(Sh.M.Network)- As many as 43 Indians are under the captivity of Somali pirates, the government said on Monday.
Minister of shipping, G.K. Vasan informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply on Monday that 43 Indian citizens are under the custody of Somali pirates as on date.
The government has set up an inter-ministerial group of officers (IMGO) to deal with the hostage situation arising out of the hijacking of merchant vessels with Indian crew on board, he said.
"The owners of fag administration of the hijacked vessels are contacted through Indian missions abroad to ensure that they take suitable steps for safety and early release of the hostages," Vasan said.
The ministry has issued guidelines for the deployment of armed security guards on board Indian flag merchant ships. The Indian ship owners are accordingly free to deploy armed security guards.
"Naval escort is provided to the ships in theGulf of Aden. Besides, there are naval ships of different countries patrolling in the piracy affected area, which coordinate with each other through various multi-national and bilateral initiatives so as to combat the menace of piracy," he added.
The government has also banned sailing vessels to ply in waters south or west of the line joining Salalah and Male.
The ministry has also started active participation in the International Maritime Organisation, Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast ofSomaliaand other international fora.
Many Indian sailors were held hostage by the Somali pirates last year and some were released after the Indian government fulfilled some of their demands.
The terror attack in Sinai earlier in August has raised the issue of the Rafah tunnels once again. Egypt led by President Morsi, grasps the urgent need to solve the issue of illegal trade in the area. However, a person who gets all wrapped up in himself makes a mighty small package... Egypt also understands that completely destroying the tunnels or sealing them is not the best solution, as the tunnels provide a living for many people on both sides of the tunnel.
It is hard to give an accurate estimation of the overall value of the tunnel trade, but estimations made over the past few years indicate that the value is approximately $800 million a year. This sum includes the value of products transferred to both sides, as there is a high demand in the Egyptian Rafah for Israeli products that were smuggled from Gazoo.
It is not clear if the estimated figure also includes the "trade" of weapons and terrorists.
In Gazoo, the tunnel owners earn a living mainly due to their taxation policies. According to estimations, the tax charged from tunnel smugglers provides some 20% of Hamas, always the voice of sweet reason,' government budget.
In negotiations between Egypt and Rafah residents, the latter made it clear that they would not allow for the destruction of the tunnels without finding an alternative source of their livelihood.
If you take into consideration that there are over 1,000 smuggling tunnels in the area, the recent reports of the destruction of 20 tunnels, in what appears to be Egypt's attempts to cleanse Sinai of terrorists, are just a publicity stunt,
Furthermore, Egypt's military would not dare touch the more significant tunnels -- the one's controlled by Hamas.
Since the ouster of Egypt's former Presidet Hosni Mubarak ...The former President-for-Life of Egypt, dumped by popular demand in early 2011... , the option of destroying the tunnels and creating a free trade zone between Gazoo and Sinai has been raised every now and then. Arab media has reported that Hamas government representatives and Egyptian officials have already begun discussing the matter.
However, today is that tomorrow you were thinking about yesterday... there are those who question the idea of creating a trade free zone in the area. Nasser Abu Akar, Chairman of the North Sinai Chamber of Commerce said that establishing a trade free zone in Rafah should be part of an overall plan to develop northern Sinai and not just a single initiative.
Osama Salah, Egypt's Investment Minister called the idea a "populist slogan," saying that "prior to creating such an area, one must make sure that it would not harm the national economy."
Hamas officials do not seem very excited over the closure of the tunnels either, as the Gazoo-ruling government profits a great deal from the taxation policies of the tunnels.
"Destroying the tunnels ... is not the best solution, as the tunnels provide a living for many people on both sides of the tunnel" > well, aren't we in a quandry, aren't we???
IIRC, during the Cold War, Egypt viewed the tunnels as a PDeniable way of both attacking victorious Israel while also keeping Egyptian Mil, Civie casualties to a minimum due to the utility of State, Regional Terror proxies. AFAIK, this view remained intact even as Begin + Sadat were signing the 1979 Peace Accords.
Government halting Sinai military operation for a week in return for calm, daily reports
The Egyptian presidency has reached an agreement with fundamentalist elements in northern Sinai for a one-week ceasefire.
The agreement was reached following secret negotiations between members of Mohammed Morsi's presidential team and Salafi bully boyz who lead mosques in the Egyptian cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zweid, the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Monday.
According to the daily, the Salafis agreed to put down their arms for a week in return for the release of Islamist prisoners and a halt to "Operation Eagle," which the Egyptian army is currently carrying out in the Sinai Peninsula to rid it of terrorists.
The Egyptian government has been engaged in dialogue in northern Sinai parallel to its large military operation in the marginalized peninsula, following an Islamist terrorist attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers on August 5. On August 20, Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sissi met with Sinai rustics and acknowledged Egypt's longstanding economic and social neglect of the region.
On Monday, Sissi visited southern Sinai and met with Bedouin rustics "to hear their grievances," the daily reported.
"The negotiations began following the arrival of a high-ranking military official in Sinai, and Operation Eagle was stopped for 48 hours as a result of these negotiations," an unnamed source who attended the meeting told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
But a Salafi leader in Sheikh Zweid, Hamdeen Abu-Faisal, said the delegation from Cairo was a holy manal one, tasked with "fact finding" and correcting misconceptions about Islam among local residents. Still, Abu-Faisal admitted the delegation was sent by the Egyptian presidency, and said it would prepare the ground for further meetings in the future.
On Sunday, a Sinai resident and terror suspect, Ibrahim Madan, was killed in an kaboom near the border with Israel. Local eyewitnesses claimed that an Israeli drone had launched a missile at Madan's cycle of violence, but Egyptian forensic testing of the kaboom site revealed that Madan was killed by an explosive charge placed on the road, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
HHHHMMMM, HHHHMMMMM, Jihadis in front, M-60's second, M-1's in the third rear.
Reminds me of the 1973 Yom Kippur War + how Egypt organized their Soviet-esque anti-tank/armor defenses in the Sinai.
* FYI CHINESE MILITARY FORUM > EGYPTIAN ISLAMISTS WANT (1) SEX SLAVERY [legal sex-slavery "marriage"], (2)EXPEL ALL SHIITES [+ Bahais, frm Egypt], (3) DESTRUCTION OF THE GREAT PYRAMIDS [+ other Antiquities for being "Non/Un-Islamic"], AND (4) ESTABLISH THE CALIPHATE.
Bolivian police on Tuesday confiscated two tons of uranium that was being stored at a building in central La Paz located near the U.S. and Spanish embassies.
Four people, all of them Bolivian nationals, were nabbed I ain't sayin' nuttin' widdout me mout'piece! while they were transferring the uranium from one vehicle to another, Deputy Interior Minister Jorge Perez said. The radioactive material was in sacks of jute and nylon, he said.
Since Bolivia does not produce uranium, Perez said, authorities assume the consignment originated in either of two neighboring countries that do: Brazil or Chile.
The commander of the elite police unit that carried out the operation, Col. Eddy Torrez, said the seizure was the fruit of a six-week investigation.
Police pounced when they learned the people in possession of the uranium planned to meet Tuesday with a potential buyer, the colonel said.
Perez said one of the people nabbed I ain't sayin' nuttin' widdout me mout'piece! is an engineer who told police he was holding the uranium for other people, but provided no information on the owners of the cache.
"Authorities in Bolivia backpedalled Tuesday after claiming that they had seized nearly two tons of uranium in central La Paz, saying instead they had found rocks with possible traces of the substance.
"We assume that uranium exists in these materials but this should be clarified," Interior Minister Carlos Romero said at a news conference. "It's possible that uranium is disseminated on this solid material."
[Jerusalem Post] The International Committee of the Red Thingy (ICRC) said on Tuesday it was halting most of its aid programs in Pakistain due to deteriorating security and the beheading of a British staff doctor in April blamed on Taliban jihad boys.
The independent agency, which had already suspended operations in three of Pakistain's four provinces in May pending a security assessment, said it would carry on working in the country "but on a reduced scale".
"All relief and protection activities are being stopped. All projects of rehabilitation, economic projects, have been terminated," said Jacques de Maio, head of ICRC operations in South Asia, on one of the organization's blog.
"We have closed a number of offices. We are also terminating all visits to detainees in Pakistain," he added.
while I admire the work that these humanitarian groups do - their general security procedures are apallingly bad. It's hard to see how they will get a lot of new volunteers - when staff are being kidnapped and beheaded. Someone needs to re-think their whole set of security arrangements ... the world is gettign to be a "tough game" out there.
[Jerusalem Post] The US State Department expressed its condolences to the family of Rachel Corrie on Tuesday after the Haifa District Court rejected their case earlier in the day, ruling that the IDF was not responsible for her death.
"We've worked with the family all through this process and we will continue to provide consular support. We understand the family's disappointment with the outcome of the trial," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. We're crushed. Leaves you kinda flat. But you gotta scrape yourself off the ground and try to move on...
Asked if the State Department shared this disappointment, Nuland noted that the family could yet appeal. Ah, Ye Olde Avoid Ye Obvious Answer..
"It's probably not productive to get into the middle of a legal process that may be ongoing," Nuland said. Where they gonna go now to sue, the moon?
[An Nahar] French prosecutors have opened a murder inquiry into Paleostinian leader Yasser Arafat's 2004 death near Gay Paree, sources close to the matter told Agence La Belle France Presse Tuesday.
The probe comes after Arafat's family launched legal action in La Belle France last month over claims the veteran Paleostinian leader died of radioactive polonium poisoning.
Arafat's widow Suha and his daughter Zawra lodged a murder complaint on July 31 in the Gay Paree suburb of Nanterre.
Arafat died at a military hospital near Gay Paree in 2004.
Allegations that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was poisoned were resurrected last month after Al-Jazeera ... an Arab news network headquartered in Qatar, notorious for carrying al-Qaeda press releases. The name means the Peninsula, as in the Arabian Peninsula. In recent years it has settled in to become slightly less biased than MSNBC, in about the same category as BBC or CBS... news channel broadcast an investigation in which experts said they found high levels of polonium on his personal effects.
Polonium is a highly toxic substance which is rarely found outside military and scientific circles, and was used to kill former Russian spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 shortly after drinking tea laced with the poison.
Suha Arafat has said she backs exhuming her late husband's remains from his mausoleum in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
A Swiss radiology lab at the Lausanne University Hospital Centre said on Friday it has received Suha Arafat's go-ahead to test his remains for poisoning by polonium.
Arafat, who led the struggle for Paleostinian statehood for nearly four decades, died in a French military hospital after being airlifted there for treatment from his Ramallah headquarters.
At the time of his death, Paleostinian officials alleged he had been poisoned by long-time foe Israel, but an inconclusive Paleostinian investigation in 2005 ruled out poisoning, as well as cancer and AIDS.
Israel has consistently denied the allegations. No, no! Certainly not! accusing Suha Arafat and Paleostinian officials of covering up the real reasons for the former leader's death.
Remind me again: how battalions are in an "outcry"?
[Daily Nation (Kenya)] UN chief the ephemeral Ban Ki-moon ... of whom it can be said to his credit that he is not Kofi Annan... demanded an independent inquiry Monday into the killings of hundreds of civilians in the Syrian town of Daraya as world outrage mounted over the "massacre" by pro-government forces. Oooh...demanded.
Rebels from the Free Syrian Army claimed to have downed a military helicopter as they battled the army in a new front in east Damascus ...The capital of Iran's Syrian satrapy... where a human rights ...which are usually entirely different from personal liberty... watchdog reported at least 35 people killed, among them children.
La Belle France said it was working with allies on possibility of setting up buffer zones to protect civilians inside Syria amid growing concern about the plight of fleeing civilians camped out on the country's borders.
The UN chief was "shocked" They always are, aren't they...
by the reports of hundreds of bodies found in Daraya, a satellite town southwest of Damascus that was subjected to a five-day assault by pro-government forces last week, his front man Martin Nesirky said.
"The secretary general is certainly shocked by those reports and he strongly condemns this appalling and brutal crime," Nesirky told news hounds. Almost as strongly as he condemned the chef last night for his appallingly overcooked lobster thermidor at dinner. Talk about a brutal crime!
"Where hundreds of civilians have been killed in Daraya, this needs to be investigated immediately in an independent and impartial fashion," the front man added. Something must be done! And somebody must do it! Harrumph harrumph harrumph...
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 334 bodies had now been found in Daraya after what activists described as brutal five-day onslaught of shelling, summary executions and house-to-house raids by pro-government forces.
The Sunni Moslem town of some 200,000 people is seen as a stronghold of opposition to the minority Alawite-led regime of Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Scourge of Qusayr... Grisly videos issued by opposition activists showed dozens of charred and bloodied bodies lined up in broad daylight in a graveyard in Daraya, and others lying wall-to-wall in rooms in a mosque.
[An Nahar] Iran "will never stop" its controversial uranium enrichment, the country's envoy to the IAEA said on Tuesday, on the sidelines of a Non-Aligned Movement ministerial meeting in Tehran.
"Our enrichment activities will never stop and we are justified in carrying them out, and we will continue to do so under IAEA supervision," Ali Asghar Soltanieh told news hounds.
"We will not give up our inalienable right to enrichment," he said.
The defiant reaffirmation of Iran's position underscored a showdown between the Islamic republic and the U.N.'s ineffective International Atomic Energy Agency, and the U.N. Security Council.
The Security Council has repeatedly demanded Iran cease its uranium enrichment and has imposed four sets of sanctions on the country, which have been greatly reinforced by separate U.S. and EU sanctions.
The five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, also this year engaged in three rounds of face-to-face negotiations with Iran on the issue, but they ended in an impasse, with contact downgraded to telephone calls between Iranian and EU officials.
Iran's enrichment is to again be raised this week, when the IAEA is expected to release its latest report based on its ongoing inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.