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Manchester police probing the terror attack at pop concert, arrested 11 till now

Sonu Kanojia

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British police on Saturday made two more arrests in connection with the suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester that killed 22 people, bringing the number of suspects in custody to 11. A total of 13 people have been arrested in the terror investigation, two of whom have been released without charge,the Greater Manchester Police said.
Eleven people remain in custody in connection with Monday night’s suicide bombing at Manchester Arena, where American singer Ariana Grande had just finished performing. The ages of the detained men range from 18 to 38.Police made two arrests yesterday, one in Moss Side and one in Rusholme. The cousins of the bomber are believed to be among those attested. A 34-year-old woman and 16-year-old boy who were also arrested have been released without charge.Investigators believe 22-year-old Manchester-born suicide bomber Salman Abedi, from a family of Libyan origin, acted as part of a terrorist network and their focus had been on intercepting his wider network.Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations in the Metropolitan Police Service said detectives had made immense progress in the investigation, but warned there were still important lines of inquiry to pursue. “Further arrests are likely, although police believe they have got hold of a large part of the network,” Rowley said.Armed police will now guard hundreds of events across the UK this bank holiday weekend following a reassessment of security after the Manchester bombing. Also Security is being increased at football cup finals at Wembley and Hampden Park and the Great Manchester Run.

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Speculations of US-Taliban talks rise after Afghan ceasefire gamble

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Chances have risen for talks between the Taliban and the United States after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called a ceasefire and allowed militants to roam into cities of Afghanistan in a gamble to encourage peace talks.

The Taliban, thrown out of power in 2001 by U.S.-led troops, insist that any negotiations with what it calls the “puppet” Afghan government on a peace plan can begin only after talks with the United States about getting rid of foreign forces.

Diplomats have concluded that Ghani’s offer to hold peace talks has set the stage for U.S. officials to open negotiations with the Taliban.

“Ghani has done his bit,  It is now for the U.S. to cut through this blockade,” said Thomas Ruttig, co-director of Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent think tank.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared ready to make changes in the policy when he welcomed Ghani’s 10-day extension of a ceasefire that is currently due to end on Wednesday, although Taliban said its ceasefire ended on Sunday.

“As President Ghani emphasised in his statement to the Afghan people, peace talks by necessity would include a discussion of the role of international actors and forces,” Pompeo said. According to him, “The United States is prepared to support, facilitate and participate in these discussions.”

Nolen Johnson, a State Department spokesman, said Ghani had invited the United States to “participate in an Afghan-led peace process,” and there was no substitute to the Taliban connecting with the “sovereign” Kabul government.

A senior U.S. official, before the start of the ceasefire, said, however, there were a number of obstacles that made the prospect of direct talks between the Taliban and US unlikely in the short term. According to him, there was a gap in the amount of knowledge that is available about the Taliban. For instance as to who had the authority to negotiate on their behalf. There is not enough intelligence or resources on this issue, the official said.

The Taliban, in a statement marking the end of their ceasefire on Sunday, said the organisation was unified and called on “the invading American party” to “sit directly for dialogue with the Islamic Emirate to find a solution for the ongoing imbroglio.”

A senior diplomat with knowledge of the negotiations leading to the ceasefire estimated the chances of eventual talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government at “50-50.” While Washington has long resisted direct talks with the Taliban, the official said recent developments indicate “the U.S. now seems less and less averse to it.”

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Nomination papers of PM Abbasi, Imran Khan rejected by Pakistan Election Commission

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In a setback to bigwigs, Pakistan’s election commission on Tuesday rejected the nomination papers of former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan for the NA-53 constituency of Islamabad.

The nomination papers of Abbasi and his covering candidate Sardar Mehtab Khan for NA-53 were rejected by the returning officer after the candidates failed to fill the affidavit as per the requirements, Dawn reported.

According to the returning officer, Abbasi had not submitted complete tax returns with his documents either.

The candidates have vowed to challenge the decision in the election tribunal on Wednesday.

Khan’s nomination papers for the same constituency were rejected on account of being incomplete.

His nomination papers were challenged earlier this month by Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party candidate Abdul Wahab Baloch, who contended that Khan did not fulfill the criterion under articles 62 and 63 on the issue of Sita White and her daughter Tyrian.

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Over 7,000 people from India filed applications for asylum in US in 2017 : UN report

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Over 7,000 people from India filed applications for asylum in the US last year, according to a report by the UN refugee agency which said America was the largest recipient of new asylum requests in 2017.

The UN Refugee Agency said in its annual Global Trends report that 68.5 million people globally were displaced as of the end of 2017. Among them were 16.2 million people who became displaced during 2017 itself, either for the first time or repeatedly indicating a huge number of people on the move and equivalent to 44,500 people being displaced each day, or a person becoming displaced every two seconds.

Wars, other violence and persecution drove worldwide forced displacement to a new high in 2017 for the fifth year in a row, led by the crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan’s war, and the flight into Bangladesh from Myanmar of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees. Overwhelmingly it is developing countries that are most affected, it said.

In the US, the trend of increasing asylum claims from people originating from the north of Central America also continued. Salvadorans made up the largest nationality of applicants with 49,500 claims, almost half again as much as the 33,600 submitted in 2016.

Asylum claims from Venezuelans increased by 63 per cent to 29,900, reflecting the challenging conditions in the country. Other nationalities from which there were more than 5,000 claims in 2017 were Mexico (26,100), China (17,400), Haiti (8,600) and India (7,400). Altogether claims were received from nationals from 168 countries, the report said.

According to the report, there were 197,146 refugees as at 2017 end in India and 10,519 asylum seekers with pending cases. There are about 40,391 asylum seekers from India at the end of last year, the report said.

It added that for the first time since 2013, Syria was not the most common country of origin for new asylum-seekers. The highest number of asylum claims filed by individuals were from nationals of Afghanistan who submitted 124,900 claims in 80 different countries.

As in 2016, Turkey received the most claims with 67,400 registered, replacing Germany, which received 16,400 claims compared with 127,000 in 2016. In contrast to 2016, Greece was the third most common recipient of claims from Afghans with 7,500, followed by France (6,600) and India (4,500).

Refugees originating from Myanmar represented the fourth-largest population group by country of origin, more than doubling in number from less than half a million to 1.2 million by the end of 2017.

The majority of refugees from Myanmar at the end of the year were hosted by Bangladesh (932,200). Other countries with sizable populations of Myanmar refugees were Thailand (100,000), Malaysia (98,000) and India (18,100).

The report said that refugees who have fled their countries to escape conflict and persecution accounted for 25.4 million of the 68.5 million. This is 2.9 million more than in 2016, also the biggest increase UNHCR has seen in a single year.

Asylum-seekers, who were still awaiting the outcome of their claims to refugee status as of 31 December 2017, meanwhile rose by around 300,000 to 3.1 million. People displaced inside their own country accounted for 40 million of the total, slightly fewer than the 40.3 million in 2016.

We are at a watershed, where success in managing forced displacement globally requires a new and far more comprehensive approach so that countries and communities aren’t left dealing with this alone, said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

But there is reason for some hope. Fourteen countries are already pioneering a new blueprint for responding to refugee situations and in a matter of months a new Global Compact on Refugees will be ready for adoption by the United Nations General Assembly.

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