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12 girls schools burnt down in Pakistan’s restive Gilgit-Baltistan

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…As 7 rebels, Indian soldier killed in Kashmir fighting***

Twelve schools, half of them all-girls’, have been burnt down by unidentified militants in coordinated attacks in Pakistan’s restive Gilgit-Baltistan, triggering protest by local residents who sought safety for educational institutions which are often attacked by terrorists, officials said on Friday.

The schools in Chilas town, about 130-kilometre from Gilgit, were targeted late on Thursday night by the militants who set them on fire and damaged school property across Diamer district, police said.

Superintendent of Police Diamer Roy Ajmal told media that 12 schools, half of them girls’ school, were targeted by rebels who fled after the attack.

“Police have launched probe and security forces are searching for the culprits in the area,” he said.

Commissioner Diamer region Abdul Waheed Shah said no proof of a bomb attack on any school had been found so far.

Officials also said that some of the schools attacked by the miscreants were still under construction.

Following the attacks, local residents staged a protest at Siddique Akbar Chowk demanding the arrest of culprits and seeking safety for educational institutes which are often targeted by the militants.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

However, the Taliban militants have attacked hundreds of schools in north-western Pakistan in the past.

Girls’s schools are often attacked in the northern areas of Pakistan. In December 2011, at least two girls’ schools were partially damaged in low-intensity explosions in Chilas.

Earlier that year, unidentified assailants had also blown up two girls’ schools.

In 2004, girls’ schools in Chilas came under a string of attacks. Nine schools of which eight were girls’ schools were attacked and destroyed in five days in the area in February.

Terrorists have also blown up educational institutions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

According to a report, about 1,500 schools have been destroyed in the tribal belt during the last 10 years.

Nobel Prize winner and education activist Malala Yousafzai was also shot by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ education in the Swat Valley.

In 2017, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its report stated that attacks by the Taliban and other militant groups disrupted the education of hundreds of thousands of children, particularly girls, in Pakistan.

In the meantime, at least seven rebels and an Indian army soldier were killed in gunbattles in disputed Kashmir, triggering violent protests by residents opposed to Indian rule, officials said Saturday.

Army soldiers and counterinsurgency police cordoned off a neighborhood in the suburbs of southern Shopian town overnight, leading to an exchange of fire with rebels, police said. One militant was killed overnight while four more died early Saturday.

The fighting sparked protests and clashes as hundreds of residents tried to march to the site of the battle to help the militants escape. Government forces fired warning shots, shotgun pellets and tear gas at the stone-throwing protesters, injuring at least 15 people, three of them critically.

Separately, two rebels and a soldier were killed in the northwestern Sopore area on Friday, authorities said.

Meanwhile, security guards posted at the residence of Farooq Abdullah, India’s member of parliament and Kashmir’s former top elected official, shot and killed a young man after he allegedly forced his entry into the residence on Saturday, top police officer S.P. Vaid said.

Vaid said the man traveling in a car was unarmed and gatecrashed into the residence in southern Jammu city. He scuffled with security guards before he was shot to death.

Abdullah was not at the residence.

The slain man’s family rejected the police version of the incident, saying that the residence was not on his route to the gym where he had gone in the morning. They sought an independent probe. There was no independent account of the shooting.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety.

Most Kashmiris support the rebel cause that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control. In recent years, mainly young Kashmiris have displayed open solidarity with rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations.

Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

Zee with additional report from Fox

Foreign News

Sri Lankan President Thanks Seychelles Defence Forces For Rescuing Sri Lankan Vessel From Somali Pirates

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President Ramkalawan says Seychellois military boarded boat with utmost courage to take complete control

 The Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF) Special Forces and Seychelles Coast Guards on board Coast Guards vessel Topaz led a successful operation to regain control of a Sri Lankan vessel hijacked by armed Somali pirates.

Seychellois special military forces boarded the boat with utmost courage to take complete control of the vessel and rescue our Sri Lankan brothers.

The Commander in Chief of the Seychelles, President Wavel Ramkalawan has spoken to the Chief of Defence Forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette to congratulate the Special Forces and Coast Guards team on a well-executed and successful mission.

“This is the spirit of the Seychelles Defence Forces. Professionalism, courage, and bravery are the tenets of the new spirit in the force. Though small, we will make our contribution to attaining maritime security, peace, and determination in the fight against terrorism to ensure that the world, especially in our part of the Indian Ocean remains a safe and peaceful region. Once again, I reiterate the  pride and confidence of the Seychellois nation in the Seychelles Defence Forces.”

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GoG: Promoting Trans-boundary Management For Sustainable Socio-Economic Development

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…Mission builds upon previous efforts by AU-IBAR in the beneficiary countries (Benin and Togo) for the national validation of the report on the State of the Transboundary Marine Environment (SoME)

NAIROBI, Kenya, January 23, 2024/ — From January 21st to 27th, 2024, AU-IBAR is on a mission in the republics of Benin and Togo. The mission is dedicated to supporting the implementation of a Transboundary Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) initiative between the two nations. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), under the project “Conservation of Aquatic Biodiversity within the Framework of the Africa Blue Economy Strategy,” this initiative holds the promise of fostering socio-economic development through the judicious use of marine resources.

Collaborative Efforts: AU-IBAR is collaborating with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) body, the Abidjan Convention, and the World Bank-funded West African Coastal Area Management (WACA) Project. The SIDA-funded project, implemented by AU-IBAR, involves an assessment to map the extent of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) usage in Africa as a management tool for the conservation of aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems in the west, central, and northern regions of Africa.

Mission Objectives: This mission builds upon previous efforts by AU-IBAR in the beneficiary countries (Benin and Togo) for the national validation of the report on the State of Transboundary Marine Environment (SoME). The current objective is to secure joint expert validation of the SoME report and obtain high-level political endorsement for the provisions of the jointly validated report, demonstrating the commitment of both countries to the cause. Participants in the joint validation workshop include WACA project-nominated committee members from Benin and Togo, representatives from the Abidjan Convention, and government authorities from both nations, alongside relevant AU-IBAR staff.

Political Commitment: The opening statements during the joint meeting saw representatives from the Governments of Benin and Togo, the Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention, and the representative of the Director of AU-IBAR express unwavering commitment to the transboundary marine management process. Both the Director of AU-IBAR and the Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention reiterated their support for the Governments of Benin and Togo in realizing their shared vision for the sustainable management of coastal and marine resources in the designated shared maritime boundary.

Key Outcomes: The pinnacle achievement of the joint meeting is the validation of the study report on the state of the marine environment between Benin and Togo. This validation marks a significant milestone towards establishing the transboundary MSP between the two countries. AU-IBAR Director, DR Huyam Salih, emphasized that this accomplishment is a crucial step forward in enhancing aquatic biodiversity conservation and environmental protection in the Gulf of Guinea.

Conclusion: The joint expert consultation workshop serves as a testament to the collaborative efforts aimed at promoting transboundary management of shared marine aquatic ecosystems in the Gulf of Guinea. The validated report and political commitment from Benin and Togo are integral to realizing the socio-economic development potential inherent in the sustainable use of marine resources. As AU-IBAR continues its mission, the hope is that this initiative will serve as a model for other regions seeking to harmonize efforts for the conservation and management of their shared marine ecosystems.
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U.S.-British Strikes In Yemen Left 5 Dead, Say Houthi Rebels

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The U.S. and British military strikes in Yemen have left five Houthi fighters dead and six others injured, the Iran-aligned rebels said on Friday, vowing retaliation.

“The American and British enemy bears full responsibility for its criminal aggression,’’ the Houthi military spokesman Yehya Saree said in a statement.

Saree said the massive attack had targeted several Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen including the capital Sana’a.

“It will not pass unanswered and without punishment.

“The Yemeni Armed Forces will not hesitate to target sources of threat and all hostile targets on the ground and in the sea,’’ he said. 

  • dpa
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