Factory blast kills 12
An explosion yesterday at a military-run fireworks factory killed at least 12 workers and injured more than 90 others, officials said. Major General Le Quang Dai, the military chief in Phu Tho Province, said that the bodies of 12 workers were pulled from the wreckage and that the explosion was under control. Meanwhile, Tran Minh Khanh, deputy director of the provincial health department, said the morning explosion injured more than 90 workers, many of them seriously. Dai said the search and rescue operation was ongoing to try to find survivors. Several sections of the multi-building factory were leveled in the explosion, and some nearby homes were also damaged, Dai said. He said that about 200 workers were present at the time of the blast, but it was still unclear how many managed to escape. Workers have been on weekend shifts to produce fireworks for the Lunar New Year festival in January, he said.
Twin bombings kill six
Bomb attacks at a car dealership and an outdoor market on Friday killed six people and wounded 20 others near and north of Baghdad, officials said on Friday. Police officials said the first attack took place in the afternoon when a bomb went off at the car dealership in the mainly Shiite southeastern suburb of Nahrwan, killing three people and wounding nine others. Shortly after sunset, a second bomb exploded near an outdoor market in the mixed town of Tuz Khormato, killing three shoppers and wounding 11 others, town police chief Hussein Ali Rasheed, said. Medical officials in nearby hospitals confirmed the casualty figures for both attacks. All officials provided details of the violence on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
Obamas meet Malala
President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle welcomed Pakistani schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai to the Oval Office on Friday. On the day she was passed over for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Obamas hailed Malala, 16, for her “inspiring and passionate” work on behalf of girls in Pakistan. “The United States joins with the Pakistani people and so many around the world to celebrate Malala’s courage and her determination to promote the right of all girls to attend school and realize their dreams,” a White House statement said. “We salute Malala’s efforts to help make these dreams come true.” The 16-year-old, who was shot by the Taliban for championing girls’ right to an education, was in Washington to speak at two events.
Apology made to Japanese
The truth commission apologized yesterday for the government’s “racist” maltreatment and detention of its large Japanese community during World War II in a step that could open the way to compensation claims. Twenty-five years after similar steps by the US and Canada, the move to make amends has been welcomed by groups representing the 1.5 million migrants and second and third-generation descendants in the country, who now make up the biggest ethnically Japanese population outside of Japan. After the country declared war on Japan in 1942, thousands of families from the community were arrested or deported as potential spies or collaborators. Survivors have testified about the use of torture.
Sex offender allowed back
A high-risk sex offender being sought in Canada was allowed back into the US after authorities determined that he was a US citizen and not the subject of an extraditable arrest warrant, a law enforcement official said on Friday. The federal official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to address an ongoing law enforcement matter, said authorities were aware of a warning from Canada that Michael Sean Stanley might try to cross the border, but officials allowed Stanley through the border in Blaine, Washington, after reviewing his information in a biometric records check and finding they had no legal authority to extradite him. Stanley has a long history of sexual offenses against women and children and has been missing since Tuesday last week, when he cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet around the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary, according to authorities. Last week, schools in several west-central Saskatchewan communities locked their doors and kept children inside after police got multiple, unconfirmed sightings of the man.
Four jailed over exorcism
A court on Friday sentenced four people to between three and six years in jail over a violent, crucifixion-style exorcism carried out on a 19-year-old woman. The three men and a woman, members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, tied up the Cameroonian teenager in the position of Christ on the cross and kept her bound to a mattress for seven days in May 2011. When police discovered the woman at a housing estate in Grigny in the southern Paris suburbs, she was emaciated, dehydrated, in a state of shock and showed signs of having been beaten. The four insisted throughout the trial that the victim, named as Antoinette, had consented to the exorcism. The court found them guilty of kidnap, but dismissed charges of torture.