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Vladimir Putin's war not only threatens Ukraine but also US: Antony Blinken

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Washington, Feb 24 (IANS) US Secretary of state department Antony Blinken has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war not only threatens Ukraine but also Washington, NATO allies and free open international trade.

On the second anniversary of Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine, the US state department in a statement said: “The US has built a coalition of 50 countries, including all NATO members and the G7 in defence of the freedom of a sovereign democratic nation. Together, we will continue to impose costs on Putin’s Russia for its actions and ensure accountability for its crimes.”

Expressing solidarity with Kyiy, the US said it will continue to stand resolutely with the Ukrainian people in their defence of their homeland.

“Together, we will continue to impose costs on Putin’s Russia for its actions and ensure accountability for its crimes. We are imposing additional costs for Russia’s internal repression, the death of Aleksey Navalny, and the war against Ukraine,” it added.

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–IANS

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60 foreign nationals held in Afghanistan's jails

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Kabul, June 22 (IANS) A total of 60 foreign nationals have been held in prisons in Afghanistan, a local media outlet reported on Saturday.

Afghanistan is holding 60 foreigners, including 10 women, in prisons, Ariana News quoted Abdullah Hamdard, Deputy Head of the Prison Administration, as saying.

The foreigners are imprisoned in the country for various crimes, said Hamdard, adding that there is no torture in the prisons of the nation, but there are opportunities for prisoners to learn and train.

The nationalities of the detainees were not revealed, Xinhua news agency reported.

The administration had reported 40 foreign detainees in April, adding that they were from various countries, including neighbouring nations.

According to Hamdard, about 20,000 people, including 1,500 women, are currently held in prisons in the country.

–IANS

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Heavy rain hits South Korea; govt activates counter-disaster team

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Seoul, June 22 (IANS) Heavy rains pounded southern regions in South Korea on Saturday, including the southernmost resort island of Jeju, with the government initiating anti-disaster operations to brace for emergencies.

Heavy rainfall of up to 150 millimetres was expected in Jeju over the weekend and as much as 50-100 mm in southwestern Gwangju city and the surrounding South Jeolla Province, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).

The Gwangju regional weather agency said it issued heavy rain advisories for the entire Gwangju and South Jeolla regions starting at noon, reports Yonhap news agency.

A heavy rain advisory is issued when rainfall is expected to exceed 60 mm in three hours or 110 mm in 12 hours.

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said it activated the Level 1 operation of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters to respond to the heavy rains.

The warning level has been elevated to “caution” from “attention”, it said.

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Interior Minister Lee Sang-min called for citizens to avoid visiting regions where the advisories have been issued and instructed related government agencies to proactively prepare for any potential damage.

–IANS

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Malawi: MP, activist arrested over 'inflammatory' posts about Vice President's plane crash

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Lilongwe, June 22 (IANS) Police in Malawi have arrested a Member of Parliament (MP), Kamlepo Kalua, and an activist, Bon Kalindo, for their social media posts regarding the June 10 plane crash that killed the country’s Vice President Saulos Chilima and eight other officials.

National police spokesperson Peter Kalaya confirmed the arrests in a statement on Friday, saying they had made “inflammatory social media posts which are full of innuendos and insinuations”.

Kalaya said that the voice notes in question contain serious criminal elements as defined by the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act, Xinhua news agency reported.

The police spokesperson further said that the posts have the potential to incite violence and disorder.

The social media posts reportedly made by Kalua and Kalindo questioned and contradicted the authorities’ narrative regarding the cause of the plane crash.

The plane, a Dornier 228 military aircraft belonging to the Malawi Defence Force, crashed on June 10 in a forest a few kilometres away from Mzuzu City in northern Malawi due to poor weather conditions, according to the country’s Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Colleen Zamba.

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Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has since engaged foreign experts to join the Malawi Defence Force and the Malawi Police Service in investigating the crash to find out the actual cause.

Meanwhile, experts from Germany are scheduled to jet into the country on Saturday to help investigate, Minister of Information and Digitalisation Moses Kunkuyu said.

–IANS

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Five troops killed in terror attack in Pakistan

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Islamabad, June 22 (IANS) Five troops were killed in a terrorist attack in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a military statement said.

The incident occurred when an improvised explosive device detonated on a security forces vehicle in Kurram district, said the Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistani army.

The troops, aged between 24 and 33, hailed from various parts of the country, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the statement.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, and the statement did not attribute it to any particular entity.

An investigation is underway to eliminate any terrorists present in the area, and perpetrators of the attack will be brought to justice, the statement added.

–IANS

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15 arrested for 'illegal' fishing on Indonesian vessels in Australia

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Canberra, June 22 (IANS) Australian authorities have arrested 15 foreign fishers and seized two Indonesian vessels over alleged illegal fishing activity off the country’s north coast.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) and Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) on Saturday said it detected and apprehended the Indonesian vessels allegedly fishing illegally on Tuesday in the vicinity of Deliverance Island in the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG), reports Xinhua news agency.

The crew were transported to Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT), and were placed in detention while the matter was being investigated and prosecution considered.

In a joint statement, the ABF and AFMA said that the large vessels were equipped with a substantial quantity of fishing equipment. Both vessels will be disposed of by the AFMA.

Under Australian law, anyone found guilty of illegally fishing in the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) faces a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

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Rear Admiral Brett Sonter, Commander of the ABF’s Maritime Border Command (MBC), said that Tuesday’s intercept should serve as a warning to any crews illegally fishing in Australian waters.

“If you fish illegally, you will lose your vessel, your equipment, and you will be placed in immigration detention to face potential prosecution in Australian courts,” he said. “Maritime Border Command is deploying multiple assets and utilising whatever powers available to deter, detect and take enforcement action in response to illegal foreign fishing in Australian waters.”

Fifteen illegal fishers who were apprehended on board three Indonesian vessels in separate incidents in March were in April issued fines totalling 31,300 Australian dollars ($20,868.9) after pleading guilty to offences against the Fisheries Management Act in the Darwin Local Court.

–IANS

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