Pak children return to school a month after massacre

Friday 16th January 2015 03:51 EST

Peshawar (Pakistan): Children streamed back to school across Pakistan in an anxious start to a new term following last month's massacre of 134 students at an army-run school in the volatile northwestern city of Peshawar. Most schools across the country of 180 million had been shut until Monday for an extended winter break in the aftermath of the Dec 16 attack when Taliban militants

In Peshawar, a chaotic, often violent city on the edge of Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, survivors of the attack returned to their studies amid tight security, some students still wearing bandages.

In an emotionally charged and nervous atmosphere, parents, some crying, met army chief Gen Raheel Sharif who had travelled to Peshawar to address them in a private meeting.

Security forces kill French magazine attack suspects

Paris: Security forces ended three days of terror around Paris, killing the two al-Qaida-linked brothers who staged a murderous rampage at a satirical newspaper and an accomplice who seized hostages at a kosher supermarket to try to help the brothers escape. The worst terrorist violence France has seen in decades killed at least 20 people, including the three gunmen. A fourth suspect - the common law wife of the market attacker - was still at large. Earlier the two brothers attacked Charlie Hebdo magazine and killed 12 people to avenge the honour of the Prophet Muhammad, a frequent target of the weekly's satire.

Afghan president formally nominates cabinet ministers

Kabul: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani nominated ministers for his new cabinet on Monday, after a wait of more than three months, to try to establish a working government to tackle the violence-racked country's problems. Many government institutions have been all-but-paralysed for a year amid a drawn-out election crisis and uncertainty over whether the withdrawal of most foreign combat troops last month will lead to more violence by Taliban insurgents. Ghani's chief of staff announced the 25 cabinet nominees at a ceremony attended by Ghani, who did not speak. "The government will refer them to the parliament for a vote of confidence," Ghani chief of staff Abdul Salam Rahimi said, but did not say when the confirmation vote might come.

All on New Zealand plane parachute to safety before crash

Sydney: Thirteen people on board a skydiving plane, including the pilot, parachuted to safety in New Zealand moments before the aircraft crashed into a lake. Witnesses saw a steady stream of people jumping from the plane, which authorities said experienced mechanical failure on its way to Lake Taupo, 280 km south of Auckland, for skydiving. "I saw everyone deploy out of the plane and the next minute it was in the lake," witness Bevan Johnhill said. "I think the pilot must have been the last one to get out because he ended up in the blackberries," Johnhill said. "It was nothing short of a miracle," said Roy Clements, chief executive of Skydive Taupo, which operated the plane.

Everyone on board the plane got out and landed safely, he said.

Bangladesh oppn chief faces murder charge threat

Dhaka: Bangladesh authorities threatened to bring murder charges against besieged opposition leader Khaleda Zia and arrested her deputy over accusations that they incited a nationwide wave of violence. A day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina accused Zia of trying to trigger anarchy, a minister said her arch rival should expect a murder charge over an arson attack which left three people fighting for their lives. The threat, which comes after four activists from Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party were killed in the mounting unrest, was made while the opposition leader remained confined to her offices in Dhaka, barred from leaving by police. The three people injured in the alleged BNP attack in Dhaka last week were in an autorickshaw that was firebombed by protesters - a frequent tactic of BNP hardliners who are trying to topple the prime minister.

Blasphemy accused in Pakistan killed after release

Islamabad: Police say a 52-year-old Muslim man arrested for blasphemy was killed by gunmen after being released from jail. Police officer Mohammad Ayub said that the bullet-riddled body of Abid Mehmood was found the day before in Taxila, a town about 40 km from the capital Islamabad. He says Mahmood was arrested in 2011 after claiming to be Islam's prophet, but authorities freed him recently after concluding that he was not mentally stable. Ayub says relatives of the man buried him at the courtyard of his home after residents objected to his burial at a local graveyard. Under Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws, anyone convicted of insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammad can be sentenced to death. However, people often take the law into their own hands.

Indian student deported from US for threatening women online

Houston: A 24-year-old Indian student has been deported from the US after he was convicted of cyberstalking for posting threatening comments on social media to carry out a campus shooting. Keshav Mukund Bhide, a former student at the University of Washington, cannot return to the US for 10 years. Bhide was arrested in June after he threatened women at the university in the comments section on YouTube. He also defended the actions of Elliot Rodger, a college student who killed six people at the University of California, Santa Barbara in May and then killed himself too. Some of Bhide's comments were posted only a few days after the June 5 shootings at Seattle Pacific University that left one student dead and two wounded.

Tulsi Gabbard and Ami Bera take oath for their second term

Washington: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and her Democratic congressional colleague Dr Ami Bera have been sworn in for their second consecutive term in the US House of Representatives. Gabbard, the first ever Hindu lawmaker, took her oath on Gita as the 114th session of the US Congress. She was administered the oath of office by the Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner. Two years ago, she had taken her oath on Gita too, which she presented to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when she met him in New York last September. Bera, the only serving Indian-American in the current Congress, has been elected as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans - the largest country - specific caucus in the House of Representatives. After Dalip Singh Thind and Bobby Jindal, Bera is the third ever Indian-American elected to the House of Representatives.

Saudi Arabia set to appoint women ambassadors for first time

Dubai: Saudi Arabia is preparing to appoint its first women ambassadors after the foreign ministry hinted at possible approval of the idea. According to Gulf News, Al Nogli, the head of the media directorate at the ministry, said that the ministry does not oppose the notion of appointing a woman ambassador to represent the kingdom abroad. He said that this could happen through the administrative promotion structure for diplomats and the acquirement of the necessary experience in dealing with political and economic issues. The ministry will soon set up a meeting with members of the Shura (Consultative) Council to take a call on the topic of the appointment of women ambassadors among other issues. Although the Gulf country has female diplomats, no woman ambassadors have ever been appointed before.

Surendra Kumar appointed next Bangladesh chief justice

Dhaka: Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, the most senior judge of the country's supreme court, was appointed the chief justice of Bangladesh on Monday. President Abdul Hamid has "signed the paper appointing the new chief justice," a Bangabhaban presidential palace spokesman said. A law ministry statement said 64-year-old Sinha would take over on January 17, as present Chief Justice Muzammel Hossain will retire on January 16. Sinha was the most senior judge in the apex appellate division of the supreme court after Hossain. Justice Sinha is known for a number of landmark judgments including those on the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the 5th and 13th amendments to the constitution.

China shuts 50 websites and social media accounts

Beijing: China has closed 50 websites and social media accounts for violations ranging from pornography to "publishing political news without a permit", Beijing's cyberspace watchdog said on Tuesday. The government is pursuing a crackdown on unwanted material online. Critics say the increasing restrictions further limit free speech in the one-party Communist state. Authorities shut 17 public pages on the mobile social messaging app Weixin, also known as WeChat in English, as well as 24 websites and 9 channels or columns on websites, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement. The Weixin accounts were shut down during the past two months, the state-run news agency Xinhua said. Some of the other offences listed by CAC include publishing fake information under the guise of the government or media, and publishing information related to gambling or fraud. Jiang Jun, a spokesman for the cyberspace watchdog, said the CAC would regularly publish a "black list" of violators, according to the statement. Last fall, Xinhua said the cyberspace watchdog had closed nearly 1.8 million accounts on social networking and instant messaging services since launching an anti-pornography campaign earlier in the year.

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