Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency » Asia The largest news and information source in Afghanistan Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:47:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 3 day country wide mourning started in Pakistan Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:48:47 +0000 Read the full article...]]> peshawar-650_121714120534Pakistan on Wednesday begin a 3 day country wide mourning following a deadly attack at a military-run school in Peshawar that killed 141 and injured 124 others on Tuesday.

Pakistan’s flag was flown half all over the country as the funeral of the victims was offered in different parts of the city of Peshawar and later buried.

The attack prompted lifting ban on death penalty to convicted terrorists by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday.

Nawaz also vowed strict response to those responsible for the attack.

He said the operation will continue until the demolishment of the terrorists.

The attack was strongly condemned by world leaders including Afghanistan.

The death included at least 100 school children.

The responsibility was later claimed by Pakistani Taliban yesterday.

A Taliban spokesman has told media the attack was in the revenge for military operation in North Waziristan area where they also have lost their family members.

Pakistani Taliban have sent pictures of people they claim to be their people killed in Pakistan’s military operation in North Waziristan.

Pakistan military started a full-blown operation in North Waziristan in June which still continues. Pakistani officials say to have killed more than 1800 insurgents in these 6 months period.

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141 killed, 80 injured in Peshawar attack Tue, 16 Dec 2014 07:14:59 +0000 Read the full article...]]> peshawar attack   2The attack which started at around 11:00AM Tuesday in Warsak Road area of Peshawar and continued till late afternoon has left 141 killed and 80 injured on Tuesday.

Most of the victims are students of the military-run school stormed by gunmen.

The attack also included explosions in the school where around 500 students were thought to be inside by the time of the attack.

According to the officials attackers were  6 persons.

Eyewitnesses say the attackers were wearing military uniforms.

Pakistan prime minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif has declared a three-day country wide mourning.

Tahrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Taliban spokesman has said that the attack was carried out to revenge Pakistan’s military operation under way in North Waziristan where they lost their family members.

TTP in the past also have carried out attacks in different parts of Pakistan in an apparent response to the military operation in the tribal belt.

Pakistan’s military has initiated a large scale operation in North Waziristan since June this year with last Monday marking 6 months.

Pakistan’s military sources claim to have killed over 1800 terrorists in this operation including Al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters.

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Pakistan detained 50 Indian fishermen, seized boats Thu, 11 Dec 2014 08:24:13 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Indian fishermenPakistani officials say that 50 Indian fishermen along with their 10 boats were arrested on Thursday for unlawfully entering to Pakistan territorial water.

Pakistan and India frequently arrest and accuse each other’s fishermen of violating their respective zones in the Arabian Sea.

Recently the relationship between the two neighboring countries have been narrowed due to the exchange of fire between their soldier on the border where dozens of people have been killed and as much wounded.

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17 rebels killed in past 24 hours Thu, 11 Dec 2014 07:34:29 +0000 Read the full article...]]> TalibanThe interior ministry of Afghanistan reports that the operations were conducted in in Nangarhar, Parwan, Baghlan, Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Maidan Wardak, Logar, Ghazni, Khost and Paktika provinces jointly by Afghan National Police and National Directorate of Security personnel.

A statement issued by the ministry states that two insurgents were also wounded during the operations and another arrested.

The statement adds that 4 IDS were defused and admonitions were seized from the position of the terrorists.

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Pakistan in the hunt for Islamic State leader Wed, 10 Dec 2014 06:24:12 +0000 Read the full article...]]> ISIS in AfghanistanReports suggest that Pakistan is looking to recapture the fleeing leader of the Islamic States who has been designated for terrorist activities in the region.

Pakistan says Abdul Ghani Muslim Dost who an Afghan citizen is assigned by the terrorist group Islamic States to carry out terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iran and other countries in the Middle East.

It is understood that Afghanistan and USA are also assisting Pakistan in the look for Muslim Dost.

Abdul Ghani Muslim Dost was a prisoner of Pakistan and Guantanamo.

Previous report suggested that some key leaders of the Tahrik-i-Taliban-i-Pakistan (TTP) had announced their allegiance to Islamic States also known as DAESH.

Unconfirmed reports including the main city Kabul also shows the presence of DAESH supporters in parts of Afghanistan.

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Drone strike kills Al-Qaeda commander for Afghanistan and Pakistan Sun, 07 Dec 2014 10:18:54 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Drone

Umar Farooq, and four others were killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan tribal belt on Sunday.

Sources say an American UAV fired two rockets on a compound in Khat Tangi area of Datakhil district in North Waziristan and where the militants were hiding, killing 5 including Umar Farooq and wounding 3 others.

Sources added that Umar Farooq was head of the operations of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Umar Farooq was believed to be the most high ranking Pakistani national within the leadership of Al-Qaeda.

Sunday’s strike comes a day after the Pakistan military killed wanted Al Qaeda leader Adnan Shukrijumah during a raid at a compound in Shin Warsak area of South Waziristan.

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Asia: people and governments are addicted to the deadly weed Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:44:07 +0000 Read the full article...]]> cegAccording to reports around 700 million Asians, mostly men, cannot get through the day without puffing on a cigarette.

The habit is thought to kill around 2.3m Asians every year, almost half smoking’s global victims.

Cancer and other tobacco-related diseases are rising sharply.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and a major public health concern.

Tobacco use leads most commonly to diseases affecting the heart and lungs, with smoking being a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and cancer.

But health ministries are taking tougher action against smoking.

In Asia, Thailand, which banned it in most public buildings in 2003, is holding hearings on a plan to extend the ban to all places of entertainment.

China’s press said this month that cigarette makers would be told to put larger health warnings on their packets, including images of skulls, blackened teeth or diseased lungs.

In India import of cigarettes are band since several years but inside the country the domestic produce of cigarettes are booming meanwhile the price of cigarettes is also high.

In Afghanistan even the numbers of smokers are increasing day by day but still the central government do not have any clear agenda to control that social problem.

Cigarette consumption in China soared between 1970 and 1990 but has fallen slightly since.

There, as elsewhere in Asia, smoking among men is far more common than in the West.

The worry, says Burke Fishburn of the World Health Organization (WHO), is that Asia will follow the Western trend, with more women taking up smoking as men quit. In Vietnam, for example, cigarettes are being peddled to urban women as a “sophisticated” pursuit.

Western tobacco firms, their home markets shrinking, have turned their attention to developing Asia, drawing fire from anti-smoking groups. But, says Mr Fishburn, a bigger worry is the ambitious plan by China’s huge state tobacco monopoly to become a big exporter of cut-price smokes to the rest of the region. Thailand, while extending its smoking bans, also plans a giant new factory for its state tobacco firm.

Almost all Asian countries have signed the WHO’s tobacco-control treaty, committing themselves to restricting the marketing of cigarettes, curbing smoking in public and helping smokers to quit. But they will struggle to change entrenched social customs.

In our neighbor China, for example, cigarettes are a social lubricant, pressed on guests, whose attempts to decline them are often ignored, or on those from whom one wants a favour, whose acceptance of the cigarette implies the favour will be granted.

Tobacco firms are wriggling around the new restrictions. In India, most outdoor advertising has been taken down since it was banned in 2003 but firms are spending heavily on in-store promotional displays, which are still allowed.

Another big obstacle is that Asia’s governments are addicted to the huge revenues they earn from both tobacco taxes and the profits of state tobacco firms. Though Afghanistan’s government is promising to cap cigarette output by 2012.

Tobacco taxes provide a huge amount the Afghan economy a country which will face some economical problem after the international troops pull out by the end of this year.

However, both nicotine-addled countries may be wrong. In each, tobacco taxes are unusually low by world standards. Studies by the World Bank and others suggest that, though raising tobacco taxes succeeds in cutting smoking, it still increases government revenues.

Tougher curbs on cigarette smuggling can have the same effect.

Tobacco farmers could switch to growing, say, oilseeds, for which demand is booming. And Asia’s tobacco firms, in the short term, says Mr Fishburn, need fear neither higher taxes nor tougher advertising bans: they have so much scope to improve their efficiency that they could boost profits even in a shrinking market.

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Tobacco industry booming in Asia Mon, 01 Dec 2014 19:19:51 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Pic of toboco userWhile much of the developed world has seen a big drop in the number of smokers, the opposite is true of many emerging and developing markets in Asia. Health officials are concerned.

Huge tobacco companies like big numbers, and they’re finding them in Asia, with the world’s largest and fastest growing population.

Take China with its estimated population of 1.3 billion people: More than 300 million Chinese already smoke. Or consider India with its 1.2 million people: Around 275 million people there are tobacco users, according to recent World Health Organization (WHO) figures.

But now the number of smokers  sagnefecntly increased in Afghanistan, a country with low income and huge number of people living under the poverty line.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that In Afghanistan, for instance, just over 2 percent of tobacco users are women and about 10 percent of teenagers smoke.

Afghanistan also has a smoking problem. Ahmad, a 33-year factory worker in Kabul, admits it’s sometimes tough not to smoke when everyone is smoking.

“People smoke because their parents smoke or their friends smoke or they’re stressed,” he told Khaama Press. “People smoke because it is also very cheap to smoke here. And they also like to copy movie stars.”

The WHO is acutely aware of Asia’s potentially dangerous demographics when it comes to having a puff.

“Countries with low numbers of people smoking are markets waiting to be tapped,” said Edouard Tursan D’Espaignet of WHO’s tobacco control program.

“In many Asian countries like China and India where men already smoke at an incredibly high rate, women and young people are now being targeted by the tobacco industry.”

Already, approximately 1 million smokers in China die each year from tobacco-related diseases and about 100,000 people die from exposure to second-hand smoke, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

If current trends continue, the non-governmental organization expects the country’s smoke-related death toll to reach 2 million by 2020.

But there is no official numbers of tobacco related death in Afghanistan a country which producer more than 90 percent of poppy in the world.

Kicking the habit may not be so easy for China, however.

The country is both the largest consumer and producer of tobacco in the world. More than 20 million Chinese farmers produce nearly 40 percent of the global supply. Clearly, there’s money to be made.

China’s tobacco sales in the first half of this year rose 2.8 percent from a year ago to 1.31 trillion cigarettes, according to the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration. And for the same period, the sector remained one of the countries most profitable, with state-owned tobacco companies reporting a combined profit of 152.04 billion yuan (US$24.08 billion). The government collected 480.7 billion yuan in tax revenues for the period.

Singapore is seen as one of Asia’s most determined countries to curb tobacco usage. Smoking is banned in nearly every public area. Cigarettes are expensive, about US$9 per pack, and packages already contain graphics. Yet the government says smoking is on the rise.

Indonesia, by comparison, is the complete opposite. The country of 240 million is one of the last vestiges of laissez-faire tobacco controls in the world and is paying with the price of growing addiction.

Its problem is illustrated with a video circulating on the Internet, showing a toddler with a 40-cigarette-a-day habit.

Indonesia has no ban on advertising. Consumers see ads of well-known athletes promoting smoking and even sporting events named after sporting events.

Some 17.3 million smoke in the Philippines, one of Asia’s highest rates, and about 87,000 people die per year of tobacco-related disease, according to Philippine Health Undersecretary Paulyn Jean Ubial.

WHO claims that tobacco kills half of its users.

The agency warns in its recently published Global Adult Tobacco Survey that if the current trend continues, it will cause up to 1 billion deaths in the 21st century.

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Nepal ex-crown prince ‘fired gun in row’ at resort Tue, 14 Dec 2010 11:14:12 +0000 Read the full article...]]>

Paras Shah was unpopular among Nepalis for his drunken antics

(BBC) – The former Crown Prince of Nepal, Paras Shah, is to be questioned after firing his gun at a jungle resort, police say.

The former heir to the now abolished throne was reportedly drunk, and threatened relatives of the deputy prime minister who were staying there.

The 39-year-old son of ex-King Gyanendra was unpopular among Nepalis for his drunken playboy lifestyle.

His cousin shot dead nine family members – including the king and queen – before killing himself in 2001.

An official inquiry blamed Prince Dipendra for the royal massacre which shocked Nepal and the world.

The Himalayan nation’s 240-year-old Hindu monarchy was abolished in 2008 after former Maoist rebels who waged a 10-year insurgency against the state came to power.

Police in the resort town of Pokhara in western Nepal, where Mr Shah is currently staying, are preparing to question the former prince.

The chief of police, Keshap Adhikhari, told the BBC he was outside Mr Shah’s hotel room.

He said he would detain him and take him to Chitwan, where Sunday’s shooting incident happened.

‘Derogatory remarks’

Reports say that Mr Shah fired a gun in the air after an argument with the daughter and son-in-law of Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sujata Koirala.

He had reportedly been drinking when the incident occurred at Chitwan national park, a popular tourist destination.

“I am sure the government will take appropriate action as nobody is above the law,” Kathmandu police chief Ramesh Kharel told the BBC earlier.

The Himalayan Times online quoted Mr Shah as admitting that he had fired the weapon.

“I fired a shot in the air from my pistol in a fit of anger as I could not bear the insult of myself and the country,” Mr Shah was quoted as saying.

He said the incident was prompted by “derogatory remarks” against him, his family and Nepal by “two foreign nationals”.

Mr Shah moved to Singapore with his family in 2008 after having a heart attack.

He was a controversial and unpopular figure who had been at the centre of a number of scandals.

Last year he spoke out on the 2001 royal massacre in which his cousin killed nine family members before killing himself.

He said his cousin Prince Dipendra was angry at a failed arms deal, and also unhappy at his family’s rejection of his choice of bride.

Mr Shah said a second motive for Prince Dipendra was his anger King Birendra’s decision to end absolute monarchy in Nepal.

He had also dismissed the notion that Prince Dipendra was drunk or that he had shot his family – his parents, the King and Queen of Nepal and seven other royals – on impulse.

Source: BBC News

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China leadership ‘orchestrated Google hacking’ Mon, 06 Dec 2010 06:00:53 +0000 Read the full article...]]> BBC – Senior Chinese figures were behind the hacking of Google earlier this year which forced the search engine to quit the country, leaked US cables suggest.

One cable, released by whistle-blowing site Wikileaks, cites a “well-placed” contact as saying the action against Google was “100% political”.

A politburo member is said to have been angered after Googling his name and finding critical comments online.

The cable says it is unclear whether China’s top leaders were involved.

Other cables show Beijing has been “extremely concerned” about the use of high-resolution satellite imagery on Google’s mapping software, Google Earth.

In January, Google said it had been subjected to a “sophisticated cyber attack originating from China” – it said the e-mail accounts of human rights activists were among those hacked.

In the ensuing row over internet censorship, Google abandoned mainland China and moved its Chinese-language operations to Hong Kong.

The company did not say who it thought was responsible but the cables, released by Wikileaks and published on the Guardian website, show the company had repeatedly raised concerns about the issue.

‘Forbidden fruit’

The BBC’s Nick Childs says the allegations contained in the cables will reinforce both the perception that the Chinese government is highly sensitive about the internet and suspicions that it was behind the hacking attacks on Google.

One cable from the US embassy in Beijing cites a “well-placed contact” as claiming “that the Chinese government coordinated the recent intrusions of Google systems”.

“According to our contact, the closely held operations were directed at the Politburo Standing Committee level,” it says.

The source, whose name is deleted from the text, told the US that the operations against Google were “100%” political in nature, not an attempt to reduce Google’s influence in China in favour of domestic search engines, such as Baidu.

But the writer of the cable notes that it is “unclear whether President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao were aware of these actions” before Google publicly announced its concerns.

The cable also reports on alleged concern in the Chinese government that, by challenging official censorship of the internet, Google had made itself seem more appealing to Chinese net users and given the impression that the US and Google were working together “to undermine Chinese government controls of the internet”.

“All of a sudden, XXXXXXXXXXXX continued, Baidu looked like a boring state-owned enterprise while Google “seems very attractive, like the forbidden fruit,” it says.

In cable dated 18 May 2009, US diplomats quote a Chinese source as saying that “the root of the problem” was an unnamed member of the politburo standing committee who wanted Google to stop linking to its international site from its sanitised version,

The politician is said to have “recently discovered that Google’s worldwide site is uncensored, and is capable of Chinese language searches and search results”. He reportedly carried out a search for his own name and found sites personally critical of him.

Google consistently refused to remove the link, citing its own anti-censorship principles, and eventually left the Chinese mainland.

The cable says that while the US can neither confirm nor deny the allegations against Beijing, “the potential for continuing escalation by the Chinese, assuming Google sticks to its guns – and the likelihood of loud US Congressional and public outcry if it caves – suggest a high-level USG [US government] response may be in order”.

The following January, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged China to fully investigate the hacking allegations.

“Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation,” she said.

Source: BBC

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India’s Ambani hosts party for ‘world’s priciest home’ Tue, 30 Nov 2010 04:21:21 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani has hosted a lavish house-warming for his new 27-storey residence, believed to be the world’s most expensive home.

About 80 people attended the party in Mumbai on Friday, reported the Times of India. One guest described the house as “the Taj Mahal of the 21st Century”.

Mr Ambani, said to be India’s richest man, moved into the house last month with his wife and three children.

Reports suggest the residence is worth more than $1bn (£630m).

The skyscraper in Mumbai (Bombay), which overlooks sprawling slums, is said to have a cinema, swimming pools and a helicopter pad, and is named “Antilia” after a mythical Atlantic island.

Local newspapers said the house would require 600 members of staff to maintain it, and according to the Times of India, the first electricity bill, for September, is costing Mr Ambani 7m rupees (£98,000).

The house has sparked some controversy, with anti-poverty campaigners underlining the contrast between the luxury of the house and the plight of those who live in Mumbai’s slums, which house about half of the city’s 18 million people.

‘Versailles rival’

Guests at the house-warming included Indian novelist Shobhaa De, Bollywood stars Preity Zinta and Aamir Khan, and billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla.

Ms De said the 174m (570ft) building was the “Taj Mahal of the 21st Century”.

She described “what has got to be the biggest, glitziest ballroom in India – the Palace of Versailles is a poor cousin”.

“There is a lot of marble, there is a lot of mother of pearl. There are areas and gardens and lotus pools and an absolutely beautiful Krishna temple. There is art, there’s sculpture, there is a huge bar, there is a swimming pool,” she said.

“The Taj Mahal was considered one of the wonders of the world, this is…I’m sure it’s going to be one of the wonders of modern India,” she told the BBC.

She said the house was built to the personal taste of Mr Ambani, and that people should not “grudge him his indulgencies”.

“He generates a great amount of employment for those very poor and contributes to the economy,” she added.

The house, which has a temple on the ground floor and a library on the top, was designed according to Vaastu principles, an Indian tradition similar to Chinese feng shui.

According to Forbes magazine, Mr Ambani, 53, has amassed a $27bn (£17bn) fortune.

He is chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, one of the largest conglomerates in the world, and also owns the Indian Premier League team, the Mumbai Indians.

Mr Ambani’s brother, Anil, held a “parallel party” at the 14-storey residence which houses the rest of the family.

Relations between the brothers became strained during a dispute over the division of the conglomerate left by their father, Dhirubhai, who died in 2002 without a will.

Source: BBC

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China calls for emergency talks amid Korea crisis Sun, 28 Nov 2010 11:05:29 +0000 Read the full article...]]> (BBC) – China has called for an emergency meeting of key nations amid tension in Korea over the North’s deadly shelling of a Southern island.

It proposed that members of the six nations that have been taking part in talks on North Korean nuclear disarmament should meet in December.

The two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia are involved in the talks.

Correspondents say South Korea’s response has been non-committal and that it will consult other countries.

Tension remains high on the peninsula, with the US and South Korea undertaking joint military exercises the North has denounced as a provocation.

Angry protests

The six-party North Korea talks have been stalled since April 2009, and South Korea and the US say they should not resume until the North has made a genuine offer on halting its nuclear programme.

Some analysts think North Korea is trying to raise tensions in order to strengthen its negotiating position and force a resumption of the talks.

Wu Dawei, China’s representative to the talks, said on Sunday: “The Chinese side, after careful study, proposes to have emergency consultations among the heads of delegation to the six-party talks in early December in Beijing to exchange views on major issues of concern to the parties at present.”

He said this was not a proposal to resume formally the six-nation negotiations.

Mr Wu said “complicated factors” had arisen on the peninsula, adding: “The international community, particularly the members of the six-party talks, is deeply concerned.”

The BBC’s Chris Hogg in Seoul says the response of South Korea and its allies to China’s move has been less than enthusiastic.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said President Lee Myung-bak had told visiting senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Dai Bingguo that Seoul was not interested in the early resumption of the six-party nuclear talks themselves, as it was more urgent to deal with Pyongyang’s belligerence.

Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said that Tokyo would “deal with the issue cautiously while cooperating with South Korea and the United States”.

The Korea crisis began when the North launched a sudden barrage of shells at Yeonpyeong island, close to the maritime border between the two countries, on Tuesday.

Two South Korean civilians and two marines were killed, sparking the resignation of the South’s defence minister and angry protests in the South.

Pyongyang insists it was provoked into the shelling by military exercises, which were being carried out by the South close to Yeonpyeong.


The US and South Korea on Sunday began new, pre-arranged military exercises in the Yellow Sea, about 125km (77 miles) south of the disputed maritime border between the two Koreas.

The aircraft carrier the USS George Washington and four other US navy vessels are being joined by South Korean destroyers, patrol vessels, frigates, support ships and anti-submarine aircraft.

Shortly after the exercises began, North Korea again vowed to hit back if its waters were violated.

“We will deliver a brutal military blow on any provocation which violates our territorial waters,” the North’s state-controlled KCNA news agency said.

Yonhap reported that Pyongyang had placed surface-to-surface missiles on launch pads in the Yellow Sea and had also moved surface-to-air missiles to frontline areas, but the South’s defence ministry could not confirm the deployment.

Residents of Yeonpyeong were ordered to shelter in bunkers when artillery fire was heard on Sunday, but the order was lifted 40 minutes later. Only about 20 of the 1,700 residents remain on the island.

The South Korean defence ministry has also now instructed journalists to leave by the end of Sunday as it cannot guarantee their safety.

“At this stage, it is unpredictable what kind of a provocative action North Korea will take using the South Korean-US joint drills as a justification,” the ministry said.

Yonhap also reported that South Korean troops on Sunday accidentally fired an artillery round into the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that divides the nations. Seoul quickly sent the North a message saying it was an accident, the news agency said.

Earlier, Mr Dai had told President Lee that Beijing would try to prevent the situation deteriorating any further.

Mr Lee had urged China to take what he called a more fair and responsible position on the relationship between the two Koreas.

The chairman of North Korea’s parliament, an official known to be a close confidant of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, has been invited to visit Beijing next week.

Source: BBC News

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Plane from Karachi crashes with eight people on board Sun, 28 Nov 2010 10:47:33 +0000 Read the full article...]]> (BBC) – A plane carrying eight people has crashed shortly after taking off from Karachi airport in Pakistan, killing all those on board.

They say it was a Russian-made cargo plane heading to Sudan’s capital Khartoum and the crew was Russian.

The jet crashed into buildings that were under construction inside a naval base, close to Jinnah airport.

TV footage showed rescuers fighting a large fire. Reports say there were also casualties on the ground.

There were also reports of explosions.

‘Engine on fire’

“It (the plane) took off from Karachi at 0145 (2045 GMT) and after one-and-a-half minutes it crashed,” Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Pervez George told the AFP news agency.

“It was an IL-76 cargo plane. It was going to Khartoum. It had eight people on board,” he said.

Unconfirmed reports say that two construction workers on the ground also died in the crash.

The BBC’s Shoaib Hasan in Karachi reports that another worker – who was sleeping near the premises – told how he ran for his life when he heard the plane coming. The worker spoke while being treated for injuries in a local hospital.

If the plane had crashed just 500 metres (560 yards) away, it would have hit a much more densely populated area, our correspondent adds.

Rescuers later recovered several bodies from the crash site, reports say.

Witnesses say they saw that one of the plane’s engines was on fire, which suggests that the cause of the crash may have been a mechanical failure.

“The plane crashed 800m away from my house. We heard the bang and we rushed out,” Ayas Peer Mohammed, a retired brigadier who lives in the naval residential area, told the BBC.

“My son wasn’t asleep and he saw the cockpit on fire and the crash. I went to the crash site immediately. Right now the fire vehicles are there and they are trying to extinguish the fire. The plane was in more than two parts. It’s totally burnt, it’s a wreck, there were many small pieces on fire,” he said.

“The plane crashed in an open area very close to the last inhabited building. I think the pilot tried to crash there on purpose,” Ayas Peer Mohammed added.

Our correspondent says that the blaze – which was fuelled by thousands of gallons of petrol – is now under control.

The explosion caused by the crash was so powerful that local residents thought it was triggered by a bomb, Karachi police chief Fayyas Leghari was quoted by the AFP as saying.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, and an investigation is now under way.

The plane was carrying relief aid to Sudan.

Earlier this month, a small passenger plane crashed soon after take-off from Karachi, killing all 21 people on board.

In July, Pakistan’s Airblue passenger plane crashed into hills overlooking the capital Islamabad, killing all 152 people on board.

Source: BBC

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Artillery fire on Korean border Tue, 23 Nov 2010 07:28:35 +0000 Read the full article...]]> (BBC) – North Korea has fired artillery shells across its western maritime border, prompting return fire from South Korea, officials say.

Dozens of the shells landed on a South Korean island, from which plumes of smoke are rising. At least four soldiers are said to have been hurt.

South Korea has issued its highest non-wartime alert in response.

A BBC correspondent says this is one of the most serious incidents between the two Koreas since the end of the war.

Top leaders are meeting in an underground bunker in Seoul over the incident, Reuters news agency reported.

The incident comes days after North Korea revealed it had a modern uranium enrichment plant – potentially giving it a second route to a nuclear weapon.

Earlier, the US ruled out more denuclearisation talks while Pyongyang continued to work on the facility.

‘Illegal firing’

South Korean officials said artillery rounds landed on Yeonpyeong island, near the disputed inter-Korean maritime border to the west of the Korean Peninsula.

“A North Korean artillery unit staged an illegal firing provocation at 1434 PM (0534 GMT) and South Korean troops fired back immediately in self-defence,” a defence ministry spokesman told AFP.

A resident on the island told the agency that dozens of houses were damaged, while television pictures reportedly showed plumes of smoke rising above the island.

“Houses and mountains are on fire and people are evacuating. You can’t see very well because of plumes of smoke,” a witness on the island told YTN television station.

“People are frightened to death and shelling continues as we speak,” the witness said.

South Korea had deployed fighter jets to the island, Yonhap news agency said.

This western maritime border has been the scene of numerous clashes between the two Koreas in the past.

In March, a South Korean warship went down near the border with the loss of 46 lives.

International investigators say a North Korean torpedo sank the ship, although Pyongyang denies any role in the incident.

Since then relations between the two neighbours – who have not signed a peace treaty since the 1950-53 Korean War – have been very tense.

Source: BBC News

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Dozens die in new Mount Merapi eruption in Indonesia Fri, 05 Nov 2010 05:23:53 +0000 Read the full article...]]> (BBC) – At least 49 people have been killed in the latest eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano – more than doubling the death toll since it became active again last week.

Dozens are being treated for burns and respiratory problems after a gas cloud hit villages with even greater force than the previous eruptions.

More than 90 people are now said to have been killed.

An estimated 75,000 residents have been evacuated from the area.

Mount Merapi, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, is located in a densely populated area in central Java.

The latest eruption began late on Thursday, sending residents streaming down the mountain with ash-covered faces.

Rescue workers said villages in the area were in flames and bodies burnt beyond recognition.

‘Danger zone’

Many of the dead are believed to be children from Argomulyo village, 18km (11 miles) from the crater, the Associated Press news agency quoted emergency officials as saying.

The agency quoted hospital spokesman Heru Nugroho as saying that 48 bodies had been brought in after the inferno, and that 66 others had been injured – although these figures were not independently confirmed.

Earlier, government volcanologist Surono told AFP: “This is the biggest eruption so far. The heatclouds went down the slopes as far as 13km (eight miles) and the explosion was heard as far as 20 kilometres away.”

The authorities have decided to widen the “danger zone” around the crater from 15 km (9 miles) to 20km (12 miles).

A rescue official told the BBC some of the casualties could have been avoided if residents had stayed away from the danger zone.

Scientists are warning of further eruptions in the coming weeks.

Indonesia is also dealing with the aftermath of another natural disaster, after a tsunami hit the Mentawai islands last week, claiming more than 400 lives and sending thousands into emergency shelters.
Source: BBC

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Tajikistan Embassy Officially Opened in Kabul Wed, 27 Oct 2010 05:33:22 +0000 Read the full article...]]> (Tolo News) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai Tuesday termed the inauguration of Tajikistan’s embassy in Kabul a cornerstone for strengthening relations between the two countries

During the inauguration ceremony of Tajikistan’s embassy in the capital Kabul, Tajikistan’s President emphasised on the improvement of relations between the two neighbouring countries and said cooperation of the two countries could be unique in the region.

Imam Ali Rahman, Tajikistan’s President remarked that exchange of merchandise has increased 20 times in the past six years and acknowledged efforts are on the ground to boost the commerce relation between the two countries.

“Tajikistan and Afghanistan could be an example in cooperation and friendly mutual relationships in the region,” Tajikistan’s President said.

During the ceremony, President Karzai said: “in reality the inauguration of the magnificent embassy of Tajikistan in Kabul is to strengthen and improve ties between the two countries.”

Tajikistan’s President also said that his country will soon take his part in reconstruction of Afghanistan.

During his visit, Mr Rahman signed five agreements including trade, expansion of water of Amu River, transit, counter-terrorism, norm and standard, railway construction and hydro power.

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Tajik President Meets Afghan leader in Kabul Tue, 26 Oct 2010 10:58:34 +0000 Read the full article...]]> The president of Tajikistan in an unexpected visit to the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday morning met with the Afghan president and high-ranking government officials The president of Tajikistan, Imam Ali Rahman, after a meeting with Afghan president Hamid Karzai and other high-profile government officials, appeared in a press conference with president Karzai and emphasised on more trade relations between the two countries. During his visit to Afghanistan, five contracts were signed between the two countries in different areas including trade, energy and tourism. Mr Rahman also discussed border security issues, counter-terrorism and joint fight against drug trafficking. Mr Rahman also announced his support from the Afghan government peace talks. “Military option is not the only way to resolve Afghan issues. We back the Afghan government’s initiative and wish it success,” said Mr Rahman. “Enforcement of our joint 1400 km border is vital for both countries, so our joint fight against terrorism and drug smuggling that could be an example for others should be strengthened,” he said Addressing the joint press conference, President Karzai said: “during the past nine years, we have had good cultural, trade and educational improvements in our relationships.”

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Russell Brand and Katy Perry get married in India Sun, 24 Oct 2010 04:52:13 +0000 Read the full article...]]> Comedian Russell Brand has married US singer Katy Perry in a private ceremony in India.

The wedding was conducted by a Christian minister and both Brand, 35, and Perry, 25, wore traditional Indian clothes, with the bride in a sari.

The couple met at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 2009, where Brand was host.

The ceremony took place at the Aman-e-Khas luxury resort outside the Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary.

Brand proposed to Perry in India outside the Taj Mahal last December.

A spokesman for the couple said the wedding service was carried out by a friend of the Perry family.

“The very private and spiritual ceremony, attended by the couple’s closest family and friends, was performed by a Christian minister and long time friend of the Hudson [Perry] Family.

“The backdrop was the inspirational and majestic countryside of northern India,” the spokesman said.

According to the news agency, Press Trust of India, 21 camels, elephants and horses formed part of Brand’s wedding procession from a nearby resort. He was also accompanied by traditional dancers and musicians.

Perry appealed for privacy on the social networking site Twitter while the couple got married.

She tweeted on Tuesday evening: “TWIT BREAK: Greatest gift you can give us is respect and love during this private time. No use wasting our time with STOLEN or FALSE info. Thank you for this.”

The National Park, which provided the backdrop for the wedding, is one of northern India’s largest sanctuaries.

In addition to stand-up comedy, Brand has established a Hollywood acting career after he appeared in the 2007 St Trinian’s film and Judd Apatow’s comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

His autobiography, My Booky Wook, was a best-seller and his second instalment has just recently been published.

Perry’s first hit was I Kissed A Girl in 2008, and her latest album is Teenage Dream.
Source : BBC

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US inquiry into China rare earth shipments Wed, 20 Oct 2010 07:40:25 +0000 Read the full article...]]> US trade officials say they are looking into a New York Times report that China is blocking shipments of rare earths to the US and Europe.

China mines 97% of the specialist metals crucial to green technology.

The report, citing anonymous industry sources, said Chinese customs officials had broadened export restrictions.

Meanwhile China’s commerce ministry has denied a report by the official China Daily that it will cut quotas by 30% next year to stop overmining.

“The report is completely false,” the ministry said in a statement.

“China will continue to supply rare earths to the world, and at the same time, to protect usable resources and sustainable development, China will also continue to impose restrictive measures on exploration, production and import and export of rare earths.”

Threat to economy

The US Geological Survey recognises 17 different rare earths.

They are used in everything from catalytic converters in cars to computer monitors, TVs and in pharmaceuticals.

Analysts say without these elements, much of the modern economy would shut down.

China accounts for about 97% of global rare-earth production. The BBC’s Paul Mason says the rare earth story goes to the heart of China’s relationship with the West.

The US, which is also a major buyer of rare earths, mined no rare earth elements last year.

US trade officials say they are now checking the New York Times report that China is blocking shipments to the US and Europe, following reports of a similar move against Japan.

The newspaper cited unnamed Chinese rare earths officials as saying that “the embargo is expanding”.

Nefeterius McPherson of the US Trade Representative’s office said: “We’re seeking more information in keeping with our recent announcement of an investigation into whether China’s actions and policies are consistent with WTO rules.”

Washington is investigating whether China is violating international trade rules by subsidising its clean energy industries.

Japan accused China of halting rare earth shipments last month amid a diplomatic row over Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain whose trawler collided with two Japanese patrol boats.

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