jail term

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Salah Abdeslam

Brussels, April 23: Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam on Monday awarded 20 years jail term.

Abdeslam, 28, and co-defendant Sofien Ayari were both convicted of terror-related charges of attempted murder, the BBC reported. Ayari, 24, was also given a 20-year sentence.

Abdeslam and Ayari were not in the Brussels court as the order was read out on Monday. Both received the maximum sentence on basis of prosecutors request.

The judge said that “there can be no doubt” about the two men’s involvement with “radicalism”.

On March 15, 2016, Belgian police hunting Abdeslam conducted a raid in the Forest area of Brussels.

They targeted a flat believing that the suspect – who by then had been on the run for four months – had been there.

According to BBC report, When they moved in they exchanged fire with the three occupants. One of the three was killed and three officers were wounded.

Abdeslam and Ayari managed to escape, but Abdeslam’s fingerprints were found in the flat, confirming his presence there.

He was picked up after days of search operation in the nearby Molenbeek area and later transferred to France. Abdeslam had been on trial since February 8.

WeForNews 

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Yaba drug smuggling, addiction rates record alarming rise in Bangladesh

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Dhaka (Bangladesh), April 23: Smuggling of the highly-addictive drug yaba — and its soaring acceptance among the youth and even celebrities — is a challenge Bangladesh faces increasingly as Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar are suspected to be peddling it as a means of survival, say border guard officials.

On a recent trip to the border areas of Bangladesh, an Indian media group was told that a wave of yaba use has swept over the country as young people from the middle and upper income classes are experimenting with this “crazy medicine” and fuelling an alarming surge in addiction rates.

Officials of the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) said they have seized 5,297,234 pieces of yaba pills this year up to March and arrested 151 smugglers, including 15 Myanmar nationals, as a massive influx of Rohingya refugees brought increased smuggling from that country. The number of seized pills was around 14,997,570 in 2017 when 649 people, including 15 Myanmar nationals, were held.

Raids on fishing boats on the Naff river– which divides Bangladesh and Myanmar, countries that share a 271-km boundary — have reaped a massive haul of yaba pills, which is a rage among Bangladeshi youth.

“In one raid on March 15, we seized 1.8 million yaba pills abandoned in four sacks in the Naff river,” Brigadier General S.M. Rakibullah told IANS.

Rakibullah, Additional Director General and Regional Commander of BGB’s Adhoc Region Headquarters in Cox’s Bazar, said: “It is the biggest ever yaba seizure by the BGB. The guards arrested 11 smugglers in March, including seven Rohingyas.”

Shahidur Rahman, Director, BGB Battalion, Feni region, said yaba pills have become an easy source of income for the Rohingyas who have poured across the border since the Myanmar military launched a crackdown in their native Rakhine state on August 24-25 night last year.

Rohingya refugees act as carriers of yaba, which is known as “crazy medicine”, and hand over the pills to dealers on the Bangladesh side of the border who then take them to the country’s main cities, Rahman said.

Three young Rohingya refugees — identified as Mohammed Saddam, Masud Talukder and Jamil Hossein — were arrested last week in separate drives and over 100,000 yaba pills (worth in crores) were recovered from their possession in the Cox Bazar area, the official said.

He said “it is a way to make easy money as one tablet is sold illegally for 300 Taka”.

A BGB official, on condition of anonymity, said the force has been facing tough times to stop the yaba smuggling because of the difficulty in patrolling the 54 km of the Naff river.

“Smuggling of yaba came to light some time towards the end of 2015, but the menace has grown since the influx of Rohingyas who are lured by Myanmar crime syndicate as carriers. The internal carriers have increased. Some of them are desperate just for survival,” the official said.

The Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh has called for “zero tolerance” on smuggling of yaba, which has one too many nicknames and was outlawed in Thailand in the early 1970s.

Another BGB official said Thailand is one of the largest sources of yaba while Myanmar is one of the biggest producers of it. “Yaba pills are produced in labs on the Myanmar side.”

He said Yaba is mostly popular among those who suffer from sexual or mental problems. “Some unscrupulous doctors and chemists prescribe and sell pills laced with yaba for immediate relief.”

The drug is believed to have led to organised crime rackets, official corruption, street violence and broken families, said the official.

Many syndicates are bringing yaba pills from Teknaf to Dhaka through new routes after the contraband tablets are smuggled from Myanmar. From Teknaf, the pills first reach Patuakhali’s Kuakata in fishing boats and then make their way through different modes of transport.

Acting regional commander of south east region of BGB, Colonel Gazi Md Ahsanuzzaman, said that yaba smuggling had gone up since last year.

“Tablets worth Taka 1.25 crore are smuggled per day into Bangladesh. Earlier the number was in a few lakhs. The tablets are smuggled through the Naff river via no-man’s land near Gumdhum village in the Cox region of Bangladesh.”

Yaba is spreading from urban to rural areas with drug abuse particularly increasing among street children, he said.

According to drug control authorities, from 2007 to 2010, illicit trafficking and abuse of yaba has increased almost 40 times in Bangladesh.

(Rajnish Singh visited Bangladesh between April 15 and 18 as part of BSF-sponsored Indian media group. He can be contacted at [email protected] )

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North Korea suspends nuclear, ballistic missile testing

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North Korean Kim Jong un

Seoul, April 21: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday announced the immediate suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests.

“From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Efe quoted Kim as saying.

According to the report, North Korea will also close a nuclear test site in the country’s northern side in a bid to guarantee transparency in suspending nuclear tests.

Having established a nuclear deterrent, North Korea can now turn to overhauling its economy, Kim said.

Pyongyang’s decision comes ahead of Kim’s April 27 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries.

The last bilateral talks between the leaders of North and South Korea took place 11 years ago.

US President Donald Trump, who accepted Kim’s proposal for a meeting after months that saw the two men trade insults and threats, praised the announcement from Pyongyang.

“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit,” Trump said in a tweet.

WeForNews 

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