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Cyberattackers steal 16.6 million USD from govt department in South Africa

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Cyberattackers steal 16.6 million USD from govt department in South Africa

Johannesburg, July 10 Cyberattackers allegedly stole 300 million South African rand (about 16.6 million US dollars) from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure over the past 10 years, Minister Dean Macpherson said Wednesday.

The amount could be more as investigations continue, Macpherson said in a statement.

According to him, in May this year, cyber criminals have stolen 24 million rand from the department, reported Xinhua news agency.

The minister said he has asked the South African Police Service, State Security Agency as well as experts in the information and communications technology and cybersecurity industry to investigate the matter.

“It has become clear that the department has been a soft target and playground for cyber criminals for over a 10-year period and this should have been picked up a lot earlier,” Macpherson said, adding that those responsible for protecting the department from cyber criminals must be held accountable.

Four officials from the department, including three senior management officials and one middle management official, have been suspended, and 30 laptops have been seized by the investigators. “The cyber theft forced the department to shut down its payment system, thereby delaying paying its creditors,” said Macpherson.

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The investigation will be expanded and deepened to find the masterminds and the beneficiaries of this grand theft, Macpherson said.

–IANS

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South Korea blares propaganda broadcasts for 3rd day against North Korea balloons

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South Korea blares propaganda broadcasts for 3rd day against North Korea balloons

South Korea blares propaganda broadcasts for 3rd day against North Korea balloons

Seoul, July 20 (IANS) South Korea’s military on Saturday continued to send propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts toward North Korea in response to the North’s repeated launch of trash-carrying balloons across the border, sources said.

The anti-Pyongyang broadcasts started from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., the sources said.

The South Korean military had warned it could increase the number of loudspeakers and switch to a full-scale broadcast if the North stages further provocations, which includes sending trash balloons across the border, Yonhap news agency reported.

The first round of broadcasts reportedly involved speakers installed near the western section of the heavily fortified border and continued for approximately 10 hours. The broadcasts were also blared on Friday.

On June 9, South Korea resumed blaring such broadcasts for the first time in six years in response to the North’s balloon campaigns.

Since late May, North Korea has sent more than 2,000 trash-carrying balloons into the South on eight occasions in retaliation for North Korean defectors’ sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets toward the North.

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The JCS said it has detected around 200 trash-carrying balloons sent by the North since Thursday, with some 40 balloons landing in the northern area of Gyeonggi Province that surrounds Seoul.

South Korea turned on loudspeaker broadcasts last month after it fully suspended the 2018 inter-Korean military tension reduction agreement in response to the North’s massive sending of trash-carrying balloons.

The accord, signed under the former liberal Moon Jae-in administration, bans live-fire artillery drills near the border and other acts deemed hostile against each other.

North Korea has bristled against the loudspeaker campaigns, as well as anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent by South Korean activists, on fears that an influx of outside information could pose a threat to the Kim Jong-un regime.

Following the June 9 broadcast, North Korea warned of “new responses” against such psychological warfare, calling it a “prelude to a very dangerous situation.”

Earlier this week, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North’s leader, threatened that South Korea would face “gruesome and dear” consequences if it lets North Korean defectors continue to send leaflets critical of North Korea.

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–IANS

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UN says 1.4 million refugees returned to South Sudan in 5 years

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UN says 1.4 million refugees returned to South Sudan in 5 years

UN says 1.4 million refugees returned to South Sudan in 5 years

Juba, July 20 (IANS) More than 1.4 million South Sudanese refugees have returned home between the signing of a revitalised peace agreement in October 2018 and May 31, 2024, the UN refugee agency said.

There are 2.2 million South Sudanese refugees in the region, including in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, as of May 31, according to a joint report released on Friday by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC).

Uganda is hosting the highest number of South Sudanese refugees, at 939,538, followed by Sudan, 668,847; Ethiopia, 422,107; Kenya, 181,963; the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 53,621; and the Central African Republic, 2,813, the report said.

The UNHCR said the most cited reasons for returning home from the countries of asylum included reunion with family members, improvement of the security situation in South Sudan, and to assess land, property and housing, Xinhua news agency reported.

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The reasons cited by the refugees for leaving their countries of asylum were insecurity, lack of employment, livelihood and economic activities, and reduction in food ration in refugee camps.

The report said that 41,600 South Sudanese returned home in May, a slight increase from the previous month.

“The slight increase is due to insecurity in some of the countries of asylum, especially Sudan, reduction of food ration and lack of employment and livelihood opportunities in some parts of the country, which impacted the spontaneous refugee returns to South Sudan during the reporting month,” the report said.

–IANS

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India and Bhutan intensify partnership during Foreign Secretary Misri's Thimphu visit

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India and Bhutan intensify partnership during Foreign Secretary
 Misri's Thimphu visit

India and Bhutan intensify partnership during Foreign Secretary
 Misri's Thimphu visit

Thimphu, July 20 (IANS) Foreign Secretary Vikram Misri on Saturday wrapped-up his two-day visit to Bhutan after holding wide-ranging discussions in Thimpu on all aspects of bilateral cooperation – including development partnership, energy, trade and investment, connectivity and trade infrastructure, technology, people-to-people ties, as well as other regional issues of mutual importance.

During the official visit, his first as Foreign Secretary, Misri received an audience with Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and also called on the country’s Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay besides Minister of Foreign Affairs D. N. Dhungyel.

On Saturday, the Indian Foreign Secretary, along with his Bhutanese counterpart Pema Choden, co-chaired the 3rd India Bhutan Development Cooperation Talks for the 13th Five Year Plan (FYP) of Bhutan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Bhutan in March this year, had announced the Indian government’s development support of Nu. 100 billion (INR 10,000 crore) for Bhutan’s 13th Five-Year Plan period.

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During Misri’s visit, the two sides discussed various components of the assistance and implementation modalities for GoI-assisted development projects.

The Bhutanese side conveyed appreciation for the invaluable support that the Government of India continues to provide for the country’s socio-economic development and also presented the Project Tied Assistance (PTA) proposals as well as the first tranche of the PTA projects to be implemented during the 13th Five Year Plan period.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that a total of 61 projects amounting to Nu. 49.58 billion (INR 4,958 crore), covering sectors such as connectivity, infrastructure, energy, skill development, education, health, cultural heritage, capacity building, industrial parks, sports, youth exchanges, digital economy, e-mobility, and space technology were approved by the two sides.

The two Foreign Secretaries also virtually inaugurated 19 schools, which were constructed during the 12th FYP period.

“The Royal Government informed the Indian government of the activities proposed to be conducted under the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP). Further, as per the request of the Royal Government, the Indian side agreed to positively consider frontloading the full amount of Nu. 15 billion (INR 1,500 crore) of ESP in the first one and half years subject to progress on implementation of proposals,” the MEA stated.

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India also highlighted the “exemplary partnership” shared between the two neighbouring countries which is characterised by trust, goodwill and mutual understanding at all levels, strong bonds of friendship and close people-to-people contacts.

According to the MEA, the two sides agreed to hold the next Development Cooperation Talks in New Delhi at a mutually convenient date.

–IANS

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15 injured in train collision in Romania

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15 injured in train collision in Romania

15 injured in train collision in Romania

Bucharest, July 20 (IANS) At least 15 people were injured in a collision between a locomotive and a passenger train at Basarab Station in Bucharest, said local authorities.

Eight people have been hospitalised, according to emergency authorities, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to local media, 10 fire engines, all available medical resources, two extrication vehicles, a multiple victim transport vehicle and a mobile hospital were dispatched to the scene.

The Romanian Railway Investigation Agency said it will investigate the incident.

–IANS

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Japan MSDF helicopter wreckage found on seafloor

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Japan MSDF helicopter wreckage found on seafloor

Japan MSDF helicopter wreckage found on seafloor

Tokyo, July 20 (IANS) The wreckage of a Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) helicopter that disappeared in April has been discovered on the seafloor, with another possible aircraft nearby, local media reported on Saturday.

The discovery followed an accident in April where two JMSDF helicopters collided and crashed during training off the Izu Islands, resulting in the deaths of eight crew members, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Ministry of Defence had tasked the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) with conducting a deep-sea search using unmanned submersibles due to the site’s depth of approximately 5,500 meters, according to national broadcaster NHK.

As of Friday, JAMSTEC’s unmanned probe Deep Tow, equipped with advanced sonar and cameras capable of exploring depths up to 6,000 meters, located one of the downed helicopters.

Identification was confirmed through the matching aircraft number.

Further investigation revealed another object in the vicinity, believed to be the second missing helicopter, the report said.

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Further verification is underway to determine the feasibility of retrieving the wreckage.

The Ministry of Defence will carefully assess the underwater conditions to decide on the next steps for the potential salvage operation, according to NHK.

–IANS

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