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‘US Central Command still assessing deadly drone strike in Kabul’

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Washington, Sep 14: The US Central Command is “still assessing” the results of the deadly August 29 drone strike in Kabul which was alleged to have killed multiple Afghan civilians, the Pentagon said.

“I would say that the assessment by the Central Command is ongoing, and I’m not going to get ahead of that,” Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday citing Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby as saying to reporters here.

Kirby’s remarks were in response to a question over media investigations that suggested the US military might have mistaken an aid worker for a suicide bomber in the drone strike during its military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Kirby defended the assault, saying that it was “taken to prevent an imminent attack”.

He added that Central Command has so far had no plans to put investigators on the ground, but promised that the Pentagon will be “as transparent about the outcomes as we can”.

The US Central Command said on August 29 that it launched a drone strike on a vehicle in Kabul, which it claimed had eliminated an “imminent” threat, posed by IS-K, an Afghanistan-based offshoot of the Islamic State terror group, to the Hamad Karzai International Airport, where evacuations of US service members and personnel were underway.

“We are confident we successfully hit the target,” the Central Command had said in a statement following the srone strike.

“Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.”

Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, had called it a “righteous strike” with procedures correctly followed.

But separate investigations by The New York Times and The Washington Post have identified the vehicle driver as Zemarai Ahmadi, a 43-year-old electrical engineer working for Nutrition and Education International, a US aid group based in Pasadena, California.

Their analyses have also called into question the Central Command’s allegation of “secondary explosions” from the vehicle.

An examination of the scene of the strike “found no evidence of a second, more powerful explosion”, with experts pointing to the lack of collapsed walls or destroyed vegetation, according to the Times.

While the US military has so far acknowledged that there might have been three civilian casualties, Ahmadi’s relatives said 10 members of their family, including seven children, were killed in the drone strike.

The Central Command announced on August 30 that it had completed the pullout of US troops from Afghanistan, ending 20 years of military presence in the country, after botched evacuations that drew fierce criticism from both home and abroad.

The US had announced its “War on Terror” and invaded Afghanistan in 2001, soon after militants associated with the Al Qaeda hijacked passenger planes and carried out suicide attacks against America, killing almost 3,000 people.

Over the years, Washington has expanded warfare into several other countries, relying heavily on drone strikes for targeted killings.

US drone and airstrikes have killed at least 22,000 civilians over the past two decades, according to watchdog Airwars.

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Air India goes to Tata Sons, Ratan Tata tweets, Welcome Back!

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New Delhi: Finally, Air India has gone to Tata Group which emerged the highest bidder. This was a much-awaited deal for the Government of India which wanted to sell this national career from a very long time. Welcome back, Air India, tweets Ratan Tata on Tata Sons winning the bid for Air India.
An SPV of Tata Sons – the holding company of conglomerate – has emerged as successful bidder, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) — the government department responsible for privatisation, said.

The international service was among the first public-private partnerships in India, with the government holding 49 per cent, the Tatas keeping 25 per cent and the public owning the rest. In 1953, Air India was nationalised. The government is selling 100 per cent of its stake in the state-owned national airline, including Air India’s 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

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Powerful earthquake in Japan injures 32, disrupts train services

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Tokyo, Oct 8: Authorities in Japan said on Friday that a powerful earthquake which jolted the country the previous day left 32 people injured, while also disrupting train services in the Tokyo area, affecting around 368,000 passengers in total.

The earthquake that struck the capital region at 10.41 p.m. on Thursday night reached upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in parts of Tokyo and Saitama prefecture, reports Xinhua news agency.

The last time that people in central Tokyo faced such an intense jolt was during the massive quake of March 11, 2011, which devastated northeastern Japan and triggered a tsunami and nuclear disaster.

According to East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), the strongest earthquake for the Japanese capital in a decade caused services on the Shinkansen bullet train and 16 local train lines cancelled or delayed from late night Thursday to about 3 p.m. (local time) on Friday, resulting in many late-night train passengers stranded and a commuter disruption in the morning.

JR East have resumed train services, but many passengers were forced to wait at stations due to delays.

After a train derailed in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward, one of the areas hit hardest by the temblor, the operation of the Nippori Toneri Liner, a driverless guideway transit system in Tokyo, might remain suspended for several days, according to its operator.

The Japan Transport Safety Board has sent officials to investigate the derailment.

According to a tally by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, two in Saitama Prefecture and one in Chiba Prefecture sustained severe injuries among the 32.

Around 250 houses in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward briefly experienced power outages due to the earthquake, and water stoppages and leaks were reported in central Tokyo.

The earthquake also caused 28 cases of people being trapped in elevators in Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures, but all cases have been cleared according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.

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India to showcase its art, culture, tradition and business prospect in Dubai

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Dubai: India is out to showcase to the world its arts and culture, rich history and tradition and opportunities that exist for individuals and corporates with its biggest pavilion of the 192 participating countries in the Expo 2020 Dubai.

The six-month-long Expo kicked off on October 1 with Dubai expecting a large number of visitors despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With the number of daily infections now well below 200 for the past week, the city has opened itself to the world. Most of the visitors are allowed to travel with a valid negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours.

However, India is still in the category that requires a valid negative PCR test certificate (with a QR code) for a test conducted within 48 hours, and a rapid PCR test report with a QR code for a test conducted at the departure airport within six hours of departure. The pavilion features a kinetic facade of 600 individual colourful blocks. The panels rotate and the facade presents a different look with each rotation, a unique representation of the country’s theme at the Expo, ‘India on the Move’.

The Indian pavilion was officially inaugurated by Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Textiles who said the Pavilion “shows an India on the move, it describes a new India rejuvenated, reinvented and revitalised, which can convert any adversity into an opportunity”.

As the country comes out a deadly second wave of the pandemic, India is eager to make an impression on the world and the Expo is a great platform. Aman Puri, Consul-General of India in Dubai, said: “India at Expo 2020 Dubai will present a new and dynamic India with its never-ending opportunities.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given us a clarion call for action to all stakeholders to give a renewed push to boosting exports and Expo 2020 will provide an important platform in driving forward this national agenda.”

While art and culture has always been a staple of India’s exhibitions in foreign countries, there is a big push for innovation and industries in Dubai. The India Innovation Hub, a specially designed mobile platform, was recently launched. It showcases innovations by Indian startups and corporates across various cutting edge fields like artificial intelligence, machine learning, mobility, robotics and space. As many as 15 states and eight Union Territories are taking part in the Expo, most of them displaying food, art & culture and business opportunities. Also, present and various ministries, like textile, space and energy, as well as some of the leading business houses like Tata, Reliance, L&T and Adani.

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