Modi a threat to democracy, say Indian-origin academics

London: A group of Indian-origin academics in Britain has slammed the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for his authoritarian nature which they said can only weaken India's democracy.

Around 75 academics from universities across Britain, led by Chetan Bhatt of the London School of Economics, Tuesday expressed their collective concern over the upcoming government in India, through a letter, titled 'The idea of Modi in power fills us with dread' to The Independent newspaper in Britain.

Missing jet: Unidentified material washes ashore, being checked

Perth : The search for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that went missing last month took a new twist Wednesday with reports of some unidentified material washing ashore on the southwestern coast of Australia.

“Western Australia Police have attended a report of material washed ashore 10 km east of Augusta (a city south of Perth) and have secured the material,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said in its latest update Wednesday afternoon.


South Korean ferry toll rises to 150

Seoul : The toll in last week's ferry capsize off South Korea's southwestern coast rose to 150 Wednesday as hundreds of divers worked on recovering bodies from the submerged vessel.

As the search and rescue operation entered the eighth day since the ferry sank April 16, 152 people are still missing, with the number of those rescued unchanged at 174, Xinhua reported.

Search operations were suspended and then resumed as tidal currents became faster than forecast overnight.


UN envoy condemns lawmakers' killing in Somalia

United Nations : A top UN official in Somalia Tuesday strongly condemned the murder of Somali lawmaker Abdelaziz Isaq Mursal, the second one to have been killed in less than 48 hours in the capital city of Mogadishu.

Nicholas Kay, the UN Secretary-General's special representative for Somalia, said he was concerned by the recent attacks seen in Mogadishu and called on the authorities to investigate them and bring the perpetrators to justice at the earliest, Xinhua quoted UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric as telling reporters here at the daily briefing.

Thai elections may take place in July

Bangkok : Fresh elections in Thailand will be held in July or latest by September, the Election Commission said Tuesday.

It remains to be seen how soon the new nationwide polls will take place in Thailand following the ruling by the Constitutional Court last month that the Feb 2 elections were "null and void," Xinhua reported.

The caretaker government under the leadership of acting premier Yingluck Shinawatra will consult with the Election Commission about the fresh elections for which a royal decree is yet to be issued.


War with Ukraine unlikely: Russia

Moscow : A war between Russia and Ukraine is most unlikely, a senior Russian defence official said Tuesday.

"I don't believe the Russians and Ukrainians will fight each other," Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said.

Russian and Ukrainian military commanders continued to maintain contact, though this had reduced considerably, Xinhua cited Antonov as saying.

Among the issues the two defence ministries are currently discussing are returning Ukrainian weapons left in Crimea and the return of servicemen recruited from Crimea to the Ukrainian army, he said.


Five killed in Ukraine gas station blast

Kiev : At least five people were killed and five injured in a gas station explosion in Ukraine's northern Kiev region Tuesday, authorities said.

According to the State Service for Emergencies, the blast occurred at a gas station near Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky town, some 95 km south of capital Kiev, triggering a huge fire.

Four people died on the spot while a woman succumbed to her injuries in hospital, Xinhua reported.

Investigators blamed the accident on improper conception of the gas station project and violation of safety rules.


103 countries to attend Sri Lankan youth conference

Colombo : A total of 103 countries have confirmed their participation in the World Conference on Youth (WCY) to be hosted by Sri Lanka next month, the country's youth ministry stated Tuesday.

The confirmed list of invitees include senior ministers and senior government officials from over 40 countries, national youth delegates representing 103 nations and over 300 youth delegates representing various civil society movements, Xinhua reported.


Second Somali MP killed in two days

Mogadishu : Unidentified gunmen shot dead a Somali lawmaker in Mogadishu Tuesday, the second Somali member of parliament (MP) killed since Monday, media reported.

Lawmaker Abdelaziz Isaq Mursal was shot dead as he left his home in the western district of Dherkenlay in Mogadishu, Xinhua reported.

The killing of the MP comes a day after lawmaker Isaq Mohamed Riino was killed in a car bomb explosion Monday.

Islamist militant group Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the killing of Riino and the militants vowed to continue targeting Somali government officials.

International relief agencies condemn violence in South Sudan

Juba : International relief organisations in South Sudan have condemned the violence against civilians and have vowed to step up aid supplies across the country.

A joint statement Tuesday said the country representatives of key non-governmental organisations, UN agencies and donors condemned attacks against civilians in Bentiu, Bor, and other parts of the country, Xinhua reported.