Hui Muslims, police clash
A crowd of Muslims fought with police who demolished a mosque in the Ningxia region, a police employee and a human rights group said yesterday. The violence erupted on Friday in Hexi after the mosque was declared an “illegal religious place” and about 1,000 officers arrived to demolish it, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said. It said 50 people were injured and more than 100 detained after several hundred members of the Muslim Hui minority tried to stop the demolition. It cited a villager as saying two people died, but said it could not confirm that. An employee who answered the phone at the town police station confirmed that officers had fought with protesters and said about 80 people were detained, but denied there were any deaths. Police demolished the mosque after the clash, said the employee, who refused to give her name.
Spas not brothels: officials
Tourism officials yesterday denied that health spas at luxury holiday resorts operate as brothels after the facilities were shut down on government orders. Last week, the tourism ministry instructed resort hotels on the nation’s pristine coral islands to close all spas and health centers that offered beauty treatments and massages. The crackdown followed protests by the opposition Adhaalath party, a conservative religious movement, which claimed they were a front for prostitution. “Sex tourism definitely does not happen in the resorts,” Sim Ibrahim, the head of the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry, said by telephone from Male. “The ban is very disruptive, not helpful for tourism and bad for our country’s image. We have asked for legal clarity to protect an industry that has been in operation for 40 years.” At least 100 spas and health centers were shut immediately after the government announcement, but Ibrahim said tourism was crucial for the national economy and that he hoped the ban would be overturned within days.
Calm urged after H5N1 death
Health authorities in Shenzhen are urging residents not to panic after a man who contracted the bird flu virus died on the weekend, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. The man, surnamed Chen, died on Saturday. The Shenzhen Disease Control Center confirmed that Chen, a bus driver, had contracted H5N1 from poultry, but they were still trying to find out where he acquired the virus. Chen is the country’s first reported human case of the deadly disease in 18 months. “The virus cannot spread among people” and “there is no need for Shenzhen citizens to panic,” Xinhua said, citing a statement from the center. Chen, 39, had apparently had no direct contact with poultry in the month before he was taken ill, nor had he left the city, the department said.
Quake strikes Christchurch
The earthquake-devastated city of Christchurch was rattled yesterday by a magnitude 5.0 tremor, geologists said, although there were no immediate reports of damage. The quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 19km, around 18km east of Christchurch at 5:45am, according to the US Geological Survey. Christchurch was battered by a powerful magnitude 6.3 quake in February last year that left 181 people dead and destroyed much of its center. The city has been hit by a series of strong aftershocks since causing fear among residents and further damage to property.