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Found 27 results

  1. Photo: AFP A plan for India to build a military base on an outlying Seychelles island has won favour among the archipelago nation's politicians, but some hostility from its people. The base on Assumption Island is to be funded by India and shared by the two countries' militaries. The deal was struck in principle in 2015 during a visit to the Seychelles by India's prime minister Narendra Modi, but progress since has been slow. The government of the Seychelles, based in Victoria on Mahe Island 1,135 kilometres northeast of Assumption, says the base will help coastguards to patrol its 1.3 million square kilometre exclusive economic zone for illegal fishing, drug trafficking and piracy. Currently, the remote coral island has a tin shack post office, an air strip and almost no people, it is less than seven kilometres long, has a high point just 30 metres above sea level and is covered in bird excrement. But its location lends it strategic importance for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel. Small island, big investment India plans to invest $550 million in building the base to help it ensure the safety of its vessels in the southern Indian Ocean. It also says the base will be a resource for other shipping nations. "Assumption is very close to the Mozambique Channel where much of the international trade is transiting, and not just for India but for other countries as well, and our interest is that our trading vessels are safe," said India's ambassador in Victoria, Ausaf Sayeed. India has had a military cooperation agreement with the Seychelles since 2003 and the deal would give it use of the Assumption base for up to 30 years. Indian soldiers would be deployed on the island and help train Seychelles' troops. But ratification of the 2015 agreement has been slow with a new, amended pact only signed between the two countries on January 27. "What we did in relation to the first agreement is to clarify some points that could give rise to litigation," said Frank Ally, the Seychelles' attorney general. He said these included a prohibition on any nuclear uses of the island or weapons storage. India is also not allowed to use Assumption in war. Seeking to allay fears the government has made available to the public some details of the classified defence agreement. Weekly protests Nevertheless, the project remains controversial with small weekly demonstrations in the capital. Indian presence in the Seychelles is a sensitive matter. Some fear an influx of Indian workers who, they say, might come to dominate the economy, while others consider a foreign power building a military base an affront to sovereignty and national pride. "The Seychelles can make its own military base, I am against any foreign military presence!" said Guilmert Corgat, a businessman in Victoria who attended a town hall meeting on the plan in late February. "If this deal is so good for the Seychelles, why don't we hold a referendum?" asked Alexia Amesbury, a lawyer. During the discussions foreign minister Barry Faure was forced to insist the government was not giving the island away, "because Assumption belongs to the Seychelles". Opponents of the plan also cite Assumption's relative proximity to Aldabra atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises. Environmentalists worry about the possible impact of a large military presence so close to an ecosystem that has survived precisely because of the absence of people. Despite the dissenting voices, Sayeed remains positive that parliament will ratify the new agreement when it reopens this month. With the opposition, like the government, broadly in favour of the base, though against too many concessions to India, the diplomat's optimism may be well-founded. "I think politicians and people who see the positive side of this cooperation will be in favour, and I am convinced that it will pass," he said.
  2. Image: REUTERS Video/Screenshot WASHINGTON: Eleven people fell ill and three were transported to a hospital on Tuesday after a letter was opened at a US military base in Arlington, Virginia, the fire department and a base spokeswoman said. ?Someone opened a letter and everyone at the office started feeling badly,? Leah Rubalcaba ? a spokeswoman for Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall ? said. The three people taken to a hospital were in stable condition, Arlington Fire Department said on Twitter. The letter was opened in the Marine Corps? portion of the base, which is located near Washington. ?An envelope containing an unknown substance was received? at the base, the Marine Corps said on Twitter. ?Personnel in the affected building took immediate preventative measures by evacuating the building,? it said.
  3. The site of a suicide car bomb attack outside a police forces camp in Aden, Yemen, November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Fawaz Salman/Files ADEN: At least 14 people were killed and 40 wounded when extremist car suicide bombers and gunmen tried to storm the headquarters of a counter-terrorism unit in the southern port city of Aden on Saturday, security and medical sources said. Daesh, in a statement carried by its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility for what it described as two ?martyrdom operations? targeting the camp in Tawahi district in south-western Aden. The agency provided no immediate evidence for the claim. Security sources said two suicide bombers detonated two cars laden with explosives at the camp?s entrance while six gunmen tried to storm the facility. They were all killed by guards and their bodies taken to a military hospital, a medical source told Reuters. Aden police said in a statement on its Facebook page that security forces had foiled a major attack on the camp. ?All the ... terrorists were liquidated immediately before they could reach the outer gate of the anti-terrorism headquarters,? a police statement said. Security sources and medics said three security men, a woman and two children died in the attack, while 40 other people, many of them civilians, were wounded. The attack was the first of its kind in southern Yemen since gun battles erupted in January between southern separatists and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi?s government over control of the city. Aden is the temporary capital of Yemen?s internationally recognized Hadi government, which is now operating out of Saudi Arabia. Backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition, Hadi?s government has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement since 2015 in a war that has driven the country to the verge of famine. Residents described two large explosions in the area that sent up a cloud of gray smoke while ambulances raced to evacuate the wounded. In a statement carried by the state-run Saba news agency, Hadi described the attack as a ?cowardly act aimed to destabilize security in the temporary capital ... but it will not dissuade people from their will to achieve security, safety and decent living.? Al Qaeda and Daesh have exploited the war in Yemen to carry out assassinations and bombings, mostly in lawless southern Yemeni areas nominally controlled by the government.
  4. Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard at the entrance gate of Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/Files KABUL: Seven Afghan army officers, including two generals, have been sacked over a deadly attack on a Kabul military base, President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday, as the Afghan capital braces for further assaults. At least five attackers ? gunmen and suicide bombers ? launched the pre-dawn raid claimed by Daesh on January 29, killing 11 soldiers and wounding 16. "Seven high-ranking officers including two generals committed professional negligence. All seven are sacked and referred for further investigations," Ghani said on Twitter after a probe into the incident. Ghani?s US-backed government is under growing public pressure to improve security in the capital after a series of attacks demonstrated the ability of the Taliban and Daesh to strike at the heart of the country. Since January 20, militants have stormed a luxury hotel, bombed a crowded street and raided the military compound in Kabul, killing more than 130 people. The assaults, including a devastating ambulance bomb attack that killed more than 100 people and wounded hundreds, have left already war-weary citizens grief-stricken and angry as the Taliban and Daesh escalate their offensives. Kabul remains on high alert for more attacks. The National Directorate of Security ? Afghanistan?s spy agency ? on Tuesday, seized a truck it said was carrying two tonnes of material which could be used to make bombs. The truck was travelling from Kabul to the northern province of Parwan where the US Bagram airbase is located, an official said.
  5. Afghan Wakhi nomad families travelling on yaks in the Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan province of Afghanistan KABUL: Worried about militants sneaking into a restive Chinese region from war-torn Afghanistan, Beijing is in talks with Kabul over the construction of a military base, Afghan officials say, as it seeks to shore up its fragile neighbour. The army camp will be built in Afghanistan´s remote and mountainous Wakhan Corridor, where witnesses have reported seeing Chinese and Afghan troops on joint patrols. The freezing, barren panhandle of land -- bordering China´s tense Xinjiang region -- is so cut off from the rest of Afghanistan that many inhabitants are unaware of the Afghan conflict, scraping out harsh but peaceful lives. However, they retain strong links with neighbours in Xinjiang, and with so few travellers in the region local interest in the Chinese visitors has been high, residents told AFP on a recent visit there. China´s involvement in the base comes as President Xi Jinping seeks to extend Beijing´s economic and geopolitical clout. The Chinese are pouring billions of dollars into infrastructure in South Asia. With Afghanistan´s potential to destabilise the region, analysts said any moves there would be viewed through the prism of security. Beijing fears that exiled Uighur members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) are passing through the Wakhan into Xinjiang to carry out attacks. It also worries that the Daesh group militants fleeing Iraq and Syria could cross Central Asia and Xinjiang to reach Afghanistan, or use the Wakhan to enter China, analysts say. Afghan and Chinese officials discussed the plan in December in Beijing, but details are still being clarified, Afghan defence ministry deputy spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh said. "We are going to build it (the base) but the Chinese government has committed to help the division financially, provide equipment and train the Afghan soldiers," he told AFP recently. A senior Chinese embassy official in Kabul would only say Beijing is involved in "capacity-building" in Afghanistan. NATO´s US-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan declined to comment. But US officials have previously welcomed China´s role in Afghanistan, noting they share the same security concerns. Joint patrols Members of the Kyrgyz ethnic minority in Wakhan told AFP in October they had been seeing Chinese and Afghan military patrols for months. "The Chinese army first came here last summer and they were accompanied by the Afghan army," said Abdul Rashid, a Kyrgyz chief, adding that he had seen vehicles flying Chinese flags. The Afghan army arrived days earlier "and told us that the Chinese army would be coming here", he said, adding: "We were strictly told not to go near them or talk to them and not to take any photos." Rashid´s account was confirmed by other Kyrgyz, including another chief Jo Boi, who said the Chinese military spent almost a year in Wakhan before leaving in March 2017. Beijing recently flagged the possibility of including Afghanistan in the $54-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) linking western China to the Indian Ocean via Pakistan Both Chinese and Afghan officials deny the claims, with China´s defence ministry telling AFP that the "Chinese army is not engaged in any military operation in the Wakhan Corridor". With little access to the corridor, Kabul provides almost no services to those who live there -- but the Chinese, Boi said, have been bringing "a lot of food and warm clothes". "They are very good people, very kind," he told AFP. After their March visit, he said, they returned in June for roughly a month. "Since then they come every month... to distribute food." Economic interests China fears militancy could threaten its growing economic interests in the region, Ahmad Bilal Khalil, a researcher at the Kabul-based Center for Strategic and Regional Studies, told AFP. "They need to have a secure Afghanistan," he said, estimating Beijing had provided Kabul with more than $70 million in military aid in the past three years. It recently flagged the possibility of including Afghanistan in the $54-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) linking western China to the Indian Ocean via Pakistan. "The anti-terrorism motivation is an important one but it´s not as important as the bigger move to boost the CPEC," said Willy Lam, a political analyst in Hong Kong. Kabul is also keen for Beijing to have a "more active role", Andrew Small, author of The China-Pakistan Axis, told AFP. It hopes China will use its "special relationship" with Islamabad to encourage the Pakistani military to "force the Taliban into peace talks", Small said. "In the end China has vastly greater financial power than anyone else. So having them engaged... may end up being critical to the country´s basic economic viability," he said.
  6. BEIRUT: Syria?s army has broken the siege of an army base encircled by opposition forces on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, state-run al-Ikhbariya TV and a war monitor reported on Sunday. Last Sunday, rebels, mainly belonging to the Ahrar al Sham faction, widened their control of parts of the Military Vehicles Administration base in the Eastern Ghouta town of Harasta. Army elite forces, backed by Russian jets, launched an offensive to break the siege and liberate at least 200 troops who were believed to be trapped within its sprawling, heavily defended grounds. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the Syrian forces have ?opened a loophole? that led them into the base. Rebel fighters had stormed the base last November in a drive to relieve pressure on Eastern Ghouta?s towns and villages. The base has long been used to strike at the densely populated Eastern Ghouta in an attempt to force the rebel enclave into submission. More than 300,000 people there have lived under siege by army troops since 2013.
  7. Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman addressing the inauguration ceremony of PAF Base Bholari. Photo: Pakistan Air Force 1 KARACHI: Pakistan Air Force (PAF), in a landmark event in its history, inaugurated a newly established main operating base ? PAF Base Bholari ? earlier on Monday, said a statement by the PAF. The establishment of PAF's new operational airbase would play a key role in safeguarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, said Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman. ?Indeed, PAF Base Bholari is a project of strategic significance for capacity enhancement of Pakistan Air Force in operational domain both overland as well as at sea. With the establishment of the Base, PAF would be able to support the land operations of Pak Army more efficiently. More so, PAF Base Bholari would also augment and supplement the very important maritime operations carried out by Pak Navy,? Aman said while addressing the inauguration ceremony. He further said that besides providing aerial defence to the motherland, the base would also play a key role in the socio-economic uplift of the adjoining areas by providing state of the art health services, quality education and employment to the locals. The air base ? located northeast of Karachi ? is a significant milestone that will not only strengthen the defence of Karachi and coastline but also provide aerial support to the Pakistan Army and Navy for their land and operations respectively. Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman along with Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah witnessing the flypast by F-16 of Number 19 Squadron at PAF Base Bholari. Photo: Pakistan Air Force1 Four F-16 aircraft presented a flypast to welcome the guests, including Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, who attended the ceremony as the guest of honour. The ceremony was attended by Principal Staff Officers of PAF, senior officers of Defence forces and a large number of dignitaries from the government.
  8. MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia would keep its Hmeymim air base in Syria?s Latakia Province as well as its naval facility at Tartous ?on a permanent basis? despite a decision to start pulling some of its forces out of Syria. Putin on Monday ordered Russian forces in Syria to start withdrawing, saying that after a two-year military campaign, Moscow and Damascus had achieved their mission of destroying Islamic State.
  9. China's President Xi Jinping claps after his speech as he and other new Politburo Standing Committee members meet with the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 25, 2017. REUTERS BEIJING (Reuters) - Troops serving at China?s first overseas military base, in the Horn of Africa country of Djibouti, should help promote peace and stability, President Xi Jinping told them in a video chat, encouraging them to promote a good image. China formally opened the base in August on the same day as the People?s Liberation Army marked its 90th birthday. It is China?s first overseas naval base, although Beijing officially describes it as a logistics facility. Djibouti?s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fueled worry in India that it would become another of China?s ?string of pearls? military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Speaking to China?s Djibouti-based forces during a visit to a joint battle command center in Beijing, Xi ?got a good understanding? of the base?s operations and the lives of the soldiers there, China?s Defence Ministry said late on Friday. Xi ?encouraged them to establish a good image for China?s military and promote international and regional peace and stability?, the ministry said. The soldiers responded that they would not let Xi or China down, it said. China began construction of the base in Djibouti last year. It will be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular. Chinese President Xi Jinping is overseeing an ambitious military modernization program, including developing capabilities for China?s forces to operate far from home. During his visit to the command center, Xi also instructed the armed forces to improve their combat capability and readiness for war, the ministry said. Xi said progress in joint operation command systems, especially in efficiency at the regional level, was needed and troops must conduct training under combat conditions. Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia also hosts U.S., Japanese and French bases. There has been persistent speculation in diplomatic circles that China would build other such bases, in Pakistan for example, but the government has dismissed this.
  10. MOSCOW: Russia said Tuesday its submarine deployed in the Mediterranean fired three ballistic missiles to destroy a command post of Daesh group in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province. "A missile strike with three Kalibr missiles destroyed a command post with large numbers of militants and armed vehicles and also a large weapons and ammunition depot," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook. It said the strikes targeted the area around the town of Abu Kamal, one of the few remaining urban strongholds of Daesh in Syria. The ministry added it could confirm "the destruction of all the given targets." It posted a video on Twitter of a missile blasting out of the sea. There have been heavy clashes between the Syrian army and Daesh group in the city of Deir Ezzor, capital of the Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria. Russia said Tuesday that its Veliky Novgorod submarine has carried out four cruise missile strikes on terrorist groups since it was deployed to the Mediterranean in late August. At Russia's Syrian naval base of Tartus in the eastern Mediterranean, Russian ships have played a prominent role backing up an aerial bombing campaign in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. The submarines are covered from Syria by Moscow's S-300 and S-400 missiles systems and its Bastion coastal defence system.
  11. File photo/ Reuters KANDAHAR: Militants carried out suicide bombing attack on an Afghan National Army base in Maiwand district in Kandahar late on Wednesday night, killing at least 43 military personnel, said Afghan media reports. Of 60 soldiers manning the base in the southern province of Kandahar, 43 were killed, nine were wounded and six were missing after Taliban militants stormed the base in the middle of the night, the ministry said in a statement. The militants sought entry into the base through explosive-laden Humvee vehicles and detonated them at the gate. Following the suicide blast, the other militants entered into the military base and opened fire. The security forces fired in retaliation, while foreign troops carried out aerial firing to neutralise the enemy, killing at least 10 militants. The attack was confirmed by Gen. Abdul Raziq, provincial police chief of Kandahar. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
  12. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently shared a rendered picture of his monster interplanetary rocket sitting on the surface of the Moon. He captioned it simply as “Moon Base Alpha.” But soon after, he also shared another rendering picture of what SpaceX's future Martian city could look like. So, all this happened on his Instagram account just before his scheduled presentation about colonizing Mars. The photo hints that Musk could discuss how his vehicle, the Interplanetary Transport System, could be used to establish a human presence on the lunar surface. Here is a rendered picture of a SpaceX Moon base Moon Base Alpha A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on Sep 28, 2017 at 7:44pm PDT This picture of the SpaceX Moon base does not seem to align with his previous vision where he made it clear that he would colonize Mars and not the moon. In a paper about his colonization plans, he wrote, “We could conceivably go to our Moon, and I actually have nothing against going to the Moon, but I think it is challenging to become multi-planetary on the Moon because it is much smaller than a planet.” With such pictures being shared on his account, it seems like he wants everybody to know that there has been some changes in his plan. Now, this drastic change in his vision from only colonizing Mars to also considering colonizing the Moon may have something to do with slowly building pressure from the Trump administration and the space community at large. Not long ago the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, hinted that the new administration may call for a return to the Moon. Also, major space agencies including Russia, China, and the European Space Agency are interested in missions to the Moon. A large number of companies from the private sector are also interested in the Moon due to feasibility reasons. Here is a rendered picture of what a Mars City could look like Mars City Opposite of Earth. Dawn and dusk sky are blue on Mars and day sky is red. A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on Sep 28, 2017 at 8:03pm PDT He captioned it, “Mars City Opposite of Earth, Dawn and dusk sky are blue on Mars and day sky is red” That caption really explains why Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars first and everything later. So by showcasing how his rocket could be used for a Moon mission, he might be trying to attract potential customers. Also, there is an equal probability of the Moon being used as a stepping stone to get to Mars. You never know what goes into on in his futuristic mind until he says or does something spectacular. . You can learn more about his plans at his talk at the International Aeronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, which is slated to start at 12:30 AM ET on September 29th. You can watch it below. Making Life Multiplanetary
  13. PAF JF-17 aircraft parked at Korla Air Base in China/PAF BEIJING: Joint exercises between Chinese and Pakistani air forces, dubbed ?Shaheen-VI?, are under way at China?s Korla Air Base in Xinjiang province. The Pakistan Air Force contingent, comprising combat pilots, air defense controllers and technical ground crew, is participating in the exercise, during which the contingents from both sides demonstrated mutual trust by sitting in the same fighters. In the ongoing joint drills, air force personnel cooperated in planning and implementing strategies, as well as learning operational concepts and tactics from each other. The previous drills only provided experience of sitting in the same fighter instead of cooperating in fighting. JF-17 Thunder, Mirage, F-7PG and ZDK aircraft from PAF along with PLA Air Force J-8, J-11, JH-7 and KJ-200 AWACS aircraft and ground forces including surface-to-air missile and radar troops, are taking part in the exercise which commenced at Korla Air Base in China on September 7. F7-PG aircraft parked at Korla Air Base in China/PAF Li Wengang, Head of China-Pakistan joint training command office, said that sitting in the same aircraft to fight was a reflection of the deep mutual trust between the two countries and their militaries. Chen Lei, a leader of a Chinese pilot team, said that the drill improved trainees? skills and friendship, adding that individuals from both sides have become ?buddies? after more than 10 days? training. Chinese Navy?s aviation troops also participated in the training, according to Shen Jinke, spokesperson for the People?s Liberation Army Air Force. ?We need to learn from foreign armies and improve our capability to complete multiple tasks to build a world-class air force,? he added. A Mirage aircraft departing for a sortie/PAF A senior military official at Pakistan Embassy remarked that the PAF ? PLA Air Force joint exercise commenced in China on September 7, which is celebrated as Air Force Day in Pakistan to commemorate PAF?s successful air battle against Indian Air Forces in September 1965. PAF emphasises the combat training of its air and ground crew and regularly undertakes air exercises with air forces of friendly countries. ?Shaheen-VI? is the sixth in the series of Joint Air Exercises between PAF and People?s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, which is conducted each year in both countries on alternate basis. The ongoing joint training exercise will conclude on September 27.
  14. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her main rival Martin Schulz make their last-ditch appeal for votes ahead of Sunday´s elections BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel and her main rival Martin Schulz return to their home bases to make their last-ditch appeal for votes ahead of Sunday´s elections, urging Germans to shun anti-migrant populists. Merkel will end her punishing campaigning schedule in her Baltic coast constituency Saturday. But far from heading to districts where her Christian Democratic Union enjoys its strongest support, she is visiting districts in the town of Greifswald and the island of Ruegen where the Alternative for Germany topped her party´s score in state elections last year. Social Democrat chief Schulz meanwhile will take his rally to Aachen, a western city next to his hometown of Wuerselen. Although Merkel´s party enjoys a double-digit lead over the second place SPD, alarm is growing among mainstream parties as the latest polls show support for the hard-right AfD rising in the final campaigning stretch to between 11 and 13 percent. That means that around 60 lawmakers of the openly anti-immigration party could sit in the German parliament for the first time since World War II, a prospect prompting established parties to urge voters to shun the upstarts. ´Shame for our nation´ At Merkel´s final major stump speech on Friday evening at the southern city of Munich, dissenters blew whistles and vuvuzelas and chanted "get lost", seeking to drown her out. But the 63-year-old refused to be derailed from her stability-and-prosperity stump speech, telling the crowd that "the future of Germany will definitely not be built up through whistles and hollers." Merkel, whose rallies across Germany had been plagued by organised AfD supporters, also called people to go out and "vote for the parties that are 100 percent loyal to our constitution". In an appeal for voters to close ranks and keep the AfD out, Schulz told a rally in central Berlin that "this Alternative for Germany is no alternative. They are a shame for our nation." Martin Schulz and Chancellor Angela Merkel/File photo Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, also a Social Democrat, said the party is led by "people who incite hate, who spread Nazi propaganda". "For the first time since the end of the Second World War, real Nazis will sit in the German parliament," said Gabriel. Challenge taboos Two months of campaigning have been largely low-key, with few hot-button issues dividing the main contenders. While Merkel has been pushing her stability and prosperity agenda and Schulz seeking to sway voters with his pledges for greater social equality, the AfD has diverted attention. Sueddeutsche Zeitung columnist Heribert Prantl praised the chancellor for not only pressing on with her rallies despite protests from AfD supporters, but also giving a clear rebuttal to the populists. But the columnist regretted that it only came late in the campaign when it became "clear how the political climate in Germany will change with the AfD in the Bundestag." "Not only nationalist politicians, but racists and bigots too will enter parliament," he wrote, adding that "the seriousness of the situation was only recognised too late." Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, said the AfD "will challenge key themes" in parliament, warning that taboos since 1945 that could be breached include how Germany views its World War II past and the question of what makes a German. One of two AfD leading candidates, Alexander Gauland, had called for Germans to stop atoning for the war past. He had also sparked outrage when he said integration commissioner Aydan Ozoguz should be "disposed of in Anatolia", suggesting that she will never be German because of her Turkish origin.
  15. KABUL: Two Afghan women working for a security firm searching people entering Bagram air base near the Afghan capital Kabul were killed on Wednesday and two others wounded by unknown gunmen, officials said. The four were shot outside the base by two masked gunmen on a motorbike, said Wahida Shahkar, a spokeswoman for the provincial governor of Parwan. "Two of them were killed and two wounded," she said. "The attackers managed to escape the area." There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said he was checking the report. In June, six Afghan guards working at Bagram for a private security contractor were killed while on their way to work in an attack claimed by the Taliban. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military which runs Bagram, the largest US base in Afghanistan. The number of Afghan personnel working at Bagram was cut sharply last year after a mechanic detonated a suicide vest, killing four Americans and wounding 17 other people.
  16. Venezuela's military was on Monday hunting an ex-officer and a lieutenant who led uniformed rebels on a weekend raid to grab weapons from an army base, fueling fears the country's worsening crisis could tip into armed conflict. The defense minister and head of the armed forces, General Vladimir Padrino, said the ex-National Guard captain, Juan Carlos Caguaripano, and the lieutenant, Jefferson Gabriel Garcia, were behind the Sunday attack on the base in the third city of Venezuela by 20 men in uniform. Just before the raid, Caguaripano posted a video online declaring it part of a "legitimate rebellion... to reject the murderous tyranny of (President) Nicolas Maduro." Appearing with more than a dozen uniformed men, some armed, he demanded a transitional government and "free elections." Maduro said on state television Sunday that the attack saw a three-hour firefight in which two of the rebels died and eight were captured, including another lieutenant who was involved. Ten other attackers made off with an unspecified arsenal. Caguaripano and Garcia "managed to flee and a special operation has been deployed to find and capture them," Padrino said. He said Garcia had been in charge of the base's weapons depot and acted as an accomplice from the inside, while Caguaripano had been discharged from the army in 2014 after multiple disciplinary offenses. Padrino said most of the rebels were civilians with criminal records who were contracted in Venezuela by people with links to pro-opposition sympathizers in Colombia and the United States. He and Maduro described the attackers as "terrorists" and "mercenaries" and insisted they did not signify any fracturing of the army. "This group was not acting for ideals or nationalist principles. They were paid from Miami by extreme-right groups linked to the Venezuelan opposition as well as foreign governments that maintain a hostile and interfering attitude against the country," Padrino said. Loyal brass The defense minister insisted the military's loyalty to Maduro's government -- a third of which is controlled by current or former officers -- was unshakable. Questions were being asked, however, whether lower ranks in Venezuela's military were rebelling. The opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, said the country's crisis dividing Venezuela's society "is being seen... in the barracks of our armed forces." The head of the opposition-controlled congress, Julio Borges, has demanded the "truth" from the government about what happened on Sunday. But a powerful member of Maduro's Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, rejected suggestions of a troop rebellion. "There is no insurrection of any type. That is a politically inspired lie," he said. Nevertheless, analysts said discord could be seen in the lower ranks of the security forces. "There are indications of growing discontent in the middle ranks of the police and soldiers, even though military commanders remain allied to the government," said Diego Moya-Ocampos, of IHS Markit Country Risk in London. "You can expect new incidents to occur as this unease grows," he said. Venezuela isolated Venezuela's opposition has repeatedly urged the military to abandon Maduro, so far to no avail. The crisis in the oil-rich country is rooted in large part to the collapse of its economy due to a plunge in global oil prices. Public anger is widespread as people struggle for basics like food and medicine, and inflation has soared to triple digits. Maduro, however, blames an economic "war" that he says is fomented by the right-wing opposition in cahoots with the United States. Venezuela has become increasingly isolated internationally as Maduro tightens his hold on power through a contested loyalist assembly that started work last week. Opposition leaders are under increased threat of arrest after protests -- fiercely countered by security forces -- that have left 125 people dead in the past four months. The new "Constituent Assembly" elected in a controversial vote organized by Maduro and packed with his allies has moved quickly to clamp down on dissent since starting work last week. Its first act was to dismiss the attorney general, Luisa Ortega, who had broken ranks with Maduro to become one of his most vociferous critics. It has also created a "truth commission" that Maduro wants to use to prosecute opposition lawmakers and leaders for alleged "crimes." He has urged the commission to lift parliamentary immunity for opposition figures. The United States accuses Maduro of installing an "authoritarian dictatorship" that has turned Venezuela into an international pariah. The United States, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Peru have slammed the "illegal" sacking of Ortega. And Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil have indefinitely suspended Venezuela from the South American trading bloc Mercosur for its "rupture of the democratic order." Foreign ministers from 15 Latin American nations were to meet in Peru on Tuesday to decide what joint action they could take over Venezuela.
  17. A general view of the Port of Djibouti in Ambouli, Djibouti/Reuters BEIJING: China has officially opened its first overseas naval base in Djibouti, state media said Tuesday, a major step for the country´s expansion of its military presence abroad. Chinese military personnel, officials and guests attended a flag-raising ceremony and military parade to mark the occasion, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The event was timed to coincide with the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the establishment of China´s military, the People´s Liberation Army, on August 1. Officers and troops paraded for an audience that included Djibouti´s defence minister, Xinhua said. The logistics base is the first of its kind for Beijing, which will use it to support "naval escorts in Africa and southwest Asia, (UN) peacekeeping and for humanitarian support," according to a previous China defence ministry statement. China sent its first deployment of troops to the facility on July 11, marking the occasion with a ceremony in the southern province of Guangdong. China has described the base as "defensive in nature", saying it will provide support for naval escorts, UN peacekeeping, anti-piracy and evacuating Chinese nationals from the region in case of emergency. The Chinese navy has long assisted anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden, as well as UN peacekeeping efforts throughout Africa. China started building the base in February 2016 in the entrepot on the Horn of Africa, where it will be stationed just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, the United States´ only permanent base in Africa. Beijing has made extensive infrastructure investments throughout the African continent as it seeks to gain access to natural resources and new markets. Chinese banks have been major funders of at least 14 such projects in Djibouti, valued at 14.4 billion dollars in total, including a railway line that will halve transit times from Djibouti to Ethiopia´s Addis Ababa. Home to only around 800,000 people, Djibouti also hosts troops from France and Japan.
  18. People's Liberation Army troops. Photo: Reuters/File BEIJING: Ships carrying Chinese military personnel for Beijing's first overseas military base, in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, have left China to begin setting up the facility as China's rapidly modernising military hones its global reach. Djibouti's position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worries in India that it would become another of China's "string of pearls" of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. China began construction of a logistics base in strategically located Djibouti last year that will resupply naval vessels taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular. This will be China's first overseas naval base, although Beijing officially describes it as a logistics facility. State news agency Xinhua said in a short report late on Tuesday the ships had departed from Zhanjiang in southern China "to set up a support base in Djibouti". Navy commander Shen Jinlong "read an order on constructing the base in Djibouti" but the report did not say when the base might formally begin operations. Xinhua said the establishment of the base was a decision made by both countries after "friendly negotiations, and accords with the common interest of the people from both sides". "The base will ensure China's performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia," it said. "The base will also be conducive to overseas tasks including military cooperation, joint exercises, evacuating and protecting overseas Chinese and emergency rescue, as well as jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways," the Xinhua report. "Not military expansionism" The People's Liberation Army Daily said in a front-page commentary this was a landmark move that would increase China's ability to ensure global peace, especially because it has so many United Nations peacekeepers in Africa and is so involved in anti-piracy patrols. China would not seek military expansionism or get into arms races no matter what happened, it said. "These promises will not change because of the construction of the overseas logistics base," it said. The state-run Global Times said in an editorial on Wednesday there could be no mistake that this was in fact a military base. "Certainly this is the People's Liberation Army's first overseas base and we will base troops there. It's not a commercial resupply point. It makes sense there is attention on this from foreign public opinion," said the paper, which is published by the official People's Daily, said. However, China's military development was about protecting its own security, it said. "It's not about seeking to control the world." Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia also hosts US, Japanese and French bases. There has been persistent speculation in diplomatic circles that China would build other such bases, in Pakistan for example, but the government has dismissed this.
  19. Pentagon forecast that Beijing would likely build more bases overseas. BEIJING: China said on Thursday that talk the country was building a military base in Pakistan was pure speculation, after a Pentagon report earlier this month singled out Pakistan as a possible location for a future Chinese military base. The Pentagon forecast that Beijing would likely build more bases overseas after establishing a facility in the African nation of Djibouti. Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian was asked at a regular monthly news briefing if China would build a naval base in the Chinese-invested Pakistani port city of Gwadar. "Talk that China is building a military base in Pakistan is pure guesswork," Wu said, without elaborating. Djibouti´s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worries in India that it would become another of China´s "string of pearls" of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. China has repeatedly downplayed expectations it could be about to embark on a plan to build military bases around the world, even as it ramps up an impressive military modernisation programme.
  20. Turkey and Qatar have a long history of being on the same side of regional conflicts and developments. Photo: AP Turkey rejected a call from four Arab states on Friday to shut down its military base in Qatar, saying the base was a guarantor of security in the Gulf and demands for its closure represented interference in its ties with Doha. Defense Minister Fikri Isik told Turkish broadcaster NTV that he had not yet seen a request for the closure of the base, but made clear Ankara had no plans to review a 2014 agreement with Qatar which led to it being set up. He was speaking after an official from one of the four Arab states boycotting Qatar over alleged support for terrorism said they had sent Doha a list of 13 demands including closing down the military installation. "If there is such a demand, it will mean interference in bilateral ties," Isik said, suggesting instead that Turkey might continue to bolster its presence in Qatar. Five armored vehicles and 23 military personnel arrived in Doha on Thursday in a deployment Turkey's armed forces said was part of a military training and cooperation deal. Some 88 Turkish soldiers were already in Qatar, according to the Hurriyet newspaper. The newspaper said a joint exercise by Turkish and Qatari forces was expected following the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday which starts on Sunday, and the number of Turkish soldiers sent to the Gulf state could eventually reach 1,000. An air force contingent was also envisaged, it said. "The strengthening of the Turkish base would be a positive step in terms of the Gulf's security," Isik said. "Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda." Turkey, which has long tried to play the role of regional mediator, is also wary of upsetting its other allies in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, and Isik said Ankara had hoped that tensions over Qatar could be resolved without a crisis. Isik said Turkey's presence in Qatar should be seen as a benefit for the whole Gulf. "The base in Qatar is both a Turkish base and one that will preserve the security of Qatar and the region," he said. Turkey's military support for Qatar has been matched by stepped up commercial links. Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci said Turkish exports to Qatar have tripled since the four Arab countries began boycotting the Gulf state earlier this month. "Since June 5 exports to Qatar have amounted to $32.5 million. Of this $12.5 million is food. This figure is three times the normal level," Tufenkci told reporters at a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner on Thursday evening. Turkey has sent more than 100 cargo planes of supplies to Qatar but Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said it was not sustainable to maintain supplies through an air lift.
  21. Almost every child has grown up watching Disney's animated feature ‘Aladdin' and dreamed of owning a Genie who will make all our wishes come true. If not that, we've definitely imagined ourselves in Mr. India's shoes doing all sorts of unimaginable things under the sun. While these thoughts and fantasies will still continue to remain a distant dream for us, this YouTuber got an opportunity to turn the tables and crush the world with the press of a button. Well, not exactly, but at least he got to experience how it would feel like to be the reason behind the destruction of the world. Drew Scanlon, a popular YouTuber, got a chance to explore a nuclear base in Ukraine that was decommission in the year 2000 and was reopened as the Strategic Missile Forces Museum a year later. This visit was a part of his online travel series, Cloth Map. © YouTube Drew was accompanied by Dmytro, his tour guide who took him through a tunnel, narrow corridors, and thick heavy doors and finally to the room where people would wait for orders to launch a nuclear strike. While passing through the equipment, one can see that all of them are very well-maintained. What's more fascinating is there were all the basic necessities that one needs to survive after causing massive devastation. From canned food, water, working toilets, tea station to medicines, a fridge and beds; it was all enough for people to survive in the bunker for 45 days. Dmytro further added “They used to have radio sets and a television set but what's the use after everyone died?” While, everything was going fine, the team then entered the room which was the key source of destruction – a control room from where you can activate the nuclear weapons. Had that nuclear base been a functional one, a ‘gray' button would be all it takes to nuke Washington D.C. in 22 minutes. Well, we are sure you would be scratching your heads wondering why it is gray and not a red button. We guess that's something under the jurisdiction of movie directors, because in real life it was a ‘gray' button that did the job. Drew is strapped to a seat and then explained that had this been real, he would have received codes from Moscow to activate the nuclear weapons and was even asked to try it out. Well, although it is not an active one but the fact that you have the power to kill thousands of people and destroy the whole f**king world, it will still scare the sh*t out of us if we ever had to press that button.
  22. Photo: File KABUL: Taliban gunmen have killed eight Afghan guards working at the largest American base in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, as the US appears set to boost its troop presence in the country. The guards were ambushed near Bagram base north of Kabul as they were driving home in a convoy late Monday, said district governor Abdul Shakoor Quddusi. "They were all local residents serving as guards at Bagram," he said, adding that two other guards were wounded. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came as the insurgents intensify their nationwide spring offensive against Western and government targets. Washington is soon expected to announce an increase in the US military deployment to bolster Afghan forces, who are struggling to contain the insurgency. American military commanders in Afghanistan have requested thousands of extra boots on the ground. US troops in Afghanistan now number about 8,400, and there are another 5,000 from NATO allies, a far cry from the US presence of more than 100,000 six years ago. They mainly serve as trainers and advisers. Bagram, around 50 kilometres (31 miles) north of Kabul, houses the largest contingent of US soldiers in the country. The assault comes after seven American soldiers were wounded Saturday when an Afghan soldier opened fire at them inside a northern military base, the second "insider" attack in a week. Analysts say such attacks are expected to increase this year as US troops engage with the Afghan military to double the size of its special forces, considered to be effective in the fight against insurgents. The Afghan conflict is the longest in American history, with US-led forces at war since the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001.
  23. HEREFORD: Police in West Midlands have arrested a man with knives and an axe near an Army Reserve centre, reported the BBC. The 23-year-old man was arrested on Sunday night. Police officials said there was nothing to indicate that there was a threat to the army centre and was not related to the terror attack in Finsbury Park, London. The man?s motives are not yet known and he is in custody, BBC quoted police officials as saying. ?On identifying the man our officers took prompt action to contain the threat and take him into custody,? said Asst Ch Con Martin Evans of West Mercia Police. He added that an "extremely sensitive investigation" was being carried out and added that additional police patrols would take place in the town to safeguard the citizens.
  24. MAZAR-I-SHARIF: At least one Afghan was killed and seven American soldiers were wounded in an "insider attack" at a base in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, a US military official said. A spokesman for the US military command in Kabul said earlier comments by an Afghan official that Americans had been killed were incorrect. But he confirmed that seven soldiers had been evacuated after being wounded in the incident at Camp Shaheen, the headquarters of the Afghan army´s 209th Corps in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. At least one Afghan soldier was killed and another wounded, the US official said. He could not immediately say if the suspected shooter was among the dead or wounded. Abdul Qahar Araam, spokesman for the Afghan army´s 209th Corps, announced earlier that an Afghan soldier had shot and killed four US soldiers inside the base. In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said an Afghan commando loyal to the militant group had opened fire on foreign "invaders", killing four and wounding four others. The German military heads the multinational advising mission based in Mazar-i-Sharif. A spokeswoman for the German forces at the joint missions command in Potsdam said: "According to what we know right now, no Germans were affected. "Three US soldiers were killed and a fourth wounded on June 11th when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them at a base in eastern Afghanistan´s Nangarhar province. In April, scores of Afghan soldiers were killed when militants breached security at Camp Shaheen, detonating explosives and shooting hundreds at a mosque and dining hall on the base. The attackers were disguised in Afghan army uniforms. Coalition countries, led by the United States, are considering sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan to help advice and assist Afghan forces struggling against Taliban and Daesh militants. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday he would present options on Afghanistan to President Donald Trump "very soon".
  25. Afghan soldier Zabihullah was chatting with an army comrade at their military base in northern Afghanistan when gunfire interrupted their quiet Friday afternoon. "I asked my friend what was happening, and he said, relax, it must be one of us." It wasn't. It was the Taliban. Dressed in army uniforms, at least 10 Taliban attackers had breached the military headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif, eventually killing more than 140 soldiers, according to the latest estimates by officials. "When they started hitting other soldiers, we understood that it was a terrorist attack," Zabihullah told Reuters from his hospital bed, wounded by an explosion. "The soldiers were dropping like sparrows hit by a shotgun." The attack, which is likely the deadliest yet on an Afghan military base, represents a major blow to the country's struggling security forces as they prepare for what is expected to be a year of bloody fighting against the Taliban, as well as other smaller militant groups like Islamic State. The base is the headquarters for the Afghan National Army's 209th Corps and also hosts foreign troops from the NATO-led mission to advise and train Afghan forces. No international troops were caught up in the attack, according to coalition officials. The incident raised immediate questions over how such a mass killing could occur in a heavily defended headquarters frequented by foreign soldiers. In the early afternoon on Friday, two army vehicles bearing men in Afghan army uniforms rolled up to the base's gate, claiming to have wounded soldiers in need of urgent medical care. Two guards at the first checkpoint waved them through, according to Ahmad Saboor, a soldier who was on guard duty further inside the base that day. At the second checkpoint, the guards told the men in the trucks they had to leave their weapons behind, as is standard procedure at the bases, Saboor said. After a brief argument, the attackers shot and killed the two guards and sped toward the third and final checkpoint, which they hit with a rocket-propelled grenade before racing into the base itself. "The first vehicle had a light machine gun mounted on it and started firing at dozens of soldiers and officers coming out of the mosque," Saboor recalled. "The second vehicle went towards the dining hall and started shooting." Wielding machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, the attackers sprayed heavy fire into groups of soldiers gathered to eat at a dining hall and leaving afternoon prayers at the mosque. Several other attackers detonated suicide vests packed with explosives. Photos circulating online showed the inside of the mosque pock-marked with bullet holes and strewn with shattered glass. "I had just finished my prayers and was outside the mosque when an army pickup sped towards us," said another wounded officer, who asked not to be named as his family had not been notified. "I stood still and did not know whether to run or stay, then a gunman from the back of the truck opened fire with a machine gun and hit the side of my abdomen and my left leg." Other unarmed soldiers were dropping dead and wounded around him. "One of the attackers blew himself up, and others went and took up positions in a small room next to the mosque," he said. The confusion in the base was compounded by the fact that the attackers wore army uniforms. "At first there was a call on the radio not to shoot because they thought it could have been a misunderstanding," said the guard Saboor, who reported that some base officials initially thought it might have been a disagreement between soldiers. Afghan commandos from elsewhere on the base arrived and engaged the attackers, eventually killing or capturing all of them, Zabihullah said. A Taliban spokesman said at least four of the attackers were longtime members of the army who worked with the insurgent group. Afghan officials are investigating that claim, but Zabihullah said he had no doubt that the gunmen had inside help. "Security is so tight that even soldiers without IDs are not allowed to get in," he said.