North Korea says its latest satellite launch exploded in flight

SEOUL/TOKYO — North Korea said its attempt to launch a new military reconnaissance satellite ended in failure Monday when a newly developed rocket engine exploded in flight. 

The attempt came just hours after Pyongyang issued a warning that it would try to launch a satellite by June 4, in what would have been its second spy satellite in orbit. 

Instead, the launch became the nuclear-armed North’s latest failure, following two other fiery crashes last year. It successfully placed its first spy satellite in orbit in November. 

“The launch of the new satellite carrier rocket failed when it exploded in mid-air during the flight of the first stage,” the deputy director general of North Korea’s National Aerospace Technology Administration said in a report carried by state media. 

An initial analysis suggested that the cause was a newly developed liquid fuel rocket motor, but other possible causes were being investigated, the report said. 

Officials in South Korea and Japan had earlier reported that the launch seemed to have failed. 

North Korea fired the projectile on a southern path off its west coast at around 10:44 p.m. (1344 GMT), the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. 

JCS said it had detected a large amount of debris from the rocket in the sea just two minutes after launch, however. 

The object launched by North Korea disappeared over the Yellow Sea, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters, adding the government presumes nothing had entered into space. 

“These launches are in violation of relevant security council resolutions and are a serious matter concerning the safety of our people,” Hayashi said. 

Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed video of what appeared to be an orange dot flying into the night sky and then bursting into flames in an area close to the border between China and North Korea. 

A Japanese defense ministry official told reporters that the color of the flames in the footage suggests that liquid fuel may be burning, but details are currently being analyzed, NHK reported.  

The launch appeared to originate from Dongchang-ri, a northwestern area of the country where North Korea’s main space flight center is based, JCS said. 

The Japanese government issued an emergency warning Monday for residents in the south to take cover from the possible threat of a North Korean missile, before lifting the warning and saying it was not expected to fly over Japanese territory. 

Japan said over its J-Alert broadcasting system that North Korea appeared to have fired a missile, sending out the warning to residents in the southern prefecture of Okinawa. 

Several failures, one success 

The launch would be the nuclear-armed North’s attempt to place a second spy satellite into orbit. After several failed attempts that ended when the rockets crashed, North Korea successfully placed its first such satellite in orbit in November. 

The North’s first bid to launch the new Chollima-1 satellite rocket, on May 31 last year, ended after a failure in the second stage. State media blamed the setback on an unstable and unreliable new engine system and fuel. 

After the May launch attempt, South Korea retrieved the wreckage of the satellite from the sea and said an analysis showed it had no meaningful use as a reconnaissance platform. 

Another attempt in August also ended in failure, with stages of the rocket boosters experiencing problems resulting in the payloads crashing into the sea. 

North Korea’s space authorities had described the August failure after the rocket booster experienced a problem with its third stage as “not a big issue” in terms of the rocket system’s overall reliability. 

In February, U.S. space experts said North Korea’s first spy satellite, dubbed the Malligyong-1, was “alive,” after detecting changes in its orbit that suggested Pyongyang was successfully controlling the spacecraft — although its capabilities remain unknown. 

North Korean state media reported that the satellite had transmitted photos of the Pentagon and White House, among other areas, but has not released any of the images. 

The successful November launch was the first after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare trip abroad in September and toured Russia’s most modern space launch center, where President Vladimir Putin promised to help Pyongyang build satellites. 

Neither country has elaborated on the extent of that future aid, which could violate United Nations Security Council resolutions against North Korea. 

Russian experts have visited North Korea to help with the satellite and space rocket program, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed South Korean senior defense official. 

Pyongyang has said it needs a military reconnaissance satellite to boost monitoring of U.S. and South Korean military activities.

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Diplomat: Russia moving closer to delisting Afghanistan’s Taliban as terrorist group

Islamabad — A senior Russian diplomat says Russia’s foreign and justice ministries have told President Vladimir Putin that Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban “can be removed” from the list of Moscow-designated terrorist organizations.

Zamir Kabulov, the special presidential envoy for Afghanistan, told state-run TASS news agency Monday that the delisting would enable Moscow to decide whether to recognize the Taliban government.

“Without this [removal of the ban on the Taliban], it will be premature to talk about recognition,” he was quoted as saying. “Therefore, work on this issue continues. All considerations have been reported to the top leadership of Russia. We are waiting for a decision.”

Separately, TASS quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying Monday that the Taliban is the “real power” in Afghanistan and that the group’s possible removal from Moscow’s list of banned organizations reflects “objective reality.”

Russia formally labeled the Taliban a terrorist organization in 2003, when the radical group was waging a deadly insurgency against the United States and allied troops in Afghanistan.

The insurgents stormed back to power on August 15, 2021, and established a men-only Taliban government as the U.S.-led foreign troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

No foreign country has formally recognized the Taliban as legitimate rulers, mainly due to human rights and terrorism-related concerns. However, several neighboring and regional countries, including Russia, have retained their embassies in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover and allowed the de facto government to run Afghan embassies on their respective soils.

Kabulov noted Monday that the Taliban had “come a long way towards being recognized” since seizing power. “But there are still a few hurdles to overcome, after which the Russian leadership will make a decision,” he said, without elaborating.

The Russian envoy was also quoted as saying Monday that his government had extended an invitation to the Taliban to attend a June 5-8 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The event, which once hosted top Western business leaders and investment bankers from London and New York, has changed significantly since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Moscow and the international community at large have been urging the Taliban to govern the war-torn South Asian nation through a politically inclusive government and remove bans on Afghan women’s access to education and work.

The hardline de facto rulers have rejected criticism of their governance as interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, saying their policies are aligned with local culture and Islamic law.

Russia has been developing ties with the Taliban for years and reportedly provided them with weapons while they were waging insurgent attacks on the U.S.-led foreign troops and their Afghan allies. Taliban officials say trade ties between Kabul and Moscow have rapidly grown over the past couple of years.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.

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Shrine honors cats at Japanese island where they outnumber humans

TASHIROJIMA — On a small island off Japan’s northeastern coast, visitors make offerings at a shrine for unlikely local guardians: cats.

The “Neko Jinja,” or Cat Shrine, mythologizes cats as guardian angels of Tashirojima, where cats outnumber humans.

Legend says the island used to be famous for sericulture and farmers would keep cats because they would chase away rats, protecting the silkworm cocoons from the rodents.

Fishermen on the island have also traditionally believed that cats bring good luck, including large hauls of fish.

Another legend says fishermen used to watch the cats’ behavior for tips on the coming weather before heading to sea.

The islanders have long coexisted with the cats. One day, however, a fisherman accidentally injured a cat while working. Feeling sorry for the injury, the islanders built the shrine for cats.

Tashirojima is part of the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture in the Tohoku region, which became well known after a tsunami devastated the area following a massive magnitude 9 earthquake on March 11, 2011.

Over 100 cats inhabit Tashirojima, along with about 50 humans, according to the city’s website.

Along a paved road running about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) between the island’s two ports, cats groom themselves and mingle with other cats.

There are a few cafes and inns, but no car rental shops, gas stations or public transportation. Tourists are expected to walk up and down the island’s hills while visiting.

Most of the cats are used to tourists, who can be seen petting the friendly animals throughout the island.

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Thai court sentences lawmaker to 2 years for defaming monarchy

BANGKOK — A Thai court on Monday sentenced a lawmaker from a progressive opposition party to two years in prison after finding her guilty of defaming the monarchy in a speech she made during a protest rally three years ago.

Chonthicha Jangrew of the Move Forward Party was greeted by several supporters when she arrived at the Thanyaburi Provincial Court in Pathum Thani province, north of Bangkok, with some party colleagues. Chonthicha, popularly known by her nickname “Lookkate,” represents a constituency in Pathum Thani.

Her charges stemmed from her speech in 2021 that demanded the release of all political prisoners during a rally in front of the same court that delivered Monday’s sentence. 

She was found guilty for parts of the speech concerning how the government then led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had amended laws to give King Vajiralongkorn more power to control the palace wealth, which is managed by the Crown Property Bureau.

The judge said her speech could misinform the public by suggesting that King Vajiralongkorn can spend taxpayers’ money for his personal use and use his influence to interfere with politics, which could tarnish his reputation.

The judge originally sentenced her to three years in prison but reduced it to two years because of her cooperation in the trial. The law for defaming the monarchy, an offense known as lese majeste, carries a penalty of three to 15 years imprisonment. It is widely referred to as Article 112 from its place in the Criminal Code.

Chonthicha was afterwards released on bail of 150,000 baht ($4,100). Had bail not been granted and she been sent directly to prison, she would have immediately been removed from her seat in Parliament.

She told reporters she wasn’t surprised about the verdict as most of 112 charges led to convictions.

She said she will appeal, adding that she was glad to have been granted release on bail but wished that other political prisoners were given the same right.

A young activist charged with lese majeste died in detention earlier this month after carrying out a monthslong hunger strike to protest the revocation of her bail in January.

Chonthicha and nine other defendants in the case were charged with other offenses including illegal assembly and violating an emergency decree enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. All 10 were acquitted of those charges. Chonthicha was the only one who had been charged with violating the lese majeste law.

Before becoming a politician, Chonthicha had been an activist since she was a college student. She became a high-profile figure in the youth-dominated movement by confronting the police during the mass street protests that demanded democratic reform of several powerful institutions including the monarchy.

Chonthicha, 31, won a seat in last year’s general election, part of a surprise victory for the progressive Move Forward Party that shook Thai politics. 

However, it failed to take power after the party was outmaneuvered by influential conservative forces, as members of the Senate refused to approve the party’s leader as prime minister.

Criticism of Thailand’s monarchy is considered taboo, and insulting or defaming key royal family members is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

But student-led pro-democracy protests began to challenge that taboo in 2020, openly criticizing the monarchy. That led to vigorous prosecutions under what was previously a little-used law. Critics say the law is often wielded as a tool to quash political dissent.

The advocacy group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights says that since early 2020, more than 270 people — many of them student activists — have been charged with violating Article 112.

In December, another lawmaker from the Move Forward Party was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison over two posts she allegedly shared two years ago on the social media platform X, then known as Twitter. She appealed and was granted release on bail.

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Attack on Pakistani outpost near Afghan border kills 5 soldiers, 5 militants

ISLAMABAD — Heavily armed militants attacked a Pakistan security outpost near the border with Afghanistan early Monday, resulting in the deaths of five soldiers and five assailants in the ensuing firefight.

Security officials confirmed the deaths to VOA, saying the attack occurred in the remote Tirah valley in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and also resulted in injuries to six soldiers.

The Pakistani military’s media wing did not immediately respond to a request from VOA for comment on the attack in the former militant stronghold on the Afghan border.

Militants allied with the outlawed Pakistani Taliban, formally known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), released a statement claiming responsibility for staging the raid in Tirah.

The deadly attack came a day after the Pakistani military reported that a counterterrorism raid near the provincial capital of Peshawar killed two Pakistani soldiers and five alleged “terrorists” believed to be linked to TTP. 

Sunday Pakistan Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi also renewed Islamabad’s demand for the Taliban government in Afghanistan to immediately stop TTP leaders and fighters from orchestrating cross-border terrorism from their alleged safe havens in the neighboring country.

Naqvi stated at a news conference that “if the TTP headquarters remain in Afghanistan” and no action is taken to dismantle them, it would become “very challenging” for Islamabad to improve relations with the de facto Kabul rulers.

“We want good relations with Afghanistan, but this is possible only if they do not allow their land to be used for terrorism against Pakistan,” Naqvi said. “But it is imperative (for the Taliban) that the individuals engaged in terrorism within their borders are apprehended, prosecuted, or surrendered to us.”

The minister also stated that TTP had planned and directed from Afghan sanctuaries a suicide car bombing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this past March that killed five Chinese engineers along with their Pakistani driver. The Chinese nationals were working on a major hydropower project in the province known as the Dasu Dam.

Naqvi said that the suicide bomber was an Afghan national, noting that Pakistani authorities have arrested 11 people in connection with the attack and plan to prosecute them soon.

The Taliban government rejects allegations TTP is operating out of their territory, saying they are not allowing anyone to use Afghan soil to threaten neighboring countries or beyond.

But skeptics question those assertions.

A recent United Nations report on the security situation in Afghanistan highlighted the Taliban’s continued close ties to al-Qaida operatives, saying the terrorist network has established new training camps in the country and is facilitating TTP to conduct cross-border attacks against Pakistan. 

 

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North Korea plans to launch satellite by June 4, report says

Seoul, South Korea — North Korea has notified Japan of plans to launch a satellite by June 4, Japanese media reported Monday citing the coast guard, after Seoul said Pyongyang was preparing to put another military spy satellite into orbit.

The Japanese coast guard said the eight-day launch window began at midnight Sunday into Monday, with North Korea’s notice designating three maritime danger zones near the Korean peninsula and the Philippines island of Luzon where the satellite-carrying rocket’s debris might fall, according to the Kyodo news agency.

Officials from the United States, Japan and South Korea agreed in a phone call to urge Kim Jong Un’s regime to suspend the plan, as any launch using ballistic missile technology would violate U.N. resolutions, Kyodo reported.

Nuclear-armed North Korea launched its first reconnaissance satellite last November in a move that drew international condemnation, with the United States calling it a “brazen violation” of U.N. sanctions.

Experts say that spy satellites could improve Pyongyang’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, particularly over fierce rival South Korea, and provide crucial data in any military conflict.

Seoul said Friday that South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities were “closely monitoring and tracking” presumed preparations for the launch of another military reconnaissance satellite.

The suspected preparations were detected in North Korea’s Tongchang-ri county, Seoul said, which is home to the isolated country’s Sohae Satellite Launching Ground. It was also where the North staged three satellite launches last year, with only the final one being successful.

Seoul has said the North received technical help from Russia for that satellite launch, in return for sending Moscow weapons for use in the war in Ukraine.

The warning from the North comes as Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo’s top leaders are due to meet in South Korea on Monday for their first summit in nearly five years, though differing political stances mean a discussion on North Korea is not expected to be on the table. 

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Putin arrives in Uzbekistan on 3rd foreign trip of his new term

Moscow — Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Sunday in the capital of Uzbekistan where he is to hold talks with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev that are expected to focus on deepening the countries’ relations.

Putin laid a wreath at a monument to Uzbekistan’s independence in Tashkent and held what the Kremlin said were informal talks with Mirziyoyev. The formal meeting of the presidents is to take place Monday.

The visit is Putin’s third foreign trip since being inaugurated for a fifth term in May. He first went to China, where he expressed appreciation for China’s proposals for talks to end the conflict in Ukraine, and later to Belarus where Russia has deployed tactical nuclear weapons.

Ahead of the Uzbekistan trip, Putin and Mirziyoyev discussed an array of bilateral cooperation issues, including trade and economic relations, the Kremlin said.

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Thousands rally in Armenia against Azerbaijan land transfer 

Yerevan — Thousands of Armenians staged an anti-government protest on Sunday, demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation over territorial concessions to arch foe neighbor Azerbaijan.

Protests erupted in the Caucasus nation last month after the government agreed to hand over to Baku territory it had controlled since the 1990s.

The ceded area is strategically important for landlocked Armenia because it controls sections of a vital highway to Georgia.

Armenian residents of nearby settlements say the move cuts them off from the rest of the country and accuse Pashinyan of giving away territory without getting anything in return.

On Friday, in a key step toward normalizing ties between the rivals — who fought two wars over then-disputed Nagorno Karabakh region — Yerevan returned to Azerbaijan four border villages it seized decades ago.

An AFP reporter said several thousand people flooded Yerevan’s central Republic Square in a fresh protest spearheaded by charismatic archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, a church leader from the Tavush region, where villages were handed over to Azerbaijan.

“Our people want to change the bitter reality which was imposed on us,” Galstanyan told the crowd, adding that fixing the volatile border with Azerbaijan “must only be carried out after a peace treaty is signed” with Baku.

One of the demonstrators, 67-year-old Artur Sargsyan, said: “We demand an immediate resignation of Nikol [Pashinyan].”

“I had fought in two wars with Azerbaijan and will not let him give away our lands.”

Pashinyan defended the territorial concessions as aimed at securing peace with Baku. But they sparked weeks of protests and demonstrators blocked major roads in an attempt to force him to change course.

In a televised statement on Friday evening, he said resolving border disputes with Azerbaijan “is a sole guarantee for the very existence of the Armenian republic within its internationally recognized and legitimate frontier.”

Galstanyan is seeking to launch an impeachment process against Pashinyan, a former journalist who was propelled to power in the wake of peaceful street protests he led in 2018.

The archbishop said on Sunday that he would renounce his clerical office to run for prime ministerial post, and called for snap parliamentary elections.

“My spiritual service is above all possible posts, but I am ready to sacrifice it for the sake of change in this country,” he told the cheering crowd.

He then called on protesters to march toward Pashinyan’s residence.

Opposition parties would require the support of at least one independent or ruling party MP to launch the impeachment process and success would then hinge on at least 18 lawmakers from Pashinyan’s own party voting to unseat the leader.

Last year, Azerbaijan recaptured Karabakh in a lightning offensive against Armenian separatists who had held sway over the mountainous enclave for three decades.

The region’s entire Armenian population — more than 100,000 people — fled to Armenia in the aftermath.

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South Korea, China agree to launch diplomatic and security dialogue

SEOUL/TOKYO — South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese Premier Li Qiang agreed on Sunday to launch a diplomatic and security dialogue and resume talks on a free trade agreement, Yoon’s office said.

Yoon and Li held talks a day ahead of a summit with their Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, their first three-way talks in more than four years.

Yoon told Li the two countries should work together not only to promote shared interests based on mutual respect, but also on regional and global issues to tackle common challenges, citing the Ukraine war, the Israel-Hamas conflict and global economic uncertainties.

“Just as Korea and China have overcome various difficulties together over the past 30 years and contributed to each other’s development and growth, I hope to continue to strengthen bilateral cooperation even in the face of today’s global complex crises,” Yoon said at the start of the meeting, according to his office.

Li told Yoon their countries should oppose turning economic and trade issues into political or security issues and should work to maintain stable supply chains, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

In recent years Chinese leaders and diplomats have frequently condemned the U.S. and its allies over export controls targeting its semiconductor industry by calling on these countries to stop “overstretching the concept of national security.”

Since 2021 Chinese companies and state entities have been increasingly cut off from ready access to the world’s most advanced chips, many of them produced by South Korean tech giants like Samsung and SK Hynix.

Li expressed hopes for continuing efforts to “build consensus and resolve differences” through “equal dialogue and sincere communications.”

At a separate meeting with Kishida, Yoon lauded progress on diplomatic, economic and cultural exchanges with Japan, and they agreed to foster deeper ties next year when the two countries celebrate the 60th anniversary of normalizing relations, Yoon’s office said.

Practical cooperation

The three neighbors had agreed to hold a summit every year starting in 2008 to boost regional cooperation, but bilateral feuds and the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the initiative. Their last trilateral summit was in late 2019.

Yoon, Li and Kishida will adopt a joint statement on six areas including the economy and trade, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges and health and the aging population, Seoul officials said.

Kishida also plans to meet Li separately on Sunday, NHK reported, citing the Japanese government, and, according to the broadcast, is expected to raise a Chinese ban of Japanese seafood imports and Taiwan, among other topics.

Speaking with reporters before departing for Seoul, Kishida said he would seek “open and frank” discussions and hoped to foster future-oriented practical cooperation by revitalizing the trilateral process.

At the talks with Li, Kishida said he would like to “firmly confirm the direction of the mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests and constructive and stable Japan-China relations”.

The summit comes as South Korea and Japan have been working to mend ties frayed by historical disputes while deepening a trilateral security partnership with the United States amid intensifying Sino-U.S. rivalry.

China has previously warned that U.S. efforts to further elevate relations with South Korea and Japan could fan regional tension and confrontation.

Seoul and Tokyo have warned against any attempts to forcibly change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, while Beijing on Tuesday criticized a decision by South Korean and Japanese lawmakers to attend Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te’s inauguration.

The summit might not bring a major breakthrough on sensitive issues but could make progress in areas of practical cooperation like people-to-people exchanges and consular matters, officials and diplomats said.

 

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Thousands flee as cyclone barrels towards Bangladesh

Patuakhali, Bangladesh — Tens of thousands of Bangladeshis left their coastal villages Sunday for concrete storm shelters further inland as the low-lying nation prepared for the expected landfall of an intense cyclone, officials said.

Cyclone Remal is set to hit the country and parts of neighboring India on Sunday evening, with Bangladesh’s weather department predicting crashing waves and howling gales with gusts of up to 130 kph.

Cyclones have killed hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh in recent decades, but the number of superstorms hitting its low-lying, densely populated coast have increased sharply of late — from one a year to as many as three — due to the impact of climate change.

“The cyclone could unleash a storm surge of up to 12 feet [4 meters] above normal astronomical tide, which can be dangerous,” senior weather official Muhammad Abul Kalam Mallik told AFP.

Authorities have raised the danger signal to its highest level, warning fishermen against going to the sea and triggering an evacuation order for those in vulnerable areas.

“Our plan is to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from unsafe and vulnerable homes to the cyclone shelters,” the government’s disaster management secretary Kamrul Hasan told AFP.

The authorities have mobilized tens of thousands of volunteers to alert people to the danger.

He said some 4,000 cyclone shelters have been readied along the country’s lengthy coast on the Bay of Bengal.

The state-run Bangladesh Meteorological Department said Cyclone Remal would make landfall Sunday between 6 p.m. and midnight (1200-1800 GMT).

In addition to the villagers and fishermen, many of the multistory centers have space to shelter their cattle, buffaloes and goats, as well as their pets.

“Some 78,000 volunteers have been mobilized to alert coastal people and evacuate the vulnerable people,” Hasan said.

Helal Mahmud Sharif, the chief government administrator of Khulna province, told AFP some 20,000 people had been evacuated to shelters in the most vulnerable coastal regions.

Another 15,000 people and about 400 domesticated animals have been evacuated in the coastal Patuakhali and Bhola districts.

On the low-lying Bhashan Char island, which is home to 36,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, 57 cyclone centers have been readied, deputy refugee commissioner Mohammad Rafiqul Haque told AFP.

The country’s three seaports and the airport in the second-largest city Chittagong were closed, officials said. 

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UN migration agency estimates more than 670 killed in Papua New Guinea landslide

MELBOURNE, Australia — The International Organization for Migration on Sunday increased its estimate of the death toll from a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea to more than 670.

Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of the U.N. migration agency’s mission in the South Pacific island nation, said the revised death toll was based on calculations by Yambali village and Enga provincial officials that more than 150 homes had been buried by Friday’s landslide. The previous estimate had been 60 homes.

“They are estimating that more than 670 people [are] under the soil at the moment,” Aktoprak told The Associated Press.

Local officials had initially put the death toll on Friday at 100 or more. Only five bodies and a leg of a sixth victim had been recovered by Sunday.

Emergency responders in Papua New Guinea were moving survivors to safer ground on Sunday as tons of unstable earth and tribal warfare, which is rife in the country’s Highlands, threatened the rescue effort.

Crews have given up hope of finding survivors under earth and rubble 6-8 meters deep, Aktoprak said.

“People are coming to terms with this so there is a serious level of grieving and mourning,” he said.

Government authorities were establishing evacuation centers on safer ground on either side of the massive swath of debris that covers an area the size of three to four football fields and has cut the main highway through the province.

“Working across the debris is very dangerous and the land is still sliding,” Aktoprak said.

Beside the blocked highway, convoys that have transported food, water and other essential supplies since Saturday to the devastated village 60 kilometers from the provincial capital, Wabag, have faced risks related to tribal fighting in Tambitanis village, about halfway along the route. Papua New Guinea soldiers were providing security for the convoys.

Eight locals were killed in a clash between two rival clans on Saturday in a longstanding dispute unrelated to the landslide. Around 30 homes and five retail businesses were burned down in the fighting, local officials said.

Aktoprak said he did not expect tribal combatants would target the convoys but noted that opportunistic criminals might take advantage of the mayhem to do so.

“This could basically end up in carjacking or robbery,” Aktoprak said. “There is not only concern for the safety and security of the personnel, but also the goods because they may use this chaos as a means to steal.”

Longtime tribal warfare has cast doubt on the official estimate that almost 4,000 people were living in the village when a side of Mount Mungalo fell away.

Justine McMahon, country director of the humanitarian agency CARE International, said moving survivors to “more stable ground” was an immediate priority along with providing them with food, water and shelter. The military was leading those efforts.

The numbers of injured and missing were still being assessed on Sunday. Seven people including a child had received medical treatment by Saturday, but officials had no details on their conditions.

Medical facilities were buried along with houses, several small businesses, a guest house, school and gas station, officials said.

McMahon said there were other health facilities in the region, the provincial government was sending health workers and the World Health Organization was mobilizing staff.

“There will be some support, but it’s such a spread-out area that I think it will be quite a challenging situation,” McMahon said. “The scale of this disaster is quite immense.”

While Papua New Guinea is in the tropics, the village is 2,000 meters above sea level where temperatures are substantially cooler.

Papua New Guinea Defense Minister Billy Joseph and the government’s National Disaster Center director Laso Mana were flying from Port Moresby by helicopter to Wabag on Sunday to gain a firsthand perspective of what is needed.

Aktoprak expected the government would decide by Tuesday whether it would officially request more international help.

The United States and Australia, a near neighbor and Papua New Guinea’s most generous provider of foreign aid, are among governments that have publicly stated their readiness to do more to help responders.

Papua New Guinea is a diverse, developing nation with 800 languages and 10 million people who are mostly subsistence farmers.

Marape has said disaster officials, the Defence Force and the Department of Works and Highways were assisting with relief and recovery efforts.

Social media footage posted by villager Ninga Role showed people clambering over rocks, uprooted trees and mounds of dirt searching for survivors. Women could be heard weeping in the background.

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Hundreds feared dead, more than 4,000 affected by Papua New Guinea landslide

SYDNEY — More than 4,000 people were likely impacted by a massive landslide that flattened a village in northern Papua New Guinea on Friday, humanitarian group CARE Australia said.

Hundreds are feared dead in the landslide in the Pacific nation north of Australia that leveled Kaokalam village in Enga Province, about 600 kilometers northwest of capital Port Moresby, around 3 a.m. Friday local time (1900 GMT Thursday).

According to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, more than six villages have been impacted by the landslide in the province’s Mulitaka region, which local media said buried more than 300 people and more than 1,100 houses.

CARE Australia said late on Saturday that nearly 4,000 people lived in the impact zone, with the total number of those affected probably higher as the area was “a place of refuge for those displaced by conflicts” in nearby areas.

In February, at least 26 men were killed in Enga Province in an ambush amid tribal violence that prompted Prime Minister James Marape to give arrest powers to the country’s military.

CARE said Friday’s landslide has left debris up to 8 meters deep across 200 square km, cutting off road access, which was making relief efforts difficult.

Helicopters were the only way to reach the area, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp, which reported on Saturday that four bodies had been retrieved from the rubble.

“More homes could be at risk if the landslide continues down the mountain,” a CARE spokesperson said in a statement.

Marape has said disaster officials, the Defense Force and the Department of Works and Highways were assisting with relief and recovery efforts.

Social media footage posted by villager Ninga Role showed people clambering over rocks, uprooted trees and mounds of dirt searching for survivors. Women could be heard weeping in the background. 

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Dozens killed in amusement park fire in western India

AHMEDABAD, India — At least 24 people, including many children, died in a fire that broke out Saturday evening in an amusement park in the western Indian state of Gujarat, a government official said. 

The park is usually packed with families enjoying the summer vacation over the weekend. 

Footage showed firefighters clearing debris around collapsed tin roof from structures that media reports said were used for bowling, go-karting and trampoline attractions. 

With rescue efforts continuing at the park in the Rajkot district, the local mayor told Reuters the death toll was expected to rise. 

“Our focus is on rescue operations and saving lives. We will ensure strict action is taken against the people who are responsible for this incident,” Mayor Nayana Pedhadiya said. 

Television images showed a massive fire engulfing the TRP game zone and thick clouds of smoke emanating from the site. The entire structure was gutted in the blaze. 

A police official at the local civil hospital said some of the bodies were charred beyond recognition. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, that the local administration was working to help those affected. 

“Extremely distressed by the fire mishap in Rajkot. My thoughts are with all those who have lost their loved ones,” Modi said in the post. 

The district’s chief fire officer, IV Kher, said firefighters had almost brought the fire under control. 

“The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained,” he told Reuters. 

The amusement park was privately owned by Yuvraj Singh Solanki, and Police Commissioner Raju Bhargava said that police would file a case of negligence against him. 

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said an investigation into the incident had been handed to a Special Investigation Team, and television reports said two people had been detained by Rajkot police in connection with the incident. 

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Reports emerge of new atrocities against Rohingya in Myanmar

GENEVA — Reports are emerging of new atrocity crimes being committed in a concerted campaign of violence and destruction by Myanmar’s military against the largely Muslim Rohingya people in northern Rakhine state.

“We are receiving frightening and disturbing reports from northern Rakhine state in Myanmar of the impacts of the conflict on civilian lives and property,” Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Friday in a briefing to journalists in Geneva.

“Some of the most serious allegations concern incidents of killing of Rohingya civilians and the burning of their property,” she said, noting that tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced in recent days by fighting in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships.

She said that information gathered in testimony from victims, eyewitnesses, satellite images, and online video and pictures over the last week indicate that “Buthidaung town has been largely burned.”

“We have received information indicating that the burning started on 17 May, two days after the military had retreated from the town and the Arakan Army claimed to have taken full control,” she said.

Speaking in Bangkok, James Rodehaver, head of Myanmar Team, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said his team had spoken to many sources on the ground and reviewed numerous materials, many of which “were deemed to be credible.”

“Our offices are corroborating information further, particularly in establishing who were the perpetrators of the burning.

“One survivor described seeing dozens of dead bodies as he fled the town. Another survivor said that he was among a group of displaced persons numbering in the tens of thousands, who attempted to move outside of the town to safety but were blocked by the Arakan Army,” Rodehaver said, pointing out that the Arakan Army had abused survivors and extorted money from them as they fled the town.

The Arakan Army is an armed ethnic group fighting as part of an alliance against the Myanmar military.

Rodehaver said, “In the weeks leading up to the burning of Buthidaung, the Myanmar team of the U.N. human rights offices has documented renewed attacks on Rohingya civilians by both the Arakan Army and by the military in northern Rakhine state,” including many by aerial strikes and drones.

He said his office also has received reports of shooting at unarmed fleeing villagers, multiple disappearances and burnings of homes, and has confirmed four cases of beheadings.

Rodehaver said the military has been actively targeting the Rohingya for years and has “actively enforced draconian and discriminatory restrictions affecting all aspects of their lives.”

“It is one of the reasons why the Rohingya, whenever they were asked to leave Buthidaung and other villages, have been very reluctant to move because they have needed special permission to move outside of their township of residence. They also have nowhere else to go.

“They, of course, have learned very hard lessons in 2017, knowing that whenever movement starts, it usually ends [with] them leaving their homes, never to see them again,” he said.

In August 2017, more than a million Rohingya fled to Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh to escape violence and persecution in Myanmar. Currently, an estimated 600,000 Rohingya live in Rakhine state. Although they have lived in Myanmar for generations, the government considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and refuses to grant them citizenship.

The Myanmar junta, which has been at war with its people for decades, recently has suffered many defeats. One consequence is young men have been conscripted from the Rohingya to fight its battles, by promising them many benefits, such as more food rations for their families and a promise of citizenship.

Rodehaver calls that an insidious ploy by military leaders.

“They know that most of these men have never had any sort of combat training or self-defense training. So, they are largely being sent to the front lines as human shields or as cannon fodder, and the military knows that very well.

“The military also told the Rohingya, if you run away and you do not serve, we will arrest you or cut the rations to your family. So, they use a variety of pressures to convince the Rohingya to join. We have had reports that from 1,500 to 2,000 men have been recruited at this point,” he said.

Tom Andrews, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, warned Thursday of “ominous signs of another Rohingya bloodbath in Rakhine state” if the international community were to continue to turn a blind eye and fail to take action to save the lives of thousands of Rohingya.

“Once again, the world seems to be failing a desperate people in their hour of peril, while a hate-driven unnatural disaster unfolds in real time in Myanmar’s Rakhine state,” he said.

Mirroring that assessment, U.N. human rights chief Volker Türk is calling for “an immediate end to the violence, and for all civilians to be protected without any distinction based on identity.

“Prompt and unhindered humanitarian relief must be allowed to flow, and all parties must comply fully and unconditionally with international law,” he said.

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Convoy takes provisions to survivors of landslide in Papua New Guinea

MELBOURNE, Australia — An emergency convoy was delivering food, water and other provisions Saturday to stunned survivors of a landslide that devastated a remote village in the mountains of Papua New Guinea and was feared to have buried scores of people, officials said.

An assessment team reported “suggestions” that 100 people were dead and 60 houses buried by the mountainside that collapsed in Enga province a few hours before dawn Friday, said Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of the International Organization for Migration’s mission in the South Pacific island nation.

Aktoprak conceded that if the number of buried houses estimated by local authorities was correct, the death toll could be higher.

“The scale is so big, I wouldn’t be surprised if there would be more casualties than the earlier reported 100,” Aktoprak said. “If 60 houses had been destroyed, then the number of casualties would definitely be much higher than the 100.”

Only three bodies had been recovered by early Saturday from the vast swath of earth, boulders and splintered trees that struck Yambali, a village of nearly 4,000 people that is 600 kilometers (373 miles) northwest of the capital, Port Moresby.

Medical treatment was provided to seven people, including a child, Aktoprak said. He had no information about the extent of their injuries.

“It is feared that the number of casualties and wounded will increase dramatically,” said Aktoprak, who is based in Port Moresby.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said Friday he would release information about the scale of the destruction and loss of life when it becomes available.

All food gardens that sustain the village’s subsistence farming population were destroyed and the three streams that provide drinking water were buried by the landslide, which also blocked the province’s main highway.

A convoy left the provincial capital of Wabag carrying food, water and other essentials to the devastated village 60 kilometers (37 miles) away, Aktoprak said.

Village resident Andrew Ruing said the survivors were in desperate need.

“People — they cannot cry, or they cannot do anything, because it’s difficult for them,” Ruing said in a video shown by Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “Because such a situation has never happened in history. And therefore, we are calling on the national government, the people on the ground, or the business houses, the heights from everywhere, anywhere — we are seeking assistance from.”

Aktoprak said that besides food and water, the villagers had an urgent need for shelters and blankets. Relief would be targeted to the most vulnerable, including children, women, and disabled and older people, he said.

The relief effort was delayed by the landslide closing the province’s main highway, which serves the Porgera Gold Mine and the neighboring town of Porgera.

The landslide debris, 6 to 8 meters (20 to 26 feet) deep, also knocked out power in the region, Aktoprak said.

The unstable soil posed risks to the relief effort as well as to communities downhill.

Papua New Guinea is a diverse, developing nation of mostly subsistence farmers with 800 languages. There are few roads outside the larger cities. With 10 million people, it is the most populous South Pacific nation after Australia, which is home to about 27 million.

The United States and Australia are building closer defense ties with the strategically important nation, where China is seeking closer security and economic ties.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said their governments stood ready to help respond to the landslide.

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India holds the penultimate phase of mammoth election

New Delhi — Millions of Indians lined up Saturday at polling booths to cast their votes in the penultimate phase of the country’s multistage election in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third term in office.

The polling was held in 58 constituencies across eight states and federal territories amid a scorching heat wave that has seen temperatures in parts of north India soar to 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in the past week.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which is pitted against an opposition alliance of the Congress Party and regional parties, is widely expected to win the elections.

Among the most closely watched contests are seven parliamentary seats in the capital, Delhi, where the BJP faces a joint fight mounted by the Aam Aadmi Party headed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Congress Party.

Kejriwal, who was arrested in March in connection with corruption allegations, was released on bail by the Supreme Court earlier this month to allow him to campaign.

In fiery speeches, Kejriwal has accused Modi of sending opposition leaders to jail to cripple his political rivals.

“People are voting in large numbers against dictatorship, inflation and unemployment,” he said after casting his vote.

Political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay said, “I think Kejriwal’s release and his campaign [have] given a huge momentum to the opposition. Many people do see the allegations against him as politically motivated and believe he was arrested to prevent him from campaigning.”

The BJP’s optimism about returning to power relies largely on Modi’s popularity, especially in populous northern states. The party had won 45 of the 58 seats where polling was conducted on Saturday.

In a message on social media platform X, Modi called on people, especially women and youth, to vote in large numbers. “Democracy thrives when its people are engaged and active in the electoral process.”

Among those who cast their vote early was Sanjay Jha, a fruit seller in New Delhi. “Modi is a very good leader for the country. There is nobody like him,” said Jha, folding his hands as a mark of respect for the Indian leader.

Jha cites Modi’s inauguration of a grand Hindu temple earlier this year on the site of a mosque destroyed three decades ago among the reasons for his support.

In the Hindu majority country, the BJP’s Hindu nationalist policies have won Modi wide support, but critics call him a polarizing leader. During the campaign, he has been accused of using divisive rhetoric — at rallies he and other top leaders of the BJP have said the Congress Party plans to favor Muslims at the expense of Hindus if voted to power.

Modi has said he is not against Islam or Muslims.

In a country where the opposition has been weakened over the last decade by the rise of the BJP, lawyer Vartika Sharma, a New Delhi resident, said she wants to see both a strong government and a strong opposition.

“I am happy that the BJP government took some strong decisions that were good for the country, but somewhere the radicalization that is happening, I am not able to agree to it,” said Sharma after casting her vote. “Whichever government comes should uphold the constitution principles and weed out corruption.”

Before elections began, Modi had set a goal of attaining a supermajority by winning, along with his party’s allies, 400 of the 543 elected seats in the lower house of parliament.

While the BJP is expected to emerge ahead of other parties, the opposition is hoping to make gains amid disaffection on the ground over joblessness and rising prices.

The Congress party has flagged the need to address rising unemployment and alleviate rural distress and has focused its campaign on the need for social justice.

“The BJP appeared to be supremely confident when the election got underway. But Modi has failed to construct an overarching national narrative, as a result of which the election is now focused on local constituency level issues. There is no one single issue binding the campaign,” according to analyst Mukhopadhyay.

As the heat wave raised fears for voters who often have to wait in long lines at polling stations, the Election Commission put up tents and mist fans and deployed paramedics at polling stations in Delhi.

The blistering weather did not deter 90-year-old K.C. Gupta in New Delhi from casting his vote. “I think something must be done to improve the lives of people in this country, especially the lower strata. They should be helped as much as possible,” he said.

The final round of voting will be held on June 1, and votes will be counted on June 4. The results are expected the same day.

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Armenia returns four border villages to Azerbaijan 

Yerevan, Armenia — Armenia has returned to Azerbaijan four border villages it seized decades ago, the countries confirmed Friday, a key step toward normalizing ties between the historic rivals.

The move, which has sparked protracted protests in Armenia, is an important move for reaching a comprehensive peace agreement after years of fruitless talks mediated by Russia and Western countries.

The Caucasus countries, both former Soviet republics, fought two wars in the 1990s and in 2020 for control of the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan recaptured it last year in a lightning offensive, ending three decades of Armenian-separatist rule over the enclave and prompting more than 100,000 residents to flee into Armenia.

Yerevan’s disastrous defeat provoked a rift with its historic ally Russia, which Armenia accuses of failing to defend it in the face of Azerbaijani threats despite security treaty obligations.

After months of diplomatic tensions, Moscow said Friday that it had recalled its ambassador to Armenia for “consultations.”

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova did not provide a reason for the recall, which is typically seen in diplomatic circles as an extreme step in the face of worsening ties.

Armenia’s security service confirmed Friday that its border guards had taken up new positions in the east of the country, reflecting a recently brokered border demarcation deal that cedes the villages to Azerbaijani control.

Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev announced separately that his country’s border guards had taken control of the four settlements.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan agreed in March to return the four abandoned villages, which were seized in the 1990s, as part of efforts to secure a lasting peace deal.

In a televised statement Friday evening, he said fixing the country’s volatile border with Azerbaijan “is a sole guarantee for the very existence of the Armenian republic within its internationally recognized and legitimate frontier.”

The two countries agreed earlier this month on the new demarcation of 12.7 kilometers of their border, returning the villages of Baghanis Ayrum, Ashaghi Askipara, Kheyrimli and Ghizilhajili to Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan has hailed the agreement as “very important” for Armenia’s sovereignty and said it “brings our security and stability to a new level.”

The territory ceded by Yerevan is of strategic importance for landlocked Armenia because it controls sections of a vital highway to Georgia.

Armenian residents of nearby settlements say the move could cut them off from the rest of the country, and they accuse Pashinyan of unilaterally giving away territory without getting anything in return.

Pashinyan has said Armenia will build new roads in the area over the next few months.

His decision has sparked weeks of anti-government protests in Armenia, with thousands of demonstrators led by the charismatic cleric Bagrat Galstanyan demanding Pashinyan’s resignation.

A new anti-government protest is scheduled for Sunday.

A 5.8-kilometer section of the border near the Armenian village of Kirants will be guarded “according to a transitional scheme until July 24,” Armenia’s national security service said Friday.

The village mayor has said locals will be allowed to use a section of the road that is to be transferred to Azerbaijani control, until new roads are built.

Local media reported that some Kirants residents had dismantled their houses and fled the village, which is located just meters from the redrawn border. 

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5th journalist slain in Pakistan in 2024

ISLAMABAD — A journalist in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province Friday died of a gunshot wound he sustained in an attack earlier this week, bringing the total number of media workers reported killed nationwide in 2024 to five.

Doctors and officials confirmed the death of Nasrullah Gadani, who was undergoing treatment in a hospital in Karachi, the provincial capital, after being shot and injured by unidentified assailants in a remote Sindh district on Tuesday. There were no claims of responsibility for the attack.  

Activists and colleagues said the slain journalist had consistently highlighted the civic issues plaguing impoverished Sindh in his reporting. Gadani also was critical of the powerful feudal lords in the region, which led to his repeated detention by the police, as noted by Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir in this social media post on X, formerly Twitter.

The news of Gadani’s death sparked outrage among journalists and civil society members, leading to a protest demonstration demanding justice for the slain reporter.  

 

“I am deeply in grief and sorrow along with Nasrullah’s family and the media organization he is affiliated with,” Murad Ali Shah, the provincial chief minister, said in a statement. Critics hold Shah’s government for allegedly being behind some of the recent attacks on media workers in Sindh.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a leading independent rights watchdog, said it was “deeply concerned” by the situation facing journalists in the country. It urged the Sindh government to investigate Gadani’s killing and hold the perpetrators to account.

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, has pressed Pakistan to immediately reveal the whereabouts of Ahmad Farhad Shah, a freelance journalist and poet.  

Several unknown men seized Shah from outside his home at night in the capital, Islamabad, and forced him into a vehicle over a week ago, said a copy of a petition his wife filed with the federal high court shortly after the incident.  

Shah’s wife, Syeda Urooj Zainab, has accused the Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, of abducting him for his activism against the country’s powerful military establishment.

“The secretive, late-night seizure of journalist … Shah is further evidence of an intensifying crackdown on media freedom in Pakistan,” the CPJ quoted its program director, Carlos Martinez de la Serna, as saying on Thursday.  

“Authorities must either present Ali Shah in court or immediately release him and ensure that law enforcement agencies do their job of investigating crimes against journalists,” Serna said.

On Friday, the Islamabad High Court judge hearing the case summoned senior officers from the country’s intelligence agencies, including the ISI, to respond to the charges in the next hearing scheduled for May 29.   

“His whereabouts remain unknown. Ahmad has spoken fearlessly about state oppression and enforced disappearance in the past,” Amnesty International wrote Friday on X.

Pakistan’s ISI has long been accused of forced disappearances of journalists and political as well as human rights activists for criticizing the military’s role in national politics. The agency and successive governments have consistently denied the allegations.

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Pakistan to compensate families of slain Chinese workers

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan will pay more than $2 million to the families of Chinese workers killed in a suicide bombing this year.

Five Chinese workers and their Pakistani driver were killed on March 26 when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into their convoy in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.  

The Economic Coordination Committee, Pakistan’s top economic body approved a $2.58 million package Thursday as compensation to the families of the foreign victims.

The ECC, presided over by Pakistani Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, also approved nearly $9,000 in compensation for the family of the slain Pakistani national.

“The ECC considered and approved proposals for Technical Supplementary Grants, including: $2.58 million and Rs. 2.5 million to the Ministry of Water Resources as the compensation packages for Chinese and local casualties at DASU Hydropower Project,” a statement on the finance ministry’s website said.  

The workers were traveling to the Chinese-funded Dasu hydropower project in the remote region of Kohistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when they came under attack in Bisham, in Shangla district, about four hours north of the capital. Islamabad.

Pakistan identified the attacker as an Afghan national and claimed the attack was planned in Afghanistan. Pakistan: Afghan-based terrorists planned suicide attack on Chinese engineers

Islamabad accuses the Afghan Taliban of allowing anti-Pakistan terrorists to operate on its soil, a charge the rulers in Kabul deny.

China has urged Pakistan to punish those involved in the attack and to ensure better security for its nationals present in the country. Thousands of Chinese are working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, a multibillion-dollar energy and infrastructure project under Beijing’s global Belt and Road Initiative.

As Pakistan pushes to revive the pace of the megaproject, Islamabad has assured China it has enhanced security protocols for the foreign workers.

In a visit to Dasu, days after the attack, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif vowed “fool-proof” security arrangements in a meeting with Chinese workers at the hydropower project.

“I will not rest until we have put in place the best possible security measures for your security. Not only in Dasu, [but] all over Pakistan,” Sharif said, adding that, this was his promise to the people of China, and to the Chinese leadership including President Xi Jinping.

A special military unit as well as local law enforcement are already responsible for the security of Chinese nationals in Pakistan.

Since the launch of CPEC, foreign workers have come under attack, mostly, by Baloch separatist groups who see the project as part of Pakistani state’s measures to rob the mineral-rich Balochistan province of its precious resources.

No group, however, claimed responsibility for the attack in March that occurred far from Balochistan. The banned Islamist militant outfit Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan – an ideological offshoot of the Afghan Taliban – has a foothold in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In 2021, an attack on a bus carrying workers to the same hydropower project killed 13 people including at least nine Chinese nationals. Pakistan compensated their families as well.

Two alleged Islamist militants were sentenced to death for that attack.

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