Fireworks blast kills 11
An explosion at a fireworks factory in southern China killed 11 workers and injured 17 others, state media and a local official said yesterday. Most of the victims were female workers who were assembling fuses for firecrackers, the Xinhua news agency said. It said the blast took place on Friday and reduced the factory in the city of Cenxi in the Guangxi autonomous region to rubble. It shook nearby buildings and blew out windows. The cause of the blast was not immediately clear, Xinhua said.
Suspects cased square
Eight suspected Islamist separatists behind a deadly attack in Beijing had carried out three reconnaissance trips and collected 400 liters of fuel in preparation for their assault on Tiananmen Square, state media said. The accused all came from Hotan in the restive far western region of Xinjiang and were hiding out in western Beijing ahead of the attack, state television said on Friday. They drove an SUV onto the northern part of the square at midday on Monday the report said. The car ploughed through bystanders on the edge of Tiananmen Square and burst into flames, killing the three people in the car and two bystanders. Forty people were hurt.
Burmese fleeing Rakhine
The UN refugee agency says more than 1,500 people fleeing Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine State boarded boats last week in the Bay of Bengal. Unrest began last year in western Rakhine where Buddhists accuse the Rohingya Muslim community of illegally entering the country and encroaching on their land. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said on Friday the violence has spurred a dramatic increase in departures via the Bay of Bengal. He did not indicate where they were headed.
Footage suggests murder
A documentary maker in Colombo said on Friday that video of a Tamil Tiger television presenter suggests she was captured alive and killed, rather than dying at the end of Sri Lanka’s three-decade war. The footage is in the documentary No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, by British director Callum Macrae, who says the Sri Lankan army committed war crimes at the end of the separatist conflict in 2009. Sri Lankan military spokesman Ruwan Wanigasooriya said the army never resorted to killing those captured or who surrendered, and disputed the authenticity of the video saying it was an attempt to discredit Sri Lanka before it hosts a Commonwealth summit. The footage shows Isaipriya, a news presenter at a rebel-run television station, with people in military uniform who were heard saying they had found Tamil Tiger rebel leader Velupillai Prabakaran’s daughter. Isaipriya’s body was found at the end of the war on May 18, 2009. “This footage demonstrates that she was alive and uninjured,” Macrae said.
Alleged killer detained
Chinese authorities detained a man who they said confessed to kidnapping three children from the same southern village and killing them in a forest, officials said yesterday. Zhang Xingyan (張興艷), 33, was taken into custody two days after a boy and two girls aged 8 to 9 went missing on their way to school early this week, the city government of Yueyang in southern China’s Hunan Province said in a statement. The children came from two families and knew Zhang. Authorities said they had found the children’s bodies.
Golden Dawn members killed
Gunmen opened fire outside the offices of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Athens late on Friday, killing two men and injuring a third, police said as the government vowed to stop any “settling of scores.” Two unknown assailants parked their motorbike close to a local office of the far-right party before approaching the victims, firing and then fleeing on the bike, police said. The two men killed were aged 22 and 25, police said, without giving details on their identities or political affiliation. Local media reported that the victims were members of Golden Dawn. The party had planned a meeting for Friday night in the Athens suburb of Neo Iraklio, where the shooting took place. The attack happened about a month-and-a-half after the killing of an anti-fascist musician by a self-confessed neo-Nazi that triggered public outrage, putting pressure on authorities, who launched a crackdown on the party.
Third gender option offered
The country on Friday became the first European country to allow babies born with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female, but advocates urged further reforms. Under the new legislation, the field for gender can be left blank on birth certificates, effectively creating a category for indeterminate sex in the public register. Activists promoting the rights of so-called intersex people said they hoped the creation of a third gender option would open the door to broader changes that would limit genital surgery on newborns with both male and female characteristics. The Association of Intersexed People in Germany calls for a ban on medically unnecessary surgeries until the child turns 16, so the intersex individual can decide for themselves whether to live as a man, woman or neither.
Cannabis workers sickened
At least 700 people, mostly women, have sought medical help for apparent drug intoxication in a village believed to be the largest marijuana producer in the Balkans, doctors said on Friday. All the patients, suspected workers in cannabis fields in the southern village of Lazaret, had similar symptoms and “serious disorders from cannabis intoxication,” doctor Hysni Luka of the hospital in nearby town Gjirokaster told reporters. “The patients, among them also teenagers and even children younger than 15 years, have suffered from bouts of vomiting, stomach pain, heart problems and high blood pressure,” Luka said. The symptoms were clearly related to their work in planting, harvesting, pressing and packing the cannabis, Luka told Top Channel TV station.
Marikana probe extended
President Jacob Zuma on Friday extended by six months the inquest hearings into the shooting of 34 striking workers at the Marikana platinum mine last year. Zuma gave the commission an extra six months to finalize its probe into the events that led to the massacre on Aug. 16 last year, including the conduct of police. The commission should hand in its report by mid-June next year. On Aug. 16 last year, police opened fire on miners at platinum giant Lonmin’s mine in Marikana, killing 34 and leaving at least 270 injured during a strike over wages. Police have maintained that they were acting in self-defense against armed miners. The killing, caught on camera, shocked the world and reminded many in the country of apartheid-era police brutality.