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Taliban targets Western embassies in Kabul

KABUL: Gunmen launched multiple attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday, assaulting Western embassies in the heavily guarded, central diplomatic area and at Parliament in the west, witnesses and officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying their main targets were the German and British embassies and the headquarters of Afghanistan's NATO-led force.

Taliban fighers had also launched assaults in two provinces, a spokesman for the insurgents said.

"We claim responsibility for these attacks," said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

Attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a house used by British diplomats in the city centre and smoke billowed from the building after the blast, a witness said.

Two rockets hit a British Embassy guard tower near the Reuters office in the city.

Three others hit a supermarket near the German embassy popular with foreigners, witnesses said. Women scurried for cover as crackling gunfire was heard above.

As the gunfire continued, US army convoys could be seen coming to the area accompanied by the Afghan police in flak jackets.

There was no word on any casualties. The coordinated attack is bound to intensify worry in the run-up to the planned withdrawal of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.

Afghan security forces, who are responsible for the safety of the capital, were scrambling to reinforce areas around the so-called green diplomatic section of the city centre.

Gunfire came from various directions in the area, close to both the US and British embassies, while smoke billowed from the nearby German embassy, the witnesses said.

Embassy alarms were sounding. Staff at the embassies were not available for comment.

Attackers also fired rockets at the Parliament building, in the west of the city, and at the Russian embassy, a spokesman for Parliament said.

Afghan media said insurgents had stormed the Star Hotel complex near the presidential palace and the Iranian embassy and black smoke was pouring from the building. — ReutersBack




Mamata to skip internal security meet tomorrow

NEW DELHI: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will not attend the Chief Ministers' conference convened at New Delhi by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday to discuss matters relating to internal security.

The reason for her absence at Monday's meeting is not clear as yet.

However, Banerjee is expected to attend the May 5 meeting on the controversial National Counter Terror Centre (NCTC) issue.

Banerjee, along with her counterparts from Tamil Nadu, Odisha and a few other states, has been opposing the setting up of the NCTC claiming the proposed anti-terror hub would infringe upon the states' powers and hurt the country's federal structure.

The April 16 meeting will review internal security situation in the country. Police Reforms and capacity building and ongoing and new initiatives will be high on the agenda.

Other issues to be deliberated upon include strengthening of counter terrorism capabilities and intelligence apparatus, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS), issues related to Left Wing extremism, border management, coastal security and other Centre-State issues. — ANIBack




ED issues notices to Adarsh Society, members

MUMBAI: In fresh trouble for members of the scam-tainted Adarsh Housing Society, which is already under CBI probe, the Enforcement Directorate has issued notices to the Society and its members asking them to furnish information regarding payment towards the purchase of flats.

The ED began its probe into allegations of money laundering and benami transactions after facing severe criticism from the Bombay High Court for failing to initiate inquiry into the scam despite receiving information from the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The High Court, while hearing a public interest litigation, had come down heavily on the ED for not initiating inquiry into allegations of benami transactions.

Following this, the agency issued summons to the members of the Society directing them to furnish information regarding purchase of flats in the 31-storey plush Society in south Mumbai and mode of payment, ED sources said.

While some members had furnished the replies, others were still awaited, the sources said, adding that those arrested by the CBI had sought more time to comply to the notices.

Those arrested include Society’s secretary R.C. Thakur, retired brigadier M.M. Wanchoo, former Congress MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani and Pradeep Vyas, former Mumbai collector.

The ED had earlier told the High Court while submitting a status report that it was probing if any offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was committed by any members and if any flat was purchased through proceeds of crime.

The CBI, which registered a case in January last year against 14 people, has so far arrested nine persons including IAS officers Jairaj Phatak and Ramanand Tiwari, retired Major generals A.R. Kumar and T.K. Kaul and P.V. Deshmukh, a former deputy secretary in the Urban department.

The remaining five accused are former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, former principal secretary to the chief minister Subhash Lala, retired Col. T.K. Sinha, retired brigadier P.K. Rampal and retired deputy GOC R.C. Sharma. — PTI





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