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1 killed, 5 injured in bomb attack in Iraq

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Baghdad, May 23 (IANS) An Iraqi soldier was killed and five others wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Salahudin province north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, a provincial police source said.

The incident occurred on Wednesday when a roadside bomb went off near an army vehicle in a village near the town of Tuz Khurmatu in the eastern part of Salahudin, Mohammed al-Bazi from the media office of the provincial police command told Xinhua news agency.

The blast destroyed the vehicle, killing a soldier and wounding five others onboard, al-Bazi said, adding that an investigation was launched into the incident as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

The attack came following another one in the province last week, which was conducted by militants of the Islamic State (IS) group and killed an army officer and four soldiers.

The security situation in Iraq has improved since the defeat of the IS in 2017.

However, IS remnants have sneaked into urban centres, deserts, and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.

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–IANS

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Taliban confirms taking part in upcoming Doha meeting on Afghanistan

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Islamabad, June 16 (IANS/DPA) The Taliban government on Sunday officially announced its intention to send a delegation to the upcoming Doha meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.

Taliban Chief Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told TOLOnews that the group believes their participation in the Qatar talks will benefit Afghanistan when it comes to humanitarian aid and investment.

The UN-hosted meeting will be held on June 30 and July 1, to increase international engagement with the country as it faces a series of crises.

Since returning to power in 2021, the Taliban have rejected calls for the formation of an inclusive government and to ensure women’s rights to education and work.

As a result, no country has recognised the Taliban government.

The country’s banking reserves are frozen in the West, and senior Taliban leaders are on US wanted lists.

However, the UN Security Council eased travel restrictions for key Taliban leaders so they could perform the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.

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Last week the European Union announced a €150 million ($160 million) humanitarian aid package to the country.

The Taliban has been seeking more cooperation with the UN — while also rejecting the world body’s initiatives.

In December, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution asking the UN Secretary-General to appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan.

The Taliban has consistently been against having such a figure for the country.

In February, the Taliban refused to attend a similar UN meeting in Doha on account that Afghan activists had been invited.

–IANS/DPA

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Heavy rainfall triggers flooding in 22 rivers in China

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Beijing, June 16 (IANS) Heavy rainfall has caused flooding in 22 rivers in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the regional hydrology centre reported on Sunday.

According to the centre, a total of 30 hydrologic stations in 22 rivers in Guangxi reported water levels between 0.03 and 2.63 metres above the warning levels, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Hezhou hydrologic station of the Hejiang River reported the largest flooding in a decade.

From 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday, heavy rains lashed about half a dozen prefecture-level cities in Guangxi, including Hechi, Liuzhou, Yulin, Hezhou and Baise.

One township in the city of Hechi and another in the city of Liuzhou saw precipitation of around 140 mm within the day.

The centre also predicted that the water levels in some swollen local rivers will continue to rise by up to one metre in the next 24 hours.

–IANS

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4 killed in road mishap in Afghanistan

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Kabul, June 16 (IANS) At least four people died as a vehicle turned upside down in northern Afghanistan’s Baghlan province, a statement of the provincial police headquarters said on Sunday.

The accident took place on Saturday night in the province’s Baghlan-e-Markazi district after a vehicle veered off the road and turned turtle on the right side of the street, reports Xinhua news agency, citing the statement added.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Baryali, police chief of Baghlan-e-Markazi district, was among the victims of the mishap, said the statement.

Reckless driving on congested roads and lack of traffic signs on dilapidated highways are some of the causes of traffic accidents in Afghanistan.

–IANS

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Germany sees steady rise in arrivals via 'Belarus route' this year

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Berlin, June 16 (IANS/DPA) In the first five months of the year, German federal police registered 2,215 migrants arriving by irregular means using the so-called “Belarus route”.

The people were caught at Germany’s borders with Poland and the Czech Republic.

Their numbers have steadily grown over the year: While there were only 26 interceptions in January and 25 in February, the figure rose to 412 in March, 861 in April, and 891 in May.

But this is still significantly lower than last year. By the end of May 2023, the police had logged around 6,000 unauthorised entries via the Belarus route.

Since 2021, the European Union has accused Belarus of deliberately facilitating the travel of migrants from crisis-wracked countries, mainly in the Middle East, by giving them visas and logistics help.

After luring the migrants to Belarus, they are then sent onward towards EU countries like Poland.

Brussels says this is an attempt to destabilise the 27-nation bloc in retaliation for EU sanctions on Belarus over the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and the country’s complicity in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Many of the undocumented migrants on the route try to enter Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, after transiting Poland and the Czech Republic.

In Germany, they are put up in accommodations while their asylum applications are reviewed.

Poland has erected a 5.5-metre high fence at its border with Belarus, backed up by cameras and guards.

But more people are trying to cross the border irregularly: The Polish Border Guard has registered 16,500 such attempts since the beginning of the year.

In the same period in 2023, there were 11,200.

–IANS/DPA

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Doctors' group in S.Korea offers to vote on walkout if govt accepts 3 demands

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Seoul, June 16 (IANS) South Korea’s biggest doctors’ group on Sunday offered to hold a vote on whether to go ahead with a mass walkout this week if the government accepts three demands, including revisiting the issue of increasing medical school admissions.

The Korean Medical Association (KMA) made the offer two days before it is scheduled to launch the walkout involving medical professors at the “Big 5” hospitals in Seoul, as well as community doctors, reports Yonhap news agency.

The walkout will be in support of trainee doctors who have remained off the job since February in protest of the government’s medical school enrollment hike plan.

The KMA said it will give the government until 11 p.m. Sunday to respond to its three demands, which also include revising and supplementing key points in the government’s policy package for the essential medical services sector and cancelling all penalties against the trainee doctors.

Should the government accept the demands, the KMA said it would hold a vote among all members on Monday to decide whether to go ahead with Tuesday’s walkout.

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If the government refuses, it added that it will stage the walkout as planned indefinitely.

–IANS

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