Border firing kills eight
Cross-border firing between India and Pakistan killed at least eight people yesterday, the day India marked the 50th anniversary of a war between the two nations. On the Pakistani side of the frontier, five civilians were killed and 48 were treated for wounds in hospital in the town of Sialkot, a spokesman for the Pakistan Rangers said. India’s Border Security Force (BSF) said three civilians had died and 22 were wounded in firing across the frontier in the northern Jammu region. Both said the other side had opened fire first. “Pakistan Rangers resorted to unprovoked firing. Initially, small arms were used but later mortar bombs were shelled on BSF posts and civilian areas,” a BSF spokesman said. “The BSF also gave a fitting reply.” Pakistan Rangers spokesman Major Waheed Bukhari gave a different account, saying that unprovoked firing had started overnight from the Indian side. It was followed by retaliation from the Rangers.
Thousands to be released
The government yesterday said it would free almost 18,300 prisoners to mark independence day celebrations, but political activists will be excluded from the nation’s second biggest-ever amnesty. The detainees will be released in batches starting from Monday ahead of the 70th National Day anniversary on Wednesday. “The president has decided to give amnesty to 18,298 prisoners... but none of them have committed crimes against national security,” Deputy Minister of Public Security Le Quy Vuong told a press conference in Hanoi. The prisoners to be freed had been sentenced to a range of crimes including murder, drug and people-trafficking and bribery. However, no one sentenced for “propaganda” against the state or attempting to overthrow the regime — charges frequently used against activists — were among the list to be released. The amnesty includes 34 foreigners: six Laotians, one Cambodian, one Thai, two Australians, 16 Chinese, six Malaysians and two Filipinos.
Airport project delayed
A long-delayed international airport project has been postponed again, by four years this time, because of a delay in securing funds, state media and an official source said yesterday. A South Korean company first planned to build the Hanthawaddy International Airport on an old World War II Japanese airfield near the town of Bago, about 100km north of Yangon. However, the project was abandoned in 1994, soon after a groundbreaking ceremony. The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the nation’s fourth international airport was now expected to open in seven years. A senior transport ministry official confirmed the project had been delayed because of a difficulty in seeking fund.
PM orders easier access
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi yesterday ordered military commanders to make it easier for civilians to get into Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone while improving access to streets across the country closed off by political and security factions. Militias, political parties and influential figures have created many no-go areas in Baghdad and other cities in response to waves of car bombings since the US-led invasion to topple former president Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Green Zone is a heavily defended district in central Baghdad that is home to many government buildings and several Western embassies. Ahead of fresh street protests expected in the capital and southern cities yesterday, Abadi ordered commanders to implement a plan “to protect civilians ... from being targeted by terrorism,” according to online statements.
ATT lacks reporting rules
Countries backing a major accord to regulate the international arms industry on Thursday failed to agree on a definitive format for reporting arms sales, kicking the issue down the road and disappointing advocates of arms control. Officials from 121 governments have been meeting in Cancun to agree details of how the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will oversee the multibillion-dollar industry. However, on the final day of the first conference, officials resolved only to work together over coming months on crafting a lasting template for reporting sales. For the ATT to be effective, say arms control groups, there must be full disclosure of weapons sales, but the issue is contentious and officials had already suggested that reaching agreement might prove impossible at the inaugural conference.
Vegas canal dive injures two
Two men jumped into a canal at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas and, because they could not swim, had to be rescued and hospitalized, a spokesman for the hotel said on Thursday. The disturbance on Monday morning at the Venetian, which is located on the Las Vegas Strip and draws many tourists for its gondola rides inspired by the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, was first reported on Thursday. The two men were caught on hotel surveillance cameras jumping over the fence that surrounds the hotel’s canal along Las Vegas Boulevard, hotel spokesman Keith Salwoski said in an e-mail. “Apparently, the individuals were unable to swim and were pulled from the water,” he said. The two individuals were transported in critical condition by ambulance to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Clark County Fire Department Deputy Chief Jeff Buchanan said. He could not share any details on their latest condition. It was unclear what led the men to jump into the canal.
Bison gores conservationist
The head of a conservation group has been gored by a bison on Santa Catalina Island, off the California coast. Forty-three-year-old Chris Baker was airlifted to a hospital on Wednesday after the attack near the Two Harbors area. Baker is president and chief executive of the American Conservation Experience. The Flagstaff, Arizona-based group said Baker was doing field work for a new trail system when he turned a corner and found the bison in front of him. The group said the animal charged Baker. He then walked a half a kilometer on a hiking path until he saw three off-duty firefighters. The group said Baker is recovering from moderate injuries.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy