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Iraqi forces launch offensive to retake Fallujah

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BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces have launched an offensive to retake the Islamic State stronghold of Fallujah, in the wake of warning residents to leave before the fighting started.

The US-led coalition that has bombed Islamic State in Iraq and neighbouring Syria for nearly two years was expected to provide air support.

“Zero hour for the liberation of Fallujah has arrived. The moment of great victory has drawn near and Daesh has no choice but to flee,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on his official Twitter feed, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadist group.

He said the offensive would be conducted by the army, police, counterterrorism forces, local tribal fighters, and a coalition of mostly Shiite Muslim militias.

Fallujah, a longtime bastion of Sunni Muslim jihadists 50 kilometres west of Baghdad, was the first city to fall to the jihadists.

Islamic State took control of the city in January 2014, six months before the group declared a caliphate spanning large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi officials said Shiite militias, including ones backed by neighbouring Iran, may be restricted to operating outside the city proper, as they were largely in the battle for Ramadi, to avoid aggravating sectarian tensions with Sunni residents.

The Iraqi army, police and the militias, backed by coalition air strikes, have surrounded Fallujah since late last year, while the jihadists have been preventing residents from leaving for months.

Families who cannot flee should raise white flags to mark their location in the city, the military’s media unit said in a statement on state television, a tactic employed with some success in other recent offensives.

Reuters

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

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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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