News Flash – 21 February 2018

National News



Train thieves held with Rs 60 lakh jewellery



NEW DELHI: A gang of criminals that had stolen jewellery worth Rs 60 lakh from a passenger travelling in an AC coach of an express train has been busted by railway police. The thieves had befriended a businessman’s family and taken their bag containing the jewellery while the train was entering Old Delhi railway station. The businessman, Mridual Kortriwal, a resident of Alipur in Kolkata, told police that on February 13 he was coming to Delhi with his parents and wife on Ala Hazrat Express with diamond and ruby jewellery worth Rs 60 lakh. They had boarded the train at Rampur. When the train reached Ghaziabad, a man got on and started chatting with them. He suggested that they should place their luggage near the door as the station was approaching and it would be difficult for them to de-board. When the businessman agreed, he started helping them in shifting the luggage.


Soon, a few men entered the coach and started creating a commotion as if they were in a hurry to de-board to divert the family’s attention. The family got off at Old Delhi railway station and when they reached their house in south Delhi, they found the chain of their bag intact but the inner lining was torn and their jewellery missing. A complaint was registered at Old Delhi railway station. “A team led by SHO (New Delhi railway) Akash Rawat tracked down a man from Sultanpuri, Rajender, carrying a large quantity of jewellery in a plastic bag,” said DCP (railways) Parwaiz Ahmed. Rajender was taken into custody and he admitted to having stolen the jewellery along with associates. The gang used to target passengers travelling in 1st and 2nd AC coaches with heavy luggage.



Two men die as clothes unit catches fire



BENGALURU: Two labourers were charred to death after a fire broke out at a waste clothes storage and collection centre on an empty plot of Suvarna Layout, near Chandra Layout on Monday night. One of the deceased, Manju aka Manjunath, 27, was from Melur village of Mysuru. The second labourer is yet to be identified. The incident came to light on Tuesday morning. The storage facility only had a fibre cloth top. “The fire broke out at 11.30pm and three fire tenders managed to douse the flames at 3am. But we found the two charred bodies on Tuesday morning while clearing the structure,” M N Anucheth, deputy commissioner of police (west division), said. The site belonged to Venkatappa, who had rented it out to Naseer. The duo, employed by Naseer, slept amid waste clothes. “We’ve filed a case against Naseer based on a complaint by Manjunath, a neighbours, whose house was damaged in the fire,” Anucheth added. Police booked Naseer under IPC sections 354a (causing death due to negligence), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substances with intent to destroy house) and 427 (mischief causing damage amounting to more than Rs 50).



Fire at Southern Railway building in Chennai



CHENNAI: A minor fire broke out on the fourth floor of Southern Railway’s NGO annexe building in Chennai – which houses divisional railway manager’s office – on Tuesday morning. Two fire tenders rushed to the spot and put out the blaze in an hour. A cleaning staff detected the fire around 8.35am. The main power was immediately switched off, and fire and rescue services personnel were alerted. Fire extinguishers in the building were also used to douse the blaze. In a statement, the Southern Railway said, “There is no damage to the building. Damage was restricted to a small area on the fourth floor, mainly to a few computer terminals. An officer-level inquiry has been ordered to find out the cause of the fire. Possibility of electrical short circuit cannot be ruled out”.



International News



Nearly 200 dead in Syria enclave as UN warns situation out of control



ARBIN (SYRIA): Air strikes hit Syria‘s Eastern Ghouta for a third straight day today, bringing the civilian death toll to nearly 200 as the UN warned the situation in the rebel enclave was spinning “out of control”. Air strikes and rocket and artillery fire have battered the rebel-held enclave since Sunday in apparent preparation for a government ground assault on the besieged region. At least 194 civilians have been killed, among them 57 children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. On Monday alone, 127 civilians, including 39 children, were killed in the bombardment – the single bloodiest day for Eastern Ghouta in four years. Fresh air strikes this morning killed at least 50 civilians, including 13 children, the Britain-based war monitor said. Held by rebels since 2012, Eastern Ghouta is the last opposition pocket around Damascus and President Bashar al-Assad is keen to retake it with an apparently imminent ground assault. The UN’s regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria Panos Moumtzis has warned that the targeting of civilians in the enclave “must stop now”. “The humanitarian situation of civilians in East Ghouta is spiraling out of control. It’s imperative to end this senseless human suffering now,” Moumtzis said yesterday. The UN has repeatedly called for a month-long ceasefire across Syria’s front lines, from Eastern Ghouta to the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in the northwest, which Turkey threatened today to lay siege to in the coming days. “February 19 was the one of the worst days that wave ever had in the history of this crisis,” said an exhausted doctor in a hospital in Eastern Ghouta. Identifying himself as Abu al-Yasar, he described treating a one-year-old brought into the Arbin hospital with blue skin and a faint pulse, rescued from under the rubble.


“I opened his mouth to put in a breathing tube and I found it packed with dirt,” Abu al-Yaar told AFP. He pulled out the dirt as fast as possible, put in the breathing tube and managed to save the baby’s life. “This is just one story from among hundreds of wounded.” The bloodshed prompted the UN children’s agency UNICEF to issue a largely blank statement today to express its anger. “We no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering and our outrage,” the agency said in a brief postscript beneath the empty space on the page. “Do those inflicting the suffering still have words to justify their barbaric acts?”. More than 400,000 people live in Eastern Ghouta, which has been surrounded by government troops since 2013. Food, medicine, and other basic necessities are nearly impossible to obtain. Eastern Ghouta is mostly held by two hardline rebel groups — Jaish al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman — though jihadists have a smaller foothold. The factions often fire rockets and mortar rounds into residential neighbourhoods of east Damascus. At least four people were killed today and 15 wounded by rebel fire on the capital, state television reported. Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the government, today said that the bombing campaign “comes ahead of a vast operation on Ghouta, which may start on the ground at any moment”. Both Al-Watan and the Observatory had earlier reported ongoing negotiations for the withdrawal of jihadists from the enclave.


But the escalating bombardment suggests the regime will likely opt for a ground assault. It already waged a ferocious five-day air assault on Eastern Ghouta earlier this month that left around 250 civilians dead and hundreds wounded. More than 340,000 people have been killed since the civil war erupted in 2011 when protests against Assad’s government were brutally crushed. An array of rebels, some of them jihadist, have since carved out zones of control as have the Kurdish minority, and the government and its allies. Turkey has been waging an air and ground offensive against the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin just across the border for the past month. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today defended the operations slow progress, saying it was to avoid putting the lives of both Turkish troops and civilians needlessly at risk. He told parliament Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies would lay siege to the town of Afrin “in the coming days”. Ankara says the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG), which controls Afrin, is a “terrorist” offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency in southeastern Turkey since 1984.



Libya coastguard rescues 441 migrants from drifting boats



TRIPOLI: Libya‘s coastguard rescued 441 migrants in two separate operations as their boats drifted off the western coast, the navy and a doctor said on Tuesday. Thirty-five women and 16 children were among 324 illegal migrants rescued in one of the operations on Monday with help from a fishing boat, a navy statement said. The migrants, from countries including Chad, Nigeria, Mali and Libya, were drifting in two inflatable boats about seven nautical miles from Zuwara near the Tunisian border after the engines failed, it said.


The coastguard also rescued 117 migrants, including five women and two babies, off the coast of Zawiya, west of the capital Tripoli, on Monday, doctor Abdel Aziz al-Misrati of the charity International Medical Corps told AFP. Rocked by lawlessness since the NATO-backed 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, Libya has become a key transit country for illegal migration across the Mediterranean Sea. The migrants often try to make the treacherous crossing on unseaworthy boats, hoping to reach Italy and make their way further inland in Europe and start a new life.

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