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Bodies of over 104 asylum seekers wash up on Libya beach, hundreds missing

Gorkha Post

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ATHENS — The bodies of no less than 104 asylum seekers have washed up a shoreline in the western Libyan town of Zwara, the navy said, as hundreds more were believed to be missing off the coast of Greece after a boat capsized.

“The number of bodies retrieved Thursday evening was 104, but the toll is expected to rise since an average boat carries 115 to 125 passengers,” Libyan navy spokesman Colonel Ayoub Qassem said.

People smugglers have exploited the chaos gripping Libya since the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Moamar Gaddafi to traffic migrants and refugees across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

It is a lucrative business for the smugglers, who cram asylum seekers into boats that are small and unsafe for the perilous journey to Italy just 300 kilometres from Libya’s shores.

Thousands of asylum seekers try each year to make the crossing, but many drown when their boats founder.

Colonel Qassem said that asylum seeker boats leaving from western Libya usually set off from the port cities of Sabratha and Zwara, with passengers who are mostly African or Arabs from Morocco.

The identities of the bodies found on Thursday were not yet known.

Some 204,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe since January, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.

More than 2,500 people have died trying to make the crossing this year — the vast majority of them between Libya and Italy — as Europe battles its worst migration crisis since World War II.

Meanwhile, at least nine people have died and a desperate effort was underway on Friday to find hundreds more believed missing after an asylum seeker boat capsized off the Greek island of Crete, the coastguard said.

Coastguard spokesman Nikos Lagadianos said at least 340 people had been rescued, and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said the vessel was “believed to have left Africa with at least 700 migrants on board”.

It was the second asylum seeker vessel found in that area of the southern Aegean Sea since last week, indicating that people smugglers may be forging a new route to avoid NATO ships.

A coastguard spokeswoman said a major rescue operation was underway, including four ships that were passing through the area, in clear but windy conditions about 75 nautical miles south of Crete.

“The number of people in distress could be counted in the hundreds,” she said.

It was not immediately clear where exactly the boat had left from or where it was headed, or the nationalities of those on board.

The coastguard spokeswoman said a passing ship spotted the sinking vessel off Crete, adding that the coastguard then rushed two patrol boats, a plane and a helicopter to the scene.

About half of the 25-metre-long boat was completely underwater, the spokeswoman said.

The deaths are the first in Greek waters since April, as a controversial March deal between the EU and Turkey, designed to halt the flow of asylum seekers using the popular Aegean route, has led to a sharp drop in traffic.

AFP

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Nirmala Panta rape, murder case : Locals protest after wrong suspect paraded

Gorkha Post

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BHIMDUTTANAGAR — Locals who were protesting against the rape and murder of Nirmala Panta of Kanchanpur’s Bhimdatta Municipality, have enforced shutdown in Bhimduttanagar Bazaar on Tuesday, protesting police’s failure to reveal facts behind the murder of 13-year-old girl and parading wrong suspect on Monday.

The District Police Office, organising a press conference on Monday,had made public Dilip Singh Bista (41), of Baghphanta, Bhimdatta Municipality-19 as Nirmala’s murderer.

Locals have shut down the market area stating that police were not being able to make public the true murderer(s) as they are not convinced by the findings of police citing that Bista was mentally unsound, according to the District Police Office.

Transportation has also been halted.

Bista, a resident of Khanna Chauraha area in Bhimdutta Municipality-19, was apprehended near the scene of crime on Sunday, according to police.

Police making public the wrong suspect has infuriated the locals and fueled the protest.

The agitators including various civil society organisations and human rights defenders have been picketing the District Administration Office and staging rally on the street mounting pressure on the police to reveal the facts behind the heinous crime.

Meanwhile, it had been learnt that police have fired rounds of teargas shells to contain the agitated mob.

Nirmala was found murdered in a sugarcane field on July 27, a day after she had gone to her friend’s home to get a notebook.

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