Taliban trigger blasts near Af parliament, kill 38

Wednesday 18th January 2017 05:50 EST

KABUL: Two large bombs exploded near government offices in Kabul, killing at least 38 people and injuring several others in the deadliest Taliban attack in months. The attack took place near an annex to the new parliament building, and most of the victims were parliamentary staff members. The first bomb struck in the afternoon as workers were leaving, said interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi. The second, planted in a car, exploded minutes later after security forces rushed in to help the victims. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, "We planned this attack for quite some time and the plan was to target some senior officers of the intelligence agency. We sent one suicide bomber to target a mini bus that was carrying these officers. We did exactly what we planned." The dead included civilians and military personnel, and over 72 people were wounded. President Ashraf Ghani condemned the "criminal" attacks and said the perpetrators would not be safe for long.

Sikh girl to represent Malaysia in Miss Universe contest

KAULA LUMPUR: A Sikh girl of Indian-origin will be representing Malaysia at the Miss India Universe pageant in Manila. Kiranmeet Jaur Baljeet Singh Jassal, 20, won the Miss Universe Malaysia title last year and was also awarded Miss My Dentist Winning Smile subsidiary title. Kiran's mother, Ranjit Kaur was the winner of the Classic Mrs Malaysia title in 2015, while her sister Ranmeet, a model, is also beauty pageant title-holder and a doctor by profession. A student of dentistry at the International Medical University, Kiran believes beauty pageants are good platforms for women to voice their opinions. "Beauty pageants could be used to gain fame and publicity. But I think if it is used right, you can get the public recognition to raise awareness and bring light to certain causes as you have a huge target audience," she said.

Morocco to ban sale of burqas

RABAT: Morocco has reportedly banned production and sale of full-face Muslim veils- the burqa, for security reasons. While there are no official announcements, reports said the interior ministry order will take effect this week. "We have taken the step of completely banning the import, manufacture, and marketing of this garment in all cities and towns of the kingdom," a report quoted a high-ranking interior ministry official as saying. It also said that the measure appeared to be motivated by security concerns since "bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes."

Swiss Muslim girls must swim with boys: Court

GENEVA: An appeal made by a Turkish-born couple who were fined in Switzerland for keeping their daughters out of mixed-gender, mandatory public school swimming lessons for reasons citing their Muslim faith, has been rejected by a court. The European Court of Human Rights announced a summary of the order which upheld a Swiss federal court ruling that education officials hadn't violated the family's rights of freedom of conscience and religion in the case dating back to 2008. It noted that Swiss authorities had taken steps to ease the family's concerns, such as by allowing for individual, separate showers and allowing a "burkini", or body covering swimwear used by several Muslim women. The mother refused the option saying the "burkini didn't erase the contours" of their bodies. The girls in question were aged 7, and 9 when their parents first became aware that no exemption was allowed.

Another 'mastermind' of Dhaka cafe attack arrested

DHAKA: Bangladesh Police have claimed to have arrested Neo-JMB terrorist Jahangir Alam, one of the key accused of the Gulshan cafe terror attack last year. Dhaka Metropolitan Police's spokesperson Masudur Rahman said they arrested Alam, alias Rajib Gandhi from Tangail. He is a wanted criminal and an accused in 20 to 22 cases filed in connection with terrorist attacks, Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit Chief Monirul Islam said. The police had earlier said they were behind 'Rajib Gandhi' and Basaruzzaman alias Chocolate, after recent raids led to the deaths of Tamim Chowdhury, former Bangladesh Army major Jahidul Islam, Tanvir Qaderi, and Nurul Islam Marzan. Five militants took hostages and opened fire on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, on July 1, 2016, killing 20 people.

Lanka facing worst drought in 40 years

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan government has declared a state of alert in light of the worst drought faced by the region in the past four decades. Emergency measures taken by the Maithiripala Sirisena government includes deploying soldiers, establishing a presidential commission and urging the population to be prudent in the consumption of water. The National Water Supply and Sanitation Council warned of the need to rationalise the consumption of drinking water, as the available reserve is only expected to last two months. Alahudeen Ansar, head of the council, said drinking water demand had increased by 15 per cent and that measures have already been taken to restrict its use in many areas of the 13 affected districts.

37 killed in Kyrgyzstan plane crash

BISHKEK: Over 37 people were killed when a Turkish Airlines cargo plane crashed into a residential area in Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek. The plane which was en route from Hong Kong to Istanbul, crashed into Dacha-Suu, a village near the Manas airport. Eight people were hospitalised, including six children. A Kyrgyz Emergency Situations Ministry said, "We are confirming data on the number of those killed in the plane crash, lists vary but at least 30 locals and crew members are estimated to have died." Health Ministry spokeswoman Elena Bayalinova said, "The pilot died at the scene of the plane crash."

Pak singer Atif Aslam stops concert, rescues girl

KARACHI: Pakistani singer Atif Aslam stopped his concert mid-way to help a girl who was being harassed by a bunch of thugs. The Karachi Eat 2017 concert saw Aslam stop his electrifying show to address a rowdy crowd who were harassing a girl in the front row. On realising what was going down, Aslam walked up to the edge of the stage and said, "Have you never seen a girl before? Your mother or sister could be here as well." He then called up security and asked for the girl to be rescued from there. Bouncers present helped the girl up on stage and escorted her to safety. Organisers of the show are yet to respond.

Bangladesh to hang 26 for abductions, murders

DHAKA: A court in Bangladesh sentenced 26 people, including three senior officers from the country's elite security force, to death after convicting them of murdering seven people who were abducted outside a cricket stadium. Bodies of the victims were found floating in a river in April 2014, three days after witnesses claimed to have seen them being bundled into an unmarked van outside a stadium in Narayanganj. District and Sessions Judge Syed Enayet Hossain convicted all 35 accused in the case, including members of the Rapid Action Battalion force.

Almost 70,000 birds killed to make NYC skies safer

NEW YORK: An AP analysis of bird-killing programmes at the New York City's major airports revealed that nearly 70,000 gulls, starling, geese, and other birds have been slaughtered since the 2009 accident of Flight 1549. Officials say they've made flying safer, arguing that there hasn't been a major crash involving a bird strike in the area since the "Miracle of the Hudson". Birds were targeted around La Guardia, JFK, and Newark airports by wildlife officials with shot guns. Other most commonly slaughtered were seagulls, with 28,000 dead, followed by around 16,800 European starlings, nearly 6,000 brown-headed cowbirds and about 4,500 mourning doves.

Hindus disappointed with Amazon

NEVADA: World's largest online retailer Amazon.com has disappointed Hindus worldwide, by continuing to sell products showing images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha. Skateboards, bed covers, duvet covers, and bedspreads, with pictures of the god are considered highly inappropriate. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed released a statement saying Lord Ganesha was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to put your feet on or touch with your feet or sleep on it. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the faithful, he said.

Obama receives tearful send off

WASHINGTON: US' most beloved President Barack Obama, or POTUS, as he is fondly called on the internet, pledged continuation of a multi-cultural, multi-religious, racially-diverse and globally-engaged America in his farewell speech. In a 50-minute address in Chicago, he gave the world yet another glimpse of why achche din are over the country. Without naming successor Donald Trump, he asked America to brace itself and defended the "beating heart of the American idea" built on immigration, and enterprise drawn from across the world. "Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours," he said. "The work of democracy has always been hard, but the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion. Sometimes you'll win. Sometimes you'll lose. And more often than not, your faith in America, and in Americans, will be confirmed," he said before he took a final Air Force One flight to and from the city.

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