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Over 120 killed in battle for Tripoli: WHO

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TRIPOLI: Fighting near Tripoli has killed 121 people since strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive earlier this month to take the Libyan capital, the World Health Organisation said.

In clashes between Haftar’s forces and those of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), both sides have proclaimed “advances” but neither appears to have made substantial progress on the ground in recent days.

With more than 560 people wounded since the fighting started on April 4, the WHO said it was sending more medical supplies and staff to Tripoli. On its Twitter feed, the agency denounced “repeated attacks on healthcare workers” and vehicles during the fighting.

 

The UN’s humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, said on Saturday that three medical personnel had been killed and that shrapnel had put five ambulances out of action.

UN-backed government claims shooting down fighter jet of Haftar’s forces

The mounting violence has sparked global alarm over the oil-rich country, in turmoil since Nato-backed forces overthrew former dictator Muammar Qadhafi in 2011.

A bewildering array of militias have sought to take control since his ouster. Haftar’s offensive began shortly before a conference set for this month to discuss Libya’s future — an event the UN cancelled as his forces closed in on the capital.

Haftar, who leads the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), has pushed from his powerbase in the country’s east toward the Libyan capital in the west, the seat of the UN-backed unity government led by Fayez al-Sarraj.

The unity government said its forces had shot down an LNA fighter jet on Sunday “that was preparing to conduct air raids” south of Tripoli.

An LNA source said the plane had come down in an area under its control and that the pilot, who had ejected, was “safe and sound”.

That happened as the strongman met in Cairo with key backer Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who pledged support for “efforts to fight terrorism and extremist militias to achieve security and stability… throughout the country”, Sisi’s office said. Haftar also has the support of key Gulf Arab states and Russia.

With gunfire echoing through city blocks and tanks rumbling through towns and districts south of Tripoli, many panicked residents have fled their homes.

More than 13,500 people have been displaced and over 900 are now living in shelters, OCHA said.

Both sides have launched daily air raids and accuse each other of targeting civilians.

One air strike the GNA blamed on Haftar’s forces hit a school in Ain Zara, south of Tripoli, which has been the scene of violent clashes for days.


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National

In biggest drug haul, 150-kg heroin seized in Delhi

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NEW DELHI: In the biggest ever narcotics haul in the national capital to date, Delhi Police Special Cell seized about 150 kilograms of Afghan-origin heroin, exposing an Afghan-Pakistan narcotics cartel in the process. Five persons, including two Afghanistan nationals, were arrested.

The international market value of the seized heroin is over Rs 600 crores, police told.

The police busted the heroin reconstitution and processing unit which was functional at the time of the arrests. Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, Corolla Altis and other luxury vehicles, used to transport the Afghan heroin in Delhi, have also been seized.

 

The two Afghan nationals – Shinwari Rehmat (30) and Akhtar Mohammad Shinwari (31) – are chemical expert who were handling the production. The other accomplices have been identified as Vakeel Ahmed (36), Raees Khan (43), and Dheeraj (21), who worked for the Afghans in Delhi, reported IANS news agency.

With this major drug haul, the Modus Operandi (MO) of another trans-national narcotic cartel has been exposed.

“A team of Special Cell during separate raids on Wednesday and Thursday initially arrested Dheeraj, a native of Haryana and Raees Khan, a resident of Maharani Bagh when they assembled at Ashram flyover with 60 kgs of heroin,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Manishi Chandra told IANS.

The accused disclosed the names of two Afghan nationals who were then arrested from their hideout in Zakir Nagar with another 60 kgs heroin and another accused Vakeel Ahmed with 30 kgs of heroin.

“At a site in Zakir Nagar, a huge amount of preparatory and precursor chemical agents, solutions and implements etc were also found. Also, a semi-industrial set up of relatively sophisticated design was found almost operational. The entire premises were sealed,” he added.

During interrogation, police stumbled upon a intricate method that uses jute bags to transport the drug. The crude heroin is first dissolved in a preservative solution. Jute gunny bags, meant to transport spices and condiments, are then soaked and dried in this heroin solution. After emptying the contents, the jute sack is again dipped in another chemical that helps creates the heroin residue.

“Vakeel Ahmed disclosed that with the expertise gained by years of clandestine operations, the Af-Pak drug cartels have recently adopted this novel modus operandi whereby crude heroin is dissolved in a preservative solution and ordinary jute bags, meant for carrying various kinds of spices and condiments, are soaked and dried in this heroin solution,” said Chandra.

Indian masterminds of the syndicate have been identified and efforts are on to nab them, Chandra said.

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Nehru, Sardar Patel, Bapu appealed Muslims to not migrate to Pak: Azam Khan

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New Delhi: In another controversial statement, Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan said on Saturday that Muslims in the country are being punished for their decision to not go migrate to Pakistan after the partition in 1947.

“Why our ancestors did not go to Pakistan? Well, they considered India as their nation. This is our fault. Maulana Azad, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and even Bapu had appealed Muslims to not migrate to Pakistan,” he said when asked about his views on growing incidents of mob lynching.

Khan, an MP from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, claimed that Muslims have not been able to live a dignified life in the country. “We have been living a very disgusting life since 1947, and we are very ashamed of it,” he said.

 

He also alleged that the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh is fabricating land dispute cases against him because he managed to defeat BJP candidate Jaya Prada in the Lok Sabha elections.

The state government recently put Khan’s name on anti-land mafia portal after several complaints were registered against him for allegedly grabbing lands in Rampur, his home district.

Khan, a former state Cabinet minister, is known for his controversial remarks. During the Lok Sabha elections, he said Jaya Prada wears khaki underwear, a reference to her alleged affiliation with the RSS.

“I won the election against powerful people despite their several tactics. I am being punished for that mistake. The Rampur district magistrate went to counting stations wearing a saffron shirt and harassed voters. Still, I emerged victorious,” he said.

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Centre, Assam move SC seeking extension of deadline for final NRC

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New Delhi: The Centre and the Assam government on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking extension of the July 31 deadline for finalisation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The Centre told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that India could not be the refugee capital of the world.

The Union and state governments also sought sample verification of the citizens included in the NRC, saying lakhs of people had been wrongly included in areas bordering Bangladesh due to involvement of local officers.

 

The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published on the intervening night of December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018 in accordance with the top court’s direction. Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then.

Assam, which had faced influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC which was first prepared in 1951.

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