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Hundreds of Ukrainian troops reportedly killed in Russian invasion

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2022)

Hundreds of Ukrainian troops have reportedly been killed after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion early Thursday.

However, the Ukrainian military has claimed to be fighting back by shooting down planes in the east of the country.

The Ukrainian military claimed they downed five Russian planes and a helicopter in the east of the country near a rebel-held enclave.

“According to the Joint Forces Command, today, February 24, in the area of the Joint Forces operation, five planes and a helicopter of the aggressors were shot down,” a senior military official told AFP.

Airports in the country have meanwhile been temporarily shut down in a bid to prevent potential Russian aircraft landings, while Russia has also closed its own airspace around the border from civilian access for the next four months.

All airspace over Ukraine has also been closed to passenger and cargo flights.

Russia’s defense ministry, however, has denied reports that any of its aircraft have been shot down.

Sky News correspondent Stuart Ramsay said it is ‘possible but unlikely’ that Russian planes have been shot down.

The US embassy in Kyiv meanwhile issued a security alert on Thursday for Americans in Ukraine to take shelter.

“US citizens in Ukraine are advised to shelter in place and take necessary action,” the alert read.

India’s embassy in Kyiv has also advised its nationals in Ukraine to refrain from traveling to the capital.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday tweeted: “I continue negotiations with the leaders. Received support from the Emir of Qatar.”

Earlier he said he had tried to reach Putin but “was met with silence”.

Loud explosions were heard across numerous cities through Thursday morning, including in Kyiv. Citing an “advisor to the Ukrainian interior ministry,” CNN reported that the explosions were from Russian missile strikes.

After an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday night, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pleaded with Putin to stop his troops from attacking.

“I have only one thing to say, from the bottom of my heart. President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine.

“Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died,” he said.

Despite global condemnation of the invasion, Putin continued Thursday with his offensive sending Ukrainians into panic mode.

Visuals from Kyiv showed people standing in long queues outside medical stores and other shops as they tried to stock up on supplies. Visuals of a massive traffic jam, where cars stood motionless, in the center of Kyiv, were also broadcast around the world as terrified residents tried to flee west.

By late morning Kabul time, air raid sirens rang out in Kyiv and emergency TV broadcasts were being aired. Photographs of terrified residents were also distributed on social media showing hundreds taking shelter in the city’s underground metro stations.

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Two killed, 14 wounded in Norway nightclub shooting

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Two people were killed and 14 injured on Saturday in a shooting at a nightclub and in nearby streets Norway’s capital Oslo, according to reports.

A suspect believed to be the sole perpetrator was arrested, police said.

The crime scene extended from the London Pub via a neighbouring club and onwards to a nearby street where the suspect was apprehended a few minutes after the shooting began in the early hours of Saturday, police spokesman Tore Barstad told newspaper Aftenposten.

The London Pub is a popular gay bar and nightclub in the centre of Oslo.

“I saw a man arrive with a bag, he picked up a gun and started to shoot,” journalist Olav Roenneberg of public broadcaster NRK reported.

The motive behind the attack was not immediately clear.

Oslo is due to hold its annual Pride parade later on Saturday, just months after Norway marked 50 years since the abolition of a law that criminalised gay sex.

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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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