Remains of Indians killed by Daesh in Iraq to arrive home today

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India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Vijay Kumar Singh condemned terrorism and expressed his government’s stance in fighting it. (AP)
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Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit, India's Ambassador to Iraq, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (AP)
Updated 02 April 2018

Remains of Indians killed by Daesh in Iraq to arrive home today

BAGHDAD: The remains of 38 Indian construction workers captured and killed by Daesh in northern Iraq were handed over to Indian authorities in Baghdad and were flown home later Sunday.
Indian Ambassador Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit said the bodies had been taken to Baghdad International Airport and would be flown back on a military flight, arriving in India on Monday.
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Vijay Kumar Singh saluted the remains at the airport as workers loaded the caskets on the aircraft.
Singh condemned terrorism and expressed his government’s stance in fighting it.
“We are against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” he told reporters, describing Daesh as “very cruel terrorist organization and our people have fallen to their bullets.”
Daesh abducted and killed the workers shortly after seizing the northern city of Mosul in the summer of 2014. Iraqi authorities discovered the remains in a mass grave last year after retaking Mosul, and positively identified the bodies last month.
The militants initially abducted 40 workers. One managed to escape, while the presumed remains of another have yet to be positively identified. Authorities are awaiting DNA samples from a first-degree relative.
The workers, most from northern India, had been employed by a construction company operating near Mosul. Around 10,000 Indians lived and worked in Iraq at the time. Daesh may have viewed the workers as polytheists deserving of death because of their Hindu or Sikh faith.
Daesh swept across northern and central Iraq in 2014, eventually seizing a third of the country. Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition eventually drove the militants from all the territory under their control in a grueling three-year campaign. The militants are still carrying out insurgent-style attacks.
Dozens of mass graves have been found in areas held by the extremist group, which boasted about massacring its enemies and posted videos and photos of many of the mass killings online. Iraq has only managed to excavate a few of the sites due to a lack of funding and specialized staff.


Hong Kong police fire tear gas to break up anti-government protest

Updated 33 min 44 sec ago

Hong Kong police fire tear gas to break up anti-government protest

  • Hong Kong police intervened promptly when the rally turned into an impromptu march
  • The protests had lost some of their intensity in recent weeks

HONG KONG: Police fired tear gas on Sunday to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters who gathered in a central Hong Kong park, but later spilled onto the streets in violation of police orders.
Out in numbers before the demonstration began, police intervened promptly when the rally turned into an impromptu march. Several units of police in riot gear were seen chasing protesters and several arrests were made.
A water cannon truck drove on central streets, flanked by an armored jeep, but was not used.
Organizers initially applied for a permit for a march, but police only agreed to a static rally in the park, saying previous marches have turned violent.
Once protesters spilled onto the streets, some of them, wearing all-black clothing, barricaded the roads with umbrellas and street furniture, dug up bricks from the pavement and smashed traffic lights.
The “Universal Siege Against Communism” demonstration was the latest in a relentless series of protests against the government since June, when Hong Kongers took to the streets to voice their anger over a now-withdrawn extradition bill.
The protests, which have since broadened to include demands for universal suffrage and an independent investigation into police handling of the demonstrations, had lost some of their intensity in recent weeks.
In an apparent new tactic, police have been showing up ahead of time in riot gear, with officers conducting “stop and search” operations near expected demonstrations.
“Everyone understands that there’s a risk of stop-and-search or mass arrests. I appreciate Hong Kong people still come out courageously, despite the risk,” said organizer Ventus Lau.
On Jan 1, a march of tens of thousands of people ended with police firing tear gas to disperse crowds.
The gathering in the park was initially relaxed, with many families with children listening to speeches by activists.
In one corner, a group of volunteers set up a stand where people could leave messages on red cards for the lunar new year to be sent to those who have been arrested. One read: “Hong Kongers won’t give up. The future belongs to the youth”.
Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested more than 7,000 people, many on charges of rioting that can carry jail terms of up to 10 years. It is unclear how many are still in custody.
Anger has grown over the months due to perceptions that Beijing was tightening its grip over the city, which was handed over to China by Britain in 1997 in a deal that ensured it enjoyed liberties unavailable in the mainland.
Beijing denies meddling and blames the West for fomenting unrest.