Terror attack at Pathankot Air Base kills 4 terrorists and 3 soldiers

The terrorist attack that struck Pathankot Air Force Base on Saturday morning has claimed the lives of four terrorists and three Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel.

Sources of NDTV have said that the attackers were from Bhawalpur in Pakistan and were instructed to blow up the helicopters stationed at the air base. The terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed is suspected to have carried out the attack that started around 3.30 am in the morning.

The terrorists who entered the base wearing military uniform were contained in the administrative part of the air base. The area where the helicopters and fighter aircrafts are kept has been cordoned off and is safe, said the officials.

Further, the official vehicle they used to enter the air base has been identified as the car used by the Superintendent of Police of Gurdaspur, which was hijacked in Pathankot yesterday.

The Intelligence Agencies had issued an alert about a possible attack at Pathankot after they had intercepted a call made by the terrorists to their handlers in Pakistan, using the police official’s cell phone. And according to the sources, following the alert, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had called for an urgent meeting with senior officials last night. The National Security Guard, Special Forces of the Indian Army and additional soldiers were brought in to step up the security of the base after directions from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Condemning the attack, Union Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh said, “We want good ties with Pakistan but a befitting reply will be given to any terror attack.”

With the attack coming days after Modi’s unscheduled and ‘bold’ visit to Pakistan, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “That was quick. Here’s the first major challenge to the PM Modi’s bold Pakistan gambit.”

Also, the attack comes within six months of the Gurdaspur terrorist attack where three terrorists opened fire in Dinanagar ,killing three civilians.

A statement issued by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry has condemned the attack at Pathankot and said that Pakistan remains committed to partner with India and other countries in the region to eradicate terror.

Following the attack, security was stepped up in the National Capital and Pathankot-Jammu national highway so that no terrorist sneak into Jammu-Kashmir.

Sources: NDTV

Netflix all set to launch services in India

In a major announcement at the upcoming CES 2016, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, is expected to launch the popular on-demand streaming service in India by next week. Netflix, apart from offering content streaming in partnership with major movie studios and TV networks, also produces a number of original shows and has exclusive rights to air some content.

As per a report in Hindu Business Line, the United States- based company is likely to enter India through a partnership with a local telecom firm to avail the benefit of the 4G networks that will make watching high quality video streaming possible on a mobile all over India. Currently, Airtel is the only telecom operator with a substantial 4G footprint in the country that’s available to the public in select regions. Reliance have 4G networks in India, but is restricted for employees.

Netflix which has over 69 million users, offers its services to users at $8.99 (Rs. 600 approx.) per month. House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Daredevil are among the popular shows produced by Netflix over the past few years. With an official launch, subscriptions could be offered to users at a cheaper tariff rate to compete with rivals like Singapore’s on-demand video provider Hooq, that offers its service at Rs.199 per month and Spuul and Eros Now. Most content on YouTube however is free.

With an expansion of 3G and broadband connections in India, and many users becoming comfortable with watching content from Internet-powered services, Netflix’s entry in the country could give the entire market a big push.

 

Source: The Indian Express

China carries out military revamp seeing introduction of three new units

In a significant overhaul of the Chinese military announced late on Friday, three new units were introduced to its structure, which was hailed by the country’s President Xi Jinping as a “major policy decision to realise the Chinese dream of a strong army.”

The addition of these units, namely a general command for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), a missile force, and a strategic support unit, comes in a context where substantial regional tensions persist as China’s heightened defiance with regard to the East China Sea and South China Sea has irked neighbours Japan and Philippines, along with seeing the involvement of the US.

The modernisation move, also seen as a manifestation of an increase in the control of the ruling Communist Party over the PLA, comes after the country had already announced its building of a second aircraft carrier, as also Xi’s September proclamation of scaling down the three million strong troop-force for greater efficiency.

Amongst the new units, while the PLA ‘Rocket Force’ replaces the Second Artillery Force, and assumes the role of overseeing conventional and nuclear weaponry, the general command – notably placed directly under the control of Central Military Commission headed by the President –   will function as base for land forces. The emphasis of the third body, a strategic support force, might be cyber warfare.

The move may hold several implications in terms of foreign relations, especially in the immediate areas.

Significantly, regarding the whole issue,  a nationalistic newspaper of the country, The Global Times, was quoted by AFP, saying in one of its editorials, “If China has a big gap with the US in terms of military prowess, this will affect its international position and other countries’ attitude toward China. With a strong army, China can be more politically appealing, influential and persuasive.”

News source: Times of IndiaIndian Express

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia executes 47 criminals: State television

A Saudi Arabian telecast declared that the kingdom has executed 47 criminals convicted of terrorism on Saturday. The convicts executed included a Shiite cleric who was a known figure in the 2011 Arab Spring stimulated unrest in the kingdom. His name was on the state-run Saudi Press Agency’s list. The Saudi state television not only reported the executions but also adduced the Interior Ministry for information.

The execution of Sheikh al-Nimr may fuel a fresh unrest among Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority. The Shiite minority is largely concentrated on the eastern side of the kingdom and in Bahrain, which has been surfaced to low level violence since the 2011 protests by the minority demanding substantial rights from the Sunni monarchy.

The list of the executed included one citizen from Chad, one from Egypt and 45 were Saudi citizens. The Saudi royal court gave a green signal to carry out the punishment after all the appeals were worn out. The capital punishment was carried out in the capital, Riyadh and in 12 other cities and towns on Saturday morning.

The killing of the cleric has been quoted as a part of campaign by Saudi authorities to “crush all dissent” by Amnesty International. Al-Nimr was a critic of the Sunni-led monarchy in Bahrain, which subjugated the 2011 Shiite-led protests. He did not deny the political charges against him but contradicted allegations of carrying weapons.

The Saudi television aired the mug shots of those executed. After the broadcast of the executed, the television also showed black and white footages of the terror attacks in the kingdom that happened in the past. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, reaching their highest level in the past two decades.

News source: Times ColonistBig Story

INC Presidency: Rahul likely to take on the mantle soon

Congress party Vice President Rahul Gandhi may soon be elevated as the President of the Indian National Congress, sources claim. The party’s internal elections that have been constantly delayed for the last two years, is speculated to happen soon in light of the Gandhi scion’s rumored elevation.

“He (Rahul) is ready to take on the mantle. It is wrong to say that he does not want to become president. There is also no truth in suggestions that Gandhi may wait till the completion of assembly polls in Assam,” said a senior party leader on condition of anonymity to NDTV.

Sources claim that Congress Working Committee meeting is scheduled to happen after January 8, following the Congress Vice President‘s return from his Europe vacation. While Sonia Gandhi has been the party’s longest serving President with her eighteen year old stint at the helm of the 129-year-old party, Rahul Gandhi took over as the Vice President three years ago, in January 2013.

Sources: The Indian Express, DNA

 

 

Europe ushers in New Year amidst tight security measures

Berlin/Brussels, 1st Jan, 2016 – Security forces in Germany evacuated two train stations in Munich on the eve of New Year, acting on a tip received, warning of possible suicide bomb attacks. Across Europe, Belgium too detained three people over an alleged terror threat.

In a news conference held on Friday, German officials stated that they received intelligence from another country, of Islamic State’s plans to attack train stations using up to seven suicide bombers. German TV channels reported that the tip came from French Intelligence.

Munich’s central station and Pasing station (8km away) went back to functioning a few hours later when the threat could not be corroborated. In Belgium, police had initially rounded up six men. Three were released late Thursday and Prosecutors stated they were holding onto to the other three for an additional 24 hours – questioning them over a supposed plot to attack Brussels on New Year’s Eve.

The recent Paris attacks have resulted in increased security in several capitals across the world. Armed soldiers made their presence known in the streets of Paris while security personnel in Madrid, London, Berlin, and Istanbul were extra vigilant as people gathered to usher in the New Year. New York’s – Time Square, that hosts the dropping of the crystal ball every year, also witnessed heightened security measures.

News source: Reuters

Jayalalitha elected as General Secretary of AIADMK

Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa was elected as the General Secretary of  the the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party for the seventh time.

THe resolution was passed at the general council meeting in chennai. 14 other resolution were passed along with the selection of Jayalalithaa as General Secretary by the AIADMK party leaders. 

AIADMK vested the power of strategising and making decisions regarding the upcoming 2016 Assembly Elections to General Secretary Jayalalithaa. 

As part of the resolutions the General Council urged Jayalalithaa to have talks to Sri Lanka through the Central government to stop violence against Indian fishermen along the Katchatheevu, Sri Lanka and also urge the center to remove Jallikattu ban (folk sport) immediately.

A resolution praised the Chief Minister for her efforts regarding relief and rehabilitation to people of Chennai and other districts following the rains and floods. Another resolution in the same context called  for immediate relief funds from the Centre as requested by State government.

“2016 should blossom as AIADMK year under the leadership of Jayalalithaa”, a resolution said.

Sources:  The New Indian Express News Today