Night market fire kills eight
Eight people, including four children, were killed in a fire that tore through a popular night market in the tourist town of Siem Reap yesterday, police said. The children, aged between nine and 14, were sleeping with their families on the upper floor of a building when the blaze took hold in the early hours, said Sath Nady, chief of police in northwestern Siem Reap Province. The inferno, which raged for some two hours, was apparently caused by an electrical fault, Sath Nady said. More than 100 market stalls selling souvenirs were destroyed by the flames, he added. The night market, a popular attraction for visitors to the small provincial town, was closed when the fire broke out.
Al-Qaeda commander killed
Tribal sources from Pakistan’s northwest said yesterday a US drone attack had killed a senior al-Qaeda commander in the latest blow to the militant Islamist group that has been targeted in many similar attacks. Abu Zaid was killed, along with 10 other people, in the drone strike on a hideout in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, one of the tribal regions near the border with Afghanistan, early on Thursday, the sources said. Zaid had just moved to the hideout a few days ago, they said. Pakistani security officials based in North Waziristan said they were aware of the death of a senior al-Qaeda commander, but could not confirm his identity or rank.
Trade talks protest turns ugly
A protest aimed at disrupting Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks turned violent yesterday as demonstrators attacked security forces, police said. Two police officers were kicked “numerous times” and a woman was accused of stomping on a constable’s head when protesters tried to force their way into Auckland’s SkyCity building where the talks were taking place. Reports said up to 300 people squared off against 50 police and a handful of building security staff before setting fire to cardboard boxes near the doors of the conference center. Media reports said that the demonstrators wanted to present conference officials with a petition protesting the secrecy of the negotiations, but it quickly escalated out of control. The Auckland meeting is the 15th round of talks involving 11 countries aimed at formalizing a Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement. About 500 negotiators from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the US, Vietnam and New Zealand are involved in the meeting. The talks have attracted controversy because of their secrecy and concerns a deal could extend corporate power into areas seen as national interests.
Airport handover completed
The government yesterday described as “seamless” the retaking of the country’s international airport from an Indian developer following a bitter row that triggered a spat with its neighbor. The government of President Mohamed Waheed last week decided to revoke a 25-year lease of the airport in the capital, Male, asking infrastructure company GMR to quit by midnight on Friday, two years after it took over. The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party of former president Mohamed Nasheed, who initiated the privatization with GMR in 2010, staged a peaceful protest against the move on Friday night, witnesses said. Nasheed had warned that scrapping the deal could jeopardize foreign investment prospects in the popular honeymoon destination and also hurt ties with neighboring India.