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Pakistan PM Imran Khan writes to Modi, offers talks

Imran Khan. (File photo: IANS)
Imran Khan. (File photo: IANS)
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday wrote a letter to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi offering dialogue to solve reconcilable problems.
 
In a letter to Modi congratulating him on his second term as the Prime Minister, Khan wrote that Pakistan desires the resolution of all problems, including that of the disputed Kashmir region, the Geo TV reported.
 
He further added that talks between the two nations were the only solution to help both countries' people overcome poverty and that it was important to work together for regional development.
 
Pakistan, Khan wrote, wished for peace in the South Asian region and that, alongside stability, were required for the states as well as the region to move forward, the report said.
 
Modi had assumed prime ministership for a second consecutive five-year term on May 30.
 
On Thursday, India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said no meeting between Modi and Khan was scheduled on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, which both leaders will be attending.
 
"To the best of my knowledge, no meeting is being arranged between Prime Minister Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the SCO meet," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.
 
Talks about dialogue between Pakistan and India started gaining momentum after Khan had earlier congratulated Modi on the Bharatiya Janata Party's electoral victory in the Lok Sabha elections.
 
Khan had expressed his desire for the two countries to work together for the betterment of their people. In a tweet earlier, he had congratulated Modi, saying he looked forward to working for "peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia".
 
Modi had responded in a Twitter post, thanking Khan for his "good wishes" and saying he, too, wanted peace in the region.
 
IANS
 

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Eight Indians among 17 people killed in horrific bus accident in Dubai

At least 17 people, including eight Indians, died and five others suffered injuries when a bus carrying tourists returning from a break in Oman after the Eid holidays met with a horrific accident in Dubai on Thursday evening, official sources said.
At least 17 people, including eight Indians, died and five others suffered injuries when a bus carrying tourists returning from a break in Oman after the Eid holidays met with a horrific accident here on Thursday evening, official sources said.
 
The mishap occurred around 6 pm near the Rashidiya exit on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road in Dubai.
 
The bus, which was carrying 31 people, over ran a traffic signal and crashed into a height barrier on a road that was not meant for buses near a Metro station. The victims belonged to different nationalities but full details were not immediately available.
 
The injured were rushed to the Rashid Hospital here. The bodies of the deceased passengers were also taken to the hospital, the sources said.
 
"We are sorry to inform that as per local authorities and relatives it is so far confirmed that 8 Indians have passed away in Dubai bus accident. Consulate is in touch with relatives of some of the deceased & awaits further details for others to inform their families," the Consulate General of India (CGI) in Dubai said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
According to it, the names of those who died in the accident are: Rajagopalan, Feroz Khan Pathan, Reshma Feroz Khan Pathan, Deepak Kumar, Jamaludeen Arakkaveettil, Kiran Johnny, Vasudev and Tilakram Jawahar Thakur.
 
"Our Consulate expresses sincere condolences to the families of those who passed away in this tragic accident. CG alongwith other officials and community members met the concerned relatives as well as hospital and police authorities late in the night to assure of all help," the consulate added.
 
The consulate also said three Indians were undergoing treatment in Rashid Hospital, while four were discharged after first aid.
 
Local newspapers reported that the bus crashed into a height barrier, which cut into the left side of the bus, killing passengers sitting on that side.
 
Senior police and other government officials rushed to the scene of the accident to oversee the rescue and relief efforts.
 
Meanwhile, Mwasalat, the Omani company that operates the bus service, said it had temporarily suspended its services on the Muscat-Dubai-Dubai route.
 
The Dubai authorities are carrying out investigations to establish the cause of the mishap.
 
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4 killed in Australia shooting, gunman arrested

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At least four persons were killed and several injured in a shooting in Australia's Darwin city on Tuesday. The suspected gunman was arrested by the police.
 
Eyewitnesses said the gunman walked into the Palms Motel on Darwin's Esplanade and opened fire with a pump-action shotgun in a number of rooms just before 6 p.m.
 
The suspected gunman, aged 45, was later arrested, national broadcaster ABC News reported.
 
The police said in a statement that there was "currently four casualties, multiple injuries and multiple crime scenes", but added they did not believe the incident to be terror related.
 
Multiple witnesses told ABC News that the gunman was looking for someone called "Alex".
 
Witness Leah Potter said that a woman was shot multiple times in the legs at the Palms Hotel.
 
"A man came running with a woman in his arms from next door which is the Palms Motel, which is the motel next to my motel, and he just dropped her on the footpath right in front of us.
 
"I ran and got some towels and wrapped up her legs, she had little holes all in her skin on both her legs and she was bleeding everywhere," Potter said.
 
Another witness, John Rose, told The Australian newspaper that he saw the gunman walk into the motel with a sawn-off shotgun.
 
"He shot up all the rooms and he went to every room looking for somebody and he shot them all up, then we saw him rush out, jump into his Toyota pick-up, and rush off," Rose said.
 
According to Australian news site news.com.au, the police were treating the the Palms Motel as the main crime scene but had also cordoned off a social club less than a mile away.
 
IANS

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Indian-origin woman jailed for 22 years for killing stepdaughter

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An Indian-origin woman has been sentenced to 22 years to life in prison for strangling her 9-year-old stepdaughter in a bathtub in 2016, a crime described by a US court as a "disturbing" example of "extreme violence".
 
Shamdai Arjun, 55, of Queens, New York, was sentenced on Monday after being convicted in May of second-degree murder for killing Ashdeep Kaur. She will spend 22 years to up to life behind bars for the August 2016 killing.
 
Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder handed down the sentence in a case he described as a "disturbing" example of "extreme violence" and suffering, Queens Daily Eagle reported.
 
Ashdeep Kaur had moved from India to be in the care of her father Sukhjinder Singh and his wife in 2016. Family members said the girl told them about past abuse at the hands of her stepmother.
 
"It's disturbing to consider how you placed your hands around the neck and throat of that child and squeezed without letting up until her body went limp," Justice Holder said at sentencing. 
 
"The suffering this child endured as she was being killed is unimaginable and, to boot, you were the last face she had to look up and see before she died." 
 
Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan said: "The defendant in this case goes beyond the tales of evil stepmothers. This defendant committed the unimaginable - she wrapped her hands around her stepdaughter's little neck and squeezed the life out of her. 
 
"The victim was an innocent child and just nine years old. The court has imposed a sentence that will likely guarantee this woman never sees freedom again. The sentence of the Court is more than warranted in this tragic case," Ryan said.
 
According to trial testimony, Arjun left her home in the Richmond Hill section of Queens on August 19, 2016 around 5.30 p.m. with her former husband and two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5.
 
Asked about the 9-year-old victim's whereabouts, she told an eyewitness that the child was in the bathroom and was waiting for her father to pick her up.
 
The eyewitness, who observed that the bathroom light had been on for several hours, called the victim's father Sukhjinder Singh and was instructed to break through the bathroom door. Ashdeep Kaur's lifeless and bruised naked body was later found in the bathtub. 
 
The medical examiner's office determined that the cause of death was strangulation.
 
IANS
 

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India denounces Pakistani sabotage of iftar, lodges protest

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India on Sunday denounced the sabotage of the traditional iftar hosted by India's envoy to Pakistan, saying it violated "all notions of civilized behaviour", and lodged a strong protest with Islamabad.
 
"The disappointing chain of events on June 1 not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct but are against all notions of civilized behaviour," a statement from the Indian High Commission here said.
 
"Stopping diplomats and officials of the High Commission of India in Pakistan from discharging their diplomatic functions by intimidation and coercion is entirely counter-productive for our bilateral relationship," the statement said.
 
Pakistani security personnel forcibly stopped some 300 visitors, mainly Pakistanis, from attending the iftar hosted by Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria at Hotel Serena here on Saturday. They also misbehaved with Indian diplomats.
 
"The security forces stationed on the main road outside Hotel Serena rudely rebuffed and intimated officers and diplomatic staff of the High Commission of India who tried to ascertain from the security personnel the reasons for harassment of the guests," the statement said.
 
"Some officials were jostled, pushed, abused and aggressively threatened with bodily harm. In some cases, mobile phones belonging to officials were snatched."
 
The statement said: "Guests faced unprecedented harassment and intimidation at the hands of security agencies."
 
It said a concerted campaign was launched by Pakistani security agencies in the days preceding the iftar to reach out to invitees to actively dissuade them from attending the event.
 
"Those guests who did reach the function venue, in some cases from places as far as Lahore and Karachi, were intimidated and physically stopped from attending the iftar by Pakistani security forces, who had virtually laid the Serena Hotel under siege.
 
"Further, many guests from the diplomatic community based in Islamabad were also subjected to harassment.
 
"In complete violation of diplomatic norms, a large Pakistani security detachment, equipped with forklifts, was detailed outside Serena Hotel to aggressively turn away Pakistani civilians.
 
"In some cases, cars used by invitees were lifted and removed using forklifts. The more than 300 esteemed Pakistani guests who were turned away included MPs, government officials, media representatives, retired military officials and businessmen and retired diplomats, in addition to citizens from all walks of life."
 
The High Commission said India "has strongly protested to Pakistan" over "the gross intimidation of guests".
 
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The mission urged the Pakistani government to "urgently investigate these ugly events and share the results of the exercise with it.
 
"Further, we have emphasized to the government of Pakistan the need to ensure that diplomats and officials of the High Commission of India are allowed to discharge their diplomatic functions without fear of coercion or harassment."
 
Later on Saturday, Bisaria told the media: "I want to apologize to all the friends who were subject to some extra scrutiny outside (the venue)."
 
Witnesses said the operation was carried out by Pakistani security agencies including intelligence personnel not in uniform.
 
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi were among those invited to the event but they skipped it.
 
As soon as the guests started arriving at the venue, they were stopped outside and prevented aggressively from going in by the security agencies.
 
Pakistani security officials reportedly also telephoned members of the Karachi Federation of Chambers of Commerce, the Faisalabad Chambers of Commerce and the Lahore Chambers of Commerce and told them not to attend the iftar party.
 
The Pakistani media did not report Saturday's incident, which comes days after Islamabad accused Indian security personnel of obstructing Indians from attending an iftar party thrown by the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.
 
India-Pakistan relations have been badly hit after an Islamist group based in Pakistan claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 40 troopers in Jammu and Kashmir in February. 
 
IANS
 

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Disgruntled employee kills 12 in US state of Virginia

 
Virginia Beach shooting leaves at least a dozen dead
At least 12 people were killed and four others injured when a disgruntled employee opened fire in a municipal centre building in the US state of Virginia. The attacker was shot dead after a police confrontation, authorities said.
 
The shooting suspect identified as DeWayne Craddock, who worked as a certified professional engineer for the city of Virginia Beach in the Public Utilities Department, opened fire on Friday in the Building 2 of the municipal centre, CNN quoted Police Chief James Cervera as saying.
 
Building 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Centre houses the operations building for the city, which include multiple departments.
 
Cervera said the 40-year-old shooter was confronted shortly after opening fire on multiple floors. There was an exchange of gunfire with officers after which he was shot dead.
 
The police chief confirmed that a .45 caliber pistol and several empty extended magazines were found near the gunman.
 
The suspect is thought to have purchased the firearms legally, according to initial investigation.
 
"This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach," said Mayor Bobby Dyer. 
 
"The people involved are our friends, co-workers, neighbour, colleagues."
 
According to Virginia Beach Vice Mayor James Wood, people can take guns into public buildings, but not schools or courts in the city.
 
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam described the incident as a "tragic day" for the city and the state.
 
State Senator Tim Kaine tweeted that he was devastated by the news, CNN reported.
 
Singer Pharell Williams, who grew up in Virginia Beach, said in a tweet: "We are praying for our city, the lives that were lost, their families and everyone affected..."
 
Friday's incident is the deadliest mass shooting in the US since November 2018.
 
In that shooting, 12 people were killed at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. 
 
Officials said that gunman, Ian David Long, shot an unarmed security guard outside the bar, went in and continued shooting, injuring other security workers, employees and patrons. Long died by suicide.
 
IANS
 

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7 Indian-origin kids, American are US Spelling Bee co-champions

 
US Spelling Bee makes history by naming multiple co-champions
Seven Indian-origin kids, along with an American, have been declared co-champions of the US National Spelling Bee after the tie among the eight couldn't be broken even after 20 rounds of the finals.
 
The unprecedented decision to declare eight co-champions was taken Thursday night after the organisers ran out of their selection of difficult words to challenge them further.
 
The 10-year monopoly of Indian-origin children was finally broken with a non-Indian girl from Alabama, Erin Howard, becoming a co-champion.
 
The seven Indian-origin winners (with the final word they spelled correctly in parenthesis) are Rishik Gandhasri (auslaut), Saketh Sundar (bougainvillea), Shruthika Padhy (aiguillette), Sohum Sukhatankar (pendeloque), Abhijay Kodali (palama), Christopher Serrao (cernuous) and Rohan Raja (odylic). 
 
The winners, who will each get $50,000 and a trophy, were the last ones standing from among the 562 contestants drawn from across the US and abroad. 
 
In the past only two co-winners were declared - most recently Indians in 2014, 2015 and 2016 - making the eight this year a record.
 
The national level contest held in a Washington suburb is broadcast nationally on the sports channel ESPN, giving it the aura of a major sports event and a big audience. The contest is sponsored by the media company, EW Scripps.
 
The Spelling Bee opens in school and the winners go on to contests at the next levels and those champions go to the national competition, along with some who meet other criterion for selection. 
 
The Spelling Bee is open to students in eighth grade and below.
 
In addition to children from all the 50 US states, students also participate from the Bahamas, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
 
The 94-year-old contest has evolved to be a test of not just memorisation but also of a broad understanding of linguistics and etymology such as the origin of words and how words from classical languages are transmuted into English and how words are borrowed between modern languages.
 
Since Balu Natarajan won the Spelling Bee in 1985, Indian-origin children have been winners in 19 years, continuously for ten years from 2008 to 2018.
 
Indian-origin children do well in the Spelling Bee because the Indian community prizes participation in it and several community groups and businesses organise competitions for children within the community.
 
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India's Anita Bhatia appointed as UN Assistant Secretary-General

Anita Bhatia (File photo: IANS)
Anita Bhatia (File photo: IANS)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced on Thursday the appointment of Anita Bhatia of India as Assistant Secretary-General for Resource Management, Sustainability and Partnerships and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
 
Bhatia has had a distinguished career at the World Bank Group, serving in various senior leadership and management positions, both at Headquarters and in the field, a UN press release said.
 
She brings extensive experience in the area of strategic partnerships, resource mobilization and management, it said.
 
Bhatia has served for several years as Director of Global Partnerships for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group. She developed and expanded innovative partnerships with public and private sector partners to support IFC strategy in key areas, including fragile and conflict-affected states, gender equality, financial inclusion, support to women-owned businesses and other priorities critical for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
 
In addition, she has served as Director of Development Partner Relations for the World Bank in which she led efforts to ensure strategic alignment between institutional priorities and resource mobilization across the World Bank Group.
 
"In various positions, she focused on enhancing sustainability, institutional effectiveness and impact through strategic partnerships. As Head of IFC’s Latin America Advisory Operations, based in Lima and La Paz, she successfully grew the Corporation’s reach and impact in the region. As Director of Partnerships and Advisory Operations, she oversaw financial management, risk management, portfolio management, knowledge management and learning for Advisory Services across the globe. She has led diverse teams, including as Global Head of Knowledge Management, Head of Business Process Improvement and Head of Change Management. In addition to Latin America, she has worked in Africa, Europe, Central Asia and South and East Asia," the release said.
 
Bhatia holds a BA in History from Calcutta University, an MA in Political Science from Yale University and a Juris Doctor in Law from Georgetown University. 
 
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Indian dies after setting himself on fire near White House

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A 33-year-old man, identified as an Indian, died after setting himself on fire near the White House, the US Park Police said on Thursday.
 
Arnav Gupta of Bethesda, Maryland, set himself on fire on Wednesday afternoon at the Ellipse Park, not far from the Washington Monument, in full view of passersby, CNBC reported.
 
He was taken to a hospital in a critical condition and he later died of his injuries, the police said.
 
Gupta was reported missing on Wednesday morning and authorities had put out a notice asking for the public's help in finding him.
 
The Montgomery County Police Department in a Facebook post described Gupta as an Indian male who was last seen by his family when he left his home on Cindy Lane, about 10 miles northwest of the White House, around 9.20 a.m. on Wednesday.
 
The police said his family was "concerned for Gupta's physical and emotional welfare".
 
The US Secret Service said that officers responded in "seconds" after Gupta set himself on fire, then began administering first aid and transported him to a local area hospital.
 
Alina Berzins, 17, an eyewitness to the event, told CNBC that she saw the man "running, and then we saw him covered in flames" while she was visiting the National Mall with two of her cousins.
 
The Indian man's motive for the act, which has historically been performed as an extreme form of political protest, remains unclear.
 
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23 pilgrims killed in Mexico bus accident

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At least 23 Catholic pilgrims were killed when a bus carrying them hit a cargo truck and erupted in flames in Mexico, authorities said.
 
The collision occurred on Wednesday in the state of Veracruz. The pilgrims were returning home to the Archdiocese of Tuxtla in Chiapas after visiting Mexico City's Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, CNN quoted the Mexican federal police as saying.
 
Among the injured was the parish priest who organised the pilgrimage, reported to be in serious condition at a hospital in the area.
 
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7 S. Koreans dead, 19 missing in Hungary boat capsize

 
Search and rescue underway after boat capsizes in Hungary
At least seven South Korean tourists have died and another 19 were reported missing after a tour boat capsized on the Danube River in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul said on Thursday.
 
Thirty-four people were on board the vessel when it collided with another large tourist boat and capsized on Wednesday at around 10 p.m., CNN reported.
 
The boats collided in the centre of the city, near the riverside Parliament Building and the Elisabeth Bridge.
 
Of the 33 South Koreans on board, seven have been rescued, the Ministry said in a statement. 
 
Thirty of the tourists were traveling with South Korean tour company Very Good Tour, the company's chief operating officer Lee Sang-moo said at a press conference.
 
Lee said the group included nine families, mostly people in their 40s and 50s, although at least one child was on board.
 
Very Good Tour is planning to send a team of staff to Hungary on Thursday.
 
Mihaly Toth, a spokesman for boating company Panorama Deck which operated the capsized ship, said the firm is looking into the causes of the capsize.
 
The tourist boat, called the Mermaid, had been operating on the Danube since 2003 and there had been "no signs of a possible issue with the boat", he added.
 
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered a rapid response team to be dispatched to help the rescue effort in Budapest, a presidential spokesperson in Seoul said on Thursday.
 
IANS

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Two killed in Japan mass stabbing spree

 
Two killed, 15 schoolgirls injured in Japan stabbing: NHK
One female student and a man were killed and 16 others injured in a mass stabbing spree in the Japanese city of Kawasaki on Tuesday, police said, adding the attacker turned the knife on himself after the incident and died.
 
The female victim and 14 of the injured were students of the Caritas elementary school, a private Catholic school in Kawasaki. The suspect, a man in his 50s, was holding knives in both hands and stabbed the victims before stabbing himself in the neck, the police said. 
 
The suspect died after being taken to a hospital, reports Kyodo News.
 
Kanagawa Prefectural Police officials said the victims were waiting at a school bus stop in Tama Ward near Noborito Station when the incident took place.
 
Authorities have found two knives at the site that appeared to have been used in the attack.
 
"I heard fire engines coming in the morning and I saw a man lying on the ground bleeding," a witness told public broadcaster NHK. "I saw many elementary school children lying on the ground near a school bus stop. School rucksacks were scattered all over the place.
 
"There was another man lying on the ground bleeding at a municipal-run bus stop near the school's bus stop," the witness added.
 
The man has been confirmed dead.
 
Mass stabbings are rare in Japan and make national headlines, CNN reported. 
 
In 2016, 19 people were killed in a stabbing spree at a care home for disabled people. It was the deadliest mass killing in Japan since the end of World War II.
 
The incident took place during US President Donald Trump's visit to the country. 
 
Speaking aboard a Japanese helicopter carrier, Trump said that "all Americans stand with the people of Japan and grieve for the victims and for their families".
 
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20 persons, including children, injured in Japan knife attack

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Nearly 20 people, including 16 school children, were injured after a man went on a stabbing rampage in Kawasaki City, south of Japan's capital Tokyo on Tuesday.
 
The local fire department rushed to the spot at around 7:45 a.m. local time following the knife attack, which occurred in a residential area near Noborito Station in Kawasaki City, Xinhua reported.
 
According to the latest reports, of the some 20 people who were stabbed in the frenzied attack, 16 were children of elementary school age.
 
The police said that two adults and one child showed no vital signs following the attack.
 
The suspect, believed to be in his 40s or 50s, has been taken into custody. Police said that the attacker has also injured himself.
 
According to the police, the suspect, who stabbed himself in the shoulder and neck, was unconscious. 
 
Police retrieved two knives from the scene of the attack.
 
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Bodies of 4 missing Indian expats found in Oman

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The bodies of four missing Indian expatriates from a family were found in a flooded area in Oman, police said.
 
On May 18, the family of an Indian healthcare worker went on a picnic to Wadi Bani Khalid, about 200 km from Muscat, where they were trapped inside a vehicle due to torrential rains, Gulf News quoted the Royal Oman Police as saying on Thursday. 
 
The healthcare worker managed to leave the vehicle and survived by clutching on to a palm tree.
 
Other members including the man's parents, wife and three children were reported missing, prompting the Omani authorities to launch a massive search operation.
 
While the four bodies were found on Thursday, a search is on for the remaining two missing members.
 
In the past few days, Oman has experienced heavy rains that resulted in blocking several roads and stranding many people. 
 
Authorities have rescued several people who were trapped inside cars in flooded areas.
 
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Pakistan appoints new High Commissioner to India

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Pakistan has appointed diplomat Moeen-ul-Haq as the new High Commissioner to India, local media reported on Tuesday.
 
The position in Delhi had fallen vacant after High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood was elevated as Foreign Secretary, reports Dawn news.
 
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday announced the appointment of 18 ambassadors and consul generals.
 
"Today I met Prime Minister Imran Khan and after a detailed discussion he gave approval for the fresh appointments keeping in view new challenges," Qureshi told the media here.
 
Talking about Haq's appointment, Qureshi said it was an important posting as the election process in India was almost over and a new engagement between Islamabad and New Delhi could be started.
 
The term of Haq, who is presently posted as Ambassador to France, has been linked with the installation of the next government in India.
 
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Joko Widodo re-elected as Indonesia President

Joko Widodo (File photo: Xinhua/Agung Kuncahya B/IANS)
Joko Widodo (File photo: Xinhua/Agung Kuncahya B/IANS)
Joko Widodo has been re-elected as Indonesia's president after last month's vote, beating former general Prabowo Subianto.
 
The result was released a day ahead of schedule in the early hours of Tuesday, amid fears of violent unrest, the BBC reported.
 
Around 32,000 security personnel were deployed across the capital, Jakarta.
 
Prabowo, 67, has not yet confirmed if he will challenge the result in court.
 
Ahead of the final tally he had alleged "widespread cheating" and warned of potential street protests. 
 
In 2014, Prabowo lost a court challenge following an earlier election defeat by Widodo.
 
The latest vote followed a bitter campaign in which religion played a key role, but independent observers have said it was free and fair.
 
Widodo won 55.5 per cent of the vote to Prabowo's 44.5 per cent, the Election Commission said. 
 
More than 192 million people were eligible to vote in the April 17 poll, choosing 20,000 local and national lawmakers.
 
Azis Subekti, a witness from the retired general's campaign team, refused to sign the results.
 
"We won't give up in the face of this injustice, cheating, lies, and these actions against democracy," he said.
 
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Threats to US would mean Iran's end, warns Trump

File photo of United States President Donald Trump
File photo of United States President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump has asked Iran "never to threaten" the US and warned Tehran that if it wants a fight, it would be "the official end" of the Islamic nation.
 
"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran," Trump tweeted on Sunday afternoon. 
 
"Never threaten the United States again!"
 
His Sunday tweets appeared to be a considerable shift in tone from the President's brief remarks at the White House on May 16, when he responded "I hope not" after being asked whether the US and Iran were headed toward war, The Washington Post reported.
 
The White House has not officially responded to Trump's tweets.
 
Trump issued his threat a few hours after the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, said on Sunday that Iran does not fear a war but the US does, reports Efe news.
 
Salami said in a speech at a military ceremony broadcast on state-run Iranian TV that Tehran was not seeking war but did not fear it either, in contrast to the US, which is afraid of war and does not have the willpower to engage in one.
 
He also warned that the entire Middle East could become "a powder keg" for Washington.
 
Last week, the US decided to deploy to the Persian Gulf the amphibious assault ship USS Arlington, Patriot missiles, the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and assorted warplanes, including bombers, after claiming that it had detected unspecified "indications" of Iranian plans to attack US forces in the Middle East.
 
In recent weeks, concern has been increasing that National Security Adviser John Bolton, a long-time hawk on Iran who was instrumental in instigating the invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush, might be working to edge the administration closer to some kind of military action against Tehran.
 
Last year, prior to bringing Bolton into the administration as one of his top advisers, Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal. More recently, Trump has tightened economic sanctions against the Tehran regime and his administration says it has built up the US military presence in the region.
 
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White House unveils first part of Middle East peace plan

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The White House has unveiled the first part of its Middle East peace proposal, which is being deemed as an economic "workshop" to encourage investing capital in the West Bank, Gaza, and the region, a senior administration official told CNN.
 
The White announced on Sunday that the workshop will take place in Manama, Bahrain, on June 25 and 26, bringing together finance ministers with global and regional business leaders. 
 
The effort is being headed by Jared Kushner, the senior White House adviser and President Donald Trump's son-in-law, and White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, who have spent years developing the proposal along with the much stickier political component, which officials said would be announced later in the year.
 
Kushner told CNN on Sunday that "people are letting their grandfathers' conflict destroy their children's futures. This will present an exciting, realistic and viable pathway forward that does not currently exist".
 
The senior administration official said that the plan will discuss four major components: infrastructure; industry; empowering and investing in people; and governance reforms "to make the area as investible as possible". 
 
The economic plan will also include a "combination of grant money, low interest loans and then also private capital", the official said.
 
The workshop, however, will avoid political issues such as whether the Palestinians will get their own state; the status of Jerusalem; measures Israel takes in the name of security; and what should happen with Palestinians and their descendants who fled or were expelled from Israel around the time of the state's creation in 1948, he added. 
 
Finance ministers, but not foreign ministers, will be invited along with delegations of business leaders.
 
On Sunday afternoon, however, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, told CNN that the plan was "futile".
 
"Any economic plan without political horizons will lead nowhere... Palestinians will not accept any proposals which do not include a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital."
 
The decision on whether or not Palestinians would attend the workshop would be made by the leadership of Abbas, Abu Rudeineh said, adding that when a similar meeting was held in Washington in March 2018 to discuss ways of improving the economic and humanitarian situation facing Gazans, the Palestinians had chosen to stay away.
 
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US billionaire promises to pay off student debt for entire grad class

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A United States billionaire technology investor stunned the entire graduating class at a college in Atlanta when he announced at their commencement that he would pay off their student loans -- estimated at $40 million.
 
Robert F. Smith, this year's commencement speaker at Morehouse College, made the announcement on Sunday while addressing nearly 400 graduating seniors of the all-male historically black college, Time magazine reported. 
 
Smith, who is black, is the Founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software, data, and technology-driven companies.
 
"On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we're gonna put a little fuel in your bus," the investor and philanthropist told graduates in his morning address. 
 
"This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans."
 
The announcement immediately drew stunned looks from faculty and students alike. Then the graduates broke into the biggest cheers of the morning. Morehouse said it is the single largest gift to the college.
 
In the weeks before graduating from Morehouse on Sunday, 22-year-old finance major Aaron Mitchom drew up a spreadsheet to calculate how long it would take him to pay back his $200,000 in student loans -- 25 years at half his monthly salary, per his calculations.
 
In an instant, that number vanished. Mitchom, sitting in the crowd, wept. Eight family members, including Mitchom's 76-year-old grandmother, took turns over four years co-signing on the loans that got him across the finish line.
 
Smith, who received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse during the ceremony, had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the school. 
 
Morehouse College president David A. Thomas said the gift would have a profound effect on the students' futures. "In some ways, it was a liberation gift for these young men that just opened up their choices."
 
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Two Sikh youths killed in US car crash

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Two Sikh youths were killed in a car crash in the US state of Indiana, the media reported.
 
Authorities on Thursday identified the victims as Davneet S. Chahal, 22, and Varundeep S. Bring, 19, both from Fishers city, the American Bazaar reported.
 
The crash took place at around 2.30 a.m. on Wednesday. The car crashed into a tree and one of the victims was thrown out of the car on impact, the police said.
 
A third passenger on the backseat survived the crash. He has been identified as 20-year-old Gurjot S. Sandhu.
 
The Sikh community in Indiana has shown solidarity with the victims' families. 
 
"The whole city of Fishers, especially the Sikh community, is shocked and heartbroken to hear the tragic death of two young boys," said prominent Sikh activist and founder of SikhsPAC Gurinder Singh Khalsa. "The loss is unfathomable and irrecoverable..."
 
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Architect who designed Louvre's pyramid dead at 102

 
Louvre pyramid architect I.M. Pei dead at 102
I. M. Pei, the acclaimed Chinese-American architect who designed the glass and metal pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris, has died at the age of 102.
 
Revered as one of the last great modernist architects, Pei died on Thursday, reports CNN.
 
Although he worked mostly in the US, Pei will always be remembered for his redevelopment of the Louvre Museum in the 1980s.
 
He gave us the glass and metal pyramid in the main courtyard, along with three smaller pyramids and a vast subterranean addition to the museum entrance.
 
Pei was the first foreign architect to work on the Louvre in its long history, and initially his designs were fiercely opposed. But in the end, the French -- and everyone else -- were won over.
 
As a young man, Pei counted himself grateful to have learned from some of the great modernists: Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Alvar Aalto and Le Corbusier.
 
Winning the fifth Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1983, he was cited as giving the 20th century "some of its most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms ... His versatility and skill in the use of materials approach the level of poetry".
 
Pei was born in China in 1917 into an affluent family. His father was a banker. His artistic mother -- a calligrapher and flautist -- had the greater influence on him.
 
In 1964, he designed the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum which established him as a name.
 
His other noted works include the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar.
 
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F-16 jet crashes into building in California

 
F-16 pilot safely ejects as jet crashes into California building
An F-16 fighter jet returning to March Air Reserve Base in Moreno Valley of California in the US has crashed into a building after its pilot was ejected, media reports quoted base officials as saying.
 
The jet slammed into the side of a commercial building off the base, on Van Buren Boulevard, about 3.45 p.m. on Thursday, March Air Reserve Base Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Holliday was quoted as saying.
 
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department confirmed on Twitter that the crash occurred around Van Buren and the 215 Freeway, the reports said.
 
The pilot was ejected and was medically evaluated.
 
"Multiple agencies responding. Please stay out of area and clear emergency vehicles," the department tweeted.
 
Details on the crash and the pilot's condition have not been disclosed. Authorities did not have details on any other injuries. 
 
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Two Indian climbers die on Mt. Kanchenjunga

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Two Indian climbers died on Mount Kanchenjunga while descending from the summit of the world's third highest mountain, the expedition company said on Thursday.
 
Pasang Sherpa, Director at the Peak Promotion Nepal, the company, told Xinhua news agency that the Indian climbers collapsed at an altitude of 8,400 meters.
 
"Indian national Biplab Baidya and Kuntal Karna died of altitude sickness while descending from the summit," Sherpa said.
 
Their bodies will be airlifted to Kathmandu probably on Friday, he said. A total of 23 people were in the expedition team when they left for the summit on April 6.
 
Meanwhile, a national from Chile, Rodrigo Vivanco, has gone missing in Mount Kanchenjunga since Wednesday evening. 
 
"We have mobilized a team to rescue Rodrigo who has gone missing above Camp IV on the descent after he reportedly made it to the summit," he said.
 
Hundreds of foreign climbers attempt to scale high Himalayan peaks during the popular spring climbing season in the Himalayan country that begins in March and ends in May.
 
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Plane makes emergency landing in UAE after Indian man dies

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An Alitalia New Delhi-Milan flight made an emergency landing at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday night following the death of an Indian man onboard the flight, Indian Embassy officials said here.
 
The victim Kailash Chandra Saini, 52, from Rajasthan, was accompanied by his 26-year-old son Heera Lal, reports the Khaleej Times.
 
"The flight made an emergency landing (at the Abu Dhabi International Airport) on Monday night. The body was taken to Mafraq Hospital. The formalities have been completed. The death certificate was issued today (Tuesday). The body will be repatriated on an Etihad flight, hopefully by Wednesday morning," Embassy counsellor M. Rajamurugan said on Tuesday.
 
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Sri Lanka imposes nationwide curfew as riots spread

 
Sri Lanka blocks social media to deal with anti-Muslim unrest after Easter blasts
Sri Lanka on Monday declared a nationwide curfew as anti-Muslim riots spread to parts of the island nation, just three weeks after multiple suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State killed over 250 people and injured hundreds.
 
The curfew will remain in force till 4 a.m. Tuesday, said police spokesman S. P. Ruwan Gunasekara.
 
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urged citizens to remain calm and not be swayed by rumours after the violence, majorly affecting Kurunegala district where Muslims were targeted, Colombo Gazette reported.
 
Kurunegala town is located about 100 km from Colombo and Muslims constitute the second largest ethnic group there after the Sinhalese, who are mainly Buddhists. 
 
The Prime Minister said: "Security forces are working tirelessly to apprehend terrorists and ensure the security of the country, but each time there is civil unrest, we increase their burden and hamper ongoing investigations."
 
His comments came after several Muslim-owned shops and other property were damaged or destroyed by mobs in Kurunegala district on Monday. 
 
Authorities had earlier in the day reimposed curfew in several towns of the still shaken Buddhist-majority country and temporarily blocked social media websites after a Facebook post sparked the anti-Muslim riots.
 
Sri Lanka has been on the edge since the April 21 horror when suicide bombers exploded themselves in three churches and three luxury hotels besides two other places. Most targets were in Colombo.
 
The killings were the worst to hit Sri Lanka since the end of the civil war a decade earlier.
 
The unrest was triggered on Sunday after a group of people stormed into Chilaw town following the Facebook post by a Muslim shopkeeper about "an attack plan". 
 
Reports said that several people threw stones at mosques and attacked Muslim-owned shops. A man, presumably Muslim, was beaten up.
 
Amid the unrest, the Army fired shots in the air to disperse the mobs but the unrest spread to other towns, the Daily Mirror reported.
 
The same day, a curfew was imposed in Chilaw and Kuliyapitiya, Bingiriya, Hettipola and Dummalasuriya areas and the social media ban was imposed to prevent circulation of fake news and incitement to violence. 
 
The curfew was then extended to Rasnayakapura and Kobeigane areas in Kurunegala district and authorities warned that "tough action will be taken against anyone disrupting the peace".
 
The latest unrest began as Catholic churches resumed Sunday mass for the first time since the Easter bombings.
 
According to the the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) -- the main body of Islamic clerics -- there has been increased suspicion of Muslims after the attacks blamed on local Islamic group National Thowheed Jamath, which is believed to have links with the Islamic State (IS) that claimed the carnage.
 
Sri Lankan authorities say most of the 150 people suspected to have been linked to the last month's attacks have died or been arrested but many still fear that the government has not caught all potential militants.
 
The killings and lingering tensions have affected tourism, a major foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka.
 
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