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India warns Pakistan of ‘strong response’ for Kashmir attack | India News





India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised a “strong response” to a car bombing in Kashmir that killed at least 42 troops, with New Delhi calling for “the complete isolation of Pakistan” for harbouring the armed group behind the devastating attack.

“We will give a befitting reply,” Modi said in a speech on Friday morning, soon after he called his security advisers to consider a response to the worst attack on Indian security forces in decades.

“Those who committed this heinous act will pay a heavy price. Those who supported it will definitely be punished,” he was quoted as saying by the Indian Express newspaper.

“If our neighbour thinks it can destabilise India, then it is making a big mistake.”

Thursday’s attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), an armed group that has carried out a number of suicide and other attacks against Indian security forces since it’s formation in 2000.

India blamed Pakistan for Thursday’s assault on the military convoy, accusing it of letting armed groups stage attacks from its soil – a claim Islamabad denies.

Arun Jaitley, India’s foreign minister, promised all steps “to ensure the complete isolation of Pakistan from the international community”, saying there was “incontrovertible evidence” that Islamabad had a “direct hand in this gruesome attack”.

The measures would include India removing most-favoured-nation privileges given to Pakistan under World Trade Organization rules, Jaitley said.

Protesters in Jammu set fire to vehicles, prompting authorities to declare a curfew [Channi Anand/ AP]

Kashmir is a Muslim-majority region at the heart of decades of hostility between the two South Asian nations, who rule parts of the region while claiming the entire territory as theirs.

Senior police officials earlier told Al Jazeera the suspected suicide attacker rammed his explosives-laden car into a bus carrying personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) along a highway in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Images from the blast site showed dozens of bodies strewn around the mangled bus. At least 42 people were killed.

Amid candlelight vigils and tributes to the slain forces, India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale summoned on Friday Pakistan’s envoy, Sohail Mahmood, and served a diplomatic notice demanding Islamabad take action against JeM.

Protests and vigils

In Kashmir’s Jammu region, thousands of protesters held anti-Pakistan demonstrations and set fire dozens of vehicles, prompting police to impose a curfew, local media said.

At least 12 people were injured in the protests, NDTV reported.

In Mumbai, India’s financial capital, supporters of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party burned symbolic effigies of Pakistan. 

Islamabad said it rejected India’s suggestion it was linked to the attack, which it called a matter of “grave concern”. 

“We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian government and media circles that seek to link the attack to the State of Pakistan without investigations,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Friday. 

Islamabad has previously denied New Delhi’s accusations that it gives material help to armed groups fighting Indian rule in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

It said it gives only moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination.

Students in city of Ahmadabad pay tribute to CRPF personnel who were killed in Kashmir [Amit Dave/Reuters]

Meanwhile, the Indian government has urged the UN to list JeM chief Masood Azhar as a designated “terrorist”.

In a statement hours after the attack, the Indian foreign ministry accused the Pakistani government of giving JeM free rein in Pakistan, saying it has allowed the group’s leader, Azhar, “to operate and expand his terror infrastructure in territories under the control of Pakistan and to carry out attacks in India and elsewhere with impunity”.

Pakistan’s ally China has blocked Azhar’s inclusion on the UN Security Council’s sanctions list.

The JeM leader’s whereabouts remain unknown; he has not been charged with a crime in Pakistan and has not made any public appearances since he was detained there in 2016.

For its part, China said on Friday it was “deeply shocked” by the Kashmir attack.

But Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry declined to answer reporters’ questions on Azhar’s listing, saying Beijing “will main close communication on this with all parties concerned, including India”.

The White House urged Pakistan in a statement “to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil”.

WATCH: India’s PM Modi visits Kashmir amid strike, protests (2:36)

The attack strengthens US resolve to step up counterterrorism cooperation with India, it said.

‘This could get bad’

Sreeram Chaulia, professor of international relations at the Jindal School of International Affairs in India, said the Kashmir attack strains ties that “were already at rock-bottom” between India and Pakistan.

India will now look at a “whole gamut of retaliatory measures, including military options, diplomatic isolation” and even cross-border raids, Chaulia told Al Jazeera from Sonipat, a city near the Indian capital. 

Revoking trade privileges will not “hurt much”, he said, as “Pakistan exports less than $1bn worth of products to India because of strained relations”.

Chaulia, who backed India’s claim that Pakistan harbours armed groups, added: “We need to lobby China and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, we need to turn to Western countries, to try and create a regional consensus that this is not acceptable and change Pakistan’s behavior.”

Moeed Yusuf from the US Institute of Peace said the “current situation has all the making of an India-Pakistan crisis”.

The next 24-48 hours will be crucial, he told the AFP news agency, warning, “This could get bad.”

He added: “The hope was that India and Pakistan will get back to talking after the Indian elections later this year. I think the hawks on both sides are going to make it very difficult for that to happen now.”

Thursday’s car bombing was the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in decades [Younis Khaliq/ Reuters]

Kashmir has experienced renewed rebel attacks and repeated public protests against Indian rule in the past few years as a new generation of Kashmiri rebels, especially in the southern parts of the region, has revived an armed struggle and challenged New Delhi’s rule with guns and social media.

The anti-India unrest grew significantly after a popular rebel leader, Burhan Wani, was killed by security forces in 2016. The Indian government responded with stepped-up anti-rebel operations, leading to more protests.

Last year’s death toll was the highest since 2009, including at least 260 rebel fighters, 160 civilians and 150 government forces.

About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown since 1989.


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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse





Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa





If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake





The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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