Philippines to get China-donated COVID-19 vaccines this month for troops, medical staff

About 100,000 of the 600,000 Sinovac doses will be given to soldiers and the rest for medical workers. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 February 2021

Philippines to get China-donated COVID-19 vaccines this month for troops, medical staff

  • Only shots developed by AstraZeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech have been approved for emergency use in the country

MANILA: The Philippines is set to receive 600,000 doses this month of Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine donated by China, a portion of which will be used to inoculate military personnel, a senior government official said on Thursday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told a regular news conference the Feb. 23 arrival of the vaccines is certain, but they would not be administered without the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
So far, only shots developed by AstraZeneca and the vaccine of Pfizer and BioNTech have been approved for emergency use in the country.
Roque said regulators have allowed “compassionate use” of 10,000 doses of a vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm for President Rodrigo Duterte’s security detail.
Roque said 100,000 of the 600,000 Sinovac doses will be given to soldiers and the rest for medical workers.
The Philippines aims to start its mass vaccination program using 117,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine secured through the COVAX international vaccine-sharing facility, which are also due to be delivered this month.
The Philippines has negotiated supply agreements with Moderna, Gamaleya, Janssen, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Novavax for 148 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, the bulk of which are is expected to arrive in the second and third quarters of this year.
It is aiming this year to inoculate 70 million adults, or two-thirds of the country’s 108 million people, to achieve herd immunity.
The Philippines has recorded 541,000 infections, including 11,400 deaths.


Indian jets scramble after false bomb scare on Iran airliner

Updated 03 October 2022

Indian jets scramble after false bomb scare on Iran airliner

  • Indian jets followed Iranian plane at safe distance, offered landing options at two airports in north-western India
  • Data from FlightRadar24 showed flight from Tehran to Guangzhou flying in circles a handful of times above northern India

NEW DELHI: Iranian airliner Mahan Air's Tehran to Guangzhou flight arrived safely and on time at its Chinese destination, Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency said on Monday, after a report of a bomb scare onboard.

India's air force (IAF) said it had scrambled fighter jets after receiving information of a bomb scare on an airline bearing Iranian registration passing through Indian airspace.

The air force said it later received information from Iran's capital Tehran to disregard the bomb scare and the flight continued its journey.

"Our Airbus 340 passenger plane was travelling from Tehran to Guangzhou in China, and as soon as the pilot learned about the possibility of an in-flight bomb, he informed relevant authorities. The Mahan operation control centre discerned that the threat was fabricated and the flight continued its journey in full safety," Mahan Air said in a statement.

"It seems that reports of a bomb onboard the plane during current international and domestic conditions were aimed at disrupting security and peace of mind," the statement added.

Following the death in police custody of a young woman who was arrested for failing to follow the Islamic Republic's strict dress code, Iran has seen nationwide anti-government protests over the last three weeks. 

The Indian jets followed the Iranian aircraft at a safe distance and the plane was offered the option to land at two airports in north-western India.

"However, the pilot declared his unwillingness to divert to either of the two airports," the IAF said in a statement.

Data from FlightRadar24 showed Mahan Air flight W581 from Tehran to Guangzhou flying in circles a handful of times above northern India, west of New Delhi, before continuing across the country and into Myanmar.

An Indian Air Force spokesman did not confirm the number of the flight for which fighter jets were scrambled.


Chechnya’s Kadyrov says sending teenage sons to Ukraine front

Updated 03 October 2022

Chechnya’s Kadyrov says sending teenage sons to Ukraine front

  • Ramzan Kadyrov, a former warlord who leads the Muslim-majority Chechnya republic, has been one of the most vocal supporters of Putin’s Ukraine offensive
  • Kadyrov’s post on Telegram concering his sons came as the Kremlin dismissed his call to use low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine after a series of military defeats

MOSCOW: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said Monday he was sending three of his teenage sons — aged 14, 15 and 16 — to the Ukraine front.
“It’s time to prove themselves in a real fight, I can only welcome this desire,” Kadyrov wrote on Telegram, posting a video of the young boys firing missiles in a shooting range.
“Soon they will go to the front line and will be on the most difficult sections of the contact line.”
He said Akhmat (16), Eli (15) and Adam (14) have been trained for combat “almost from their youngest years” and insisted he was “not joking.”
The video showed the boys in camouflage clothing and dark glasses, on tanks, guns strapped to their waists, shooting rocket launchers and machine guns.
At times the teenagers smile while shooting or made a thumbs-up gesture.
Kadyrov, a former warlord who leads the Muslim-majority Chechnya republic, has been one of the most vocal supporters of Putin’s Ukraine offensive.
The post came as the Kremlin on Monday dismissed his call to use low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine after a series of military defeats.
“This is a very emotional moment,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a daily briefing with journalists, referring to his statements.
“In our country, the use of nuclear weapons happens only on the basis of what is stated in the relevant doctrine,” Peskov said.
Peskov nevertheless hailed the “heroic contributions” of the Chechen leader to the military operation in Ukraine.
Kadyrov called on the nuclear option after Moscow withdrew from the town of Lyman, which took weeks to gain control of earlier this year.
“In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and use of low-yield nuclear weapons,” Kadyrov said on his Telegram channel.
He also criticized Colonel-General Alexander Lapin, who is in charge of Russia’s forces fighting in the region, calling him “mediocre.”


King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death

Updated 03 October 2022

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death

  • Large crowds turned out on the streets of Dunfermline in Fife, north of Edinburgh, hoping to get a glimpse of the new monarch
  • Charles wore a kilt for the visit and greeted Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other leaders

LONDON: King Charles III and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, visited Scotland Monday in their first joint public engagement since the royal mourning period to remember Queen Elizabeth II ended.
Large crowds turned out on the streets of Dunfermline in Fife, north of Edinburgh, hoping to get a glimpse of the new monarch. Charles, who wore a kilt for the visit, spent some time shaking hands with well-wishers after he greeted Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other leaders.
The royal couple were visiting to formally give city status to Dunfermline, the birthplace of another King Charles: Charles I, who reigned in the 17th century before his execution, was the last British monarch born in Scotland.
Dunfermline was among towns that won city status as part of Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne.
Later Monday, Charles and Camilla will host a reception for around 300 guests at Edinburgh to celebrate the British South Asian community. The royals will meet British Indians, Pakistanis, and many others and pay tribute to the contributions they made to the UK
Charles became sovereign immediately upon the death of his mother Elizabeth in Balmoral Castle, Scotland, on Sept. 8. Britain held 10 days of national mourning, while the royal family extended the mourning period for a week after the queen’s funeral on Sept. 19.

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Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt

Updated 03 October 2022

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt

  • Abdullahi Yare was one of seven leaders named by the United States on its most-wanted list in 2012

MOGADISHU: The Somali government announced on Monday a top Al-Shabab militant, who had a $3.0-million US bounty on his head, had been killed in a joint air strike in southern Somalia.
The drone strike on October 1, launched by the Somali army and international security partners, killed Abdullahi Yare near the coastal town of Haramka, the ministry of information said in a statement dated Sunday but posted online on Monday.
“This leader... was the head preacher of the group and one of the most notorious members of the Shabab group,” it said.
“He was former head of the Shoura council and the group’s director for finances,” the ministry said, referring to a powerful consultation body within Al-Shabab.
A co-founder of the Al-Qaeda-linked group, Yare was believed to be next in line to take over the leadership of the movement from its ailing chief Ahmed Diriye, according to the ministry.
“His elimination is like a thorn removed from Somalia as a nation,” the ministry said.
Yare was one of seven leaders named by the United States on its most-wanted list in 2012. Washington offered three million dollars for his capture.
The announcement of the strike comes weeks after Somalia’s recently elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud vowed to stage all-out war on the jihadists, following a string of deadly attacks. They include a 30-hour hotel siege in the capital, Mogadishu, that killed 21 people.
Mohamud last month urged citizens to stay away from areas controlled by Al-Shabab as he vowed to ratchet up offensives against the militants.
US forces have in the past partnered with African Union soldiers and Somali troops in counterterrorism operations, and have conducted frequent raids and drone strikes on Al-Shabab training camps throughout Somalia.
Last month, the US military said it had killed 27 jihadist fighters in an air strike near Bulobarde, the main town on the road linking Mogadishu to Beledweyne, a key city on the border with Ethiopia.
It said the air strike was carried out “at the request” of the Somali government.
Al-Shabab, which espouses a strict version of sharia or Islamic law, has waged a bloody insurrection against the Mogadishu government for 15 years and remains a potent force despite an African Union operation against the group.
Its fighters were ousted from the capital in 2011 but continue to stage attacks on military, government and civilian targets.
The group last week claimed responsibility for a bomb blast that killed a top Somali police officer near the Al-Shabab-controlled village of Bursa, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Mogadishu.


India scrambles fighter jets after report of bomb scare on flight from Iran

Updated 03 October 2022

India scrambles fighter jets after report of bomb scare on flight from Iran

  • The air force said it later received information from Iran’s capital Tehran to disregard the bomb scare

NEW DELHI: India’s air force (IAF) said on Monday it had scrambled fighter jets after receiving information of a bomb scare on an airline bearing Iranian registration transiting through Indian airspace.
The air force said it later received information from Iran’s capital Tehran to disregard the bomb scare and the flight continued its journey.
The jets followed the aircraft at a safe distance and the aircraft was offered the option to land at two airports in north-western India.
“However, the pilot declared his unwillingness to divert to either of the two airports,” the IAF said in a statement.
Data from FlightRadar24 showed Mahan Air flight W581, which originated from Tehran and was destined for China’s Guangzhou, fly in circles a handful of times above northern India, west of New Delhi, before continuing to fly across the country and into Myanmar.
An Indian Air Force spokesman did not confirm the flight number for which fighter jets were scrambled.