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Suspect package found at Greek embassy in Rome
Rome, December 27
Bomb disposal experts defused today a device sent to the Greek embassy in Rome, days after parcel bomb attacks claimed by an Italian anarchist group wounded two persons at the Swiss and Chilean missions.

Pak’s Hindu families seek asylum in India
Afzal Khan in Islamabad
Over 25 Pakistani Hindu families in Balochistan have sought political asylum in India citing growing cases of kidnapping for ransom and target killing of members the minority community in the restive province.

Blizzard snarls travel in US; 2,000 flights hit
New York, December 27
Flights to and from three of New York’s major airports have been suspended as America’s East Coast braved a monster blizzard that upset vacation travel plans of thousands of airline, bus and rail passengers.

COLD CALL: People walk through the snow in the early morning hours in Manhattan's East Village in New York City on Monday. — AFP



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Suspect package found at Greek embassy in Rome

Rome, December 27
Bomb disposal experts defused today a device sent to the Greek embassy in Rome, days after parcel bomb attacks claimed by an Italian anarchist group wounded two persons at the Swiss and Chilean missions.

The police said the package found at the Greek embassy resembled the bombs, which exploded in Rome last week, costing an employee of the Chilean embassy two fingers and also injuring a member of the Swiss embassy staff.

“The package was similar to the ones at the other embassies,” Maurizio Mezzavilla, an official of the carabinieri, Italy’s paramilitary police, told reporters outside the embassy, nadding that anarchist involvement “could not be ruled out”.

However, he said investigations were still being conducted and there was no firm evidence of who was responsible. “A suspect package arrived; we immediately informed the carabinieri who arrived immediately and neutralised the bomb,” Michael Campanis, the Greek ambassador to Italy told reporters.

He said the package, addressed by hand, had arrived in the embassy on December 24. “We had not received any threats previously. The packet arrived on Friday afternoon when the embassy was already closed. The staff member found it this morning but security measures had already been stepped up,” he said, adding that it appeared likely that the anarchists were responsible.

“Since it was the same kind of package as the others, that is our hypothesis,” he said.

Last week, an Italian anarchist group called the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) claimed responsibility in a note for the parcel bombs at the Swiss and Chilean embassies.

Authorities have been on high alert since the attacks and there were false alarms 
at the Venezuelan, Danish, Monaco and Kuwaiti embassies as suspect 
packages turned out to be harmless.

There were other false alarms at the Irish and Ukrainian embassies last week. The incidents have re-awakened concern over a potential rise in violence by domestic European militant groups as social tensions have grown following the financial crisis and government austerity packages imposed to pay for it.

The attacks bore similarities to an episode in Greece last month in which far-left militants sent parcel bombs to foreign governments and embassies in Athens. — Reuters

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Pak’s Hindu families seek asylum in India

Afzal Khan in Islamabad
Over 25 Pakistani Hindu families in Balochistan have sought political asylum in India citing growing cases of kidnapping for ransom and target killing of members the minority community in the restive province.

“As many as 27 Hindu families from Balochistan have sent applications to the Indian embassy for asylum in India,” a top official at the Federal Ministry of Human Rights was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper today.

Hindus had been living in Balochistan for centuries, but in recent weeks several members of the minority community had been kidnapped or murdered, forcing them to seek asylum in India, Regional Director for the Federal Ministry of Human Rights Saeed Ahmed Khan said.

“It is a matter of great concern and urged the government to take immediate measures to improve the law and order situation in Balochistan,” Khan told a seminar titled “Provincial Conference on Balochistan Crisis” in Quetta.

According to statistics of the Ministry of Human Rights, violation of human rights has been committed at a large scale in Balochistan and people are being abducted for ransom.

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Blizzard snarls travel in US; 2,000 flights hit

New York, December 27
Flights to and from three of New York’s major airports have been suspended as America’s East Coast braved a monster blizzard that upset vacation travel plans of thousands of airline, bus and rail passengers.

Incoming and departing flights were suspended at New York’s John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, as well as Newark Liberty International Airport in neighboring north New Jersey since Sunday, Port Authority spokesperson Sara Joren said.

Airlines scrambled to rebook passengers on thousands of canceled flights but said they did not expect normal service to resume until tomorrow. More than 2,000 flights were cancelled by major airlines, 1,444 of them at Kennedy and La Guardia Airports and Newark Airport, The New York Times reported.

Spill-back cancellations affected hundreds of other flights from Chicago and Atlanta, and even from London and Paris. The misery for travelers in the US came as passengers trapped by freezing weather in Europe began returning home as flights resumed normal service on Christmas Day.

American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Sanderson said that the carrier would cancel another 171 flights today in and out of major airports from Washington through Boston.

The heavy snow falling from Virginia up the East Coast yesterday also affected travel on the roads and the rails.

The weather service called it the biggest storm in the region since last February, when record snowfalls paralysed the mid-Atlantic states but largely spared New York City. — PTI 

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BRIEFLY

Nine Asians charged over bomb plot in UK
London
: Nine men, mostly of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, have been charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and plotting terror attacks in Britain, a week after they were arrested in a series of raids across England and Wales. The police said they have charged the men, all aged between 19 and 28, with plotting an explosion-or explosions-“of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property” between October and December, in a run up to the Christmas. — PTI
Women watch the family pictures of former PM Benazir Bhutto at the mausoleum of martyrs of the Bhutto family in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on the third anniversary of her death on Monday.
Women watch the family pictures of former PM Benazir Bhutto at the mausoleum of martyrs of the Bhutto family in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on the third anniversary of her death on Monday. — AFP

Taliban kidnap 23 Pakistanis
Dera Ismail Khan
: The Pakistani Taliban defied an ongoing military offencive and kidnapped 23 tribesmen who had met with the army chief during a recent trip to the area, intelligence officials, tribal elders and the militants' spokesman said. The kidnappings further threaten the government's shaky effort to convince hundreds of thousands of displaced members of the Mehsud tribe that the Taliban are defeated and that it is safe to return to their homes in South Waziristan. — AP

21 killed in Chinese mishaps
Beijing
: Two road accidents on Monday claimed 21 lives, including that of 14 school children, in China where in one of the mishaps over 100 vehicles piled up against each other on a foggy highway. In another horrific accident, seven people were killed and 15 others injured when over 100 vehicles crashed into the back of each other on an expressway in southwest China's Guizhou Province. — PTI 

Twin blasts leave 9 dead in Iraq 
Baghdad
: Two suicide bombers blew themselves up, killing nine persons at the government compound in the provincial capital of Ramadi on Monday, local officials in the Iraqi province of Anbar said. Insurgents frequently go after the government’s targets in an effort to destabilise the US-backed Iraqi authorities, as American troops prepare to leave by the end of next year. The first blast occurred when a suicide bomber drove a minibus packed with explosives into the entrance of the main government compound of the city, official spokesman Mohammed Fathi said. As people gathered to observe the destruction, another suicide attacker detonated his explosive vest in their midst, said the police and hospital officials. — AP

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