An Iraqi insurgent group claimed responsibility yesterday for an attack that killed an aide to the country's senior Shiite cleric. \nThe Sunni Muslim group of Ansar al-Sunnah said it singled out Sheik Mahmoud Finjan in part as a leading booster of Jan. 30 national elections, which stand to increase the power of Iraq's long-suppressed Shiite Muslim majority. \nFinjan, a representative of the Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was shot late Wednesday as he returned home after evening prayers. \nThe attack, in the town of Salman Pak southeast of Baghdad, also killed Finjan's son and four bodyguards. \nThe assault was the latest blamed on Iraqi Sunni extremists in what's expected to be an escalating campaign of violence meant to intimidate voters ahead of this month's vote. \nAnsar al-Sunnah said in a statement on a Web site used by insurgents that it targeted Finjan as a supporter to Sistani and as "a big supporter of the elections." \n"We also call upon all brother citizens not to participate in the elections because we are going to attack voting centers," the group said. \nAnsar al-Sunnah has emerged as one of Iraq's deadliest homegrown extremist group, owing to attacks that rival those blamed on al-Qaeda-linked insurgents and other outsiders. The group is believed an offshoot of Ansar al-Islam, an older movement with international links. \nAttacks claimed by Ansar al-Sunnah include a December suicide bombing that killed 22 people, mostly Americans, at a US military mess tent at the northern city of Mosul; the August executions of 12 Nepalese construction workers; and twin suicide bombings in February that killed 109 members of Iraq's assertive Kurd minority. \nMeanwhile, Gunmen killed three officials of a leading Kurdish political party in an ambush at the volatile northern city of Mosul, another official of the party said yesterday. \nUnknown attackers opened fire on the men's car, said Hashim Zibari of the Kurdish Democratic Party. The attack was Thursday. \nMosul, a heavily Arab city northwest of Baghdad with a significant Kurdish population, has been one of several cities to see increasing violence in the run-up to scheduled Jan. 30 elections. \nThe Kurdish Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani is one of two main factions of Iraq's Kurds, who make up about 20 percent of the population.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against