Pakistan seizes 14 tons of bomb making chemical

Updated 03 December 2012
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Pakistan seizes 14 tons of bomb making chemical

QUETTA: Pakistani authorities seized nearly 14 tons of potassium chlorate, a key ingredient in bomb making, from a bus in the country’s violent and unstable southwest yesterday, officials said.
The haul was made when officials acting on a tip-off stopped a bus just outside the city of Quetta loaded with the volatile substance hidden under cartons of food, an official with the government paramilitary force said.
“We have seized some 13,900 kilograms of potassium chlorate from a bus and arrested five people,” Frontier Corps Captain Johar Sarwar said.
“The substance was hidden in sacks under various food items.” Frontier Corps spokesman Murtaza Baig confirmed the haul and said the substance could be used to make bombs and was so dangerous that only a simple detonator was needed to make a deadly device.
The bus was bound for the remote town of Naushki, around 110 km west of Quetta, he said, adding that bomb disposal officers were summoned to check for detonators, but they found none.
Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, is frequently hit by bomb attacks.
The oil and gas-rich area borders Iran and Afghanistan, and suffers from sectarian violence, attacks by Taleban and a tribal insurgency.
Baluch rebels rose up in 2004, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region’s mineral resources.
Baluchistan has also been a flashpoint for violence between majority Sunnis and Shiites, who make up around 20 percent of the population.

More bodies found
Meanwhile, rescuers have found three more bodies after landslides in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, officials said yesterday, taking the confirmed death toll to 15, with three people still missing.
A military and civilian rescue operation was launched after heavy snows on Friday triggered two landslides at a remote outpost in the Kel area of the disputed territory near the de facto border with India.
“Despite bad weather and heavy snowfall rescuers found three more bodies yesterday (Saturday) and are searching for three more who are still missing,” local administration official Raja Saqib Muneer said.
“So far 15 bodies have been recovered, including nine soldiers and six civilians.” Disputed Kashmir has been the cause of two of the three wars between India and Pakistan since their independence from Britain in 1947.
But with separatist violence having dropped sharply following the start of a peace process in 2004, the greatest dangers facing soldiers stationed at remote outposts are often landslides and extreme weather conditions.
In April, 140 Pakistani soldiers were buried when a huge wall of snow crashed into the remote Siachen Glacier base high in the mountains in Kashmir. They have all been declared dead, although some of the bodies remain buried.
That tragedy renewed debate about how much sense it made for a country where millions live below the poverty line to maintain outposts in Siachen, dubbed “the world’s highest battleground,” at immense cost when violence had decreased.
And in February, at least 16 Indian soldiers on duty in the mountains of Kashmir were killed when two avalanches swept through army camps.
In Friday’s accident, a wall of mud and snow hit the outpost in the early hours.
An 18-strong team was quickly dispatched to search for the soldiers at the outpost, which is 130 km from Pakistan-administered Kashmir’s main town of Muzaffarabad.


UN says Nicaragua protest killings may be 'unlawful'

Updated 24 April 2018
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UN says Nicaragua protest killings may be 'unlawful'

  • Some groups called for "dictator" Ortega and his wife to step down, yelling "Out! Out!"
  • Mass street protests are rare in Nicaragua, where the army maintains a very tight grip on public order.
MANAGUA: The United Nations said Tuesday that many deaths in nearly a week of anti-government protests violently repressed by police in Nicaragua may have been "unlawful" and called for an investigation.
The scrutiny from the Swiss-based UN human rights office adds to international alarm at Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's ordered crackdown against a wave of anti-government demonstrations and clashes.
The European Union, United States and the Vatican have all urged talks to restore calm, while the US embassy in Managua ordered family members of staff out of the country after Ortega deployed the army to the streets and looting broke out.
A toll compiled from the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights and Ortega's wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, puts the number of deaths since last Wednesday at 27. Most were protesters, among which university students and youths figure prominently.
"We are particularly concerned that a number of these deaths may amount to unlawful killings," Liz Throssell of the UN Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights told reporters in Geneva.
"It is essential that all allegations of excessive use of force by police and other security forces are effectively investigated to ensure those responsible are held to account," Throssell said.
The UN office said at least 25 people, including a police officer, had been killed.
The protests were sparked Wednesday by pension reforms aimed at keeping Nicaragua's burdened Social Security Institute afloat by cutting benefits and increasing contributions.
But they rapidly spread and intensified as other grievances over Ortega's rule surged to the fore.
On Monday, tens of thousands of people -- employees, students, pensioners and ordinary citizens -- marched peacefully in the capital Managua and other cities demanding an end to the forceful security crackdown on protests.
Some groups called for "dictator" Ortega and his wife to step down, yelling "Out! Out!"
Ortega, a 72-year-old former Sandinista guerrilla leader who has ruled Nicaragua for 22 of the past 39 years, has been taken aback by the demonstrations against him, the biggest in his last 11-year stretch in power.
He has canceled the pension reforms and called for dialogue, and Murillo has suggested arrested protesters could be released.
But his security forces have not been pulled back, and -- though Managua appeared relatively calm early Tuesday -- widespread anti-government sentiment persisted.
Even Nicaragua's business sector, whose support had shored up Ortega over the past decade, has abandoned him over the violence.
A pro-government rally was being organized for Thursday to show that the president still enjoyed backing from part of the population.
Mass street protests are rare in Nicaragua, where the army maintains a very tight grip on public order.
But dissatisfaction has been bubbling over in recent months.
Frustrations have been voiced over corruption, the distant and autocratic style of Ortega and Murillo, limited options to change the country's politics in elections, and the president's control over the Congress, the courts and the electoral authority.
In rural areas, anger also stemmed from a stalled plan by Ortega to have a Chinese company carve a $50 billion canal across Nicaragua to rival Panama's lucrative Pacific-to-Atlantic shipping canal.
If the project went ahead, it would displace thousands of rural dwellers and indigenous communities, while dealing a negative impact on the environment.
"People are demanding democracy, freedom, free elections, a transparent government, the separation of powers, rule of law. The people want freedom," former Nicaraguan foreign minister Norman Caldera told AFP.
"If the government doesn't yield, it's going to be very difficult to stop this (the protests)," he said, asserting that the "big majority" of the population was showing its frustration with Ortega.
"The repressive apparatus is not able to halt protests on this scale," Caldera said.
Though Ortega has held out the promise of talks with opponents, the lack of any identifiable leader in the protest movement could make dialogue there difficult.
Under his watch, Nicaragua has avoided the rampant crime seen in northern Central American countries where gangs are rife.
It has also put in solid economic growth, yet it remains one of the poorest nations in Latin America.
The sudden upsurge in the streets puts Ortega at a crossroads: to tough it out, or to bow to the demands for democracy that have become too loud to ignore.