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UN chief condoles death of security staffer in Gaza

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United Nations, May 14 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condoled the death of a UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) staff member and injury to another DSS staffer in an attack in Gaza, said his Deputy Spokesman.

The incident occurred on Monday morning when their UN-marked vehicle was struck as they were on their way to the European Hospital in Rafah, said Farhan Haq, the Deputy Spokesman.

“The Secretary-General condemns all attacks on UN personnel and calls for a full investigation. He sends his condolences to the family of the fallen staff member,” he added as quoted by Xinhua news agency report.

With the conflict in Gaza continuing to take a heavy toll — not only on civilians but also on humanitarian workers — the Secretary-General reiterates his urgent appeal for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and the release of all hostages, said Haq.

The DSS staffer became the first international staff member of the United Nations killed in Gaza since October 7, 2023. Nearly 190 Palestinian UN staffers have lost their lives.

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The names and nationalities of the DSS staffers killed and injured were being withheld as the United Nations was in the process of informing the relevant governments and the relevant family members, the Deputy Spokesman added.

He said the world body is trying to get details of the incident.

The DSS staffers were doing their regular work of going to different locations to assess security conditions, he said.

–IANS

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International

Tribal fighter killed in bomb attack in Iraq

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Baghdad, May 26 (IANS) A paramilitary fighter from a local tribal force was killed and four others wounded in twin roadside bomb explosions in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala, the Iraqi military said on Sunday.

The incident took place at 9:40 p.m. local time on Saturday (1840 GMT) when a roadside bomb ripped through an outpost of the tribal fighters affiliated with the Iraqi Hashd Shaabi forces near a village in the Khan Bani Saad area south of Baquba, the provincial capital of Diyala, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, according to a statement released by the Security Media Cell, a media outlet affiliated with the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, reports Xinhua news agency.

The first blast caused no casualties. Upon the arrival of security forces to investigate and pursue the perpetrators, another roadside bomb went off, killing a tribal fighter and injuring four others, according to the statement.

The security situation in Iraq has been improved after the defeat of the militants of the extremist group Islamic State across the country in 2017. However, the country continues to grapple with sporadic attacks.

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–IANS

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Zelensky appeals to Biden and Xi to join Swiss peace talks

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Kharkiv, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday appealed to his US counterpart Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping to participate in a planned peace summit in Switzerland in June.

“We do not want the UN Charter to be burnt down just like these books, and I hope you don’t want to either,” said Zelensky against the backdrop of a printing plant destroyed by a Russian missile attack in the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

“The efforts of the global majority are the best guarantee that all commitments will be fulfilled. Please, support the peace summit with your personal leadership and participation,” Zelensky added, addressing Biden and Xi directly in English in a video posted on the social media platform Telegram.

Switzerland has invited around 160 countries to a peace summit on June 15-16 to discuss possible ways to achieve lasting peace in Ukraine. Russia, which invaded Ukraine more than two years ago, has not received an invitation.

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According to Zelensky, Moscow is currently preparing another attack in northern Ukraine after a recent offensive near the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

Military experts say another Russian offensive in the northern Sumy region is possible. Russia’s aim could be to exploit its manpower and material superiority, overstretch the Ukrainian defence lines and thus achieve the collapse of the Ukrainian front line.

Kharkiv, which lies only 30 kilometres from the Russian border, has been one of the worst-hit cities in Moscow’s bombing campaign since its invasion of Ukraine in February, 2022.

–IANS/DPA

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Israel thins out forces in Rafah, Givati brigade left

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Jerusalem, May 26 (IANS) The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) thinned out forces in eastern parts of the southernmost Gazan city of Rafah, and the Givati infantry brigade left for Israel from the area where it had been operating since the operation a few weeks ago, Israel’s Ynet news website reported on Sunday.

The move comes shortly after Israel announced that it had agreed to renew talks with Hamas on a hostage deal soon, with the mediation of Egypt, Qatar and the US, Xinhua news agency reported.

Israel launched a large-scale offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip to retaliate against a Hamas rampage through the southern Israeli border on October 7, 2023, during which about 1,200 people were killed and over 250 were taken hostage.

The Israeli attacks have so far killed more than 35,900 people in the Gaza Strip, health authorities in the Palestinian enclave said in a press statement on Saturday.

–IANS

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Nearly 1 million evacuated as Cyclone Remal approaches Bangladesh

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Dhaka, May 26 (IANS) Bangladesh has begun evacuating millions of people ahead of Cyclone Remal, which is expected to bring winds as fast as 130 kmph when it makes landfall.

The cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal is poised to cross the country’s coastlines between Sunday evening and midnight, Xinhua news agency reported.

Bangladesh Meteorological Department on Sunday warned of the danger of flooding, landslides and a storm surge.

The great danger signal No. 10 has been sounded for the country’s coastal districts and seaports, where fishing boats, trawlers and maritime vessels have been advised to remain in shelter till further notice.

At 9.00 a.m. local time Sunday, the cyclone was centred 295 km south of Bangladesh’s Mongla port in the southern Khulna region and 380 km southwest of Chattogram port in southeastern Bangladesh, said the bulletin signed by Kh Hafizur Rahman, a meteorologist at BMD.

Bangladeshi State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief, Md Mohibur Rahman, told Xinhua that at least 8,00,000 people from the ten most vulnerable districts have already been evacuated to shelters.

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He said Bangladesh’s navy, coast guard, police, voluntary organisations and political parties were supporting the ongoing massive evacuation efforts.

Television footage showed widespread flooding in the low-lying areas of coastal districts.

Due to the peripheral effect of the severe cyclone and steep pressure gradient, the low-lying areas of the coastal districts of Khulna and Chattogram are likely to be inundated by a wind-driven surge of 8-12 feet height above normal astronomical tide, reads the bulletin.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority has suspended operations of all types of river vessels on all inner routes. Authorities of Chattogram Seaport have ordered to stop unloading of cargo at the outer anchorage and asked all the vessels anchored there to go to the deep sea.

Shah Amanat International Airport in Chattogram has suspended its flight operation for eight hours from Sunday afternoon.

In 2007, Cyclone Sidr hit the country’s southwestern coastal belt, leaving more than 4,000 people dead or missing.

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–IANS

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UN official: Death toll in Papua New Guinea landslide estimated to surpass 670

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Sydney, May 26 (IANS) The death toll from a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea (PNG) was estimated to surpass 670, an official from the International Organisation for Migration told the media on Sunday.

According to Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of the UN migration agency’s mission in the Pacific island country, the scale of the impact was much greater than initially thought.

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Aktoprak said that more than 150 houses might be buried under the debris six to eight metres deep, and over 670 people could have lost their lives.

The area surrounding the disaster zone in Enga province also remained dangerous, with incessant rockfalls and continuous landslides prompting the evacuation of about 1,250 survivors, the official noted.

At around 3:00 a.m. local time on Friday, a massive landslide battered a remote region in Enga province, located over 600 km northwest of PNG’s capital, Port Moresby.

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The UN office in PNG issued a statement on Saturday, offering its deepest condolences to the victims and their families in the Lagaip Porgera District of Enga province.

“While the total number of casualties is yet to be determined, preliminary reporting indicates the death toll may be significant. Search and rescue efforts are underway, although continuous landslides and falling boulders are affecting these efforts,” said a spokesperson.

–IANS

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