Suicide bomber targets MP
A suicide bomber yesterday targeted a vehicle convoy of Afghan lawmakers that included a prominent female MP, killing three civilians and injuring 17 others, officials said. The blast, in which the attacker detonated an explosives-packed car, left the MPs’ vehicles badly damaged on a main road in the west of Kabul, close to the parliament. “[Shukria] Barekzai — she is fine and suffers small injuries,” interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said of the politician via Twitter. Barekzai is renowned as a campaigner for improved women’s rights in Afghanistan, a stance that attracts fierce opposition from many Islamist groups and Muslim conservatives. She has spoken about receiving regular death threats.
Obama rejects alliance idea
US President Barack Obama yesterday rejected any alliance with Bashar al-Assad against the Islamic State group, arguing that the Syrian ruler was illegitimate and that any such pact would backfire. “Assad has ruthlessly murdered hundreds of thousands of his citizens. As a consequence, he has completely lost legitimacy with the majority of the country,” Obama told reporters after a G20 summit in Brisbane. “For us to then make common cause with him against ISIL [Islamic State] would only turn more Sunnis in Syria in the direction of supporting ISIL and would weaken our coalition [against IS],” he said. Obama said that communication with the Assad regime was limited to informing them that if the US uses Syrian air space in anti-IS operations “they would be well advised not to take us on.”
20 dead in road crashes
A collision between a minibus and a speeding truck in the country’s north yesterday killed 12 people, while eight others were killed in a western state when a truck hit people waiting at a roadside bus station, police and news reports said. The driver was among 12 who died on the minibus on a highway near Amroha in northern Uttar Pradesh state, police officer R.P. Singh said. The town is 300km southwest of Lucknow, the state capital. Police arrested the truck driver as he tried to flee the crash site. Singh said four people are hospitalized, three of them with serious injuries. In Satara District in western Maharashtra State, a truck hit people at a bus station, killing eight and injuring 15, the Press Trust of India said. India has the world’s deadliest roads, with more than 110,000 people killed annually and most accidents blamed on reckless driving, poor road maintenance or aging vehicles.
‘Muslims in Americas first’
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is claiming that Muslim sailors reached the Americas more than 300 years before explorer Christopher Columbus. Speaking on Saturday at a gathering of Muslim leaders from Latin America, Erdogan said that contact between Islam and Latin America dates to the 12th century. He says Muslim sailors reached the American continent in 1178 — 314 years before Columbus did in 1492. Turkey’s president says that in his memoirs, Columbus mentions the existence of a mosque atop a hill on the coast of Cuba. Scholars have disputed the claim in Columbus’ writings, saying there is no archeological evidence of Muslims having lived in the Americas before Columbus. However, Erdogan is convinced and says he would like to see a mosque built on that hilltop in Cuba today.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread