18 dead in attack on Khartoum market after army abandons talks

18 dead in attack on Khartoum market after army abandons talks
Despite repeated pledges from both sides, fighting has flared this week both in greater Khartoum and in the western region of Darfur. (Reuters file photo)
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Updated 01 June 2023
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18 dead in attack on Khartoum market after army abandons talks

18 dead in attack on Khartoum market after army abandons talks
  • Khartoum and other parts of the country gripped by warfare between the army and the paramilitary forces
  • The army on Wednesday blasted RSF bases in Khartoum after pulling out of the talks

KHARTOUM: Shelling and aerial bombardments killed 18 civilians at a market in the capital of Sudan where fighting showed no signs of abating Thursday after the army abandoned truce talks.
For more than six weeks, Khartoum and other parts of the country have been gripped by bloody warfare between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
The army on Wednesday blasted RSF bases in Khartoum after pulling out of the talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah, accusing its rival of violating a cease-fire that was meant to allow aid deliveries.
“Eighteen civilians were killed and 106 wounded” by army artillery fire and aerial bombardments Wednesday on a market in southern Khartoum, a committee of human rights lawyers said.
The toll was confirmed by a neighborhood group that organizes aid, which said the situation was “catastrophic” and appealed for help from doctors and for blood donations.
The United States said Thursday there had been “serious violations of the cease-fire by both sides” and warned it would only be ready to mediate between the warring parties when they get “serious.”
“Once the forces make clear by their actions that they are serious about complying with the cease-fire, the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are prepared to resume facilitation of the suspended discussions to find a negotiated solution to this conflict,” a State Department spokesperson said.
In both north and south Khartoum on Wednesday, troops loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan attacked key bases of the RSF led by commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, residents said.
One witness said there was “heavy artillery fire from army camps” in the capital’s north.
Another reported “artillery blasts on the RSF camp in Al-Salha” in southern Khartoum — the largest paramilitary base and arsenal in the city.
The attacks came two days after US and Saudi mediators said the two sides had agreed to extend by five days the initial week-long humanitarian truce.
Mediators admitted the truce had been “imperfectly observed,” but said the extension would “permit further humanitarian efforts.”
The army walked out “because the rebels have never implemented a single one of the provisions of a short-term cease-fire which required their withdrawal from hospitals and residential buildings,” a Sudanese government official said.
Despite repeated pledges from both sides, fighting has flared this week both in greater Khartoum and in the western region of Darfur.
“The army is ready to fight until victory,” Burhan declared during a visit to troops in the capital.
The RSF said they would “exercise their right to defend themselves” and accused the army of violating the truce.
Since fighting erupted on April 15, more than 1,800 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
The UN says 1.2 million people have been internally displaced and more than 425,000 have fled abroad.
Yaqout Abderrahim escaped Khartoum for Port Sudan, where she has been waiting 15 days for a rare seat on a flight out.
“We want to leave at any price because our houses are destroyed and we no longer have any means to raise our children,” she said.
More than half the population — 25 million people — are now in need of aid and protection, the UN says.
Entire districts of Khartoum no longer have running water, electricity is only available for a few hours a week, and three quarters of hospitals in combat zones are not functioning.
Hundreds have been killed in Darfur, on Sudan’s western border with Chad, the United Nations said.
Darfur has never recovered from the years-long war that began in 2003 when a rebel uprising led strongman Omar Al-Bashir to unleash the Janjaweed militia, from which the RSF are descended.
Experts say Burhan is facing increasing pressure from his own Islamist supporters and remnants of the Bashir regime, with whom he had built a symbiotic relationship in order to gain power.


Iran says it puts imaging satellite sucessfully into orbit amid tensions with West

Updated 11 sec ago
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Iran says it puts imaging satellite sucessfully into orbit amid tensions with West

Iran says it puts imaging satellite sucessfully into orbit amid tensions with West
  • here was no immediate acknowledgment from Western officials of the launch
TEHRAN: Iran claimed on Wednesday that it has successfully put an imaging satellite into space.
The state-run IRNA news agency, quoting the country’s communication minister, said the Noor-3 satellite had been put in an orbit 450 kilometers (280 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
There was no immediate acknowledgment from Western officials of the launch or of the satellite being put into orbit. Iran has had a series of failed launches in recent years.

Qatar Airways executive says invasive gynecological examinations of passengers won’t be repeated

Qatar Airways executive says invasive gynecological examinations of passengers won’t be repeated
Updated 35 min 13 sec ago
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Qatar Airways executive says invasive gynecological examinations of passengers won’t be repeated

Qatar Airways executive says invasive gynecological examinations of passengers won’t be repeated
  • Qatar Airways Senior Vice President for Global Sales Matt Raos described the incident as “a one-off incident, a very extreme incident.”

CANBERRA, Australia: A senior Qatar Airways executive told an Australian Senate inquiry on Wednesday there would be no repeat of an incident at Doha’s international airport in 2020 in which female passengers were subjected to invasive gynecological examinations.
Australian Transport Minister Catherine King said three weeks ago that the examinations of 13 Australian women who had boarded a Qatar Airways plane to Sydney were a factor in her decision in July to refuse the Qatar government-owned airline additional flights to Australia.
Qatar Airways Senior Vice President for Global Sales Matt Raos described the incident, which occurred when authorities were looking for the mother of a newborn baby found abandoned in a Hamad International Airport trash can, as “a one-off incident, a very extreme incident.”
“We’ve had nothing like it previously in our history and we’re completely committed to ensuring nothing like this ever happens again,” Raos told the committee.
Raos was responding to government Sen. Tony Sheldon, who had asked for a guarantee on behalf of female passengers who feared they would be subjected to such treatment.
The Doha-based executive declined to detail the incident because five women are suing the airline in Australian Federal Court.
“We are participating in that process. We think it’s a very important process and we need to honor it and respect it. It does preclude us from going further into this topic today,” Raos said.
“The outcome of that Federal Court case is something that we will honor and abide,” Raos added.
The five Australian women, whose names are suppressed by a court gag order, say they were taken off the flight to Sydney at Doha at gunpoint by guards and were searched without consent.
Qatar Airways provided no response to their complaints and offered no apology, the women said.
They wrote to Catherine King through their lawyer in June urging that Qatar Airways not be allowed to double its number of Australian services from the current 28 flights per week.
“It is our strong belief that Qatar Airways is not fit to carry passengers around the globe let alone to major Australian airports,” they wrote.
“When you are considering Qatar Airways’ bid for extra landing rights, we beg you to consider its insensitive and irresponsible treatment of us and its failure to ensure the safety and dignity of its passengers,” they said.
Raos said Qatar was “surprised and shocked” that Australia had rejected without explanation its application for additional services to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth which was made on Aug. 22, 2022.
Qatar Senior Vice President Fathi Atti told the inquiry that the airline learned of the decision through the news media on July 10 and did not receive official notification from the Australian government until 10 days later.
The airline said it calculated that the additional services would have provided Australia with 3 billion Australian dollars ($1.9 billion) in economic benefits over five years.
Earlier this month, King said her decision was made in the “context” of women’s complaints about their treatment.
“There is no one factor that I would point to that swayed my decision one way or the other,” King told reporters.
The committee is examining a number of Australia’s bilateral air service agreements.


Small fire at Baghdad’s Al-Rasheed hotel extinguished; occupants have returned to rooms - official

Small fire at Baghdad’s Al-Rasheed hotel extinguished; occupants have returned to rooms - official
Updated 27 September 2023
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Small fire at Baghdad’s Al-Rasheed hotel extinguished; occupants have returned to rooms - official

Small fire at Baghdad’s Al-Rasheed hotel extinguished; occupants have returned to rooms - official

BAGHDAD: A small fire that led to guests and diplomatic personnel being evacuated from Baghdad’s Al-Rasheed hotel has been brought under control, an official at the hotel told Reuters via phone early on Wednesday.

The hotel houses several envoys from Gulf states.

The small fire occurred in kitchen, and an official described the evacuation as a routine precautionary measure, saying guests had safely returned to their rooms.

The hotel is in Iraq’s highly fortified Green Zone which hosts parliament, many government buildings and foreign embassies.


Iraq wants to overcome dispute with Kuwait over maritime waterway, PM says

Iraq wants to overcome dispute with Kuwait over maritime waterway, PM says
Updated 27 September 2023
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Iraq wants to overcome dispute with Kuwait over maritime waterway, PM says

Iraq wants to overcome dispute with Kuwait over maritime waterway, PM says
  • Kuwait’s prime minister has described the Iraqi court ruling on the waterway as containing “historical fallacies,” calling on Iraq to take “concrete, decisive and urgent measures” to address it

Iraq is keen to overcome a dispute with Kuwait on maritime navigation in the Khor Abdullah waterway between the two countries, Iraq’s prime minister said on Tuesday.
In comments carried by Iraq’s state news agency, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani said the country wants a solution that does not conflict with its constitution or with international law.
Iraq respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kuwait and is committed to all its bilateral agreements with countries and to the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, a statement from the prime minister’s media office said on Tuesday after Al-Sudani’s meeting with the state’s administration coalition.
“Such crises are resolved through understanding and reliance on rationality, away from the language of emotion and convulsive populist statements that only produce more crises and tension,” Al-Sudani was quoted as telling his cabinet.
Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court ruled this month that a bilateral agreement regulating navigation in the waterway was unconstitutional. The court said the law ratifying the accord should have been approved by two-thirds of parliament.
The countries’ shared land border was demarcated by the United Nations in 1993 after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, but it did not cover the length of their maritime boundaries. This was left for the two oil producers to resolve.
A maritime border agreement between the two nations was reached in 2012 and ratified by each of their legislative bodies in 2013.
Kuwait’s prime minister has described the Iraqi court ruling on the waterway as containing “historical fallacies,” calling on Iraq to take “concrete, decisive and urgent measures” to address it.


More than 100 dead, scores more injured in Iraq wedding inferno

More than 100 dead, scores more injured in Iraq wedding inferno
Updated 27 September 2023
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More than 100 dead, scores more injured in Iraq wedding inferno

More than 100 dead, scores more injured in Iraq wedding inferno
  • The fire ripped through a large events hall after fireworks were lit during the celebration

Qaraqosh, Iraq: At least 100 people were killed and more than 150 injured when a fire broke out during a wedding at an event hall in the northern Iraqi town of Qaraqosh, officials said early Wednesday.
At the main hospital in the predominantly Christian town east of Mosul, an AFP photographer saw ambulances arriving with sirens blaring and dozens of people gathering in the courtyard to donate blood.
Others could be seen gathering in front of the open doors of a refrigerated truck loaded with black body bags.
Citing a “preliminary tally,” Iraq’s official INA news agency reported that health authorities in Nineveh province had “counted 100 dead and more than 150 injured in the fire at a marriage hall in Hamdaniyah,” as the town is also known.
The casualty toll was confirmed to AFP by health ministry spokesman Saif Al-Badr.
Badr said most of the injured were being treated for burns or oxygen deprivation, adding that there had also been crowd crushes at the scene.
In a statement, civil defense authorities reported the presence of prefabricated panels inside the event hall that were “highly flammable and contravened safety standards.”
The danger was compounded by the “release of toxic gases linked to the combustion of the panels,” which contained plastic.
“The fire caused some parts of the ceiling to fall due to the use of highly flammable, low-cost construction materials,” the statement said, with “preliminary information” suggesting fireworks were to blame for the blaze.
Wedding guest Rania Waad, who sustained a burn to her hand, said that as the bride and groom “were slow dancing, the fireworks started to climb to the ceiling (and) the whole hall went up in flames.”
“We couldn’t see anything,” the 17-year-old said, choking back sobs. “We were suffocating, we didn’t know how to get out.”
Emergency crews were seen sifting through the charred remains of the event hall early Wednesday, inspecting the scene by flashlight.

The couple were having their first slow dance when the fire started. (AFP)


In a brief statement, Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani called on the health and interior ministers to “mobilize all rescue efforts” to help the victims of the fire.
The health ministry said “medical aid trucks” had been dispatched to the area from Baghdad and other provinces, adding that its teams in Nineveh had been mobilized to care for the injured.
Safety standards in Iraq’s construction sector are often disregarded, and the country, whose infrastructure is in disrepair after decades of conflict, is often the scene of fatal fires and accidents.
In July 2021, a fire in the Covid unit of a hospital in southern Iraq killed more than 60 people.
And in April of the same year, exploding oxygen tanks triggered a fire at a hospital in Baghdad — also dedicated to Covid patients — that killed more than 80 people.
Like many Christian towns in the Nineveh Plains, northeast of Mosul, Qaraqosh was ransacked by jihadists of the Daesh group after they entered the town in 2014.
Qaraqosh and its churches were slowly rebuilt after the group’s ouster in 2017, and Pope Francis visited the town in March 2021.