Bomb blast kills seven
At least seven people, including a child, were killed yesterday in a bomb attack on a police van taking officers to guard polio vaccination teams in the northwest. The blast in Sir Dheri, about 30km north of Peshawar, came a day after gunmen killed three polio workers in Karachi. Police said that up to 5kg of explosives were used in the bomb, which was detonated remotely. An official of the district administration confirmed that the police team was on its way to provide security to polio workers when it came under attack.
HRW criticizes policy
Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday said the nation has damaged its human rights record by persistently undercutting refugee protections, including a “draconian” policy to send asylum seekers to Pacific island camps. The international group’s annual World Report said successive governments had prioritized domestic politics over international legal obligations towards asylum seekers, who faced “draconian new policies” diverting them to third countries. “2013 did really represent a new low in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers for Australia,” HRW Australia director Elaine Pearson told reporters in Jakarta at a launch of the report.
Labor leader remembered
Trade unionists yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the death of prominent labor leader Chea Vichea, defying a government ban on rallies following a deadly crackdown on garment workers earlier this month. Chea Vichea, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, was gunned down in 2004 in broad daylight at a Phnom Penh newsstand — a killing decried by activists as an attempt to silence his union. More than 100 people marched to a park where a statue of Chea Vichea stands just meters from the spot where he was killed.
Ex-spy boss sentenced
A court yesterday sentenced the former head of the National Intelligence Service to two years in prison for taking bribes. Won Sei-hoon, who resigned in March last year after four years at the head of the agency, was convicted of accepting 160 million won (US$150,000) in bribes from the former head of a construction company while in office. “Heavy punishment is inevitable because the nature of the crime is severe,” Seoul Central District Court judge Lee Bum-kyun said. Won also faces charges in a separate case of meddling in the 2012 presidential election by allegedly organizing an online smear campaign against the opposition party candidate.
Expat apologizes for posts
A Porsche-driving British man who referred to public transport commuters as “poor people” has apologized after his Facebook posts sparked an online furor. Anton Casey, a 39-year-old senior wealth manager, had also referred to washing “the stench of public transport off me” in one of his posts. Furious online readers flooded Web sites on which his remarks were reposted with comments, many of which subjected him and his family to verbal abuse. “I would like to extend a sincere apology to the people of Singapore,” Casey said in a statement issued through a public relations firm on Tuesday. “I have the highest respect and regard for Singapore and the good people of Singapore; this is my home.” He is a permanent resident of the city-state and married to a former local beauty queen.