Death toll rises to 49 in Kuwait building fire: interior ministry

Update Death toll rises to 49 in Kuwait building fire: interior ministry
Police authorities inspect the burnt building housing workers in the city of Mangaf in Kuwait’s southern Ahmadi Governorate on June 12, 2024. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 June 2024
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Death toll rises to 49 in Kuwait building fire: interior ministry

Death toll rises to 49 in Kuwait building fire: interior ministry
  • The owner of the impacted building was arrested until investigations are complete
  • Kuwait municipality ordered to demolish violating properties without warning the violators.

KUWAIT: At least 49 people were killed in a fire that engulfed a building housing workers in the city of Mangaf in Kuwait’s southern Ahmadi Governorate, Kuwait’s interior ministry said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah ordered a probe into the cause of the fire and vowed to bring to justice those responsible.

The owner of the impacted building was arrested until investigations are complete, according to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Acting Minister of Interior Sheikh Fahad Youssef Saud Al-Sabah.

“We will address the issue of labor overcrowding and neglect,” said Al-Sabah in a statement posted on Kuwait News Agency.

Following the massive fire, the municipality has also been ordered to demolish violating properties from tomorrow (Thursday) without warning the violators.

 

According to KUNA, at least 43 people were hospitalized due to the fire. The authorities said they had contained the fire and were investigating the cause.


Israeli strikes across Gaza kill at least 13 people, Palestinian health officials say

Israeli strikes across Gaza kill at least 13 people, Palestinian health officials say
Updated 4 sec ago
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Israeli strikes across Gaza kill at least 13 people, Palestinian health officials say

Israeli strikes across Gaza kill at least 13 people, Palestinian health officials say
  • Israeli military say troops continue ‘intelligence-based’ activities in Rafah
  • Air strikes had targeted militants, tunnels, and other Hamas military infrastructure
CAIRO: Israeli forces battled Hamas-led fighters in several areas across Gaza on Tuesday, while Palestinian health officials said at least 13 people were killed in Israeli bombardments in southern and central areas of the enclave.
In Rafah, a southern border city where Israeli forces have been operating since May, five Palestinians were killed in an air strike on a house, while in nearby Khan Younis, a man, his wife and two children were killed, they said.
In central Gaza in Nuseirat, one of the enclave’s eight historic refugee camps, at least four Palestinians were killed in separate shelling and aerial strikes, medics said. Israeli tanks bombed the southern sector of Gaza City earlier on Tuesday, residents said.
The Israeli military said troops continued “intelligence-based” activities in Rafah, killing many Palestinian gunmen over the past 24 hours. It said air strikes had targeted militants, tunnels, and other Hamas military infrastructure.
It added that the Israeli air force had struck around 40 targets across the enclave, including sniping and observation posts, military structures, and buildings rigged with explosives.
The armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said in separate statements their fighters attacked Israeli forces in several locations with anti-tank rockets and mortar fire.
Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas after its militants carried out the worst attack in Israel’s history on Oct. 7, killing 120 and taking more than 250 hostages, by Israeli tallies.
In the nine-month war, more than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in enclave, according to Gaza’s health authority, which doesn’t distinguish between and combatant and non-combatant casualties, although officials say most of the dead were civilian.
Israel says it has lost 326 soldiers in Gaza and says at least a third of the Palestinian fatalities are fighters.
Efforts mediated by Egypt and Qatar to end the conflict and release the hostages, as well as Palestinians in Israeli jails, had appeared to be making some progress, negotiators had said.
TALKS PAUSED
However, the talks stalled on Saturday after three days of intense negotiations failed to produce a viable outcome, Egyptian security sources said, and after an Israeli strike targeting Hamas’ top military chief, Mohammed Deif. The attack in the Khan Younis area killed more than 90 people and wounded hundreds of others, health authorities in Gaza said.
A Palestinian official close to the talks told Reuters on Tuesday that Hamas was keen not to be seen as halting the talks despite the stepped-up Israeli attacks.
“Hamas wants the war to end, not at any price. It says it has shown the flexibility needed and is pushing the mediators to get Israel to reciprocate,” the official, who asked not to be named said.
He said Hamas believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was trying to avoid a deal by adding more conditions that restrict the return of the displaced to northern Gaza and to maintain control over Rafah borders with Egypt, conditions that would not be acceptable to the group.
US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Monday that two senior advisers to Netanyahu said Israel is still committed to reaching a ceasefire.
Citing a report by the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA said in a post on X it would take 15 years to clear around 40 million tonnes of war rubble in Gaza. The effort would need 100+ trucks and cost over $500 million.

Weapons experts: US-supplied bombs used in Israeli strike of Gaza ‘safe zone’

Weapons experts: US-supplied bombs used in Israeli strike of Gaza ‘safe zone’
Updated 16 July 2024
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Weapons experts: US-supplied bombs used in Israeli strike of Gaza ‘safe zone’

Weapons experts: US-supplied bombs used in Israeli strike of Gaza ‘safe zone’
  • A sliver of munition seen in a video of the blast site circulating online was a tail fin from a US-made Joint Direct Attack Munition
  • Former US Army explosive ordnance disposal technician: ‘it’s 100 percent a JDAM kit’ made in the United States

JERUSALEM: Israel’s deadly strike on Al-Mawasi, one of the bloodiest attacks in more than nine months of war in Gaza, used massive payload bombs provided by the United States, according to weapons experts.
The bombing of the Israeli-declared “safe zone” transformed the tent city on the Mediterranean coast into a charred wasteland, with nearby hospitals overrun with casualties.
According to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory, the barrage killed at least 92 people and wounded more than 300.
The Israeli military said it targeted two “masterminds” of the October 7 attacks by Hamas that triggered the war. It said a top commander, Rafa Salama, was killed in the strike, but uncertainty remains over Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif.
AFP videos of the attack showed a white mushroom cloud billowing over a busy street, leaving behind a huge crater strewn with the wreckage of tents and a building blown to bits.
Here is what we know about the weaponry used in the attack:
Two weapons experts said that a sliver of munition seen in a video of the blast site circulating online was a tail fin from a US-made Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). AFP could not independently verify the video.
The GPS-aided kit converts unguided free-fall bombs — so-called “dumb bombs” — into precision-guided “smart” munitions that can be directed toward single or multiple targets.
The United States developed the kit to improve accuracy in adverse weather after Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
The first JDAMs were delivered in 1997 and, according to the US Air Force, have a 95 percent system reliability.
Trevor Ball, a former US Army explosive ordnance disposal technician, concluded from images of the Al-Mawasi strike “it’s 100 percent a JDAM kit” made in the United States.
He said that given the types of bombs compatible with the guidance system and the size of the fin fragment, the JDAM was most likely used with either a 1,000 or 2,000 pound (450 or 900 kilogram) payload.
He said the fragment could also be compatible with the BLU-109 “bunker buster” warhead, which is designed to penetrate concrete.
Ball said it was not possible to definitively determine where the payload itself was made without “very specific fragments of the bomb body.”
Repeated use of such large bombs in the densely populated Gaza Strip has sparked humanitarian outcry and heaped pressure on US President Joe Biden to reconsider the munitions supplied to Israel.
On July 12, Israel’s main military backer announced it was ending a pause on supplying 500-pound bombs, though Biden said the 2,000-pound type would be withheld.
The White House has repeatedly voiced frustration over the civilian death toll in Gaza as Israel attempts to eradicate Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told two top Israeli officials on Monday that the civilian toll was “unacceptably high,” his spokesman said.
Israeli officials said their “precise strike” in Al-Mawasi hit an open area that housed a Hamas compound and not a civilian camp.
When contacted by AFP regarding the weapons used, the Israeli military declined to comment.
Based on Israel’s stated target, Wes Bryant, a retired US Air Force master sergeant and strike and joint targeting expert, said it would have been feasible to avoid collateral damage in the surrounding area.
“My assessment is that any civilians killed in this strike were in the compound — not in the surrounding vicinity. So the IDF either failed to assess presence of civilians, or... deemed the risk to civilians proportional to the military advantage of taking out the Hamas leaders.”
The strike left Al-Mawasi a scene of “absolute destruction” with no water, electricity or sewage treatment, the Islamic Relief charity said.
It condemned Israel for its willingness “to kill innocent men, women and children in pursuit of its end goals.”
Hamas said that by arming Israel, the Biden administration is “legally and morally responsible” for spawning a “major humanitarian catastrophe.”
It said US-supplied weapons used by Israel included GPS-guided bombs, dumb bombs, bunker busters and JDAMs.
After repeated high-casualty strikes in recent days, a Hamas official said the group was withdrawing from indirect talks for a truce and hostage release deal with Israel.
The war was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,664 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry.


Israel hits Gaza from land, sea and air as Hamas halts talks

Israel hits Gaza from land, sea and air as Hamas halts talks
Updated 16 July 2024
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Israel hits Gaza from land, sea and air as Hamas halts talks

Israel hits Gaza from land, sea and air as Hamas halts talks
  • Relentless bombardments come as prospects have dwindled for a truce and hostage release deal 
  • Israel's military offensive has killed at least 38,584 people in Gaza, according to its health ministry

GAZA STRIP: Israel hammered the Gaza Strip from the air, sea, and land Monday as the war in the Palestinian territory showed no sign of abating, with Hamas saying it was pulling out of truce talks.
Shells rained down on the neighborhoods of Tal Al-Hawa, Sheikh Ajlin, and Al-Sabra in Gaza City, AFP correspondents reported, while eyewitnesses said the Israeli army had shelled the Al-Mughraqa area and the northern outskirts of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
Paramedics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said they had retrieved the bodies of five people, including three children, after Israeli air strikes in the Al-Maghazi camp, also in the central Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses reported Israeli gunship fire east of Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, and shelling and Apache helicopter attacks in western areas of the southernmost city of Rafah.
The Israeli military said in a statement that it was continuing its activity throughout the coastal territory, and said it had conducted raids in Rafah and central Gaza that killed “a number of” militants, as well as air strikes throughout the strip over the past day.
It also said its naval forces had been firing at targets in Gaza.
The relentless bombardments came as prospects dwindled for a truce and hostage release deal being secured any time soon.
Hamas said on Sunday it was withdrawing from ceasefire talks.
The decision followed an Israeli strike targeting the head of Hamas’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, which the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said killed 92 people.
Deif’s fate remains unknown, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying there was “no certainty” he was dead while a senior Hamas official told AFP that Deif was “well and directly overseeing” operations.
Speaking after the strike on Al-Mawasi, a second senior official from the militant group cited Israeli “massacres” and its attitude to negotiations as a reason for suspending negotiations.
But according to the official, Haniyeh told international mediators Hamas was “ready to resume negotiations” when Israel’s government “demonstrates seriousness in reaching a ceasefire agreement and a prisoner exchange deal.”
Last week, US President Joe Biden had suggested a deal might be close, saying at a NATO summit that both sides had agreed to a framework he had set out in late May.
Hamas on Monday lashed out at the US, accusing it of supporting “genocide” by supplying Israel with “internationally banned” weapons.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the... American disdain for the blood of the children and women of our Palestinian people... by providing all types of prohibited weapons to the ‘Israeli’ occupation,” a statement from the Hamas government media office said.
Talks between the warring parties have been mediated by Qatar and Egypt, with US support, but months of negotiations have failed to bring a breakthrough.
The war was sparked by Hamas’s surprise October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,584 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data provided by the Gaza health ministry.
The war and accompanying siege have devastated the Palestinian territory, destroying much of its infrastructure, leaving the majority of its 2.4 million residents displaced and causing a dire shortage of food, medicines and other basic goods.
Among the devastated facilities have been multiple schools. On Sunday, Israeli forces struck a UN-run school in Nuseirat camp that was being used as a shelter for displaced people but which the military said “served as a hideout” for militants.
The civil defense agency in Gaza said 15 people were killed in the strike, the fifth attack in just over a week to hit a school used as shelter by displaced Palestinians.


Four killed in shooting near Oman mosque: police

Four killed in shooting near Oman mosque: police
Updated 33 min 10 sec ago
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Four killed in shooting near Oman mosque: police

Four killed in shooting near Oman mosque: police

MUSCAT, OMAN: Four people were killed and multiple others wounded in a shooting near a Shiite mosque in Oman’s capital Muscat, police said Tuesday.
The shooting is a rare occurence in the otherwise stable sultanate, which has a Muslim-majority population, including a small minority of Shiites.
“The Royal Oman Police have responded to a shooting incident that occurred in the vicinity of a mosque in the Al-Wadi Al-Kabir area,” police said in a statement.
The force gave an initial toll of four killed and “several others” wounded at the mosque in eastern Muscat.
There were Pakistanis are among the wounded, but the numbers have yet to be confirmed, according to Islamabad’s embassy in Oman.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Oman, Imran Ali, visited some of the wounded in the hospital, the embassy posted on social media platform X.
In a video message posted on X, he urged Pakistanis in Oman to cooperate with local authorities and avoid the area where the shooting occurred.
The US embassy in Muscat issued a security alert following the shooting and canceled all visa appointments Tuesday.
“US citizens should remain vigilant, monitor local news and heed directions of local authorities,” the embassy wrote on social media platform X.
Footage verified by AFP shows people fleeing near Imam Ali Mosque, its minaret visible, as gunshots ring out.
A voice can be heard saying “oh God” and repeating “oh Hussein,” referring to the imam who Shiites view as the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad.

 

Shiites this week mark Ashura, an annual day of mourning that commemorates the seventh-century battlefield martyrdom of Imam Hussein.
Police said “all necessary security measures and procedures have been taken to handle the situation” following the attack.
“The authorities are continuing to gather evidence and conduct investigations to uncover the circumstances surrounding the incident,” police added on X.
The area was still cordoned off later on Tuesday, with journalists unable to access the mosque, according to an AFP photographer there.
Oman has a population of over four million people, more than 40 percent of whom are expatriate workers, according to government statistics.
The sultanate has regularly played the role of a mediator in regional conflicts, especially the conflict in Yemen between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the internationally-recognized government propped up by Saudi Arabia.
While several mosque attacks have roiled the Arab Gulf region in recent years, the incident on Tuesday is unprecedented for Oman.
A 2015 suicide attack on a Shiite mosque in Kuwait killed at least 27 worshippers and wounded more than 200 others. It was claimed by the Daesh group.
That same year, Saudi Arabia saw two attacks on Shiite mosques in the span of one week. The two operations in May killed at least 25 people and were claimed by the IS group, which views Shiites as heretics.
In 2005, a former teacher opened fire inside a government building in Oman’s capital, killing two people and wounding several others, before he shot himself, state media said at the time. 


US military confirms Houthi attacks on vessels in Red Sea

US military confirms Houthi attacks on vessels in Red Sea
Updated 16 July 2024
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US military confirms Houthi attacks on vessels in Red Sea

US military confirms Houthi attacks on vessels in Red Sea

WASHINGTON: Houthis launched multiple attacks in the Red Sea against MT Bentley I, which was carrying vegetable oil from Russia to China, and also attacked the Chios Lion tanker ship, the U.S. military said on X on Monday.