Thousands mourn 7 Syrian siblings killed in Canada fire

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Halifax Regional Police and Fire Honour Guard move one of the caskets of the Barho family children during a funeral service for the Syrian refugee family who lost seven children in a February 19 house fire in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada February 23, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Halifax area residents react as they gather for a vigil in support of a Syrian refugee family who lost seven children killed in a house fire in the community of Spryfield earlier in the week, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, February 20, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Close to 2000 people listen during a funeral service for a Syrian refugee family who lost seven children in a February 19 house fire in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada February 23, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 February 2019

Thousands mourn 7 Syrian siblings killed in Canada fire

  • The Barho family arrived in Canada in 2017, and were among an estimated 40,000 refugees received by the country since 2015

MONTREAL: Around 2,000 mourners attended the funeral on Saturday of seven children from a Syrian refugee family who died earlier this week in a house fire in Halifax, eastern Canada.
Ahmad Barho and siblings Rola, Mohammed, Ola, Hala, Rana and Abdullah — whose ages ranged from four months to 15 years — all perished in the as-yet unexplained blaze at their home on Tuesday.
Their father, Ebraheim Barho, suffered serious burns and remains in a medically induced coma in hospital, according to Canadian media. Their mother, Kawthar Barho, was less seriously injured. She was present at the funeral.
“I’ve attended many funerals but nothing like this, so please bear with me,” said Sheikh Hamza, who spoke at the moving ceremony, struggling to overcome grief.
The Barho family arrived in Canada in 2017, and were among an estimated 40,000 refugees received by the country since 2015.
The funeral, broadcast on several news channels, was carried out according to Muslim tradition.
Due to the number of people attending, it took place not in a mosque but in a cavernous hall on the Halifax waterfront, with all 2,000 seats full and several mourners standing.
“We have all been affected by this tragedy,” said Nova Scotia lieutenant governor Arthur Leblanc.
Member of Parliament Andy Fillmore said authorities were working to bring other members of the Barho family to Canada to support Kawthar Barho.
The tragedy provoked an outpouring of sympathy across Canada, with a fundraiser for the family bringing in nearly half a million Canadian dollars ($380,000) in just a few days.
The seven small white coffins were accompanied by a guard of honor before being transported to a Muslim cemetery near Halifax.


Empty classrooms as some schools re-open in Indian Kashmir

Updated 5 min 33 sec ago

Empty classrooms as some schools re-open in Indian Kashmir

NEW DELHI: Some Kashmir schools re-opened on Monday but were largely empty following weekend clashes in Srinagar, two-weeks after India removed the restive region’s autonomy and imposed a lockdown.
The authorities said they were re-opening 190 primary schools in the city yet few children could be seen at half a dozen places visited by AFP.
Pakistan meanwhile said Indian fire across their de-facto border on Sunday killed two civilians and seriously injured a child, a day after New Delhi said Pakistani fire killed an Indian soldier.
India on August 5 ended the special constitutional status of Muslim-majority Kashmir, where a 30-year-old uprising against Indian rule has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians.
Hours before its move, India severely curtailed movement and shut down phones and the Internet, bringing in tens of thousands of troops to turn the main city of Srinagar into a fortress.
Some 120,000 extra soldiers have been deployed, a security source told AFP, joining around 500,000 already in the northern Himalayan region divided with Pakistan since 1947.
At least 4,000 people have also been detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows imprisonment for up to two years without charge or trial, government sources said.
“Most of them were flown out of Kashmir because prisons here have run out of capacity,” a local magistrate told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Authorities have declined to comment on the numbers of people behind bars. Those picked up include local politicians, activists, business leaders and lawyers.
Officials said only that the “few preventive detentions” were made to avoid a “breach of the peace,” and that there was “no centralized figure” for the total number.


On Sunday family members held a wake for timber trader Sidiq Khan, 62, who relatives said had died after suffocating from tear gas fired by security forces in Srinagar.
A senior government official told AFP that a man in his mid-60s had died, and that a post-mortem “has not revealed any external or internal marks of injury.”
After some easing in previous days, authorities on Sunday reinforced heavy restrictions after eight people were injured during protests.
The Press Trust of India news agency cited unnamed officials saying there had been clashes in a dozen locations around Srinagar on Saturday.
Around 20 percent of landlines were working on Monday, an AFP reporter said. But mobile phones and the Internet were still cut off.


In Srinagar on Monday most main streets and markets were deserted, although some roads looked busier than in recent days.
Some teachers and administrative staff made it to schools but many others didn’t. PTI also reported that only a handful of children had come.
“We didn’t receive an official notification for re-opening the school from the local government but opened it after watching the news yesterday,” a senior official at Srinagar’s Burn Hall School told AFP.
Many schools stayed shut, with guards at the gate turning away any teachers or administrative staff who turned up.
“I don’t think parents will send their children to school if they can’t communicate and check on them whenever required,” a resident of the Rajbagh area of Srinagar told AFP outside the Presentation Convent School.
“I came here after watching the news yesterday but it doesn’t look like any students have come to school today. There are many other teachers who stay farther away and haven’t made it here,” one of the teachers at a local school told AFP.