Rush to Hindu shrine kills 12 people
SRINAGAR, India – A mass rush at a popular Hindu shrine in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed at least 12 people and injured 15 other people on New Year’s Day, officials said.
Initial reports suggested that an altercation between a group of believers resulted in a crush early Saturday at Mata Vaishnav Devi Shrine, where tens of thousands of Hindus gathered to pay their respects in the hilly town of Katra near the southern city of Jammu prove.
“Something happened near one of the gates and I was surrounded by crowds. I suffocated and fell, but somehow managed to get up,” said Mahesh, who gave only one name.
âI’ve seen people move over the corpses. It was a horrible sight, but I managed to help rescue some of the injured, âhe said.
The Press Trust of India news agency quoted police chief Dilbag Singh as saying that the authorities reacted quickly and that order was immediately restored to the crowd.
The pilgrimage resumed after nearly four hours, officials said. An investigation was underway.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences in a message on Twitter.
“Extremely saddened by the loss of life to a mass onslaught,” wrote Modi.
Iranian forces fight gang; 8 people die
TEHERAN, Iran – Iran’s Revolutionary Paramilitary Guard and an armed criminal gang clashed in a troubled southeastern province on Saturday, killing three guards and “at least five bandits,” state news agency IRNA reported.
According to the report, the fighting took place late Saturday evening in the Kourin district, about 700 miles southeast of the capital Tehran and near the Pakistani border. It was also said that at least five other bandits were wounded. There were no further details.
Located in the Sistan and Balochistan Province, the area has been the site of occasional clashes between Iranian government forces and various militant groups. A Sunni separatist group affiliated with al-Qaeda known as Jeish al-Adl, or Army of Justice, also operates in the province bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Security forces also clashed with drug traffickers in the province, which is along a major Afghan opium and heroin smuggling route.
Last July, armed bandits shot dead four members of the Guard in the province.
Fireworks claim 2 deaths in Europe
BERLIN – Exploding fireworks killed two men on New Year’s Eve, one in Germany and the other in Austria, local media reported on Saturday.
A 37-year-old man died in Hennef near Bonn. A 39-year-old was seriously injured in the same incident and was taken to hospital.
In Austria, a 23-year-old man died southwest of Vienna and three other people were injured.
At a private New Year’s Eve party in Berlin, twelve people were injured when illegal fireworks exploded at night.
Eleven of them were taken to hospitals for treatment, the German news agency dpa reported. Everyone was injured in their legs, said a spokeswoman for the Berlin fire brigade on Saturday, adding that the youngest injured was an 11-year-old boy.
Several other people were injured in other accidents with fireworks in the German cities of Leipzig and Hamburg, reported the dpa.
The sale of fireworks for personal use was banned in Germany in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some Germans illegally bought fireworks or built them themselves, which increases the risk of accidents.
Rally in Iraq marks the assassination of the Iranian general
BAGHDAD – Hundreds of people gathered in the Iraqi capital on Saturday to celebrate the anniversary of the assassination of a powerful Iranian general and a leading Iraqi militia leader in a US drone strike.
The crowd called for the remaining American forces to be evacuated from Iraq during the demonstration to commemorate the airstrike on Baghdad airport. The attack killed General Qassim Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite quds force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
The assassinations of Soleimani and al-Muhandis at Baghdad airport put Iran and the United States dangerously close to total conflict and sparked anger in Iraq, which resulted in parliament passing days later a non-binding resolution expelling them of all foreign troops from Iraq was demanded.
The US-led coalition officially ended its combat mission in support of the Iraqi armed forces in the fight against the Islamic State at the end of December. However, around 2,500 soldiers will remain for the foreseeable future to provide advisory support to the Iraqi armed forces.
“We will accept nothing less than complete withdrawal as revenge for the blood of our martyrs,” said Hadi al-Ameri, head of an Iranian coalition.
Supporters of the Shiite groups allied with Iran were called up from various Iraqi provinces for the rally in Jadriyah, near the headquarters of the powerful militias.