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Kuala Lumpur school fire kills at least 25, including 23 students

A fire at an Islamic boarding school killed at least 25 people, most of them students, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur after breaking out in a dormitory early on Thursday morning, officials said. The fire at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, a “tahfiz” boarding school where students learn to memorise the Koran, was reported around 5.40 am local time (2140 GMT Wednesday), according to a statement from the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department.

The blaze began in the sleeping quarters on the top floor of the three-storey school building, the statement said. Two wardens and 23 students died in the fire, fire department officials said in a notice put on a whiteboard at the school. Seven people were taken to a nearby hospital for injuries, while 11 others were rescued, the notice said. Tahfiz schools usually teach students between the ages of 5 and 18.

Such schools, which are unregulated by the education ministry and fall under the purview of the religious department, have been under scrutiny since earlier this year when an 11-year-old boy died after reported abuse in Johor, north of Singapore.

(Source: The Indian Express)

Pakistan army chief advocates dialogue on Kashmir issue

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has called for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through political and diplomatic means , a stance divergent from the approach the country’s army has employed so far.

Bajwa’s statement at his annual ‘defence day’ speech this week comes two days after Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif admitted for the first time that internationally proscribed terrorist organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad were operating from within the country.

Emphasising that peace is essential for prosperity, Bajwa added, “The welfare of millions of people of these two countries is linked with permanent peace. Instead of insulting Pakistan and using force against Kashmiris, it is in India’s favour to seekresolution of the dispute through diplomatic and political means+ .”

Without naming India but referring to it as a “neighbouring country”, Bajwa said, “We did not bring nuclear weapons to South Asia. And even now these weapons are simply a guarantee of peace in answer to a neighbouring country which is high on power. It is this country which has brought unconventional war to the South Asian region.”

The General said, “We have paid the price for the wars started by super powers, in the form of terrorism, extremism and economic loss. We are abiding by our policy that we will not allow our soil to be used against any country, and expect the same of other countries.” The Pakistan military leadership’s change of approach gains significance in light of a consolidated global fight against terrorism. Pakistan has recently come under fire from all quarters, including the US, for harbouring terrorists.

(Source: The Times Of India)