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ISIS bombs Pakistan’s Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine, over 75 killed

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Karachi, February 16: A devastating explosion, claimed by the Islamic State, ripped through a Sufi shrine in Sehwan town of Pakistan’s Sindh province on Thursday, killing at least 75 people and injuring over 250 others.

Assistant Superintendent of Police in Sehwan said a suicide bomber entered the Lal Shehbaz Qalandar shrine through its Golden Gate. The attacker blew himself up after throwing a grenade, which failed to explode, he said.

The explosion took place at the spot where the “Dhamaal” Sufi ritual was being performed within the premises of the shrine.

A stampede followed the blast as a large number of devotees, including women and children, were present in the shrine.

Contingents of police reached the shrine that is situated slightly off the Super Highway in Dadu district of Sindh. Hundreds of people gather at the Sufi saint’s shrine every Thursday for religious rituals.

An emergency has been declared in all hospitals of the area, with the injured being shifted to Liaquat Medical Complex Jamshoro and the sub-district hospital.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decried the attack. “The past few days have been hard, and my heart is with the victims,” Sharif said.

“But we can’t let these events divide us, or scare us. We must stand united in this struggle for the Pakistani identity, and universal humanity.”

Moments after the powerful bombing the Pakistan military issued a strongly worded statement to “hostile powers”, saying it will respond to such attacks.

Director General Inter-Services Public Relations Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said: Recent terrorist acts are being executed on directions from hostile powers and from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. We shall defend and respond.

Each drop of the nation’s blood shall be revenged, and revenged immediately. No more restraint for anyone, the army chief was quoted as saying.

The last attack on a Sufi shrine took place on November 12, 2016, when a suicide bomber struck the shrine of Shah Norani in Khuzdar district of Balochistan, killing at least 52 people and leaving 102 injured.

The explosion had taken place where the Dhamaal was being performed. At least 500 people were gathered at the spot to observe the ritual.

The blast was the latest in a series of attacks to hit the country this week.

A suicide bomber targeted a government office in the Mohmand tribal area on Wednesday, while a separate attack on the same day targeted government employees in Peshawar. Six people were killed in total.

On Tuesday, two police officers were killed while trying to defuse a bomb in Quetta.

Sixteen people were also killed in a suicide bombing at a protest rally in the Lahore on Monday.

Wefornews Bureau

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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.

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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.

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