Iraq crackdown kills nearly 40 after Iran mission torched

Agencies
November 29,2019

Nasiriyah, Nov 29: Iraq crackdown kills nearly 40 after Iran mission torched Nasiriyah (Iraq), Nov 29 (AFP) Iraq's protest-hit cities saw one of their bloodiest days yet as a government crackdown killed nearly 40 demonstrators following the dramatic torching of an Iranian consulate.

The country's capital and south have been rocked by the worst street unrest since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, with a protest movement venting fury at the government and its backers in neighbouring Iran.

Thursday's violence brought the total death toll since early October to more than 390, with more than 15,000 wounded, according to an AFP tally.

The highest toll was in the flashpoint southern city of Nasiriyah, where 25 people were killed when security forces used "excessive force" to break up rallies, according to the Iraqi Human Rights Commission.

Another two protesters were killed in Baghdad and ten died in the Shiite shrine city of Najaf, where demonstrators had torched the Iranian consulate late on Wednesday.

Crowds outraged at Tehran's political influence in Iraq had stormed and burned down the mission, yelling "Victory to Iraq!" and "Iran out!" In response, Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi early on Thursday ordered military chiefs to deploy in several restive provinces to "impose security and restore order", the army said.

But by the afternoon, following the bloody crackdown in the restive southern city of Nasiriyah, the premier had already sacked one commander, General Jamil Shummary.

The governor of Dhi Qar province, of which Nasiriyah is the capital, resigned later on that evening. More than 200 people were also wounded as security forces cleared sit-ins with live fire, medics and security sources said.

Medics in Nasiriyah said they had to carry out more than 80 life-saving surgeries in hospitals crowded with casualties.

Dhi Qar announced three days of mourning as thousands attended funeral processions there in defiance of a curfew announced earlier in the day.

"We're staying until the regime falls and our demand are met!" they chanted.

Demonstrators, dispersed by security forces, regrouped at Nasiriyah's main police station, setting it on fire. They then surrounded its main military headquarters as armed members of the area's powerful tribes deployed along main highways to block military reinforcements trying to reach the city.

"The scenes from Nasiriyah this morning more closely resemble a war zone than city streets and bridges," said Lynn Maalouf of rights group Amnesty International. "This bloodbath must stop now." The new phase of unrest in southern Iraq was unleashed after protesters had late on Wednesday stormed the Iranian consulate in Najaf, apparently evacuated by its staff.

An AFP correspondent saw them setting tyres ablaze around the site, sending flames and thick smoke into the night sky. Demonstrators have blamed powerful eastern neighbour Iran for propping up the Baghdad government which they are seeking to topple.

Tehran has demanded Iraq take decisive action against the protesters, with foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemning the consulate attack.

"Iran has officially communicated its disgust to the Iraq ambassador in Tehran," he told Iran's state news agency IRNA.

Later Thursday, ten protesters were shot dead close to the burnt consulate, medics said.

AFP's correspondent said clashes went on into the night between protesters and armed men in civilian clothes.

Many expected Iraq's highest Shiite authority Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who lives in Najaf, to address the violence in his weekly sermon on Friday. He has backed the protests and repeatedly called for restraint in dealing with them.

Iran's consulate in Iraq's other holy city of Karbala was targeted earlier this month, with security forces shooting four demonstrators dead. The two countries have close but complex ties and Tehran holds significant sway among Iraqi political and military leaders.

Top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani has held several meetings in Baghdad and Najaf to convince political factions to close ranks around Abdel Mahdi.

Those meetings, sources told AFP, brought firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr back into the fold after he called on Abdel Mahdi to resign.

But on Thursday, Sadr reverted course, saying it would "be the beginning of the end for Iraq" if the government did not step down.

Sit-ins, road closures and street marches have shuttered public offices and schools for weeks in many southern cities.

On Thursday, clashes flared near Karbala's provincial headquarters between some 200 protesters and riot police using tear gas and flash bangs.

Protesters kept up sit-ins in Kut, Amara and Hilla, all south of the capital, despite an increased security presence.

In the oil-rich port city of Basra, most government offices reopened but schools remained closed as security forces deployed in the streets.

Iraq is OPEC's second-largest crude producer and the oil exported through Basra's offshore terminals makes up more than 90 percent of the government's budget.

Protesters have accused the ruling elite of embezzling state funds, desperately needed to restore failing public services and fix schools.

Corruption is rampant in Iraq, ranked the world's 12th most graft-ridden country by Transparency International. The World Bank says one in five Iraqis lives in poverty and youth unemployment stands at 25 percent.

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Kuwait bars entry of passengers from over 30 countries including India, Pak

Agencies
August 2,2020

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Kuwait, Aug 2: Kuwait has barred entry of foreign passengers from over 30 countries including India and China.

A circular from the Director General Civil Aviation, State of Kuwait directed all airlines operating at Kuwait International Airport to adhere to the instructions in this regard.

"Based on the decision of the Health Authority in State of Kuwait, no foreign passenger coming from the down listed countries will be allowed to enter the State of Kuwait," the circular read.

These include- India, Iran, China, Brazil, Colombia, Armenia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Syria, Spain, Singapore, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iraq, Mexico, Indonesia, Chile, Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Italy, North Macedonia, Moldova, Panama, Beirut ,Serbia Montenegro, Dominican Republic and Kosovo.

The circular stated that such restriction will also include the passengers were present 14 days before the date of travel until further notice.

The ban was announced the same day Kuwait began a partial resumption of commercial flights according to Khaleej Times, which quoted authorities stating that Kuwait International Airport would run at about 30 per cent capacity from Saturday, gradually increasing in coming months.

According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, Kuwait has reported 67,448 cases of coronavirus while the fatalities related to the virus stand at 453.

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Dubai: NRI student Ahmed Ziyad who died after CBSE Grade 12 exams scores top marks

News Network
July 18,2020

Dubai, July 18: An NRI student who passed away in Dubai shortly after shortly after attempting his Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Grade 12 papers in March, has scored an impressive 91.4 per cent on his board examinations, including 100 in his media studies paper.

Ahmed Ziyad, a student of GEMS Our Own Indian School in Al Qouz, Dubai, died on March 19, suffered a heart condition called Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) that stopped him from being active in sporting activities.

Ziyad's parents, teachers, and classmates remember him as a very ambitious pupil, who wanted to launch his own business and achieve great things in his life. His board results are - mass media studies 100, Marketing 97, English 84, Entrepreneurship 82, and Home Science 94.
 
Ziyad's father, Shanavaz Manangath, a real estate professional who has been a resident of Dubai for over two decades said, "Six months ago, he had collapsed while playing with his friends. Since there was an irregularity in his heartbeat, he could not take part in any strenuous activities." He added, "Ziyad had just started playing with his friends on March 19 when he suddenly collapsed and died shortly after. My family has not been able to overcome his loss."

Unable to hold back his tears, an emotional Manangath said Ziyad wanted to do his BBA and launch his own business, "He was very ambitious. Honestly, I haven't looked into his board exam results, but, I know he had studied very hard for the exams."

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After discharging from hospital, Saudi King Salman tweets Eid Al Adha greetings

Agencies
July 31,2020

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Dubai, Jul 31: The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia tweeted early on Friday sending congratulations to everyone on Eid Al Adha.

"I congratulate everyone on the blessed Eid Al Adha. May Allah [grant us another Eid where we will be in] good, blessings, health, and wellness," King Salman said.

"We also ask [God] to accept the pilgrimage of those who completed Haj, and [to accept] Muslims' prayers, and to remove the coronavirus pandemic in our countries," he added.

King Salman left King Faisal hospital in Riyadh after recovering on Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.

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