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Archive | September, 2013

Gunfire as Kenyan troops battle to save hostages

Posted on 23 September 2013 by admin

Nairobi, Sep 23 (UNI) Heavy gunfire and loud explosions erupted at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall today as Kenyan troops fought Al Qaeda-linked gunmen who were holding hostages after massacring at least 69 people.

The Red Cross said at least 63 people were recorded missing, thought to include hostages as well as those possibly killed or still hiding in the 48-hour-long siege.

As the stand-off entered its third day, sustained bursts of rapid gunfire broke out at dawn, and soldiers posted around the complex ducked for cover. This was followed by explosions and more sporadic weapons fire, AFP correspondents at the scene said.

The Kenyan army said it had secured most of the upmarket, part Israeli-owned complex, while a security official said a final assault was underway against the Somali Shebab rebels, believed to be pinned down in a part of the mall but using hostages as human shields.

“We have managed to rescue more hostages overnight and very few are remaining,” Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo said today, in the latest of a string of upbeat statements.

“We are also closing in on the attackers.”

Officials have not said how many people were being held by the dozen-or-so attackers, who marched into the sprawling four-storey complex at midday Saturday, spraying shoppers with machine gun fire and tossing grenades.

Shebab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage warned the hostages would “bear the brunt of any force directed against the mujahedeen”.

However, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed the attackers will “not get away with their despicable and beastly acts.”

“We will punish the masterminds swiftly, and indeed very painfully,” he vowed in a speech Sunday, revealing that a family member — a nephew and his fiancee — were among the dead.

A Kenyan security source and a Western intelligence official said Israeli forces were involved in the operation, along with British and US agents.

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Modi’s claim of 8.4 pc growth during NDA regime false:FM

Posted on 23 September 2013 by admin

New Delhi, Sep 23 (UNI) Finance Minister P Chidambaram today charged Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with staging a “fake Continue Reading

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Ishrat case: CBI grills Gujarat minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja

Posted on 23 September 2013 by admin

Ahmedabad, Sep 23 (UNI) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today questionned Gujarat Minister of State for Law Pradeepsinh Jadeja in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, sources in the Central agency said here.

The CBI had also sent a notice to state Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, asking him to appear before it, sources added.

Jadeja was questioned in Gandhinagar about an alleged meeting held in November 2011 to decide the strategy “to obstruct the investigation” of the fake encounters of Ishrat Jahan and three others, CBI sources said.

Suspended IPS officer G L Singhal, who was among the nine persons who attended the meeting, had submitted two pen drives to investigators containing the recorded conversation of the meeting.

Singhal is now out on bail, as the agency failed to file the charge sheet against him in the stipulated 90 days.

The nine people who were present in the meeting held in private chamber of Advocate General Trivedi were G L Singhal, Singhal’s lawyer friend Rohit Verma, G C Murmu, A K Sharma, then MoS (home) Praful Patel, Jadeja, then former minister and now agriculture minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and another accused in Ishrat case, Tarun Barot.

Last week, CBI grilled Murmu, secretary to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, and Crime Branch Joint Commissioner A K Sharma.

The agency also grilled suspended IPS officer D G Vanzara last week regarding his resignation letter in which he had hit out at Modi government for failing to protect the jailed police officers with regard to fake encounter cases.

CBI has named Singhal, Vanzara, suspended IPS officers P P Pandey and Tarun Barot, N K Amin, retired DSP J G Parmar and commando Anaju Chaudhary in the charge sheet, accusing them of murder and criminal conspiracy with regard to the encounter killing of 19-year-old Ishrat, Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in June 2004.

CBI’s probe in the case was still on, it had said when filing the charge sheet in July 2013.

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T20 or Tests, the art of picking wickets remains same: Bhajji

Posted on 16 September 2013 by admin

New Delhi, Sep 16 (uni) Deprived of a place in the India ‘A’ squads, Harbhajan Singh finds himself with limited opportunities to stage a comeback, but the out-of-favour spinner is determined to make an impact in the upcoming Champions League T20 to force his way into national reckoning.

Unlike some of the other seniors like Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan who have been drafted into the India ‘A’ team for the series against West Indies ‘A’ for their comeback trail, Harbhajan has no choice but to prove his worth in the T20 event.

“I am always happy to play any format, be it days cricket, one dayers or T20. Whatever adjustments you make, the basic principles of success do not change. Whether it’s Tests or T20s, the art of picking up wickets remains the same,” Harbhajan told PTI over phone from Ahmedabad, where he is training with Mumbai Indians squad for CLT20.

“You can think about being restrictive in T20 format, whereas you can afford to experiment in Tests. But in both formats, you need to bowl those wicket-taking deliveries that win you matches. At this point of time, I am totally focussed on doing well for Mumbai Indians in the Champions League T20,” the 33-year-old bowler, who played a pivotal role in MI’s IPL triumph with 24 wickets, said.

Harbhajan, who has taken 694 international wickets across the three formats, reckons that he still has the hunger and the ability to perform at the highest level.

“There is a lot of hunger left in me to perform at the international level. But I would like to concentrate on what I have at hand. I would like to take one match at a time and give my hundred percent. My job is to perform in whatever matches I am playing. I would be happy to play more longer format games but would like to wait till Ranji Trophy for that,” said Harbhajan, who last played against Australia in Hyderabad, in March this year.

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Afghan election race kicks off as nominations open

Posted on 16 September 2013 by admin

Kabul, Sep 16 (uni) Nominations opened today for Afghanistan’s presidential election, with a large field expected to register in the race to succeed Hamid Karzai as the US-led war winds down.

The election next April 5 will mark Afghanistan’s first-ever democratic transfer of power as Karzai steps aside after leading the country since the hardline Taliban regime was ousted in 2001.

The presidential race, from which Karzai is barred after serving two terms, is seen as the key test of the effectiveness of 13 years of bloody international military intervention and billions of dollars of aid.

“Around 28 people received the information package for presidential elections,” Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told reporters as the office opened.

All potential runners must register with the IEC before October 6, and a final list of verified candidates will be published on November 16. No candidate is expected to launch their campaign today.

Presidential hopefuls must be aged at least 40, have a clean criminal record, provide 100,000 voter cards to prove they have a network of supporters and lodge a deposit of one million Afghanis (USD 18,000).

The tough new criteria were designed “to limit the number of runners”, Noor told AFP, after around 40 candidates stood in the chaotic 2009 election that was marred by massive fraud.

Karzai, a charismatic and mercurial figure, has dominated Afghan politics as the country has struggled to develop amid a fierce Taliban insurgency, and there are no obvious front-runners to succeed him.

He has vowed to oversee a free and fair election and said he will not endorse any candidate, but international donor nations have expressed repeated concerns over the vote.

“Credible, inclusive, and transparent presidential and provincial elections in 2014 are now the most important element of Afghanistan’s transition,” US ambassador James Cunningham wrote in an article in the local media last week.

He called for “broad participation in the elections by men and women from all segments of Afghan society” — after low participation by women and Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic group, in the 2009 vote.

Many Afghans fear a surge in violence during campaigning and on polling day, but the government has said its security forces will ensure safety.

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CBI files charge sheet in Karnataka illegal mining case

Posted on 16 September 2013 by admin

New Delhi, Sept 16 (uni) CBI has filed a charge sheet in a special court in Bangalore slapping charges against a mining company, its top executives and two retired IAS officers in Rs 1232.39 crore mining scam in Karnataka.

The agency has pressed charges of criminal conspiracy, theft, criminal trespass along with relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Deccan Mining Syndicate Private (DMSP) Limited, its CEO Ritesh Milap Chand Jain and Managing Director Rajendra Kumar Jain.

The then Secretary, Commerce and Industries, Karnataka Government, Shamim Banu and Principal Secretary M Vishwanathan, Deputy Director, Mines and Geology, S K Raju, all retired, along with Ramakant Y Hullar, a police inspector, are also facing same charges.

“It was alleged that the said private mining company (DMSP) had carried out alleged illegal mining of iron ore in mining licence No.2525 which falls within the lease area allotted to National Mineral Development Corporation Ltd (NMDC) in mining lincence No.1111,” CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said here in a statement today.

She said the company was allotted to carry out the mining after altering and making modifications in the sketch belonging to the lease area of NMDC.

Sources said Banu while working as Secretary had allegedly recommended the renewal of mining leases with modified sketch.

Banu, who was posted in the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal, had to resign after controversy erupted. The agency has arrested all the accused who are in judicial custody.

A former IAS officer, Banu had pleaded for bail before the court but her application was rejected and she was sent in judicial custody.

CBI had taken over the case on the directions of the Supreme Court on October 1, 2011.

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BJP’s ‘Iron Man’ Advani has been left to rust: Nitish

Posted on 16 September 2013 by admin

Patna, Sep 16 (uni) Taking a jibe over bickering in BJP on Narendra Modi’s nomination as Prime Ministerial candidate, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today claimed that the party would not gain from the decision and Continue Reading

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Modalities of 2014 Asia Cup discussed in ACC meet

Posted on 14 September 2013 by admin

Chennai, Sep 14 (UNI) Top members of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) today discussed the modalities of the 2014 Asia Cup tournament, which is to be hosted by Bangladesh for a second straight time, in February-March next year.

The tournament, to be held from February 24 to March 8, has gone to Bangladesh after India, who had earlier agreed to host it, backed out citing a packed international schedule.

Bangladesh had hosted the last edition of the tournament in 2012. The tournament host was announced during ACC’s meeting in April and the details were discussed in today’s meeting here, according to ACC sources.

In the meeting, the BCCI also explored the possibility of hosting an ODI tri-series involving Pakistan and Sri Lanka later this year as back-up plan for India’s trouble-hit tour of South Africa in November and December.

A more clearer picture on this will emerge after Monday’s meeting between BCCI’s secretary Sanjay Patel and South Africa Cricket chief Haroon Lorgat in Dubai.

“In principle they have decided to hold the tri-series with Pakistan and Sri lanka in December, but this will depend on Monday’s meet between BCCI’s secretary Sanjay Patel and South Africa Cricket chief Haroon Lorgat in Dubai,” the source said said.

The officials from the three boards were present at the meeting, chaired by BCCI’s president-in-exile N Srinivasan.

PCB chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed, SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga and CEO of ACC Syed Ashraful Haq were there in the meeting. The ACC is headed by Srinivasan.

The ACC meet assumed significance as it was scheduled just two days before the proposed meeting between Lorgat and Patel on the sidelines of an ICC board meeting to resolve the impasse over India’s tour of South Africa.

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Syria”s use of chemical weapons a criminal act: Obama

Posted on 14 September 2013 by admin

Washington, Sep 14 (UNI) US President Barack Obama has said that the use of chemical arms by Syria is a “criminal act” and as such it becomes important for the international community to respond so as to deter repeated use of such weapons and to move them out of the war-torn country.

??? Obama made his remarks yesterday after his bilateral meeting with Kuwaiti ruler Amir Al-Sabah, during which Syria was on top of their agenda.

“Our two countries are in agreement that the use of chemical weapons that we saw in Syria was a criminal act, and that it is absolutely important for the international community to respond in not only deterring repeated use of chemical weapons, but hopefully getting those chemical weapons outside of Syria,” he said.

Obama hoped that the negotiations currently taking place between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva bear fruit.

“But I repeated what I’ve said publicly, which is that any agreement needs to be verifiable and enforceable. We agreed that, ultimately, what’s needed for the underlying conflict is a political settlement that allows ordinary Syrians to get back to their homes, to rebuild, and to relieve the enormous suffering that’s taking place,” he said.

Meanwhile, a senior administration official said no one is contemplating a process where they would trust the Syrians to destroy the weapons.

“That’s why they’d have to transfer custody to the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) or an international mechanism. They also may leave the country too as part of that process.

“I think one of the technical issues is, do you remove the weapons from Syria first and then destroy them or do you destroy them there? So in other words, we won’t be trusting Assad to implement this agreement.

“There would have to be a process where essentially he’s seceding control of the weapons,” the official told journalists.

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Swaraj, Ananth Kumar meet Advani

Posted on 14 September 2013 by admin

New Delhi, Sep 14 (UNI) BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar and Balbir Punj today met a sulking L K Advani to discuss the elevation of Continue Reading

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