Ukraine says two killed in Russian strikes near frontline

Ukraine says two killed in Russian strikes near frontline
Firefighters work at the site where a building was damaged by a Russian drone strike in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Nov. 18, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 18 November 2023
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Ukraine says two killed in Russian strikes near frontline

Ukraine says two killed in Russian strikes near frontline
  • The attacks came as Kyiv’s air force said Russia fired 38 drones at its territory overnight
  • As a result of the first two strikes, four local residents were injured, and a fire broke out in a residential building

KYIV: Ukraine said two first responders were killed and at least seven people injured in Russian rocket strikes on the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia on Saturday.
The attacks came as Kyiv’s air force said Russia fired 38 drones at its territory overnight — the highest reported number in more than six weeks.
Ukrainian police said Russia fired a series of rocket strikes at the village of Komyshuvakha, close to the frontline in the Zaporizhzhia region, which Russia claimed to have annexed last year.
“As a result of the first two strikes, four local residents were injured, and a fire broke out in a residential building,” they said in a statement.
“When the police and rescuers arrived at the scene, Russians conducted another strike. Two emergency service workers were killed, and three more were injured.”
Separately, Ukraine’s air force said Saturday it shot down 29 of the 38 Iranian-made Shahed drones — also known as “kamikaze drones” because they are packed with explosives to detonate upon reaching their targets — fired by Russia.
According to its figures, that is the most drones launched by Russia in an overnight attack since September 30.
An energy facility was hit in the southern Odesa region, with the resulting fire quickly extinguished, Ukraine’s emergency services said.
Russia’s defense ministry said its forces had shot down 20 Ukrainian aerial drones over Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine, and seven naval drones in the Black Sea, off the annexed peninsula of Crimea.
Ukraine also said Saturday that its forces “continue to hold positions on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro river.”
Ukrainian and Russian forces have been entrenched on opposite sides of the vast waterway in the southern Kherson region for more than a year, after Russia withdrew its troops from the western bank last November.
Ukrainian forces have staged multiple attempts to cross and hold positions on the Russian-controlled side — with officials in Kyiv finally reporting a “successful” breakthrough last week.
“Our defenders are consolidating their positions and firing on the occupiers,” the general staff said in a Saturday morning briefing on its operations on the eastern side of the river.


At least 13 killed in gunfight in India’s Manipur — official 

At least 13 killed in gunfight in India’s Manipur — official 
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At least 13 killed in gunfight in India’s Manipur — official 

At least 13 killed in gunfight in India’s Manipur — official 
  • Their bodies, with multiple bullet wounds, were found in a village in Manipur’s Tengnoupal district 
  • The development comes seven months after ethnic clashes in the border state that killed 180 people 

GUWAHATI: At least 13 people were killed in a gunfight between two unknown militant groups in India’s restive Manipur state on Monday, a police official said, seven months after ethnic clashes in the border state killed at least 180 people. 

Their bodies, with multiple bullet wounds, were found in a village in Manipur’s Tengnoupal district where the official said a “massive” gunfight was reported. 

The state has witnessed sporadic violence since the peak of ethnic clashes that erupted on May 3 between members of the majority Meitei ethnic group and minority Kuki community over sharing government benefits and quotas. 

The clashes have marked a rare security failure for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in a state ruled by his Bharatiya Janata Party. 

No weapons were found near the bodies, the senior police official told Reuters by phone from state capital Imphal, requesting anonymity. 

“It could be possible the weapons were looted after they were killed,” the official said, adding that they could not immediately identify the dead or the militant groups. 


Philippine police identify possible suspects after deadly blast at Catholic mass 

Philippine police identify possible suspects after deadly blast at Catholic mass 
Updated 04 December 2023
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Philippine police identify possible suspects after deadly blast at Catholic mass 

Philippine police identify possible suspects after deadly blast at Catholic mass 
  • Powerful explosion in Marawi killed at least 4, injured 50 others  
  • Daesh reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack late on Sunday

MANILA: Philippine police are looking into possible suspects behind the bombing at a Catholic mass in the country’s south, a regional police chief said on Monday after the blast that killed four people was claimed by Daesh militants. 

On Sunday, a powerful explosion ripped through a gymnasium at Mindanao State University in Marawi, a southern Philippine city that was besieged by pro-Daesh militants for five months in 2017. The death toll stood at four as of Monday, while around 50 others were injured from the blast. 

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack late on Sunday, saying that its members had detonated an explosive device at the gathering, according to reports.  

“Following the explosion, the PNP (Philippine National Police) created a special investigation task group to focus and expedite the investigation relative to this incident … We (now) have persons of interest,” regional police chief Allan Nobleza told reporters, adding that one of the suspects was linked to a local militant group.  

“The investigation is still ongoing. In order not to preempt the investigation, we will not divulge the names.”  

Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., chief of staff of the Philippines’ Armed Forces, said that Sunday’s attack may have been in response to a series of recent military operations that had targeted local militant groups.  

Philippine forces launched an operation targeting the local Dawlah Islamiyah cell in the southern province of Maguindanao on Friday, killing 11 suspected militants including the group’s alleged leader Abdullah Sapal. The militant group, which has been linked to bombings and other deadly attacks in the southern Philippines, pledged allegiance to Daesh in 2015. 

In another operation in Sulu province on Saturday, government forces killed Mudzrimar Sawadjaan, also known as Mundi, a senior leader of another Daesh affiliate, the Abu Sayyaf Group. Brawner said Mundi was the mastermind of two major attacks in the Sulu capital of Jolo, including the 2019 cathedral bombings that killed at least 20 people. 

Both Dawlah Islamiyah —also known as the Maute group — and the ASG were behind the 2017 Marawi siege, a five-month battle that killed more than 1,100 people and forced more than 300,000 others from their homes. 

“Because of the accomplishments … we believe that that could be one of the strong possibilities why this (attack) occurred,” Brawner told reporters in Marawi on Monday.  

“We will go after the perpetrators as soon as possible and use all resources at our disposal in order to make this happen.”  


Saudi minister visits Delhi to streamline Umrah services for Indian pilgrims 

Saudi minister visits Delhi to streamline Umrah services for Indian pilgrims 
Updated 04 December 2023
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Saudi minister visits Delhi to streamline Umrah services for Indian pilgrims 

Saudi minister visits Delhi to streamline Umrah services for Indian pilgrims 
  • India has world’s largest Muslim-minority population, with over 200 million Indian Muslims 
  • Haj Committee of India hopes to discuss increasing nation’s Hajj quota with Al-Rabiah 

NEW DELHI: Saudi Hajj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah will begin an official visit to India on Monday on a trip aimed at strengthening collaboration and streamlining the Umrah journey for international pilgrims, the Saudi Embassy in New Delhi said.  

India has the world’s largest Muslim-minority population, with over 200 million Indians professing Islam in the Hindu-majority country.  

Al-Rabiah’s visit to India this week is “an important part” of a series of international tours aimed at showcasing the Kingdom’s commitment to serving Umrah pilgrims from around the world, the Saudi Embassy in India said in a statement.  

“The visit aims to achieve significant advancements in streamlining procedures, enhancing services, and outlining comprehensive plans for hosting pilgrims and Umrah performers, aligning closely with the outlined objectives of ‘Saudi Vision 2030,’” it said.

Al-Rabiah will hold high-level discussions with Indian officials and prominent figures in the Hajj and Umrah services sector to strengthen coordination and collaboration, the embassy added.  

“To further streamline processes for Indian Umrah (pilgrims), an inaugural exhibition for the Nusuk platform and the Tasheer e-visa-issuing center will be organized during the visit,” it said.  

“These international visits reflect the ministry’s and its partners’ continuous efforts in the Hajj ecosystem to establish robust communication channels and foster cooperation with countries worldwide.” 

The Haj Committee of India is hoping to discuss increasing India’s Hajj pilgrimage quota during Al-Rabiah’s visit.  

“This visit is important and he is a very significant person,” Munawari Begum, the vice president of the Haj Committee of India, told Arab News.  

Under the 2023 Hajj quota, around 175,000 Indians traveled to Saudi Arabia for the spiritual journey that is one of the five pillars of Islam.  

“One of the agendas of the visit is to discuss the enhancement of the Hajj quota from the existing 175,025 to 200,000 at least,” Begum added. 


US combat ship ‘illegally’ entered territorial waters: China’s military

US combat ship ‘illegally’ entered territorial waters: China’s military
Updated 04 December 2023
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US combat ship ‘illegally’ entered territorial waters: China’s military

US combat ship ‘illegally’ entered territorial waters: China’s military
  • China is in dispute with several of its neighbors over its extensive claims of territorial waters in the South China Sea

BEIJING: China’s military on Monday said a US combat ship illegally entered waters adjacent to the Second Thomas Shoal, a disputed South China Sea atoll.
“The US seriously undermined regional peace and stability,” said a spokesperson for China’s Southern Theater of Operations in a statement.
The spokesperson also said the US deliberately disrupted the South China Sea and seriously violated China’s sovereignty.
China is in dispute with several of its neighbors over its extensive claims of territorial waters in the South China Sea.
In recent months it has had several confrontations with Philippine vessels, and also protested about US ships patrolling the disputed areas.
The spokesperson said the Chinese People’s Liberation Army organized maritime troops to follow and monitor the US ship., and that “its troops in the theater are on high alert at all times to resolutely defend national sovereignty.”

On Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard deployed two of its vessels in the South China Sea after monitoring an “alarming” increase in the number of Chinese maritime militia vessels at a reef within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

 


Indonesia’s Marapi volcano erupts and blankets nearby villages with ash

Volcanic ash spews from Mount Marapi during an eruption as seen from Tanah Datar in West Sumatra on December 3, 2023. (AP)
Volcanic ash spews from Mount Marapi during an eruption as seen from Tanah Datar in West Sumatra on December 3, 2023. (AP)
Updated 04 December 2023
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Indonesia’s Marapi volcano erupts and blankets nearby villages with ash

Volcanic ash spews from Mount Marapi during an eruption as seen from Tanah Datar in West Sumatra on December 3, 2023. (AP)
  • Marapi’s alert level was maintained at the third-highest of four levels, Abdul Muhari said, and confirmed that authorities had been closely monitoring the volcano after sensors picked up increasing activity in recent weeks

PADANG, Indonesia: Indonesia’s Mount Marapi in West Sumatra province erupted Sunday, spewing white-and-gray ash plumes more than 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) into the air and sending hot ash clouds several miles (kilometers) away.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, said Ahmad Rifandi, an official with Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center at the Marapi monitoring post. The two routes for climbers were closed after the eruption and villagers living on the slopes of the mountain were advised to stay 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the crater’s mouth because of potential lava.
About 70 climbers started their way up the nearly 2,900-meter (9,480-foot) mountain on Saturday and became stranded. So far, 49 have been successfully evacuated with the rest still awaiting rescue, said Hari Agustian, an official at the local Search and Rescue Agency in Padang, the capital city of West Sumatra province.
He said about 168 rescuers, including police and soldiers, have been deployed to rescue all the climbers.
A video on social media shows the climbers were evacuated to a shelter, their faces and hair smeared with volcanic dust and rain.
National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari said several villages were blanketed with falling ash, blocking out the sun in many areas. Authorities distributed masks and urged residents to wear eyeglasses to protect them from volcanic ash, he said.
About 1,400 people live on Marapi’s slopes in Rubai and Gobah Cumantiang, the nearest villages about 5 to 6 kilometers (3.1 to 3.7 miles) from the peak.
Marapi’s alert level was maintained at the third-highest of four levels, Abdul Muhari said, and confirmed that authorities had been closely monitoring the volcano after sensors picked up increasing activity in recent weeks.
Marapi has been active since January when it also erupted without causing casualties. It is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.