Pakistani army plane crashes into homes, killing 19

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The body of a victim, killed after a Pakistani Army Aviation Corps aircraft crashed into a residential area, is wheeled to a waiting ambulance at a hospital to be taken for DNA identification in Rawalpindi on July 30, 2019. (AFP)
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Pakistan soldiers and officers survey the site after a military aircraft on a training flight crashed in a built-up area in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan July 30, 2019. (REUTERS)
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TV footage showed fire erupting in the residential area. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 July 2019

Pakistani army plane crashes into homes, killing 19

  • An official said the death toll could rise as some were in critical condition

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: A Pakistani military plane crashed into a residential area before dawn on Tuesday, killing at least 19 people, most of them in their homes on the outskirts of the city of Rawalpindi, officials said.
Fires, damaged houses and debris were visible in Mora Kalu village near Rawalpindi after daybreak. Victims' relatives were seen wailing and crying as rescuers loaded charred bodies into ambulances.
Rescue officials said 14 civilians, including children, and all five crew aboard the aircraft were killed, including the two pilots.
Farooq Butt, an official at the state-run emergency service, said 14 people were also injured in the crash. He said the death toll could rise as some were in critical condition
"Most of the victims received burn injuries," Butt told The Associated Press.
The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known. The military said the army aircraft was on a routine training flight when it crashed, and that an investigation had been opened.
As rescue efforts ended, troops and police cordoned off the residential area to search for plane debris and probe the crash site.
Footage on social media showed the plane was flying very low before it quickly went down.
Residents said they woke up when they heard an explosion and saw debris from the burning plane near their homes. Army helicopters were later seen hovering over the crash site.
"My sister, her husband and their three children were killed when the plane crashed into their home," said Mohammad Mustafa as he sobbed near his sister's badly damaged house. He said rescuers and troops quickly reached the area after the crash.
Pakistan's President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed their condolences in separate statements.
Abdul Rehman, a medical doctor, said at least three homes were badly damaged and that the pilots' bodies had been retrieved. Hours later, a funeral for the pilots was held in Rawalpindi, attended by army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, senior army officers and relatives.
It was unclear when funerals for the other victims will be held. Rescue officials said the process of identifying the bodies was taking place at a military hospital.
Pakistan's military has been on high alert since February, when India launched an airstrike inside Pakistan to target Pakistan-based militants behind the suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian troops in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Pakistan at the time retaliated and said it shot down two Indian air force planes. One Indian pilot was captured and later released amid signs of easing tensions.
In 2010, a Pakistani passenger jet crashed into the hills surrounding the capital, Islamabad, in poor weather, killing all 152 people on board.


Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.

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