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Afghan police search for villagers after mass kidnapping

Author: 
AFP
Sun, 2017-07-23 13:04
ID: 
1500809022130004300

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan police on Sunday launched a search for some 30 villagers still missing two days after a mass kidnapping blamed on Taliban militants in the southern province of Kandahar.
Seventy people were abducted Friday from their village along the main road in the south and seven of them were found dead the following day alongside the highway, from the city of Kandahar to Tarinkot in Uruzgan province.
Around 30 people have been released while 30 others remain missing, Kandahar police spokesman Zia Durrani told AFP.
It remained unclear why the villagers were seized. But some officials said they suspected the Taliban had kidnapped or killed them for suspected cooperation with the Western-backed government which the militants are striving to topple.
The insurgents have a heavy presence in Uruzgan, a poppy-growing area.
On Sunday they denied involvement, while confirming they had attacked police checkpoints in the area.
“Our mujahideen killed a number of local police and pro-government militias there, also capturing 17 suspects who were later released after interrogation. We have not killed or kidnapped any civilians,” the Taliban said in a statement.
Civilians are increasingly caught in the crosshairs of Afghanistan’s worsening conflict as the Taliban step up their annual spring offensive launched in April.
Highways passing through insurgency-prone areas have become exceedingly dangerous, with the Taliban and other armed groups frequently kidnapping or killing travelers.
In July Taliban fighters closed a highway connecting Farah to Herat city in the west, stopping a bus and forcing 16 passengers off it. They shot at least seven of them while the remainder were taken hostage.
Elsewhere in the country, the Taliban on Sunday captured a district in the northern province of Faryab after an overnight attack that triggered hours of heavy fighting, said provincial police spokesman Abdul Karim Yourish.
He said troops had retreated two kilometers from the center of Kohistan district. There was no word on casualties.
Local media on Sunday also reported that the Taliban had overran Taywara district in the central province of Ghor, though there was no immediate official confirmation.
There has been a surge in fighting in several northern and southern Afghan provinces in recent days, including in Helmand in the south where 16 Afghan police officers were killed by a US air strike on Friday night.
The strike, the latest setback in Washington’s efforts to pacify the country, hit a compound in Gereshk district, large parts of which are under Taliban control.
Afghan troops and police are battling largely alone on the ground against the insurgency, after US-led foreign forces withdrew from most combat operations in December 2014.
The United States is actively considering sending more troops to Afghanistan and US commanders there have requested thousands of extra soldiers on the ground.
The US contingent now numbers about 8,400, and there are another 5,000 from NATO allies, a far cry from the US presence of more than 100,000 six years ago. They mainly serve as trainers and advisers.

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Iran announces new missile production line

Iran announced the launch of a new missile production line on Saturday, according to state media, against a backdrop of tension between the United States and Tehran. The Sayyad 3 missile can reach an altitude of 27 km (17 miles) and travel up to 120 km (75 miles), Iranian defence minister Hossein Dehghan said at a ceremony. The missile can target fighter planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles and helicopters, Dehghan said. Last week, the United States slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, and said Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East undercut any “positive contributions” coming from a 2015 Iran nuclear accord. The measures signalled that the administration of President Donald Trump was seeking […]


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A year after Chilcot, Tony Blair is still not in jail. He should be

One year ago this month Sir John Chilcot, a leading former civil servant, finally published the report of his long-awaited enquiry into the British role in the illegal and immoral US imperial invasion of Iraq in 2003. That war destroyed an entire country. More than 1 million Iraqis were killed, with untold numbers injured, orphaned, widowed and traumatised for life. Even worse than that, the war never ended. The invasion set off a deadly chain of events – one that resulted in the creation of the horrific entity which calls itself “Islamic State”. A brutal and bloody civil war closely followed the invasion – one sparked in large part by very deliberately sectarian policies perused by  US occupation authorities. Following […]


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Eight people found dead in truck in US ‘human trafficking crime’

Author: 
AFP
Sun, 2017-07-23 12:45
ID: 
1500804524489781500

WASHINGTON: Eight people were found dead Sunday in a truck in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas, in an apparent people trafficking case, authorities said.
In addition to the dead, there were 28 injured — 20 of them severely — who were being treated at seven local hospitals, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and Fire Chief Charles Hood told reporters.
The group included children and adults, the police chief said.
He said the truck driver had been arrested.
“We got a call from a Walmart employee about a welfare check in a tractor-trailer that was parked on the lot here,” McManus told a news conference.
“He was approached by someone from that truck, who was asking for water. Came back with a water, called the police and we arrived on scene and found eight people dead in the back of that trailer,” the police chief said, calling it a “horrific tragedy.”
He said store security footage showed that some vehicles came to pick up some travelers who were on the truck and who had made it out alive.
“We’re looking at a human trafficking crime this evening,” he added.
It was not immediately clear how many people made it off the truck alive, McManus said.
Hood said the air conditioner in the trailer was not working.
“We started extricating patients out of the back of a semi-truck … we had another 20 patients that were either in extremely critical condition or very serious condition and they have been transported to a number of hospitals.”
San Antonio lies a few hours drive from the border with Mexico’s Nuevo Leon state. Weather in the area has been hot and dry.
Federal immigration officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement have also been notified, the police chief said.

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US lists China among worst human trafficking offenders
Filipino expat arrested in Riyadh for human trafficking

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Thousands ordered to evacuate as heavy rains hit northeast Japan

Author: 
Reuters
Sun, 2017-07-23 12:17
ID: 
1500803693179736600

TOKYO: Tens of thousands of people in northeast Japan were told to evacuate their homes on Sunday as heavy rain caused major flooding and cut some rail links, authorities said.
The storm follows freak rains in southwestern Japan earlier this month that left at least 25 people dead.
Almost 25,000 people in Akita prefecture were ordered to evacuate and around 65,000 more people were advised to leave or told to prepare to leave the area, an official at Akita prefecture told Reuters.
Several rivers were flooding and more than 100 houses had been inundated by floodwaters, the official said. No injuries or deaths have been reported, but the authorities were still investigating, he added.
Some bullet trains running to and from Akita have been suspended because of the heavy rains, East Japan Railway said on its website.
“There is a significant amount of water accumulating in the land. Even if the heavy rains stop, we will continue to warn people to stay vigilant,” the Akita prefecture official said.

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Leaked: Netanyahu tells European leaders concern for Palestinians is ‘crazy’

Benjamin Netanyahu, was caught on tape on Wednesday urging four European leaders to help him undermine a provision of a European Union trade agreement that imposes an obligation on Israel to respect the rights of the millions of Palestinians it rules in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. In private remarks to the leaders of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia that were accidentally broadcast to members of the Israeli media outside the room, Netanyahu was overheard calling it “crazy” for the EU to insist that Israel honour Article 2 of an association agreement signed in 1995 which makes trade with the bloc conditional on Israel’s “respect for human rights and democratic principles.” Recordings of the Israeli leader’s comments, made by correspondents […]


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Hamas denies seeking presence in Algeria

Palestinian resistance group Hamas has denied reports over asking Algeria to host some of the group leaders amid a Gulf crisis between Qatar and Arab neighbours. Last week, the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, citing Palestinian sources, said Hamas was seeking to have a presence in Algeria. The daily claimed that the move came after Hamas leaders were forced out of Qatar, which is being boycotted by four Arab states, who accuse Doha of supporting terrorism. The newspaper said that Hamas has made an official request to Algeria to have a presence in the country. Algeria has yet to respond to the request. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, however, dismissed the report as untrue. “For Algeria, we don’t need a presence […]


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Israel’s covert terror campaign against human rights groups says a lot about the regime

Last month, Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon made a disgusting and dangerous speech to the media outside the Security Council. In it, he continued a long-running campaign of incitement and hatred against human rights organisations whose work involves holding Israel to account for its violations of international laws and conventions, particularly Palestinian groups. Danon slandered Al-Mezan and Al-Haq, two well-respected Palestinian human rights organisations, as “supporters of terrorism” and “inciters of violence”. This very deliberately-spoken lie was no less than an incitement to violence. In the context of Israel’s military dictatorship ruling over the lives of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, and its medieval siege ruling the lives of Palestinians in Gaza (as well as its frequent […]


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Iran’s Revolutionary Guards detain Saudi fishing boat, arrest crew

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have detained a Saudi Arabian fishing boat and arrested its crew, an Iranian state news agency reported on Saturday, at a time of increased diplomatic tension between the two regional powers. Five Indian nationals on the vessel were detained on Friday after they crossed into Iranian territorial waters in the Gulf, Ardeshir Yarahmadi, a spokesman for the fisheries department of Bushehr province, was quoted as saying by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). Yarahmadi said it was the second time in the past month that a Saudi boat and its crew had been detained. Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are at their worst in years, with each accusing the other of subverting regional security and supporting […]


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Libya: General Haftar’s forces battle resistance in Benghazi

Fighting between the self-styled Libyan National Army and rival armed groups in Benghazi killed six troops and wounded eight as the LNA advanced into the last pockets of resistance in eastern Libya’s largest city, a commander said on Saturday. The LNA, led by Khalifa Haftar, also carried out air strikes on armed groups in the city of Derna, further east, who fired back with anti-aircraft cannon, witnesses told Reuters. Haftar’s eastern forces are engaged in a multi-sided conflict between factions that fought together to oust veteran Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but are now battling each other. A UN-backed government in Tripoli is trying to bring stability to the North African OPEC member, but it is struggling to impose […]