Baghdad/Quetta: Nearly 150 people were reportedly killed in explosions in Baghdad and Karbala in Iraq and around 50 in firing in Quetta in Pakistan as Shia Muslims observed Muharram. There were scenes of panic with victims being carried on makeshift stretchers and women trying to get children away. This was the first time in decades that Iraq's majority Shia community had been able to freely observe their holy day Ashura as Saddam Hussein being a Sunni always sought to suppress the community that constituted 60 per cent of the populatiuon More than a million people had flocked to the city of Karbala to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammed in 680.
Security was tight because of fears that the festival would be a target for attacks Waves of people fled through the streets of Karbala in panic after the first blasts were heard. People - bloodied, and possibly having lost limbs - were being carried on makeshift stretchers made out of wooden carts or blankets through the streets to an ambulance. According to a BBC report, one of the bombs may have been in a rubbish bin. An eye witness said she heard six explosions over a period of about five minutes, and a flash as one of the bombs went off. Iraqi police said at least four explosions shook the Shia district of Kadhimiya in north-west Baghdad, causing many casualties.
It is not clear what caused the explosions. Security forces cordoned off the area and ambulances raced from the scene. It had been feared that somebody would try to target the Ashura festival - perhaps to bring about a sectarian conflict and use the festival at Karbala to achieve that end. The festival had been banned under Saddam Hussein's Sunni- dominated regime for fear it would foment rebellion. Reporters said this year's event coincides with the growing dominance of Shia in post-Saddam Iraq - which led to fears that disgruntled Sunni militants might target the celebrations. As a result, Karbala was ringed by security forces - with Polish soldiers policing the town's entry points and Shia militia guarding its streets and shrines.
In Quetta, unidentified gunmen had opened fire on a Youm-e-Ashur procession in Liaquat Bazaar in the afternoon. Curfew was imposed in the city soon after the incident. The procession was organised by Shia Muslims to observe the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. Law enforcement agencies further beefed up security to maintain law and order in the area.
Bollywood star Shakti Kapoor to campaign for Congress (Go To Top)
New Delhi: Bollywood actor Shakti Kapoor, better known for his villain roles, on Tuesday announced that he will campaign for the Congress during the upcoming elections. He met Congress president Sonia Gandhi for nearly half-an-hour at 10 Janpath and later presented himself before the media to announce his decision. "What led me here today is the fact I was very much disturbed by the campaign unleashed against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi calling her a foreigner. I want to appeal to those who call Sonia a foreigner to stop saying so because Soniaji is an Indian by heart, she was married to a Indian family who laid down their lives for the country's sake, she has worked hard ever since Rajiv Gandhi died, and her children are also very much Indians," Kapoor told reporters just before the regular media briefing.
Two security personnel wounded in Srinagar (Go To Top)
Srinagar: At least two security personnel were wounded on Tuesday in a powerful blast near a police station in Srinagar. Militants triggered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) at Hyderpore, a marketplace in Srinagar. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. The IED placed in an abandoned scooter was triggered off when a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy was passing by. "Militants had planted an IED in a two-wheeler. As soon as the buses crossed, they trigered this off. But our troops diverted the traffic immediately and as a result nobody was seriously injured," said Sham Chamun, a CRPF official.
Undertrial killed in prison shootout (Go To Top)
Varanasi: An undertrial was killed and three police personnel were injured when unidentified men entered a jail and opened indiscriminate fire in Varanasi on Tuesday. Police said the gunmen, posing as visitors, entered the jail premises in the morning on the pretext of meeting Bansi Yadav, whom they later shot. Yadav, an accused in the killing of a political leader, was apparently the target of the gunmen. Mahadev Singh, senior superintendent of police, blamed the jail authorities for negligence. "It is clearly a case of negligence on the part of jail authorities. Today is a holiday and no visitors are allowed but still somehow some people were allowed to go in and they fired as soon as they went in," said Singh. Singh said a jail guard, who apparently was helping the assailants, fled with them. Police suspect the involvement of the mafia in the shootout. A manhunt has been launched to nab the assailants.
Prayers, Tazia processions mark Moharram (Go To Top)
New Delhi: The Muslims across the country took out procession on Tuesday to observe Muharram, which marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, grandson of Prophet Mohammed. Every year Muslims across the world mourn the tragedy of Karbala on the tenth day of the month of Muharram. (SEE RELIGION)
Advani to go on another Rath Yatra (Go To Top)
New Delhi: Leaving no stone unturned to spread the BJP and NDA's message of "India shining", caretaker Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today announced that he would embark on a yatra across the country. "India is shining. And the BJP will leave no stone unturned to make sure the message reaches the voters," Advani said, adding that he would embark on his "Bharat Uday Yatra" from March 10. The first phase of his campaign by road will take him from Kanyakumari to Amritsar where he will reach on March 26. The second leg of his campaign will begin from Porbandar in Gujarat from March 30, ending in Jagannath in Puri, Orissa, on April 14, , Advani said at the BJP's headquarters here. Advani said he would spend 33 days travelling 7,871 km. During the course of this travel, he said he would be touching 33 states and Union Territories and some 121 parliamentary constituencies. Asked why he was ignoring the north-east and Jammu and Kashmir, Advani quipped he would visit these regions later if the BJP president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, provided air transport for him.
Pathan, Powar are ready for war (Go To Top)
Dharamsala: Speedster Irfan Pathan and debutant spin bowler Ramesh Powar are upbeat about their inclusion in the squad for the upcoming Test and one-day series against Pakistan. Both the players are raring to perform to their best during the tour to the neighbouring country. 19-year-old Pathan proved his mettle in Australia for he picked up the highest number of 16 wickets in ten matches. Now, the pace man is all set to go back to Pakistan where he set a world record by taking nine wickets for 16 in the Under-19 Asia Cup final last year.
"I don't see any difference between bowlers ... for me it's about international cricket. Australia is number one and Pakistan is also good. I want that I should be able to perform well and make India victorious," Pathan told ANI during a practice session in Dharamsala where he was for a domestic tournament. Powar replaces Harbhajan Singh, who is unavailable after having surgery on his spinning finger late last year. The 25- year-old lad from Mumbai shone with both bat and ball to help Bombay win the Ranji Trophy championship last year. He said: "It is a matter of pride for me that I am selected for the Indian team. India is going to Pakistan for a tour after 14 years, I feel very good about it and am honoured that I got a chance to play. I hope I can give a good performance matching that of an international player and to help India to win the match."
PCB raking in money from Net (Go To Top)
Karachi: The tickets for the upcoming Indo-Pak cricket series that were made available on the Internet were sold out in less than a week's time even as the move, the first in Indo-Pak cricket history, generated an unprecedented response. "The quota of tickets on the Internet has been exhausted. They are no more tickets available for sale on the net now," the News quoted a PCB source as saying on Monday. Further elaborating, he said that the 25-30 per cent of the total tickets available for the one-day and Test series had been sold out.
According to the paper, the total number of tickets available for the series is said to be around 450,000 for the One-dayers and Tests, and 25 to 30 per cent of these tickets were on sale on the Internet. The Board official reportedly said that Indians and Pakistanis living abroad had snapped up most of the tickets on the Internet. The PCB had said that it was looking at figures of Rs 7 to 8 cr as gate money after laying down a policy of discouraging free-loaders and issuance of complimentary tickets. Meanwhile, for ensuring foolproof security inside cricket stadiums during the matches, the PCB has devised contingency plans in case of any breakdown in the computerized security check system. "Since we have decided that all ticket-holders would have to pass through a strict security check and their tickets would be put through computerized access bars for verification purposes we have devised a contingency plan to cope with any breakdown in the computerized system," he said. The tickets for the first One-dayer in Karachi go on sale from March 6 at booths inside the national stadium, the report said.
Shabbir rushes back for series against India (Go To Top)
Lahore: One of Pakistan's key bowlers, Shabbir Ahmad, has returned from Australia to stake his claim for a place in the Pakistan squad after reportedly rectifying his suspect bowling action. Shabbir had been asked to go to Australia and consult bowling expert Daryl Foster after international umpires Darrell Hair of Australia and Billy Bowden of New Zealand had questioned it during the fifth ODI in New Zealand in January. Foster's report about Shabbir's action will be received in next two or three days, a PCB spokesman was quoted by the Dawn, as saying. Shabbir had been given six weeks to rectify his action from the day it was reported to the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Indian Airlines offers special flight for Pakistan tour (Go To Top)
New Delhi: Indian Airlines on Tuesday announced a special flight to carry the national cricket team to Pakistan. Indian Airlines Commercial Director Anil Goyal said the flight would be open for public also. "We are operating special flight from Delhi to Lahore to carry Indian team to Pakistan for the tour on March 10. Departure of the flight will be at 1 p.m. afternoon. This is a non-schedule flight because this is not our day of operation. Specially mounted for Indian team, but seats are available on this flight and passengers are welcome to book their seats and buy tickets for the flight. We have also worked out a package with Hotel Holiday Inn in Lahore," said Goyal.
The three-night-four-day package to Lahore will be available from all the major cities including New Delhi and Mumbai.Goyal said sight-seeing visits would also be arranged in the package, which has come into effect from March 1 and will continue till April 30. The India-Pakistan series, which begins on March 13 and includes five one-day matches and three Tests, is the first in 14 years. It comes about a year-and-a-half after the nuclear-armed neighbours teetered on the brink of a third war over Kashmir.
VHP against cricket team's tour of Pakistan (Go To Top)
Kolkata: Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Praveen Tagodia on Tuesday expressed reservations over the forthcoming cricket team tour of Pakistan saying the government should give top priority to security than cricket. "Cricket sport is the natural activity of the society. But by sending the team to Pakistan where there are terrorists, bombs, explosives, is dangerous...so should we send our cricketers there? What should be our priority, national security or cricket? We are at war," Vishwa Hindu Parishad's firebrand General Secretary Praveen Togadia told a news conference here.Cricket team leaves for their first full tour of Pakistan in 14 years, which starts on March 10.
India lands a UFO in Pak! (Go To Top)
New Delhi: Has a UFO (unidentified flying object landed in Pakistan from India? Panicky authorities in Pakistan certainly thought so and sent all concerned on either side of the borders separating the two nations into a tizzy. India's Border Security Force (BSF) went on a state of high alert in Punjab following the report of the UFO taking off from India and landing in Pakistan. According to a senior BSF official, the reported flying object landed in Pakistan territory around 300 yards from the zero line near the BSF's Fatehpur check post in the village of Chann Kalan on Thursday evening.
BSF constable Jagdish Parishad, who was on duty at the international border on Thursday evening, was quoted by the Daily Times as saying that he had seen "a flying object like a hot-air balloon carrying three persons, who disembarked after landing in Pakistan's territory". But according to his Senior Commandant Darbara Singh, it could have been a para-glider or a fan-glider or even a hot air balloon. "Now it has become difficult to ascertain the nature of the flying object that landed in the Pakistani territory, as the BSF constable deployed at the post was not educated enough to identify the object," claimed Singh. "Since the constable has never seen any para-glider, fan-glider or a hot-air balloon, it is difficult to verify the authenticity of the matter," he added. "The BSF has already handed over a protest note to the Pakistan authorities to provide necessary information on the landing object," he further said. Meanwhile, the police station concerned on the Indian side had lodged a case under the Indian Foreign Passport Act and Foreign Act, a police official said.
U2 autobiography! (Go To Top)
Washington: Irish rockers U2 are planning to publish a book charting their 25 years in the music industry to coincide with their upcoming album. The book which is tentatively titled 'In The Name Of The Love: U2 By U2' is currently being touted to numerous publishers and is expected to attract a giant bid, according to ratethemusic.com The book coincides with the 25th anniversary of the release of the rock group's first album 'Boy', and will feature previously unseen photos charting their rise from aspiring Dublin artists to worldwide mega-stars. Negotiations are on with the former 'Rolling Stone' journalist Jim Henke, who wrote enthusiastically about the group in the legendary music magazine in the early 80s.
Gay marriages no 'monster' for Charlize Theron! (Go To Top)
New York: Charlize Theron, who bagged the best actress award at the Oscars, opposed California Governor Schwarzeneggers attitude towards gay marriages, terming it as "prehistoric" She was reacting to the order given by Schwarzenegger to SanFrancisco officials to stop granting of marriage licences to gays. The lady who gave a stunning performance in 'Monster', grew up in her native South Africa amidst gay couples. She was shocked at the attitude displayed towards homosexuals marriages in the present age.
"I just don't understand that at all. It's so unbelievably frustrating," Teen Hollywood quoted her, as saying She further added "I mean, I am surrounded by so many beautiful relationships just in my life, I can't tell you - just so inspirational." The actress who is currently dating Irish actor Stuart Townsend said, "And the fact that what the sex is (of someone you love) is an issue is just unbelievable to me." "I mean, love is such a hard thing - to find somebody who's willing to go through anything with you and stand by you that, on its own, is so hard to find," she added. Theron emphatically stated,"The fact that people want to complicate it even more just absolutely baffles me." She was of the opinion "If it happens, cherish it! What does it matter if you're sharing it with a man or with a woman? It's very strange to me."
Charlize Theron is taking her 'Oscar' back home! (Go To Top)
Washington: Hollywood star Charlize Theron is planning to celebrate her big Oscar win with a trip back home to South Africa. The actress, who dedicated her Best Actress award to "everyone in South Africa", will take the golden statuette back to her homeland when she flies out this week to promote 'Monster'- the film that has won her so much acclaim for her role of a serial killer. "The film opened in South Africa on Saturday, so I am going to go to South Africa. They've been so unbelievably supportive, and I'm going to go back home and go and show them an Oscar," rate the music quoted her, as saying.
Bottled Coke water is actually tap water! (Go To Top)
London: Cola giant Coke has admitted that its "super pure" Dasani water comes from the mains water supply to its factory near Peckham. According to a report in British tabloid 'Sun', Coca-Cola is spending around 7-million pounds launching Dasani in the UK. It has already created waves in the US. "It sounds like the episode from "Only Fools and Horses" when they sold tap water from what they called the Peckham Spring," a spokeswoman for the National Consumer Council said. Meanwhile, bosses claim that although it is tap water it undergoes special filtering to remove impurities. A spokesman has said that the tap water has already passed 99.92 per cent of quality tests. "If the water regulator thought any more treatment was needed they would ask us to do so," Chris Shipway, company official said. The revelation comes in the wake of research pointing out that bottled water sales across the UK rose 16 per cent to almost 1.2- billion pounds last year, with consumers guzzling two billion litres. Water industry spokesman Barrie Clarke definitely does not agree with the concept. "We don't think there are any impurities in tap water. People don't need to buy this stuff to get excellent quality, healthy water," he said.
Farrell dumps Dawson for Jolie! (Go To Top)
New York: Ravishing beauty Rosario Dawson had a fling with actor Colin Farrell on the set of their forthcoming film, 'Alexander' but she was dumped after Farrell set his eyes on Angelina Jolie- his other co-star. A close friend of Rosario disclosed that the 24-year-old East Village native fell prey to Farrell's charms while shooting Oliver Stone's historical epic in England, Morocco and Thailand. "Rosario said the sex was great with Colin. But he blew her off once Angelina got on the set. Of course, Colin and Angelina ended up getting together," the New York Post quoted Dawson's friend as saying.
Robin Williams' spoof on Janet Jackson's boobs! (Go To Top)
Washington: Funnyman Robin Williams took a dig at Janet Jackson's breast exposure incident by tweaking his nipple on the night of Academy Awards. Television bosses had imposed a five-second spoof of Janet's raunchy Super Bowl performance last month on the televised broadcast of the Oscar ceremony fearing that skimpy Oscar outfits may reveal too much skin. Acording to imdb.com, when Williams stepped up on stage to present the Animated Feature award, he mockingly pinched his nipple to raucous applause from the audience. Oscar host Billy Crystal quipped, "This is the reason for the five-second delay."
Now, add depression to the ills of Atkins diet! (Go To Top)
London: A new US research has showed that the Atkins diet blocks serotonin - the brain chemical that regulates mood and as a result people become grumpy and suffer mood swings. This affects the brain - causing depression, claim scientists . This health alert surrounding the controversial diet is likely to be treated with the same scorn as scares about kidney damage, heart attacks and even bad breath. Women with naturally lower levels of the chemical are the worst effected. Dr Judith Wurtman, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied the brains of 100 volunteers for three months and found that those on high-carb diets produced far more serotonin and thus were more relaxed. "When you take away carbohydrates, it's like taking the water from someone trekking through the desert," the Sun quoted her as saying . Carbohydrates control appetite, since serotonin signals the brain when full. Dr Wurtman, who specialises in nutrition and behaviour, issued advice to anyone feeling grumpy. She said: "Eat a potato. You will feel better in 30 minutes."