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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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Death toll in Russian mine tragedy jumps past 50

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2021)

A gas leak in a Siberian coal mine killed at least 52 people on Thursday, Russian news agencies said, including six rescuers who were sent down to try to bring out dozens of men in what was one of Russia’s worst mining disasters since Soviet times, Reuters reported.

The regional Investigative Committee said three people, including the director of the Listvyazhnaya mine and his deputy, had been arrested on suspicion of violating industrial safety rules.

It said miners had suffocated when a ventilation shaft became filled with gas. State television said prosecutors believed there had been a methane explosion.

According to the report the dead comprised 11 miners already confirmed killed, 35 who had been reported missing, and the six rescue workers.

Dozens of people were treated in hospital, at least some of them for smoke inhalation. Four were in critical condition.

The coal-producing region of Kemerovo, roughly 3,500 km (2,200 miles) east of Moscow, has suffered fatal mining accidents for years.

The Listvyazhnaya mine is part of SDS-Holding, owned by the privately held Siberian Business Union. The owner had no immediate comment, read the report.

Some 285 people were inside the mine when smoke spread through the ventilation shaft, the Emergencies Ministry said. Authorities said 239 had made it to the surface.

President Vladimir Putin said he had spoken with the governor and emergency officials, and the Kremlin said he had ordered the emergencies minister to fly to the region to help, Reuters reported.

Kemerovo declared three days of mourning.

In 2007, the region was the site of the worst mining accident since the collapse of the Soviet Union when an explosion at the Ulyanovskaya mine claimed the lives of more than 100 people. In 2010, explosions at the region’s Raspadskaya mine killed more than 90 people.

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Car bomb attack kills at least eight in Somalia, officials say

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(Last Updated On: November 25, 2021)

At least eight people were killed in Somalia’s capital on Thursday when Islamist militants launched a suicide attack on a U.N. security convoy using a vehicle laden with explosives, officials and witnesses said.

The Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the huge blast which rocked Modadishu and injured at least 23 people, including school students, sending a column of smoke above the city. Gunfire echoed around the scene, witnesses said.

It was not immediately clear if any U.N. personnel were among those killed or injured in the huge blast, which targeted the U.N. convoy as it passed near the site of a school, Reuters reported.

U.N. officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“We counted eight dead people and 17 others including 13 students injured,” police spokesman Abdifatah Aden Hassan told reporters. He said a suicide bomber in an SUV full of explosives had targeted a U.N. security convoy.

Aamin Ambulance service evacuated at least 23 people who were injured in the blast, Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of the service, told Reuters.

Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, confirmed the Islamist group’s operatives had carried out the attack and said they were targeting a U.N. convoy.

The blast near the K4 junction in the heart of Mogadishu was so large that walls of the nearby Mucassar primary and secondary school collapsed. Cars were mangled in the explosion.

“We were shaken by the blast pressure, then deafened by the gunfire that followed,” said Mohamed Hussein, a nurse at the nearby Osman Hospital, saying he had been pulled from the rubble of a collapsed ceiling.

“Our hospital walls collapsed. Opposite us is a school that also collapsed. I do not know how many died,” he said.

Al Shabaab has been fighting Somalia’s central government for years, seeking to take power and impose its strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.

The group frequently carries out bombings and gun assaults in Somalia and elsewhere in its war against the Somalia military and the African Union-mandated AMISOM force that helps protect the government.

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Authorities in Pakistan burn confiscated drugs worth 1.3 billion dollars

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(Last Updated On: November 25, 2021)

A massive pile of 18 metric tons of drugs, worth 1.3 billion US dollars, was burnt on Wednesday (November 24) on the outskirts of Islamabad by Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Reuters reported.

During the drug burning ceremony, Director General of ANF, Major General Ghulam Shabeer Narejo, said his organisation had seized 184 metric tons of narcotics this year.

Officials said the confiscated drugs include hashish, opium, heroin, amphetamine, methamphetamine, ketamine, cocaine, as well as Xanax, ecstasy, Alprazolam and Roche tabs, along with a huge quantity of other drugs and prohibited chemicals, read the report.

According to the report Pakistan is a major conduit for drugs flowing out of its western neighbour, Afghanistan, which is the world’s largest producer of heroin and a major hashish producer.

He called upon all segments of the society to take part in the fight against drugs.

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