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Deadly Bomb Blast Hits Public Park In Pakistan’s Lahore

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A suicide bomber killed at least 65 people, mostly women and children, at a park in Lahore on Sunday in an attack claimed by a Pakistani Taliban faction which said it had targeted Christians.

More than 300 other people were wounded, officials said.

The explosion occurred in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park close to children’s swings. The park is a popular site for members of Lahore’s Christian community, many of whom had gone there to celebrate the Easter weekend holiday.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pakistan-park-bombing_us_56f7f451e4b0a372181a30a5

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At Least 20 Killed After Taliban Attack University In Northwest Pakistan

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Islamic militants stormed a university in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people and triggering an hours-long gunbattle with security forces in an attack that echoed a horrifying assault by the Taliban a little over a year ago on a nearby army-run school.

The attack began shortly after classes started at the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, a town 35 kilometers (21 miles) outside Peshawar, said Deputy Commissioner Tahir Zafar. The school may have been targeted because it is named for a late secular icon.

The attackers climbed over the back walls of the university and shot at a security guard before making their way to the administration building and the male students’ dorms, police official Saeed Khan Wazir said.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/taliban-attack-university-pakistan_us_569f88b8e4b0fca5ba75ffed?utm_hp_ref=tw

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Taliban Chief Rebuked by Religious Leaders in Sign of Turmoil

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In a sign of deep political tension within the Taliban, a collection of religious leaders in the group’s headquarters in Pakistan issued a letter of rebuke this month to the new insurgent leader over his bloody crackdown on dissenting commanders.

It was unclear whether the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times and confirmed in interviews with several Taliban commanders, would amount to more than a symbolic setback for the Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour. He has aggressively consolidated power since he was named leader in July. Commanders say he has kept a grip on the group’s biggest sources of income, including the trafficking of opium.

The Taliban commanders and members of the group’s ruling council at the headquarters in Quetta, Pakistan, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal negotiations, differed on how much weight was carried by the letter from the religious leaders. But they agreed that it reflected unease over infighting and deadly crackdowns ordered by Mullah Mansour, including the deployment of hundreds of fighters to kill a rival senior commander this month.

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An Afghan police officer searching for drugs in Nimroz Province this spring. The top Taliban commander, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, has a tight grip on trafficking of opium by the Taliban. Credit Bryan Denton for The New York Times

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Click link below for article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/25/world/asia/taliban-chief-rebuked-by-religious-leaders-in-sign-of-turmoil.html?_r=0

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Powerful Earthquake Hits Afghanistan, India, Pakistan

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A major earthquake struck the remote Afghan northeast on Monday, killing more than 200 people in Afghanistan and nearby northern Pakistan, injuring hundreds and sending shock waves as far as New Delhi, officials said.

The death toll could climb in coming days because communications were down in much of the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range where the quake was centered.

In one of the worst incidents, at least 12 girls were killed in a stampede to flee their school building in Taloqan, just west of Badakhshan province where the tremor’s epicenter was located.

“They fell under the feet of other students,” said Abdul Razaq Zinda, provincial head of the Afghan National Disaster Management Agency, who reported heavy damage in Takhar.

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Kemal Delikmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Shockwaves were felt in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/powerful-earthquake-hits-afghanistan_562df444e4b0ec0a3894e2ca

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Pakistan Mosque Explosion In Shikarpur Kills Dozens

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 A bomb blast ripped through a Shiite mosque in southern Pakistan as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers, killing at least 56 people and wounding dozens more, in the deadliest act of anti-Shiite violence in two years.

The attack compounds Pakistan’s security challenge to contain a surge in militancy following last month’s killing of 150 people, mostly children, at a Peshawar school.

The militant Sunni group Jundullah claimed responsibility for Friday’s bombing in the city of Shikarpur in Sindh province, 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of the port city of Karachi.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/30/pakistan-mosque-explosion_n_6577722.html

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Girls ‘Treated as Cattle’: Child Brides Divide Pakistan

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 A proposed law seeking tough new penalties for marrying children has triggered intense debate in Pakistan.

At the moment, females can legally tie the knot at 16 while males must wait until they are 18. However, it is customary for younger teen girls to be married by their families in some parts of the country. Girls are also sometimes offered as compensation to end feuds between families.

Anyone involved in underage wedlock currently faces a $10 fine, possibly accompanied by up to a month in jail. But lawmaker Marvi Memon is fighting for this to be increased to $1,000 – which is about a month’s wage for a recent graduate working at a bank — and a possible jail sentence of two years.

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To Skip Work, EPA Scientist Told Bosses He Worked For CIA

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John Beale will be sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to lying to superiors at the EPA and defrauding the government of $900,000.

Ever lied to your boss to get a day off work? How about doing that for 12 years? Oh, and your alibi: you were working for the CIA in Pakistan. Naturally. John Beale was the Environmental Protection Agency’s highest-paid employee and an expert in radiation and climate change with a masters from Princeton. He was also, apparently, very lazy and very creative. (Via C-SPAN ) NBC reports Beale would disappear from work for months, one time for 18 months straight, telling his superiors he was working for the CIA. Once, he said he was needed in Pakistan immediately, because his replacement was being tortured by the Taliban. In a December 2010 email to EPA management he said, “Due to recent events that you have probably read about, I am in Pakistan. Got the call Thurs and left Fri. Hope to be back for Christmas ….Ho, ho, ho.” As you might have guessed by now, Beale was not in Pakistan.
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