SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

1 lakh flee Pak tribal belt as military operation continues
Peshawar, Jun 19
About one lakh people have fled the troubled North Waziristan tribal region as curfew was relaxed in the area where the Pakistan Army has launched an all-out offensive against the Taliban, officials said today.
A soldier stands guard as a tractor carrying refugees fleeing the military offensive against the Pakistani militants in North Waziristan, drives past a checkpoint in Bannu, located in Pakistanís Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province on Thursday.
A soldier stands guard as a tractor carrying refugees fleeing the military offensive against the Pakistani militants in North Waziristan, drives past a checkpoint in Bannu, located in Pakistanís Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province on Thursday. REUTERS

Spainís King Felipe VI salutes the Congress of Deputies in Madrid on Thursday. Spain King takes oath, ceremony a low-key affair
Madrid, June 19
Spain's new King Felipe VI was proclaimed monarch at a formal ceremony in the country's Parliament on Thursday, a deliberately low-key occasion for austere times and tarnished royal reputations.

Spainís King Felipe VI salutes the Congress of Deputies in Madrid on Thursday. AFP



EARLIER STORIES

Gun battle erupts as Israeli forces search for missing teens
Ramallah West Bank, June 19
Israeli forces traded gunfire with Palestinians on Thursday, the military said, in the fiercest street battles in the occupied West Bank since a search began for three Israeli teenagers missing for a week.

Pro-Russian separatists sit in a car before driving to the battle line in Seversk (Siversk) on Thursday. Truce 'refused', Ukraine forces battle separatists
Kiev, June 19
Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists were locked in fierce fighting in the east of Ukraine on Thursday after rebels rejected a call to lay down their arms in line with a peace plan proposed by President Petro Poroshenko, government forces said.

Pro-Russian separatists sit in a car before driving to the battle line in Seversk (Siversk) on Thursday. REUTERS

Taliban strike Nato trucks in Afghanistan
Kabul, June 19
three Taliban suicide bombers targeted Nato fuel trucks at the border with Pakistan, setting off a gunbattle with police guards.





 

 

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1 lakh flee Pak tribal belt as military operation continues
200 militants have so far died in a special campaign in Waziristan

Peshawar, Jun 19
About one lakh people have fled the troubled North Waziristan tribal region as curfew was relaxed in the area where the Pakistan Army has launched an all-out offensive against the Taliban, officials said today.

The Pakistan Army has launched a ground and air offensive in the area known for having hideouts of the Al-Qaeda-linked militants. Armed forces have so far killed more than 200 militants in the operation.

About 100,000 people have fled the troubled region since the start of operation on Sunday with the relaxation of a curfew of six days to let civilians move out of the conflict areas, officials said.

The curfew imposed on Sunday was relaxed from 7 am to 5 pm (local time) yesterday, allowing thousands of trapped civilians to leave the area, a security official said. "The people were allowed to leave after through checking and verification in order to prevent the militants escaping in the garb of civilians," he said.

Chief of FATA Disaster Management Authority Arshad Khan said that more than 92,000 people have already left North Wazirisitan.

"Some 30,000 have reached in Bannu city where arrangements have been made for their temporary settlement," he said.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said at a press conference in Peshawar that over 70,000 displaced people were registered while more were coming. "We expect more internally displaced persons in the next two days," he said.

Federal Minister Qadir Baloch, who was appointed by the government as the chief of relief activities for displaced people, said 2,000 vehicles were arranged to transport the people from North Waziristan to Bannu.

Still thousands of people are waiting for transport to leave the area. There are also confirmed reports from Afghanistan that over 3,000 of people have shifted to the border provinces.

Some leading Taliban commanders along with their dozens of fighters have also shifted to Afghanistan, sources said.

Taliban are roaming in the Khost bazaar and some other border areas of Afghanistan with their weapons, the source said.

Mufti Sadiq Noor, well-known North Waziristan militant commander and affiliate of Commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, shifted along with family to Khost from North Waziristan, source said.

The feared Haqqani militant outfit has already crossed to the other side of the border. The Khost Governor's spokesman Mubariz Zadran told Dawn News that 3,000 families had been registered by yesterday.

"There are reports that thousands of people have crossed into Khost after Pakistani authorities lifted curfew in North Waziristan. These people are without food and other basic needs," he said.

Zadran said the Afghan government was trying to help the refugees while the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, had also dispatched relief items for 500 families. ó PTI

23 militants killed in Pak operations
The Pakistan Army said on Thursday that 23 more foreign and local terrorists were killed in North Waziristan tribal region on Wednesday. The army, backed by fighter jets and gunships, on Sunday launched a major operation against the militants hiding in North Waziristan. An army statement said that 15 terrorists were killed in Zartatangi mountain heights of Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, by army gunship Cobra helicopters late on Wednesday when spotted. ó IANS

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Spain King takes oath, ceremony a low-key affair

Madrid, June 19
Spain's new King Felipe VI was proclaimed monarch at a formal ceremony in the country's Parliament on Thursday, a deliberately low-key occasion for austere times and tarnished royal reputations.

Felipe swore an oath of allegiance to democratic principles in front of lawmakers and senators, who shouted "Viva el Rey!" (Long live the king!). Although the 18th-century Spanish crown and 17th-century sceptre were displayed next to the new monarch, authorities shunned an opulent coronation ceremony. The option for a relatively low-key proclamation was chosen out of sensitivity to the financial hardship endured by many Spaniards after a double-dip recession.

Even so, the cheering crowds and the pageantry provided a welcome distraction as Spaniards were reeling from their national team's shock defeat by Chile in the World Cup in Brazil, which ended their hope of winning a second consecutive title.

Earlier, in his first official act since ascending to the throne after midnight, Felipe received the red sash of Captain General of the Armed Forces from his father Juan Carlos, who signed his abdication decree in favour of Felipe on Wednesday. "We have a great country. We should all be proud of being Spaniards," Felipe said at his swearing-in ceremony.

Felipe acknowledged a need to restore the monarchy's image after recent royal scandals.

The monarchy was rocked when Juan Carlos went on a luxurious elephant-hunting safari in Botswana as Spaniards endured financial hardship, and his youngest daughter, Princess Cristina, was obliged to testify in a fraud and money-laundering case engulfing her husband, Olympic handball medallist turned businessman Inaki Urdangarin.

Felipe also sought to inspire a country where a quarter of the population is unemployed and many have emigrated in search of work.

He ended his speech by saying "thank you" in three Spanish regional languages - Catalan, Basque and Galician. Some people in those regions want to secede or achieve greater independence from Spain.

After a brief military parade, Felipe and his wife Queen Letizia drove through Madrid in an open-top vintage Rolls Royce with the king standing, before appearing in front of crowds on a balcony at the royal palace. The royal couple's daughters, Princesses Leonor, 8, and Sofia, 7, accompanied them throughout. - AP

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Gun battle erupts as Israeli forces search for missing teens

Ramallah West Bank, June 19
Israeli forces traded gunfire with Palestinians on Thursday, the military said, in the fiercest street battles in the occupied West Bank since a search began for three Israeli teenagers missing for a week.

Hospital officials said three Palestinians suffered bullet wounds in the overnight clashes in Jenin, a militant stronghold and the scene of deadly fighting during a Palestinian uprising a decade ago. There were no reported Israeli casualties.

In a statement, the military said about 300 Palestinians, including some who "hurled explosives and opened fire", confronted soldiers who entered Jenin looking for the three seminary students.

Israel says the Hamas Islamist group abducted them last Thursday as they were hitchhiking near a Jewish settlement.

"The soldiers responded with live fire, identifying hits," the statement said. It said 30 "terror suspects" were detained in the West Bank.

Israel has said its West Bank operation is two-fold: To find Gil-Ad Shaer and US-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both aged 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19; and to deal a substantial blow to Hamas, a group dedicated to its destruction. ó Reuters

Widespread search
At Bir Zeit University, near the Palestinian town of Ramallah, Israeli soldiers on Thursday seized Hamas posters and flags from a student group affiliated with Hamas. The military said that so far, soldiers have searched about 900 locations. There has been no word from the missing teenagers and any public claim of responsibility or ransom demands.

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Truce 'refused', Ukraine forces battle separatists

Kiev, June 19
Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists were locked in fierce fighting in the east of Ukraine on Thursday after rebels rejected a call to lay down their arms in line with a peace plan proposed by President Petro Poroshenko, government forces said.

Heavy fighting broke out at around 4 am (0100 gm) near the town of Krasny Liman, which itself has been under government control since early this month.

"We issued an ultimatum to the terrorists overnight to surrender their weapons. We guarantee their safety and investigation in line with Ukrainian law ... They refused," said government forces spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov.

"Now we are trying to narrow the encirclement. They are trying to break out," Seleznyov said.

Poroshenko, installed as a president on June 7, is pushing a peace plan to end the separatist rebellion including an offer of a unilateral ceasefire by government forces and amnesty for the separatists as long as they put down their weapons.

Poroshenko was due later on Thursday to meet regional officials from the Donetsk and Luhansk areas of eastern Ukraine to explain his plan - though he rules out meeting separatists. ó Reuters

147 soldiers killed
The violence has cost the lives of 147 Ukrainian soldiers and wounded 267 to date, the defence ministry said. But scores of separatist militia, civilians and members of other military bodies, such as the national guard, have also been killed and the overall death toll is much higher. Ukrainian forces have been tightening their encirclement of rebel positions to the south and east of Krasny Liman.

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Taliban strike Nato trucks in Afghanistan

Kabul, June 19
three Taliban suicide bombers targeted Nato fuel trucks at the border with Pakistan, setting off a gunbattle with police guards.

A spokesman for the border police in eastern Nangarhar province, Idris Momand, says the attack took place early on Thursday at the parking lot of the Nato outpost near the Torkham border crossing, a key supply route for the alliance.

Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, the spokesman for the provincial governor, says two of the attackers were killed by police while one blew himself up in the attack.

Abdulzai says 37 Nato fuel trucks were destroyed by explosions set off during the gun battle.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid says his group was behind the attack.

Most Nato cargo shipments go through the Torkham crossing, toward Pakistan's port city of Karachi. ó AP

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BRIEFLY


A 20 foot-tall Optimus Prime figure is surrounded by journalists before the world premiere of Hollywood movie Transformers 4 in Hong Kong on Thursday.
A 20 foot-tall Optimus Prime figure is surrounded by journalists before the world premiere of Hollywood movie Transformers 4 in Hong Kong on Thursday. AFP

Injured German caver rescued after 11 days
BERLIN:
German rescuers on Thursday brought to safety an injured caver, ending his 11-day ordeal and a massive recovery operation deep below the Bavarian Alps. Explorer Johann Westhauser, 52, suffered serious head injuries in the accident about 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) below ground in the Riesending cave complex, Germany's longest and deepest. AFP

9 missing after second boat sinks off Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR:
Nine persons were missing after an Indonesia-bound boat sank off western Malaysia early on Thursday, as authorities searched for 26 passengers unaccounted for after a similar incident a day earlier. The boat, believed bound for the Indonesian island of Sumatra across the busy Malacca Strait, sank off Malaysia's coast near the district of Sepang, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur. AFP

India-born scientist wins 2014 World Food Prize
WASHINGTON:
India-born plant scientist Sanjaya Rajaram has been named the winner of the USD 250,000 World Food Prize for his contribution in increasing global wheat production by more than 200 million tonnes in the years following the Green Revolution. PTI

Buddhist monk to challenge Rajapaksa
COLOMBO:
A leading Sri Lankan Buddhist monk on Thursday said he would challenge President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his bid for third consecutive term, underlining the influence wielded by monks in the country's politics. Reformist monk Maduluwawe Sobhitha said given an opportunity, he is ready to fight Rajapaksa as the common opposition candidate. He pledged to abolish the present executive presidential system of governance. PTI

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