Gaza City, Oct 29 (AP/UNB) — Hundreds of Palestinians on Monday laid to rest three teenage boys killed in an Israeli airstrike, with their families insisting they had no militant ties as mourners called on Gaza's militant groups to retaliate.
The deaths a day earlier of the teens — who Gaza's Health Ministry said were 13 and 14 years old — threaten to plunge the area into further violence after a brief exchange of fire between Gaza militants and Israel over the weekend. The Israeli army struck 80 targets in Gaza in response to the heaviest rocket salvos from the Hamas-ruled territory in months.
The boys' bodies were wrapped in Palestinian flags and carried by mourners who shot in the air as they chanted "God is Great."
Aisha Abu Daher said her 14-year-old son Abdel-Hamid had "nothing to do with resistance," referring to the militant factions. Abdel-Hamid and his friends drank tea in the afternoon and rode a donkey cart, a daily habit, and did not come home, she said.
"I went to a wedding, and in the evening I worried when he did not return," she said over the phone from her home in the central Gaza Strip, about 1 kilometer (a half mile) away from the border area. "I don't know why they went or what they were doing there, but I'm sure they were not doing anything bad."
Medics said they recovered the bodies 200 meters (yards) from the fence, which has been volatile for months as the Islamic militant Hamas group has led protests there demanding an end to a decade-old Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza.
The Israeli military said the teens had attempted to damage the border fence and "were apparently involved in placing an improvised explosive device" near it. The area where the incident occurred has never been used as a site for protests.
Fatma Abu Isied said her 13-year-old nephew, Khaled, used to go to the open space along the border to catch birds. "They were there late, and that's why an aircraft hit them...What was their fault? Is this something that deserves an airstrike?" she said outside her brother's home, where women gathered for the funeral.
Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets Sunday night, burning tires and demanding Gaza militants fire rockets into Israel in retaliation. The sit-ins went on through dawn Monday.
Khaled al-Batsh, an official from Islamic Jihad, a smaller, Iranian-backed group operating in Gaza, said Israel has to lift the blockade if it wants to end the violence. "The lowest price the enemy can pay now is the breaking of the siege," he said during the funeral.
Islamic Jihad, which sometimes acts independently from Hamas, was behind the latest rocket fire into Israel, which it said was in retaliation for the killing of four Palestinians during a Friday protest along the boundary fence.
Israel accused Iranian forces based in Syria of ordering the Palestinian movement to launch the rockets and threatened relation that is "not limited geographically."
Egyptian mediators are working to restore calm, and hope to bring about a national reconciliation between Hamas, which seized Gaza by force in 2007, and the West Bank-based administration of President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas says the blockade must be lifted first and has vowed to continue the weekly protests, in which more than 160 Palestinians have been killed since March. A Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier in July.
Israel accuses Hamas of using the large protests as cover to stage border infiltrations and attacks. It says it is defending its border and accuses Hamas of exploiting young protesters and encouraging them to risk their lives in order to increase pressure to ease the blockade.
Istanbul, Oct. 29 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The body of slain Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi has not been found yet, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.
The minister also told the press in Istanbul that Saudi Arabia's Chief Prosecutor Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb met with Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Irfan Fidan in the city earlier in the day and had "very beneficial" exchange of information about the death of Khashoggi.
According to broadcaster CNNTurk, the pair exchanged pieces of evidence and information about the murder of Khashoggi, who has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
Press reports said the meeting between the chief prosecutors lasted an hour and 15 minutes, and al-Mojeb is expected to conduct an investigation at the Saudi consulate later in the day.
Saudi Arabia admitted that the journalist was killed inside the kingdom's consulate and 18 people were arrested over their alleged connections to the killing as a result of an internal investigation into the case.
Turkish prosecutors requested last week for the extradition of the suspects for trial in Turkey, while the Saudi side said they will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia.
Turkish police and crime scene investigators have conducted searches in the Saudi consulate, the residence of the Saudi consul general as well as a forest in Istanbul, trying to find the body of Khashoggi.
Dhaka, Oct 29 (UNB) - A Delhi boy, Bhavye Suneja, was captain of the ill-fated Indonesian carrier Lion Air’s Boeing 737 Max + that crashed into the sea while operating a domestic flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang on Monday with 189 people on board.
Indonesia's search and rescue agency confirmed the crash of Lion Air flight, JT610, adding that it lost contact with ground officials 13 minutes after takeoff, and a tug boat leaving the capital's port saw it fall, reports The Times of India.
"We don't know yet whether there are any survivors," agency head Muhmmad Syaugi told a news conference, adding that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft's emergency transmitter. "We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm."
He said that items such as handphones and life vests were found in waters about 30 metres to 35 metres (98 to 115 ft) deep near where the plane, identified by air tracking service Flightradar 24 as a Boeing 737 MAX 8, lost contact.
"We are there already, our vessels, our helicopter is hovering above the waters, to assist," Syaugi said. "We are trying to dive down to find the wreck."
Suneja joined Lion Air in 2011
Suneja, a resident of Mayur Vihar who passed out of the locality’s Ahlcon Public School in 2005, joined Indonesian Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Lion Air in March 2011 where he flies the Boeing 737. The VP of a leading airline in India that operates the Boeing 737 said Suneja, 31, was considering returning to India.
“We spoke this July. He is a very sweet sounding person. Being an experienced pilot of the B737 with an incident, accident free record, we were keen to have him with us because of his good credentials. His only request was that he wanted a Delhi posting as he is from the city,” said the senior official.
“Since most of the pilots are from north India and they want Delhi posting, I told him that once he flies with us for a year we will consider his posting in Delhi. He wanted our assistance in getting an Indian ATPL (commander’s licence). Some other pilots from Lion Air have also joined us recently,” said the official.
“We all hope and pray that Suneja and all others on the plane survive. We are all praying right now,” the senior official of the Indian carrier said.
According to his Linkedin profile, Suneja, 31, got his pilot licence from Bel Air International in 2009. After that, he joined Emirates as a trainee pilot in September 2010 and remained there for four months. In March 2011, he joined Indonesian low-cost airline Lion Air that is based in Jakarta.
Suneja’s Facebook page shows him a happy family man. An October 2016 picture shows his Captain’s hat and epaulettes with four stripes. Presumably, this is when he graduated to a captain from the first officer.
The aircraft involved in the crash is Boeing 737, Max. Indian carriers, Jet Airways and SpiceJet, have ordered hundreds of this aircraft. The Max which crashed onMonday had joined Lion Air fleet on August 15, 2018, and had flown for 800 hours. Captain Bhavye Suneja and co-pilot Harvino were operating Monday’s fight JT 610. According to Lion Air, Suneja has 6,000 flight hours of experience and the co-pilot has 5,000 flight hours.
Islamabad, Oct 29 (AP/UNB) — Pakistani police say at least 17 passengers have been killed when a bus fell into a gorge in northern Pakistan.
Officer Abdul Ghafoor said Sunday that the bus was heading to Rawalpindi from Ghiberti in Gilgit Baltistan when it fell into the deep gorge in Kohistan District.
Ghafoor said 17 bodies have been recovered and one woman was left with slight injuries, adding that a lack of communication to the remote area caused delays in rescue efforts.
Police suspected speeding on the slippery road in the mountainous terrain was the cause of the accident.
Such incidents are common in Pakistan where motorists often disregard traffic rules and ignore safety standards.
Colombo, Oct 29 (AP/UNB) — Sri Lanka's president said Sunday he sacked his prime minister mainly because of the alleged involvement of a Cabinet minister in a plot to assassinate him.
In a televised address to the nation, President Maithripala Sirisena said a person questioned by investigators had revealed the name of a minister in an alleged plot to assassinate him and a former defense secretary.
He said the only choice for him under the circumstances was to dismiss Ranil Wickremesinghe and invite his former nemesis and ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa to take over as prime minister and form a new government.
"This information (received by investigators) contains a number of details hitherto hidden to the people," Sirisena said. "The informant has made a statement regarding a Cabinet minister involved in the conspiracy to assassinate me."
He did not reveal the name of the minister nor details of the alleged plot and did not explain why he considered the claims credible.
Sirisena's supporters have talked for weeks of an alleged plot to assassinate him, but Sunday was the first time Sirisena had commented publicly on it.
A police informant named Namal Kumara who first came out with the alleged assassination plot told reporters Sunday that Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet colleague, former army commander Sarath Fonseka, were behind the assassination plot.
There was no immediate comment from Wickremesinghe or Fonseka on the allegation.
The alleged plot has been under police investigation, but no arrests have been made.
Wickremesinghe has called Sirisena's move to sack him unconstitutional and said he can prove his majority support in Parliament.
On Saturday, Sirisena suspended Parliament in an apparent move to give Rajapaksa time to try to muster enough support to survive any no-confidence vote.
The speaker of Parliament urged Sirisena to safeguard Wickremesinghe's rights.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said in a letter to Sirisena on Sunday that the continued suspension of Parliament would have "serious and undesirable consequences."
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington is following the events in Sri Lanka "with concern" and called on Sirisena to reconvene parliament.
Meanwhile, one person died and two others were wounded on Sunday in a shooting at the Petroleum Ministry, in the first violent incident since the political turmoil began on Friday with the sacking of Wickremesinghe.
Pushpa Soyza, a spokeswoman at Colombo National Hospital, said three people were admitted to the hospital following the shooting, and one of them had died.
Arjuna Ranatunga, who was petroleum minister under Wickremesinghe, said one of his security guards opened fire when Rajapaksa supporters mobbed him and protested against him entering the ministry premises.
Opposition lawmakers, supporting the new prime minister, asked Wickremesinghe to vacate his official residence or face a forcible eviction.
Hundreds of Wickremesinghe supporters continued to gather outside his official home on Sunday for the second consecutive day, waving party flags and denouncing Sirisena and Rajapaksa. Buddhist monks performed religious rites to invoke blessings on Wickremesinghe.
Jayasuriya said in the letter that he received "a request to protect the rights and privileges" of Wickremesinghe "until any other person emerges from within Parliament as having secured the confidence of Parliament." He said the request came from two senior lawmakers from the sacked prime minister's party.
"This request is especially important in the context where various persons are reported to have issued threats via the media," Jayasuriya said, adding that "the forcible takeovers" would have "serious international implications."
Tensions have been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of some of the economic reforms being introduced by the prime minister. Sirisena was also critical of investigations into military personnel accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka's long civil war, which ended in 2009