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Alexei Navalny: Prison staff ‘threaten to force-feed’ Putin critic after hunger strike weight loss | World News

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Jail staff are threatening to force-feed Putin critic Alexei Navalny, who has lost 15kg (33lbs) in weight since he was taken to the prison last month, according to his allies.

The Russian opposition leader, 44, began a hunger strike at penal colony number 2 in Pokrov at the end of March to highlight what he said was the authorities’ refusal to give him proper treatment for his back and leg pain.

He wants to be helped by a doctor of his choice to check his condition, but staff at IK-2 have declined his request.

Authorities claim they have offered him the correct treatment but say he has refused it.

IK-2 penal colony where Alexei Navalny is being held
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IK-2 penal colony where Navalny is being held

Navalny, whose weight has reportedly fallen to 77kg (170lbs), was moved to a prison clinic earlier this month after complaining of a high temperature and a bad cough.

But he has now been discharged from the medical facility, according to his Twitter account, which is updated by his allies.

It said: “Given the severity of the hunger strike, the (prison) administration is threatening on a daily basis to start force-feeding.”

Navalny had already lost 8kg in the jail, 60 miles from Moscow, before starting his hunger strike, his allies said on 1 April, blaming the weight drop on guards deliberately depriving him of sleep.

Prison authorities deny depriving him of sleep and previously said his condition was satisfactory.

Jail officials have not yet commented on the latest claims.

Navalny, one of the most outspoken critics of President Vladimir Putin, was detained in January as he returned to Russia from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning.

He has blamed the Kremlin for targeting him with novichok – an allegation that Russian authorities reject.

Navalny was jailed in February for two years and eight months for parole violations he says were trumped up.

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Schoolgirl vows to return to her Kabul classroom after bomb blasts kill friends | World News

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Lying in her hospital bed, a survivor of a triple bombing in Kabul that left dozens of fellow schoolgirls dead has vowed to return to the classroom, despite the danger.

Arifa, 17, said she did not know exactly why anyone would attack her school, but speculated: “Maybe because they don’t want us to study and get educated and move forward”.

Girls’ education was forbidden when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan before the 2001 US-led invasion.

Malika, 17, caught up in a car bomb outside her Sayed Al-Shuhada school in Kabul
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Miriam, 17, was on her way home from school when she heard a ‘big boom’ then saw ‘red flames and smoke’

Since then, Britain in particular has championed a push for girls to go to school, using statistics on the increase in girls’ education as a way to demonstrate progress, despite multiple setbacks elsewhere, such as the loss of swathes of territory back to Taliban control.

With all remaining US, British and other NATO forces due to withdraw from Afghanistan by this September, many people in the country fear a return to the same kind of hard-line rule.

But Arifa said she would not give up on learning despite the possibility of new threats.

“The fear will be there, but I will continue my studies,” she told NBC’s Richard Engel.

Violence across Afghanistan is on the rise after a deadline of 1 May set by the Taliban for all US-led forces to leave passed – even though US President Joe Biden has said he will pull his remaining troops out by September.

The attack on the Sayed Al-Shuhada school was particularly horrific.

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At least 68 people were killed in the attack

A car bomb exploded in front of the premises on Saturday afternoon. Then, as students rushed outside in panic, two more explosions tore through them.

At least 68 people, the majority of them girls, were killed and a further 165 injured.

Arifa recalled hearing “very, wild sounds of explosion” when the first blast erupted.

“I fell on the ground. My friend pulled my hand.”

On a separate hospital bed, a second survivor, Miriam, suffered burns to her face, while her feet and legs were bandaged.

I got out of school. I was going home, then I heard a big boom then saw red flames and smoke.

“I moved forward and noticed blood on my feet I checked and saw shrapnel hit my feet,” Miriam said.

books and notebooks of students are seen on the ground after on Saturday near a school, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 9, 2021. The Interior Ministry said the death toll in the horrific bombing at the entrance to a girls' school in the Afghan capital has soared to some 50 people, many of them pupils between 11 and 15 years old, and the number of wounded in Saturday...s attack has also climbed to more than 100. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)..
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Pupils’ books and notebooks were left strewn around the devastated school. Pic: AP

“I was close to the explosion site I felt burns in my hand and face.”

No-one has yet claimed responsibility.

The blasts struck in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood in western Kabul, home to many Shia Muslim families from Afghanistan’s minority Hazara community.

Militants linked to the Sunni Islamist group Islamic State have targeted them before, though Afghan officials have blamed the Taliban for the school bombings.

The Taliban has denied involvement.

Families of the victims say the fault lies with the Afghan government and their western allies for failing to stop the violence that is still consuming their country.

On a hillside overlooking Kabul, relatives wailed in grief as the bodies of the some of the dead were buried.

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Michael Moogan: One of UK’s most wanted fugitives arrested in Dubai | UK News

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One of the UK’s most wanted fugitives has been arrested in Dubai.

Michael Moogan had been sought by the National Crime Agency (NCA) for eight years for his alleged role in a large-scale international drug trafficking plot.

The 35-year-old from Liverpool had been on the run following a raid on a Dutch cafe, which was suspected of being used as a front for meetings between drug traffickers and cartels.

The Cafe de Ketel in Rotterdam was “central to a plot to bring hundreds of kilos of cocaine into the UK every week”, the NCA said.

Moogan and two other British men were linked to the cafe, which not open to the public and could only be entered via a security system, according to the crime fighting agency.

The NCA said detectives suspected that Moogan and his associates were involved in plans to import drugs from Latin America to the European Union..

Dubai Police believe Moogan entered the UAE using a different identity and tried to avoid CCTV in an attempt to elude officers.

He was eventually tracked down and apprehended on 21 April.

Nikki Holland, the NCA’s director of investigations, said: “This arrest is the result of years of investigation involving a range of law enforcement partners in the UK, Europe and Middle East.

“We are extremely grateful to those partners for their assistance in ensuring Moogan now faces justice and particularly thank the Dubai Police for their efforts to track him down.”

Following the cafe raid, 71-year-old Robert Hamilton from Manchester was jailed for eight years in 2014 after pleading guilty to drug charges.

Another man, Robert Gerard, handed himself in to the NCA after three years on the run, claiming the pressure was too much.

The 57-year-old from Liverpool pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and was jailed in 2017 for 14 years.

The NCA said Moogan will now be returned to the UK to face trial.

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COVID-19: Police raid Indian hospital and accuse doctors of ‘false scare-mongering’ over low oxygen supplies | World News

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A small private hospital in India’s most populous state is being charged under the National Security Act for sounding the alarm over a lack of oxygen.

The director of the Sun Hospital in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh told Sky News he faced being arrested at any time and his business seized after the police laid charges against him.

Akilesh Pandey, who owns and runs the hospital in the state’s capital, said four of his patients died on a single day when oxygen ran out.

He says he made repeated appeals to the state authorities warning them his supplies were running low but they failed to re-supply him with oxygen for 13 hours.

Crematoriums around Uttar Pradesh spoke of a sharp increase in the number of deaths over the past few weeks
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One of the many burning pyres at a crematorium in Uttar Pradesh

The notice he posted at the hospital on 3 May is still stuck up in places around the building.

It says: “After repeated request to the UPCM/Central Government we are not able to get enough oxygen supply, hence we requesting family members those patients who are on oxygen support please take their patients higher centre for further management.”

Days later, Mr Pandey says the police laid charges against him for “false scare-mongering”, raided his hospital and seized the CCTV from that day.

We arrived at the hospital as it was receiving a consignment of oxygen cylinders. The hospital’s oxygen-flow gauge showed once again it was running perilously low.

A letter posted outside Sun Hospital in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, asking oxygen ran out.
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A letter posted outside Sun Hospital in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, warning of ‘acute’ oxygen shortages

“I care about my patients enormously,” Mr Pandey told us. “They are my family but that day we could not give them oxygen.”

He showed us the oxygen supply just near the entrance of the hospital.

“These are the five oxygen cylinders that we had that afternoon…that would give one-and-a-half, to two hours of oxygen to patients.

Hospitals in India are facing a severe Oxygen crisis
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Hospitals across the country are facing severe oxygen supply crises

“We decreased the pressure flow slightly so that we could extend the flow to about three to three-and-a-half hours hours….” he told us.

But the oxygen supply ran out by 9am the following morning – the relatives of those who died say that is what killed them.

One young man who lost both his 45-year-old aunt and 22-year-old cousin recounted how it was like “a never-ending nightmare”.

Eyewitness: India’s vaccine rollout stumbles before it starts

He said he hadn’t had time to process what’s going on: his uncle is still ill with coronavirus in the same hospital and he hasn’t had the courage to tell his aunt’s husband who is at home suffering with coronavirus too.

India has been hit with a huge surge of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks
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India has been hit with a huge surge of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks

“My aunt needed high oxygen but when oxygen finished here, she was put on a concentrator but she could not manage by that.

“If there was oxygen she would not have died – my cousin would not have died.”

“This is the government’s responsibility to provide oxygen,” he said. “This has been made a COVID centre and the government must provide.

“The hospital is trying its best.”

The state’s High Court judges seem to agree, pronouncing last week: “The death of COVID patients just for non-supplying oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen.”

We have contacted the Uttar Pradesh authorities for a response but have yet to receive one.

The police charge against the hospital’s administrators is the latest in a line of draconian measures in Uttar Pradesh which has seen individuals arrested for putting out SOS appeals for oxygen.

The state’s authorities have suggested the alarms are inducing panic and the situation is under control – even as the area posted a new record daily high number of deaths on Friday.

The authorities have been heavily criticised for allowing mass gatherings during local elections even as the country was recording global highs in the COVID-19 infection rate.

Our team travelled from New Delhi more than 200 kilometres to Agra and then several hundred more kilometres onto Lucknow – and all along the route, we found thousands of people flouting the lockdown and the night-time curfew only being patchily enforced.

It’s almost certainly contributed to the upsurge in infections and deaths over the past few weeks.

Although medics believe the situation is stabilising, there’s still an unknown number of infections and deaths throughout this large state which dwarfs whole countries in terms of population.

Hospitals in India are experiencing a shortage of oxygen
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Hospitals in India are desperate for oxygen

The sheer size of the state makes it difficult, if not impossible, to compile accurate figures.

A substantial number of the estimated 225 million residents in Uttar Pradesh live in remote, rural areas where there is little or no treatment for coronavirus.

A resistance to testing due to fear of isolating; the lack of access to hospitals or even clinics and an absence of co-ordinated monitoring of the COVID deaths has meant widespread scepticism about the official statistics.

Outside the Sun Hospital in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh
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Outside the Sun Hospital in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Several doctors we spoke to from a variety of hospitals – in Delhi, Agra and Lucknow – are telling us the same information all the time about the virus and the variants.

This second wave is different; the variants are reacting differently and patients are developing some different symptoms.

Of course, there are important caveats. All of this information is anecdotal but with a fast-changing and developing disease, those on the frontline – especially in India – are anxious to share whatever they can glean about the disease and its changing make-up so others may be quicker to react or respond.

According to the range of doctors, nurses and health workers we’ve spoken to, there’s a marked increase in the number of patients who are suffering from body aches.

Often they don’t even have a cough but a fever.

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What is different about the India variant?

The disease appears to be attacking a much younger age group but it’s not clear yet whether this is because the elder age group was the first vaccinated.

More patients are suffering from diarrhoea and eye infections and a very small number also suffer renal problems.

The variants appear to be more aggressive, seem to be more infectious and debilitate the sufferer far more quickly.

Dr Akhil Pratapsingh told us: “It seems the virus is more lethal this time…it seems so.

Dr Akhil Pratapsingh describes what is new about the India COVID-19 variant
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Dr Akhil Pratapsingh describes what is new about the India COVID-19 variant

“Because the number of deaths are a little higher than last time…also what we are observing is last year it took some time for the patient to deteriorate but this virus, the infectivity or aggressiveness of the virus is so high it hardly takes a day for the patient, otherwise fine, to de-saturate and get compromised.”

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COVID Crisis: Indian hospitals overwhelmed

In the crematoriums around Uttar Pradesh that we visited, all the workers spoke of a sharp increase in the number of deaths over the past few weeks although it now shows signs of plateauing.

But they also mentioned how the dramatic rise in funerals didn’t seem to match the official figures.

We watched as a sadhu (a Hindu holy man) performed a ritual around the many burning pyres at one crematorium.

He appeared to be the only person recognising the many dead people here.

We may never get an accurate toll of the pandemic dead throughout India.

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