The National:

INDIA has banned the largest political and religious group in its Kashmir territory as part of a crackdown on activists seeking to end the country’s rule in the region.

The move follows days of the most serious confrontation between India and Pakistan in two decades.

India’s home ministry issued the five-year ban on Jama’at-e-Islami, or JeI, on Thursday night, accusing the group of being an “unlawful association” and supporting militancy in Kashmir.

At least 400 people, mainly from Jama’at-e-Islami, have been arrested.

The group seeks self-determination for the entire Himalayan region, which is divided between India and Pakistan.

The crackdown comes amid high tensions between India and Pakistan following the February 14 suicide car bombing of a paramilitary convoy by a Kashmiri militant, in which 40 Indian soldiers died.

The National:

IN Israel, the country’s attorney general has recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a series of corruption cases.

Police had recommended indicting Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three different cases that ranged from accepting expensive gifts from wealthy allies to allegedly trading influence for more favourable press coverage.

“The attorney general has reached his decision after thoroughly examining the evidence,” his statement said.

The final decision on indictment will only take place after a hearing, where Netanyahu is given the opportunity to defend himself.

The move has shook up Israel’s election campaign and could spell the end of the prime minister’s political career.

The National:

VENEZUELA’s vice president has visited Russia to seek stronger ties with Moscow amid mounting pressure from the United States.

After talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Delcy Rodriguez said that Venezuela will rely on supplies of food and medicines from Russia as it faces a US-led blockade.

Lavrov warned Washington against military intervention, and criticised its “cynical campaign aimed at ousting the legitimate government of Venezuela”.

He added Russia has given humanitarian aid to Venezuela and will provide more such assistance.

THE death toll from a car bombing and clashes between security forces and gunmen in the capital of Somalia has risen to 18, police confirmed yesterday.

At least 40 others were injured in the attack near a hotel and a judge’s residence on a busy street in Mogadishu.

Security forces said the death toll could rise as many of the wounded are still being treated in hospitals.