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Sunday, 15 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 15 Nov 2015

IS ‘act of war’ leaves 129 dead in Paris
352 hurt as 3 groups of terrorists target concert hall, stadium, cafés; all 8 attackers killed
Paris, November 14
At least 129 persons were killed in a series of coordinated attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen in Paris at a concert hall, restaurants and the national sports stadium last night. The Islamic State today claimed responsibility for the attack.

French President Francois Hollande blamed the Islamic extremist group and called the coordinated assault at six different sites an “act of war”.

A French prosecutor said three teams of extremists carried out the coordinated strikes. At least eight militants, all wearing suicide vests, brought unprecedented violence to the streets of the French capital in the worst attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

The authorities have identified the body of a French national known to the intelligence services near the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 persons were killed by armed men who shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is great) before gunning down concert-goers.

Police sources said he was probably one of those who stormed the building as around 1,500 persons were watching a Californian rock band. The discovery of a Syrian passport near the body of another assailant at the concert hall appeared to justify fears over the threat posed to Europe by extremism in the Middle East. Four men armed with AK-47 rifles had stormed into the Bataclan concert hall in eastern Paris while a rock concert was on and gunned down at least 89 persons and took many others hostage. Around 40 more persons were killed in five other attacks.

"They didn't stop firing. There was blood everywhere. Everyone was trying to flee," said Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter who was at the concert by US rock band Eagles of Death Metal. The gunmen were heard raging at Hollande and his decision in September to begin air strikes on Islamic State jihadists in Syria.  "I clearly heard them say 'It's the fault of Hollande, it's the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria'," Janaszak added.

A police officer who took part in the storming of the building said: "It was horrible inside, a bloodbath, people were shot in the head… they were lying on the ground."

Three militants blew up their explosive belts as heavily armed anti-terror police raided the venues around 12.30 am (0500 IST), while another one was shot dead. Another attacker blew himself up in nearby Boulevard

Voltaire, as the streets were filled with the sound of police sirens and convoys of ambulances shipping hundreds of injured to hospitals.

Several restaurants near the concert hall were also targeted, including a popular Cambodian eatery in the trendy Canal St. Martin area, where bars and restaurants were thronged with young revellers. Additional 1,500 soldiers were mobilised to reinforce the police force in Paris, Hollande's office said.

In a statement issued online this morning, Islamic State said that "eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles" conducted a "blessed attack on... Crusader France." The death toll of 129 does not include the eight attackers, the first suicide bombers to strike in France. The assault also left at least 352 wounded, 99 of them seriously. Hollande said the multiple attacks across Paris were "an act of war... committed by a terrorist army, Daesh, against France", using another term for IS.

Hollande himself had to be hastily evacuated from the Stade de France stadium when suicide bombers struck outside during a friendly football international between France and Germany. At first, few of the crowd appeared to grasp the significance of what was happening and the game continued. When news began filtering in, people surged on to the turf in chaotic scenes.

As a precaution, sports events were cancelled in Paris, while public schools and many museums were closed.  US President Barack Obama led a chorus of global condemnation, saying it was "an attack on all of humanity", and New York lit the new World Trade Centre in the red, white and blue of the French flag in sympathy. Obama is one of dozens of world leaders expected to attend key UN climate talks just outside the French capital from November 30. — Agencies
India on high alert, security up at foreign missions

    India was put on high alert on Saturday following a series of terror attacks in France. The police and state governments have been asked to beef up security at all foreign embassies and consulates.
    Official sources said the police had been asked to increase vigil and post additional police personnel outside all embassies and high commissions here and consulates in different cities across the country.
    Security forces were also asked to keep a tight vigil at airports, railway stations, bus terminus, markets and religious places.
    They said the step had been taken as a precautionary measure as terrorists of banned Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Indian Mujahideen have been conspiring to target foreign missions in India.
    "Security has been beefed up along all Jewish worship places, including synagogues, which is frequented by Israeli tourists," they said.
    In Delhi, security was scaled up particularly outside the French embassy besides government buildings and international airport here following an alert by intelligence agencies in the wake of terror strikes.
    Security has been especially stepped up in the diplomatic enclave and other key locations, including Indira Gandhi International Airport, railway stations, Metro network and bus terminals in Delhi. PTI
Army plan to upgrade communication system on the blink
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 14
As the battlefield environment gets more information intensive and digitised, the Army has drawn up plans to upgrade its tactical communication systems to handle greater volumes of data transfer, but is unable to proceed ahead as it has not received a suitable response from the industry.

The Army is in the process of introducing high-capacity radio relay (HCRR) systems to provide reliable communication at ranges of 25-40 km in tactical deployment, which will complement and eventually replace the existing communication network that apparently has limited capacity to handle high data volumes.

The Directorate General of Signals at Army Headquarters had issued a request for information (RFI) for procurement of HCRRs in February this year. A few days ago a fresh global RFI was floated for the same which stated the qualitative requirements have not emerged clearly from the details made available by vendors in response to the earlier RFI.

Stating that today’s battlefield is characterised by simultaneous operating of a plethora of hi-tech electronic systems that include communication, non-communication, weapon control, surveillance and intelligence systems, the RFI points out that digital and data communiactions have become more pre-dominated in the battlefield. Since there is a growing need to converge voice, video and data applications on a single platform, a tremendous increase in bandwith is required.
Residents bid tearful adieu to Capt Ashwani
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 14
Local residents bid a tearful adieu to Captain Ashwani Kumar (26), who died in an avalanche on Siachen glacier yesterday. The body was brought to Ashwani’s residence in Shanti Nagar in Patiala today. People from all walks of life attended his funeral at the Veerji Cremation Ground. Army officials escorted Singh’s coffin to the ground and gave a rifle salute during the ceremony. The officer’s parents were inconsolable as they had also lost their eldest son to a disease a few years ago.

Born on August 27, 1989, Capt Ashwani Kumar did his MBBS from Government Medical College, Patiala, and was commissioned into the Army on January 6. He was serving with 3 Ladakh Scouts.

Col BS Virk, District Sainik Welfare Officer, Patiala, said the accident occurred when Captain Ashwani, along with his unit, was marching near Manjeet post.
Avalanche Hits Army Patrol Party in Siachen, Captain Dies
Jammu:  An Army Captain lost his life while 15 other soldiers were rescued after an avalanche struck a patrol party in Siachen Glacier in Ladakh sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

"A patrol party of army came under an avalanche in southern area of Siachen glacier yesterday," Udhampur-based defence spokesman Colonel SD Goswami said today.

A rescue operation was launched immediately and 15 soldiers were saved, he said.

Regimental Medical Officer Captain Ashwini Kumar could not be saved and his body was retrieved from under the avalanche, he said.

Captain Kumar, from 3 Ladakh Scouts, was a bachelor and hailed from Patiala in Punjab.

General Officer Commanding of the Army's Northern Command Lt General DS Hooda has expressed grief over the loss of the officer, he said.

The spokesman said the Army commander has conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family.
Army's UAV Deal Comes Under Defence Finance Department's Scanner

NEW DELHI:The Indian Army’s proposal to procure unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from a foreign vendor has come under scanner of the Defence Finance Department, after it was noticed that the procurement process was in gross violation of the Defence Procurement Procedures (DPPs) and aimed at benefiting a particular foreign firm.

Army is procuring medium altitude long endurance class of UAVs to have a bird’s eye view on the border areas as an interim measure till Rustom-II UAV of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) begins its serial production.

According to documents, seen by Express, the Defence Finance Department has made serious reservations about the procurement of UAVs from a single vendor.

“Repeat order of UAVs from a particular single vendor, instead of a global tender, is a violation of laid down rules of DPPs,” the Defence Finance Department observed.

During a scrutiny, it noticed that a particular foreign firm has been the sole supplier of UAVs to Indian armed forces since 1998, with over 100 drones sold to Army, Navy and IAF.

“Armed forces are in the process of acquiring at least 70 additional medium altitude long endurance class UAVs on priority and more than 150 in the next 10 years to meet their operational requirements,” an official in the South Block, which also houses the Defence Ministry, said on the condition of anonymity.

Efforts to build such drones indigenously have not made much progress. “Progress is slow on the DRDO front and the existing requirements of defence forces cannot wait indefinitely. As a result, armed forces have to depend on foreign vendors. But it has to be on competitive bidding globally, instead of a single vendor,” the official said.

Some of the officials apprehended that a lobby was taking advantage of the slow pace of indigenous UAVs by pushing for a particular foreign firm. DRDO’s Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Establishment is leading the Rustom project and a budget of Rs 1,540 crore has been allocated to develop the Rustom-II in 2011 to match the capabilities of US-built Predator drone.

An insider further said that the particular foreign firm supplying drones has constantly charged exorbitantly for upgrades.

The Army has asked Indian firms for information on a new range of short-range drones that it plans to purchase for its troops, but its tender has been delayed.

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