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MIDDAY NEWS

1400 HRS

18th October, 2017

THE HEADLINES:

  • US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says, India can help US keep an eye on Pakistan, combat terrorism.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir, 10 persons injured in heavy mortar shelling by Pakistani forces along the Line of Control in Poonch and Rajouri district.
  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reaches Port Blair on a two day visit to Andaman and Nicobar Island; Will visit operational area of the Command and celebrate Diwali with the troops during her stay.
  • US author George Saunders wins 2017 Man Booker Prize for his novel Lincoln in the Bardo.
  • In Asia cup Hockey, India to take on South Korea in the first super-4 stage match in Dhaka. 
  • In Under-17 FIFA World Cup Football, Ghana to face against Niger while Brazil to clash with Honduras in last two pre-quarter finals.

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US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has said, India can help the US keep an eye on Pakistan as President Donald Trump has taken tougher approach to Islamabad harbouring terrorists. Noting that Mr Trump recently announced a new strategy for combating terrorism in Afghanistan and South Asia, Ms Haley said one of the pillars of that strategy is the development of America's strategic partnership with India.

In her address to an event organised by US India Friendship Council, Ms Haley said,  Mr Trump has taken a tougher approach to Pakistan harboring terrorists. She said, the US cannot tolerate Pakistan or any other government giving safe haven to terrorists who target Americans. The US, she said, is looking at India to help US more in Afghanistan particularly in economic and development assistance.

<><><> 

In Jammu and Kashmir, ten persons were today injured as Pakistani forces again resorted to heavy mortar shelling along the Line of Control in Poonch and Rajouri districts. Defence sources told AIR Jammu that the forces from across the Line of Control started unprovoked firing and shelling targeting Indian positions and civilian areas in Balakote sector around 7 am. Later the Pakistan's forces also extended the shelling to adjoining Manjakote sector of Rajouri district. More from our correspondent:

"The troops guarding the borderline retaliated and gave a befitting reply to the Pakistani shelling. The intermittent exchange of fire was continuing, when the last reports came in. The injured which also include two minors have been hospitalized. The condition of two of them is said to be critical. Some cattle also have been perished in the shelling and vehicles, houses and other buildings have suffered damages. Panic has been triggered among the people living in areas close to LoC as Pakistani forces are, time and again, targeting civilian areas with heavy mortar shelling.Yogesh Sharma, air news, Jammu"

Meanwhile, a school teacher was found dead today with his throat slit in the Shopian district. Police said it is suspected that he has been killed by terrorists and they are investigating the case.

<><><> 

In Pakistan, at least seven policemen were killed and 22 others injured in an explosion in the Sariab Mill area on the Quetta-Sibbi Road this morning. According to DawnNews, security sources claimed a roadside bomb exploded just as a police vehicle carrying 35 police personnel passed the area. However, the nature of the blast is yet to be ascertained. Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti while condemning the attack confirmed the deaths in the attack. The injured have been shifted to Quetta's Civil Hospital where an emergency has been imposed. Security forces reached the location and cordoned off the area and a security sweep was underway.

<><><> 

In Afghanistan, at least 74 people were killed and over 170 injured in a series of suicide attacks by Taliban yesterday, targeting police compounds and government facilities. Suicide bombers and gunmen stormed a police training centre and killed 41 people, including 20 police personnel, in the eastern city of Gardez, the capital of Paktia province. Officials said, at least six attackers were gunned down by security forces in the fighting. 

In a separate attack, insurgents stormed a security compound in Andar district of Ghazni province and killed 25 security officials and five civilians. In another incident, 3 policemen were killed at a government compound in Shibkho district.

<><><> 

China's biggest political event, the Communist Party Congress, began in Beijing this morning. At the opening of the Congress President Xi Jinping said, China will deepen economic and financial reforms and further open its markets to foreign investors. He said, China will look to move from high-speed to high-quality growth. Mr Jinping further said, Beijing will push ahead with market-oriented reforms of its foreign exchange rate as well as its financial system, and let the market play a decisive role in the allocation of resources . While pledging to further open China's services sector to foreign investors Jinping said, the government will clean up rules and practices that hinder a unified market and fair competition. He also expressed support for development of private firms and stimulating vitality of all types of market entities. However, while expressing support for market reform and private firms, Jinping also called for stronger, bigger state firms.

Communist Party Congress in China takes place once every five years and determines who rules the country and its direction for the next five years. President Jinping, who became China's leader in 2012, is widely expected to remain as the Chief of the ruling Party. The Congress will close next Tuesday.

<><><> 

Chinese President Xi Jinping today said any attempt to separate Taiwan from China will be thwarted and the principle of peaceful reunification must be upheld. He made the comments in a speech at the beginning of a Communist Party congress. China regards self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as a wayward territory, to be brought under Beijing's rule by force if necessary.

Reacting to Chinese President's speech, Taiwan's government said that it was "absolutely" the right of Taiwan's 23 million people to decide their future. The Mainland Affairs Council said, the perpetration of Taiwan's democratic system is a core value of Taiwan's. 

<><><> 

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has reached Port Blair on a 2 day visit to Andaman and Nicobar Island. During her  stay, Ms Sitharaman will celebrate Diwali with the troops of  Andaman and Nicobar Command  and interact with their families during various events. She will also visit the operational area of the Command and Air Force Station Car Nicobar. The Minister will lay wreaths at the Swatantra Jyoti in Cellular Jail and Tsunami Memorial at Car Nicobar.

<><><> 

In Uttar Pradesh, the heritage city of Ayodhya is all set to witness grand diwali celebrations today evening which will be marked by Lord Rama's Rajyabhishek and lighting of 1.71 lakh earthen lamps. Almost all ministers of the state along with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Governer Ram Naik,  Union Ministers Dr. Mahesh Sharma and  KJ Alfons will be attending the high tech celebrations.

<><><> 

Deepavali is being celebrated in several parts of South India including Tamil Nadu today. The festival of light reminds the virtue of triumph of truth over evil and dispelling darkness. People took the customary oil bath early in the morning and performed puja clad in new dresses. Many people visited temples and offered puja. They exchanged greetings and sweets. In the evening, there will be fireworks lighting up the skies. More from our Correspondent:

"In view of Deepavali, many leaders including the new Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan and BJP state leader Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan have extended greetings to the public. Cinema halls are buzzing with fans of actors as many new films have been released today. Lakhs of people working or studying far away from their native places visited their families, as the festival serves as an occasion for family reunion. Jayasingh, AIR News, Chennai."

<><><> 

In Sri Lanka, the festival of Deepavali is being celebrated today by Hindu Tamils with traditional fervor and gaiety. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have greeted people for the festival.

<><><> 

Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh has said that India, Brazil, South Africa, IBSA Dialogue Forum brings the member countries together under common principles of tolerance, multiculturalism and shared views on issues like climate change, international trade, UN Reforms and fight against international terrorism. Addressing 8th IBSA Trilateral Ministerial Commission Meeting in  Durban yesterday, General Singh said, IBSA Forum is a unique platform for consultation, coordination and cooperation among the three democratic traditions from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He said, though the geographical distances separate the three countries, there is much convergence in their world views on sustainable development, clean and healthy living, multilateral trading system, Doha Development Agenda, disarmament and non-proliferation. He said, the IBSA Forum has expanded and enriched the engagements in a meaningful way in a rather short time. He said, IBSA Fund has been a shining example of IBSA Cooperation and it has generated immense goodwill and solidarity with partners from developing world. General Singh exuded confidence that IBSA trilateral framework will succeed in realizing this potential.

<><><> 

The death toll in the wildfires that broke out over the weekend has reached 41 in Portugal and another four in northern Spain. Portugal's civil protection agency said yesterday that the 15 biggest fires, which had raged through the centre and the north of the country, had been brought under control. As the country began three days of mourning for the victims, the agency said 41 people had been killed and 71 injured in the fires, 16 of them seriously. And one person was still missing. Across the border in Galicia, Spain's westernmost province, the number of dead rose to four from fires which also broke out on Sunday. Officials yesterday said they had lowered the alert level after early-morning rain and calmer winds halted the progression of the flames.

<><><> 

In Maharashtra, the strike declared by employees of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation has entered its second day causing inconvenience to thousands of people who want to travel to their hometowns before Diwali. The MSRTC staff have gone on an indefinite strike demanding a hike in salary. Transport Minister Diwakar Raote held a meeting on State Transport Union Leaders this afternoon. More from our correspondent:

"Thousands of passengers in Maharashtra are facing harrowing time in traveling to their home town on the eve of Diwali because of the strike by MSRTC employees. Declaring buses as an essential service, the Maharashtra government yesterday warned the striking MSRTC staffers of disciplinary action if they do not resume work. Earlier, state transport minister Diwakar Raote sent out an appeal, but the unions have remained adamant about continuing the agitation. To overcome the disruption caused by the strike, the transport department of the Maharashtra government yesterday issued a notification to allow private vehicles, including school buses, to ferry passengers. More than 65 lakh passengers travel by ST buses across the state every day. Prarthna, AIR News, Mumbai"

<><><> 

In Bengaluru, police has registered a complaint against miscreants who had assaulted a team of law officers, advocates and animal rights activists who were on an inspection of illegal slaughterhouses. The North East Deputy Commissioner of Police Girish informed media persons that 12 persons have been arrested and three persons taken into custody today for interrogation. Based on a complaint, a team appointed by High Court comprising of law officers, NGOs and police had visited illegal slaughterhouses in the Yelahanka new town police station limits yesterday evening. A mob gathered around the team  attacked them and damaged their vehicles.

<><><> 

Gujarat Government has signed three MoUs under Make in Gujarat with investment up to ten thousand four hundred crore rupees.  It will provide employment to more than twenty one thousand youths of Gujarat. The MoUs were signed in the presence of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

<><><> 

At the stock markets, after a weak opening, the Sensex at the Bombay Stock Exchange recovered much of the lost ground in afternoon trade, but had still declined 7 points, to 32,602, a short while ago. The Nifty at the National Stock Exchange had dropped 17 points, to 10,218. And at the forex market, the rupee had depreciated 2 paise, to 65.04 against the dollar in afternoon deals.

<><><> 

US author George Saunders has won the 2017 Man Booker Prize. He became only the second American writer to win Britain's renowned Prize, which was awarded for his first full-length novel "Lincoln in the Bardo". The prize was announced at a ceremony in London. This year's Man Booker Prize shortlist pitted three US and three British writers against one another.

<><><> 

In Asia Cup Hockey, India will take on South Korea in the first match of the Super-4 stage in Dhaka today. The match will begin at 5 PM Indian Time. India had finished the pool stage with 3 wins from 3 games and are unbeaten, so far.

Besides India and South Korea, Pakistan and Malaysia are the other two teams in the stage. They will face each other at 2:30 PM today.

<><><> 

In Under-17 FIFA World Cup Football, last two pre-quarter final matches will be played today.  Ghana will be up against Niger in Mumbai. The match starts at 5 PM. In the second match,  Brazil will play against  Honduras in Kochi at 8 PM.

So far, six of the eight quarter-final berths have been decided. While Germany and the United States entered the last-8 stage on Monday, Spain, England, Iran and Mali booked their berths yesterday. England defeated Japan 5-3 on penalties, Spain edged out France 2-1, Iran got the better of Mexico 2-1, and Mali outplayed Iraq with a 5-1 win.

<><><> 

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