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Big cross-border tunnel found linking Tijuana to San Diego

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(Last Updated On: May 17, 2022)

U.S. authorities on Monday announced the discovery of a major drug smuggling tunnel – running about the length of a six football fields – from Mexico to a warehouse in an industrial area in the U.S.

The secret passage from Tijuana to San Diego featured rail and ventilation systems, electricity and reinforced walls, The Associated Press reported.

It was discovered near San Diego’s Otay Mesa border crossing in an area where more than a dozen other sophisticated tunnels have been found in the last two decades.

U.S. authorities said it was unknown how long the tunnel had been operating and what amount of drugs, if any, got through undetected. They seized 799 kg of cocaine, 75 kg of meth and 1.6 kg of heroin in connection with the investigation, AP reported.

The tunnel is in one of the most fortified stretches of the border, illustrating the limitations of border walls. While considered effective against small, crudely built tunnels called “gopher holes,” walls are no match for more sophisticated passages that run deeper underground.

After staking out a home that was recently used to stash drugs, officials began making traffic stops of vehicles that had been there or at a warehouse near the border, turning up boxes full of cocaine, according to a federal criminal complaint filed in San Diego.

They raided the properties — finding no other drugs at the warehouse, but a tunnel opening carved into the cement floor, federal prosecutors said.

Authorities have found about 15 sophisticated tunnels on California’s border with Mexico since 2006.

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Five dead, 44 injured in 6.3-magnitude quake in Iran

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(Last Updated On: July 2, 2022)

Five people were killed and 44 others injured in a magnitude-6.3 earthquake in southern Iran on Saturday.

Iran’s state media reported rescue teams were deployed near the epicentre, Sayeh Khosh village, which is home to around 300 people in Hormozgan province, south of the capital, Tehran.

People went into the streets as aftershocks continued to jolt the area after the early morning quake, which also damaged buildings and infrastructure, AP reported.

The earthquake was felt in many neighboring countries, the report said.

The area has seen several moderate earthquakes in recent weeks. In November, one man died following two magnitude-6.4 and 6.3 earthquakes.

Iran lies on major seismic faults and experiences one earthquake a day on average.

In 2003, a magnitude-6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.

A magnitude-7 earthquake that struck western Iran in 2017 killed more than 600 people and injured more than 9,000.

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Russia kills 21 with missiles near Odessa after abandoning Snake Island

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(Last Updated On: July 1, 2022)

Russia flattened part of an apartment building while residents slept on Friday in missile attacks near Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa that killed at least 21 people, hours after Russian troops abandoned a nearby outpost at Snake Island.

Neighbors in the resort village of Serhiivka helped workers comb through the rubble of the nine-storey apartment block, a section of which had been completely destroyed at 1:00 a.m.

Walls and windows of a neighboring, 14-storey apartment block had also been damaged by the blast wave. Nearby holiday camps were also hit, Reuters reported.

Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odessa regional administration, said 21 people had been confirmed killed, including a 12-year-old boy. Authorities said earlier 41 people had been rescued from the apartment building where 152 lived.

The regional governor said the Soviet-era missiles had been fired from the direction of the Black Sea.

The Kremlin denied targeting civilians: “I would like to remind you of the president’s words that the Russian Armed Forces do not work with civilian targets,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The attack came just four days after Russia struck a crowded shopping mall in central Ukraine killing at least 19 people.

Kyiv says Moscow has dramatically escalated its long-range attacks hitting civilian targets far from the front line in recent days, which Ukraine describes as a war crime. Russia says it has been aiming at military sites.

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Russia and China slam NATO after alliance raises alarm

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(Last Updated On: June 30, 2022)

NATO faced rebukes from Moscow and Beijing on Thursday after it declared Russia a “direct threat” and said China posed “serious challenges ” to global stability.

The Western military alliance was wrapping up a summit in Madrid, where it issued a stark warning that the world has been plunged into a dangerous phase of big-power competition and myriad threats, from cyberattacks to climate change, The Associated Press reported.

NATO leaders also formally invited Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, after overcoming opposition from Turkey. If the Nordic nations’ accession is approved by the 30 member nations, it will give NATO a new 1,300 kilometer border with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned he would respond if the Nordic pair allowed NATO troops and military infrastructure onto their territory. He said Russia would have to “create the same threats for the territory from which threats against us are created.”

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Putin’s threats were “nothing new.”

“Of course, we have to expect some kind of surprises from Putin, but I doubt that he is attacking Sweden or Finland directly,” Kallas said as she arrived at the summit’s conference center venue. “We will see cyberattacks definitely. We will see hybrid attacks, information war is going on. But not the conventional war.”

China accused the alliance of “maliciously attacking and smearing” the country. Its mission to the European Union said NATO “claims that other countries pose challenges, but it is NATO that is creating problems around the world.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine had brought “the biggest overhaul of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.”

The invasion shattered Europe’s peace, and in response NATO has poured troops and weapons into Eastern Europe on a scale unseen in decades. Member nations have given Ukraine billions in military and civilian aid to strengthen its resistance, AP reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who addressed the summit by video link, asked for more. He urged NATO to send modern artillery systems and other weapons and warned the leaders they either had to provide Kyiv with the help it needed or “face a delayed war between Russia and yourself.”

“The question is, who’s next? Moldova? Or the Baltics? Or Poland? The answer is: all of them,” he said.

At the summit, NATO leaders agreed to dramatically scale up military force along the alliance’s eastern flank, where countries from Romania to the Baltic states worry about Russia’s future plans.

They announced plans to increase almost eightfold the size of the alliance’s rapid reaction force, from 40,000 to 300,000 troops, by next year. The troops will be based in their home nations but dedicated to specific countries in the east, where the alliance plans to build up stocks of equipment and ammunition.

U.S. President Joe Biden, whose country provides the bulk of NATO’s firepower, announced a hefty boost in America’s military presence in Europe, including a permanent U.S. base in Poland, two more Navy destroyers based in Rota, Spain, and two more F35 squadrons in the U.K.

The expansion will keep 100,000 troops in Europe for the foreseeable future, up from 80,000 before the war in Ukraine began.

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