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New Zealand police order lockdown amid mosque shooting reports

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Christchurch (New Zealand) | Armed police in New Zealand swarmed central Christchurch on Friday amid a shooting at a mosque in the South Island city.

“A serious and evolving situation is occurring in Christchurch with an active shooter,” police said in a statement.

“Police are responding with its full capability to manage the situation, but the risk environment remains extremely high.”

Local media said there were multiple casualties at one mosque and said another had been evacuated, and there were reports that members of the Bangladesh cricket team were also present at one site.

Police commissioner Mike Bush said all schools in the city had been placed in lockdown in response to “a serious ongoing firearms incident”.

“Police urge anyone in central Christchurch to stay off the streets and report any suspicious behaviour,” he said in a statement.

An eyewitness told Radio New Zealand he heard shots fired and four people were lying on the ground, with “blood everywhere”.

There was no official information on casualties but the New Zealand Herald said at least one person was killed.

ESPN Cricinfo reporter Mohammed Isam said members of the Bangladesh cricket team, who are due to play a Test match in Christchurch tomorrow escaped from the mosque.

“They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval,” he tweeted.

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Important for Pakistan and India to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue: Pak envoy

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Pakistan High Commissioner said it was important for Pakistan and India to resolve all outstanding issues and disputes peacefully through dialogue. 

 

New Delhi| Pakistan and India should resolve all outstanding issues and disputes peacefully through dialogue, Pakistani envoy to India Sohail Mahmood said Saturday.

Mahmood, speaking at a function at the Pakistan High Commission here to mark Pakistan Day, underlined his country’s desire for peaceful and good-neighbourly relations with India.

Alluding to recent tensions in bilateral ties, the High Commissioner noted that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to release Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the return of two High Commissioners to their respective missions and continuing bilateral meetings to develop modalities for the operationalisation of the Kartarpur corridor were steps in a “positive direction”.

He said it was important for Pakistan and India to resolve all outstanding issues and disputes peacefully through dialogue.

Pakistan had repeatedly underlined that its desire for peace was not a sign of weakness, but a reflection of constructive thinking of a secure and confident nation, the country’s envoy was quoted as saying by a High Commission statement.

On Friday evening, a National Day reception was hosted by the High Commissioner.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian Air Force fighter jets bombed terror group JeM’s training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26.

Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations the next day. However, the IAF thwarted their plans.

The Indian strike on the JeM camp came 12 days after the terror outfit claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama in which 40 soldiers were killed.

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Hinduja family top Asian Rich List 2019 with net worth of 25.2 billion pounds

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In London, the Hindujas are continuing with the conversion of the Old War Office, on which they have a 250-year lease, into a luxury residential and 125-room Raffles Hotel complex.

 

London| Leading London-based NRI industrial tycoons, the Hinduja family top the Asian Rich List 2019 for the sixth successive year with an estimated net worth of 25.2 billion pounds, an increase of over 3 billion pounds over the previous year.

According to the Asian Rich List 2019 released at the Asian Business Awards here on Friday night, Steel magnates Lakshmi Mittal and his son Aditya Mittal remained in second place, with 11.2 billion pounds- down 2.8 billion pounds.

India’s High Commissioner to the UK Ruchi Ghanashyam released the list which is a compilation of the 101 wealthiest Asians in Britain, highlighting exceptional entrepreneurial achievement over the last 12 months.

SP Lohia (Petrochemicals) took third place with 5.8 billion pounds.

The entries of the Asian Rich List 2019 have a combined wealth of more than 85.2 billion pounds.

The figure is increasing year on year and this year’s overall wealth increases by over 5 billion pounds.

The list features seven new entries, including Hotelier Joginder Sanger and his son Girish Sanger who enter at number 40 on the list with an estimated value of 300 million pounds.

Leading NRI entrepreneur Lord Swraj Paul and family are 17th in the list with a net worth 900 million pounds- an increase of 100 million pounds over the previous year.

Shailesh Solanki, executive editor of Asian Marketing Group (AMG) publisher of the Rich List said, “The Asian Rich List is carefully compiled by a team of experts and it is the definitive guide to Asian wealth in Britain.”

Gopi Chand Hinduja, Co-Chairman of the Hinduja Group said “our existing portfolio of companies is all in the sunrise sectors. Our focus is on banking and financial services, healthcare and of course, philanthropy.”

In London, the Hindujas are continuing with the conversion of the Old War Office, on which they have a 250-year lease, into a luxury residential and 125-room Raffles Hotel complex.

He said in India, there have been investment worth Rupees 1,000 crore (108 million pounds) in car and bus manufacturers Ashok Leyland, where Gopi’s younger son, Dheeraj Hinduja, is chairman.

It recently inaugurated a cutting edge electric vehicle facility in its Ennore plant at Chennai. Ashok Leyland is introducing battery-operated technology in its buses.

Gopi said, “All our businesses are going through a digital transformation journey.”

For example, “Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) is ramping up its headcount in the US, with plans to add 600 more people by June 2019 by setting up a new centre in Florida.”

HGS, rebranded from HTMT Global, has a presence in 12 countries including the Philippines, the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Mauritius, the UAE and Jamaica. In India, it has 68 “delivery centres” in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai as well as in growing cities such as Mysore, Nagercoil, Durgapur, Siliguri and Guntur.

The Hinduja National Power Corp recently acquired Kiran Energy Solar Power for Rs 1,000 crore (108 million) to “augment our presence in the renewable and alternative energy space,” Gopi explained.

In healthcare, special attention is being devoted to spreading “cancer awareness”. In Mumbai, the PD Hinduja Hospital was involved in organising “the cancer is curable ride” on World Cancer Day on February 4.

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ISIS in Syria defeated

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Baghouz | US-backed forces in Syria announced on Saturday they have liberated the last area held by the Islamic State in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz, declaring victory over the extremist group and the end of its self-declared Islamic caliphate.

“Baghouz is free and the military victory against Daesh has been achieved,” tweeted Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, referring to the group by its Arabic acronym.

Elimination of the last IS stronghold in Baghouz marks the end of the militants’ self-declared caliphate, which at its height blanketed large parts of Syria and Iraq.

The campaign to take back the territory by the US and its partners has spanned five years and two U.S. presidencies unleashed more than 100,000 bombs and killed untold numbers of fighters and civilians.

But the weekend announcement, in a tweet, was anti-climactic, and on the ground, sporadic gunfire continued. A day earlier, President Donald Trump declared that Islamic State militants no longer control any territory in Syria.

Associated Press journalists in Baghouz on Saturday reported hearing mortars and gunfire directed toward a cliff overlooking Baghouz, where US-led coalition airstrikes were carried out a day earlier. SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel told the AP Friday that there were still IS fighters hiding in caves near Baghouz and that clearing operations were still underway.

At its height, the Islamic State group ruled a third of both Syria and Iraq, holding millions of people hostage to its harsh and violent interpretation of Islamic law.

The group carried out large-scale massacres and documented them with slickly produced videos circulated online. During a rampage through Iraq’s Sinjar region in 2014, it captured thousands of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority and forced them into sexual slavery. Many remain missing to this day.

The group also used its caliphate as a launchpad for attacks around the globe, including the assaults in Paris in 2015 that killed more than 130 people.

While it imposed an unforgiving version of Islamic law through public beheadings and crucifixions, the group also carried out the mundane duties of governance in its territories, including regulating prices at markets and building infrastructure.

IS no longer controls any territory in Syria or Iraq, but continues to carry out insurgent attacks in both countries. It also maintains affiliates in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

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