Six police officers were killed in an ambush in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday, officials said, an assault claimed by the nation’s homegrown Taliban.
The Pakistan Taliban share common lineage with the Afghan Taliban and have staged an increasing number of strikes in the year since Kabul fell into the hands of the hardline Islamists.
Gunmen with automatic rifles launched an attack at around 7 am (0200 GMT) on a police vehicle patrolling the village of Shahab Khel, 100 km (60 miles) from the Afghan border.
“All the six policemen were killed” under fire from both sides, Tariqullah Khan, a district official in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told AFP.
The death toll was confirmed by a second police official.
In a separate incident on Wednesday, the military said two soldiers were killed in a clash with militants in the northwestern district of Bajaur that borders Afghanistan.
The Pakistan Taliban — known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — said the police were “coming for a raid” when they were gunned down in Shahab Khel.
It said in a statement to AFP its own fighters “managed to reach their base safely” after looting weapons and ammunition.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif offered his condolences and said on Twitter, “terrorism continues to be one of Pakistan’s foremost problems”.
The TTP were at the height of their power in Pakistan between 2007 and 2009, when they held sway over the Swat valley just 135 km (85 miles) north of Islamabad.
They were pushed into Afghanistan by an army offensive after perpetrating a barbaric schoolhouse bombing that killed nearly 150 students in 2014.
US-led forces hunted Taliban of all stripes in Afghanistan during their two-decade occupation following the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
Analysts say the TTP have found a vital foothold and shelter there since the chaotic US departure and the Afghan Taliban takeover in August 2021.
Russian attacks on energy grid is genocide, says Ukraine
Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure amount to genocide, a top Ukrainian official says.
Strikes on key facilities targeted “the full Ukrainian nation” and were an effort to force Kyiv to surrender, the prosecutor-general told the BBC.
The term genocide refers to an effort to wipe out a group of people. Russia denies having any such aim.
Millions of people across Ukraine are facing power cuts in freezing weather, following sustained Russian attacks.
Efforts are ongoing to reconnect homes cut off from electricity. Officials say Kherson has now been fully resupplied, following the city’s recapture by Ukrainian troops earlier this month.
But people in 14 regions and the capital Kyiv remain under usage restrictions, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Genocide involves “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”, according to a definition provided by the UN Genocide Convention.
Among the acts which may qualify are killing or causing serious harm to members of that group – or forcibly transferring its children elsewhere.
In his BBC interview, Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Andriy Kostin said that, as well as the attacks on the energy grid, 11,000 Ukrainian children had been forcibly deported to Russia.
Mr Kostin said his office was investigating reports of more than 49,000 war crimes and crimes of aggression since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on 24 February.
The “same pattern of conduct” was being seen in every Ukrainian settlement occupied by Russian forces, he observed.
A war crime constitutes a violation of the so-called “rules” of war set out by international treaties including the Geneva Conventions.
Among other things, the Conventions stipulate that civilians must be protected. Russia has been repeatedly accused of breaking this rule.
Shelling of residential buildings in Dnipro over the weekend left one person dead and 13 others injured, according to the governor of the wider region.
Meanwhile, police said 32 civilians had been killed by strikes in Kherson since Russian troops left the southern city earlier this month.
On Saturday, Ukraine marked the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor – a man-made famine that killed millions of people during Soviet rule.
Of the war crimes seen since Russia invaded in February, Mr Kostin said 260 people had been indicted and 13 verdicts had been issued by Ukrainian courts.
He called for the creation of an “international ad-hoc tribunal”, supported by countries of “the whole civilised world” who opposed the invasion to hold Russia to account. (BBC)
Indian Man Burns Himself To Death In Language Protest
An octogenarian man burned himself to death in southern India in protest at what he called New Delhi’s attempts to impose nationwide usage of Hindi, a language mostly spoken in the north, police said Sunday.
Language is an emotive issue in India where hundreds of languages and dialects are spoken, but English serves as the main official medium while state governments use regional languages.
According to the most recent census in 2011, fewer than half of Indian citizens speak Hindi – just under 44 percent.
But last month a group of parliamentarians headed by the powerful interior minister Amit Shah reportedly recommended making Hindi the national official language, including for technical education such as medicine and engineering.
Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken of a “slave mentality” around the use of English, and promoted the use of Indian languages.
But opponents accuse his government of attempting to impose Hindi, causing particular anger in the south.
Most southern Indian languages are Dravidian, a completely different language family to the Indo-European group which includes Hindi.
MV Thangavel, 85, a farmer in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, doused himself in petrol and kerosene and set himself alight, police said.
He was holding a Tamil-language placard reading: “Modi government stop imposing Hindi. Why do we need to choose Hindi over our literature-rich Tamil… it will affect future of our youth.”
Senthil, a police officer who uses only one name, told AFP that Thangavel had killed himself.
“He wrote the banner against central government,” he added.
Thangavel carried out his protest on Saturday outside an office in Salem of Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK party, of which he was a member.
Party leader MK Stalin — who has criticised the Modi government’s language policies — offered condolences to Thangavel’s family but urged others to avoid such extreme protests.
“We must not lose another life,” reports quoted him as saying, condemning the central government’s “domineering attitude”.
“Let’s continue to fight against the imposition of Hindi politically, democratically,” he said. “Don’t let narrow-mindedness spoil a beautiful country of diversity.”
The subject is a long-running political issue — the then ruling Congress party sought to make Hindi the official national language in the 1960s, causing enduring resentment in southern India.
Three killed, 11 injured in Brazil’s twin school shootings
By Francesca Iwambe
At least three people including an adolescent girl were killed and 11 others wounded Friday when a 16-year-old shooter wearing Nazi symbols opened fire on two schools in southeastern Brazil, officials said.
Authorities in the city of Aracruz, in Espirito Santo state, said the shooter fired on a group of teachers at his former school, killing two people and leaving nine others wounded.
He then left that school — a public primary and secondary school — and went to a nearby private school where he killed an adolescent girl and wounded two other people, officials said.
Authorities have arrested the shooter, said Governor Renato Casagrande, who declared three days of mourning in the state.
“He was a student at (the first) school until June, a 16-year-old minor. His family then transferred him to another school. We have information he was undergoing psychiatric treatment,” Casagrande told a news conference.
He said some of the survivors’ lives remained at risk from their wounds.
“We are rooting and praying for them to recover,” he said.
Security camera footage aired on Brazilian media showed the shooter running into the school dressed in military-style camouflage and brandishing a gun. He then sprinted through the hallways, sending staff fleeing in terror as he began firing shots.
Investigators said he had a swastika on his fatigues and that they were looking into whether he had links to any extremist organisations.
“Officials said the shooter, a policeman’s son, used two handguns in the attack, both registered to his father — one his service firearm, the other a privately registered weapon.
Casagrande said the boy appeared to have planned the attack carefully, breaking in through a locked door and skirting the school’s security guard.
“He then entered the teachers’ lounge — the first room he came to — and opened fire, the governor said.
“He was looking to shoot people. He opened fire on the first people he came across,” he said.
Civil police commissioner Joao Francisco Filho told reporters it appeared the suspect had been planning the attack for “two years,” and that he did not seem to have a “definite target.”
Investigators could be seen carrying victims’ bodies in coffins and loading them into police trucks outside the school, which was cordoned off with crime scene tape, an AFP photographer said.
The city has a population of around 100,000 people.
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