India indicts Pakistani militant in 2019 Kashmir bombing

India indicts Pakistani militant in 2019 Kashmir bombing
India’s anti-terrorism agency named Pakistan-based militant leader Masood Azhar as the prime mastermind in a 2019 car bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian soldiers and brought two nuclear-armed rival nations to the brink of war. (File/AP)
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Updated 26 August 2020

India indicts Pakistani militant in 2019 Kashmir bombing

India indicts Pakistani militant in 2019 Kashmir bombing
  • The Feb. 14, 2019, bombing was the single deadliest attack in the divided region, and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan

NEW DELHI: India’s anti-terrorism agency named a Pakistan-based militant leader as the prime mastermind of a 2019 car bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian soldiers and brought the nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war.
The National Investigation Agency filed a charge sheet on Tuesday that named Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and 19 others among the accused.
“The investigation has revealed that the Pulwama attack was the result of a well-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by Pakistan-based leadership of terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad,” the document says.
Jaish-e-Mohammad, which is based in Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for the bombing, according to media reports, even though the attacker was identified as a Kashmiri militant. A prerecorded nine-minute video, circulated on social media, showed the purported attacker in combat clothes and surrounded by guns and grenades hours before he rammed an explosives-laden van into a paramilitary convoy.
The Feb. 14, 2019, bombing was the single deadliest attack in the divided region, and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan. In response, India launched an airstrike against suspected militant training camps inside Pakistan, saying it hit one and killed “a very large number” of militants. Pakistan said the strike only damaged three trees in a forest.
Islamabad then responded by shooting down an Indian warplane and capturing a pilot, who was then returned to India as a peace gesture.
India has long accused Pakistan of cultivating militant groups in a proxy war against New Delhi. Pakistan denies the charge.
The conflict in Kashmir dates back to the late 1940s, when India and Pakistan won independence from Britain and fought two wars over the Himalayan region.


UK hopes to be able to consider lockdown easing in March

UK hopes to be able to consider lockdown easing in March
Updated 17 January 2021

UK hopes to be able to consider lockdown easing in March

UK hopes to be able to consider lockdown easing in March
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of vaccinating the elderly, including care home residents, the clinically vulnerable and frontline workers

LONDON: Britain’s government hopes it can meet its target for rolling out COVID-19 vaccines and be able to consider easing lockdown restrictions by March, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday.
The country, which has Europe’s highest COVID-19 death toll, has been under a national lockdown since Jan. 5, when schools were closed for most pupils, non-essential businesses were shut to the public, and people were ordered to work from home where possible.
“What we want to do is get out of this national lockdown as soon as possible,” Raab told Sky News television.
“By early spring, hopefully by March, we’ll be in a position to make those decisions. I think it’s right to say we won’t do it all in one big bang. As we phase out the national lockdown, I think we’ll end up phasing through a tiered approach.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of vaccinating the elderly, including care home residents, the clinically vulnerable and frontline workers — or roughly more than 13 million people — by mid-February.
If all goes smoothly, he has said that England can consider easing lockdown restrictions from that time.
The Sunday Times newspaper said British ministers had reached a deal to approve a three-point plan that could lead to some lockdown restrictions being lifted as soon as early March.
Areas will have restrictions eased once their death rate has fallen, the number of hospital admissions drops and some people aged between 50 and 70 are vaccinated, the newspaper said.
The Sunday Times quoted cabinet ministers as saying they were prepared to resist pressure from health advisers to delay the changes until most people are vaccinated, a process that would take until the summer at least.
“For the first time there are no significant divisions between hawks and doves in the cabinet,” a cabinet source told the newspaper. “Everyone accepted that we need to lock down hard and everyone accepts that we need to open up before everyone is vaccinated.”
A spokesman in Johnson’s office declined to comment on the report.