An explosion at a restaurant in northern China has killed 14 people and injured 47. The government of Shouyang County, Shanxi Province, said that a gas leak caused the blast triggering a fire on Friday evening at the Xinyangyang hotpot restaurant. The official Xinhua news agency said six people were killed at the scene and eight died in hospital. Seventeen others were severely injured. Xinhua said the explosion was so powerful that it shattered the windows of the two-story building that houses the restaurant and shops.
Bomb at procession kills 7
A roadside bomb killed at least seven people and wounded 30 at a Shiite Muslim procession yesterday, police said, as minority Shiites prepared to observe the holy day of Ashoura. Police official Rashid Khan said the bomb struck the procession in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, which is near the South Waziristan tribal region. The dead included three children, he said. Khan said about 100 Shiites were passing through the city to join a main procession when the bomb went off. No one claimed responsibility, but the suspicion fell on Pakistani Taliban who often carry out such attacks. Today, Shiites in Pakistan will celebrate Ashoura, which commemorates the seventh century death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson. The Sunni-Shiite schism over Mohammed’s rightful heir dates back to that time.
Manga ‘geeks’ seek love
Self-confessed geeks in Japan who might be too shy to ask someone on a date are trying a new kind of matchmaking: wearing cartoon character masks. In a small town north of Tokyo, 30 men and women donned masks of Doraemon, Mickey Mouse and other fictional creations to try to find a date on Friday. “I feel this is an easier way to talk to people,” said a 27-year-old woman wearing a rabbit mask, who introduced herself as Jet-Black Wings. As well as giving participants’ bravery a boost, the masked meet also ensured that people with similar, albeit rather particular, interests were able to meet each other. The event was organized by the local chamber of commerce, who realized the power of the otaku-yen when their otherwise unremarkable town became a pilgrimage site for fans of the Raki Suta (Lucky Star) cartoon in 2007, clamoring to see the place in which it was set.
Ancient tombs discovered
Italian archeologists say they have discovered a cemetery revealing complex funeral rites dating back more than 3,000 years in the Swat valley, recently controlled by the Taliban. The Italian mission began digging in the 1950s at Udegram, a site of Buddhist treasures in Swat. Archeologists were aware of a pre-Buddhist grave site in Udegram, but only recently discovered the collection of almost 30 graves, tightly clustered and partially overlapping. Luca Maria Olivieri, head of the Italian mission, said that the tombs point to the culture that predates the Buddhist Gandhara civilization that took hold in northwest Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan from the first millennium BC to the sixth century AD. Bodies were first laid to rest in open graves, fenced in by wooden railings. Then the graves were re-opened and the bones partially burnt before the graves were sealed and a burial mound built. Men were buried with high-quality flasks, bowls and cooking pots, and women with semi-precious beads, bronze hairpins and spindles.