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9 Tajiks jailed for smuggling gold and cash across Afghan border

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(Last Updated On: April 27, 2021)

A Tajik court has sentenced nine people for smuggling large amounts of gold and cash from Dushanbe to Dubai and Istanbul, in a case that has been closely watched in Tajikistan.

RFE/RL’s Gandhara news reported the Dushanbe City Court said the men — all of them Tajik citizens — were handed prison terms ranging from two to 5 1/2 years on April 20.

Five of the men – whose occupations weren’t disclosed – were convicted of smuggling cash and gold from the Tajik-Afghan border to Dushanbe and then on to foreign countries.

Four others – three border guards and a police officer – were found guilty of aiding the smugglers, Gandhara reported.

The defendants’ lawyers did not immediately comment, but several family members told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity on April 24 that they were not planning to appeal the sentences.

Investigations revealed that the group smuggled nearly 1.4 tons of gold bars and more than $100 million in cash between early September and mid-November last year, the court said.

The men used forged documents to transfer the goods from Dushanbe to the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, Gandhara reported.

The probe began after Tajik authorities seized nearly 90 kilograms of gold bars and about $15 million in cash from smugglers at the Dushanbe airport on November 14.

Authorities say the investigation continues.

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Bus crash in Croatia leaves 12 Polish pilgrims dead, 32 injured

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(Last Updated On: August 7, 2022)

Twelve people were killed in Croatia on Saturday when a Polish bus filled with religious pilgrims slipped off a road and crashed near Varazdin, authorities said, Reuters reported.

Thirty-two people were injured in the crash which happened at 5:40 a.m. (0340 GMT) on the highway between Varazdin, in northwest Croatia, and capital Zagreb.

Croatian Health Minister Vili Beros said 19 people were in a serious condition.

According to Reuters Marcin Przydacz, deputy head of the Polish Foreign Ministry, who was travelling to the site on Saturday, said the injured were being treated at five hospitals in Croatia.

He said there were 44 Polish pilgrims on the bus driving from Poland to Medjugorje, a Roman Catholic shrine in southern Bosnia, including two drivers. Among them were three priests and six nuns, a ministry spokesman said.

Police cleared the area where the accident took place after firefighters and medical teams recovered all the occupants of the vehicle which had Warsaw registration plates, read the report.

Polish police officers, in Croatia as part of project “Safe Tourist Destination” project, were helping Croatian authorities in communicating with the survivors.

An investigation has been started into the cause of the accident.

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Taiwan official leading missile production dies of heart attack

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(Last Updated On: August 6, 2022)

The deputy head of Taiwan defence ministry’s research and development unit was found dead on Saturday morning in a hotel room, succumbing to a heart attack, according to the official Central News Agency.

Ou Yang Li-hsing, deputy head of the military-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, had died in a hotel room in southern Taiwan, CNA reported.

Authorities said 57-year-old Ou Yang died of a heart attack and the hotel room showed no sign of any ‘intrusion’, CNA said.

His family said he had a history of heart disease and had a cardiac stent, according to the report, Reuters reported.

Ou Yang was on a business trip to the southern county of Pingtung, CNA said, adding that he had assumed the post early this year to supervise various missile production projects.

The military-owned body is working to more than double its yearly missile production capacity to close to 500 this year, as the island boosts its combat power amid what it sees as China’s growing military threat.

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Four people critically injured in lightning strike near White House

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2022)

Four people were in critical condition on Thursday after a lightning strike at Washington’s Lafayette Square in front of the White House, Reuters quoted a D.C. fire official said.

The injured – two adult males and two adult females – were transported to area hospitals with life-threatening injuries, Vito Maggiolo, a D.C. Fire and EMS spokesperson, said.

According to Reuters Lafayette Square, a seven-acre public park that lies directly north of the White House, is often crowded with visitors, especially in the summer months. The lightning struck the four people near a tree that stands yards away from the fence that surrounds the presidential residence and offices.

Temperatures in Washington exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius) on Thursday, although, with the high humidity, the heat felt like more than 100F, forecasters said. A violent thunderstorm swept through the capital late in the day, read the report.

Officers of the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Park Police, which have a regular presence in the square, went to the assistance of the victims immediately, Maggiolo said.

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