Suicide bomber kills at least 132 people at election rally in Pakistan

The deadliest attacks in Pakistan's troubled election campaign killed at least 132 people, including a candidate, on Friday (overnight NZT) just before the arrest of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif upon his return to the country.

In the southwestern province of Baluchistan, a suicide bomber killed 128 people, including a politician running for a provincial legislature. Four others died in a strike in Pakistan's northwest, spreading panic in the country.

The attacks came hours before Sharif returned from London along with his daughter Maryam to face a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges, anti-corruption officials said. Maryam Sharif faces seven years in jail.

He was taken into custody to serve his sentence however he is expected to appeal and seek bail. It wasn't clear when his appeal would be filed but he has until Monday.

In the southern town of Mastung, candidate Siraj Raisani and 127 others died when a suicide bomber blew himself up amid scores of supporters who had gathered at a rally.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried on its Aamaq news agency.

The group gave no reason for the bombing that killed Raisani, who was running for the election on the Baluchistan Awami Party ticket.

Raisani is the brother of the former Baluchistan chief minister, Aslam Raisani. Caretaker Home Minister Agha Umar Bungalzai told The Associated Press another 300 people were wounded in Friday's bombing.

The US State Department in a statement strongly condemned this week's attacks on political candidates and their supporters in Pakistan.

"These attacks are cowardly attempts to deprive the Pakistani people of their democratic rights," it said. "We will continue to stand with the people of Pakistan and the broader South Asia region in their fight against terrorism."

Meanwhile, Sharif arrived in the eastern city of Lahore from London where he was visiting his ailing wife when a Pakistani court convicted him and his daughter of corruption.

A close-up/macro photograph of Pakistan from a desktop globe. Adobe RGB color profile.
Pakistan map (file picture). Source: istock.com


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Two dead after suspected drug overdoses at Sydney dance festival

Two people have died and another two are critically ill in hospital after multiple suspected overdoses at Sydney music festival Defqon.1.

A man, 23, and a woman, 21, collapsed at the festival in Castlereagh about 9pm (Sydney time) on Saturday and died a short time later in nearby Nepean hospital, police said on Sunday.

A Jamisontown woman, 26, remains in a critical condition at Nepean hospital while an Artarmon man, 19, was flown to Westmead Hospital and is in intensive care.

Police said another 13 people went to hospital for drug-related issues while about 700 people sought assistance from medical staff at the festival.

Defqon.1 organisers had warned ticket holders the festival's drug policy was zero tolerance.

"This means that all types of soft- and hard drugs are prohibited. If drugs are found, you will be handed over to the police," a statement on the festival's website said.

Police say 10 people were charged with drug supply offences, including two 17-year-old girls who allegedly carried 120 capsules "internally" into the venue.

In total, 69 people were found in possession of drugs at the festival held at Sydney International Regatta Centre.

Local detectives have formed a new police strikeforce, dubbed Highworth, to investigate the two deaths.

Silhouettes of people in a bright in the pop rock concert in front of the stage. Hands with gesture Horns. That rocks. Party in a club
Music festival (file picture). Source: istock.com

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'Like right out of that movie Jaws' - man killed by shark off Cape Cod on US east coast

A man was bitten by a shark today in the water off a Cape Cod beach and died later at a hospital, becoming the state's first shark attack fatality in more than 80 years.

The 26-year-old man from Revere succumbed to his injuries following the attack off Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet at around noon, Wellfleet Police Lieutenant Michael Hurley said.

Joe Booth, a local fisherman and surfer, said he was on shore when he saw the man and his friend boogie boarding when the attack happened.

He said he saw the man aggressively kick something behind him and a flicker of a tail from the water. He realised what was happening when the friend came ashore dragging his injured friend.

"I was that guy on the beach screaming, 'Shark, shark!" Booth said. "It was like right out of that movie Jaws. This has turned into Amity Island real quick out here."

Booth said others on the beach attempted to make a tourniquet while others frantically called 911.

Hayley Williamson, a Cape Cod resident and former lifeguard who was on the beach at the time, was in disbelief after the man was rushed into an ambulance.

"We've been surfing all morning right here and they were just further down," she said of the two boogie boarders. "Right spot, wrong time, I guess."

Life-saving measures were attempted on the beach before the man was taken to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, where he was pronounced dead, State Police spokesman David Procopio said. The beach has been closed to swimming.

The family of the victim was notified of the death but his name was not released, Procopio said.

It was the first fatal shark attack in Massachusetts since 1936, and the second shark attack this season.

A 61-year-old New York man was severely injured August 15 after fighting off a shark off Truro, not far from today's attack. He's currently recovering in a Boston hospital.

"Today is just keeping everyone out of water," Hurley said. "There'll be a determination later about what the town wants to do with the beaches going forward."

Beachgoers said the Wellfleet beach is popular with surfers, and with sunny skies and warm temperatures today it was busy, even though the summer season was over and lifeguards were no longer on watch.

There have been frequent shark sightings this summer along the outer Cape, often leading to beach closings. The National Park Service, which manages many of the picturesque beaches where white sharks tend to congregate, said it closed beaches for at least an hour about 25 times this year - more than double the annual average.

A Cape Cod politician said officials who did not take more aggressive action against sharks bore some responsibility for the fatal attack.

Barnstable County Commissioner Ron Beaty said he had warned something like this could happen and urged measures to reduce the number of white sharks.

"It is my personal belief that the responsibility for this horrible shark attack rests squarely upon the shoulders of the aforementioned officials for their utter lack of attention and inaction regarding the growing shark problem on Cape Cod of the last few years," he said.

The state's last shark attack fatality was on July 25, 1936, when 16-year-old Joseph Troy Jr. was bitten in waters off Mattapoisett.

Troy, of Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, was visiting an uncle and was swimming about 50 feet offshore when the shark attacked.

Two people look out at the shore after a reported shark attack at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Source: Associated Press

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New financial crisis is already in the making, former Lehman Brothers boss claims

The former managing director of Lehman Brothers at the time of its collapse has warned that a new financial crisis is already in the making.

Today marks ten years to the day since the financial services company Lehman Brothers, a titan of Wall Street, surrendered to bankruptcy.

Stock markets shuddered and then collapsed in a panic that US government officials struggled to stop.

Tom Russo, a former managing director and chief legal officer of the bank, told Britain's Sky News that Lehman Brothers should never have been allowed to collapse, adding that "the seeds of the next financial crisis are probably being ordered right now."

Speaking in New Jersey, he said the process of leverage - a measure of corporate debt - will once again be to blame.

His view was shared by British Progressive Economy Forum council member Ann Pettifor, who told Sky that a "rise in interest rates is going to be the trigger."

Pettifor predicted the last financial crisis in 2006, more than two years before it actually struck. She also told Sky the process which will lead to a new crisis has already started.

According to the Sky report, the state of New Jersey was third worse in the US for home repossessions and many houses in the city of Newark have remained boarded up since the crash.

This weekend marks 10 years since the financial services company Lehman Brothers, a titan of Wall Street, surrendered to bankruptcy. Source: Associated Press


US Border Patrol agent suspected of being 'serial killer' after allegedly killing four women in two weeks

Texas state troopers arrested a US Border Patrol supervisor today who they say went on a two-week serial killing spree that left four female sex workers dead and ended only when a fifth woman escaped from him at a gas station and found help.

Juan David Ortiz, 35, an intel supervisor for the Border Patrol, fled from state troopers and was found hiding in a truck in a hotel parking lot in Laredo at around 2am today, Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said at a news conference in the border city about 235 kilometres southwest of San Antonio.

Sheriff Cuellar said investigators have "very strong evidence" that he is responsible for the deaths of the four women working as prostitutes.

One of the victims was a transgender woman, said Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz.

"We do consider this to be a serial killer," Mr Alaniz said.

Mr Alaniz told The Texas Tribune that after the suspect picked up the fifth woman she quickly realised that she was in danger.

"When she tried to escape from him at a gas station that's when she ran into a [state] trooper," Mr Alaniz said.

Ortiz will be charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated kidnapping, Mr Alaniz said.

He said that authorities believe Ortiz had killed all four women since September 3. The names of the victims were not immediately released.

Mr Alaniz said two of them were US citizens but the nationalities of the other two were not yet known.

"The manner in which they were killed is similar in all the cases from the evidence," said Mr Alaniz.

But both Mr Alaniz and Sheriff Cuellar declined to discuss the evidence or say how the women were killed.

Mr Alaniz said investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the killings. Sheriff Cuellar said investigators believe Ortiz acted alone.

"It's interesting that he would be observing and watching as law enforcement was looking for the killer, that he would be reporting to work every day like normal," Mr Alaniz said.

Ortiz was a 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol. US Customs and Border Protection issued a statement saying that it was fully cooperating with the investigation.

"Our sincerest condolences go out to the victims' family and friends. While it is CBP policy to not comment on the details of an ongoing investigation, criminal action by our employees is not, and will not be tolerated," the agency said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, whose Texas Rangers are investigating, did not return several messages seeking comment.

San Diego, California, USA - July 4, 2016: International Border fence between USA -San Diego, and Mexico - Tijuana,  with border patrol car driving along the road.
International Border fence between USA -San Diego, and Mexico (file picture). Source: istock.com