25 dead, 123 injured in Saudi hospital blaze

Wednesday 06th January 2016 05:10 EST

RIYADH: At least 25 people were killed and 123 injured by a destructive fire that swept through the intensive care, maternity and neonatal care wards of Jazan General Hospital in Saudi Arabia on December 24. Civil Defence agency took to micro-blogging site Twitter later, to inform the fire had been extinguished and an investigation was under way into the cause. It also added that twenty-one civil defence teams had assisted in putting out the blaze. The teams were able to evacuate the children and patients from the intensive care unit, the health ministry said on Twitter, but most casualties were on the hospital’s upper floors. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said there were no Indian casualties in the fire at the hospital where 30 Indian nurses were on duty.

Join us or we will abduct you, IS threatens Miss Iraq

KIRKUK: Just when you thought the ISIS can be any more preposterous, the first Miss Iraq since 1972 has reportedly received a threatening call from the terrorist organisation demanding she join them or be kidnapped. Shaymaa Qasim Abdelrahman, 20, became the first winner of the national beauty pageant in more than 40 years. The pageant's organisers said Abdelrahman was distressed but, determined to “continue forward despite any obstacles”. She said, “I want to prove that the Iraqi woman was her own existence in society, she has her rights like men. I am afraid of nothing, because I am confident what I am doing is not wrong.” Pageant director Ahmed Leith said, “The situation is weak here and we wanted to celebrate this the same way other countries, like Lebanon do. To have a sense of normalcy.”

Boko Haram attacks in Nigerian cities kill 80

MAIDUGURI: Islamic extremists Boko Haram has struck the northeastern Nigerian city of Maidugiri with rocket-propelled grenades and multiple suicide bombers, for the first time in several months. At lease 50 people were killed with the death toll expected to go higher. A twin suicide bombing in Madagali, has claimed nearly 30 people, as reported by witnesses. Brigadier General Victor Ezugwu, commanding officer in northeast Adamawa State has confirmed the attack but said the casualties are yet to be established. The military said there were multiple attacks at four southwestern entry points to the city. Civil servant Yunusa Abdullahi said, “We are under siege. We don't know how many of these bombs or these female suicide bombers were sneaked into Maiduguri.”

George Pataki ends White House bid

WASHINGTON: Former New York Governor George Pataki has officially walked out of the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, just over a month before the first nominating contests begin. Making the announcement in an ad that aired on local NBC affiliates in New Hampshire, Iowa and, South Carolina, Pataki, 70, said, “While tonight is the end of journey for the White House as I suspend my campaign for president, I'm confident we can elect the right person, someone who will bring us together and who understands that politicians, including the president, must be the people's servant and not their master.” The centrist Republican failed to gain traction amongst a sea of candidates, including billionaire businessman Donald Trump. “Donald Trump is the Know-Nothing candidate of the 21st century and cannot be our nominee,” Pataki said.

Oil slump forces Saudi Arabia it to spend its reserves

As the oil slump continues, Saudi Arabia is burning through its foreign reserves at an unsustainable rate and may be forced to give up its prized dollar exchange peg. Former reserve chief Khalid Alsweilem said, “If anything happens to the riyal exchange peg, the consequences will be dramatic. There will be a serious loss of confidence.” He also added, “But if the reserves keep going down as they are now, they will not be able to keep the peg.” The warning came after the Saudi finance ministry revealed that the country’s deficit leapt to 367bn riyals (£66bn) this year, up from 54bn riyals the previous year. Collapsing oil revenues forced officials to tap foreign reserves and borrow from debt markets to finance running costs this year. Officials expect that the deficit will fall to 327bn riyals in 2016, as Saudi cuts back spending from 975bn to 840bn riyals.

Zimbabwe to use China currency in bid to cement Beijing ties

HARARE: As President Robert Mugabe's government cozies up to Beijing, Zimbabwe will now encourage the use of China's currency to pay for anything, from groceries to tourist curios. After announcing that China had agreed to cancel $40m of debt due this year, Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said he hoped that boosting the use of the renmimbi would bolster bilateral trade between the countries. The renminbi was added to a list of currencies that are legal tender in Zimbabwe early last year, but has been little used. More than 85 per cent of transactions in the nation are estimated to be undertaken in US dollars while the rand, the currency of neighbouring South Africa, is also used widely.

Japan, S Korea reach agreement over sex slaves

TOKYO: In a diplomatic breakthrough, the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers have announced that Japan would apologise and pay more than one billion yen to a fund established for the benefit of the wartime sex slaves. South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said that as long as Tokyo sticks to its side of the deal, Seoul will consider the issue “irreversibly” resolved. In addition, the two governments “will refrain from criticising and blaming each other in the international society, including the United Nations,” Yun said at a joint news conference. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.”

Attacks on temples in Bangladesh highlighted

DHAKA: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in a letter to the US ambassador to Dhaka, Marcia Bernicat, expressed concerns over attacks on Hindu temples in Bangladesh. “Two recent attacks against the Kantaji temple and at the ISKCON temple in Kaharol region of Dinajpur in Bangladesh have left dozens injured and are clear examples of the growing Islamic extremism against religious minorities in Bangladesh.” Pointing out the attacks made against secular bloggers in recent months, she alleged, “the government is not fulfilling its duty to investigate and prosecute those who are responsible for these horrific attacks on human rights... The government must take action to ensure that Bangladesh does not become a haven for Islamic extremists.”

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