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US Lawmakers Condemn Dhaka Terror Attack

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The White House on Saturday condemned the terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in which 20 people were killed, including an American and Indian citizen.

“We remain in contact with Bangladeshi authorities and have offered any assistance necessary,” Politico.com quoted White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest as saying.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the families and loved ones of those killed, and we hope for a speedy recovery for those wounded,” a statement from the White House continued.

“This is a despicable act of terrorism, and the United States stands with Bangladesh and the international community in our resolve to confront terrorism wherever it occurs,” the statement added.

All the attackers in the assault on a cafe in Dhaka were Bangladeshi citizens and five of them were wanted by police.

Police Inspector General Shahidul Hoque told CNN that police had tried to arrest these five militants previously.

Authorities also released the nationalities of the 20 hostages who were found dead inside the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe after Bangladeshi troops stormed the cafe early Saturday morning, ending an overnight siege.

According to the country’s Joint Force Command, nine of the victims were Italian, seven were Japanese, one was from India, two were Bangladeshi and one was a US citizen of Bangladeshi origin. Eleven of the victims were male and nine were female.

Two police officers were also killed in a gunfire exchange earlier in the standoff, authorities said.

Security forces rescued 13 hostages and killed six gunmen on Saturday morning, ending the nation’s worst hostage crisis, being termed as Bangladesh’s ‘7/16’.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called a two-day state mourning for the victims, who included nine Italians, seven Japanese, three Bangladeshis and an Indian teenager, at the Holey Artisan café in the diplomatic area of Gulshan in Dhaka.

One of the gunmen, injured in the shootout, was captured, while 13 hostages were rescued at the end of the 12-hour siege. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have condemned the attack.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed the killing of 19-year-old Tarishi Jain of Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh.

“Tarishi was 19 years old. She passed out from American School Dhaka. Presently, she was a student at Berkeley,” Sushma posted.

The attack began at 8.45 p.m. when around 20-22 guests were at the Holey Artisan Bakery downstairs and the O’Kitchen Restaurant upstairs, a cafe popular with foreigners.

The gunmen, shouting “Allahu Akbar” raided the cafe and took hostages, and slaughtered those who were unable to recite the Quran, said rescued hostages.

Officials said the 13 rescued hostages included a Japanese and two Sri Lankans.

The Bangladeshi branch of the Islamic State claimed the attack through its mouthpiece, the Amaq news agency, saying 24 people “of different nationalities” were killed and 40 others were injured.

The Daily Star reported that hostages were made to recite verses from the Quran and those who could were not harmed.

The attack has also been condemned by other countries, including Pakistan and Malaysia, while the European Union has also voiced condemnation.

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Twitter bans Russia-linked accounts following US indictments

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San Francisco, July 15 :In response to the US’ indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers for hacking into the Democrats’ emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, Twitter has banned accounts for both Moscow-linked DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0.

They were “connected to a network of accounts” that had already been shut down for violating rules, a Twitter spokesperson told Engadget of the suspensions on Saturday.

At the same time, Twitter was aware that the shutdowns were considered overdue and the indictments just formalised the connections, the company added.

“We’re reviewing our policies in light of this and expect to make updates soon,” Twitter told The New York Times in a separate statement.

“We recognise that to promote healthy conversation we need to be responsive to ways the platform is being misused and we are committed to that here and everywhere,” the company added.

It’s not certain what those changes might be.

However, Twitter has faced more than a handful of accusations that it only belatedly recognised the threat of electoral interference on its platform, with bot purges, candidate labels and other anti-manipulation tactics only coming after the 2016 US presidential vote.

This may be an acknowledgment that it needs to be more proactive in dealing with accounts linked to hacking and other criminal activity, especially when politics are involved.(IANS)

 

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UK Minister Andrew Griffiths resigns over ‘sexting’ exposé

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London, July 15: Andrew Griffiths, the minister for small business in the United Kingdom, also a prominent supporter of Pakistan, resigned from the government after being found to have sent more than 2000 text messages of a sexual nature to two female constituents.

He is a former chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, a UK-based forum, which he used to push Pakistan’s position on Kashmir.

The 47-year-old minister, after resigning, released a statement apologising for his inappropriate behavior.

Across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat,  Griffiths reportedly sent more than 2,000 messages in three weeks to  two barmaids: Treharne and another woman.

Treharne said she “always asked him about his interests” but that the conversation “always turned back to sex”.

The Guardian quoted the minister’s statement as saying, “I am deeply ashamed at my behaviour which has caused untold distress to my wife and family, to whom I owe everything, and deep embarrassment to the prime minister and the government I am so proud to serve.”

He added, “I tendered my resignation as parliamentary under secretary of state for small business on Friday night.”The minister, a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Theresa May, said that he would be seeking professional help to address the issue of sending sexually explicit texts to the women of his constituency.

He said, “I do not seek to excuse my behaviour and will be seeking professional help to ensure it never happens again. In time I hope to earn the forgiveness of all those who put their trust in me and that I have let down so terribly. The prime minister and the government she leads will continue to have my full support.”
The Guardian, quoted the Sunday Mirror as terming the content of Griffiths’ messages as ‘depraved’.

The Sunday Mirror said, “In a string of texts Griffiths called himself “Daddy”, promised money if he received racy images and described perverted and rough sex he claimed to have had with other women.”

He is a former Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, a forum he used to push Pakistan’s position in Kashmir in the United Kingdom.

Griffiths, MP for Burton, and Theresa May’s chief of staff in opposition between 2004 and 2006, told the Mirror he was “deeply ashamed”.

His behaviour had caused “untold distress” to his wife and family to whom he “owed everything”, he said.

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Trump blames Obama for Russian hacking

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Donald Trump

Washington, July 15 : US President Donald Trump blamed his predecessor, Barack Obama for not taking action to prevent the alleged Russian hacking attack into the computer networks of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC)  to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a bilateral summit on July 16 in Helsinki, in which the two leaders are expected to discuss the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, arms control, and Russia’s suspected meddling in the 2016 US election.

On Friday, a Grand Jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for participating in efforts to infiltrate those computer networks to obtain damaging information about Clinton and the DNC, which was then dumped online.

“The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration,” Trump said on Twitter.

This is the first time that the president has commented on the indictments presented Friday by Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

“Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?” Trump said.

The accused hackers allegedly spread computer viruses through the email accounts of DNC and Clinton campaign staffers and volunteers, obtaining passwords that allowed them to access information.

The hackers then reportedly posed as US activists and used Facebook and Twitter to spread the information they obtained.

The Russian government has repeatedly denied that it had any role in the DNC and Clinton campaign hacking.

 

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