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Maldives cuts diplomatic ties with Iran

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COLOMBO — The government of the Maldives said Tuesday it has decided to sever 40-year-old diplomatic ties with Iran, saying the nation’s policies in the Middle East are detrimental to peace and security in the region.

The Maldives foreign ministry said in a statement that peace in the Middle East is also linked to the island nation’s own peace, stability and security.

The decision by the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago nation, whose population of 341,000 is predominantly Sunni Muslim, reflects its increasing closeness to Sunni-led Saudi Arabia, the long-time rival of Shiite-dominated Iran.

Last year, Saudi Arabia opened an embassy in the Maldives and has offered cash grants to the government and started negotiations on investments.

The Islamic Summit held last month in Turkey called on Iran to pursue a policy based on the principle of “good neighborliness, non-interference in their domestic affairs, respect for their independence and territorial sovereignty, (and) resolving differences by peaceful means in accordance with OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) and the UN Charters,” the foreign ministry statement said.

“The Maldives calls on Iran to show more commitment and tangible results in implementing the recommendations of the OIC,” it said.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran earlier this year after Iranians protesting the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric stormed Saudi diplomatic posts in Tehran and Mashhad.

AP

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5 dead as gunman attacks churchgoers in Russia

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At least five people were killed and another five were injured when a gunman attacked a crowd of people leaving a church on Sunday in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

CCTV footage from the site of the deadly shooting shows a man armed with a rifle gunning down two women in broad daylight.

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A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage pants was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon. A woman walking several meters from the attacker was seen rushing away as the bloodshed unfolded.

The attacker was identified as a 22-year-old man local to the region, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his person.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

Agencies

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