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Israel launches ground offensive
Jerusalem, July 13
Israel for the first time today launched a ground operation inside northern Gaza to silence Hamas rocket fire and thousands of Palestinians fled their homes after the Israeli military threatened to widen its assault that has killed nearly 170 people in six days.
Father of four-year-old Palestinian boy Muayed al-Araj, who was killed in an Israeli air strike, with his body as he sits on the rubble of his house in Gaza on Sunday. Father of four-year-old Palestinian boy Muayed al-Araj, who was killed in an Israeli air strike, with his body as he sits on the rubble of his house in Gaza on Sunday. Reuters

Church of England may allow women bishops
London, July 13
The Church of England's senior most bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has said he is "hopeful" the church's ruling body will allow women to become bishops when it votes tomorrow.



EARLIER STORIES


Pak group swears allegiance to Baghdadi 
London, July 13
A Pakistan-based militant group has become the first jihadi outfit in the South Asia region to break ranks from Al-Qaida and declare its allegiance to the Islamic State, that has seized power across Iraq and Syria.

Malala in Nigeria, pledges to help free girls
Malala Yousafzai (2nd L) sits with her father Ziauddin Yousafzai (2nd R) and Malala Fund CEO Shiza Shahid (L) during a meeting with the leaders of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja campaign group, in Abuja on Sunday. Abuja, July 14
Pakistani rights activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education, has pledged while on a trip to Nigeria to help free a group of school girls abducted by Islamist militants.

taking on boko haram: Malala Yousafzai (2nd L) sits with her father Ziauddin Yousafzai (2nd R) and Malala Fund CEO Shiza Shahid (L) during a meeting with the leaders of the #BringBackOurGirls Abuja campaign group, in Abuja on Sunday. Reuters

Russia threatens Ukraine after shell crosses border
Donetsk/Moscow, July 13
Russia threatened Ukraine on Sunday with "irreversible consequences" after a man was killed by a shell fired across the border from Ukraine, an incident Moscow described in warlike terms as aggression that must be met with a response.

 





 

 

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Israel launches ground offensive
Thousands of civilians flee Gaza after Israeli warning | Toll 170 in six days

Jerusalem, July 13
Israel for the first time today launched a ground operation inside northern Gaza to silence Hamas rocket fire and thousands of Palestinians fled their homes after the Israeli military threatened to widen its assault that has killed nearly 170 people in six days.

Ignoring global calls for a ceasefire, Israeli troops, thought to be naval commandos, briefly entered Gaza early today and raided a missile launching site. This is the first time Israeli forces have acknowledged they've entered Gaza in what appeared to be the ground assault.

Israel has been building up its troops along the border with northern Gaza, fuelling speculation of a possible ground invasion.

During the incursion, which lasted about half an hour, both sides exchanged gunfire at the launch site, an Israeli military source said.

Four Israeli troops suffered light injuries, but all the soldiers returned home safely, the source said.

The Israeli jets later dropped leaflets at Beit Lahiya, home to about 100,000 people, warning residents to evacuate their homes ahead of their "short and temporary" campaign to begin today.

"The Israeli Defense Forces intends to attack terrorists and terror infrastructures ..." the leaflets said, mentioning a list of areas that will be targeted.

"Israel is currently attacking, and will continue to attack, every area from which rockets are being launched at its territory." More than 4,000 Gaza residents had taken refuge at eight bases of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, spokesman Chris Gunness said.

Meanwhile, around 800 Palestinians holding dual citizenship have reportedly begun leaving Gaza via Israel's Erez Crossing. Israel carried out overnight air strikes against Gaza's security headquarters and police stations, in the heaviest bombardment since operations began on July 8.

A senior security official has said the operation in northern Gaza is necessary because the area accounts for far more rocket attacks than other areas. PTI

German, Italian foreign ministers heading to Middle East

Berlin: The foreign ministers of Germany and Italy were due in the Middle East this week amid an escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israeli media said Germany's top diplomat was expected to hold talks in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

France urges ceasefire

Vienna: France's foreign minister called on Sunday for an immediate ceasefire in Israel and the Gaza Strip, where a deadly six-day conflict is escalating in an "absolutely disastrous" way. . "In Gaza and in Israel, the absolute priority is a ceasefire," Laurent Fabius told reporters in Vienna.

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Church of England may allow women bishops

London, July 13
The Church of England's senior most bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has said he is "hopeful" the church's ruling body will allow women to become bishops when it votes tomorrow.

Justin Welby said that "theologically the church had been wrong not to ordain women" at the top jobs.

He also said that there was a "good chance" the first woman bishop would be announced by the end of 2015. A previous attempt to make the change had failed by six votes in 2012.

If the proposal gets voted through by the General Synod, it will mark the first time the Church has opened its top jobs to both sexes some 20 years after women were first ordained as priests.

Rowan Williams, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, said the Church "lost a measure of credibility" over the failed 2012 vote. PTI

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Pak group swears allegiance to Baghdadi 

London, July 13
A Pakistan-based militant group has become the first jihadi outfit in the South Asia region to break ranks from Al-Qaida and declare its allegiance to the Islamic State, that has seized power across Iraq and Syria.

Little known outfit Tehreek-e-Khilafat, which has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks in Karachi, has pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and vowed to raise the Islamic State's flag in South Asia, the Telegraph reported.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, declared himself as Caliph and renamed the ISIS as Islamic State. "Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi shall consider Tehreek-e- Khilafat and Jihad mujahideen fighters of Pakistan as one of the arrows among his arrows which he has kept for his bow.

"We are praying from the almighty Allah to give us chance in our lives to see the expansion of Islamic State boundaries toward the SubContinent and Khurasan region in order to hoist the flag of Islamic State here," the group said.

Khurasan is the historic name used by militants for an area covering Afghanistan, Pakistan and some parts of India. The group is believed to be the first outfit beyond the Middle East to have offered support to Islamic State.

Tehreek-e-Khilafat is considered part of the Pakistan Taliban, an umbrella movement linked to Al-Qaida containing dozens of terrorist groups, racketeers and sectarian outfits. PTI

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Malala in Nigeria, pledges to help free girls

Abuja, July 14
Pakistani rights activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education, has pledged while on a trip to Nigeria to help free a group of school girls abducted by Islamist militants.

On Sunday, 16-year-old Malala met with parents of the more than 200 girls who were kidnapped by militant group Boko Haram from a school in the northeastern village of Chibok in April.

Boko Haram, a Taliban-inspired movement, say they are fighting to establish an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria. The group, whose name means "Western education is sinful", has killed thousands and abducted hundreds since launching an uprising in 2009.

Some of the parents broke down into tears as Malala spoke at a hotel in the capital Abuja on Sunday.

"I can see those girls as my sisters ... and I'm going to speak up for them until they are released," said Malala, who celebrates her 17th birthday on Monday in Nigeria, where she is scheduled to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan.

"I'm going to participate actively in the 'bring back our girls' campaign to make sure that they return safely and they continue their education."

The girls' abduction drew unprecedented international attention to the war in Nigeria's northeast and the growing security risk that Boko Haram poses to Nigeria, Africa's leading energy producer.

A #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign supported by Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie heaped pressure on authorities to act, and President Jonathan pledged to save the girls, drawing promises of Western help to do so.

But several weeks on the hostages have not yet been freed and media interest has waned.

In addition, Boko Haram, now considered as the main security threat to Nigeria, is growing bolder. Police said on Saturday they uncovered a plot to bomb the Abuja transport network using suicide bombers and devices concealed in luggage at major bus stations.

"I can feel ... the circumstances under which you are suffering," she said. "It's quite difficult for a parent to know that their daughter is in great danger. My birthday wish this year is.. bring back our girls now and alive." Taliban militants shot Malala for her outspoken views on women's right to education. She survived after being airlifted to Britain for treatment and has since become a symbol of defiance against militants operating in the tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

She has won the European Union's prestigious human rights award and was one of the favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize last year, although the award ended up going to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Reuters

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Russia threatens Ukraine after shell crosses border

A sapper (C) carries a deactivated mortar shell after a defusing operation, in the Ukrainian village of Semenovka.
A sapper (C) carries a deactivated mortar shell after a defusing operation, in the Ukrainian village of Semenovka. Reuters

Donetsk/Moscow, July 13
Russia threatened Ukraine on Sunday with "irreversible consequences" after a man was killed by a shell fired across the border from Ukraine, an incident Moscow described in warlike terms as aggression that must be met with a response.

Although both sides have reported cross-border shootings in the past, it appears to be the first time Moscow has reported fatalities on its side of the border in the three-month conflict which has killed hundreds of people in Ukraine.

Kiev called the accusation its forces had fired across the border "total nonsense" and suggested the attack could have been the work of rebels trying to provoke Moscow to intervene on their behalf. The rebels denied they were responsible.

Inside Ukraine, combat has intensified dramatically since a rebel missile attack that killed dozens of government troops on Friday. Local officials said on Sunday 18 people were killed in shooting incidents in the two main rebel-held cities.

Russia's Interfax news agency said fierce fighting had broken out on the outskirts of rebel-controlled Luhansk, a city near the border with Russia, and the Ukrainian army had attacked with a force of 70 tanks. Reuters

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BRIEFLY

Islamist militia attacks rivals at main Libya airport
Tripoli:
Deadly clashes raged on Sunday around Libya's main international airport, closing in down, as Islamist militia attacked liberal rivals in their Tripoli bastion, in an intensifying power struggle. Exchanges of fire with heavy weapons forced the closure of Tripoli airport. A health ministry spokesman said at least six people were killed and 25 wounded in the clashes. AFP

A Spanish bullfighter performs during a bullfight of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain, on Saturday.
A Spanish bullfighter performs during a bullfight of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain, on Saturday. AP/PTI

Indian-American pleads guilty to funding Qaida groups
Washington:
A 31-year-old Indian-American, Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed, caught in a FBI sting operation, faces up to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to providing thousands of dollars in material support to three terror groups operating under Al-Qaida in war-torn Syria and Somalia. PTI

Indian jailed for raping 12-year-old girl in UK
London:
Two persons, including a 29-year-old Indian-origin man, have been sentenced to up to 10 years in jail for raping a 12-year-old girl in the UK. Vinayak Rama and Reynold Carvalho have been jailed for raping the girl in a forest area in Leicester on October 1 last year. AFP

Indian-American woman appointed CIO of US varsity
Washington:
Indian-American Viji Murali, an IT veteran in higher education, has been named as the chief information officer and vice provost of Information and Educational Technology at a prestigious university in the US. PTI

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