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Melbourne rocked by rare 6.0 magnitude earthquake

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2021)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there have been “no reports of serious injuries” so far after a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck near Melbourne on Wednesday.

The earthquake is reportedly one of the country’s biggest on record, causing damage to buildings in the country’s second largest city and sending tremors throughout neighbouring states.

The quake’s epicentre was near the rural town of Mansfield in the state of Victoria, about 200 km northeast of Melbourne, and was at a depth of 10 km. An aftershock was rated 4.0.

“At this stage we have had no reports of serious injuries or worse, and that is very good news and we hope that that good news will continue,” Morrison, who is currently on a state visit to the United States, told reporters in Washington.

Quakes are relatively unusual in Australia’s populated east due to its position in the middle of the Indo-Australian Tectonic Plate, according to Geoscience Australia. The quake on Wednesday measured higher than the country’s deadliest tremor, a 5.6 in Newcastle in 1989, which resulted in 13 deaths.

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Pakistan Islamists clash with police in row over French cartoons

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(Last Updated On: October 28, 2021)

Four Pakistani police were killed and hundreds wounded when armed activists from a banned Islamist group clashed with security forces at an anti-blasphemy demonstration near the eastern city of Lahore, Reuters quoting officials.

According to the report the clash broke out at a rally of the banned Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) on a highway in Sheikhupura, just outside Lahore, as the group prepared to march on the capital Islamabad, a spokesman for the Punjab police said on Wednesday.

Police said TLP activists armed with pistols and automatic weapons including AK-47 rifles opened fire on security forces controlling the demonstrators, read the report.

Rao Sardar Ali Khan, inspector general of the Punjab police, said four officers were killed and at least 263 wounded. TLP spokespeople said several of the group’s activists had also been killed or wounded in the clash.

Thousands of TLP activists have been blocking Pakistan’s busiest highway since Friday, demanding the release of their leader and the expulsion of France’s ambassador over the publication of a series of caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammad by a French satirical magazine.

According to Reuters after days of tension, including a clash last week in which three police officers were killed, the Interior Ministry ordered paramilitary Rangers to be deployed under anti-terrorism laws.

“They will be there for 60 days. I have given them authority that they could go to anywhere they want in Punjab,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad told reporters. “I’m still warning the TLP to please back off.”

It is the group’s third countrywide protest campaign since 2017 over caricatures which are considered deeply insulting by Muslims, Reuters reported.

The French magazine Charlie Hebdo first published the cartoons in 2006 and republished them last year to mark the opening of a trial over a deadly attack on its offices in Paris by Islamist militants in 2015.

Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government would use force to block the Islamists from entering the capital Islamabad, read the report.

“We have shown restraint so far but the challenge to the state’s authority can’t be tolerated any more,” he told reporters.

Districts along the Grand Trunk Road were brought to a standstill where the city administration had already placed shipping containers to block entry and exit routes.

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Pakistan gets $4.2 billion in assistance from Saudi Arabia

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(Last Updated On: October 27, 2021)

Saudi Arabia has agreed to provide a $4.2 billion lifeline to Pakistan on an annual basis in cash assistance and oil on deferred payments, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday.

“Saudi Arabia would deposit $3 billion cash in the State Bank of Pakistan and also provide $1.2 billion worth of oil on deferred payments,” the information minister told The Express Tribune.

Saudi Arabia extended a similar package valued at $6 billion in October 2018 to Pakistan.

This comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan returned from a three-day trip to the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has agreed to provide financial assistance to Pakistan amid a delay by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in releasing the next loan tranche amounting to $1 billion.

The Tribune reported it was not immediately clear whether the government has arranged funds from Saudi Arabia as an alternative to the IMF programme since it was not in need of cash assistance from a friendly country at this stage, as the country’s foreign exchange reserves stand at $17.5 billion.

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Afghanistan demolishes Scotland by 130 runs in World Cup match

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(Last Updated On: October 25, 2021)

Afghanistan thrashed Scotland in their first T20 Super 12 World Cup match in Sharjah on Monday night, after Mujeeb Ur Rahman propelled Afghanistan to a commanding 130-run victory. 

Among the flood of social media messages congratulating the team on their win was one from Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid who said in a tweet: “Congratulations to all Afghans on the victory of the Afghan team in the ongoing World Cup Twenty20.

“Congratulations to the team and wish them more success in the future,” he tweeted.

Other senior IEA members, including Anas Haqqani also congratulated the team. 

Afghanistan’s spinners ripped through Scotland’s batting line-up as Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan and company spun their side to a 130-run win in Sharjah, Afghanistan’s biggest margin of victory in T20 internationals.

Youngster Mujeeb was the star of the show with the ball, taking three in an over and finishing with a five-for, the best ever return for a bowler on T20 World Cup debut.

Earlier Najibullah Zadran top-scored with a sparkling 59 as his side reached 190/4, Afghanistan’s highest T20 World Cup score.

Afghanistan got off to a fast start after winning the toss and opting to bat, with openers Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad finding the boundary repeatedly in a 54-run partnership through the Powerplay.

Zazai’s dangerous knock came to an abrupt end at the midway point of the Afghanistan innings, as he failed to connect well with a swipe across the line and was bowled by Mark Watt for 44 off 30.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Najib picked up where the openers left off, with the teenager Gurbaz in sparkling form, hitting four sixes in his 46 off 37.

Gurbaz’s aggressive knock was finally halted by Josh Davey in the penultimate over, but Najib and skipper Mohammad Nabi went big at the death, with the captain hitting 11 off just four balls.

And Najib fell to the final ball of the innings, caught on the boundary for 59 off just 34 balls.

Left-arm spinner Watt finished the pick of the bowlers for Scotland, with his wicket coming at the cost of just 23 runs in four overs, with Safyaan Sharif also impressive with 2-33.

Scotland’s chase got off to a lightning start as George Munsey reverse swept Nabi for four off the second ball, reverse sweeping for six the very next delivery.

But Scotland’s hopes of reaching the daunting 191 to win all but disappeared in the fourth over, when Mujeeb removed Kyle Coetzer and Calum MacLeod in consecutive deliveries, before picking up Richie Berrington with the last ball of the over.

Scotland were five wickets down before Rashid Khan even got the ball in his hand, and the Afghanistan talisman bagged his first wicket with his third delivery, trapping Michael Leask plumb in front.

The magnificent Mujeeb finished with figures of 5/20 off his four overs, while Rashid rounded it off in style, taking 4/9 off just 14 balls, ICC reported.

 

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