Daily Archives: August 28, 2015

Ten civilians killed as India, Pakistan trade border fire

NNA – At least 10 civilians were killed and more than 50 wounded Friday as India and Pakistan traded fire across their disputed border, officials said.

Six died near the city of Sialkot in Pakistan’s Punjab province, the country’s military said, while at least four villagers were killed in Indian-administered Kashmir, one more than the figure of three reported earlier.

The firing comes less than a week after planned high-level talks between the nuclear-armed rivals were aborted amid a row over Kashmir, the Himalayan territory both sides control in part but claim in full.

The two sides regularly fire shells and mortars across the disputed border both in Kashmir and to the south in Punjab, killing civilians.

A senior Pakistani security official told Agence France Presse that Indian forces began firing around 3:00 am on Friday (2200 GMT Thursday) and continued intermittently during the morning.

“Six civilians embraced shahadat (martyrdom) and 46 were severely injured including 22 females due to Indian unprovoked firing/shelling on working boundary near Sialkot in Chaprar and Harpal sector,” a statement from the Pakistani military said, adding that they had returned fire.

In Indian-controlled Kashmir, Border Security Force (BSF) official Rakesh Kumar Sharma accused Pakistan of targeting civilians with “unprovoked” mortar fire.

“Four villagers died in the shelling from across the border, three of them were killed early morning and one died of injuries in a hospital later,” Pawan Kotwal, the top administrator of the region told AFP.

Another BSF officer, J.S.Oberio, put the number of injured at 16, saying at least 10 border posts and several villages were targeted by Pakistani troops.

Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region since both gained independence in 1947, and it remains a major source of tension.

About a dozen militant groups have been fighting since 1989 for either the independence of the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan. —AFP

============R.A.H.

In Libya's desert south, a town fends for itself

UBARI, 27 August 2015 (IRIN) – Civilians in the oasis town of Ubari in southern Libya are trapped in a conflict that has cut them off from the outside world. Supplies and aid are almost non-existent, the hospital barely functions and the wounded often die of their injuries before they can get the assistance they need.

Karim al-Misry sits in one of the four rooms still operational in the once-busy and sprawling hospital. A year ago, it was reasonably well-equipped, served mainly by expatriate staff from India. Then the country’s civil war arrived. In November, the Indian staff fled as clashes reached the hospital and its maternity ward was shelled. A specialist surgeon from Egypt, Misry is now the hospital’s only senior doctor.

Roadblocks on the only stretch of road that connects Ubari to the northbound route up to Libya’s coast mean scant medical supplies ever reach the town.

“We have no general anaesthetic and no anaesthetist, so emergency operations can only be done with local anaesthetic and pain relief,” Misry says. “There is basically no way to save patients here, and many have died unnecessarily because they could not get the treatment they needed. They should still be alive now.” 

There are shortages of the most basic items: oxygen cylinders stand empty; resourceful volunteers use ordinary masking tape and cut strips from the adhesive backing of surgical sheets to secure intravenous drips and dressings. There is no radiation film for X-rays, so the exact location of internal injuries cannot be determined, often reducing surgeries to partial guesswork.  

For a town embroiled in conflict, this has left the population of more than 30,000 facing a medical crisis. But the predicament of the people of Ubari, like other besieged communities across Libya’s isolated and sparsely populated south, is unlikely to be a pressing concern in Tripoli. The country has descended into all-out conflict since the 2011 uprising that dislodged long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi from power, with the help of a foreign military intervention.

The fighting in and around Ubari is predominantly between two indigenous Saharan tribes – the Tuareg and the Tebu. It is a microcosm of the wider conflict in Libya between rival governments and allied militia groups. The Tuareg are mostly aligned with the Tripoli government, installed a year ago as a rival to the internationally-recognised government in eastern Libya and which has the support of much the Tebu community. 

Both sides accuse the other of recruiting fighters from neighbouring countries. Sporadic clashes break out in Ubari’s residential outskirts, up to the Tendi Mountain overlooking the town, as well as in the town itself, parts of which have become no-go areas for civilians. 

Sniper shootings and random street-fighting have become commonplace, keeping residents – many of whom carry guns – in a constant state of alert. Even the hospital is not safe, with 24-year-old volunteer nurse Aisha Mounir Aliess saying she was almost caught in crossfire whilst putting out rubbish.

The main problem for those who are seriously wounded is Ubari’s extreme isolaton: the next nearest hospital lies 100km to the north over rough desert terrain in the town of Idiri. It too has only limited facilities. From there, patients are stabilised and transferred to the capital. Urgent cases are taken through the Sharara oilfield by plane. The field has been dormant since November, but industry flights meant to transport oil workers and supplies are now intermittently used to help civilians. At least 15 injured men have died waiting for a plane or while being transported through the desert.

More than 500 Tuareg families have fled, according to the Ubari Crisis Committee, a grouping of elders and civil society representatives. Civilians are among the 200 Tuareg killed so far in the conflict, according to an Ubari military commander, Youssef Edwell.

Most Tebu families have evacuated, according to a local journalist, who says Tebu casualties number 76 dead and more than 80 injured. The minority in Ubari, the Tebu prefer seeking treatment in the Tebu-majority town of Murzuq, some 130 km to the southeast.

Even basic foodstuffs like milk and nappies for children are lacking. Short of cash after months of conflict, poorer families have resorted to buying foodstuffs on credit.

Cases of typhoid are increasing, with drinking water supplies interrupted and damaged by fighting, forcing families to find other sources, some of which are polluted. Cases of tuberculosis are also on the rise and, with no vaccines available for children – including against polio and mumps – the threat of further disease looms.

“The situation is just getting worse and worse,” Misry says, shaking his head. With the town’s banks closed, he has not been paid for more than a year but says he cannot return to his family in Egypt. “How could I leave?” he asks rhetorically, gesturing around the humble operating room, with its volunteer staff who view him as one of the most valuable members of the community – the only person who could save an injured man or a woman in labour with complications. But saving lives is becoming harder and harder.

Despite delegations of tribal elders visiting both governments to explain the desperate situation, neither has provided help, according to Crisis Committee member Mustafa Baba Ahmed. Modest amounts of humanitarian aid have been sent a few times by NGOs via the oilfield flights, but this hasn’t covered the needs of the population, he explains, adding that the town’s medical crisis has now reached a critical point.

Surgical technician Abdusalem Abdullah, who has worked at the hospital since 1985, explains that a lack of items for stemming internal haemorrhaging and stitching up either internal or external wounds makes surgeries high-risk. He has the look of a desperate man. It is technically impossible to do any operations at the hospital but they continue to patch up emergency cases, he says. There is no other option. 

There are two other modest medical facilities now functioning in Ubari: a makeshift field hospital and, on the outskirts, the town’s only pharmacy. It is running dangerously low on stocks, including antibiotics and medication for treating high blood pressure, as well as anti-venom medicine for scorpion stings, common at the height of summer in Libya’s desert south. Three children died from stings during the recent Holy month of Ramadan alone, according to Lala Wanni, a volunteer who helps run the pharmacy and field hospital.

The field hospital is in a converted school – unused since the conflict brought with it an end to regular tuition. Three classrooms are now home to mismatched rusty beds, some with stained mattresses, others just bare springs. Injured fighters are put in the only room with air conditioning, which does little but take the edge off the searing desert heat. In the school’s former hall, civilians seek treatment. Emaciated young Mohamed, suffering from heat exhaustion and malnourishment, is hooked up to a drip. This is a common sight, Wanni explains. Both hospitals send non-critical patients home as swiftly as possible, since they can provide little in the way of aftercare.

In the main hospital, Aliess, the nurse, leads a sad tour down the deserted corridors, showing IRIN the different departments, all now closed. “In 2011, everything worked okay here, but its capacity has just shrunk and shrunk over the last four years, especially the last year,” she explains. 

Two Toyota pick-up trucks full of military personnel pull up outside the hospital, to check on security after reports of a sniper in the area. “People say that Ubari is an abandoned town, but the reality is different,” says Aliess, pausing at the entrance. “Many civilians still live here and we keep this hospital working as best we can. But we feel that everyone has forgotten about us.”

tw/jd/ha/ag

Hisense Launches 4K ULED(TM) H10 Series Curved Smart TV – 65″ Class

NEW YORK, Aug. 28, 2015 / PRNewswire — Hisense launched their Hisense 4K ULED H10 Series Curved Smart TV – 65″ Class at an event held at the Edison Ballroom and hosted by NBC Sports commentator Leigh Diffey. ULED is a game-changing LCD display technology from the Chinese electronics company.

Hisense%20Launches Hisense Launches 4K ULED(TM) H10 Series Curved Smart TV   65 Class

Hisense Launches 4K ULED(TM) H10 Series.

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150827/261484

During the presentation, Hisense made it clear that the ULED TVs were there to compete with the picture quality of OLED TV and SUHD® TV at a lower price.

The Curved 4K ULED TV offers a wide dynamic range for a more detailed, clearer and sharper image. The backlight control technology allows brightness control across 240-zones instead of over the entire display. With “Smart peaking”, the Hisense ULED enhances black-to-black response time and allows the LED backlight to boost the peak brightness of individual zones. In addition, the Curved 4K ULED TV has dark field image enhancement which highlights specific bright details in the dark areas of an image bringing a more true-to-life picture on screen.

The Curved 4K ULED TV features 3M™ Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF) technology that produces over 100% of the current color standard which results in a wider color gamut for richer, more vivid and broader range of colors and hues. This enhances the range of colors on the screen and allows users to see more colors than ever before.

With a 3840×2160 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, the Curved 4K ULED TV displays stunning details on screen, making a more fluid picture and giving users an immersive viewing experience with a luxury design in the comfort of their home.

When designing the TV, Hisense added a curvature to the screen to match the curve of your eye providing more depth and viewing angles. The curve enhances the picture quality and allows for a true cinema-like home entertainment experience.

“At Hisense we are constantly pushing ourselves to develop innovative technology to keep our products in the forefront of an ever changing world,” said Dr. Lin Lan, EVP of Hisense Group, and General Manager of Hisense International Co., Ltd. “We are proud to showcase our Curved 4K ULED TV and believe that it will bring our customers the superior quality they want at an affordable price.”