Bangladeshi forces close in on militant hideout in Dhaka

Dhaka: Bangladesh’s elite force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) early on Tuesday cordoned off a building here in the capital, where suspected militants were holed up, a media report said.

The RAB has evacuated residents from the building in Mirpur’s Mazar Road, bdnews24 reported. It has been making calls asking the suspect to surrender, RAB’s spokesperson Mufti Mahmud Khan said.  According to a Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) officer the six-storeyed house at Darussalam was cordoned off at midnight following a tip-off.

 Key plotter of Dhaka terror attack arrested
The man described as a ‘dangerous militant’ was holed up inside along with his family. The numbers, however, are not confirmed, bdnews24 said.  “We spoke on the phone with one suspect inside. We are continuing our communication. We have also successfully moved all residents to safety,” said Khan.  The residents have been evacuated to a school located near the building.

Several bombs, including some Molotov cocktails, were hurled towards the RAB from inside around 1 a.m. but none has been injured in the explosions, he said.   The raid in the militant hideout is still underway.  Security has been tightened in Bangladesh after militants attacked a Spanish cafe in Dhaka’s Gulshan on July 1, 2016, which left 22 people, mostly foreigners, dead.

Nuclear Crises: Donald Trump talks with South Korean, German leaders about North Korea

Washington, The White House said that US President Donald Trump talked with South Korean and German leaders over phone on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. The White House on Monday said Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to use “all means at their disposal” to maximize pressure on North Korea, Xinhua news agency reported.

Trump and Moon underscored the grave threat that North Korea latest provocation poses to the entire world, said the White House in a statement. “They also pledged to strengthen joint military capabilities,” said the statement, adding that Trump gave his in-principle approval to South Korea’s initiative to lift restrictions on their missile payload capabilities.

Trump also provided his conceptual approval for the purchase of billions of dollars’ worth of military weapons and equipment from the US by South Korea, the statement added. In a related development, Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue in a phone call and both reaffirmed the importance of “close coordination at the UN”.

A White House statement said both leaders condemned “continued reckless and dangerous behaviour” by North Korea and Trump noted that the “latest provocation only serves to increase the international community’s resolve to counter” North Korea’s nuclear program.

The statement also said that all options to address North Korea nuclear issue are on the table. Meanwhile, China’s permanent representative to the UN Liu Jieyi on Monday condemned the latest nuclear test by North Korea and urged the country to return to the track of dialogue. China will not allow chaos and war on the Korean Peninsula, he said.

North Korea on Sunday detonated a hydrogen bomb that can be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile, North Korea’s Central Television announced. North Korea’s nuclear testing and launches using ballistic missile technology violate UN Security Council resolutions.

Indian-origin Malaysian man jailed for life in Singapore

Singapore: A 30-year-old Indian-origin Malaysian man has been jailed for life in Singapore along with 24 strokes of cane-lashing for smuggling drugs.

Saravanan Chandaram, 30, who pleaded guilty to two charges of importing the controlled drugs, also received the maximum 24 strokes of the cane, the Straits Times reported. The prosecution submitted a certificate to the court stating that Saravanan was only a drug courier and had substantively helped the authorities to disrupt drug trafficking.

This gave the judge the discretion to impose a life sentence instead of the mandatory death penalty. Saravanan was found with 10 bundles containing at least 1.38 kilogrammes of cannabis, and at least 3.29 kilogrammes of cannabinol and cannabinol derivative.

On November 5, 2014, he rented a car and met a drug syndicate leader, known only as Aya, in Skudai in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, where he collected the 10 bundles of drugs. Saravanan, who worked for Aya as his bodyguard and personal driver, hid the bundles under the armrest of the rear passenger seat.

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong faces parliament over family feud
Defence lawyer Singa Retnam, in his closing submissions to the court last month, said that Saravanan had borrowed Malaysian Ringgit 4,000 (Singapore dollars 1,270) from Aya as he did not have enough savings for his son’s operation. When Saravanan returned to Johor on November 5, 2014, he was asked by Aya to repay the money, but he could not do so immediately, the Strait Times report said.

He had no choice but to adhere to his boss’s demands and agreed to deliver 10 packets of tobacco, for Malaysian Ringgit 2,000, according to the defence’s submissions. The defence said that Saravanan believed he was delivering 10 packets of tobacco, instead of cannabis. However, the prosecution said that Saravanan’s belief was unfounded when there were clearly suspicious circumstances surrounding the delivery of the drugs.

There were also inconsistencies in his account as he had initially said he was promised Singapore dollars 5,000 for the delivery, but later claimed he was promised Malaysian Ringgit 2,000. The prosecution noted that Saravanan was being paid a disproportionately high amount of Singapore dollars 5,000 for a relatively simple task of delivery.

Kim Jong-Un orders more production of ICBMs: Pyongyang state media

Seoul: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un has ordered more production of rocket engines and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) nosecones, Pyongyang state media said today.

Tensions over the North’s weapons programmes have mounted this year and it carried out two ICBM tests last month, overseen by Kim, that apparently brought most of the United States within range. A series of threats followed from both sides, and while the rhetoric has since eased, the US and South Korea this week kicked off their annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian military drills, which the North always condemns as dress rehearsals for invasion.

Earlier this week the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) described President Donald Trump as a “mad guy” in a commentary, referring to “the master of the White House who frequently posts weird articles of his ego-driven thoughts in his twitter and spouts rubbish to make his assistants have a hard time”. Kim inspected the Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defence Science, which develops the North’s missiles, KCNA reported today.

US welcomes North Korea’s ‘restraint’ on nuclear programme
“He instructed the institute to produce more solid-fuel rocket engines and rocket warhead tips,” it said. Questions remain whether the North has mastered the technology needed to ensure a ballistic missile warhead survives the intense heat generated by re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, although it says it has done so.

The manufacturing process included carbon fibre weaving, chemical deposition and high pressure liquid deposition, KCNA said. The North has threatened to fire a salvo of missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam, but has since backed away from the plan. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday added momentum to tension reduction, praising the North for showing a “level of restraint” in not conducting nuclear or missile tests since new UN sanctions were imposed. He also expressed hope that it was a sign of Pyongyang’s readiness to enter peace and disarmament talks with Washington “sometime in the near future.”

US welcomes North Korea’s ‘restraint’ on nuclear programme

Washignton, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday welcomed “some level of restraint” showed by North Korea with its nuclear programme, seeing a possible pathway to a future talk between Washington and Pyongyang. “We have had no missile launches or provocative acts from the part of North Korea since the unanimous adoption of the UN Security Council resolution,” Xinhua quoted Tillerson as saying.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea for its continued intercontinental ballistic missile testing on August 5. Tillerson said he was pleased to see Pyongyang “has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we have not seen in the past.”

“We hope that it is the beginning of the signal that we are looking for — that they are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they’re ready to restrain their provocative acts,” said the US top diplomat. “Perhaps we are seeing our pathway to some time in the near future having some dialogue,” but “need to see more on their part,” Tillerson added.

Tillerson’s remarks came amid an ongoing joint military drill held by the US and South Korea. The two-week-long war games mobilised about 17,500 US soldiers and some 50,000 South Korean troops. Pyongyang said on Monday the US-South Korean joint military drill had plunged the Korean Peninsula into a critical phase.

Some 30,000 civilians trapped by fighting in Tal Afar: UN

United Nations, Some 30,000 civilians are trapped by fighting in Tal Afar, according to the United Nations, a city Iraqi forces are working to take back from the Islamic State group.

“Humanitarian assistance is being provided at assembly points to the south and east of Tal Afar town, with more than 300 people having passed through these points yesterday and receiving assistance,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric told journalists yesterday.

The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) fears Iraqi civilians “are likely to be used as human shields” and that “attempts to flee could result in executions and shootings,” according to Dujarric. UNHCR “calls on all parties to the conflict to allow civilians to leave the conflict area and to allow access to safety,” he said.

The UN said Monday it expected thousands of civilians to flee the area in the days and weeks to come. Iraqi forces yesterday recaptured from the Islamic State group the first three districts of jihadist bastion Tal Afar.

More than a month after Iraq’s second city Mosul was recaptured from IS, troops launched an offensive Sunday to take back Tal Afar, situated 70 kilometers (45 miles) further west. The Iraqi forces are backed by a US-led international coalition carrying out a campaign of air strikes against IS.

Over 200 children killed in Yemen war in 2017: UNICEF

Sanaa: A top United Nations official in Yemen said on Monday that a total of 201 children have been killed in the Yemeni ongoing civil war since the beginning of 2017. “In 2017, 201 children have been killed in Yemen: 152 boys and 49 girls,” UNICEF resident representative in Yemen Meritxell Relano said in her twitter account on Monday, Xinhua reported. Relano’s remarks came three days after an airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition hit a family’s home in Mahdha area in the Yemeni northern province of Saada, killing six children and three women.

Commenting on Friday’s airstrike, Relano condemned the attack but did not accuse any party behind it. Relano also said that “377 boys have been recruited and used in the conflict since the start of 2017. We know there are many more…unfortunately.” Relano did not provide further details about which cities the children were recruited from nor parties behind the recruitment. According to UN agencies, more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed during more than two years of war in Yemen that also displaced over 3 million.

Typhoon Noru kills two in Japan
In March 2017, UNICEF put the death toll of children from the war at 1,546, and other 2,450 injured. The country has also been hit by a deadly cholera outbreak and is on the edge of famine. The war started in March 2015, after Saudi-led coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict by launching a large-scale air campaign to back internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who invaded the capital Sanaa militarily and seized most of the northern Yemeni provinces.

Typhoon Noru kills two in Japan

Tokyo: At least two people were killed and 47 others injured as typhoon Noru lashed through Japan’s Honshu island before moving in a northeasterly direction on Tuesday morning, the weather agency said.

The typhoon, travelling at a speed of 25 km per hour, brought heavy rains to large regions of the island, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).  Noru made landfall in Wakayama prefecture on Monday and carved a path through the Kinki and Hokuriku regions before moving slowly out to sea, reports Xinhua news agency. The storm prompted evacuation orders affecting thousands of people and transportation networks were severely disrupted across the country.  As of 7.50 a.m. (local time) Tuesday, the storm was estimated to be passing through Niigata prefecture and moving north-northeast at a speed of 25 km per hour, the weather agency said.

It had a central atmospheric pressure of 986 hectopascals and was packing winds of up to 108 km per hour, the agency said.  Landslide and flood alerts are still in place.  On Monday, Noru, the fifth typhoon of the season caused 450 domestic flights to be grounded, with airlines cancelling 26 flights as of Tuesday morning.

4,500 families, major dam affected by Venezuela flooding

Caracas, Torrential rain in southeast Venezuela has affected 4,500 families and is sending floodwaters gushing through the country’s major hydro electric dam, authorities and local media said. The precipitation caused the two main rivers in the country, the Orinoco and the Caroni, to surge over their banks, causing damage in the states of Bolivar, Delta Amacuroand Amazonas, the Civil Protection service said.

Local media showed images of flooded houses and streets,and residents trying to save furniture from the water. They also showed video of water gushing through Venezuela’s Guri hydroelectric dam, which provides 70 percentof electricity for the country. The opposition called on the government to take urgent action with the dam to prevent the flooding from worsening,adding another point of discord in the country, which is in the grip of a deep economic and political crisis.

Not bound by new treaty on prohibition of N-arms: Pak

Islamabad : Pakistan on Monday said that it was not bound by the recently concluded treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons as it failed to take into account the interests of all stakeholders.

The Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement that the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted by a vote on July 7 did not fulfil these essential conditions – both in terms of process and substance.

It said Pakistan, therefore, like all the other nuclear armed states, did not take part in its negotiations and cannot become a party to the treaty.

The Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted by a vote on July 7 did not fulfil the essential conditions – both in terms of process and substance -Pak Foreign Office

Over 120 countries in the United Nations voted to adopt the first-ever global treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Eight other nuclear-armed nations, including the US and China did not participate in the negotiations for the legally binding instrument to prohibit atomic weapons.

“Treaties that do not fully take on board the interests of all stakeholders fail to achieve their objectives..Pakistan does not consider itself bound by any of the obligations enshrined in this treaty,” it said.   Pakistan stressed that the treaty neither forms a part of, nor contributes to the development of customary international law in any manner.

Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to nuclear disarmament in a way that promotes peace, security and stability at the regional and global levels.             It said that it is committed to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world through the conclusion of a universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory, comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons.

The Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD), the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating body, remains the most ideal forum for concluding such a convention.      -PTI

94 Total