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Two men accused of plotting knife attack on synagogue in Germany

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Stuttgart, May 24 (IANS/DPA) German authorities have detained an 18-year-old youth after he allegedly discussed carrying out a knife attack on a synagogue in the south-western German city of Heidelberg.

The suspect, who comes from the town of Weinheim, is being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder, public prosecutors and criminal investigators in the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg announced on Friday.

He allegedly plotted the potential attack with another 24-year-old suspect, who was shot and captured by the police earlier this month after a raid on the man’s flat turned violent.

“The killing of one or more visitors during the attack on the synagogue with a subsequent martyr’s death was discussed as the intended goal, in which both people wanted to be shot by emergency services,” the authorities said.

On May 3, police raided the home of the 24-year-old suspect in the town of Bad Friedrichshall on suspicion of preparing a serious act of violence endangering the state.

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According to police, the 24-year-old suddenly took several kitchen knives and fled outside through a window while officers were in his flat.

He was caught by officers but, instead of surrendering, he threw a knife toward a policeman and charged. The officer shot the man.

The 24-year-old man was treated for his injuries and remains in police custody on allegations of attempted manslaughter and a particularly serious case of assault on police officers.

An analysis of evidence seized during the search revealed a link to the 18-year-old man from Weinheim, with whom the 24-year-old is said to have discussed a possible knife attack on visitors to a synagogue in Heidelberg in April 2024, according to investigators.

The 18-year-old’s apartment was searched on May 18. He was arrested and remains in custody.

Authorities said that there are no indications of an imminent threat to visitors to the synagogue.

–IANS/DPA

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Open letter to Germany Chancellor Scholz decries outsourcing asylum

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Berlin, June 19 (IANS/DPA) More than 300 advocacy groups and international organisations have written an open letter to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz opposing the possibility of holding asylum seekers in third countries for processing.

“Please issue a clear rejection of plans to outsource asylum procedures,” the authors demanded in the letter published on Wednesday.

The signatories include Amnesty International Germany, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), and the migrant advocacy group Pro Asyl.

The open letter was released ahead of Scholz’s meeting with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states in Berlin on Thursday, where the issue is expected to be a major topic.

Germany’s Interior Ministry is currently examining the possibility of outsourcing asylum proceedings to third countries outside the European Union.

State-level interior ministers also begin convening on Wednesday evening for three days of talks which are expected to be dominated with talk of migration policy, asylum and deportations. They are meeting in Potsdam, a Berlin suburb.

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The killing of a policeman by a knife-wielding migrant in late May in the German city of Mannheim has prompted renewed debate about whether Germany should deport people convicted of serious crimes to countries like Syria and Afghanistan.

The authors of the open letter warn that serious human rights abuses are foreseeable if asylum proceedings are outsourced to countries outside the EU. They argue that receiving asylum-seekers and integrating them into society can work smoothly with greater cooperation.

“Plans to deport refugees to non-European third countries or to carry out asylum procedures outside the EU, on the other hand, do not work in practice, are extremely expensive and pose a threat to the rule of law,” the letter stated.

According to the authors, the current debate about the plan in both Germany and other EU countries is already having an impact.

“Such plans often cause great fear among refugees and increase the risk of self-harm and suicide,” according to the letter.

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Scholz announced plans to resume deportations to those countries after the Mannheim attack, despite concerns from advocates about the human rights abuses there. Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, a Green, spoke out in favour of that on Wednesday as well.

–IANS/DPA

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At least 346 killed in Sudan's El Fasher city since May 10, says official

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Khartoum, June 19 (IANS) At least 346 civilians have been killed in El Fasher, the capital city of Sudan’s North Darfur State, since May 10, amid intensified clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), an official said on Wednesday.

“More than 346 people have been killed and 2,200 others injured since May 10,” Ibrahim Abdullah Khatir, director-general of North Darfur State’s Health Ministry, told Xinhua news agency.

“Certainly the real figures are likely more than that,” he said, adding that the statistics “only cover the dead and wounded who were registered in hospitals, while a large number of those killed were buried directly”.

He noted that the local health system is under severe strain, with only one of the five central hospitals operational, along with a few health centers.

The pressure on services is overwhelming due to a shortage of medicines, particularly anesthesia drugs and essential medical supplies, Khatir said, emphasizing the urgent need for fuel to power hospital electricity and support for hospital staff and public health operations.

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Sudan has been embroiled in a deadly conflict between the SAF and the RSF since April 2023, which has claimed 15,550 lives and displaced over 8.8 million people nationwide, according to estimates by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

–IANS

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Yoga event ahead of IDY-2024 draws huge response in Nepal

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Kathmandu, June 19 (IANS) Over 450 people joined a yoga demonstration event organised by the Indian Embassy in Nepal on the banks of the picturesque Phewa Lake in Pokhara, the tourism capital of the country, ahead of the 10th International Day of Yoga (June 21) on Wednesday.

The Embassy said the event witnessed enthusiastic participation from the local community, including officials of the local administration, members of various local yoga bodies, retired Gorkha soldiers of the Indian Army, and staff members of the Embassy’s Pension Paying Office (PPO) in Pokhara, who joined in to promote the ancient practice of yoga for good health and well-being.

A series of yoga sessions led by experienced instructors, showcasing a range of asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation techniques, were organised during the event.

“The participants were guided through the physical and mental benefits of each practice, emphasising the holistic approach of yoga to physical and mental health,” the Indian Embassy said in a statement.

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A health consultation camp with ayurvedic practitioners in association with the Pokhara University was also organised on the sidelines of the event with Prem Narayan Aryal, Vice Chancellor, Pokhara University, gracing the occasion as the chief guest.

“The Vice Chancellor thanked the Embassy of India for organising the event and encouraged the student participants to explore the benefits of yoga to lead a mindful and healthy life,” the Embassy said.

Reputed instructors delivered lectures on the benefits of yoga and its practical utility in day-to-day life, especially for the youth. The students and faculty of Pokhara University also benefitted from the expert consultations from reputed ayurveda experts who provided valuable insights and advice on incorporating ayurveda and yoga into daily life.

–IANS

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Xi stresses PLA's political loyalty at crucial meeting held in old revolutionary base

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Yanaan (China), June 19 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasised the armed forces’ political loyalty at a crucial meeting on the political work in the military held in Yan’an, an old revolutionary base in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.

Xi, also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), demanded efforts to ensure a solid political guarantee for building a strong military, as he addressed the CMC Political Work Conference, held from Monday to Wednesday, reported Xinhua news agency.

The Yan’an conference, which Xi personally decided to convene, took place 10 years after a similar meeting was held in Gutian, east China’s Fujian Province. The participants discussed and made arrangements for promoting political work in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Xi emphasized the need to uphold the Party’s absolute leadership over the military and to build a high-quality cadre team that is loyal, clean, responsible, and capable of fulfilling the mission of strengthening the military.

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On Monday afternoon, Xi led CMC members and heads of various departments and units to visit the revolutionary relics at Wangjiaping, where the CMC’s headquarters were stationed from August 1937 to March 1947.

Xi visited the former residences of late revolutionary leaders including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Zhu De in Yan’an to honor the memory of their revolutionary struggle.

The Yan’an conference marks a return to the roots of the military, Xi said.

He called on senior military officials to shoulder the responsibilities entrusted by the Party and the people to keep strengthening the armed forces.

–IANS

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Hezbollah claims Israeli strike killed three of its fighters in Lebanon

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Beirut/Tel Aviv, June 19 (IANS/DPA) At least three members from the pro-Iranian Hezbollah movement were killed Wednesday in an Israeli strike in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah and Lebanese security sources said.

Lebanese security sources said the Israeli drone attack struck an area in the southern village of Yaroun, not far from the border with Israel. According to the same sources Yaroun was hit twice overnight and this morning

In a statement, Hezbollah declared the deaths of three of its fighters. The militia usually does not elaborate on when and where its fighters die.

The strike was an Israeli retaliation to a series of attacks carried out by the Shiite militia, among them drones fired on Israeli soldiers in Metulla in northern Israel.

The state-run Lebanese news agency NNA also reported Israeli air strikes on the areas around Khiyam and near the coastal city of Tyre.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that on Wednesday morning, “several Hezbollah terrorists were identified entering a military structure in the area of Yaroun which is used as a weapons storage facility.”

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It said the air force attacked the structure where the terrorists operated.

The IDF said that senior commanders had approved “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon” during a situation assessment. The readiness of the troops will be further increased.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is due to give a speech at 5 pm (1400 GMT) on Wednesday in the southern suburbs of Beirut – a Hezbollah stronghold.

His speech was planned to commemorate a senior Hezbollah commander Talib Abdallah, who was killed by Israel last week.

–IANS/DPA

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