North Korea expresses ‘strong regret’ over UN rebuke of ICBM launch: KCNA

North Korean vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui (C) arrives for a press conference at Melia hotel in Hanoi. (AFP file photo)
North Korean vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui (C) arrives for a press conference at Melia hotel in Hanoi. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 21 November 2022

North Korea expresses ‘strong regret’ over UN rebuke of ICBM launch: KCNA

North Korea expresses ‘strong regret’ over UN rebuke of ICBM launch: KCNA

SEOUL: North Korea’s foreign minister on Sunday expressed “strong regret” over UN chief Antonio Guterres’ condemnation of the country’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch, a statement in state-run outlet KCNA said.
The North fired an intercontinental ballistic missile Friday in one of its most powerful tests yet, prompting Guterres to urge Pyongyang to halt any further “provocative actions.”
Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui responded by expressing “my strong regret over the fact that the UN secretary-general has taken a very deplorable attitude.”
The UN chief’s statement, Choe said, was “oblivious of the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and its proper mission which is to maintain impartiality, objectivity and equity in all matters.”
She added that the episode shows that Guterres “is a puppet of the US.”
Nuclear-armed North Korea has conducted a record-breaking blitz of launches in recent weeks, which Pyongyang — and Moscow — have repeatedly blamed on Washington’s moves to boost the protection it offers to allies Seoul and Tokyo.
Since Kim declared North Korea an “irreversible” nuclear state in September, the United States has ramped up regional security cooperation.
“We recently warned the UN secretary-general to consider the issue of the Korean peninsula on the basis of impartiality and objectivity,” Choe said.
She added that the North had made clear that it would have to result to “self-defense under the worrying security environment in the Korean peninsula and the region caused by the US and its vassal forces’ dangerous military cooperation.”
“Nevertheless,” Choe said, “the UN secretary-general shifted the blame for the case onto the DPRK rather than the US.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised Friday’s launch, which KCNA said was the Hwasong-17 — dubbed the “monster missile” by analysts.
The missile flew 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) at an altitude of 6,100 km, South Korea’s military said, only slightly less than the ICBM Pyongyang fired on March 24, which appeared to be the North’s most powerful such test yet.
Later on Friday, Tokyo and Washington held joint military drills in the airspace over the Sea of Japan.
The UN Security Council on Saturday said it would discuss North Korea in a Monday meeting.
 

 


Afghan cancer patients who died in Pakistan jail were denied treatment, envoy says

Afghan cancer patients who died in Pakistan jail were denied treatment, envoy says
Updated 38 sec ago

Afghan cancer patients who died in Pakistan jail were denied treatment, envoy says

Afghan cancer patients who died in Pakistan jail were denied treatment, envoy says
  • Afghanistan consul claims jail authorities did not offer prisoners the medical help they needed
  • Prison says all inmates receive treatment, including three Afghan nationals who died of cancer and heart disease

KARACHI: Three Afghan men imprisoned in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi have died in jail from cancer and heart disease in the past four months, a Pakistani jailer and a senior Afghan diplomat told Arab News, with the latter alleging the prisoners were denied medical help.
Afghans have been arriving in neighboring Pakistan to escape persecution by the Kabul regime, to seek employment, and for medical help at hospitals, as the health system in their own country is on the brink of collapse.
Many lack proper travel documents, adding to the increasing number of those entering Pakistan illegally since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021.
Since last year, Pakistan has been intensifying its crackdown on those who cross the border without valid documents.
In a letter seen by Arab News, the superintendent of a correctional facility in Karachi’s Malir district told the Sindh province’s prisons police chief on Monday that three Afghan prisoners awaiting trial there had died in custody due to health complications.
Taj Muhammad, who was arrested in January 2022, died nine months later, according to the letter, while Abdul Khalil died in December after being taken into custody the previous month. A third Afghan, Wali Khan, also arrested in November, died in late January this year.
Syed Abdul Jabbar Takhari, Afghanistan’s acting consul general in Karachi, said Khan died from a heart attack, while Muhammad and Khalil fell victim to cancer.
“These people died because they didn’t get treatment,” Takhari told Arab News, adding that his mission had informed Sindh authorities about the inmates’ health problems.
“They knew about their health condition as these people had come here for treatment.”
Takhari said that almost 870 Afghan nationals, many struggling with health issues, are being held in Sindh prisons.
By law jail authorities are not allowed to detain cancer or heart patients, he said.
“Instead, they should have been admitted to a hospital.”
Arshad Shah, superintendent of Malir Prison, rejected Takhari’s allegations, saying all inmates, including the three Afghan nationals, were given treatment.
“We have medical facilities, but the ones with serious conditions are sent to hospital, either to the Jinnah Hospital or the Civil Hospital,” Shah told Arab News.
Muniza Kakar, a lawyer who campaigns for the release of Afghan nationals in detention, said around 2,000 people had been arrested since authorities started the crackdown against Afghan nationals in July 2022.
“Of them, about 900 have been deported, some possessing refugees’ cards were released on bail, while around 1,000 are still languishing in jails in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkar cities of the province,” she said.
“These include women, children and aged people, and most of them are patients with serious diseases.”
Kakar gave the example of an Afghan asylum seeker who she alleged was not provided treatment after suffering a cardiac arrest in jail on Sunday.
“She was seen by a jail doctor and on Monday, she was brought to court where she fell down,” Kakar said. “She was taken to jail instead of being taken for treatment to a health facility.”

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US says Russia not complying with last remaining nuclear treaty

US says Russia not complying with last remaining nuclear treaty
Updated 31 January 2023

US says Russia not complying with last remaining nuclear treaty

US says Russia not complying with last remaining nuclear treaty
  • “Russia is not complying with its obligation under the New START Treaty to facilitate inspection activities on its territory,” a State Department spokesperson said
  • Moscow announced in early August that it was suspending US inspections of its military sites under New START

WASHINGOTN: The United States said Tuesday that Russia was not complying with New START, the last remaining arms control treaty between the world’s two main nuclear powers, as tensions soar over the Ukraine war.
Responding to a request from Congress, the State Department faulted Russia for suspending inspections and canceling talks but did not accuse its Cold War rival of expanding nuclear warheads beyond agreed limits.
“Russia is not complying with its obligation under the New START Treaty to facilitate inspection activities on its territory,” a State Department spokesperson said, charging that Moscow’s refusal “threatens the viability of US-Russian nuclear arms control.”
“Russia has a clear path for returning to full compliance. All Russia needs to do is allow inspection activities on its territory, just as it did for years under the New START Treaty, and meet in a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission,” he said, referring to the formal talks set up under the treaty.
“There is nothing preventing Russian inspectors from traveling to the United States and conducting inspections.”
Moscow announced in early August that it was suspending US inspections of its military sites under New START. It said it was responding to American obstruction of inspections by Russia, a charge denied by Washington.
Diplomacy between the two powers has ground to a bare minimum over the past year as the United States leads a drive to punish Russia economically and arm Ukraine with billions of dollars in weapons as it fights back an invasion from Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, reviving Cold War era fears of an apocalyptic war.
Russia indefinitely postponed talks under New START that had been due to start on November 29 in Cairo, accusing the United States of “toxicity and animosity.”
President Joe Biden shortly after taking office extended New START by five years until 2026, giving time to negotiate while preserving what the Democratic administration sees as an important existing treaty.
The previous administration of Donald Trump had ripped up previous arms control agreements and had been hesitant to preserve New START in its current form, saying that any nuclear treaty must also include China, whose arsenal is rapidly growing but still significantly below those of Russia and the United States.
The Biden administration indicated that it wanted to preserve New START, saying the treaty was meant “to make the world safer.”
“To fully deliver on the promise of the treaty by ensuring it remains an instrument of stability and predictability, Russia must fully implement and comply with its obligations,” the State Department spokesperson said.
Republican lawmakers, who took control of the House of Representatives in January, had asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to report by Tuesday whether Russia was in violation of New START.
In a letter last week, the Republican heads of the committees on foreign affairs, armed services and intelligence said that Russia’s actions and statements “at a minimum raise serious compliance concerns.”
New START, signed by then president Barack Obama in 2010 when relations were warmer, restricted Russia and the United States to a maximum of 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads each — a reduction of nearly 30 percent from the previous limit set in 2002.
It also limits the number of launchers and heavy bombers to 800, still easily enough to destroy Earth.


Pope condemns “poison of greed” stoking conflict in Congo

Pope condemns “poison of greed” stoking conflict in Congo
Updated 31 January 2023

Pope condemns “poison of greed” stoking conflict in Congo

Pope condemns “poison of greed” stoking conflict in Congo
  • The 86-year-old Francis is the first pontiff to visit Congo since John Paul II in 1985
  • "It is a tragedy that these lands, and more generally the whole African continent, continue to endure various forms of exploitation," he said

KINSHASA: Pope Francis denounced the “poison of greed” for mineral resources driving conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo as he began a visit there on Tuesday, saying the rich world could no longer ignore the tragic plight of many African nations.
The 86-year-old Francis is the first pontiff to visit Congo since John Paul II in 1985, when it was still known as Zaire. About half of Congo’s population of 90 million are Roman Catholics.
Tens of thousands of people cheered as he traveled from the airport into the capital Kinshasa in his popemobile, with some breaking away to chase his convoy while others chanted and waved flags in one of the most vibrant welcomes of his foreign trips.
But the mood changed when the pope gave a speech to dignitaries at the presidential palace, condemning “terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of humanity” in Congo, where vast mineral wealth has fueled war, displacement and hunger.
“It is a tragedy that these lands, and more generally the whole African continent, continue to endure various forms of exploitation,” he said. “The poison of greed has smeared its diamonds with blood,” he said, referring to Congo specifically.
“Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered,” he said.
Congo has some of the world’s richest deposits of diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, tin, tantalum and lithium, but those have stoked conflict between militias, government troops and foreign invaders. Mining has also been linked to inhumane exploitation of workers, including children, and environmental degradation.
Compounding these problems, eastern Congo has been plagued by violence connected to the long and complex fallout from the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda.
An estimated 5.7 million people are internally displaced in Congo and 26 million face severe hunger, largely because of the impact of armed conflict, according to the United Nations.
’PILGRIMAGE OF PEACE’
The Catholic Church plays a crucial role in running schools and health facilities in the country, as well as promoting democracy.
The pope criticized rich countries for closing their eyes and ears to the tragedies unfolding in Congo and elsewhere in Africa.
“One has the impression that the international community has practically resigned itself to the violence devouring it (Congo). We cannot grow accustomed to the bloodshed that has marked this country for decades, causing millions of deaths,” he said.
First scheduled for last July, the pope’s trip was postponed because he was suffering a flare-up of a chronic knee ailment. He had originally planned to travel to Goma, in eastern Congo, but that stop was scrapped because of a resurgence in fighting between the M23 rebel group and government troops.
In an apparent reference to the M23 and other militias active in Congo’s eastern regions, the pope said the Congolese people were fighting to preserve their territorial integrity “against deplorable attempts to fragment the country.”
On Wednesday, Francis will celebrate Mass at a Kinshasa airport and meet victims of violence from the east, further highlighting the issues he raised in his speech.
Francis will stay in Kinshasa until Friday morning, when he will fly to South Sudan, another country grappling with conflict and poverty.
In a first, he will be accompanied for that leg of his journey by the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the global Anglican Communion, and by the Church of Scotland Moderator. The religious leaders have described their joint visit as a “pilgrimage of peace.”


Algerian beauty blogger stabbed to death in Germany in plot to fake killer’s death

Algerian beauty blogger stabbed to death in Germany in plot to fake killer’s death
Updated 31 January 2023

Algerian beauty blogger stabbed to death in Germany in plot to fake killer’s death

Algerian beauty blogger stabbed to death in Germany in plot to fake killer’s death
  • Woman identified as Shahraban K tracked down Khadidja O because of similar facial features
  • Victim’s face disfigured after body is stabbed 50 times

LONDON: A 23-year-old woman has been accused of stabbing to death an Algerian beauty blogger in Germany in a bid to fake her own death.

The woman, identified by German police as Shahraban K, who is of Iraqi descent, is accused of stabbing her victim, identified as Khadidja O, 50 times, leaving her face completely disfigured.

Shahraban K then left the body in her Mercedes in a bid to make it appear that she was in fact the murder victim.

She and her accomplice, her boyfriend identified as Sheqir K, face life in prison if convicted.

The attack, which took place in the German city of Ingolstadt in August, happened after Shahraban K tracked down Khadidja O on social media because of similarities in appearance between the two. 

It is thought Shahraban K wanted to fake her own death and go into hiding to escape a family issue. She established multiple social media accounts to contact other women who resembled her, one of whom was Khadidja O.

German prosecutors say Shahraban K and Sheqir K befriended Khadidja O, who lived in Heilbronn, and one evening drove her to a forest outside Ingolstadt where the murder took place.

The disfigurement of the face was a deliberate part of the plan, with police only becoming aware of the victim’s true identity after an autopsy was performed, having initially believed it to be the body of Shahraban K after being alerted to her disappearance by her parents.

Ingolstadt-based prosecutor Veronika Grieser told Bild: “It has been confirmed that the accused had contacted several women via Instagram before the act who seemed to look similar to her.

“It can be assumed that the suspect wanted to go into hiding, due to internal disputes with her family, and fake her own death.”

An Ingolstadt police spokesman said: “The victim was lured out of the vehicle as planned under a pretext, and killed in a wooded area with a large number of stabs in the body.

“The accused then continued their journey to Ingolstadt, where the body was found on the evening of Aug. 16. It was found lying in the vehicle.”

Another police spokesperson told Bild: “The murder weapon has still not been found but the burden of proof is overwhelming.

“The victim was killed with more than 50 stab wounds and her face was badly injured. That was brutal in the extreme.

“It was an extraordinary case that required all the investigators’ skills. We don’t have a case like this every day, especially with such a spectacular twist. On the day we found the body, we did not expect it to develop like this.”


Pakistan mosque blast that killed 100 was ‘revenge against police’

Pakistan mosque blast that killed 100 was ‘revenge against police’
Updated 31 January 2023

Pakistan mosque blast that killed 100 was ‘revenge against police’

Pakistan mosque blast that killed 100 was ‘revenge against police’
  • Authorities are investigating how a major security breach could happen in one of the most tightly controlled areas of the city
  • Sanaullah told Pakistan’s national assembly the dead included 97 police officers and three civilians

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: A suicide blast at a mosque inside a Pakistan police headquarters was a targeted revenge attack, a police chief said Tuesday, as rescue efforts ended with the death toll standing at 100.
Between 300 and 400 policemen had gathered for afternoon prayers at the compound’s mosque on Monday in the provincial capital Peshawar when an entire wall and most of the roof were blown out, showering rubble on officers.
“We are on the frontline taking action against militants and that is why we were targeted,” city police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan told AFP.
“The purpose was to demoralize us as a force.”
On Tuesday evening rescuers finally ended a marathon operation which saw them pry survivors and corpses out of the wreck of the mosque, rushing those who could be saved to hospitals.
Low-level militancy, often targeting security checkpoints, has been steadily rising in the areas near Peshawar that border Afghanistan since the Taliban seized control of Kabul in August 2021.
The assaults are claimed mostly by the Pakistani Taliban, as well as the local chapter of the Islamic State, but mass casualty attacks remain rare.
The head of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province police force, Moazzam Jah Ansari, told reporters that a suicide bomber had entered the mosque as a guest, carrying 10-12 kilogrammes (about 22-26 pounds) of “explosive material in bits and pieces.”
He added that a militant group that was on-and-off affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban could be behind the attack.
Authorities are investigating how a major security breach could happen in one of the most tightly controlled areas of the city, housing intelligence and counter-terrorism bureaus, and next door to the regional secretariat.
The nation is already being hobbled by a massive economic downturn and political chaos, ahead of elections due by October.
Interior minister Rana Sanaullah told Pakistan’s national assembly the dead included 97 police officers and three civilians, with 27 patients still in critical condition.
“I remained trapped under the rubble with a dead body over me for seven hours. I had lost all hope of survival,” Wajahat Ali, a 23-year-old police constable whose feet were broken, told AFP from hospital on Tuesday.
Survivor Shahid Ali said the explosion took place seconds after the imam started prayers.
“I saw black smoke rising to the sky. I ran out to save my life,” the 47-year-old police officer told AFP.
Dozens of slain police officers have already been buried in several mass prayer ceremonies, with coffins lined up in rows and draped in the Pakistani flag while a guard of honor was performed.
“Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a statement.

In a statement, the Pakistani Taliban — separate from the Afghan Taliban but with a similar Islamist ideology — denied it was responsible for the latest blast.
Known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, it carried out a years-long wave of horrific violence after emerging in 2007 but recently has attempted to rebrand itself as a less brutal outfit, claiming not to target places of worship.
But a security official in Peshawar, who asked not to be named, said Tuesday that authorities were considering all possibilities including the involvement of a TTP splinter faction, Daesh or a coordinated attack by several groups.
“Often in the past militant groups, including the TTP, that carry out attacks in mosques do not claim them” because a mosque is considered a sacred place, the official told AFP.
Pakistan was once plagued by almost daily bombings, but a major military clearance operation which started in 2014 largely restored order.
Analysts say militants in the former tribal areas adjacent to Peshawar and bordering Afghanistan have become emboldened since the return of the Afghan Taliban, with Islamabad accusing the new rulers of failing to secure their mountainous frontier.
“Terrorism has become a national security crisis for Pakistan again — as it was a decade ago — and it will worsen unless concerted action is taken to address it,” Brookings Institution analyst Madiha Afzal told AFP.
Mass casualty attacks remain relatively rare, with Daesh claiming the most recent blast on a Shiite mosque in Peshawar last March that killed 64.
Provinces around the country announced they were on high alert after the blast, with checkpoints ramped up and extra security forces deployed, while in the capital Islamabad snipers were posted on buildings and at city entrance points.
The drastic security breach came on the day United Arab Emirates President Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan had been due to visit Islamabad, although the trip was canceled at the last minute due to bad weather.
Pakistan is also hosting an International Monetary Fund delegation from Tuesday as it works toward unlocking a vital bailout loan to prevent a looming default.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday condemned the blast as “abhorrent,” and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken extended his condolences for the “horrific attack.”

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