Drunk sets motel ablaze
Five people were killed and four hospitalized yesterday in an arson attack on a motel in downtown Seoul, police said. A 53-year-old man who said he started the blaze was arrested. Witnesses said a delivery man carried out the attack in a fit of anger after being denied a room at the two-story motel for allegedly being drunk. The man, identified only by his surname, Yu, bought 10 liters of gasoline at a nearby service station, poured it on the ground floor and set it ablaze, they said. Neighbors used fire extinguishers in an attempt to tame the blaze, but were unable to bring it under control.
Bushfire traps tourists
Holidaymakers trapped by a bushfire had to be rescued by boat from a national park south of Sydney as a heatwave struck the eastern seaboard yesterday. Firefighters in the state of New South Wales issued an emergency warning to visitors in the Royal National Park as the blaze threatened the main access road to a popular tourist spot called Wedding Cake Rock, where people posted pictures of the billowing smoke to social media. “Beaches may offer safety,” the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said in a Facebook post as aircraft water-bombers attempted to slow the fire and emergency warnings were sent to the mobile phones of all people in the area. “Firefighters, police, surf lifesavers and National Parks personnel are working with people at beaches in the Royal National Park to help manage their relocation as it’s safe to do so — including by boat and road escort,” the RFS wrote on Facebook.
Radio shut for ‘distorting’
The country on Friday shut down the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Pashto-language station for airing content “against the interest of Pakistan.” The office of RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal in the capital Islamabad was ordered closed by the Ministry of the Interior, which said Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency — the country’s top spy agency — had found its programs to be “in-line with [a] hostile intelligence agency’s agenda.” The notification, posted on the RFE/RL Web site and seen by AFP reporters separately, did not identify the agency. It accused Radio Mashaal of portraying Pakistan as a “failed state” and “a hub of terrorism and safe haven for different militant groups.” The government further alleged that the station was “distorting facts [to] incite the target population against the state and its institutions,” referring to ethnic Pashtuns.
Hundreds protest junta rule
Hundreds of police in Thailand yesterday blocked protesters planning to march from Bangkok to Khon Kaen in the northeast of the country in a rare display of public discontent in the junta-ruled country. Thailand has been ruled by the military since 2014. Demonstrations have since become a rarity, partly because of junta orders banning public assembly. The UN has expressed concern over what it calls a deteriorating rights situation in Thailand, including harsh sentences for those convicted of violating the lese majeste law, known as Article 112, as well as other restrictions placed on freedom of expression. “We want to tell the junta that you have taken Thailand back a long way. The people in the agriculture ministry are all generals. There are just generals!” one protest leader said. “Let’s hold hands! We are friends!” he said, appealing to around 200 protestors gathered at the Thammasat University in Rangsit, north of Bangkok.
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘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
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned against the “hasty” relaxation of anti-coronavirus measures, state media reported on Friday, indicating the country would keep its borders closed for the foreseeable future. North Korea in late January closed its borders as the virus spread in neighboring China, and imposed tough restrictions that put thousands of its people into isolation. Pyongyang insists it has not had a single case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus that has swept the world infecting more than 10.8 million people and killing more than 500,000. Analysts have said that North Korea is unlikely to have avoided the contagion