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Crisis-hit Sri Lanka bans fuel sales for two weeks 

Sri Lanka is facing its worst-ever economic crisis since its independence.

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Crisis-hit Sri Lanka bans fuel sales for two weeks 
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Colombo: In a bid to deal the severe feul shortage, the Sri Lankan authorities has decided to impose a two-week ban on petroleum sales for private vehicles, starting Tuesday (today). 

According to details, Sri Lanka is facing its worst-ever economic crisis since its independence. Hence, for the next fourteen days, only passenger busses, trains and medical vehicles will be able to get fuel. 

The officials also decided to shut all the urban schools and offices, urging employees to work from home till July 10. 

It is pertinent to mention here that the fuel storage in the country remains at around 9,000 tons of diesel and 6,000 tons of petrol, with no new shipments soon. 

The nation, reportedly, consumes about 5,000 tonnes of diesel and 3,000 tonnes of petrol a day just to meet its transport requirements.

It has been estimated that stock will end in less than a week if petrol is used on regular basis. 

The power and energy minister Kanchana Wijesekera stated: “We are doing everything we can to get new stocks but we don't know when that will be”.

"We are hoping to keep power cuts at three to four hours for the next two months," said the chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka. 

In the meantime, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team is visiting Sri Lanka for talks on a $3 billion bailout package. 

The country is hoping to reach a staff-level agreement before the visit ends on Thursday. 

Sri Lanka has received about $4 billion in financial assistance from India, while the United States (US) also agreed to provide technical assistance for its fiscal management. 

 

World

Nine Russian warplanes destroyed in Crimea blasts: Ukraine

Russia however denies any aircraft were damaged in Tuesday’s blasts or that any attack took place

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Nine Russian warplanes destroyed in Crimea blasts: Ukraine

Ukraine’s air force said Wednesday that nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in a deadly string of explosions at an air base in Crimea, amid speculation the blasts were the result of a Ukrainian attack that would represent a significant escalation in the war.

Russia denied any aircraft were damaged in Tuesday’s blasts — or that any attack took place.

Ukrainian officials stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility for the explosions, while mocking Russia’s explanation that a careless smoker might have caused ammunition at the Saki air base to catch fire and blow up. Analysts also said that explanation doesn’t make sense and that the Ukrainians could have used anti-ship missiles to strike the base.

If Ukrainian forces were, in fact, responsible for the blasts, it would be the first known major attack on a Russian military site on the Crimean Peninsula, which was seized from Ukraine by the Kremlin in 2014. Russian warplanes have used Saki to strike areas in Ukraine’s south.

Crimea holds huge strategic and symbolic significance for both sides. The Kremlin’s demand that Ukraine recognize Crimea as part of Russia has been one of its key conditions for ending the fighting, while Ukraine has vowed to drive the Russians from the peninsula and all other occupied territories.

Hours after the blasts, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised again to do just that.

“This Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea — its liberation,” he said in his nightly address.

The explosions, which killed one person and wounded 14, sent tourists fleeing in panic as plumes of smoke rose over the coastline nearby. Video showed shattered windows and holes in the brickwork of some buildings.

One tourist, Natalia Lipovaya, said that “the earth was gone from under my feet” after the powerful blasts. “I was so scared,” she said.

Sergey Milochinsky, a local resident, recalled hearing a roar and seeing a mushroom cloud from his window. “Everything began to fall around, collapse,” he said.

Crimea’s regional leader, Sergei Aksyonov, said some 250 residents were moved to temporary housing after dozens of apartment buildings were damaged.

But Russian authorities sought to downplay the explosions on Wednesday, saying all hotels and beaches were unaffected on the peninsula, which is a popular tourist destination for many Russians.

A Ukrainian presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, cryptically said that the blasts were either caused by Ukrainian-made long-range weapons or the work of Ukrainian guerrillas operating in Crimea. 
 
A Ukrainian parliament member, Oleksandr Zavitnevich, said the airfield was rendered unusable. He reported on Facebook that it housed fighter jets, tactical reconnaissance aircraft and military transport planes.

“Official Kyiv has kept mum about it, but unofficially the military acknowledges that it was a Ukrainian strike,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said.

The base is at least 200 kilometers (about 125 miles) from the closest Ukrainian position. Zhdanov suggested that Ukrainian forces could have struck it with Ukrainian or Western-supplied anti-ship missiles that have the necessary range.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said it couldn’t independently determine what caused the explosions but noted that simultaneous blasts in two places at the base probably rule out an accidental fire but not sabotage or a missile attack.

But it added: “The Kremlin has little incentive to accuse Ukraine of conducting strikes that caused the damage since such strikes would demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Russian air defense systems.”

During the war, the Kremlin has reported numerous fires and explosions on Russian territory near the Ukrainian border, blaming some of them on Ukrainian strikes. Ukrainian authorities have mostly kept silent about the incidents, preferring to keep the world guessing. 
 
In other developments, Russian forces shelled areas across Ukraine on Tuesday night into Wednesday, including the central region of Dnipropetrovsk, where 13 people were killed, according to the region’s governor, Valentyn Reznichenko.

Reznichenko said the Russians fired at the city of Marganets and a nearby village. Dozens of residential buildings, two schools and several administrative buildings were damaged.

“It was a terrible night,” Reznichenko said. “It’s very hard to take bodies from under debris. We are facing a cruel enemy who engages in daily terror against our cities and villages.”

Two residents of the village of Staryi Saltiv in the Kharkiv region in the northeast were killed Wednesday in Russian shelling, police reported.

In the country’s southeast, Moscow’s forces continued shelling the city of Nikopol across the Dnieper River from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia power station, the biggest nuclear plant in Europe. Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling it, stoking international fears of a catastrophe.

On Wednesday, foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies demanded that Russia immediately hand back full control of the plant to Ukraine. They said they are “profoundly concerned” about the risk of a nuclear accident with far-reaching consequences.

SOURCE: AP NEWS

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Pakistan

Rana Sanaullah departs for Saudi Arabia on five-day visit

The minister would also talk with Saudi officials to further strengthen Pak-Saudi bilateral relations.

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Rana Sanaullah departs for Saudi Arabia on five-day visit

Islamabad: Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah along with his family on Thursday departed for Saudi Arabia on five-day visit to perform Umrah.

The minister departed for Jeddah from Islamabad International Airport at 11 a.m, said a statement issued here.

The minister would perform Umrah besides attendance at Roza Rasool (PBUH) in Madina. Sanaullah would also hold meetings with his Saudi counterpart and other senior officials.

The minister would also talk with Saudi officials to further strengthen Pak-Saudi bilateral relations.

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Pakistan

President, PM express resolve to build an inclusive society in line with vision of Quaid-i-Azam

The Government of Pakistan had declared 11 August as National Minority Day in 2009.

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President, PM express resolve to build an inclusive society in line with vision of Quaid-i-Azam

Islamabad: President Dr. Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif have expressed the government's resolve to achieve the noble objective of building an inclusive society in line with the vision of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

In their separate messages on the occasion of National Day of Minorities, they resolved to make all efforts to safeguard minorities' rights and work for their well-being as their rights have been enshrined in the Constitution.

The President lauded the role being played by minorities, especially in the fields of education, health, and social welfare.

He said 11th August is celebrated as Minorities' Day in Pakistan to acknowledge the invaluable contribution made by our minorities to the development of Pakistan and to reaffirm our commitment as a nation to safeguard their rights.

In his message, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif said freedom of religion and sanctity of the person and properties of minorities have been statutorily formalized in our constitution.

He said National Day of Minorities serves to highlight the contributions that our non-Muslim Pakistani citizens are making to national development.  

Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Mufti Abdul Shakoor has said that Islam is a religion that respects humanity.

In his message on the occasion of National Minorities Day, he said according to the eternal teachings of Islam, there is no rule against the basic principles of humanity.

The Minister said that Islam never encourages forced conversion of followers of other religions.

The Prime Minister reaffirmed the coalition government's resolve for the betterment and welfare of our minorities and their fullest inclusion in the national life and development.

National Minority Day is observed today to commemorate the contribution of minorities in the progress of Pakistan. 

On August 11, the day is observed every year to recall the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and to reaffirm the commitment that despite belonging to different faiths we are one nation.

The Government of Pakistan had declared 11 August as National Minority Day in 2009.

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