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Wildfire rips through Algeria, killing 42 people including soldiers

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2021)

Forest fires in Algeria killed 42 people on Tuesday, including 25 soldiers deployed to help put out the blaze, the government said, as thick clouds of smoke covered much of the mountainous Kabylie region east of the capital, Reuters reported.

Dozens of separate fires have raged through forest areas across northern Algeria since Monday night and Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud accused arsonists of igniting the flames, without providing more details on the allegations.

“Only criminal hands can be behind the simultaneous outbreak of about 50 fires across several localities,” he said.

According to Reuters last week, a European Union atmosphere monitor said the Mediterranean had become a wildfire hotspot as massive blazes engulfed forests in Turkey and Greece, aided by a heatwave.

Residents of the Tizi Ouzou region in Kabylie used tree branches to try to smother burning patches of forest or hurled water from plastic containers in a desperate effort to douse the fire.

The soldiers were killed in different areas, some while trying to extinguish the flames and others after they were cut off by the spreading fire, Kabylie residents said. The Defence Ministry said more soldiers had been badly injured with burns, Reuters said.

Several houses were burnt as families were escaping to hotels, youth hostels and university residences, witnesses said, adding that a dense smoke hampered the visibility of fire crews.

“We had a horror night. My house is completely burnt,” said Mohamed Kaci, who had fled with his family from the village of Azazga to a hotel.

Speaking on state television on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane said the death toll had risen to 42, including 25 members of the military. The government was in “advanced talks with (foreign) partners to hire planes and help speed up the process of extinguishing fires,” he added.

Firefighters and the army were still trying to contain the blazes, and Beldjoud said the priority was to avoid more victims. He vowed to compensate those affected.

Smaller fires have ravaged forests in at least 16 provinces of the North African country since Monday night.

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Russia’s Putin hosts Iranian counterpart in Kremlin

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2022)

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted on Wednesday (January 19) his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi for talks in Moscow as Russia tries to help salvage a nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran, Reuters reported.

Putin and Iranian Raisi held discussions on the issues of bilateral cooperation Kremlin said, Reuters reported.

Raisi said that a visit to Russia could be a turning point in political, trade and economic relations between the two countries, Russian News Agency RIA Novosti reports.

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More than a dozen dead in coalition strikes on Yemen’s Sanaa

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

An air strike killed about 14 people in a building in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, residents said on Tuesday, during strikes across the city launched by the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi group, Reuters reported.

The alliance strikes on Houthi-held Sanaa followed an attack claimed by the Iran-aligned Houthis on Monday on coalition partner the United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi, in which three people were killed.

The coalition also said it intercepted eight drones launched toward Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Early on Tuesday, the coalition said it had begun air strikes against strongholds and camps in Sanaa belonging to the Houthi group, Saudi state media said.

According to Reuters the strikes appeared to be the deadliest since 2019 on Sanaa.

The strike that killed about 14 people, according to initial estimates, was on the home of a former military official.

It killed him, his wife, his 25-year-old son, other family members and some unidentified people, a medical source and residents told Reuters.

Coalition strikes around the city had killed a total of about 20 people, the deputy foreign minister for the Houthi administration, which holds much of northern Yemen, said on Twitter.

Houthi-run Al Masirah TV said strikes had damaged houses, killed at least a dozen people and wounded about a dozen.

The UAE has armed and trained Yemeni forces that recently joined fighting against the Houthis in Yemen’s energy-producing regions of Shabwa and Marib.

Monday’s Houthi-claimed attack on two sites in the UAE set off explosions in fuel trucks, killed three people and ignited a blaze near Abu Dhabi airport, read the report.

In response, the UAE said it reserved the right to respond to “terrorist attacks and criminal escalation”.

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Pakistan PM and Russia’s Putin discuss Afghanistan in phone call

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin discussed Afghanistan over the phone on Monday and both agreed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was key to regional stability.

According to a press release issued by Imran Khan’s office, the prime minister told Putin “that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was pivotal for regional stability. Afghanistan was facing dire humanitarian and economic challenges and support of the international community to the people of Afghanistan at this critical juncture remained vitally important”.

The statement also noted that Khan underscored the importance of the release of Afghanistan’s financial assets for addressing the dire needs of the Afghan people.

“The Prime Minister underscored that Pakistan’s bilateral relationship with Russia was on an upward trajectory, with an increased focus on trade and economic ties and energy cooperation,” the press release stated, adding that the premier reiterated the government’s resolve for early realization of the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project.

Both leaders also agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in different areas, including Afghanistan and increase high-level exchanges.

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