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Clinton Leaves Pakistan with Pointed Question on al Qaeda | Modi Has Swine Flu | Oil Blaze | Rail Connection

Clinton Leaves Pakistan with Pointed Question on al Qaeda

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani (r) shakes hands with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Islamabad.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wound up a bridge-building visit to Pakistan  Oct. 30 leaving a pointed question ringing in her hosts' ears: Where are the al Qaeda leaders operating in your country?

While no Pakistani officials were immediately prepared to answer, ordinary citizens told Washington's top diplomat the country was living on a daily basis with the consequences of the September 11, 2001 attacks engineered by the militant Islamist group.

At a televised women's forum, Clinton was pressed on U.S. attitudes toward Pakistan, questioned about the use of robot drones to attack suspected militants, and reminded of the costs the country faces as it battles its own insurgency.

"We are fighting a war that was imposed on us. It is not our war, it is your war," television journalist Asma Shirazi told Clinton on the last day of her three-day visit to Pakistan.

"You had a 9-11. We are having daily 9-11s in Pakistan."

Pakistan's army is in the middle of a massive offensive against Taliban militants strongholds in South Waziristan that has prompted a spate of bloody revenge attacks on urban targets.

Earlier, when Clinton arrived, a car bomb in a market in the northwest city of Peshawar killed more than 100 people, mostly women and children, and wounded nearly 200.

The rough and rugged tribal territory separating Pakistan and Afghanistan is a stronghold for Taliban insurgents from both countries as well as a haven for al Qaeda operatives.

While most Pakistanis are against the extremists, many also believe they are fueled by Islamabad's links with Washington.


Modi Has Swine Flu

Narendra Modi

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has tested positive for swine flu, a day after his return from a trip to Russia, officials say.

Modi had been suffering from cough and cold on returning from the three-day official trip, officials added.

Tests held at a government hospital in Ahmedabad city confirmed the presence of the H1N1 virus.

More than 450 people have died of swine flu in India since this summer.

The number of swine flu cases in India has climbed to more than 13,000 - they have been reported from 28 states, including Gujarat.

So far, 40 people have died of the flu in Gujarat and several hundred have been infected, officials say.

A state government release said Modi had been on medication and all his engagements for the next few days have been cancelled.

None of the members of Modi's delegation which went to Russia have shown any symptoms of the flu yet, reports say.

The states with the highest number of swine flu deaths include Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat.

In August, colleges and cinemas in Mumbai were temporarily closed because of fears about the spread of flu.

The virus is thought to have killed more than 3,000 people around the world.

The swine flu (H1N1) virus first emerged in Mexico in April and has since spread to many countries.


Oil Blaze

Flames engulf a major oil depot in Jaipur.

Three more bodies were recovered from a huge oil depot blaze in western India, bringing the death toll to eight, an official said Oct. 31, as authorities waited for the fire to burn out.

The fire, caused by a suspected oil pipeline leak, broke out Oct. 29 night at the Indian Oil Corp compound on the outskirts of Jaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan.

B.L. Soni, a senior Jaipur police official, told AFP three bodies had been pulled from the plant.

"Now the death toll is eight and the number of injured is 130, with two critically injured."

Two employees of the IOC were missing, he added.

Thick clouds of black smoke and orange flames continued to billow from the facility, but Soni said there was little firefighters could do but wait for the blaze to burn out.

"The intensity of fire is too much" for firefighters to extinguish the flames, he said.

IOC officials estimated the cost of the fire at up to 1.5 billion rupees (30 million dollars).

Emergency services evacuated between 1,000 and 1,500 people living within a two kilometre (1.2 mile) radius of the mostly industrial area, but some residents living farther away from the fire had started to return, said Soni.

The Press Trust of India reported that Indian Oil Minister Murli Deora has ordered a probe into the accident.

Local residents reported hearing a large explosion as the blaze broke out, engulfing about 50,000 kilolitres of fuel stored in tanks.


Rail Connection

Indian Railways will connect Bhutan with Sikkim and Bangladesh through north Bengal, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

One survey for the Bhutan project was complete and three other surveys were now on for it, the minister, who will lay the foundation stone of the Rs-13.35 billion Sevoke-Rangpo railway project to connect Sikkim with rest of the country, told reporters in Cooch Behar in West Bengal.

"Tomorrow, we will begin a historic project to connect Sikkim with the rest of the country," she said.

Location survey tender for the 52.7 km Sevoke-Rangpo railway project has been floated and Rs 100 million allotted for it in this year's railway budget. The project is scheduled for completion by 2015.

Stating that the project on doubling of railway tracks between Changrabandha-Malbazar was on, she said it would help Bhutan in freight movement.



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