UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has strongly condemned the suicide attack in Afghanistan’s Jalalabad that killed 19 people, mostly Sikhs and Hindus, asserting that any attack targeting civilians is “unjustifiable” and in clear violation of international law.
Mr Guterres expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and urged all parties to uphold their obligation to protect civilians, including minority communities.
“The majority of victims belong to Afghanistan’s small Sikh and Hindu community. The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured,” the UN chief said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.
“The Secretary-General urges all parties to uphold their obligation to protect civilians, including minority communities, and cease targeting civilians and civilian facilities,” he said.
An ISIS suicide bomber targeted a convoy of Sikhs and Hindus on their way to meet the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Sunday.
Some reports said 19 people were killed in the attack and 17 of them were from the minority Sikh and Hindu communities.
Avtar Singh Khalsa, a longtime leader of the Sikh community who had planned to run in the parliamentary elections set for October, was also killed in the attack.
The UN Security Council joined in condemning the “heinous and cowardly” terrorist attack for which terror group ISIS has claimed responsibility.
The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constituted one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.
“The members of the Security Council underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice and urged all States…to cooperate actively with the Government of Afghanistan and all other relevant authorities in this regard,” the statement said.
The 15-nation council also reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan condemned the July 1 attack and expressed its concern over the recent spate of such incidents in which civilians have been killed in attacks on schools and medical centres.
“The architects of this appalling crime must be brought to justice,” said Ingrid Hayden, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan.
The United Nations in Afghanistan expressed its condolences to the loved ones of those killed and wishes a full and speedy recovery to the injured.
Elsewhere in Nangarhar, in Afghanistan’s Khogyani district, three civilian night watchmen were killed, at least two of them beheaded, and a school torched on Saturday in the latest instance of an ISIS in Khorasan Province (ISKP) campaign against schools and educational workers.
Today, one of several missiles fired into Jalalabad hit the Najmuljihad high school with other projectiles landing nearby. There were no reports of casualties.
UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan is also concerned by recent incidents impacting health facilities.
Last month a mortar hit the Andar district hospital in Ghazni province killing a doctor and a vaccination worker.
US slaps sanctions on Myanmar army chief over Rohingya abuses
Washington: The United States announced sanctions on Myanmar’s military Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and other military leaders due to their role in the “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya minority.
The State Department said it took action against army chief Min Aung Hlaing and three others after finding credible evidence they were involved in the violence two years ago that led about 740,000 Rohingya to flee across the border to Bangladesh.
“With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
“We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” he said in a statement.
Also sanctioned were Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo and Brigadier General Aung Aung as well as the families of all four officers.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar refuses to grant the mostly Muslim Rohingya citizenship or basic rights and refers to them as “Bengalis,” inferring that the Rohingya are undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh.
UN investigators say the violence warrants the prosecution of top generals for “genocide” and the International Criminal Court has started a preliminary probe.
Pompeo, issuing a statement during a major meeting at the State Department on religious freedom, repeated the 2017 finding of his predecessor Rex Tillerson that the killings amounted to “ethnic cleansing” – while stopping short of using the term genocide.
The sanctions notably do not impact Aung San Suu Kyi, the former political prisoner who has risen to become the country’s de-facto civilian ruler.
The Nobel laureate has been criticised over her “indifference” to the atrocities committed by the military against the Rohingya, considered “the most prosecuted minority in the world”.
The sanctions are the most visible sign of US disappointment with Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, since it launched political reforms in 2011, with the military rulers reconciling with Washington and eventually allowing an elected political leadership.
Matthew Smith, the cofounder and Chief Executive Officer at Fortify Rights, welcomed the sanctions but said the US could do more.
“This is good news if this is the first measure the US will take in addressing genocide in Myanmar against the Rohingya people. It’s bad news if this is all secretary Pompeo and the US administration are planning to do. We are hopeful they will do more,” Smith told Al Jazeera from Washington, DC.
“The impact [of the sanctions] can be serious. This will flag the responsibility of these individuals for international prosecutors, for example, the International Criminal Court, and it will give pause to business leaders going to Myanmar in doing business with military-owned enterprises.
US House Condemns Trump ‘Racist’ Tweets In Extraordinary Rebuke
WASHINGTON: In a remarkable political repudiation, the Democratic-led U S House voted to condemn President Donald Trump’s “racist comments” against four congresswomen of colour, despite protestations by Trump’s Republican congressional allies and his own insistence he hasn’t “a racist bone in my body.”
Two days after Trump tweeted that four Democratic freshmen should “go back ” to their home countries though all are citizens and three were born in the USA Democrats muscled the resolution through the chamber by 240-187 over the near-solid GOP opposition.
The rebuke was an embarrassing one for Trump even though it carries no legal repercussions, but the highly partisan roll calls suggests it is unlikely to cost him with his die-hard conservative base.
Despite a lobbying effort by Trump and party leaders for a unified GOP front, four Republicans voted to condemn his remarks: moderate Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas and Susan Brooks of Indiana, who is retiring.
Also backing the measure was Michigan’s independent Rep. Justin Amash, who left the GOP this month after becoming the party’s sole member of Congress to back a Trump impeachment inquiry.
Before the showdown roll call, Trump characteristically plunged forward with time-tested insults. He accused his four outspoken critics of “spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician” and added, “If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!” echoing taunts long unleashed against political dissidents rather than opposing parties’ lawmakers.
The president was joined by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and other top Republicans in trying to redirect the focus from Trump’s original tweets, which for three days have consumed Washington and drawn widespread condemnation.
Instead, they tried playing offense by accusing the four congresswomen among the Democrats’ most left-leaning members and ardent Trump critics of socialism, an accusation that’s already a central theme of the GOP’s 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.
Even after two-and-a-half years of Trump’s turbulent governing style, the spectacle of a president futilely labouring to head off a House vote essentially proclaiming him to be a racist was extraordinary.
Underscoring the stakes, Republicans formally objected after Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said during a floor speech that Trump’s tweets were “racist.” Led by Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, Republicans moved to have her words stricken from the record, a rare procedural rebuke.
After a delay exceeding 90 minutes, No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Pelosi had indeed violated a House rule against characterising an action as racist.
Hoyer was presiding after Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri stormed away from the presiding officer’s chair, lamenting, “We want to just fight,” apparently aimed at Republicans.
Death toll due to Nepal floods reaches 67
Kathmandu: The death toll from the monsoon floods and landslides in Nepal has increased to 67, while 32 people were reported missing and over 40 others injured, officials said.
The Nepal Police said in a statement that the victims comprised 41 men and 26 women, reports Xinhua news agency.
“At least 1,445 people from different districts have been rescued successfully and evacuated to safer destinations,” the statement said.
According to the Home Ministry, around 35,000 people were affected by the disasters particularly in the low-lying areas known as Terai region. More than 20 of Nepal`s 77 districts were worst-hit due to the floods and landslides.
The Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force were deployed in the disaster-hit districts to carry out rescue and relief operations.
Residents were displaced after the swollen rivers breached the embankment and gushed into human settlements, especially in Province 2. Over 13,000 families were displaced in Province 2 alone where around 3,500 houses were completely damaged.
The provincial governments announced separate relief packages for the victims, including cash for the families of those who lost their members and free treatment of the injured. The local governments in coordination with different agencies distributed food items, clothes and tarpaulins to the highly affected communities.
The Health Emergency Operation Centre said that different medical teams with doctors were mobilized in the hard-hit districts to ensure health services to the affected people.
“There is a high risk of possible outbreaks of different water-borne diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, dengue, typhoid among others,” Ghanashyam Pokharel, health official at Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, told Xinhua.
ACB officers to undergo training at CBI Academy
Srinagar, Jul 18: The Governor-led administration Thursday accorded sanction to the deputation of 20 officers and officials of the State’s Anti-Corruption...
Hafiz Saeed sent to 7-day judicial custody
Islamabad: Jamaat ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on Wednesday was sent to seven-day judicial custody following his arrest on “terror...
Soldier hit by falling tree in Kupwara, dies
Srinagar, Jul 18: A 35-year-old soldier died after a tree fell on him due to a landslide while he was...
1 killed, 9 injured in Poonch road accident
Jammu, July 18: One person was killed and nine others injured on Thursday in a road accident in Jammu and...
Rajnath Singh to visit Kargil on July 20
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Kargil on July 20 to pay tributes to soldiers who laid down their lives...
Kathua rape, murder: HC notice to accused, J&K on plea by victim’s father
Chandigarh, July 18: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday issued notice to the accused and the State of...
Ayodhya case: SC allows mediation to continue till July 31
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed mediation process to continue in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land...
Detention of Jadhav illegal, call upon Pak to release him: Jaishankar
Describing the detention of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistan as “illegal” and under “fabricated” charges, External Affairs Minister S...
Appreciate ICJ’s decision not to acquit, return Jadhav to India: Imran Khan
A day after the International Court of Justice in The Hague directed Pakistan to review the trial accorded to Indian...
SC declines urgent hearing on plea against states for failing to curb lynching
New Delhi, July 18: The Supreme Court on Thursday declined urgent hearing on a plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings...