Punjab Politics

SAD asks Punjab CS to probe portraits of Congress MLA in Sangrur Police Station

SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema
December 05, 2017 04:11 PM

CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) vice president Dr Daljit Singh Cheema today asked Punjab chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh to order an immediate probe into the installation of portraits of the State chief minister and the local legislator by youth Congress activists in two police stations in Sangrur yesterday.
Dr Cheema, who also forwarded pictures of youth Congress activists boasting about this "achievement" on social media along with his representation to the chief secretary, said it was shocking that pictures of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Sangrur mla Vijayinder Singla had been installed by Congressmen in the offices of SHOs of the City and Sadar police stations of Sangrur in the presence of the SHOs.
The SAD leader asked the chief secretary to order removal of the portraits immediately besides issuing directions to the civil and police administration about the code for installation for such photographs.
In his letter to the chief secretary, the SAD leader said the incident of installation of the pictures proved that the politicization of the State police was complete. "It also shows that the Congress party has taken over the thanas and is virtually running them".
Speaking about the illegality of Congress workers installing pictures of their leaders in police stations, Dr Cheema said no one could object to the installation of the CM's portrait but it should be installed by the administration and not Congress workers. He said there was no provision to install the portrait of the local mla in police stations. "If one were to follow this logic then the portraits of SAD and even AAP legislators should be installed in all police stations in their respective constituencies", he added.
Explaining further, the Akali leader said people often visited police stations to register complaints, which could be against the local mla or even his close supporters. "What justice can they expect if the picture of the local mla is put above the head of the SHO?", he asked adding the Punjab police was a professional force which should not only be allowed to remain fair but should also appear to be acting fairly always.

National News

My illness delayed Goa going plastic free by 2018: Parrikar

June 18, 2018 03:06 PM

Stating that his mission to make Goa plastic free by 2018 was delayed because of his illness, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday said the state government will take strong steps to achieve the target.

"We will take powerful steps to ensure that Goa is plastic free by 2018. Because of my illness there was a delay, but I want to tell the people that these things need to happen," Parrikar said in his first public speech at a Goa Revolution Day event in Panaji, after his return from the US where he was being treated for advanced pancreatic cancer.

Parrikar, in his brief speech, also said that even educated people littered plastic because they lacked knowledge and vowed to make Goa a knowledge-rich society.

"Educated people throw plastic and dirt in the Mandovi river. When educated people do this, there is a reason behind it. Lack of knowledge is the reason," he said.

"We are educated, but we do not have knowledge. Let us not have mere education, but knowledge in Goa. Education gives us information, knowledge takes you beyond it.

World News

Australia slip to 34-year low in ICC ODI rankings

June 18, 2018 03:03 PM

MELBOYRNE: Australia slipped to a 34-year low, dropping to the sixth position on the ICC's latest ODI rankings table after losing the opening two fixtures of the ongoing five-match rubber against England.

The Kangaroos will need to win at least one of the three remaining games in the series to climb back above Pakistan to fifth.

According to, the last time Australia found themselves in sixth position was way back in January 1984.

It has been a swift fall for the defending world champions in the recent past.

Less than two years ago, they were ranked No.1 heading into an away series against South Africa, where they were whitewashed 5-0.

Thereafter, the five-time world champions have lost 13 of their 15 completed ODIs, in which time they have lost three successive bilateral series -- to New Zealand, India and England -- and exited the Champions Trophy at the group stage.

England, India and South Africa currently occupy the top three spots in the ICC One-Day International (ODI) rankings.

National News

Jaitley lauds GDP growth, says job creation is on track

June 18, 2018 03:01 PM

DELHI: In yet another long blog, Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Monday lauded the fourth quarter GDP growth of 7.7 per cent saying the future looked much brighter than the past.

"The fourth quarter result of GDP data showed a phenomenal 7.7 per cent growth rate and has established India firmly as the fastest growing global economy. This trend, according to experts, is likely to continue for the next few years, he wrote.

"With structural reforms like demonetisation, the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the enforcement of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), we had two challenging quarters," Jaitley said adding that "those who predicted a two per cent decline in GDP growth have been conclusively proved wrong."

He said a distinguished predecessor of his had feared that he may have to live his future in poverty. "We have enabled every Indian to be a part of the world's fastest growing economy. The future looks much brighter than the past. This trend is likely to continue for some years," Jaitley said.

He tried to address various economic issues concerning people from rising oil price, structural reforms and job creation and praised the social sector schemes and the rural development programmes launched by the government.

"These involve legislations which are path breaking and development works in roads, railways, housing, power, sanitation -- which yield high social benefits -- require high level of government expenditure. This type of government spending promotes growth. This is what we are witnessing today," he said.

Jaitley who underwent kidney replacement recently is still recovering and is yet to rejoin his office.

On Job job creation Jaitley said: "An analysis of the data released clearly shows that the construction sector is expanding by double digits. It is a job creating sector. Investment is increasing. Domestic investment is also increasing. The FDI is at an unprecedented level."

He said the IBC had unlocked value in non-performing assets. "Fixed capital formation is growing. Manufacturing is expanding. We are spending huge amounts on infrastructure creation. Expenditure on rural projects has increased in a big way. The social sector schemes, more particularly the financial inclusion programmes, have created a wave of self-employment. Each one of these is a high job creating sector," he asserted.

He said if India remains a tax non-compliant nation, both Centre and state government would have very little to spend. They will borrow more and spend less. "Demonetisation, GST, digitisation, Aadhaar and the anti-black money measures are leading to gradual formalisation of the Indian economy."

Talking about tax collection, Jaitley said: "We have reached 6.86 crore income tax return filers last year. The number of income tax returns post demonetisation show a 25 per cent growth. Even the corporate returns have increased by 17 per cent."

He said that GST, after a few weeks of its implementation became problem free, and was leading to higher tax collection. "With higher revenues, the Government has been able to spend more on infrastructure, rural India and social sector schemes and yet maintained fiscal prudence and keeping the fiscal deficit on downward glide path," he added.

"The last four years have seen an improvement in central government's tax-GDP ratio from 10 per cent to 11.5 per cent. There is an increase of 1.46 percentage points. Almost half of this, 0.72 per cent of GDP, accounts for an increase in non-oil tax-GDP ratio. The level of non-oil taxes to GDP at 9.8 per cent in 2017-18 is the highest since 2007-08 a year in which our revenue position was boosted by buoyant international environment," the minister said.

He said despite higher compliances in new system, as far as the non-oil taxes are concerned, "we are still far from being a tax complaint society. Salaried employees is one category of tax compliant assessees. Most other sections still have to improve their track record. The effort for next few years has to be to replicate the last four years and improve India's tax to GDP ratio by another 1.5 per cent."

Finally speaking about the spiraling fuel prices, which is hurting every common man, he said: "if people pay their taxes honestly the high dependence on oil products for taxation eventually comes down."

Taking a dig at former finance minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram over his comment on oil, Jaitley said: "Another distinguished predecessor of mine had stated that the tax on oil should be cut by Rs 25 per litre. He never endeavoured to do so himself. This is a "Trap" suggestion. It is intended to push India into an unmanageable debt -- something which the UPA Government left as its legacy."

He the the economy and the markets rewarded structural reforms, fiscal prudence, and macro-economic stability. "They punish fiscal indiscipline and irresponsibility. The transformation from UPA's 'policy paralysis' to the NDA's 'fastest growing economy' conclusively demonstrates this," Jaitley said.

World News

Poland celebrates 4th International Yoga Day

June 18, 2018 02:57 PM

WARSAW: Around three thousand people on Sunday celebrated the Fourth International Yoga Day in Poland, a country where yoga has almost become a way of life for many citizens.

The celebrations were not limited to Warsaw, the Polish capital. Many big and small cities, among them Krakow, Wroclaw, Poznan, and Lodz, also marked the event, reports received here said.

Unlike the last three years, the main venue in Warsaw this time took place in the historical Laziniki park, where people thronged throughout the day to take part in the display of asanas or yogic teachings. Kirti Gahlawat, a yoga instructor who is attached to the Embassy of India was the main person to help people to understand the intricacies of this ancient art. She was the prima donna of the main event.

Newly-appointed Indian ambassador Tesweng Namgyal, a yoga enthusiast himself, led the campaign in the Polish capital from 10 a.m. Many foreigners from other countries also participated in the unique event.

Addressing the gathering, Namgyal expressed his deep satisfaction with the response of the people across the Polish nation.

"Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to make yoga a universal phenomenon is one of the biggest accomplishments of his tenure. It is because of him that the United Nations had declared June 21 to be the International Day of Yoga in 2015," Namgyal said.

"Since then the yoga day is being celebrated around that date," he added.

"By practicing yoga the policymakers of the world can generate more trust and confidence in one and other. The world can overcome many unnecessary prejudices", observed J.J. Singh, president of the Indo-Polish Chamber and Commerce (IPCC).

Singh is one of the main organisers for the past four years. It is through his efforts the art of yoga has reached many corners of this nation.

There are more than 800 yoga centres in Poland where regular courses are conducted throughout the year, mainly by the Polish teachers. There are more than a hundred yoga schools in Warsaw itself.

Ambassador Boguslaw Zakrzewski, a famous Indophile is of the opinion that "yoga prompts you to take an inner journey and helps you to maintain a balanced view of life and world".

Zakrzewski has translated five volumes of Indian poetry into Polish.

Some Indian restaurants put up stalls to entice the Poles with Indian cuisine. Samosas and tandoori chicken, along with mango lassi, were in great demand.

The event was concluded by a sitar recital.

National News

Using policemen for personal work won't be allowed: Kerala CM

June 18, 2018 02:53 PM

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday made it clear that senior police officials won't be allowed to use policemen for their personal work.

Vijayan made the remarks in the Assembly in reply to a submission by Congress legislator K.S. Sabarinath.

Vijayan pointed out that this practise first began during the British Raj and still prevailed seven decades later.

"The matter is now being seriously looked into. Strict action will be taken," said the Chief Minister.

"The basic human rights of all people will be protected and we promise that the state government will not tolerate any violation."

Around 2,000 policemen are currently deployed by officials at their homes, and often they end up doing menial work.

Additional Director General of Police Sudesh Kumar, the chief of the Kerala Armed Police Battalion, was shunted out on Saturday following complaints of bad behaviour and violation of rules by him and his family members.

It was alleged last week that Kumar's daughter and wife misbehaved with the driver of his official vehicle -- policeman Gavaskar.

Kumar's daughter is accused of abusing Gavaskar and hitting him with her mobile telephone after he reportedly came late to pick them up. He is now warded in the Medical College Hospital.

MLA Sabarinath said Gavaskar and his family hailed from his constituency.

"It has now surfaced that the lady hit Gavaskar seven times with her mobile under his eye and on his neck... It was only after 10 hours that the police took a statement from him while the police went and took her statement first," he said.

Vijayan told the Assembly that that a Crime Branch officer was probing the case.

"There will be no undue delay in the probe," he added after Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the case should not be allowed to drag on indefinitely.

National News

108 migrants from Pakistan get Indian citizenship

June 18, 2018 02:45 PM

JODHPUR: A total of 108 migrants from Pakistan received Indian citizenship here in Rajasthan on Sunday.

Jodhpur District collector Ravi Kumar Surpur distributed the citizenship certificates to the former Pakistanis.

Most of these migrant-turned-Indian citizens were teary eyed when they got the certificates.

The surroundings of the Town Hall where they were given the certificates echoed with slogans such as "Bharat Mata Ki Jai".

Hindu Singh Soda, President of Seemant Lok Sangathan who has played an active role in highlighting the plight of the migrants, said directions to give them citizenship were issued way back in December 2016.

He said some 6,000 people were still awaiting Indian citizenship.

World News

Taliban resume attacks on Afghan forces as truce ends

June 18, 2018 12:53 PM

KABUL: The Taliban on Monday resumed attacks on Afghan security forces after the armed outfit's three-day ceasefire ended the previous night, police said.

Taliban militants launched early morning attacks on security checkpoints in Ghormach, Qaisar, Pashtunkot and Shirin Tagab districts and sporadic fighting has been continuing, Xinhua news agency quoted a police officer as saying.

The Afghanistan government announced a ceasefire from June 12 to June 19 to encourage the Taliban to support the national reconciliation process.

Reciprocating the step, the armed group announced a three-day truce from Friday, the first day of Eid-ul-Fitr, till Sunday midnight.

On Sunday, an Afghan Security Council meeting chaired by President Ashraf Ghani extended the ceasefire for another 10 days.

However, the armed outfit refused to extend the ceasefire and instead in an online statement released overnight Sunday asked its fighters to resume fighting against Afghan and foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan.

National News

Tripura Assembly to begin budget session on Tuesday

June 18, 2018 12:50 PM

AGARTALA: The Tripura Assembly will begin its 11-day budget session from Tuesday, Speaker Rebati Mohan Das said here on Monday.

"Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Debbarma would lay the budget for the current fiscal (2018-19) on the first day of the 11-day session of the Assembly," Das told the media.

He said two important bills were likely to be submitted during the session which would continue till June 29.

Opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist legislators are likely to raise the issue of "food and job crisis in the rural, interior and tribal areas".

"A severe crisis of food and rural jobs is putting the people in the rural, interior and tribal areas in a harsh distress condition while the state government remained inactive and busy with other non-serious issues," Deputy Opposition Leader Badal Choudhury said.

Congress-turned-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Biswabandhu Sen is likely to be the Deputy Speaker of the assembly unopposed.

CPI-M Chief Whip Tapan Chakraborty said the part was yet to decide to field any candidate for the Deputy Speaker's election.

"Our legislature party would meet here on Monday evening to decide the strategies for the assembly session," he told IANS.

This is the second session of the Tripura assembly after the BJP-Indigenous People's Front of Tripura alliance came to power on March 9 after trouncing the CPI-M led Left Front in the February 18 assembly polls.


Ranbir an inspiration for the coming generation: Paresh Rawal

June 18, 2018 12:30 PM

MUMBAI: While Ranbir Kapoor has been vocal about how inspiring it has been to work with Paresh Rawal in "Sanju", the veteran actor believes the young star is an inspiration for the new generation.

Ranbir and Paresh bring alive the father-son bond of Sanjay Dutt and Sunil Dutt on-screen in "Sanju", a biopic directed by Rajkumar Hirani.

Praising Ranbir, Paresh told IANS: "I have worked with various actors, but working with Ranbir is something else. He is a very talented actor. And let me tell you, playing Sanjay Dutt, whom we can see every now and then on-screen, is certainly not easy for any actor.

"The way Ranbir internalised and delivered the character... He is flawless. He is an inspirational actor for the coming generation."

Working with Hirani for the first time was also special for Paresh.

"I think I am lucky to be a part of this special film. I was destined to be a part of a film where some of the finest talents like Raju (Hirani), Abhijat Joshi and Ranbir are a part of. I was supposed to work in ‘Munna Bhai MBBS' but it did not work out. I was offered the role that later Boman Irani played in the film.

"But such things happen, and I had in my mind that one day, I will work with him (Hirani). Finally, it has happened with 'Sanju'," he said.

J&K News

2 militants killed in J&K

June 18, 2018 12:14 PM

SRINAGAR: Two militants were killed on Monday by the Army in an anti-terror operation in Jammu and Kashmir's Bandipora, a defence official said.

"Two terrorists were killed today in the Panar forest area," Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia told IANS here.

The Army surrounded the area after militants fired at a patrol party on June 9.

On June 13, two militants and a soldier were killed in the operation.

Delhi News

Kejriwal continues sit-in protest

June 18, 2018 11:53 AM

NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday continued his sit-in protest at the Lt. Governor's residence, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "give a green signal" to the IAS officers to end their strike.

"I wud urge Hon'ble PM to give green signal to them (IAS officers) to end it now," Kejriwal tweeted.

Kejriwal along with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and cabinet ministers Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai were camping in the Raj Niwas since June 11 demanding a direction to the IAS officers working in the Delhi administration to end their undeclared 'strike' and wanted the Centre to approve Delhi government's proposal to deliver ration to the poor at their houses.

Jain, who was on an indefinite hunger strike since June 12, was shifted to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital here late Sunday night.

In another tweet on Monday, Kejriwal said: "Last night, Jain's ketone levels increased and he complained of headache, body ache, difficulty in breathing and passing urine. So, he had to be shifted to hospital. Now, he is doing well."

He said Sisodia, who started his indefinite hunger strike a day after Jain, is fine and "doing well".

Kejriwal's appeal on Monday was backed by actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha.

"...Kejriwal has certainly shown statesmanship and has appealed the officers to get back to work. He has moved two steps. Hope the so-called strike of the bureaucrats ends now... After the appeal of Kejriwal, I trust the Prime Minister will also intervene and get the strike over. It will be a good step by him for the people of Delhi and democracy at large. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp) MP tweeted.

On Sunday, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) members, along with Communist Party of India-Marxist activists, marched from Mandi House metro station towards the Prime Minister's residence but were stopped by the police at Parliament Street.

Four non-BJP Chief Ministers - West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan, Karnataka's H.D. Kumaraswamy and Andhra Pradesh's N. Chandrababu Naidu - met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday at the NITI Aayog's fourth general council meeting and urged him to immediately resolve the problems of the Delhi government.

They have extended their support to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's sit-in.

World News

Melania Trump speaks against border child separations

June 18, 2018 11:47 AM

WASHINGTON: US First Lady Melania Trump has spoken against a controversial administration policy that separates immigrant parents from their children at the Mexico border, media reports said.

"Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart," her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Sunday night.

"She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

The policy charges every adult caught crossing the border illegally with federal crimes, as opposed to referring those with children mainly to immigration courts, as previous administrations did, reports CNN.

Because the government is charging the parents in the criminal justice system, children are separated from them, without a clear procedure for their reunification aside from hotlines the parents can call to try to track their children down.

The policy to refer all adults for charges was publicly announced May 7, but the Justice Department announced it would prosecute 100 per cent of the cases referred to it at the beginning of April.

Nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and guardians and placed into holding facilities between April 19 and May 31 of this year, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed the Democrats for the situation despite his administration instituting the policy change.

"Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!" he tweeted on Saturday.

"This is why we need more Republicans elected in November. Democrats are good at only three things, High, High Crime and Obstruction. Sad!"

The policy has garnered widespread condemnation.

Former First Lady Laura Bush labelled it as "immoral".

"This zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart," she wrote in the Washington Post.

"Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert.

"These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War Two, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in US history," she added.

On Sunday, Democratic lawmakers visited a detention centre outside New York City and headed to Texas to inspect facilities where children have been detained.

National News

Telangana rural body chief arrested for kicking woman

June 18, 2018 11:11 AM

HYDERABAD: Police in Telangana's Nizamabad district on Monday arrested the chief of a rural local body for kicking a woman over a property issue.

Mandal Parishad President (MPP) Immadi Gopi, who belongs to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), has been charged with assaulting the woman, A. Rajavva, and criminal intimidation.

The MPP, a former Maoist, kicked Rajavva in front of the public after she hit him with a sandal on Sunday.

The incident has triggered widespread condemnation after a video clip went viral on social media.

On a complaint by Gopi, the police also booked the woman and her relatives for trespass and damaging his property.


Samsung spent $13.6bn on taxes globally in 2017

June 18, 2018 11:08 AM

SEOUL: South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics spent $13.6 billion (15 trillion won) to pay taxes around the globe in 2017 -- a 70 per cent increase from a year earlier, the company's business report showed on Monday.

The record-breaking amount posted last year nearly doubled from 7.8 trillion won posted in 2015, Yonhap news agency reported.

Samsung Electronics said the South Korean government accounted for 81 per cent of the amount posted last year, with other Asian countries accounting for 10 per cent.

The tech giant posted 239.6 trillion won in sales in 2017, up 18.6 per cent on-year. Its operating profit shot up 83.6 per cent over the cited period to 53.6 trillion won.

South Korea took up 13 per cent of the sales posted in 2017, followed by North and South America with 34 per cent.

Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States accounted for 19 per cent and China held 16 per cent.

Industry watchers said while Samsung Electronics had most of its sales overseas, it is still paying most of its taxes in South Korea as it is headquartered here.

The company spent 385.6 billion won for charity projects around the world in 2017, providing support to some five million beneficiaries, the report added.

National News

Fire in container ship extinguished

June 18, 2018 11:00 AM

KOLKATA: The raging fire in MV SSL Kolkata that began on June 14 night in the Bay of Bengal was finally extinguished on Sunday, a Defence Ministry spokesperson said.

The mission, led by Wg Cdr Nikhil Mehrotra along with Flt Lt Atul Mishra, was achieved by deploying a Mi-17 V-5 helicopter.

The helicopter operated from Frazerganj Harbour helipad which, though small in size, was nearest to the location of the container vessel on fire.

With support from the Indian Coast Guard and the harbour officials, approximately 15,000 litres of water was poured over the burning ship in six shuttles.

"Being surrounded by thick smoke emanating from the ship deck, it was a huge challenge to maintain clear of the tall structures on the ship like the cargo cranes and yet deliver the water spray from an appropriate height for it to be most effective," said Wg Cdr Mehrotra.

National News

Delhi Minister Jain shifted to hospital

June 18, 2018 10:51 AM

NEW DELHI: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, who was on an indefinite hunger since Tuesday, was shifted to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital here late on Sunday night, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

In a tweet, he said Jain was shifted to the hospital due to "deteriorating health".

Jain was camping in the Raj Niwas along with Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Cabinet collegue Gopal Rai since Monday evening and had begun his fast on Tuesday.

Punjab News

7 killed in Punjab accident

June 18, 2018 10:44 AM

CHANDIGARH: At least seven people were killed on Monday when the sports utility vehicle (SUV) they were travelling in rammed into a truck near Punjab's Amritsar city, police said.

The victims included one child and three women.

Eight passengers in the SUV were returning to Delhi after a pilgrimage trip from Himachal Pradesh and the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

The accident took place near Khalchian village on the National Highway connecting Amritsar and Delhi.

The police said that a three-year-old child survived but was hospitalised in Amritsar with serious injuries.

World Health

Taliban announces end to Afghanistan Eid festival ceasefire

June 18, 2018 10:41 AM

KABUL: A widely welcomed three-day ceasefire between security forces and the Taliban in Afghanistan appears to be over, with the latter saying its militants had been ordered to take up arms again on Sunday night.

The government says it will continue a unilateral ceasefire for another 10 days, although security forces can defend themselves if attacked, a BBC report said.

There were unprecedented scenes of soldiers and Taliban insurgents hugging each other during the ceasefire.

But the ceasefire failed to end violence entirely.

At least 18 people were killed in a suicide attack in the city of Jalalabad, outside the office of the Governor of Nangarhar province while officials were meeting Taliban insurgents. Dozens were injured.

No group said it carried out the attack.

On Saturday a suicide bombing in the same province, also on a gathering of Taliban and local officials, left 36 people dead. The Islamic State group said it carried out that attack.

The militants said there would be no extension to the ceasefire and fighters would be expected to leave government-controlled areas before sunset.

In a statement, the Taliban said it had called the ceasefire to enable ordinary Afghans to enjoy a peaceful Eid, "not in response to the ceasefire of the Kabul regime".

The group hailed the success of the ceasefire as a sign of its cohesion, and reasserted its determination to seek the "withdrawal of foreign invaders and establishment of an Islamic government".

President Ashraf Ghani's plea on Saturday for the Taliban to prolong its truce has been rejected.

His office said on Sunday that the government's extended truce would still allow Afghan security forces to "defend themselves against any attack".

World Health

3 killed in Japan quake

June 18, 2018 10:36 AM

TOKYO: At least three people were killed and over 50 others injured on Monday when a an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale jolted Japan's Osaka city.

The victims comprised a nine-year-old girl and two men, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

The earthquake was recorded at 7.58 a.m. and had its hypocenter at about 13 km depth in Osaka Prefecture on the island of Honshu, the largest in the Japanese archipelago, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

However, no tsunami warning was issued, reports Efe news.

Several buildings in Osaka and Takatsuki collapsed and were on fire.

Railway services in Osaka, Shiga, Kyoto and Nara, both high speed bullet trains and local rail services, were halted.

Osaka's Kansai Airport has been shut down while its runways were being checked for damage.

The authorities said that none of the 15 nuclear reactors in this region have been affected by the quake.

The Japanese government has set up a task force to gather information related to the strong earthquake and the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, called on citizens to keep an eye on developments through the media.

Around 170,000 houses in Osaka prefecture are experiencing power outages following the quake, NHK reported.

According to the JMA, this is the first time that the Osaka prefecture has seen an earthquake of this intensity since 1923.

Japan sits on the so-called Ring of Fire, one of the most active seismic zones in the world, and experiences earthquakes frequently, which is why most infrastructure is specially designed to withstand earthquakes.

World News

US Democrats intensify fight for immigrant children

June 18, 2018 10:27 AM

WASHINGTON: US Democrat lawmakers have expanded their campaign highlighting President Donald Trump's administrations forced separation of migrant children from their families at the Mexico border, a media report said.

Against a notable silence on the part of many Republicans, the Democratic lawmakers on Sunday visited a detention centre outside New York City and headed to Texas to inspect facilities where children have been detained, reports The Washington Post.

In McAllen, Texas, where several Democratic lawmakers toured a facility, state Representative Vicente Gonzalez estimated that he saw about 100 children younger than six.

"It was orderly, but it was far from what I would call humane," he said.

Seven Democratic members of Congress spentSunday morning at the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in New Jersey, waiting nearly 90 minutes to view the facilities and visit five detained immigrants.

"This is unfair and unconstitutional," said New York Representative Adriano Espaillat.

Trump has falsely blamed the separations on a law he said was written by Democrats, The Washington Post reported.

But the separations instead largely stem from a "zero-tolerance" policy announced last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The White House also has interpreted a 1997 legal agreement and a 2008 bipartisan human trafficking bill as requiring the separation of families, a posture not taken by the previous two administrations.

Trump remained silent on the issue before tweeting on Sunday evening that Democrats should work with Republicans on an immigration solution before the midterm elections "because you are going to lose!"

US officials have said that the number of families who could be broken up might double and that the number of children who have already been taken from their parents -- 2,000 over a six-week period from April to May -- may be higher than what the administration has reported.

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