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Iraq blast leaves 68 dead
Baghdad, July 28
A suicide car bomb exploded outside a police recruiting centre in central Baqouba today, killing 68 Iraqis and turning the busy city streets into a bloody tangle of twisted metal and dead bodies.

In video: Iraqi militant group threatens to cut off the road from Jordan. (28k, 56k)

Special article: 9/11 probe indulges in escapism

Lawyer fears bid on Saddam’s life
Saddam Hussein
London, July 28
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has suffered a minor stroke and could die during his trial, according to his Jordanian defence lawyer Mohammad al-Rashdan who also feared that an attempt on Saddam’s life could be made.

Pak Punjab seeks water from India
Islamabad, July 28
Pakistan’s ruling coalition’s MPs from Punjab province have asked the government to buy water from India to tide over the acute crisis in their region and wanted the 1960 Indus Water Treaty to be renegotiated with New Delhi for getting the Sutlej water.

Nawaz Sharif wards off Kargil ghost
Nawaz Sharif Islamabad, July 28
Firmly rebutting Pakistani Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s assertion that as the then head of the government, Nawaz Sharif was aware of the Kargil operation, the former Prime Minister has posed a set of questions to him and directed his partymen to seek answers.

Visitors keenly watch a sand sculpture of Lord Hanuman made by Indian sculptor Sudarsan Pattnaik

Visitors keenly watch a sand sculpture of Lord Hanuman made by Indian sculptor Sudarsan Pattnaik, which had won the public prize in the Sandsation-International sand sculpture championship in Berlin. — PTI







Secretary-General of Medicines Sans Frontieres Marine Buissionniere attends a news conference in Kabul
Secretary-General of Medicines Sans Frontieres Marine Buissionniere attends a news conference in Kabul on Wednesday. The aid group is to pull out of Afghanistan after more than 20 years due to security concerns. — Reuters




EARLIER STORIES

 


2 Indians held for duping
Kathmandu, July 28
Two Indian nationals and one Nepali have been arrested here for duping people of millions of rupees after promising to send them on jobs in the US and Britain, the police said today.

US extends stay of foreign students
Houston, July 28
Foreign students concerned about losing authorisation to stay in the USA have received an extension from US Citizenship and Immigration Services that may allow them to remain in the country after October 1.

The world's second tallest mountain K-2 is seen in the Himalayan Karakoram ranges of Pakistan in this undated handout photo provided by Pakistan Tourism office in Islamabad on Wednesday The world's second tallest mountain K-2 is seen in the Himalayan Karakoram Ranges of Pakistan in this undated handout photo provided by Pakistan Tourism office in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Thirty-year-old Edurne Pasban of Spain (inset) on Monday became only the sixth woman to summit K2. — Reuters

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Iraq blast leaves 68 dead

Baghdad, July 28
A suicide car bomb exploded outside a police recruiting centre in central Baqouba today, killing 68 Iraqis and turning the busy city streets into a bloody tangle of twisted metal and dead bodies.

The attack, which killed 21 persons inside a passing bus, was the deadliest bombing in Iraq since the USA transferred sovereignty to an interim government on June 28.

The blast killed 68 persons and injured 56 others, according to Saad al-Amili, a Health Ministry official.

The local hospital was overwhelmed with the casualties. Every bed was filled, forcing many of the injured to sit on the floor, amid pools of blood, as they were treated by frantic health workers. One injured man, sitting against the wall, held his head in his hands and wept.

The bombing in Baqouba, a turbulent city 55 km northeast of Baghdad, shattered the bustling heart of a commercial district filled with shops, fruit stands, government buildings and the police station at 10.13 am.

The street was filled with charred vehicles, pieces of glass, twisted metal and abandoned shoes, all covered in blood and human remains. Bodies lay scattered — in the middle of the road, under cars, up against nearby buildings.

“It’s all civilian casualties at this stage,” Capt Marshall Jackson the USA Army said.
— AP
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Lawyer fears bid on Saddam’s life

London, July 28
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has suffered a minor stroke and could die during his trial, according to his Jordanian defence lawyer Mohammad al-Rashdan who also feared that an attempt on Saddam’s life could be made.

The Mirror today said the lawyer had written a letter to Salem Chalebi, the head of Iraqi prosecuting authorities, in which he had also demanded that their doctor should be given access to Saddam Hussein.

As yet the legal team has not been given permission to visit the deposed President.

Rashdan said, ‘’We believe any trial could be months, if not years away. I think Bush and Blair would be happier if he (Saddam) died from ill-health’’. — UNI
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Pak Punjab seeks water from India

Islamabad, July 28
Pakistan’s ruling coalition’s MPs from Punjab province have asked the government to buy water from India to tide over the acute crisis in their region and wanted the 1960 Indus Water Treaty to be renegotiated with New Delhi for getting the Sutlej water.

Members of treasury benches, Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Sardar Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari and Sardar Saleem Jan Mazari moved a motion in the National Assembly yesterday on the issue saying that parts of Punjab province faced severe water shortage leading to damaged crops and drought-like situation.

Pirzada said besides discussing Kashmir and other political issues, the government should negotiate the purchase of water to save 5 crore people in southern Punjab.

He said former military ruler Ayub Khan “sold” the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers under the Indus Water Treaty in 1960, which formed primary water source of the Seraiki belt.

The Treaty negotiated by World Bank was signed by Ayub Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru under which the Ravi, Sutlej and Beas were awarded to India, while Pakistan was given the rights on the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.

Barring some disputes about Indian plans to construct hydro-electric projects like Baglihar, the water treaty worked smoothly between the two countries. — PTI
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Nawaz Sharif wards off Kargil ghost

Islamabad, July 28
Firmly rebutting Pakistani Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s assertion that as the then head of the government, Nawaz Sharif was aware of the Kargil operation, the former Prime Minister has posed a set of questions to him and directed his partymen to seek answers.

Claiming that a man who worked for peace with India could not have approved such a plan, Mr Sharif, who lives in Saudi Arabia in exile, has firmly disassociated from the ill-advised venture and charged Chaudhry Hussain at (then the Interior Minister) with not knowing the full details.

“Is it not logical that the author of the Lahore initiative would not be the one to sabotage the environment of rapprochement between the two neighbours which they had so painstakingly created,” the Dawn today quoted him as saying in a letter to the parliamentary leaders of his party in the Senate, the National Assembly and the Provincial Legislatures.

“The regional political environment and time was of rapprochement. Lahore Declaration and Kargil, therefore, could not go hand in glove by any measure. The fact is that the news of war with India came as a shock not only to the Prime Minister but also to the Naval Chief, Air Chief and other senior military commanders of the three services,” he said.

“Kargil, being General Musharraf’s bane, is bound to haunt him until it reaches its logical conclusion i.e. accountability, he said, adding that his “immediate concern was the ill-conceived and sycophant statement of the Prime Minister Chaudhry Hussain wherein he has said that I was taken into confidence on Kargil.”

Advising Chaudhry Shujaat to first understand the issue at hand, analyse it and only then give his verdict, Mr Sharif said, “In the absence of the concrete evidence he is better advised to refrain from making any senseless and absurd statements.”

The questions raised by him are: “ Now that you are the Prime Minister, do you consider the PM office as the approving authority or the one which merely needs to be taken into confidence on national issues with strategic overtures ?

“Your assertion that the then PM was taken into confidence is very difficult to digest specially so in the case of a PM who had the people’s mandate to back him.

“ Since you were the Interior Minister and part of Mian Nawaz Sharif’s team, which initiated confidence-building measures with India, resulting into Mr Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore and the historic Lahore Declaration, will you explain the purpose of the Kargil episode? Is not it logical that the author of the Lahore initiative would not be the one to sabotage the environment of rapprochement between the two nuclear neighbours which they so painstakingly created?

“Therefore, it is obvious that it was not Nawaz Sharif, but General Musharraf, who started the short-sighted and ill-conceived Kargil war without any approval from the government.”

Meanwhile, a book claims that Mr Sharif granted “formal approval” to the Kargil plan to capture Indian peaks along the Line of Control, but was informed about it only after he met his Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee in February, 1999. — UNI

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2 Indians held for duping

Kathmandu, July 28
Two Indian nationals and one Nepali have been arrested here for duping people of millions of rupees after promising to send them on jobs in the US and Britain, the police said today.

The Crime Investigation Department of Nepal police arrested Kartik Mandal and Kamakshya Charan Mandal, both from Assam, and Ishwori Shah of Kathmandu yesterday accusing them of collecting millions of rupees from various individuals with the promise of sending them to countries like the USA and Britain for jobs.

According to the Central Police News Room, the arrests were made on the basis of a complaint launched by one of the victims, Mr Sonam Sherpa of Kathmandu.

They have taken Rs 10 lakh from the victim with the assurance to send him abroad for job, the police said.

The accused were illegally operating from an office at a rented house at Maitidevi. The police raided their office and seized fake forms and documents.

The police have forwarded them to the Labour and Employment Consolidation Department for further investigation. — PTI
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US extends stay of foreign students
Seema Hakhu Kachru

Houston, July 28
Foreign students concerned about losing authorisation to stay in the USA have received an extension from US Citizenship and Immigration Services that may allow them to remain in the country after October 1.

The extension applies to foreign students and recent graduates interested in working professionally in the USA who are applying for H-1B work visas. It will enable these students to remain in the country until their applications for work visas have been processed, according to a statement issued by the department yesterday.

The ruling affects students seeking to trade F and J visas for H-1B professional visas, the statement from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services said.

Normally, these foreign students receive a 60-day or a 30-day grace period to close out affairs and return home at the end of their educational programmes. This year, Congress has limited the number of H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2004.

“The extension of the grace period allows affected foreign students to remain in the country and avoid the inconvenience of returning home only to travel back to the United States in the near future,” said Eduardo Aguirre, Director US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

A visiting student has the option of working professionally for one year for “optional practical training,” but must apply for the H-1B visa after the year is up. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Indian is force commander for Ethiopia
United Nations:
An Indian has taken over as force commander of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea with a pledge to uphold the “highest standards” of values in supervising the border between two African nations. “There will be no tolerance for disciplinary infractions,” Major-Gen Rajender Singh said while taking charge from Gen Robert Gardon of the United Kingdom in the Eritrean capital of Asmara on Friday. Singh has already served as Regional Commander in the UN Verification Mission in Angola from 1985 to 1986. — PTI

Sikh meeting in Sydney
Sydney:
The World Sikh Conference will be held here in September to discuss issues affecting the community and promote understanding of Sikhism. The two-day conference, including delegates from India, Canada, the United Kingdom and Malaysia, will begin on September 18. The conference will be funded by the New South Wales (NSW) Community Relation Commission’s 2004 Community Development Grants Programme, NSW premier Bob Carr said, “They are a hard-working, well-respected community who have made a significant contribution to the state,” he added. — PTI

China flood toll 439
Beijing:
China is facing a “very grave” situation as the toll from rains and floods jumped to 439, with more than 20,000 persons injured and massive losses to property and farmland, the government said on Wednesday. Disaster relief officials said 1.46 million people had been forced to flee their homes and no let-up was in sight. “The flood situation is very grave, especially in Hunan, Henan, Hubei and Yunnan provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region,” said Wang Zhenyao, Director of the Ministry of Civil Affair’s Disaster Relief Department. He said this year’s floods were the worst in decades. — AFP

Trucks torched in Afghanistan
Chaman:
Suspected Taliban insurgents torched six trucks near the southern Afghan border town of Spin Boldak after seizing the vehicles and capturing their Pakistani drivers, an Afghan official said on Wednesday. The attackers intercepted five trucks returning from Kandahar after unloading supplies on Tuesday, Gen Fateh Khan said. The militants later seized another Kandahar-bound truck loaded with charcoal from Pakistan. — PTI

Teacher held on rape charges
Kathmandu:
The police detained a school teacher in the capital on Tuesday on charges of sexually abusing many girl students in the past two years. Tikaram Dahal, a school teacher at Dipankar Boarding School situated at Kapan in Kathmandu, was taken into custody today after one of the students revealed that Dahal had been sexually abusing the girls of the same school who were below the age of 13 years for the past two years. He has confessed the crime. A large number of local people and guardians gathered at his residence asking the police to take strong action against the rapist teacher. — UNI

Clash leaves 3 dead in Pak
Peshawar:
Dozens of angry tribesmen opened fire on members of a rival clan in a remote region in north-western Pakistan, triggering a gun battle that left three children dead, a senior security official said on Wednesday. Four women were also wounded in the shootout in the Tirah valley Tuesday, 120 km north-west of Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, said Brig Mahmood Shah, head of security for the tribal region.— PTI
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