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Five security personnel killed in Pakistan attacks

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(Last Updated On: November 14, 2021)

At least five security personnel – three soldiers and two policemen – were killed and six civilians were injured in three separate attacks in Pakistan’s restive western region bordering Afghanistan, security forces said on Saturday.

Reuters reported that two soldiers were killed during a shootout with militants in the Hoshab area of Pakistan’s Turbat district, while a third soldier was killed while trying to clear an improvised explosive device in a related incident, the armed forces’ communications wing said.

Earlier on Saturday, two policemen were killed and six civilians injured, including a young girl, in attacks in northern Pakistan near Afghanistan as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants agreed on a month’s ceasefire after talks with the government, police said.

The policemen were killed by an improvised explosive device near the border in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where they were posted at a reservoir.

“The two policemen were killed in an IED blast that took place at 10 am,” Abdul Samad Khan, senior police officer of Bajaur district told Reuters.

The other attack took place on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, where a policeman and five people including a young girl and three women were injured.

The explosives were planted in a motorcycle targeting a police patrol in the area, said Ali Raza, a senior police officer.

A local TTP spokesman denied responsibility for the attacks, saying the militant group will abide by the ceasefire.

The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have fought for years to overthrow the government in Islamabad and rule the South Asian nation of 220 million with their own brand of Sharia law.

There have been numerous failed attempts to reach peace agreements in the past, Reuters reported.

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Indonesia Semeru volcanic eruption kills 13; dozens injured

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

The eruption of Indonesia’s Semeru volcano has killed at least 13 people and injured dozens, the disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said on Sunday, as search teams looked for victims in a landscape covered in deep layers of ash.

Semeru, the tallest mountain on Java island, threw up towers of ash and hot clouds on Saturday that blanketed nearby villages in East Java province and sent people fleeing in panic, Reuters reported.

The eruption severed a strategic bridge connecting two areas in the nearby district of Lumajang with the city of Malang and wrecked buildings, authorities said.

BNPB official Abdul Muhari said in a news release that 13 people had been killed. Ninety-eight were injured, including two pregnant women, and 902 have been evacuated, the statement said.

Most injuries were burns, authorities said.

Indonesia President Joko Widodo has ordered authorities to find and treat victims, the state secretary said.

Semeru had started emitting hot clouds and lava flows near its rivers recently, and the country’s volcanology center had warned people not to go near it since Wednesday, it said.

In 2010, an eruption of the Merapi volcano on Java island killed over 350 people and displaced 400,000.

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Pakistan receives $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Pakistan on Saturday received a $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia, the prime minister’s finance adviser said, as part of an economic support package.

The South Asian country has faced growing economic challenges, with high inflation, sliding forex reserves, a widening current account deficit and a depreciating currency, Reuters reported.

Pakistan’s total liquid foreign reserves stand at $22,498.8 million, based on central bank data.

Shaukat Tarin, finance adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan, said in a tweet: “I want to thank His Excellency Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the kind gesture.”

The loan from Saudi Arabia will be for one year at a 4% interest rate under the terms of the package, which was signed last month, Reuters reported.

“This is positive news … and will help bolster both the foreign exchange reserves and sentiments in the forex market,” Saad Hashemy, executive director at BMA Capital said.

The loan comes a week after the International Monetary Fund agreed with Pakistan on measures needed to revive a stalled $6 billion funding program.

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Uzbekistan’s Samarkand city named 2023 World Tourism Capital

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Uzbekistan’s historic city of Samarkand was chosen as the 2023 World Tourism Capital at the 24th General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Spain, Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Samarkand will host the 25th General Assembly of the UNWTO, which will be a “historic event” as it marks the first time in history that the gathering will be held in Uzbekistan, read the statement.

The summit in Madrid was attended by a delegation led by Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Minister Aziz Abdukhakimov, who is also the country’s deputy prime minister.

The opportunity to host a UN organization meeting for the first time is the result of the Uzbek government’s policies and efforts to develop tourism in the country, the statement added.

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