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Pakistan mourns 149 dead in country's second-deadliest terror attack

Pakistan is mourning the deaths of 149 people, including nine children, in the country's second deadliest militant attack since its independence.

A suicide bomber hit a campaign rally in Mastung, in the south-western province of Balochistan, on Friday. More than 180 were injured.

A local candidate was among the dead, police say. So-called Islamic State (IS) claimed the attack.

The attack comes ahead of a general election on 25 July.

The poll has been marred by violence and what observers say is a crackdown on political activists, journalists and critics of the powerful military. Earlier on Friday, a bomb attack on a similar rally in the northern town of Bannu killed at least four people.

Some 70 people are still in hospital following the attacks, government officials said on Sunday.
After Friday's bombings, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was arrested after flying home from the UK.The three-term prime minister was ousted last year after a corruption investigation. Earlier this month, he was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison.

Political leaders observed a day of mourning on Sunday for those killed, including nine children aged between six and 11, and Balochistan provincial assembly candidate Siraj Raisani, who was targeted in the attack.

Source : BBC

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India to live steam Supreme Court proceedings 

An Indian Supreme Court Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said they favoured live-streaming of court proceedings.

The Bench asked Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, who also agreed with the prospects of airing court proceedings for global viewing, to make his submissions on the issue on July 23, the next date of hearing.

In an earlier hearing, the Bench, also comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, asked the Attorney General to assist the court on a plea to live-stream Constitution Bench proceedings in nationally important cases such as Aadhaar and decriminalisation of gay sex in the Supreme Court.

The petition was filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising in her personal capacity. Jaising had said courts around the world allowed their proceedings to be recorded, though they differed in their ways.

She had said that some judges in constitutional court in India have historically been reluctant about the idea of recording court proceedings because it would “capture every sentence” in the banter between judges and lawyers which are merely a way to elicit responses and not a sign of how the judge would finally decide the case.

Jaising however said there were different methods to resolve such reluctance and illustrated means adopted by courts globally.

“Some courts allow publication after a gap of 30 minutes, some ban recording of proceedings only in trial courts as that would compromise witnesses, some give edited versions of the proceedings, some record the proceedings but do not air it in public, some give out transcripts of proceedings,” Jaising had explained.

She had said such apprehensions should not create a roadblock in the public’s right to information.

The Supreme Court, in a bid to usher in transparency, had earlier allowed the installation of CCTV video recording with audio in trial courts and tribunals.

Jaising said citizens have the right to information and matters of constitutional and national importance can be live-streamed. If live streaming of top court’s proceedings is not possible, then alternately the video recording should be allowed, she had argued.

“This Writ Petition is filed as Pro Bono for enforcement of public interest, to advance the rule of law and bring accessibility and transparency in the administration of justice,” her plea said.
“The petitioner submits that the live streaming and videography of the proceedings of the Supreme Court in matters of great public importance will be in keeping with the principle of open access to justice and will ensure justice is not only done but it is seen to be done,”  Jaising’s petition said.

Source : The Hindu

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Civilian deaths hit record high in Afghanistan, says UN

The number of civilians killed in the long-running war in Afghanistan reached a record high in the first six months of this year, the UN says.
Some 1,692 fatalities were recorded, with militant attacks and suicide bombs said to be the leading causes of death.

The report comes as at at least seven people were killed in an attack on the rural development ministry in Kabul.

Recent attacks claimed by Taliban and Islamic State group militants have killed scores across the country.

The figures for the conflict, which began in 2001, are the highest since the UN started keeping records in 2009.

The report, by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama), says the number of recorded deaths rose by 1% compared with the same period last year.

However, the report adds, injuries fell by 5% to 3,430, and the total number of civilian casualties - accounting for deaths and injuries - dropped by 3% to 5,122.

The record high death toll came despite an unprecedented ceasefire by Afghan security forces and the Taliban last month, which was largely respected by both sides, Unama said.

Earlier this month, Nato leaders gathered at a summit in Brussels to discuss the conflict in Afghanistan.

The US has said it is planning a strategic review a year after President Donald Trump agreed to remain involved in the 17-year conflict.

The US-led invasion drove the hardline Taliban from power in 2001, as part of a crackdown on Islamist militants after the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Source : BBC

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Cave rescue in Thailand : Operation resumes to bring out boys

Cave divers in Thailand have resumed the high-risk operation to extract the remaining eight boys and their football coach from a vast flooded cave system, reports say.

Four boys were brought safely out of the cave on Sunday.

But the mission was paused overnight for air tanks to be replaced.

The boys became trapped in the cave on 23 June after heavy rains caused flooding, but were found alive last week by divers. Rescuers decided to go ahead with the hazardous operation to free them because of fears that waters would rise again. The operation is going ahead amid concerns that heavy rain on Sunday and overnight may have raised water levels making the rescue more difficult.

Source : BBC

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Cuba to reshape government with new constitution

Cuba has revealed new details about plans to reshape its government, courts and economy with a constitutional reform set to be approved by the national assembly this month.

The reform of the 1976 constitution would create the position of prime minister alongside the president, splitting the roles of head of government and head of state. The constitution keeps the Communist Party as the sole political force in the country and says the communist state will remain the dominant economic force.

The constitution does, however, create new recognition of the free market and private property in Cuban society, and creates a new presumption of innocence in the justice system. The proposed constitutional reform described in the main state paper is also expected to be approved in a later national referendum.

Officials say the 1976 charter does not reflect changes made in Cuba in recent years. “The experiences gained in these years of Revolution” and “the new paths mapped out” by the Communist Party are some of the reasons for reforming the constitution, the official Granma newspaper said.

The new constitution will maintain rights such as religious freedom but will also make explicit the principle of non-discrimination due to gender identity.
The text released in Granma did not specify to what extent the state would recognise same-sex marriages.

Source : Press Association

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Thailand cave rescue: Mission to save boys under way

Rescuers in Thailand have begun a hazardous operation to lead 12 boys and one adult out of a cave where they have been trapped for two weeks.

The group are stranded on a ledge 4km inside the Tham Luang cave but amid fears of rising waters, officials have decided they cannot wait any longer.

Expert divers who have been keeping the group supplied since they were found last week will guide them out.

Officials have called it D-Day, saying the boys are fit and ready to move.

Source : BBC

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More than 100 die in bomb attacks on poll rallies in Pakistan

A suicide bomber has killed at least 128 people at a campaign rally in south-western Pakistan - the deadliest attack in the country since 2014. A local candidate was among the dead in the Mastung town, police say. So-called Islamic State (IS) claimed the attack.

Earlier, a bomb attack on a similar rally in the northern town of Bannu killed four people. The attacks come ahead of general elections on 25 July. 

More than 150 people were injured in Mastung, officials say.Among those killed was Baluchistan provincial assembly candidate Siraj Raisani, his family said. He was a candidate for the Balochistan Awami party. Local officials say the attacker detonated a bomb inside a crowded compound where the campaign rally was being held.

"Human remains and red bloody pieces of flesh were littered everywhere in the compound," local journalist Attah Ullah was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. "Injured people were crying in pain and fear," the journalist said.

IS militants later used their news outlet to claim the group carried out the attack. IS has carried out a number of attacks in the region bordering Afghanistan in recent years. However, security has improved since the military managed to clear large swathes of territory.

Friday's bombing was the deadliest attack since militants from the Pakistani Taliban assaulted an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014, killing 141 people, 132 of them children.

Earlier in the day, a campaign convoy of another candidate was attacked in Bannu. Akram Khan Durrani, who represents the MMA party, was unhurt, officials say. No group has so far claimed responsibility for that attack.

Source : BBC

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Japan floods: Dozens killed in deluges and landslides

Flooding and landslides have killed at least 50 people and left dozens missing in western areas of Japan.

Most of the deaths have occurred in Hiroshima prefecture, which has been hit by torrential rain since Thursday. Hundreds of homes have been damaged.

About 1.5 million people have been ordered to leave their homes and three million more advised to do so.

Thousands of police, firefighters and soldiers are taking part in search-and-rescue operations.

Some of the victims have been buried alive by landslides, Japan's Kyodo news agency reports.

In the town of Motoyama, about 600km (370 miles) west of the capital Tokyo, 583mm (23in) of rain fell between Friday morning and Saturday morning, Japan's meteorological agency said.

More rain is expected over the next few days.

Source : BBC

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Archbishop in Barbados rails against the death penalty

Catholic bishops in Barbados have thrown their weight behind a recent decision by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that ruled the government has breached its charter by mandating the death penalty for murder convicts.

Senior clergy praised the move this month but said more work is needed to eliminate “barbaric” capital punishment from this Caribbean island.

“The CCJ’s decision is a step in the right direction but does not remove the death penalty from the laws in Barbados, so there is still some work to be done,” Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon of Port of Spain and the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Bridgetown, said in a statement, The Daily Herald reports.

“Every life is a precious gift from God,” the statement read. “The taking of one life does not therefore justify the taking of another.”

The CCJ ruled in 2017 that imposing a mandatory death sentence was unconstitutional as it breaches Section 11 of the charter by depriving individuals of the right to have a court of law decide their fate.

In an earlier statement issued in 2016, Archbishop Gordon and other bishops from the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) urged politicians to adopt a “restorative” approach to crime and violence.

“[This] focuses on holding the offender accountable in a more meaningful way and helping to achieve a sense of healing for both victims and the community,” it read.

“It embraces socialization, rehabilitation and reconciliation, rather than retribution and vengeance.”

Pope Francis has described the death penalty as being “contrary to the Gospel,” echoing similar sentiments by his predecessors including St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Gordon said it synchronizes with a “diminishing respect for life” in society and has been met with a spike in violent crimes rather than a reduction.

“The mandatory death penalty [leaves] no room for a judge to consider mitigating circumstances [like] conversion, mercy or forgiveness,” he said.

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Japan hangs seven for 1995 sarin attack on Tokyo subway

Japan on Friday (July 6) executed the former leader of a doomsday cult and six other members of the group that carried out a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 13 people and shattering the country’s myth of public safety.

The Aum Shinrikyo, or Aum Supreme Truth cult, which mixed Buddhist and Hindu meditation with apocalyptic teachings, staged a series of crimes including simultaneous sarin gas attacks on subway trains during rush hour in March 1995. As well as killing the 13, the attack injured at least 5,800 people, some permanently.

Some Tokyo residents said they felt there would now be closure for the victims and the bereaved, but that it was regrettable an apology was never issued. One relative of the sarin attack said she wished the execution had happened sooner so those who did not survive the 25 years since the incident could hear the news.

At its peak, Aum had at least 10,000 members in Japan and overseas, including graduates of some of Japan’s top universities. A resident living near a building run by the religious group Aleph, which is made up of former Aum members, said he felt the group had been more active recently and was worried about their next move.

Executions are rare in Japan but surveys show a vast majority of people supports the death sentence.

Source : Reuters

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Boris Johnson quits adding to pressure on May over Brexit

Boris Johnson has resigned as Foreign Secretary amid a growing political crisis over the UK's Brexit strategy.

He is the second senior cabinet minister to quit within hours following Brexit Secretary David Davis's exit.

His departure came shortly before Theresa May is due to address Parliament about her new Brexit plan, which has angered many Tory MPs.

In a statement, No 10 thanked Mr Johnson for his work and said a replacement would be announced shortly.

The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg said Mr Johnson's exit had turned an "embarrassing and difficult situation for the PM into

potentially a full-blown crisis".

She said he was not any ordinary cabinet minister but was the "face" of the Leave campaign during the 2016 referendum and his departure would fuel speculation about a leadership challenge.

Labour said his exit - on top of Mr Davis's departure - left Theresa May with "zero authority".

Source : BBC

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Delhi mass hangings: CCTV footage backs suicide theory

India police investigating the deaths of 11 family members found dead in their home in the capital Delhi say they have recovered CCTV footage which supports a theory of mass suicide.

The footage shows family members carrying stools and wires used in the hangings into the house, police said.

A post-mortem report confirmed that all 11 died due to hanging.

Police told the BBC that despite the footage, they had not ruled out murder and are still investigating.

Many questions remain unanswered in the case, which has gripped the country.

For instance, all the dead were blindfolded and gagged, with their hands tied behind their backs. It is not clear how they would have been able to do this before killing themselves.

"We have to sift through CCTV footage for the last three months to get a better idea of what could have transpired," a police officer told BBC Hindi's Salman Ravi.

After the bodies were found, investigators said the case could be one of "mass suicide linked to spiritual and mystical practices" based on notes recovered from inside the house.

The 11 dead are members of the Bhatia family. They include 75-year-old Narayan Devi, her daughter, two sons, their wives and five grandchildren aged between 33 and 15.

Police have also found 11 diaries, which they believe belonged to Lalit Bhatia, who was Narayan Devi's youngest son. They suspect that Mr Bhatia believed he was "possessed by the spirit" of his father, who died in 2008.

"Notes found in one of the diaries hint that a strong belief that supernatural forces would intervene and save them could have motivated the family to hang themselves," an investigating officer said.

The family lived in a three-storey house in Burari, a largely middle-class area of North Delhi.

Neighbours say the family were active members of the community and describe them as "religious, happy and financially comfortable".

The oldest grandchild, Priyanka, who was 33, was among the dead. She got engaged two weeks ago and the family had thrown a large party to celebrate, inviting many people in the area.

Source : BBC

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