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ANP leader Haroon Bilour among 13 killed in suicide blast at Pakistan poll rally

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At least 13 people, including Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haroon Bilour, were killed and nearly 50 others injured in a suicide blast at an election gathering in Pakistan’s northwestern Peshawar city.

The blast took place shortly before midnight when Bilour along with ANP workers gathered for a corner meeting in the congested Yakatoot area.

Thirteen people were killed and 47 others were injured in the blast, confirmed officials at the Lady Reading Hospital, where the victims were shifted.

City police chief Qazi Jameel said Bilour, the ANP candidate from PK 78 constituency in Peshawar city, was among those killed.

Fireworks were being burst as Bilour arrived on the stage when the suicide bomber blew himself up. Bilour suffered serious injuries and was shifted to a hospital where he succumbed to the wounds, reports said.

Bomb disposal squad chief Shafqat Malik said eight kilos of TNT explosive was used in the blast.
Rescue teams and law enforcement agencies have reached the site of the blast and investigations into the incident are now underway.

This is the second terrorist attack on an election rally in Pakistan ahead of the July 25 general election.

Earlier this month, seven people including a candidate of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, a gathering of religious parties were injured in an explosion during an election rally near Takhtikhel also in the KPK province.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sardar Muhammad Raza strongly condemned the attack, reports said.

“This shows the weakness of our security institutions and a conspiracy against transparent elections,” he said in a statement.

Bilour was the son of senior ANP leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour who was also killed when a Pakistani Taliban bomber blew himself up at a party meet in Peshawar in 2012.

The ANP is a mainstream national party headed by Asfandyar Wali Khan the grandson of nationalist leader, Abdul Ghaffar Khan commonly referred to as Bacha Khan among the Pushtuns.

The ANP, which governed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province from 2008 to 2013, has been targeted by the TTP for carrying out operations against militant outfits in the Northwestern region of Pakistan and being secular in its ideology.

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) on Monday had told a Senate standing committee that some leading political leaders faced death threats from militant outfits ahead of the July 25 general elections in Pakistan.

The leaders include Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, the son of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Asfandayar Wali Khan, and senior leadership of other parties.

Zee

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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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