Ukraine criticises Russia for gun attack

Kiev: Russia should be responsible for a fatal shootout between unidentified gunmen and pro-Moscow activists in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slavyansk, authorities said Sunday.

"Armed lawbreakers and saboteurs who are terrorising the local population around Slavyansk ... have turned to cynical provocation," Xinhua quoted the Ukrainian Security Service as saying in a statement.


Pakistan, China hold joint military exercise

Islamabad: A two-week Pakistan-China joint military exercise started Sunday near the garrison city of Rawalpindi, the military said.

Flags of both countries were hoisted and national anthems played to mark the opening of the joint military exercise in a ceremony, Xinhua quoted Pakistani army's media wing as saying.

"The joint exercise is aimed at sharing mutual experience and information in medical field through a comprehensive training program in near real time environment," it said.

South Africa's ruling party may win majority in May elections

Johannesburg : South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) is poised to win a two-third majority in the upcoming general elections May 7, a media report said Sunday based on a poll.

According to the survey pubished by Sunday Times newspaper, the poll found that the ANC looks likely to win 65.5 percent of voter support on an average turnout of 74.5 percent, against 23.1 percent for its major rival, the Democratic Alliance, which scored 16.7 percent in the 2009 elections, Xinhua reported.


Japanese PM makes offering at Yasukuni shrine

Tokyo : Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an offering to the notorious war-linked Yasukuni Shrine Monday during its three-day spring festival.

The sacrifice came ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to Japan later this week and Abe, in a move to avoid provoking the US, decided not to worship the shrine during the spring festival, Xinhua reported.

Abe also visited Yasukuni on the first anniversary of the launch of his government on Dec. 26 2013.


Heavy snowfall hits search operations on Mt. Everest

Kathmandu: Heavy snowfall has been impeding search operations on Mt. Everest after at least 13 people were killed in the deadliest single-day loss of life in the mountain's history, authorities here said Sunday.

An avalanche at the elevation of nearly 5,900 metres Friday killed at least 13 Sherpas while three others are still missing, according to Nepal's ministry of tourism and civil aviation. They had gone for rope fixing ahead of this year's climbing season.


Japan official visits controversial shrine

Tokyo : A senior Japanese government official Sunday visited a controversial World War II shrine that is viewed as a symbol of the country’s past militarism.

Chairman of Japan’s National Public Safety Commission Keiji Furuya visited Yasukuni shrine to honour 2.5 million Japanese victims, which also include 14 Class A war criminals, Press TV reported.

“I believe that to honour those who gave up their lives for our country is the right thing for a Japanese to do,” Furuya, who is also the minister in charge of abduction issues, was quoted as saying on his website.


14 soldiers killed in terrorist attack in Algeria

Algiers : At least 14 troops were killed in a clash with a terrorist group in the Tizi Ouzou province of Algeria, media reported Sunday.

The soldiers were killed Saturday night during a clash between the army and a large terrorist group, Xinhua reported.

The gun battle erupted when the troops were concluding a sweeping operation in the region.

The clash lasted for a couple of hours.

The country's defence ministry, however, had not yet issued any statement on the attack.

Flooded Chinese mine's toll rises to 21

Beijing : The toll in the flooded Xiahaizi coal mine in southwest China's Yunnan province rose to 21 Sunday as rescuers found two more bodies. One miner is still missing, officials said.

The accident happened April 7 when 26 miners were working at the Xiahaizi coal mine in Qujing City, and 22 miners were trapped underground. Four miners were rescued on the same day, Xinhua reported.

Investigators believe the flooding was caused by an explosion.

Rescuers retrieved four bodies Thursday, one Wednesday and 14 Friday.


14 more bodies found, Korean ship toll rises to 49

Seoul : The toll in the South Korean ferry disaster has risen to 49 with 14 bodies recovered Sunday, the South Korean Coast Guard said.

Divers kept entering the hull of the submerged vessel to look for trapped bodies.

Koh Myung-seok, director general of the coast guard, told reporters that a total of five underwater ropes have been installed and that enabled divers to go down into the sunken vessel at a much faster pace than before, Xinhua reported.


US sees dramatic surge in graduate applications from India

By Arun Kumar,

Washington: Applications from prospective Indian students to US graduate schools surged dramatically while those from China slowed down a bit in 2013, according to a new report from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS).

A 32 percent increase in applications from India, which accounts for 18 percent of all international graduate students at US institutions offset a one percent decline in applications from China, from where one third of the students come.