Alastair Cook steps down as England Test captain

Alastair Cook has stepped down as England Test captain, according to a statement released by the English Cricket Board on Monday.

Calls for a change of leadership gained ground after England suffered a 4-0 drubbing in the Test series against India at the end of last year, with Cook going on to say that Joe Root was “ready” for the job.

Root, part of the England limited-overs squad in India, was widely tipped to take over the Test reins if Cook decided to stand down after five years at the helm.

When asked in Pune whether he was ready to captain England in Tests, Root had in January said, “I’d like to think so.”

“I’ve got a lot of experience behind me now in Test cricket, and I feel that I would have something to offer. But hopefully it won’t come to that.” he had said.

Mobile app helps China recover hundreds of missing children

A mobile app helped Chinese authorities recover hundreds of missing children last year, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday, in a country where child trafficking is rampant.

The Ministry of Public Security said 611 missing children were found last year, Xinhua said.

The “Tuanyuan”, or “reunion” in Chinese, app developed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd was launched in May and has allowed police officers to share information and work together.

Users near the location where a child has disappeared receive push notifications, including photos and descriptions. Notifications are sent to users farther and farther from the location of the disappearance if the child is still not found.

A new version of the app in November has expanded its reach through cooperation with other popular mobile apps, such as Alibaba’s online shopping website Taobao, search engine Baidu, Tencent Holdings Ltd’s instant messaging software QQ and mobile ride-sharing platform Didi Chuxing.

Child trafficking is common in China, where population control policies, although recently relaxed, have bolstered a traditional bias for male offspring.

Boys are seen as the main support for elderly parents and heirs to the family name. This has resulted in abortions, killings or abandonment of girls.

The imbalance has created criminal demand for abducted or bought baby boys, but also for baby girls destined to be future brides attracting rich dowries.

China shows off DF-16 ballistic missile in new military training video

The Chinese military released a video of a recent exercise, which involved troops operating the advanced DF-16 medium-range ballistic missile, China’s People’s Daily reported Monday.

The DF-16 fills a gap in the country’s arsenal, Xu Guangyu, a retired major general and now a strategy researcher, told the paper.

He said that the DF-16 missile has a strike range of more than 1,000 kilometres.

The paper also reported a weapons expert as saying that the missile can carry a warhead of at least 500kg and maneuver in its final stage to penetrate enemy defensive firepower.

Two types of DF-16 appeared in the video, including the bullet-shaped missile that is considered the original DF-16 and a new variant that features a maneuverable warhead and several extra fins.

The video shows launch vehicles carrying ballistic missiles and the Rocket Force missile brigade soldiers participating in a training session around the Chinese New Year holiday.

The participating units could be seen tackling a number of scenarios as part of the drill, including the possibility of chemical/biological contamination, countering satellite reconnaissance and electronic jamming.

Soldiers could also be seen practicing multiple maneuvers, such as rapid loading, redeployment and launch sequences.

The video, however, does not show any missiles being actually launched.

PPP leader Shaukat Basra injured, PA killed in Bahawalnagar gunfight

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and former MPA from south Punjab Shaukat Basra was injured while his personal assistant was killed in an exchange of fire in Punjab’s Bahawalnagar district on Monday.

The exchange of fire took place between supporters of the PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Zia (PML-Z) in Bahawalnagar’s Haroonabad area which led to three people being injured, including Basra.

Basra’s personal assistant Imtiaz was killed in the firing.

The injured were all shifted to a local hospital in Bahawalnagar.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the “attack” on Basra as “open terrorism”.

“PPP leaders cannot be frightened by such cowardly attacks,” he said in a statement posted by PPP Media Cell.

Bilawal demanded that the “terrorists” be immediately arrested and punished.

Basra served as an MPA from Bahawalnagar in the Punjab Assembly from 2008-2013. He is currently serving as the information secretary of PPP’s south Punjab chapter.

Afghan consulate official shot, killed by guard in Karachi

An Afghan diplomat was fatally shot by a private security guard in Karachi’s Old Clifton area on Monday.

The guard opened fire on the third secretary, Muhammad Zaki, in the lobby of the Afghan consulate after a personal disagreement arose between the two men, according to the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) South Azad Khan.

“The guard, Rehmat Ullah, opened fire on a junior diplomat Muhammad Zaki Uro, killing him on the spot and wounding another consulate official,” the DIG told AFP.

Rangers and a heavy police contingent surrounded the consulate immediately after the attack amid fears of a possible terror attack.

However, “there was nothing of the sort and it seems the guard had some sort of personal grudge with the diplomat,” Khan said.

Rangers and police at the site of the incident. ─ DawnNews
Rangers and police at the site of the incident. ─ DawnNews

The guard was taken into custody following the incident and the situation is said to be under control.

Following the incident, police and Rangers had cordoned off the highly sensitive area which is home to a number of foreign missions. The missions of Indonesia, the United Kingdom and France are nearby.

“We are collecting evidence and will obtain CCTV footage in order to investigate the incident,” the DIG said, adding that the consulate had been cleared.