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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

September 25, 2013



QUETTA, Pakistan — Rescuers were struggling to help thousands of people injured and left homeless after their houses collapsed in a massive earthquake in southwestern Pakistan, as the death toll rose more than 270. By Arshad Butt and Abdul Satar. SENT: 1100 words, photos.


AHMEDABAD, India — Massive flooding has forced thousands of people to evacuate villages in the west Indian state of Gujarat, where heavy rains and swollen rivers have inundated cities and closed off roads and railway lines, officials said Wednesday. At least three people have died. One man was electrocuted in the main city of Ahmedabad, where people were wading through thigh-deep water on the streets and waterlogged cars and buses became stranded, said Chief Fire Officer M.F. Dastoor. SENT: 230, photos.


BEIJING — A Chinese street vendor convicted of killing two city officials was executed despite calls for leniency, disappointing legal activists and many members of the public who say the country’s justice system fails to protect the underprivileged and punishes them too harshly. China’s social media, which has been in a lull over social issues because of a government crackdown on potentially libelous speech, lit up over the execution of Xia Junfeng, making it one of the most discussed and searched topics of the day. By Didi Tang. SENT: 650 words.


BEIJING — A Beijing court hasy convicted a man of murder and sentenced him to death for hurling a toddler to the ground in a case that horrified the Chinese public. The 2-year-old girl was severely injured and died in a hospital days after the incident. Her attacker, Han Lei, fled the scene, but police caught him the following day. In court, he said he thought he had been throwing a shopping cart to the ground. SENT: 290 words.


SYDNEY — Australia’s army failed to provide adequate security for three Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan last year by an Afghan army colleague, the nation’s defense department concluded in a report released Wednesday. On Aug. 29, 2012, a group of Australian soldiers were playing cards in an administration area of a base in Uruzgan province when a man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire with an automatic weapon, killing three and wounding two. The Afghan soldier accused of the shooting, Sgt. Hekmatullah, fled and has not yet been caught. By Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 410 words, photos.


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia’s opposition party threatened a nationwide general strike to protest what it says was a rigged election and the illegitimate return to power of Prime Minister Hun Sen. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said he is considering calling a one-day strike for factory workers, civil servants and shopkeepers unless the ruling party agrees to an independent probe of electoral fraud and a program of immediate reforms. By Justine Drennan and Sopheng Cheang. SENT: 420 words, photos.


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia’s Supreme Court ordered the release of two men Wednesday who were wrongly convicted and jailed for the 2004 murder of a prominent opposition activist. The court’s decision to drop all charges came amid renewed calls to free the men, whom leading international rights groups have called “scapegoats” in the murder of Chea Vichea and one of many examples of the country’s corrupt judicial system. By Sopheng Cheang. SENT: 480 words, photos.


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The European Union is calling on authorities in the Maldives not to delay a presidential runoff vote after the Supreme Court postponed the election indefinitely following a complaint of alleged irregularities. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative, said that the “international community recognized the outcome of the first round as inclusive and credible, and considered that it reflected the will of the Maldivian people.” By Bharatha Mallawarachi. SENT: 480 words.


MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations voiced concern Wednesday over the fate of more than 100,000 Filipinos displaced by two weeks of fighting between government troops and Muslim rebels, saying they were at risk of disease from crowded and unsanitary conditions in evacuation centers. The Philippine government said the crisis in southern Zamboanga city was nearing an end with the surrender of another large batch of the insurgents, who took nearly 200 civilians hostage on Sept. 9 after a failed attempt to occupy the city. SENT: 460 words, photos.


DHAKA, Bangladesh — Police in Bangladesh used batons, rubber bullets and tear gas Wednesday to stop ongoing protests by garment workers demanding higher wages, while factory owners feared they may miss shipments to the United States and Europe. The fifth day of protests in two industrial districts near Dhaka, the capital, forced authorities to close more than 100 factories for the day, police and news reports said. The districts — Gazipur and Narayanganj — house hundreds of factories that supply garment products to numerous global brands, including Wal-Mart and H&M. By Julhas Alam. SENT:470 words.


LOS ANGELES — In the first investigation of its kind, federal transportation officials are reviewing whether Asiana Airlines failed to meet legal obligations to help the families of passengers after one of its planes crashed at San Francisco International Airport. By Justin Pritchard. SENT: 910 words, photos.


NEW YORK — Afghanistan’s foreign minister is upbeat about his country’s often-acrimonious relations with its neighbor following Pakistan’s release of a former Taliban deputy leader, a move Kabul had long sought to spur peace talks with the rebels. In an interview with the AP, Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul says the release of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is the first signal that Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, is keeping his promise made in a meeting with Karzai a month ago to cooperate with Afghanistan. SENT: 500 words.


ISLAMABAD — A Sunni militant group known for targeting rival Muslims has emerged as a dangerous new player in Pakistan, sending a pair of suicide bombers this week to detonate themselves inside a church in the deadliest ever attack against Pakistani Christians. The brutal assault, which killed 85 worshippers during Sunday services, was the first time that a militant group has taken direct aim at Pakistan’s tiny Christian community. SENT, 1,100 words, photos.



BEIJING — The delivery date of China’s long-delayed first commercial jet airliner has been pushed back again, the manufacturer said Wednesday, the latest setback for China’s ambitions to challenge market leaders Boeing and Airbus. Originally promised for 2007, the plane was most recently expected late this year, but Comac Chairman Jin Zhuanglong said it will now be ready in mid-2014. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 650 words, photos.


HONG KONG — News reports say Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has dropped plans to sell shares in Hong Kong, with the company now looking at an IPO in New York. Goldman Sachs has predicted that Alibaba could be worth as much as $105 billion, dwarfing the valuation of Twitter, another tech company planning a share sale. SENT: 150 words.


YANGON, Myanmar — The World Bank is lending Myanmar $140 million to upgrade an aging power plant in southeastern Mon state in a small step toward overcoming the country’s chronic power shortages. Myanmar, which exports natural gas to neighboring Thailand under contracts signed by its former military government, has suffered an energy deficit for years. By Aye Aye Win. SENT: 270 words.


HONG KONG — Some 300,000 people joined Asia’s millionaire ranks last year, according to a world wealth report released Wednesday, which also found that the region slipped behind a rebounding North America. The report by CapGemini and Royal Bank of Canada is the latest of several recent surveys highlighting the strong rise in the region’s wealthy while also hinting at persistent inequality. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 420 words.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A drought shrank yearly revenue at New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra, but the company says Chinese demand for milk powder remains robust. SENT, 300 words.


YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Scot McDonald. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia@ap.org.

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