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Iraqi court sentences former IS leader's wife to death

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Iraqi court sentences former IS leader's wife to death

Baghdad, July 10 (Xinhua) An Iraqi court on Wednesday sentenced the wife of the former top leader of the Islamic State (IS) group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to death, the Iraqi judiciary said.

The Karkh Criminal Court issued the death verdict for the wife of the terrorist over joining the IS group and detaining the kidnapped Yazidi women in her house in the town of Sinjar, west of Nineveh’s provincial capital Mosul, according to a statement by the media office of the Supreme Judicial Council, reports Xinhua news agency.

In 2019, the U.S. forces conducted a raid targeting al-Baghdadi in Syria’s northern province of Idlib, killing the IS leader.

Al-Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, established the IS in 2014. The extremist militant group, which once captured large swathes of land in western and northern Iraq, was defeated in late 2017.

–IANS

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Over 8,58,000 Afghan refugees return home from Pakistan, Iran

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Over 8,58,000 Afghan refugees return home from Pakistan, Iran

Over 8,58,000 Afghan refugees return home from Pakistan, Iran

Kabul, July 20 (IANS) A total of 858,170 Afghan refugees returned home from neighbouring Pakistan and Iran from April to June, according to the Afghanistan office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The IOM Afghanistan also said in a post on its X account on Friday that more than 5,30,000 people also made outbound trips from Afghanistan during the second quarter of this year, reports Xinhua news agency.

Over 2.5 million Afghan refugees have reportedly been living in Pakistan.

Additionally, about the same number of refugees are residing in Iran.

–IANS

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12 dead, 31 missing in China bridge collapse (Lead)

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12 dead, 31 missing in China bridge collapse (Lead)

12 dead, 31 missing in China bridge collapse (Lead)

Beijing, July 20 (IANS) At least 12 people were killed and 31 others injured after a highway bridge collapsed in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, local authorities said on Saturday.

The bridge, located in Zhashui County in Shangluo City, partially collapsed around 8.40 p.m. on Friday due to a sudden downpour and flash floods, according to the provincial publicity department, Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 17 cars and eight trucks plunged into the Jinqian River below the bridge based on initial investigation.

As of Saturday noon, rescue workers had recovered seven of them and found 12 people dead, with one person rescued, said the provincial Party committee.

Thirty-one people remain unaccounted for, and search efforts are ongoing.

–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.

ALSO READ:  North Korea touts ties with Russia on Kim-Putin summit anniversary

–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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