9 Chinese engineers among 13 killed in alleged attack on bus in northwest Pakistan

News Network
July 14, 2021

Peshawar / Beijing, 14: Nine Chinese engineers were among 13 people killed on Wednesday when a bus carrying construction workers in northwest Pakistan's mountainous region was "attacked", according to officials and eyewitnesses.

The incident took place in Dasu area of Upper Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where Chinese engineers and construction workers are helping Pakistan build a dam which is part of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), officials said.

At least 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals and two Frontier Corps soldiers, died when the bus carrying Chinese engineers and workers to the site of the under construction Dassu Dam exploded, Deputy Commissioner Upper Kohistan Muhammad Arif said in his initial statement.

The bus fell into a deep Ravine after the explosion, the official said.

The injured were admitted to nearby hospitals.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan called it a "cowardly attack" and said it would "not divert attention from the special initiatives between Pakistan and its neighbours."

Awan said he would ask Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed to offer a briefing on the country’s security situation and to keep this House in the loop about the occurrence.

An eyewitness claimed that there was a loud noise and the bus bounced in the air and fell down, BBC Urdu service reported.

Quoting another eyewitness, it said the bus looked like flying in the air after the blast. Few seconds later, the bus fell on the ground with a loud thud.

Local people rushed to the spot where the injured were screaming, he said.

However, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), which is responsible for dam construction, said in a statement that it was an "accident".

Officials said more details would be provided after the investigation.

"The bus plunged into a deep ravine after the blast and caused heavy losses. One Chinese engineer and one soldier are missing. The rescue operation has been launched,” a senior government official said.

Special Assistant to KP Chief Minister Kamran Khan Bangash said that a high level delegation has left for Upper Kohistan to ascertain the facts.

"The media is advised to avoid speculating on the matter,” he said.

Bangash said that a large number of security officials were deployed to protect Chinese nationals. Those who are in critical condition are being shifted via helicopter, he said. A large number of Rescue 1122 ambulances and officials have reached the spot, he added.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office in Islamabad said that the bus carrying Chinese workers plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast.

"According to preliminary reports, nine Chinese nationals and three Pakistanis lost their lives,” it said, adding that the Chinese workers and accompanying Pakistani staff were proceeding to their work place for an ongoing project.

FO said that further investigations are underway, while the local authorities are providing all possible assistance to the injured.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is closely in contact with the Chinese Embassy for coordination and facilitation, it said.

Pakistan and China are close friends and iron-brothers and Pakistan attaches great importance to safety and security of Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in the country, it added.

In Beijing, China condemned the "bomb attack" on the bus near the Dasu hydropower plant and called on the Pakistan government to give “severe punishment” to the perpetrators behind it.

Asked for details of the casualties and China’s reaction to the incident at a media briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China expresses its condemnation of the "bomb attack" in Pakistan resulting in the casualties of the Chinese personnel.

He, however, did not provide any official figures of casualties.

"China extends its condolences to those who died in the attack and sympathy for their families and the injured,” he said.

"Security forces in Pakistan have taken actions to control the situation, properly transfer and save the injured," he said.

"The Chinese side requests the Pakistan side to look into the truth, hold the perpetrators accountable and give them severe punishment, so as to protect the security of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects," he said.

Thousands of Chinese personnel have been deployed in Pakistan to work on a host of projects being carried out under the aegis of the CPEC.

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News Network
July 29,2021

Bengaluru, July 29: Karnataka has reported 2,052 fresh cases of COVID-19 and 35 deaths, taking the total number of infections to 29,01,247 and the toll to 36,491, the health department said on Thursday.

The day also saw 1,332 discharges, continuing to outnumber the fresh cases, taking the total number of recoveries in the state so far to 28,41,479. Out of 2,052 new cases reported on Thursday, 506 were from Bengaluru Urban, as the city saw 257 discharges and only 9 deaths. Total number of active cases in the state is at 23,253. 

Out of 35 deaths reported on Thursday 9 are from Bengaluru Urban, Dakshina Kannada 8, Chamarajanagara, Kolara, Mysuru, Uttara Kannada 2, followed by others. Among the districts where new cases were reported, Bengaluru Urban accounted for 506, Dakshina Kannada 396, Udupi 174, Mysuru 157, Hassan 136, followed by others. 

Bengaluru Urban district tops the list of positive cases, with a total of 12,26,463, followed by Mysuru 1,72,637 and Tumakuru 1,17,667. Cumulatively a total of 3.83 crore samples have been tested in the state so far, out of which 1,48,861 were tested on Thursday alone.

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News Network
July 28,2021

Tehran, July 28: Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has arrested a network of agents with the Israeli Mossad spy agency at the Western borders, confiscating a large cache of weapons and ammunition that they were planning to use to provoke riots and terror inside the country.

The ministry’s director-general for counterintelligence said on Tuesday that the Mossad agents had been arrested upon sneaking into Iran from the Western border posts on the back of an extensive surveillance and intelligence operation.

The intelligence official did not specify the location of the arrests or the number of those taken into custody.

The seized weapons include pistols, grenades, Winchester shotguns, Kalashnikov rifles and bullets, some of which are used to make protests descend into riots, said the official.

The Mossad operatives, the official said, were planning to use the arms to provoke urban riots and carry out assassinations.

“During the presidential election [in June], the Zionist regime had also planned to carry out acts of sabotage in different parts of the country on several occasions,” but to no avail, and the terrorist Mossad network was given a “knockout blow” in the region, according to the official.

The arrests coincide with the recent protests in Iran’s southwestern province of Khuzestan over a water shortage triggered by a drought that is unprecedented in decades. The protesters have urged the administration to address the crisis.

Iranian authorities have stressed the right for the people in Khuzestan Province to hold peaceful protests, deploying additional security forces to the region to ensure the safety of the protesters and prevent any damage to public and private property there.

However, the protests have turned ugly on several occasions, with officials warning against suspicious attempts to fish in troubled waters and provoke violent riots.

On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh pointed to the death of a policeman during violence in the province, saying the officer’s martyrdom clearly showed elements tied to foreigners had infiltrated the ranks of protesters in an attempt to provoke fake clashes and ignite riots.

Meanwhile, the head of the Department of Justice in the southern province of Fars said on Monday that Iranian security forces had disbanded a Takfiri terrorist group that sought to carry out simultaneous terrorist attacks in several provinces in cooperation with intelligence services of two European and regional countries.

Kazem Mousavi added that 11 members of the Takfiri terrorist group’s main nucleus were identified and arrested in Fars, while 25 others were detained in six eastern and western Iranian provinces in a joint operation by the Intelligence Ministry and security forces.

Late last month, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) forces identified and dismantled three terrorist and counterrevolutionary teams in the country's northwestern provinces of West Azarbaijan and Kordestan a few days before the presidential election.

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News Network
July 23,2021

Beijing, July 23: Xi Jinping has made his first visit to Tibet as Chinese president, affirming Beijing’s control over a region where its military build-up and ethnic-assimilation polices have drawn international criticism.

Xi arrived in the regional capital Lhasa on Thursday, the official Xinhua News Agency said on social media.

Xi made a rare visit to Nyingchi, a strategically located Tibetan border town close to Arunachal Pradesh. Nyingchi is a prefecture-level city in Tibet.

Xi inspected the operation of the Sichuan-Tibet railway during his visit, state broadcaster China Central Television said.

Radio Free Asia published a video of Xi walking along a street lined with cheering people, and the Chinese leader waving from the open window of a minibus. Robert Barnett, a British academic who has written about Tibet, posted videos showing Xi speaking to Tibetans.

“All regions and people of all ethnicities in Tibet will march toward a happy life in future,” Xi says in a video Barnett posted. “I am full of confidence as you all are. Lastly, I will not delay your dancing. Let me say this: I wish everyone a happy life and good health.”

The People’s Republic of China earlier this year marked the 70th anniversary of its assertion of sovereignty over Tibet. That was was part of a broader effort by Mao Zedong’s communists to consolidate control over territory historically claimed by China before decades of colonialism, war and internal strife.

The region has been at the center of ongoing border tensions with India. Both sides have reorganized forces to the region after the deadliest fighting in decades last year.

China has faced criticism for its policies in Tibet, which has been subject to intense social, security and religious controls, much like its northern neighbor Xinjiang. In May, Wu Yingjie, the Communist Party chief of mostly Buddhist Tibet, lauded the progress Beijing has made developing the region, saying: “religion has been increasingly compatible with a socialist society.”

In September last year, prominent Xinjiang researcher Adrian Zenz released a report alleging that Beijing was instituting a mass labor system in Tibet similar to the one that has ensnared Muslim Uyghurs. Tibet Governor Qi Zhala said at the time that forced labor transfer “does not exist,” maintaining the local government was focused on providing job training.

Radio Free Asia reported that security measures limiting people’s movements in public were in place in Lhasa, and that work at factories and construction sites has been halted. A ban on flying drones and kites was also in place, it said.

Tenzin Lekshay, a spokesman for the Tibet government in exile in northern India, said in a tweet that Xi should “understand the true aspiration of Tibetan people and resume the dialogue to resolve the Sino-Tibetan conflict.”

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