» 9 Palestinians killed in Israeli raids in Gaza
» Pakistan a natural ally for China
» Krishna begins padayatra to Cauvery basin
» J&K polls enter last round, Omar upbeat
» Srinath included in Test squad for West Windies series
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 9 Palestinians killed in Israeli raids in Gaza
GAZA CITY: At least nine Palestinians were killed and dozens more injured when Israeli tanks, backed by helicopter gunships, launched a major incursion into the Gaza strip, witnesses and Palestinian security sources said on Monday morning.

Jamal Barabakh, 16, and Rama Abu Samala, 50, were the victims, seven of whom were named by Palestinian sources after Israeli tanks rolls into the autonomous Palestinian town of Khan Yunes.

A hospital source said that the death toll could rise further.

Many of the 40 or so Palestinians injured were said to be in serious condition after tanks launched cannon and heavy machine-gun fire as they entered the town. The accompanying helicopter gunships fired off missiles and machine guns, the sources said.

The Israeli forces later returned to the Gane Tal Jewish settlement from whence they had set out, witnesses said.
Israeli public radio said that bulldozers took part in the operation which included 40 tanks, but there was no immediate confirmation from the Israeli army.

Earlier on Sunday evening, a Palestinian rocket was fired at a Jewish settlement in the northern Gaza strip without causing any injuries or damage, a military source said.

 Pakistan a natural ally for China
BEIJING: Even as it seeks to strengthen its relations with India in the framework of a 'comprehensive partnership of cooperation', which includes a common approach to issues related to regional security and terrorism, China is unlikely to share New Delhi’s hugely negative perceptions about Pakistan.

In conversations with senior officials of the Chinese foreign ministry and with South Asia experts, Pakistan continues to figure in a markedly favourable light as an “old friend” which gave China a "helping hand" during the "difficult cold war years."

"It is in the Chinese tradition to value an old friend" said Wang Yi, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs in an interview with The Times of India. "Pakistan is our neighbour as well as your neighbour. Our relationship with Pakistan is based on the principles of panchshila (five principles of peaceful co-existence). It is not targeted at a third country." This is why, Wang added, China could not understand why "our Indian friends are suspicious about the China-Pakistan relationship."

Asked for China’s views on terrorist attacks in Kashmir and elsewhere in India, the vice minister stated quite categorically that the killing of innocents "falls squarely within the scope of terrorism" which had been condemned by the international community.

But he quickly added that the question of Kashmir was not related merely to terrorism and counter-terrorism. It was a "left-over from history, from the aftermath of British colonialism" and it involved "very complicated territorial and religious issues."

Wang said that that the Kashmir problem cannot be solved through military means. China hoped that the two sides would create the proper atmosphere for the resumption of talks. He went on to suggest that there exists a platform which India and Pakistan have not explored before to settle their outstanding differences.

"Some terrorist organisations are targeting both India and Pakistan. Why can’t the two countries get together to contain them?" he asked. India, he added, needs to acknowledge General Musharraf’s efforts to combat all forms of terrorism in his country and to control the expansion of extremist forces.

Meanwhile, South Asia experts held that Musharraf cannot be held responsible for all the terrorist attacks in India and Indian attempts to do so without adducing hard evidence, especially after the recent carnage in Gandhinagar, were only meant to score brownie points.

They also argued that Pakistan alone could not be blamed for the violence in Kashmir. The failures of successive governments in India to address the issue of autonomy had also provoked it. They agreed, however, that the recent elections in the state were "free, just and open". India and Pakistan, they said, must now resolve the issue at the negotiating table in a "spirit of realism".

 Krishna begins padayatra to Cauvery basin
BANGALORE: Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna began his controversial padayatra from the Raja Rajeshwari temple on the Bangalore-Mysore road here on Monday morning on a peace mission to the trouble-hit districts of Mandya and Mysore in the Cauvery basin.

Krishna, accompanied by wife Prema, offered pooja at the temple and set off on padayatra which he had said was to restore peace and instill confidence in the farmers that the Government was committed to safeguarding their interests.

Senior ministers, including Dharam Singh and K H Ranganath, and KPCC President Allum Veerabhadrappa and pontiff of Adichunchanagiri Mutt Balagangadharanath Swamiji, were present.

Krishna would trek about 15 to 20 kms a day during his eight-day padayatra which would take him through his home district of Mandya to the KRS dam and Kabini reservoir in Mysore district.

The sudden move of Krishna to undertake padayatra has drawn flak from the opposition parties who have dismissed it as a "political gimmick" and a Congress yatra to cover up the "mishandling" of the Cauvery issue by his Government.

Krishna, however, had justified his decision saying there was no intention on his part to draw any political mileage and its one and the only goal was to appeal for peace. He even invited opposition leaders to support the yatra.

The decision on yatra was announced within hours after the state cabinet decided not to release Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu, despite a Supreme Court directive, and an all party meeting gave him a solid backing on the Cauvery issue.

 J&K polls enter last round, Omar upbeat
RAMBAN, Doda: As the campaigning for the fourth and last round of Assembly elections ended on Sunday, National Conference chief Omar Abdullah said his party would get the majority.

He said his party was sure to get 50 seats in the 87-member Assembly and that would mean a clear majority.

"I am sure we will get 50 seats, give or take two either way, and that means the NC will form the government again," Omar said on reaching here after a hectic day of campaigning in far-off areas of Marwah (in Kishtwar) and Bonjwah (Inderwal).

He said parties like the Congress and the PDP would together get barely 20 seats and it would thus be curtains for them.

The NC chief said that he had done the best he could and was very confident of results favouring his party, mainly because the Opposition parties like the Congress and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) did not have any positive agenda for the state.

The Opposition parties had done everything possible to harm the NC, but the voters would dump them and reject them outright at the hustings, Omar said.

He said PDP leader Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and state Congress chief Ghulam Nabi Azad both lacked guts to fight the elections from their own hometowns, leave aside anywhere else. "How can they claim that they are capable of leading the state and will form the next government?"

The young NC chief said that Azad would go back to Delhi once the results were declared and Mufti would face a similar predicament. Union Minister of State for Defence and senior BJP leader Chaman Lal Gupta would have a tough time in Delhi before the top leadership of the party once his party is routed in the ongoing elections.

 Srinath included in Test squad for West Windies series
BANGALORE: The national selectors on Friday included veteran speedster Javagal Srinath in the Indian squad for the first two Tests against West Indies. Srinath, who had announced his retirement from Test cricket three months ago, was named in the 14-member squad led by Sourav Ganguly. The first Test will be played in Mumbai from October nine while the second Test will start in Chennai on October 17. Squad: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Virender Sehwag, Shiv Sunder Das, Sanjay Bangar, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V V S Laxman, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan, Amit Mishra.