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Blast at Pakistan bank branch constructed on sewage drain kills at least 10

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: December 18, 2021)

 At least 10 people were killed and 11 others injured in an explosion on Saturday at a Karachi bank branch constructed on a sewage drain in the city’s industrial area, police said.

The cause of the blast, at a branch of Pakistan‘s largest bank, Habib Bank Limited, could be a gas leak, a senior police officer said.

“Our explosives teams are at work trying to ascertain the nature of the blast, but apparently the structure was constructed on drain and gas could be a probable cause,” Sarfaraz Nawaz told reporters.

A petrol station located next to the bank in the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate, and cars parked nearby, were badly damaged.

Television footage showed the bank’s floor ripped apart, exposing twisted iron bars.

Another senior police officer, Sharjeel Kharal, told reporters it was not immediately clear how many were dead or injured in the explosion as the bank had a skeleton staff on Saturday.

Construction laws are often flouted in Pakistan. Several sewage drains have been concreted over in Karachi to make way for parking lots.

Last month, the country’s Supreme Court ordered the demolition of a multi-storey apartment building found to have been constructed on an illegal plot at Karachi’s main thoroughfare.

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Pakistan’s central banks tells staff to work from home to save fuel

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(Last Updated On: June 23, 2022)

Pakistan’s central bank asked its employees to work from home two days a week and hold more virtual meetings as the country looks to conserve fuel and ensure it doesn’t run out of US dollars, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

In a Twitter message on Thursday, State Bank of Pakistan told its staff to opt for virtual meetings, car pooling and cutting down on air-conditioning. It also suspended purchases of furniture and restricted travel.

“These measures are intended to help with the energy bill while not compromising work,” the authority said.

“We encourage the banking industry and other stakeholders to save energy as much as possible.”

Pakistan’s government has already ordered shopping malls and factories to shut early in various cities including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and cut the working week by a day.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s administration has increased pump prices by as much as 83 percent in less than a month as he tries to curb subsidies and win a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg reported.

The south Asian nation’s energy needs are largely met through imports and in July-May, its total petroleum import bill increased by 99 percent, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics’ data.

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Rwanda’s president urges other countries to follow UK migrant deal

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(Last Updated On: June 22, 2022)

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said Tuesday that a controversial deal with Britain to take in migrants could be extended to other countries as the asylum system is “broken.”

Kagame, who is to host the Commonwealth summit in Kigali this week, said he believed the British deal could still go ahead despite being blocked by the European Court of Human Rights, AFP reported.

Britain has wanted to send some migrants and asylum seekers to Rwanda, in a proposal criticized by the UN refugee agency, rights groups and British church leaders.

Earlier this month, the first flight carrying asylum seekers was canceled following a European court ruling, AFP reported.

But Rwanda’s president told the Qatar Economic Forum: “I think the agreement is still on and may be implemented as well.”

Kagame said Rwanda has been hosting more than 100,000 refugees for decades, “so we are not new to this problem.”

“In fact most Rwandans have experienced being a refugee at some point in their lives. We know what it means and we are doing this for the right reasons.”

Kagame highlighted his country’s experience in giving “safe haven” to more than 1,000 people from Libya with help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“The arrangement with the UK is really connected to that experience. There is no doubt that the asylum system is broken and it needs innovative solutions and we are happy to be contributing to those solutions.”

He added that when Britain approached Rwanda, “we talked about it, we looked at all the merits and thought it was something we could try to help out on as we have done in the past.”

Kagame said the model could be used with other countries, AFP reported.

“We need to try something new. What has been in place has not worked very well and that is why people are complaining about all kinds of things and we are seeing increased migration.”

“We need to really take a new look at the problem.”

Kagame said other solutions were possible but insisted “the problem has been running for a long time and hasn’t been sorted out.”

Rwanda will host the Commonwealth summit on Friday and Saturday, and Kagame praised the 54-nation group.

He said it helps “direct attention to challenges” facing smaller, developing countries, and that there would be “meaningful” meetings at the summit.

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Russia’s war in Ukraine could last years, NATO’s Stoltenberg says

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(Last Updated On: June 20, 2022)

Russia’s war in Ukraine could take years, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a German weekly newspaper, adding that the supply of state-of-the-art weaponry to Ukrainian troops would increase the chance of liberating the Donbas region from Russian control.

“We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told Bild am Sonntag. “Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, also because of rising energy and food prices.”

A NATO summit in Madrid later this month is expected to agree an assistance package for Ukraine that will help the country with the move from old Soviet-era weaponry to NATO standard gear, Stoltenberg said earlier this week.

Ukraine vowed on Saturday to prevail against Moscow as it fought Russian assaults near a key eastern city and multiple locations came under shell and missile attack.

Russian forces were defeated in an attempt to storm Ukraine’s capital Kyiv in March. Russia has since refocused on the Donbas region in the eastern part of Ukraine.

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