News Flash – 29 December 2017

National News



14 dead, several injured in massive fire at Mumbai’s Kamala Mills


MUMBAI: At least 14 people were killed and many injured in a late night fire at a multi-storey building in Kamala Mills Compound in Lower Parel in Mumbai, an official said. The fire broke out shortly after midnight on the third floor of the four-storeyed building on Senapati Bapat Marg, a civic official told media persons. The majority of those killed were women attending a birthday party at a rooftop restaurant, police said. The 28-year-old woman celebrating her birthday was among those who died. The fire department received a call around 0030 local time on Friday, an official said. An FIR has been registered against the restaurant. The case has been filed under the charges of culpable homicide under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).


Restaurants and bars on the top floor of the building gutted in fire.


The injured were taken to the KEM, and Sion hospitals, the official from the BMC disaster management unit said. Several fire tenders, water tankers, emergency ambulance and police personnel rushed to the spot for rescue operation, he said. Kamala Mills, a refurbished industrial compound, houses swanky restaurants and other commercial establishments. The fire in the building started on the top floor and engulfed the structure in less than 30 minutes, local media reported. Several media outlets also use the compound for their offices and at least three national news channels were affected by the fire, including Bennett Coleman and Co’s Times Now and ET Now. According to the official, the cause of the fire remains to be ascertained.



Western Railway doubles women security personnel



MUMBAI: Western Railway has sought the assistance of Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) to assist Railway Protection Force in crowd management on foot over-bridges and has doubled the number of women security personnel on Western Railway. This moves comes in the wake of the stampede at Elphinstone Road station which claimed 23 lives on September 29. With the extra staff, RPF’s original strength of 980 has now risen by 33%. Announcing induction of extra force in RPF on Thursday, WR general manager AK Gupta said: “We have inducted 232 MSSC personnel in RPF for platform patrol and crowd management at 34 FOBs, including the one at Elphinstone”. “The MSSC force’s role will be clear the station area, specially FOBs,” he said. MSSC’s managing director Sanjay Barve said: “They are a young force with maximum age of 26 years, and are trained for crowd management”. Gupta said that women security was a top priority for which the number of personnel has gone up from 95 to 192. “We are inducting 97 lady home guards to assist RPF for security in lady’s coaches and to ensure that station premises are safe for women round-the clock,” he said. The women security personnel will also ensure commuters form queues in front of ladies coaches at Andheri station. They will also be deployed to prevent blocking of door by passengers.



6 coaches derail at New Delhi station, no one hurt



NEW DELHI: Six coaches of 12582 Manduadih Express derailed at the New Delhi Railway Station on Thursday night. No casualties were reported, authorities said. The incident took place at 11pm when the train was entering platform 13. Minimal damage was reported as the engine had slowed down sufficiently while entering the platform. Senior officials, along with RPF, rushed to the spot and have started an investigation to determine the cause of the incident. Officials said another train has been arranged for the passengers that will depart at 1am. “The track is being checked to ascertain the cause of the derailment, following which an investigation will be launched,” said a railway official.



Hyderabad witnesses 13% dip in overall crime, but goes high on drugs; cybercrime spurt too

Hyderabad police commissioner VV Srinivas Rao addresses the annual press conference on Thursday.



HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad police recorded more drug cases this year than in 2016 even as the overall crime came down by 13%. There has been a steady increase in cases registered under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, with 27 in 2015, 77 in 2016 and finally 94 in 2017, the data released by the city police revealed. Speaking at the year-end media conference on Thursday, Hyderabad police commissioner VV Srinivas Rao said, “We seized 914 kg ganja this year and nearly 8000 grams of opium. Police conducted 69 raids and arrested 142 accused, including 10 Nigerians, three South Africans and one Ghana national”. Footage from community CCTV cameras played a prominent role in cracking important cases. Currently, 1.6 lakh CCTV cameras are connected to local command and control centre at police stations and zonal control rooms. “A total 3,256 cases were detected through CCTV footage. Though the department is facing 40% staff shortage, crime prevention and detection was excellent,” Srinivas said.


There was a reduction of 14% in grave crimes like murder, rape and homicide, but a rise in the number of abductions and robberies. The number of robberies jumped from 79 last years to 117. Police received 25,701 complaints through the Hawk Eye application, of which 23,651 were resolved. Through the app, which currently has 6.5 lakh users, they also received 15,000 traffic violation complaints and 1,702 complaints on crime against women. “Nearly 1,234 complaints through the app were about violations by police official. We have resolved most of the cases,” said Srinivas. Though the number of drunk driving cases remained almost same as last year, traffic police managed to bring down fatal accidents by nearly 23%. “The fatal accidents have come down from 405 last years to 285. One of the reasons is the introduction of penalty point system. People are also more aware of helmet rule,” said AV Ranganath, deputy commissioner of police (Traffic), Hyderabad.



Thieves decamp with cash, valuables worth Rs 15L



Ahmedabad: A Chandkheda resident has filed a complaint with Chandkheda police for theft of valuables worth Rs 15.25 lakh. The theft occurred in a matter of three hours. The thieves circumvented door having a password-protected lock and entered the house after breaking a window. According to investigators, Arvind Patel, 43, a resident of Amrakunj Lakeview Bungalows, lives in a joint family. On December 26 he along with his family went to a relative’s residence for dinner from 7pm to 10pm. When they came back they found a window ajar with stopper and frame broken. “The thieves entered the bedrooms and broke the wooden cupboards to steal Rs 4 lakh cash along with gold ornaments worth Rs 11.25 lakh belonging to different family members. Probe has been initiated with help from forensic experts,” said an official.



International News



At least 40 killed, 30 wounded in Afghanistan blast: Interior ministry

Security personnel arrive outside the site of a suicide attack in Kabul. Authorities say an attack took place on a Shiite cultural center in the Afghan capital killing and wounding dozens.



KABUL: At least 40 people were killed and dozens 30 others got wounded in multiple blasts at a Shiite cultural centre in Kabulon Thursday, officials said, in the latest deadly violence to hit the Afghan capital. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the Taliban was quick to deny involvement in the assault near the Afghan Voice Agency, a media outlet which earlier reports had suggested could have been the target. Deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP the blasts were in fact aimed at the Shiite Tabayan cultural centre. “A ceremony was being held to mark the 38th anniversary of Soviet invasion in Afghanistan when the explosion went off,” he said. “We have 40 killed, 30 wounded, but this is not the final toll. It might go up”. Rahimi said the main blast was followed by two smaller bomb explosions that did not cause casualties. Kabul has become one of the deadliest places in war-torn Afghanistan for civilians in recent months, as the Taliban step up their attacks and the Islamic State group (IS) seeks to expand its presence in the country. Friday’s assault comes days after a suicide bomber killed six civilians in an attack near an Afghan intelligence agency compound in the city, which was claimed by IS. The Middle Eastern jihadist group has gained ground in Afghanistan since it first appeared in the region in 2015 and has scaled up its attacks in Kabul, including on security installations and the country’s Shiite minority.


A hospital official told local TV that 18 wounded had been brought to his facility. “Five of the wounded are in critical condition and our doctors are working to save their lives,” Sabir Nasib, head of Istiqlal hospital, said. A man attending the anniversary ceremony said he heard a “big boom”. “We do not know the numbers (of casualties). When the explosion happened we immediately fled,” he told Tolo News. Mohammad Hasan Rezayee, a university student also at the ceremony, told Tolo News he had suffered burns to his face in the blast. “After the blast there was fire and smoke inside the building and everyone was pleading for help,” he said. Photos posted on Afghan Voice Agency’s Facebook page showed the inside of a compound with debris and bodies lying on the ground. Security in the city has been ramped up since May 31 when a massive truck bomb ripped through the diplomatic quarter, killing some 150 people and wounding around 400 others — mostly civilians. Afghan media has previously been targeted by militants, underlying the risks faced by journalists in the war-torn country. In November an attack on Afghan broadcaster Shamshad TV in Kabul, claimed by the Islamic State group, left at least one person dead and two dozen others wounded.



Bomb kills 6, including army colonel, in Egypt’s Sinai



EL-ARISH: A roadside bomb planted by Islamic terrorists in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula hit a military vehicle on Thursday, killing six people, including a senior army officer, security and hospital officials said. They said the bomb struck a military convoy that was patrolling an area just outside the town of Bir al-Abd in northern Sinai, killing a colonel who was the town’s military commander, a second officer and four soldiers. Three more soldiers were wounded in the attack, they said. Bir al-Abd was the scene of the deadliest terrorist attack against civilians in Egypt’s modern history, when militants killed 311 worshippers in a mosque on Nov. 24. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has since vowed to use “brute force” to crush the long-running insurgency in northern Sinai and given the military and police three months to restore “security and stability” there.


In a separate attack, a rocket-propelled grenade hit a police armored vehicle in central el-Arish, a coastal city in northern Sinai, killing one conscript. A firefight later erupted between the police and militants, and a civilian driving in the area was caught in the crossfire and killed, said the officials. Three militants were killed in the gun battle, they added. Egyptian security forces have been battling militants in Sinai for years, but the insurgency picked up steam following the ouster in 2013 of an elected Islamist president whose one year in office proved divisive. The insurgency is led by a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

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