12 dead in stampede at religious shrine in India

Policemen help to load coffin of a victim of a stampede from community health centre in Katra, near Jammu, India, Jan.1, 2022. (AP)
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Policemen help to load coffin of a victim of a stampede from community health centre in Katra, near Jammu, India, Jan.1, 2022. (AP)
Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021. (AP)
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Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 01 January 2022

12 dead in stampede at religious shrine in India

Policemen help to load coffin of a victim of a stampede from community health centre in Katra, near Jammu, India, Jan.1, 2022. (AP)
  • The Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the most revered Hindu shrines in northern India

SRINAGAR, India: At least 12 people died and 13 were injured in a stampede at a religious shrine in the early hours of Saturday in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said.
“At least 12 people lost their lives and 13 are injured,” one senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“The toll could be higher as the route to the hilltop shrine was packed with devotees trying to do the customary new-year visit and prayers,” he said.
The Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the most revered Hindu shrines in northern India, with tens of thousands visiting to offer prayers every day.
Another disaster-management official confirmed the death toll, saying the stampede took place at about 2:45 am (2115 GMT).
“A high-level inquiry has been ordered by the government into the stampede incident at the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine,” he said.
“Extremely saddened by the loss of lives,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter, adding that he was in touch with local officials.
“Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon,” Modi said.


Human rights champions in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine win Nobel Peace Prize

Human rights champions in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine win Nobel Peace Prize
Updated 11 sec ago

Human rights champions in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine win Nobel Peace Prize

Human rights champions in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine win Nobel Peace Prize
OSLA: The Nobel Peace Prize was on Friday awarded to human rights champions Ales Bialiatski of Belarus, Russia’s Memorial group and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties.
“They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy,” the head of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, told reporters.

UN: More than 1 million displaced since Myanmar coup

UN: More than 1 million displaced since Myanmar coup
Updated 3 min 58 sec ago

UN: More than 1 million displaced since Myanmar coup

UN: More than 1 million displaced since Myanmar coup
  • The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government last year

YANGON: More than one million people have been displaced in Myanmar since the military coup last year, the United Nations children’s agency has said.
The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government last year, sparking widespread armed resistance.
The junta has responded with a crackdown that rights groups say includes razing villages, mass extrajudicial killings and airstrikes on civilians.
Since the coup and as of last month, 1,017,000 people have been internally displaced, UNICEF said in a statement on Thursday.
It added that more than half of those forced to flee are in the country’s northwest Sagaing region, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting.
There were “significant challenges” to delivering humanitarian assistance in the region, UNICEF said.
Sagaing is crisscrossed by junta troops, pro-military militias and anti-coup fighters and where authorities regularly cut Internet access.
More than 12,000 civilian properties were thought to have been burned or destroyed across Myanmar since the coup, the UN humanitarian agency UNOCHA said in May.
Last month, at least 11 schoolchildren died in an airstrike and firing on a village in Sagaing, an attack the junta said targeted rebels hiding in the area.
Diplomatic efforts to end the crisis are moribund.
A “consensus” brokered last year by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) aimed at facilitating dialogue between the military and its opponents and the delivery of humanitarian aid has been largely ignored by the junta.


Russia: Zelensky’s ‘preventive strike’ comments justify its Ukraine ‘special operation’

Russia: Zelensky’s ‘preventive strike’ comments justify its Ukraine ‘special operation’
Updated 51 min 17 sec ago

Russia: Zelensky’s ‘preventive strike’ comments justify its Ukraine ‘special operation’

Russia: Zelensky’s ‘preventive strike’ comments justify its Ukraine ‘special operation’
  • Russia launched its ‘special military operation’ to demilitarize and ‘denazify’ its neighbor

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that remarks by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggesting NATO should launch preventive strikes on Russia confirmed the need for what it calls its “special operation” in Ukraine.
“By doing so, (he) essentially presented the world with further evidence of the threats posed by the Kyiv regime,” Lavrov said. “This is why a special military operation was launched to neutralize them.”
In a discussion with an Australian think tank on Thursday, Zelensky said he believed strikes were necessary to preclude any use of nuclear weapons.
He did not go into detail about what kind of strikes he meant, and made no reference to any need for nuclear strikes.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced Zelensky’s comments as “an appeal to start yet another world war with unpredictable, monstrous consequences,” according to RIA news agency.
Russia launched its “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” its neighbor. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for invasion.


Armenia, Azerbaijan hold talks in efforts to ease tensions

Armenia, Azerbaijan hold talks in efforts to ease tensions
Updated 07 October 2022

Armenia, Azerbaijan hold talks in efforts to ease tensions

Armenia, Azerbaijan hold talks in efforts to ease tensions
  • Last month, Armenia and Azerbaijan negotiated a cease-fire to end a flare-up of fighting that killed 155 soldiers from both sides

PRAGUE: The leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia have held talks in Prague in efforts to ease tensions between the two longtime adversaries.
Armenia agreed to “facilitate a civilian EU mission alongside the border with Azerbaijan,” according to a joint statement released early Friday, following a meeting on the margins of a European summit in the presence of the EU Council President Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Azerbaijan “agreed to cooperate with this mission as far as it is concerned,” the statement said.
Last month, Armenia and Azerbaijan negotiated a cease-fire to end a flare-up of fighting that killed 155 soldiers from both sides.
The EU mission will start in October for a maximum of two months, with the aim to “build confidence” and “contribute” to the border commissions that have been set earlier this year to address questions related to the delimitation of the border, the statement said.
The ex-Soviet countries have been locked in a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.
The move comes after the leaders of historic foes Turkey and Armenia on Thursday held their first face-to-face meeting since the two countries agreed to improve relations.
The discussions have been held on the sidelines of a summit by the leaders of 44 countries to launch a “European Political Community” aimed at boosting security and economic prosperity across Europe.


Sri Lanka top court allows proceedings against former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, others

Sri Lanka top court allows proceedings against former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, others
Updated 07 October 2022

Sri Lanka top court allows proceedings against former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, others

Sri Lanka top court allows proceedings against former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, others
  • The case calls for accountability for the island nation’s leadership for its worst financial crisis in more than seven decades

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s top court has granted permission for proceedings against former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the rights group which filed the case against him said in a statement on Friday.
The court also agreed to allow proceedings against the country’s former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, its former finance minister and two of its former central bank governors.
The case, filed by rights group Transparency International, calls for accountability for the island nation’s leadership for its worst financial crisis in more than seven decades.