Malaysia seizes drugs, turtles from Indian nationals

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The red-ear sliders are one of the world’s most commonly traded turtles meant for the pet and meat markets. (AP)
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Malaysian customs officials display the seized red-eared slider turtles at the customs office on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 June 2019

Malaysia seizes drugs, turtles from Indian nationals

  • Agents found a total 5,255 red-ear slider baby turtles kept in small baskets from the luggage of two Indian nationals
  • Separately, two Indian nationals were arrested for possession of 14.34 kilograms of methamphetamine

SEPANG, Malaysia: Malaysia authorities have arrested four Indians and seized more than 14 kilograms of drugs and over 5,000 turtles from their luggage at the Kuala Lumpur airport.
Senior customs official Zulkarnain Mohamed Yusof said Wednesday that agents found a total 5,255 red-ear slider baby turtles kept in small baskets from the luggage of two Indian nationals who flew in from Guangzhou, China on June 20.
He said the men had no permits for the turtles and told investigators that the terrapins, estimated to be worth $12,700, were meant to be sold as pets in India. The men are expected to be charged and could face up to five years in jail and a fine, he said.
The red-ear sliders are one of the world’s most commonly traded turtles meant for the pet and meat markets. Permits are required as young turtles are susceptible to carrying salmonella and pose health concerns.
Separately, Zulkarnain said officials also found a total of 14.34 kilograms of methamphetamine worth 717,000 ringgit ($174,000), hidden in special compartments in boxes that were hand-carried by two men. One of them flew in from Hyderabad, India on June 19 and another on June 20 from Bengaluru, he said in a statement.
The two men, believed to be drug mules, are expected to be charged and face the death penalty if convicted.


Afghan president vows to crush Daesh after deadly Kabul wedding strike

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani attends a state ceremony for the Afghan Independence Day in Kabul on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 20 August 2019

Afghan president vows to crush Daesh after deadly Kabul wedding strike

  • ‘We have collapsed from the inside,’ says attack survivor

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani vowed to wipe out Daesh, after a deadly attack on a wedding party in Kabul killed more than 60 people. The suicide bombing also injured 200 others late on Saturday evening.
Ghani, whose government is facing intense criticism for failing to deter attacks by sympathizers of Daesh and the Taliban, also announced the postponement of 100th anniversary celebrations of the country’s independence from Britain that were due to take place.
“We will eliminate Daesh hideouts all around the country … the fight against Daesh will be intensified,” Ghani said during a brief state ceremony to mark independence, even though formal festivities were put on hold.
The government had allocated millions of dollars and set aside two years for planning the event. “We postponed celebrations to honor the victims, but we will take the revenge of our people,” he added.
Daesh claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack, which happened while guests and family members of the bride and groom were in segregated halls for men and women.
Most of the victims were Shiite and ethnic Hazaras. Daesh considers them to be heretics and has targeted them in recent years.
“I think many of us are merely alive by appearance and physically. Mentally, we are all dead. We have collapsed from the inside,” Zaman Shah, a 25-year-old survivor who lost three brothers in the attack, told Arab News.
The bomber blew himself up in the men’s hall. The groom was with the bride in the women’s section and survived, but both lost at least 25 family members.
Six children from one family perished. Other families lost loved ones too.
“I lost two of my brothers and four nephews, life has no meaning for me anymore,” Ahmad Fawad told reporters. “Postponing the independence anniversary will not cure our grief, this government is weak and useless and cannot protect people.”
Hasmat Hussien, another survivor, lost eight close members of his family and relatives in the attack. “We do not know why this calamity has befallen us. You cannot understand or comprehend our grief, misery and pain. We have not managed to sleep or eat for nearly two days now,” he said.
Amir Mohammad a 50-year-old man whose son died and had two others wounded in the attack, said: “Life has become meaningless for my family. These people who were targeted were poor, ordinary civilians, not government authorities or generals.”
The suicide bombing took place even as the US and the Taliban near a peace deal that could eventually lead to the complete withdrawal of foreign troops and end decades of conflict.
The Taliban, for its part, has pledged not to allow any group to use Afghanistan for attacks against any country.
“The US is making a peace deal with the Taliban, but we fear Daesh will be the next group that will expand its activities and there will be fighting for an uncertain future,” Kabul shopkeeper Rahim Dad said. “There will be peace with one group, but war with another. That means we won’t have peace, even if America and the Taliban make peace,” he added.
Ghani blamed the Taliban for the attack, saying it had given rise to extremist networks such as Daesh.
The Taliban, whose fighters have battled Daesh in some parts of the country, condemned the attack and showed sympathy with the victims.
US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has led the US side in peace talks with the Taliban since last year, tweeted Sunday that it was time to step up efforts to end fighting.
But the peace talks have faltered, mostly because the Taliban refuses to engage with Ghani’s government.
“We condemn Daesh (Daesh) and yesterday’s heinous attack on a Kabul wedding hall that killed scores of innocent Afghan families,” Khalilzad tweeted. “We must accelerate the #AfghanPeaceProcess including intra-Afghan negotiations. Success here will put Afghans in a much stronger position to defeat Daesh.”
There was tight security in major cities as thousands of Afghans poured onto the streets to mark the 100th independence anniversary.
But blasts in the eastern city of Jalalabad disrupted the day. Officials said at least 50 people were wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts in the city, parts of which have been a Daesh bastion.