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Phuket Gazette: News Watch – Afghanistan and Pakistan

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gazette: News Watch – Afghanistan and Pakistan | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

UN: Fighting in northwestern Pakistan displaces over 100,000
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: Military operations against militant groups in northwestern Pakistan have left more than 100,000 people displaced since the fighting began in late January, the United Nations (UN) said yesterday.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that roughly 101,160 people, mostly women and children, have been uprooted by the fighting that began on January 20 in Pakistan’s Khyber Agency region of the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), which borders Afghanistan.

UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming, during a press conference in Geneva, said newly arrived refugees claimed that the proximity of fighting and instructions by local authorities have caused their evacuation of the area. A recent increase in the intensity of the fighting is driving even larger numbers of families to flee to the safety of Jalozai camp, where UNHCR is registering them and providing them with basic humanitarian supplies.

On average, UNHCR has been registering 2,000 families per day since mid-March. While the UNHCR, along with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), continue to carry out humanitarian aid, the UN World Food Program (WFP) has also been providing food aid in Jalozai.

Currently, there are some 62,818 people in Jalozai camp, of which 47,134 were living in the camp before March 17. Fleming noted that this is now the largest camp for internally displaced people in Pakistan.

In 2009, more than two million people were displaced by similar clashes between Government troops and militants in northwestern Pakistan. The clashes led to one of the largest displacement crises in the world.

Afghan police officer shoots and kills 9 colleagues

Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: Nine Afghan police officers were killed late yesterday morning when one of their colleagues opened fire in the southeastern region of the country, officials said. It comes after a series of incidents in which rogue Afghan security forces opened fire at coalition troops.

The shooting occurred at around 9am local time at a check post in the Yahyakhel district of Paktika province when a police officer opened fire at his sleeping colleagues. Afghan media said the shooter is believed to be the son of Mullah Ihsanullah, who was previously killed by the Taliban for cooperating with government officials.

Governor spokesman Mukhlis Afghan told the Pajhwok Afghan News agency that two police officials have been arrested on suspicious of being involved in the deadly shootings. A third policeman, the suspected shooter, was able to flee in a pickup truck carrying the weapons used during the attack. He remains at large.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said the gunman, who he identified as Sanaullah, had infiltrated the police force earlier this week. “Sanaullah, after accomplishing his mission, loaded all the weapons and ammo of the enemy in a ranger vehicle and left the area safe and sound,” Mujahid said, adding that the gunman later joined other Taliban insurgents.

Friday’s attack comes in the wake of a series of shooting incidents in which Afghan security forces turned their weapons on coalition service members. On Monday, two British soldiers were killed when an Afghan soldier opened fire at the entrance to a coalition base in southern Afghanistan. A U.S. soldier was killed hours later when he was shot by an Afghan police officer.

Dozens killed after militants ambush NATO convoy in western Afghanistan

Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: As many as 35 people were killed late on Wednesday when a large group of insurgents attacked a NATO supply convoy in western Afghanistan, sparking a three-hour firefight, local officials said on Thursday.

The attack took place on Wednesday evening when a group of heavily armed gunmen ambushed the convoy of trucks on a highway in the Gulistan district in western Farah province. The trucks were transporting goods and supplies to a NATO base in Helmand province.

“Coming from Shindand and Farah armed helicopters took off to support the convoy, succeeding to neutralize the threat,” said Colonel Vincenzo Lauro, a spokesman for Regional Command West of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). “Major loss incurred by the insurgents.”

There were conflicting reports on the number of casualties, but a local police official said at least 30 insurgents and five Afghan security guards carrying AK-47s were killed. In addition, nine others were reported injured, including four insurgents and five security guards.

Two oil tankers were torched during the attack.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack, but confirmed the deaths of only six insurgents. “U.S. helicopters also arrived to the scene and carried out severe bombing in which 6 Mujahideen (Muslim fighters) were martyred, may Allah accept them, and 12 were injured whereas 10 motorbikes of Mujahideen were also destroyed,” he said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Myanmar

38 people die “bloodiest day” since Myanmar coup – United Nations

Caitlin Ashworth

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38 people die “bloodiest day” since Myanmar coup – United Nations | The Thaiger
Anti-coup protest in Myanmar on February 14 / Photo by Htin Linn Aye via Wikimedia Commons

38 people died during Myanmar’s anti-coup protests yesterday in what the United Nations is calling the “bloodiest day” in the country since the February 1 military takeover. UN special envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener said the death toll is “shocking” and that the situation in the Southeast Asian country could lead to a “real war.”

Since last month’s coup, more than 50 people have died while many others have been wounded in protests against military rule. Witnesses say police and soldiers have opened fire with little warning. In a virtual briefing, the UN envoy said experts believe the Burmese police are using 9mm sub-machine guns to fire shots at civilians.

“I saw today very disturbing video clips. One was police beating a volunteer medical crew. They were not armed… Another video clip showed a protester was taken away from police and they shot him from very near, maybe one metre. He didn’t resist his arrest and it seems he died on the street.”

Burmese troops seized power of the civilian government last month, citing what they say was a fraudulent election, although the election commission said the vote was fair. A number of civilian politicians were arrested including democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who had won the November election for state counsellor in a landslide.

Christine says more than 1,200 people are now under detention and many do not know where their loved ones are.

SOURCE: UN News | Aljazeera

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World

Muay Thai added to European Games 2023

Caitlin Ashworth

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Muay Thai added to European Games 2023 | The Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikimedia

Thailand’s national sport Muay Thai has been added to the European Games 2023, set to be held in Poland. While Asia has been leading the sport for decades, many recent Muay Thai champions are from Europe, according to Sakchye Tapsuwan, president of the International Federation of Muaythai Associations, the governing body for the sport.

“Europe has grown in strength, evidenced at the last two World Championships, where the overall winners were teams from Europe.”

Held by the European Olympic Commission, the European Games is considered a staging post to the Olympics. Thousands of elite athletes from 50 participating nations have the opportunity to compete in one of the 15 sports. Now Muay Thai, an ancient martial art dating back 1,000 years with ties to centuries-old traditions, is included on the list.

The format of the European Games is in line with the Olympic Movement standards for gender equality. The categories are equal for men and women with 7 male and female divisions and 2 coed teams. Creating equal opportunities for men and women fighters is a “vision” both the federation and the European Olympic Committee share, according to director of the federation, Charissa Tynan.

“For IFMA, gender equality is not about ticking the box, it is about ensuring that women and men have the same opportunities to shine together on one stage as one family.”

SOURCES: IFMA | EOC

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Japan asks China to stop anal Covid-19 tests after travellers report “psychological distress”

Caitlin Ashworth

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Japan asks China to stop anal Covid-19 tests after travellers report “psychological distress” | The Thaiger

After complaints that China’s anal swab Covid-19 test caused “psychological distress,” Japan has asked China to stop using the new, much more invasive method of testing on Japanese citizens entering the country.

For the anal test, reportedly done on some travellers entering China from overseas, a 3 to 5 centimetre long cotton swab is inserted into the anus and gently rotated to collect the sample. While it’s unclear exactly how many people have gone through the procedure, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato says some Japanese citizens have reported mental discomfort after the test.

“Some Japanese reported to our embassy in China that they received anal swab tests, which caused great psychological pain.”

The Japanese government made a request through the embassy in Beijing to stop using the anal swab test on Japanese citizens. Katsunobu says China has not yet responded to the request.

China started using the anal swab test in January. The anal tests are controversial with many experts backing the oral test as the most efficient way to detect a coronavirus infection.

SOURCE: BBC

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