Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tropical storm Alex verges on hurricane

Palm trees move in the wind as a man walks near shore in Chetumal,  Mexico, on Saturday. Tropical storm Alex was gaining strength over the  Gulf of Mexico on Monday as it headed toward Mexico's northeastern  coast.

Palm trees move in the wind as a man walks near shore in Chetumal, Mexico, on Saturday. Tropical storm Alex was gaining strength over the Gulf of Mexico on Monday as it headed toward Mexico's northeastern coast. (Gerardo Garcia/Reuters)Tropical storm Alex gained strength Monday on the way to hurricane status as it swirled across the Gulf of Mexico on a path toward Mexico's northeastern coast.

The tropical storm's centre wasn't expected to approach the area of the BP oil spill off Louisiana's coast, said Stacy Stewart, senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. But Alex's outer wind field could push oil from the spill farther inland and hinder operations in the area, Stewart said early Monday.

Forecasters also said late Monday that Alex is expected to become a hurricane on Tuesday. Hurricane warnings were issued by the hurricane centre for parts of Texas and by the Mexican government for northeastern Mexico.

Heavy rains are expected to begin lashing the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Veracruz around midweek.

Storm causes floods

Alex caused flooding and mudslides that left at least four people dead in Central America over the weekend, though Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula appeared largely unscathed.

It made landfall in Belize on Saturday night as a tropical storm with winds at 95 km/h. But it weakened into a depression on Sunday as it crossed the Yucatan Peninsula. Once over the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Alex quickly grew back into a tropical storm and had winds of up to 85 km/h early Monday.

The hurricane centre said rains from Alex will keep falling on southern Mexico and Guatemala until Tuesday and warned of life-threatening floods and mudslides.

The heavy rains prompted a landslide in northwestern Guatemala that dislodged a large rock outcropping, killing two men who had taken shelter from the storm underneath, according to the national disaster-response agency.

In El Salvador, Civil Protection chief Jorge Melendez said two people were swept away by rivers that jumped their banks. About 500 people were evacuated from their homes.

Community cut off

Authorities in Guatemala and Belize were keeping an eye on rising river levels. One bridge in western Belize was swamped entirely, cutting off a remote Mennonite community.

Hundreds of Belize residents and tourists who had fled low-lying islands for shelters on the mainland began returning on Sunday. The country apparently avoided major damage, and emergency co-ordinator Noreen Fairweather said on national radio that there were no reports of injuries.

"The weather came, but it was just normal rain, little gusts of wind and nothing much," Belize City resident Miguel Chan told APTN. "We have had normal storms that were more heavier than this."

There were no immediate reports of damage to Mexico's resort-studded Caribbean coast.

Alex was centred about 115 kilometres west of Campeche, Mexico, earlier Monday.

Rescuers search for 107 in China landslide

Hope of finding survivors was dimishing Tuesday as rescuers used heavy machinery including bulldozers to search for at least 107 people trapped under a landslide in rain-hit southwestern China.

Villagers huddled in tents set up at the site as rescuers searched for their family members.

But there appeared to be little hope for survival, with no word on casualties or survivors by noon Tuesday, said Tian Maosheng, an official from Guizhou Communist Party Propaganda Department, who is helping with the rescue.

"The number 107 remains unchanged, and there is still no sign of life here," he said.

Homes were buried when the landslide struck the village of Dazhai in Guizhou province on Monday afternoon after days of torrential rains. An official interviewed by state broadcaster CCTV said nearly half a hill had collapsed.

Makeshift tents were set up as first aid stations and soldiers carrying villagers waded through water and mud as they evacuated more than 360 residents since Monday, CCTV showed.

Light rain on Tuesday morning hindered rescue efforts, threatening to wash more mud down the slopes, but began to subside later in the day.

CCTV showed rescuers in orange overalls along a winding mountain road and later bent over a large mound of earth, tugging at large concrete slabs buried in it.

Large areas of southern China have been hit by flooding in the last two weeks, with at least 377 people killed and another 142 missing — not including those from Monday's landslide. More than 3 million people have fled their homes over the past two weeks, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

On Sunday, floodwaters began receding in the hard-hit south and workers finished repairing a dike breach that forced the evacuation of 100,000 people.

The large landslide is about 120 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Guiyang, the provincial capital.

Source http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5glsmFpe-zgAfgIX_u0DCJUluaqCwD9GKQ9880

China struggles to save 107 buried in landslide

In this photo released by China's  Xinhua News Agency, workers labor at the breach site of a dike at the  Changkai section of the Fuhe River, in Fuzhou City, east China's Jiangxi  Province, Sunday, June 27, 2010. Floodwaters began receding in hard-hit  southern China on Sunday and workers finished repairing the dike breach  that forced the evacuation of 100,000 people.
Hundreds of rescuers in southwest China struggled in treacherous conditions Tuesday to pull out 107 people buried in a landslide, but said there was only a "slim" chance of finding survivors.

Around 600 rescuers were searching through the mud and debris for signs of life in Dazhai village in Guizhou province, local government spokeswoman Pi Yingfang told AFP, a day after the landslide.

"The rescue is under way but it's still raining hard and the local terrain is complex, which is affecting the rescue process," said Pi, who represents the authorities in Guanling county.

State television showed rescuers walking on a wide, thick trail of mud that appeared to have almost entirely covered houses in its wake, and diggers had arrived at the scene to begin sifting through the dirt and rocks.

More than 100,000 cubic metres of mud and rocks, the equivalent of 40 Olympic-size swimming pools, had fallen on the houses, the official People's Daily newspaper said.

The landslide was the latest weather-related disaster to hit China, which has suffered from floods and landslides for more than two weeks since summer downpours have pounded parts of the nation's south, east and centre.

So far this month, at least 235 people have died and more than 100 have gone missing in rain-related accidents, according to China's civil affairs ministry.

Millions more have had to flee their homes and authorities said Sunday that nearly 69 million people had been affected.

The local rescue headquarters in Guanling said the victims had a "slim" chance of survival, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Villager Cen Chaoyang said he had managed to escape his house when he heard the landslide.

"I called for the others to flee, but it was too late. I saw some people behind me being buried," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Rescuers had to run five kilometres (three miles) to reach the site, which was initially inaccessible by car, and were forced to halt the search late Monday over fears of more landslides, the official China Daily newspaper said.

The National Meteorological Centre said authorities needed to strengthen inspections of areas where geological disasters could occur in China's rain-soaked south to prevent similar deadly accidents from happening.

This year's floods are among the worst in the southern part of the country since 1998, when more than 3,600 people were killed and over 20 million displaced, Xinhua said.

At least 379 people have died in flooding in China this year, the government said at the weekend, putting economic losses at 82.4 billion yuan (12.1 billion dollars).

Source http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gYHebfiRg9OoQTADbrPV3MBe8NCQ

Monday, June 28, 2010

Toll in Kyrgyz ethnic clashes jumps to 294

The toll in ethnic violence in the south of Kyrgyzstan has increased to 294, according to the 24.kg news agency citing the country's health ministry.

According to official information, the number of injured now stands at 2,238, including 1,047 hospitalised and 1,190 patients who received out-patient treatment.

Kyrgyz authorities admit, though, that the actual number of casualties may be ten times higher.

Clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, who account for about 15 percent of Kyrgyzstan's population, broke out in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh June 11, lasting several days and spreading to nearby Jalalabad.

UNICEF says over 100,000 refugees fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan during the clashes, while the UN says around 400,000 have been displaced by the unrest.

Some 70,000 displaced persons have returned to Kyrgyzstan so far.

The situation in Kyrgyzstan remains highly volatile, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) proposed Wednesday sending international police to prevent the spread of violence in the Central Asian republic.

Source http://sify.com/news/toll-in-kyrgyz-ethnic-clashes-jumps-to-294-news-international-kg2rkdbfdbg.html

Full moon crash: seven Australians were hurt in Saturday's collision

One of the boats involved in a crash off the Thai island of Koh Samui on the weekend is the same boat that capsized in 2005 killing 15 people, including two Australians.

The Sawasdi Chalermchoke Nawa 5 sank off Koh Samui in January 2005, killing more than a dozen people who were returning from the famous full moon beach party.

The ABC has now confirmed with maritime safety officials that the same boat was one of those involved in a crash between two vessels in the same area on the way to the same party on Saturday.

A total of 42 people - including seven Australians - were hurt in Saturday's collision and it is believed poor weather may have been a factor in the crash.

Katie Pritchard, 18, from Sydney is one of the Australians hurt in the incident and is still in hospital with three other women.

She has spinal injuries, concussion and cuts, and says the boats were overloaded and travelling fast when they hit head on.

Ms Pritchard says one of the boats had no lights on.

"The next thing I remember is being under water and thinking I'm going to die, I'm going to drown," she said.

Police say the boat's registration and the skipper's licence expired in March.

Ms Pritchard's grandfather says all four Australian women were from the same Christian church in Oxford Falls, on Sydney's north shore.

Peter Pritchard says his grand-daughter is doing better than the other three women - Vanessa Kenny, Natalie Hensby and Chloe Bucknell - who are more seriously injured.

"She's recovering, that's the most important thing," he said.

"You must feel sorry for the other parents, the shock is just incredible."

Drew Oliver, a friend of Ms Pritchard, says her father is making his way to Thailand on a flight organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Oliver says the passengers were thrown into the ocean when the boats collided.

"The vessels collided head-on and the girls with Katie were thrown into the water and they were retrieved from the water last [Sunday] night," he said.

Thai officials say all passengers who were on the two boats are accounted for.

An Australian Foreign Affairs spokesman says the the Australian embassy in Bangkok is working with Thai authorities to determine whether there are any other Australians involved.

Source http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/28/2939228.htm

Friday, June 25, 2010

Divided Koreas remember start of Korean War

The two Koreas commemorated the 60th anniversary Friday of the outbreak of the Korean War, promoting vastly different views of the origins of the conflict that still divides their peninsula.

The war started in the early hours of June 25, 1950, with an attack by North Korean troops. The Korean peninsula had been divided in 1945 after colonial ruler Japan's defeat in World War II.

The United States and 15 other countries sent troops to aid South Korea under the fledgling United Nations, while Chinese soldiers came in to fight with the North and the Soviet Union provided air support and advisers. Three years of combat devastated both sides. The fighting ended with an armistice, not a permanent peace treaty, leaving the peninsula in a technical state of war.

In Seoul, South Korea held an official ceremony to remember the war, widely known as "6/25" for the date it began. President Lee Myung-bak presented plaques of appreciation to representatives of countries that sent soldiers or supplies to aid the war effort.

"Sixty years ago today, North Korea's communists opened fire on all fronts of the 38th parallel on a weekend's dawn when all people were sleeping peacefully," Lee said in a speech. The gathering was attended by South Korean and foreign veterans of the conflict, foreign ambassadors and serving South Korean and U.S. soldiers. The U.S. stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against North Korea.

North Korea's view of the conflict, which it calls the Fatherland Liberation War, is vastly different. Under the headline "U.S., Provoker of Korean War," the country's state news agency on Tuesday accused Washington of starting the war with a surprise attack.

"All the historical facts show that it is the U.S. imperialists who unleashed the war in Korea and that the United States can never escape from the responsibility," the Korean Central News Agency said.

On Thursday, KCNA followed up with a massive 4,300-word article listing damage done by the United States to North Korea since 1945.

KCNA cited the "Committee for Investigation into Damage Done by the U.S. to the Northern Half of Korea" as finding the total monetary cost for North Korean suffering came to a staggering $65 trillion. That amount is five times the U.S. national debt of about $13 trillion.

A commemorative rally was expected to take place Friday in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square, named after North Korea's founder and wartime leader who died in 1994.

The mood surrounding the 60th anniversary is far different than during the 50th in June 2000, which came just days after the conclusion of the first-ever summit between the Koreas.

This time relations are tense following the sinking of a South Korean warship in March off the west coast of the peninsula near waters contested by the two countries.

South Korea and the United States accuse North Korea of firing a torpedo to sink the 1,200-ton Cheonan, killing 46 sailors. North Korea denies any role in the sinking and has vowed war if it is punished.

Lee used the occasion of the anniversary to urge Pyongyang to own up to the sinking.

"North Korea should clearly and frankly admit and apologize for its wrongdoing over its provocation," Lee said. He called on the country to assume a responsible attitude in the international community.

At a separate ceremony at the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul, the commander of U.S. and U.N. forces in South Korea issued a warning to Pyongyang.

"The North Korean leadership must know that further provocations will be dealt with swiftly and decisively," Gen. Walter Sharp said in a speech.

China, which remains North Korea's closest ally, called the war an event of the past and emphasized it maintains good relations with both Koreas.

"History is already history," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters Thursday, adding the war "has taught us to cherish the hard-won peace and tranquility and stability."

Associated Press writers Kwang-tae Kim and Claire Lee in Seoul and Anita Chang in Beijing contributed to this report.

Source http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jeaK8pms8b-Lo3AjMgqU_khHhnaQD9GI69UG0

Thursday, June 24, 2010

G20 law gives police sweeping powers to arrest people

The CN Tower is seen behind the Metro Toronto Convention Centre  which will be hosting the June 26-27 G20 Summit in downtown Toronto June  14, 2010. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese

The province has secretly passed an unprecedented regulation that empowers police to arrest anyone near the G20 security zone who refuses to identify themselves or agree to a police search.

A 32-year-old man has already been arrested under the new regulation, which was quietly passed by the provincial cabinet on June 2.

The regulation was made under Ontario’s Public Works Protection Act and was not debated in the Legislature. According to a provincial spokesperson, the cabinet action came in response to an “extraordinary request” by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who wanted additional policing powers shortly after learning the G20 was coming to Toronto.

The regulation kicked in Monday and will expire June 28, the day after the summit ends. While the new regulation appeared without notice on the province’s e-Laws online database last week, it won’t be officially published in The Ontario Gazette until July 3 — one week after the regulation expires.

“It’s just unbelievable you would have this kind of abuse of power where the cabinet can create this offence without having it debated in the Legislature,” said Howard Morton, the lawyer representing Dave Vasey, who was arrested Thursday under the sweeping new police powers.

“It was just done surreptitiously, like a mushroom growing under a rock at night.”

According to the new regulation, “guards” appointed under the act can arrest anyone who, in specific areas, comes within five metres of the security zone.

Within those areas, police can demand identification from anyone coming within five metres of the fence perimeter and search them. If they refuse, they face arrest. Anyone convicted under the regulation could also face up to two months in jail or a $500 maximum fine.

“It reminds me a little bit of the War Measures Act,” said lawyer Nathalie Des Rosiers of the new regulation. Des Rosiers is a lawyer with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which has been working to monitor arrests during the summit. “This is highly unusual to have this declaration done by order-in-council without many people knowing about it.”

Des Rosiers learned of the regulation Thursday afternoon, shortly after Vasey was arrested while standing near the security fence.

Vasey said he was exploring the G20 security perimeter with a friend when they were stopped by police and asked for identification. Vasey says he had also been searched by police the night before.

According to Vasey, police explained there was a bylaw in place obligating him to provide identification but he refused, acting on the advice of a “Know Your Rights” information pamphlet given to him by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, a group assisting protesters.

The York University master’s student was taken into custody at around 4 p.m. He was brought to the Eastern Ave. detention centre, a former movie studio that has been temporarily converted into a prisoner holding pen. According to his charge sheet, he was charged with refusing to comply with a peace officer under the act.

Vasey said he only learned of the new regulation after his release, at around 9 p.m. The summit’s Integrated Security Unit did not respond to interview requests from the Star.

According to Vasey’s lawyer, neither he nor his colleagues at the law union were aware of this draconian new regulation. Des Rosiers said the CCLA and protesters have met with summit officials on several occasions and the regulation was never mentioned.

“They don’t even have signs up saying you can’t be within five metres or you’re subject to the following,” Morton said. “If they really wanted to keep the peace, they would have announced the regulation.”

According to Laura Blondeau, an aide to Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci, the regulation “ensures that police have the legal authority” they need for such a massive security zone.

“They really wanted to ensure they could provide a certain level of security,” Blondeau said Thursday. “The regulation does not include private residences or businesses. It’s for certain streets and sidewalks in the security perimeter.”

Blondeau said “rightly or wrongly,” the new regulation can be compared with airport security.

“You don’t have to get on that plane if you don’t want to be searched and wanded,” she said, adding that Bartolucci carefully weighed public safety and civil liberty concerns before agreeing to the one-time amendment.

“It was an extraordinary request. This is just for Toronto, just for the G20,” she said. “Given the environment that the police were expecting, they needed to be prepared.”

Blondeau emphasized the law only affects those trying to enter the security zone and applies solely to police officers, not to private security guards contracted for the summit.

If someone declines to comply it empowers the police to turn them away — or face being searched.

According to government lawyers, the regulation was passed by cabinet using what is known as a “covering” order-in-council.

“The authority for the regulation is contained in the PWPA (Public Works Protection Act). The PWPA authorizes the designation by cabinet of places as ‘public works,’” the lawyers said.

The Public Works Protection Act was created in 1990 and defines a “public work” as everything from a railway to a bridge or a provincial building. The act says any other building, place or work can also be “designated a public work by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.”

Morton said he’s unaware of any precedents to such a regulation being passed in Ontario and questions if it is even constitutional.

Des Rosiers said the regulation runs contrary to the Charter of Rights because it prohibits people from generally circulating on public land.

The G20 security fence has been a magnet for passersby and protesters alike, with many people approaching to take pictures or just quench their curiosity.

For Des Rosiers, she is especially worried because most people, including protesters, will operate under the assumption they have a right to refuse handing over identification to police.

“Protesters would have been told that the law of the land is that you don’t have to talk to police officers if you don’t want to,” she said. “This changes things because even if you attempt to approach, it gives the power to the guard to demand identification.

“It’s a significant intrusion on people’s rights.”

Source http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/828367--g20-law-gives-police-sweeping-powers-to-arrest-people

Pakistan jails five Americans for plotting terror acts

Deputy prosecutor speaks after Americans jailed in Pakistan

Deputy Prosecutor Rana Bakhtiar talks to reporters after five American students were jailed in Pakistan for plotting terrorist acts.

Five Americans accused of plotting terrorist acts with militants in Pakistan they had met via the internet were each sentenced to 10 years in jail by a Pakistani court today.

The US nationals, all in their 20s, come from Alexandria, Virginia, and were arrested in Sargodha, Punjab, in December after their families reported them missing.

Prosecutors alleged they had found extremist groups from the US using Facebook and YouTube with the intention of travelling to Pakistan and crossing into Afghanistan to fight western soldiers.

A judge convicted each defendant on charges carrying custodial sentences of five and 10 years, to be served concurrently, and imposed fines totalling 70,000 rupees (£550). Their lawyer said they would appeal.

The case is one of several involving "homegrown" American militants, but is the only one to be tried in a Pakistani court. Journalists and members of the public were barred from the trial, which was heard by a single judge under heavy security in a special anti-terrorism court.

Aged between 19 and 25, the men are all Muslims. One, Ramy Zamzam, is of Egyptian descent and was a dental student at Washington's Howard University. Two others, Umer Farooq and Waqar Hussain, are of Pakistani origin, while Ahmed Minni and Aman Hassan Yemer come from Eritrea and Yemen.

Pakistani police alleged the men had contacted Taliban-linked extremists with the intention of attacking the Chashma barrage, a hydroelectric power plant near sensitive nuclear facilities. They also accused them of seeking to travel to Afghanistan. One allegedly left a farewell video in the US that featured war footage and said Muslims must be defended.

The Americans said they had gone to Sargodha for a wedding, and were on their way to Afghanistan to provide humanitarian assistance to fellow Muslims. They accused Pakistan's police of fabricating evidence, including emails, in an effort to frame them.

As they were transported to a court hearing last February, they tossed a scrap of toilet paper to journalists on which they claimed to have been tortured in custody. In a letter his parents, Zamzam said they had been beaten, deprived of food and sleep for up to 36 hours and threatened with electrocution.

Farooq's father, Khalid, was also detained but released for lack of evidence.

The men's defence had been organised by Khalid Khawaja, a well-known jihadi sympathiser who was kidnapped and executed by the Taliban in Waziristan in April.

US officials maintained a low profile during the case. A consular official was present at today's hearing but a spokesman in Islamabad declined to comment.

Another American who slipped into Pakistan on a quixotic quest to kill Osama bin Laden has arrived home. Gary Faulkner was arrested in a mountain woods near the Afghan border on 13 June.

Carrying a pistol, a sword and a book of Christian verse, the 50-year-old told officers he was on a quest to find the al-Qaida leader and behead him. After questioning by Pakistani intelligence he was released yesterday morning and arrived in Denver at around midnight.

"This is not about me. What this is about is the American people and the world," he told reporters at the airport.

"We can't let people like this scare us. We don't get scared by people like this, we scare them and that's what this is about. We're going to take care of business."

Source http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/24/pakistan-jails-americans-plotting-terrorism

Twelve Spanish teenagers killed by express train

Police and rescue workers at the station in the Spanish coastal  town of Castelldefels

Police and rescue workers at the station in the Spanish coastal town of Castelldefels.

A night out to celebrate the summer solstice turned into tragedy in the Spanish coastal town of Castelldefels yesterday when 12 young people were killed by an express train.

Doctors were this morning still fighting to save the lives of three of those injured after a group of some 40 people heading for a beach party was struck by a high-speed train in the coastal town just south of Barcelona.

The victims had been going to one of the bonfire and beach parties that happen up and down the coast of Catalonia and the rest of Spain to mark the longest day of the year.

They had just got off another train at the station near the beach at Castelldefels and begun to cross the tracks rather than use an underground passageway or a footbridge at the station.

Fourteen of the injured were treated in local hospitals this morning. Most of the dead and injured were teenagers out to enjoy one of the biggest annual fiestas in Catalonia.

"We got off en masse and when we saw that the underpass was closed, we crossed the tracks," an eyewitness called Charly told El PaĆ­s newspaper.

A spokesman for Spain's rail infrastructure company ADIF denied that the underpass below the tracks had been locked.

"The train did not blow its whistle until it was already in the station and that gave us no time to get out of the way," said one of the survivors.

"What I do not understand is why the train did not stop after the accident," another of those who escaped said.

The force of the impact of the train on those crossing the tracks was such that rescue workers said they were having trouble putting together the body parts left at the scene.

Several of those injured had been standing on the platform and were hurt by flying bodies tossed aside by the train as it sped along a straight, flat stretch of track on the route from Alicante to Barcelona.

Castelldefels is a popular beach for people from nearby Barcelona and the rail station there had recently been renovated and remodelled.

Local mayor Joan Sau promised an investigation but blamed the group of people who chose to cross the tracks for the tragedy, saying they had been "imprudent".

"It was an awful accident," he said.

Source http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/24/spain-train-teenagers-killed

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bangladesh re-opens factories after rioting

Hundreds of factories in Bangladesh that make clothes for Western brands reopened on Wednesday under a heavy police presence after riots by workers forced their closure.

Tens of thousands of people who stitch garments for the leading names in US and European retail have been on strike since Saturday to protest their pay in a major industrial zone outside Dhaka.

Violence and vandalism flared on Tuesday, with police firing rubber bullets and tear gas after dozens of the estimated 700 factories in the area were attacked.

"It is very volatile. We can't predict if things will flare up again, but we have enough security to handle it today," police deputy inspector Ayub Khan, who was at one of the worst-affected factories, told AFP.

Nearly a thousand riot police were in the area where up to 80,000 people are employed by subcontractors working on behalf of global retailers such as Wal-Mart, Tesco and H & M.

The workers are demanding wages of at least 5,000 taka (70 dollars) per month. The current minimum wage, set in 2006, is 25 dollars.

"The workers have gone to their shifts on time, there were no problems. We have nearly a thousand riot police here and we have water canon in case trouble breaks out," added Khan.

Industry group Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) announced the closure of all factories in the area on Tuesday. It said the decision to reopen followed a government pledge to ensure law and order.

"We have been assured by the government that they would ensure adequate security to protect the factories from vandalism," BGMEA president Abdus Salam Murshedy told AFP.

Garments accounted for nearly 80 percent of Bangladesh's 15.56 billion dollars of exports last year. The factories employ around 40 percent of the industrial workforce.

"All our windows were smashed, our computers and furniture destroyed," said M.A Hamid, manager of the Scandex factory which was working on an order of polo shirts for American retail giant Wal-Mart.

"Our shipment has been delayed as the factory was closed for three days, we've suspended 14 workers and are gradually reopening," he said, adding that the minimum wage in his factory was 2,000 taka.

Source http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gXx20Aaa20mGHTN6-ukYZ3j442Kw

Monday, June 21, 2010

Three dead in bomb attack in Istanbul

Three people were killed and six others wounded Tuesday in a bomb attack on a coach transporting soldiers in Istanbul, Turkish television reported.

The bomb apparently exploded around 0445 GMT when the vehicle was passing through the Halkali district, a suburb on the European side of the city, according to TV channels NTV and CNN-Turk, which broadcast images of the heavily damaged coach.

There were also family members of the soldiers on board the coach, including children, the TV stations reported.

Several ambulances were rushed to the scene which has been cordoned off by police.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

The rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) threatened at the weekend to launch attacks in all Turkish cities.

The outlawed PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, has waged an 26-year campaign against the Turkish army for a independent homeland in the country's southeast, a majority Kurdish region. The group has also in the past been responsible for attacks in the country's main cities.

Source http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iTItCwq8LqLFyfXZXvBbxGT5GheQ

Gaza decision to ensure security

PM says move negates Hamas propaganda, warns against next flotillas.

The decision to ease the civilian restrictions on the Gaza Strip enables Israel to focus on security-related issues, including the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during an address to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (FADC) on Monday.

“The cabinet decision to lift the civilian blockade on Gaza and tighten the security blockade is the right decision for Israel, because it negates Hamas propaganda’s main claim,” the prime minister said.

Source http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=179055

Sunday, June 20, 2010

China coal mine explosion kills 46

An explosion in a central China colliery on Monday killed 46 miners, state media reported, in the latest deadly accident to strike the country's notoriously dangerous mining sector.

The blast happened near Pingdingshan city in the central province of Henan when a store of gunpowder kept underground detonated, according to reports citing the State Administration of Work Safety.

The accident in the Xingdong No 2 Mine occurred at about 1:40 am (1740 GMT) with 72 miners working at the time, 26 of whom were brought to safety, China Central Television said.

The remaining 46 have been confirmed dead, it said.

China's vast coal mining industry is notoriously accident-prone, with lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency as mines rush to meet soaring demand. China relies on coal-generated power for about 70 of its electricity needs.

A total of 2,631 miners were killed in China last year, according to official figures, but independent labour groups say the actual figure could be much higher as many accidents are covered up to avoid costly mine shutdowns.

In March, a flood at the huge, unfinished Wangjialing mine in the northern province of Shanxi left 153 workers trapped underground. A total of 115 were recovered alive, in what was seen as a rare successful rescue for the industry.

Yet despite numerous pledges after that accident and other big mining disasters, there is virtually no let-up in the regular reports of deadly mishaps.

Just last September, Pingdingshan was the scene of a mine blast that killed 76 people. The accident prompted officials to call for a massive safety review of the city's 157 mines, which were temporarily shut down.

Zhao Tiechui, head of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said in February that China would need at least 10 years to "fundamentally improve" safety and reduce the frequency of such disasters.

As part of its efforts to increase safety standards, the central government has levied heavy fines and implemented region-wide mining shut-downs following serious accidents.

But such actions have resulted in the under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit economic losses, labour rights groups maintain.

The March disaster in Shanxi province set off a new round of official pledges to make the industry safer, but since then several other accidents have been reported, leaving dozens of miners dead.

The issue of mining safety is sensitive in China, as the workers that toil in mines are largely poor migrants whose interests the ruling Communist Party has vowed to protect.

Following Monday's accident, Zhao and Luo Lin, who is head of the state work safety bureau, travelled to the site in Henan to oversee rescue efforts personally, state media reports said.

Source http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jxI1dJKrjyQhy-WTNhJIfM8qhNjg

Friday, June 18, 2010

Clinton welcomes EU-Australian sanctions on Iran

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has welcomed the fresh sanctions imposed by the European Union and Australia against Iran, a day after the Obama Administration did the same in the aftermath of the UN Security Council slapping Tehran with economic sanctions.

"I welcome today's European Council declaration, which announces the EU will adopt strong measures to implement and accompany UN Security Council Resolution 1929, including in the trade, financial, banking and insurance, transport, and gas and oil sectors, in addition to new visa bans and asset freezes. We look forward to the announcement of specific EU measures by the Foreign Affairs Council," Clinton said in a statement.

Clinton said she is also pleased to welcome Australia's announcement that it is taking additional steps against key targets in Iran consistent with UN Security Council resolutions.

Source http://www.indianexpress.com/news/clinton-welcomes-euaustralian-sanctions-on-iran/635491/

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fresh EU sanctions against Iran 'approved'

Bushehr nuclear reactor, file pic
Iran says its nuclear programme is aimed solely at peaceful energy use

EU leaders have approved a new set of sanctions against Iran that go further than the latest United Nations measures, diplomatic sources say.

The fresh EU sanctions include a ban on investments, technical assistance and technology transfers to Iran's key oil and gas industry.

On Wednesday, the US announced its own fresh sanctions, implementing the UN measures approved last week.

Western powers suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons - which Tehran denies.

The new EU sanctions were approved by a summit in Brussels, diplomatic sources told AFP news agency.

In a statement quoted by Reuters news agency, the leaders expressed regret "that Iran has not taken the many opportunities which have been offered to it to remove the concerns of the international community over the nature of the Iranian nuclear programme".

The sanctions could come into force within weeks, Reuters said.

Correspondents say they will put strong pressure on Iran, which is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, but has limited refining capability.

The US sanctions announced on Wednesday ban Americans from trading with a number of firms and individuals, including Iran's Post Bank, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi and the air force and missile command of the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

On 10 June the Security Council endorsed a fourth round of UN sanctions on Iran, including tighter financial curbs and an expanded arms embargo.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the vote as "a used handkerchief" fit for the dustbin.

Tehran has rejected calls by the Security Council to halt uranium enrichment - which could have military as well as civilian uses.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is solely designed to produce energy.

Source http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10341907.stm

Grim search for bodies from France's killer floods

Residents talk near piled up cars in  Draguignan, southern France, on Tuesday. Regional authorities in  southeastern France say more than a dozen people have been killed and  more are missing in the aftermath of flash floods that followed powerful  rainstorms. Photo: AP.
Residents talk near piled up cars in Draguignan, southern France, on Tuesday. Regional authorities in southeastern France say more than a dozen people have been killed and more are missing in the aftermath of flash floods that followed powerful rainstorms.

Thousands of rescuers dug through mud-filled cars for bodies in France's Cote d'Azur holiday playground on Thursday after the worst floods in two centuries which killed 20 people.

A new storm hit the region as rescuers started a new day of searching. Interior Minister Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said he feared the toll would rise after what he called an "unprecedented catastrophe".

The worst storms since 1827 left a torrent of muddy brown water surging through the Provence town of Draguignan where 15 of the dead were found.

Scores of cars were piled on top of each other. Holiday homes and camp sites in the region were devastated.

"We are looking for people, we check that there is nothing under the remains of the cars," said the deputy prefect for Draguignan, Corinne Orzechowski. A special mortuary for the victims was set up in the town of 40,000 people.

The swollen Artuby river which goes through Draguinan also hit the village of Trans-en-Provence where five other bodies were found.

One victim was found at Luc, one at Roquebrune and one at Frejus on the Cote d'Azur and one in the Saint-Cassien lake. The floods also badly hit the stars' playground of St Tropez. About 25,000 homes were still without electricity on Thursday.

Helicopters were used Wednesday to rescue people trapped on roof tops and in cars. Emergency teams also moved 436 inmates to nearby jails from a flooded prison in Draguignan where the water covered the first two floors.

At the resort of Frejus, more than 1,500 people were taken to safety, many in inflatable boats or by helicopter.

About 2,000 soldiers, firefighters and police were brought in to lead the rescue operation after the floods swiftly rose.

The SNCF rail company halted train services along the coast between Toulon and Nice until Friday. Many smaller roads inland remained blocked.

President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit the area early next week, his office said. Sarkozy issued a statement expressing condolences for the victims' families.

Orzechowski said more than 30 centimetres (12 inches) of rain had fallen since Tuesday in Draguignan.

"We woke up to find a city that was devastated, extremely battered with overturned cars floating in the streets, collapsed roads and gutted houses," she said.

Flooding has also hit southwestern France, including the Atlantic resort of Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

Source http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jZubzDtBaW-mc5aWi-Ln67Id-xig

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

US imposes further sanctions in Iran

Iranian nuclear technicians
Technicians feed barrel of 'yellow cake' into processing line of Uranium Conversion Facility, Isfahan,

The US treasury announced that it was blacklisting another of Iran's state-controlled banks as well as more of its Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the US claims plays a key role in Iran’s missile programmes.

The actions are the first set of US measures to implement new United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran approved last week.

"Our actions today are designed to deter other governments and foreign financial institutions from dealing with these entities and thereby supporting Iran's illicit activities," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said.

"We will continue to target Iran's support for terrorist organizations. We will continue to focus on Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

"And we will continue to expose Iran's efforts to evade international sanctions."

The Treasury said it added Post Bank of Iran to its list of specially designated proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, making it the 16th bank in Iran that it has sought to cut off from the international financial system.

The announcement came as Iran declared its intention to build four new nuclear reactors.

Just a week after the United Nations imposed a fourth round of sanctions on the Islamic Republic, officials said that Tehran was determined to supply its own nuclear plants with domestically manufactured uranium fuel.

The announcement appeared to mark the death knell for diplomatic efforts to supply the country's only functioning nuclear plant with fuel processed in France and Russia.

A compromise proposed in October would have seen Iran swap uranium from its stockpile for foreign made fuel rods under stick conditions that would have reduced the risk of a nuclear bomb being produced.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's hardline president, said that Iran was determined to maintain its nuclear programme despite the ruinous effects of sanctions on the country's economy.

"You showed bad temper, reneged on your promise and again resorted to devilish manners," he said of the powers that imposed sanctions. "We set conditions (for talks) so that, God willing, you'll be punished a bit and sit at the negotiating table like a polite child,"

Mr Ahmadinejad, a champion of the nuclear work, told a crowd of loyalists that Tehran would not be defeated by the latest round of sanctions which targeted financial transactions and travel by senior military figures. He said: "If they think they can use sticks to pressure Iran, we say that the Iranian nation will break all of their sticks."

Since the worldwide sanctions regime was strengthened both America and Europe have sought to tighten restrictions on bilateral commercial ties with Iran.

But Tehran has been defiant in the face of such pressure.

Another senior figure threatened to retaliate by disrupting the highly sensitive shipping lanes of the Gulf and other waters around Iran. Ali Larijani, the parliament speaker, said Iranian forces would not allow "bullying powers" to police its sea-borne trade. He said: "We warn the US and some adventurist countries that should they be tempted to inspect consignment of Iranian planes and ships, they should rest assured that we will reciprocate [against] their ships in the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea."

Iran announced it had begun enriching uranium up to the 20 per cent threshold that would allow it to produce a weapon earlier this year.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, said that the four plants would replace the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR). Built in 1973, the TRR is used to supply Iranian hospitals with equipment for radiography departments.

Turkey and Brazil attempted to revive the October offer to Iran in the days before sanctions were strengthened but that arrangement fell short of international demands.

Mr Salehi went further than past official pronouncements by revealing Tehran had ambitions to export nuclear fuel for medical use to other Islamic nations.

Diplomats said that even if the plants were never built the development was worrying because it gave Iran an excuse for continuing to produce highly refined uranium from its stockpile.

Western officials believe Iran is determined to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon before it agrees to make concessions to ease sanctions. One diplomat said there was concern that Iran had also spurned offers to supply nuclear fuel from commercial firms that manufacture nuclear rods in favour of developing its own capability.

Source http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/7834431/US-imposes-further-sanctions-in-Iran.html

Two killed in Indonesia quake

At least two people were killed Wednesday when an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale struck the easternmost province of Papua, police said.

The powerful quake triggered a tsunami warning but the alert was lifted an hour later.

A mother and her child were killed when their house collapsed in Serui district on Yapen island, said Andreas Suleyman, a local policeman.

The quake also sparked fires in six houses and damaged a church and a school, he said.

'Some residents have fled to the mountains because they are afraid there will be a tsunami,' he said.

The quake occurred at 12:16 p.m. (0316 GMT), with an epicentre about 123 km south-east of Biak at a depth of 10 km, the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said.

It was preceded by a magnitude-6.2 quake around the same area and followed by another measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale, sparking panic in Biak and Manokwari districts.

'We felt the ground and the building shaking strongly,' said Ibnu Sulistyono, an official at the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency in Biak.

'People ran out of their homes but I haven't seen any damage around here,' he added.

A Biak resident named Yuliana told Metro TV by telephone that coastal residents were ready to flee to higher ground.

'When the second quake hit, people suddenly stopped working and panicked,' she said.

A magnitude-9.2 quake struck in December 2004 off Sumatra and caused a tsunami that spread death and destruction across the Indian Ocean. More than 170,000 people perished in Aceh province alone.

Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, one of the most active areas for earthquakes and volcanic activity in the world.

Source http://sify.com/news/two-killed-in-indonesia-quake-news-international-kgqnEjgbgej.html

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sign on San Diego Earthquake 2010

Magnitude 5.7 Quake Strikes Southern California

But — amazing to say — I shrugged on this one. Because this was my fifth earthquake experience. The most traumatic was an 8.2 or 8.4 aftershock in Mexico City in 1955, after yours truly and several other reporters were put on planes ASAP to cover the Mexico City earthquake. And then there were several smaller ones in Southern CA.

Many of us in California simply accept this is something we have to live with.

And maybe one day, die from.

But look at it this way: tonight I had roll, without the rock..

UPDATE: According to the website Daily Pitch, the earthquake interrupted the Padres-Blue Jay game:

The Toronto Blue Jays stood on the field. Nobody moved. They heard about these things, but most had never experienced anything like it.

Yes, it was an earthquake.

The San Diego Padres-Blue Jays game stopped for about 45 seconds in the eighth inning when an earthquake rocked Petco Park. The crowd of 16,542 cheered when they realized what it was.

It was measured at 5. 9 on the richter scale.

Blue Jays reliever Scott Downs, who had just retired David Eckstein, stood on the mound as stadium began shaking. Chase Headley, the next batter, stayed out of the batter’s box for a few seconds. The public address announced asked that everyone remain calm.

Source http://live.iencyclopedia.org/2010/06/sign-on-san-diego-earthquake-2010.html

Monday, June 14, 2010

All Indians safe in Kyrgyzstan, to return soon

All the 116 Indian nationals, who were stranded in riot-hit southern Kyrgyzstan, have been safely evacuated and will return to India over the next few days, the government said here on Tuesday.

The Indians stranded in the southern Kyrgyz towns of Osh and Jalalabad were safely evacuated on Monday night by air to Bishkek, the external affairs ministry said here.

"They are expected to return to India over the next few days. Flights out of Bishkek are operating normally," the ministry said.

The airlift of the Indian citizens was arranged by the Indian embassy in Bishkek with the active cooperation and support of the Kyrgyz authorities.

Around 116 Indians were feared trapped in the riot-hit former Soviet republic. The stranded Indians included 15 students in Jalalabad and 99 students, a professor and a businessman in Osh.

In the worst ethnic violence in decades, at least 124 people have been killed and more than 1,685 wounded in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Source http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/All-Indians-safe-in-Kyrgyzstan-to-return-soon/articleshow/6049590.cms

Fresh fires burn in Kyrgyzstan as ethnic Uzbeks flee

Ethnic Uzbek man by his burned home in Osh, Kyrgyzstan (14 June  2010)

Uzbek homes have been set on fire in the clashes

Sporadic fighting has continued in south Kyrgyzstan in the country's worst ethnic violence in years, say reports.

At least 117 people have been killed in three days of fighting between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks.

The city of Osh was relatively quiet on Monday, said correspondents, but fresh fires were reported in Jalalabad.

Tens of thousands of Uzbeks have fled to Uzbekistan. Some have accused security forces of failing to stop - or joining in - the attacks.

The exact cause of the latest clashes is unclear, but it comes two months after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in a violent uprising.

Mr Bakiyev still has supporters in the south of the country and there have been concerns that his overthrow might exacerbate historical tensions between the ethnic groups. Mr Bakiyev has denied any involvement in the latest violence.

The UN is sending an envoy to the capital to assess what may be done.

The south of Kyrgyzstan, an ex-Soviet Central Asian state of 5.5 million people, is home to an ethnic Uzbek minority of almost one million.

The clashes are the worst ethnic violence to hit southern Kyrgyzstan since 1990, when several hundred people were killed. Kyrgyzstan was then part of the Soviet Union, which sent in troops to quell the unrest.

Mass burials

Izzat Ibragimov, the deputy head of emergency services in Uzbekistan, told the AFP news agency 60,000 adult refugees had been officially counted in the country's Andijan region. Thousands more children are with them, he said.

Some of the refugees accused the military of siding with armed gangs of ethnic Kyrgyz.

Video footage obtained by the BBC at the weekend from local Uzbeks appeared to show a military armoured personnel carrier being cheered on by Kyrgyz men as a military officer fires towards the Uzbeks.

Witnesses across the southern Ferghana Valley region have spoken of Kyrgyz men shooting ethnic Uzbeks and setting property alight.

There were reports of bodies lying in the streets and in smouldering buildings, and of mass burials being carried out.

The BBC's Rayhan Demytrie in Osh says that many ethnic Uzbeks in the city are trapped in their homes - fearing attacks from mobs on the streets if they leave - and are in urgent need of food and supplies.

Some Uzbek men were guarding their homes from potential attacks.

"This will be remembered. It's impossible to live together, we will never live together again," one Uzbek man in Osh told AFP.

The situation in Osh was relatively calm on Monday morning, says our correspondent.

But a government officials said the security situation was deteriorating in nearby Jalalabad.

"There are local clashes and it is not yet possible fully to contain the situation," said Temir Sariyev, deputy chief of the interim government.

He said "armed groups" were breaking through and that the security forces were "insufficient" to contain the violence.

Shops and a market in the city were set on fire and crowds were reported to be gathering, with no sign of a police or military presence.

The interim government said a "well-known person" was arrested in Jalalabad on Monday on suspicion of being behind the unrest, Reuters reported. No further details on the alleged arrest were available.

The Kyrgyz government on Sunday extended a state of emergency to cover the entire southern Jalalabad region.

President Bakiyev, who was ousted in April and now lives in Belarus, has denied the accusations that he is involved in the unrest in order to derail a 27 June constitutional referendum and elections scheduled for October.

On Saturday, the interim government in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, gave security forces shoot-to-kill powers.

It also urged Russia to send in troops to help quell the violence, but Moscow said it had no plans to intervene.

However, Russia sent a battalion of paratroopers - at least 150 soldiers - to protect a Russian air base in the north of Kyrgyzstan.

Source http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/asia_pacific/10307406.stm

Ethnic Rioting Ravages Kyrgyzstan

After three days of ethnic rioting that spread across the south of this strategically important Central Asian nation, many streets in this city lay in smoldering ruins on Sunday night.

The official death toll rose to more than 100, and thousands of refugees poured across the border into Uzbekistan as the authorities were unable to contain the murderous mobs.

Whole sections of Osh, where longstanding tensions between the Kyrgyz majority and the Uzbek minority exploded into violence Thursday night, were all but deserted on Sunday, and heavy black smoke still billowed from Uzbek enclaves set afire by Kyrgyz gangs.

Heavily armed police officers guarded intersections, and troops patrolled in tracked artillery vehicles, but few pedestrians or motorists were visible.

On a block once shaded with trees, the roofs were caved in and windowsills were seared with black smoke, testament to a campaign of rage that moved from house to house through an Uzbek neighborhood. Only one building was left untouched: a squat convenience store that had been spray-painted with the word “Kyrgyz” in red.

By Sunday night, Osh was tense but quiet as the authorities appeared to have had some success in restoring order. But the situation remained volatile, and the unrest still threatened the fragile provisional government in this country, which hosts a critical American military base.

“There is sorrow, so much sorrow here,” the Osh regional governor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, said in an interview. “I don’t have the words.”

According to reports from villages and towns across the region, bands of Kyrgyz had sought out Uzbeks, setting fire to their homes and killing them. Tensions between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks have erupted before, and appear to have been reignited by the ouster of the president in April. Local Uzbeks largely support the country’s new leadership in a predominantly Kyrgyz stronghold of the former president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

The provisional government has accused Mr. Bakiyev of provoking the violence in order to destabilize the country. On Sunday, Mr. Bakiyev, who is in exile in Belarus, issued a statement saying that he had played no role in the violence.

A Kyrgyz official estimated that more than 10,000 Uzbeks had fled across the border to Uzbekistan. The government of Uzbekistan estimated the figure at 75,000, saying that it had set up refugee camps on its side of the border.

Uzbeks make up about 15 percent of the overall population of Kyrgyzstan, but they are represented in much higher numbers in Osh, which has roughly 225,000 people and is on the Uzbek border.

Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have repeatedly clashed over land and water in the fertile Fergana Valley, which Stalin divided among Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The valley remains an ethnic patchwork, and minority enclaves, like that of the Uzbeks in Osh, have been scenes for violence.

While the violence had ebbed in Osh on Sunday, the military and the police had not completely regained control. Some roadways leading to the city were patrolled by crowds of young men armed with Kalashnikov rifles and bats topped with knives.

Otherwise, there was little sign of life apart from stray dogs that trotted through the streets, though hundreds or possibly thousands of Uzbeks were barricaded in their ravaged neighborhoods, communicating with the outside world via phone calls and text messages.

One resident of an Uzbek neighborhood said all food had been stripped or stolen from the stores, and there were rumors that poison had been added to the water supply. But he said violence had subsided significantly since Saturday, when two people were killed by snipers.

While small and impoverished, Kyrgyzstan is strategically important because it is host to an American military base, Manas, that supports the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Russia also has military facilities in the country. Both countries have been concerned about the interim government’s stability, and its failure to maintain control over the south in recent days has thrown its fate into doubt.

On Saturday the government asked Russia to send peacekeeping troops, but Russia, which has been a political patron of this former Soviet republic, said only that it would consider the request. On Sunday, Russia did send paratroopers to protect its military facilities in Kyrgyzstan.

The interim government, led by Roza Otunbayeva, has sent volunteers to the south and authorized security officers to use deadly force to quell the riots.

The mobs that rampaged through Osh seemed to be meticulous in singling out Uzbek property, judging from the smattering of intact buildings marked “Kyrgyz” or “KG,” some with curtains still hanging in the windows. Those cars that remained were burned out and flipped over, and columns of trucks were seen Sunday hauling loads of them out of the city.

The streets were still scattered with burnt tires and trees that had been cut down to form makeshift roadblocks. It was unclear how many residents remained.

Homemade video shot on Saturday in Osh showed scorched bodies lying side by side along the street, some bound with makeshift bandages, and the burnt, overturned shells of passenger cars.

Residents were shown using small plastic buckets to throw water into the smoking wreckage of razed buildings in a hopeless attempt to save some of the interiors. Women made their way by foot out of the city, carrying practically nothing and leading children by the hand.

The rioting could pose a challenge to the legitimacy of the unelected provisional government, formed by several opposition figures in April. Political analysts said a hard-line politician could try to seize power, arguing that the current leaders had been ineffectual in ending the unrest.

A Russian-backed news Web site in Kyrgyzstan, Bely Parus, appeared to withdraw support for the interim leader, Ms. Otunbayeva, over the weekend. Russia still has considerable influence in the country’s internal politics, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the new government.

The Web site published an editorial saying that politicians not in power should make sure that peacekeepers are brought into Kyrgyzstan, if Ms. Otunbayeva is not successful in doing so.

Bely Parus reported that a former prime minister, Felix Kulov, who is not in the interim government, had formed a group under the slogan “Whoever Values Peace — Unite!” that was gaining traction.

Source http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14kyrgyz.html

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ban voices alarm over escalating violence in Kyrgyzstan

Ethnic Uzbeks gather near the Kyrgyz-Uzbek  border in southern Kyrgyzstan, on Saturday, June 12, 2010, to seek  refuge in Uzbekistan from mobs of Kyrgyz men attacking the minority  Uzbek community. Photo: AP
Ethnic Uzbeks gather near the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in southern Kyrgyzstan, on Saturday, June 12, 2010, to seek refuge in Uzbekistan from mobs of Kyrgyz men attacking the minority Uzbek community.
Moon today expressed alarm over the increasing ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan and asked people to prevent further losses of life.

“The Secretary—General is deeply concerned about reports of renewed violence and several deaths in Osh, Kyrgyzstan,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement here.

“He calls for calm to be restored and urges all involved to show the utmost restraint to prevent further losses of life,” the statement said.

The clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek groups in Osh and Jalal—Abad regions have so far claimed 97 lives and more than a thousand people have been injured.

“The Secretary—General reiterates the need to respect the rule of law and to resolve issues peacefully through dialogue,” the statement said.

“He urges the Interim Government to pay particular attention to inter—ethnic relations in the country and to take measures to ensure the peaceful coexistence of all citizens in Kyrgyzstan,” it added.

The Secretary—General also spoke by telephone on Saturday with Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Kanat Saudabayev, who is the Chairman—in—Office of the Organisation for Security and Co—operation in Europe (OSCE).

Mr. Ban expressed alarm by the scale of the clashes, the inter—ethnic nature of the violence, the mounting casualties and the large number of displaced people, according to his office.

The officials agreed that their respective special envoys and that of the European Union would coordinate their response to the crisis. The three envoys are in Bishkek.

Source http://beta.thehindu.com/news/article455014.ece