Six In The Morning Monday 18 March 2024

Israeli forces storm Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital

Gaza officials report mounting casualties; Israeli military claims Hamas using medical complex to plan attacks.

Israel’s military forces have stormed al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City with tanks and heavy gunfire, resulting in deaths and injuries, Palestinian officials have said.

The Israeli military said in a statement on Monday that it is conducting a “precise operation” at the medical facility. Gaza’s Ministry of Health said about 30,000 people, including displaced civilians, wounded patients and medical staff are trapped inside the complex.

Israel, which wound down many of its operations in northern Gaza some weeks ago claiming to have destroyed Hamas’s military infrastructure, said in the statement that Hamas – which governs the enclave – has “regrouped” inside al-Shifa and is “using it to command attacks against Israel”.

Volkov attack signals Russia’s return to cold war-era spying in Europe

 Defence and security editor

Defence experts say Moscow is rapidly improving its intelligence operations after Ukraine invasion

It was a crude and violent assault, but as a bloody message, it was chillingly effective. An attacker ambushed Leonid Volkov, a close adviser to the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Nalvany, outside his home on the outskirts of Vilnius, Lithuania. The time was 10.06pm on Tuesday night as he arrived, after having filmed an anti-Putin video in time for this weekend’s election.

The assailant smashed open the car window and blasted Volkov with teargas, and repeatedly struck him with a hammer – about 15 times – breaking his left arm and bloodying his left leg before fleeing the scene. It was, Volkov said in the aftermath, “an obvious, characteristic, typical, gangster-style greeting from Putin” and the assault reflected an emerging truth: Russian intelligence operations in Europe are back.

Taliban say 8 killed in Pakistani strikes on Afghanistan

The Taliban government says Pakistani airstrikes hit civilian homes, two days after insurgents killed seven Pakistani soldiers in a suicide bombing.

Taliban government spokesperson said on Monday that Pakistani airstrikes killed at least eight people, including three children, in border regions of Afghanistan.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, said Pakistani aircraft struck civilian homes in Khost and Paktika provinces near the border with Pakistan at around 3:00 a.m. local time (2230 GMT).

According to Mujahid, all eight people killed were women and children.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office in Islamabad has also confirmed the strikes. They said that they targeted a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban and described it as “intelligence-based anti-terrorist operations in the border regions inside Afghanistan.”


World Recycling Day: Thailand drowning in foreign plastic waste

Smokers bitter as cigarettes banned on all Shinkansen lines


March 18, 2024 at 16:23 JST

All smoking rooms were abolished on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines on March 16, meaning that smoking is no longer allowed on any bullet train nationwide.

Smoking had already been banned on the Nagano (Hokuriku), Tohoku, Joetsu, Akita and Yamagata Shinkansen lines after the Health Promotion Law, which requires companies to prevent secondhand smoking, took effect in 2003.

On the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines, all seats on the N700 series bullet trains have been nonsmoking since their introduction in 2007, as on a subsequent model. But smoking rooms outside the seating areas allowed passengers to take a puff while onboard.

Machete-wielding militias battle gangs in Port-au-Prince as Haiti’s elites vie for power

The wide road that passes in front of Haiti’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport has a post-apocalyptic stillness these days. Where cars and crowds of people once massed, only tendrils of smoke rise from smoldering piles of trash, sending a bitter taste into the air.
An armored police vehicle hulks nearby; the few police officers on watch cover their faces with balaclavas. This street looks nearly abandoned, as if in the wake of a disaster – an experience that people in Port-au-Prince know better than most. But leaving the city isn’t an option this time; the airport, under siege by gangs, has been forced to close.
Since the start of the month, criminal groups have been attacking with unprecedented coordination the last remnants of the Haitian state – the airport, police stations, government buildings, the National Penitentiary. The culmination of years of growing gang control and popular unrest, their joint assault forced Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign last week, a stunning capitulation that has nevertheless proven futile in restoring calm.

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