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‘Those named by Benazir before assassination were never probed’

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Musharrafa

The head of the Pakistani Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Benazir Bhutto assassination, has said it had not probed three men named by her in a letter months before her killing, saying they might try to harm her.

During cross-examination on Wednesday, former Federal Investigation Agency additional director general Khalid Qureshi said the JIT had not investigated the former director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt. General Hamid Gul (retd); former director general Intelligence Bureau (IB), Brig Ejaz Shah (retd) and former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi.

All these people were mentioned by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a letter she wrote to US lobbyist Mark Siegel in 2007 months before her assassination, Dawn online reported.

Bhutto, who was in office from 1988-90 and 1993-96, was killed in 2007 after leaning out of the sunroof of her bulletproof vehicle as she left a campaign rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi.

When asked by an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi, whether Qureshi had examined those named by Bhutto, the JIT chief replied in the negative.

It was also disclosed before the court that Qureshi was a member of the Punjab Police JIT which had conducted the initial probe.

The investigation into the murder was divided into two phases. Soon after Bhutto’s assassination, the then Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) government formed a probe team of which Qureshi was a member.

The team arrested five suspects who belonged to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Al-Qaeda militant group took responsibility for the attack, but then president Pervez Musharraf was later indicted for not providing Bhutto enough protection.

In 2008, the investigation was assigned to the FIA and Qureshi was appointed the JIT head.

The JIT conducted another inquiry and implicated Musharraf, Deputy Inspector General Saud Aziz and Senior Superintendent of Police Shahzad in the case on account of the crime scene being washed to destroy evidence and for not providing Bhutto adequate security.

The JIT report also held Aziz responsible for not conducting Bhutto’s autopsy.

However, when asked whether Qureshi watched the press conference held by former president Asif Ali Zardari after Bhutto’s assassination, in which Zardari said he had not given permission for the postmortem because he did not want his wife’s body to be “desecrated”, Qureshi said he had not done so.

Qureshi also said he had never approached Zardari in this regard.

The court was adjourned till May 16 and the prosecution was directed to submit a report on the closing of evidence.

Musharraf has also been accused of treason and changing Pakistan’s constitution as well as murder of Muslim leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Balochistan Governor Nawab Akbar Bugti.

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Bangladesh: 6 activists shot dead in Chittagong Hill Tracts

The Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh have been affected by what has been described as ”genocide” or ”ethnic cleansing” for many years, say activists.

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Shot Dead

Dhaka, July 7 : Six indigenous activists were shot dead on Tuesday in an ambush by a rival group in Bangladesh”s restive Chittagong Hill Tracts where scores have died in an insurgency in recent years, police said.

The incident is alarming as it shows the power conflict between several insurgent groups in the hill tracts of Bangladesh, said an official to IANS.

Locals and police said the killing might have taken place over establishing supremacy by two regional groups in the area. Three injured persons were admitted to Sadar Hospital.

Last March, a 31-member committee of JSS reformist group was formed. After the formation of the new committee, a rivalry began between the reformists and JSS (Santu Larma) groups.

The incident took place at around 5 am on Tuesday near Baghmara Bazar in Rajbila union, 20 km from the district town.

Local Union Parisad member Se Pru Marma said an armed group stormed into the house of reformist JSS president in the morning and started firing indiscriminately, killing the five on the spot.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh have been affected by what has been described as ”genocide” or ”ethnic cleansing” for many years, say activists.

In the 1960s and 1970s, thousands were forced off their lands to make way for reservoirs and hydroelectric projects, a displacement made worse by massacres against the Jumma people (the collective name for all indigenous peoples in the region). In 1997 a peace accord recognised the rights of the Jumma people over their lands.

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Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus

Brazil has reported by far the highest number of coronavirus cases in Latin America and is second only to the United States.

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Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for the coronavirus, local media reported.

On Monday night, he said he went to the hospital for a lung scan and would take a new test for the virus, after he developed symptoms, including a fever. It was later revealed that the separate medical exam had shown his lungs were “clean”.

Bolsonaro has reportedly canceled all his official activities until he gets the results of his test. “The president, at this time, is in good health and remains at his residence”, his office said on Monday.

In recent months, several of Bolsonaro’s aides have become infected with Covid-19. However, the president has often been seen defying restrictions such as mask wearing and social distancing.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus, saying it was just a “little flu” and condemning governors for imposing lockdowns that are causing job losses.

Brazil has reported by far the highest number of coronavirus cases in Latin America and is second only to the United States.

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52 killed in Japan due to torrential rain

In Omuta, about 200 people were left stranded at two evacuation centres after floodwaters surged in the area.

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Japan Rain Flood

Tokyo, July 7 : The death toll due to the torrential rain in Japan’s Kyushu region increased to 52 on Tuesday, with the government issuing its highest alert as the Chikugo river in Oita prefecture overflowed.

Kumamoto prefecture registered the highest number of victims at 51, while 11 people were reported missing, The Japan Times quoted authorities as saying.

The 52nd victim, a woman in Omuta Fukuoka prefecture, was found at her submerged home on Monday night and was confirmed dead Tuesday at a hospital.

In Omuta, about 200 people were left stranded at two evacuation centres after floodwaters surged in the area.

The Chikugo River, the largest in the Kyushu region, overflowed in Hita, Oita prefecture, prompting a local meteorological observatory and the land ministry to issue the highest-level alert to residents on Tuesday morning.

The death toll from the heavy rains that started in the early hours of July 4 is expected to climb as search efforts for the missing continued at sites hit by landslides and floods.

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