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Israel: Two reservists killed by Hezbollah fire on Lebanese border

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Tel Aviv/Beirut, May 7 (IANS/DPA) Two Israeli reservists have been killed in a drone attack by the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, the Israeli army said on Tuesday.

The two 31-year-old soldiers were killed on Monday in an incident on Israel’s northern border, the army said.

The drone loaded with explosives had hit a building in the town of Metulla. According to media reports, the army was unable to intercept the unmanned aerial vehicle.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to Lebanese reports, four civilians – a couple and their two sons – were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Lebanon on Sunday. The attack took place in the village of Mais al-Jabal near the common border. Two other people were injured. The house which was targeted sustained severe damages.

Since the beginning of the Gaza war seven months ago, there have been repeated military confrontations between Israel’s army and the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon on the border, with multiple casualties on both sides.

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The mutual shelling has already caused severe destruction in villages on both sides of the border. About 1,50,000 people have either been evacuated or have left the combat zone.

–IANS/DPA

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Russia says prisoner swaps with Ukraine are paused, blames Kiev

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Moscow, May 29 (IANS/DPA) Russia’s commissioner for human rights on Wednesday blamed Ukraine for a months-long pause in prisoner exchanges by the two warring sides.

“Unfortunately, swaps have been suspended for several months because of Ukraine, which constantly puts forth new contrived demands,” Tatyana Moskalova told a session of the parliament, the TASS state news agency said.

Still, officials from both countries continue to visit prisoners of war held by the other side to monitor compliance with their rights, she said.

Moskalkova did not provide any further details on Kiev’s alleged demands.

The editor-in-chief of the state-controlled broadcaster RT, Margarita Simonyan, earlier published a list of 500 captured Ukrainian soldiers. She claimed that Kiev had only selected 38 fighters from the Azov regiment – an elite unit that has been accused in the past of far-right sympathies – and rejected the rest.

Russia has been waging a war against Ukraine for more than two years and currently occupies around a fifth of the country. The exact number of prisoners of war on both sides is unknown, but according to observers, the Russians have taken several times as many prisoners as Ukraine.

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The accusations from Moscow are likely aimed at destabilizing the political situation in Kiev and increasing the pressure on Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky has vowed to return all captured soldiers to their homeland. The last exchange between the two countries took place in February 2024.

–IANS/DPA

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Turkey detains nine police officers over links to failed coup in 2016

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Istanbul, May 29 (IANS) The Turkish police on Wednesday detained nine police officers in the western province of Izmir over their alleged links to a network accused of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Six police officers currently serving in the Izmir Police Department, along with three former deputy police chiefs, were detained in a large-scale operation, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The operation was launched by the Izmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office following the determination that the suspects were in contact with members of the Gulen movement, a network led by US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The network was accused by the government of infiltrating the state bureaucracy and then attempting a coup on July 15, 2016, which killed at least 250 people. Following the attempt, the government initiated a widespread crackdown on individuals suspected of having ties to the movement.

–IANS

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Sharp rise in fees for foreigners at elite Swiss universities

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Bern, May 29 (IANS/DPA) Studying at the elite Swiss universities ETH Zurich and EPFL Lausanne looks likely to become significantly more expensive for people from abroad in future.

The lower chamber of Switzerland’s parliament, the National Council, voted in favour of increasing tuition fees on Wednesday.

The proposal would mean that those who move to Switzerland to study would in the future pay at least three times as much as those already living in Switzerland.

At the moment Swiss citizens and foreigners pay the same amount, at ETH and EPFL less than €1,500 ($1,625) per year. The upper chamber of parliament still has to agree on the fee increase.

Members of parliament argued that Swiss students at renowned foreign universities also pay more, up to 40 times as much as domestic students. Another argument is that educational institutions are financed with taxpayers’ money, which is only raised from people who live in Switzerland.

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–IANS/DPA

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Israeli army claims three soldiers killed in Rafah

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Jerusalem, May 29 (IANS) The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on Wednesday announced that three soldiers of its Nahal Brigade were killed during the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news reported that the three were killed when a booby trap exploded in a building in the southern city of Rafah, bringing the total number of deaths of IDF soldiers to 639 since the current conflict broke out last October, Xinhua News Agency reported.

According to the report, the three soldiers set out on Tuesday afternoon to search buildings and combat infrastructure in southeast Rafah.

It added that upon entering one of the buildings, a powerful explosive detonated, causing a partial collapse of the structure and, subsequently, the soldiers’ deaths.

According to the IDF and Kan TV, three other fighters were seriously injured in the incident. In addition, the IDF reported that seven other soldiers were severely wounded in their fighting across the strip.

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–IANS

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Sweden pledges Ukraine largest military aid package to date

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Copenhagen, May 29 (IANS/DPA) Sweden has promised Ukraine its largest military aid package to date, totalling 13.3 billion Swedish kronor (around €1.26 billion).

The package is intended to strengthen Ukraine’s entire air defence system, the Swedish government announced on Wednesday. The package includes aircraft and armoured personnel carriers.

“Ukraine urgently needs to strengthen its air defence,” said Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson at a press conference. The package is the 16th from Sweden and about twice as large as the previous one.

As part of the package, Sweden will provide two ASC 890 radar reconnaissance and command and control aircraft. Defence Minister Jonson said these currently have “the greatest impact on Ukrainian air defence” as they will complement and reinforce the promised donations of US F-16 fighter jets.

In addition, the entire Swedish stock of APC 302 armoured personnel carriers will be made available to support the development of new Ukrainian army brigades. Sweden says it has so far provided 43.5 billion Swedish kronor in military aid since the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine in February 2022.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Sweden on X and explained that the support was crucial for Ukraine’s defence and resilience. “It is also important that the Swedish aid not only saves Ukrainian lives, but also helps to ensure long-term peace and security in Europe,” he wrote.

–IANS/DPA

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