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Poland presents $2.5 bn plan to reinforce border with drones, barriers

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Warsaw, May 27 (IANS/DPA) Poland on Monday announced details on the planned fortification of its eastern border, including drones, anti-tank barriers, and new operating bases.

The plan, called Eastern Shield, envisages investments totalling around $2.5 billion and should be completed by 2028.

“We have 700 km of border to secure, 400 km of which are with Belarus,” said Deputy Defence Minister Cezary Tomczyk in Warsaw.

Along with Belarus, Poland shares borders with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and with Ukraine, which has been fending off a full-scale Russian invasion for more than two years.

Throughout the war in Ukraine, fears have grown in Warsaw that Poland, a member of the European Union and NATO, could find itself in Russia’s crosshairs.

Defence Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz said on Monday the new plan would include “fortifications, various types of barriers, but also ultra-modern air surveillance systems”.

The main objective is deterrence, but also the defence of the border, emphasised Wiesław Kukuła, Chief of Staff of the Polish Armed Forces.

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The plan is set to protect against potential surprise attacks, make the mobility of enemy troops more difficult, and improve defensive positions.

Both soldiers and the civilian population are also to be better protected.

Kukuła said drones would play a decisive role in Poland’s defence, with a network of drone bases to be set up along the border.

“We expect to install high-resolution thermal imaging cameras. The stations will have electronic reconnaissance sensors,” he added.

Highly sensitive microphones are to be used to pick up sounds indicating an enemy drone mission while jamming transmitters capable of disabling the drones and disrupting communications are also to be installed.

There are plans to set up at least eight forward operating bases for the Polish army to allow for emergency deployment.

More fortified shelters are to be built to protect soldiers, civilians, and ammunition supplies.

Eastern Shield is also set to include physical barriers, including anti-tank obstacles and retractable barricades on major roads.

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Poland says it will cover part of the costs for the new plan, with the EU expected to assist with financing.

“The EU will have to spend more on defence if it wants to remain a zone of peace and development,” said Kosiniak-Kamysz.

The Polish plan is set to become part of a regional defence structure established alongside Baltic-NATO members Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

–IANS/DPA

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Israel confirms killing high-ranking Hamas commander in Gaza

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Jerusalem, July 15 (IANS) Israeli security forces have confirmed that they killed Rafa’a Salameh, the commander of Hamas’s Khan Younis Brigade, in airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late last week.

In a statement, the Israeli military and Shin Bet internal security agency said on Sunday that Salameh was killed in the area of Khan Younis, Xinhua news agency reported.

Israeli warplanes on Saturday bombed the tents of displaced people in the Mawasi area in Khan Younis, killing at least 90 Palestinians and wounding 300 others, most of them women and children, according to the health authorities in Gaza.

Israeli media reported that Mohammed Deif, the commander of Hamas’s military wing, and Salameh were the targets of the Israeli airstrike.

Israel has not confirmed Deif’s status but a Hamas official said on Sunday that the senior militant, who survived at least seven assassination attempts by Israel, has survived the recent attack.

“Salameh was one of the closest associates of Mohammed Deif,” the military said, adding he was also “one of the masterminds” of Hamas’ rampage through the southern Israeli border on October 7, 2023.

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Salameh joined Hamas in the early 1990s.

In 2016, he was appointed commander of the Khan Younis Brigade, and was responsible for launching projectiles from the Khan Younis area towards Israeli territory and overseeing the operation of attack tunnels, the military said.

“The elimination of Rafa’a Salameh significantly impedes Hamas’ military capabilities,” the military noted.

–IANS

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12 Palestinians killed in Israeli air raid on school in Gaza: Sources

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Gaza, July 15 (IANS) At least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens of others wounded in an Israeli air raid on a school housing displaced people in the central Gaza Strip, said Palestinian security and medical sources.

Israeli aircraft bombed a school in the Nuseirat refugee camp run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) with at least one missile, security sources told Xinhua news agency on Sunday.

Some video footage circulated on social media platforms shows the moment the school was bombed, parts of which were destroyed, Xinhua news agency reported.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli army on the raid.

UNRWA condemned the Israeli raid, stressing that there is no safe place in Gaza.

“The UN agency sends the coordinates of its facilities daily to the Israeli army, yet the army insists on targeting it and the United Nations headquarters,” the UN agency advisor Adnan Abu Hasna told Xinhua.

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The attack came a day after Israeli warplanes bombed the tents of displaced people in the Mawasi area in Khan Younis, killing at least 90 Palestinians and wounding 300 others, most of them women and children, according to the health authorities in Gaza.

–IANS

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Police seize arms, ammunition in Afghanistan

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Kabul, July 15 (IANS) Police have seized a variety of arms and ammunition from across north Afghanistan’s Balkh province over the past four months, provincial police spokesperson Mohammad Eisa Wasiq said.

The counter-terrorism police have collected 29 pieces of different types of arms and ammunition during a series of operations in different districts of the province, Wasiq added on Sunday.

Calling upon Afghans to help police in recovering arms and ammunition from the illegal possession of any person, the official added that the police are trying to recover and register any arms illegally kept by individuals over the past 20 years, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Afghan caretaker government has recovered a lot of arms and ammunition, including battle tanks and missiles, since taking over power following the withdrawal of the US-led forces from the war-ravaged Asian country in August 2021.

–IANS

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Philippine Airlines plane overshoots runway in Philippines

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Manila, July 15 (IANS) A Philippine Airlines (PAL) propeller plane overshot the runway at an airport in Palawan province, the airline company said.

All 53 passengers and four crew members were safely deplaned, the company added on Sunday.

The plane, travelling from Cebu to Palawan, overran the runway upon landing at Busuanga airport before 3 p.m. local time amid poor weather conditions, PAL said.

The aircraft stopped on a grassy area beyond the concrete runway, causing the airport’s closure, and forcing incoming flights to be diverted to other airports, Xinhua news agency reported.

PAL said it is working with related authorities to restore normal operations in Busuanga airport.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is expected to investigate the incident.

–IANS

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7 missing following water barrier breaching in Myanmar

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Yangon, July 15 (IANS) Seven construction workers were missing following a water barrier breaching at a construction site near the bank of Ayeyarwady River in central Myanmar’s Mandalay region, said an official from the Myanmar Rescue Organisation.

The incident occurred in Amarapura township of Mandalay around 8.30 a.m. local time on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

When the water barrier broke and river water flooded the construction site, seven workers went missing as a result, the official told Xinhua.

The river water only overflowed the construction site and did not reach the villages, he added.

Search and rescue efforts are underway with the Myanmar Rescue Organisation and Myanmar Fire Services Department working together, the official said.

–IANS

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