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The murder of Sarabjit Singh & targeted killing of Amir Tanba

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Lahore, April 14 (IANS) Sarabjit Singh, the Indian prisoner who was attacked and murdered by fellow inmates at a jail in Pakistan’s Lahore, before his demise, gave a fickle ray of hope to his family members and well-wishers about his release, only to later find himself entangled in a series of confusing developments, as it was revealed that Surjeet Singh, and not Sarabjit Singh, would be released.

The episode dates back to June 2012. Surjeet Singh, who had spent at least three decades in Pakistani jails on charges of spying, was scheduled to be released from Lahore central jail (Kot Lakhpat Jail), and he was to be handed-over to the Indian authorities via Wagah-Attari border.

However, the initial report mentioned the name of Sarabjit Singh instead of Surjeet Singh, making Sarabjit part of the spotlight momentarily, as he was not the one who was going back home.

At that time, the legal representative of Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails, Awais Sheikh, had revealed that after the successful transfer of Surjeet Singh to India, the next in line was Sarabjit Singh, who would be crossing over the Wagah border and reuniting with his family.

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It is believed that since then, the attitude of inmates towards Sarabjit Singh had changed, and there were also reports of some incidents of attacks on him as well. That was why the authorities had shifted Sarabjit Singh to a separate cell.

Prisoners on death row are kept in separate areas of the prison, away from other inmates.

The whole episode of the killing of Sarabjit Singh was shrouded in suspicion as the attack by Amir Tanba and Muddasar Munir remained under question as many concerns about the attack in Kot Lakhpat Jail remained a mystery.

While the Pakistan government maintained that Sarabjit Singh was brought to the Jinnah Hospital in critical condition and was kept in the hospital for at least 5 days before being declared dead, there were many local sources who confirmed that he had died while being brought to the hospital from the jail.

Other sources also stated that the reason behind keeping his dead body in the hospital for 5 days was to “fade away” the case of Sarabjit being killed inside the Kot Lakhpat jail and avoid any further extension to the controversy behind his murder.

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It remains a mystery how a death row convict like Amir Tanba was able to get a release from jail and then be targeted at his residence in Lahore on Sunday.

Locals of Islampura area where Amir Tanba was gunned down told IANS that he died of excessive bleeding, a news confirmed by his family sources.

“He was hit with four bullets,” said one of the local residents of Islampura.

One of his close family members confirmed to IANS that Amir was shot dead by two gunmen who had entered the house and opened fire on him.

“Tanba was shot twice in the chest and twice in the legs,” a police officer said.

“One attacker was wearing a helmet and the other was wearing a mask,” said Junaid Sarfaraz, brother of Amir Sarfaraz a.k.a. Tanba.

A case has been registered into the murder of Amir Tanba and an investigation has been launched.

–IANS

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International

Trump removed from election rally after incident

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Washington, July 13 (IANS) Former US President Donald Trump was removed from an election rally in Pennsylvania after an incident that possibly involved shooting.

He appeared to have blood on the right side of his face.

The “Secret Service has implemented protective measures and the former President is safe,” said Anthony Guglielmi, the Chief of Communications for the Secret Service, in a statement.

The former President is “fine and is being checked out at a local medical facility,” Trump Communications Director Steven Cheung said in a statement.

The incident took place about seven minutes into the rally in Butler, in western Pennsylvania, on Saturday.

The former President dropped to the ground holding the right side of his face and was soon covered by Secret Service agents who shortly rose with him and led him off.

Trump could be seen raising a fist while leaving.

US President Joe Biden has been briefed about the incident.

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–IANS

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11 dead due to landslide in Vietnam

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Hanoi, July 14 (IANS) At least 11 people on board a minibus died after being buried by a landslide in Vietnam’s northern province of Ha Giang while four others were critically injured, according to the latest update by the stste media reports.

When the vehicle was trapped by a landslide on a road in Bac Me district, all the people on board got out for help. The minibus was reportedly carrying around 16 people.

Thousands of cubic metres of soil from above poured onto the road, burying all the people, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, rainfall in the area where the accident happened early Saturday morning was recorded at 280-290 mm from 7 p.m. on Friday until 7 a.m. on Saturday.

Natural disasters in Vietnam left 68 people dead or missing and injured 56 others in the first six months of this year, said the General Statistics Office.

The total property losses incurred were more than 1.7 trillion Vietnamese dong ($66.9 million), which was 2.5 times higher than the same period last year.

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–IANS

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7 killed by wildfires in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province

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Johannesburg, July 14 (IANS) Seven people were killed this past week and 196 homes have been completely destroyed as a result of raging wildfires in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province, the provincial government said.

The wildfires that started a week ago have affected a total of 751 people, and have damaged farms and homes in districts, including King Cetshwayo, Ilembe, uThukela and Zululand, the Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said on Saturday in a statement.

More than 14,000 hectares of grazing land have been destroyed by the fires with 1,600 animals lost, the department added as reported by Xinhua news agency.

The number of houses destroyed is increasing as the wildfires are going on, according to Siboniso Duma, an official from the Provincial Council of Transport and Human Settlements, who added that they are still working to profile affected families.

–IANS

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8 killed in prison break shootout in Somalia

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Mogadishu, July 14 (IANS) Five inmates and three soldiers were killed, and 18 other prisoners were wounded after heavy gunfire broke out between security forces and prisoners who had attempted to escape in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

The spokesperson for Custodial Corps Command Abdiqani Mohamed Khalaf said on Saturday that three soldiers were also injured during the operation, Xinhua news agency reported.

The inmates, members of the al-Shabab militant group that had acquired some weapons and hand grenades, launched a bid to escape from Hamar Central Prison, prompting a shootout between the prison officers and the inmates.

The prison authorities said they are investigating how the inmates acquired weapons and hand grenades to launch such daring escapes.

“The security forces completed operations against al-Shabab members, the situation is calm at the moment and the forces eliminated all five prisoners. We have started investigations into the incident,” he said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

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Al-Shabab militants did not comment on the latest attack on the Hamar Central Prison.

This is the second such deadly attack on the prison in Mogadishu by the group’s inmates.

The attack comes after nearly three months of relative peace in Mogadishu.

–IANS

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Strong efforts required to release demographic dividend as Africa's population crosses 1.5 bn: UNECA

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Addis Ababa, July 14 (IANS) As Africa’s population crosses the 1.5 billion mark and the demographic window is opening, social policy experts at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) stressed that getting the dividend requires more time and stronger efforts.

The latest call followed the publication of the World Population Prospects and Forecast that was released by the United Nations on World Population Day, which is annually observed on July 11, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

Noting that the world’s population has witnessed tremendous growth in the last six decades, in which the global population was around three billion in 1960, the report indicated that in just two decades (by 1982), it had surpassed five billion and since November 2022 there are more than eight billion people in the world.

Social policy experts at the UNECA, in a situation analysis report on Africa’s population prospects issued on Friday, said the African continent has been at the centre of the global population growth, as the continent accounts for the largest relative growth, with its population expanding from 283 million in 1960 to more than 1.5 billion in 2024, a more than five-fold increase. And it is projected to increase by 950 million and touch 2.5 billion by 2050.

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The growing population will increase Africa’s share of the world’s population from 10 per cent in 1960 to 28 per cent by 2050. Globally, more than one in four people will be African in 2050, from one in 10 in 1960, it was noted.

According to the publication, among the reasons for Africa’s rapid population growth is the declining rate of infant mortality across Africa. Data from the UNECA show that infant mortality has declined from 145 per 1,000 children born in 1960 to 38 per 1,000 children born in 2024. As a result, average life expectancy in Africa increased from 43 years to 66 years during the reported period and is projected to increase to 70 years by 2050.

In 1960, on average a woman in Africa had 6.6 children over her lifetime. This has progressively reduced to 3.8 in 2024 and is expected to decline further to 2.6 by 2050. Overall, and compared to other regions of the world, fertility rates in Africa remain high and are declining only gradually.

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The UNECA report indicated that Africa’s future is bright with the potential to realise a demographic transition and a large demographic dividend by the middle of this century.

It, however, raised a critical question as to what it takes for countries in Africa to achieve the age structure necessary for the demographic dividend, and under what conditions this age structure can catalyse the continent’s economic growth.

These are important policy questions since as promising as it sounds, a demographic dividend is by no means guaranteed. How well countries capitalise on the demographic window has a lot to do with appropriate policies and the strength of institutions, social policy experts at the UNECA said.

They said that for fertility rates to decline and the age structure to change, working-age individuals need high-quality education and decent and productive jobs. Countries must invest in the education and health of the workforce, particularly where the demographic window of opportunity is still more than a decade away.

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–IANS

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