British soldier killed in “green on blue” attack
An apparent “green on blue” attack in Afghanistan’s Helmund province has left one British soldier killed and six injured, the U.K. Ministry of Defence announced today. The soldier, from the 28 Engineer Regiment attached to the 21 Engineer Regiment, was shot by a suspected member of the Afghan national army on Monday at a patrol base in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. The six other soldiers injured in the attack have been flown to Camp Bastion for treatment, although none are thought to have life-threatening injuries. The death is the first for British forces since the shooting of a Scots Guard in an “insider attack” in the Nad Ali district in November. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron announced three weeks ago that about 4,000 British soldiers would leave Afghanistan this year, with the remaining 5,200 troops leaving in 2014. The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, is due in Washington this week to discuss the country’s security preparations for the eventual withdrawal of British and U.S. troops.
India blames Pakistan for killing troops
The death of two Indian soldiers near the border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan has been attributed to Pakistani troops by Indian army officials. In a statement today, an Indian military spokesman claimed that the soldiers had been fired upon by Pakistani soldiers following a Pakistani incursion into the Mendhar sector of Indian-administrated Kashmir. The spokesman described the event as ”a significant escalation … of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts supported by the Pakistan Army.” The Pakistani military denied any involvement in the incident, which has heightened tensions after a similar clash on Sunday saw the death of a Pakistani soldier. After the recent completion of Pakistan’s first cricket tour of India since the Mumbai shootings in 2008, it had been hoped that relations between the two nuclear powers were improving.
Delhi accused plead not guilty
Three of the five men accused of the rape and murder of a 23-year-old student will plead not guilty to all charges against them, according to their lawyer. In Delhi’s metropolitan magistrate’s court on Monday, Indian advocate Manohar Lal Sharma declared that he had offered to defend three of the suspects and called for them to be given a fair trial. Due to the strength of public opinion regarding the case, it had previously proved difficult for the men to find representation. It is not clear who will represent the remaining two men, or how they intend to plead. A sixth suspect will be tried separately in a youth court if it is confirmed he is a minor.
Australian wildfires continue to rage
The wildfires that have been plaguing parts of Australia over the past week continued unabated yesterday, with “catastrophic” warnings – the most severe possible – issued in four areas of Australia’s most populated state, New South Wales. Strong winds and record temperatures of up to 45C (113F) have exacerbated the fires, producing what has been described as the worst conditions imaginable. Fires in Tasmania have already razed 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) of forests and farmland and caused the destruction of more than 100 houses. As yet, no deaths have been reported, although according to officials there remains approximately 100 people unaccounted for in the south of the island-state.
Congo Rebels Declare Ceasefire
M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have announced a ceasefire in the run up to a second round of talks with the government. At a news conference today in Uganda, a spokesman for the rebel group declared they will cease hostilities in the country’s eastern regions and encouraged the government to follow suit. A previous attempt at negotiations between the government and the rebel group in November last year broke down amid accusations from both sides and the government has already suggested that they have little faith in M23′s most recent overtures. In the nine months since the start of the conflict, approximately 800,000 civilians have been displaced. Observers have suggested that the instability in eastern DRC could lead to a wider conflict in the region, with both Rwanda and Uganda already accused of having provided assistance to the rebels.