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Phuket Gazette World News: Scores dead in Egypt crackdown; Weapons detonate on Indian submarine; China, Hong Kong battered by Typhoon Utor

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Phuket Gazette World News: Scores dead in Egypt crackdown; Weapons detonate on Indian submarine; China, Hong Kong battered by Typhoon Utor | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Egypt seethes under curfew after hundreds killed
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Security forces struggled to clamp a lid on Egypt on Thursday after hundreds of people were killed when authorities forcibly broke up camps of supporters protesting the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, in the worst nationwide bloodshed in decades.

Islamists clashed with police and troops who used bulldozers, teargas and live fire on Wednesday to clear out two Cairo sit-ins that had become a hub of Muslim Brotherhood resistance to the military after it deposed Mursi on July 3.

The clashes spread quickly, and a health ministry official said about 300 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured in fighting in Cairo, Alexandria and numerous towns and cities around the mostly Muslim nation of 84 million.

The crackdown defied Western appeals for restraint and a peaceful, negotiated settlement to Egypt’s political stand-off, prompting international statements of dismay and condemnation.

The Muslim Brotherhood said the true death toll was far higher, with a spokesman saying 2,000 people had been killed in a “massacre.” It was impossible to verify the figures independently given the extent of the violence.

The military-installed government declared a month-long state of emergency and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Cairo and 10 other provinces, restoring to the army powers of arrest and indefinite detention it held for decades until the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a 2011 popular uprising.

The army insists it does not seek power and acted in response to mass demonstrations calling for Mursi’s removal.

Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who lent liberal political support to the ousting of Egypt’s first freely elected president, resigned in dismay at the use force instead of a negotiated end to the six-week stand-off.

“It has become difficult for me to continue bearing responsibility for decisions that I do not agree with and whose consequences I fear. I cannot bear the responsibility for one drop of blood,” ElBaradei said.

Other liberals and technocrats in the interim government did not follow suit. Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi spoke in a televised address of a “difficult day for Egypt” but said the government had no choice but to order the crackdown to prevent anarchy spreading.

“We found that matters had reached a point that no self-respecting state could accept,” he said.

Churches targeted

Islamists staged revenge attacks on Christian targets in several areas, torching churches, homes and business after Coptic Pope Tawadros gave his blessing to the military takeover that ousted Mursi, security sources and state media said.

Churches were attacked in the Nile Valley towns of Minya, Sohag and Assiut, where Christians escaped across the roof into a neighbouring building after a mob surrounded and hurled bricks at their place of worship, state news agency MENA said.

The United States, the European Union, the United Nations and fellow Muslim power Turkey condemned the violence and called for the lifting of the state of emergency and an inclusive political solution to Egypt’s crisis.

An EU envoy involved in mediation efforts that collapsed last week said the authorities had spurned a plan for staged confidence-building measures that could have led to a political solution.

The Brotherhood publicly rejected any plan that did not involve Mursi’s restoration to office. An Egyptian military source said the army did not believe the Islamists would eventually agree to a deal and felt they were only stringing the diplomats along to gain time.

In Cairo, police and soldiers aided by self-styled “popular committees” of civilian vigilantes armed with clubs and machetes enforced the curfew, searching cars and checking identity cards of people passing through makeshift checkpoints made of tires and concrete blocks.

Despite the lockdown, hundreds of Mursi supporters tried to gather at El Iman mosque in the Cairo neighbourhood of Nasr City in an attempt to start a new sit-in to replace the main camp dispersed at nearby Rabaa al-Adawiya square, MENA reported.

They chanted “down, down, military rule” and “police are thugs,” a Reuters witness said.

The protesters converted part of the mosque into a field hospital to tend to the wounded from the other sit-in, it said.

“They killed us, those coup makers and their thugs. Help us people, help us!” shouted Magda Ali, a woman marcher who was forced to leave the Rabaa camp.

Egyptian state television broadcast aerial footage of the burning remains of sprawling tent cities, as well as images of handmade guns it said were found at the sites. It also showed some video of alleged armed protesters shooting at police.

Reuters witnesses saw no protesters armed with more than bricks, stones and sticks as black-clad central security police in riot gear poured out of vans firing teargas and snipers fired from rooftops.

Deplorable

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told a news conference 43 members of the police force were killed in the clashes.

He vowed to restore Mubarak-era security after announcing, in a statement last month that chilled human rights campaigners, the return of notorious political police departments that had been scrapped after the 2011 revolution.

Wednesday’s death toll took the number of people killed in political violence since Mursi’s fall to about 600, mostly Islamist supporters of the ousted president.

Violence rippled out from Cairo, with Mursi supporters and security forces clashing in the cities of Alexandria, Minya, Assiut, Fayoum and Suez and in Buhayra and Beni Suef provinces.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the bloodshed in Egypt “deplorable” – a word U.S. diplomats rarely use – and urged all sides to seek a political solution.

A U.S. official told Reuters that Washington was considering cancelling a major joint military exercise with Egypt, due this year, after the latest violence, in what would be a direct snub to the Egyptian armed forces.

The “Bright Star” exercise has been a cornerstone of U.S.-Egyptian military relations and began in 1981 after the Camp David peace accords between Egypt and Israel. The United States has already halted delivery of four F-16 fighter jets in a signal of its displeasure.

Islamist militants with no direct link to the Brotherhood have staged almost daily attacks on security forces in the lawless Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel since Mursi’s fall.

In the latest violence, gunmen shot dead two policemen outside their station in El Arish in northern Sinai on Wednesday evening, MENA reported.

Hope fades for 18 on Indian submarine after blasts, fire
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: India’s navy chief held out little hope for survivors on a submarine after some of its weapons detonated accidentally and fire swept through it. The likely deaths and damage are the worst blow to the navy since a 1971 war with Pakistan.

Eighteen sailors were on board the 16-year-old Russian-built INS Sindhurakshak, which was docked at the main naval base in Mumbai when two blasts rocked the vessel in the middle of Tuesday night.

The accident spoiled a week of modernisation triumphs for the navy, includin

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus spreads north and south in China – 139 new cases reported

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus spreads north and south in China – 139 new cases reported | The Thaiger
PHOTO: New cases reported over the weekend are concerning health offficials - BBC.com

Another 139 new cases of a flu-like disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus in China has shocked health officials. There’s also been a third confirmed death reported today. Worse, the outbreak has now spread beyond Wuhan in central China where the virus was first identified. There have been cases reported in Beijing, a province next door to Shanghai and Shenzhen in southern China.

Health authorities in Beijing have now confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus today, while Guangdong authorities in southern China reported one new case in Shenzhen as well. The Shenzhen case is the first confirmation that the virus has spread domestically beyond Wuhan.

The Wuhan Health Commission announced today that 136 new patients had been diagnosed over the weekend – 1 person died from the virus, 2 remain in critical condition, 33 are in serious condition. All three patients that have died are believed to have visited Wuhan in the last month or so.

The new cases have brought the total number of people diagnosed with the virus in China to 201. That’s a big jump over numbers reported over the weekend.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, say they are monitoring eight patient. All eight have been quarantined for treatment. In coastal Zhejiang province, bordering Shanghai, authorities have now reported five new suspected cases who have been confirmed to have visited Wuhan. Last week, three cases were detected outside China — two in Thailand and one in Japan. All cases have been linked to Wuhan. On Monday, South Korea also confirmed its first case of the virus.

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market at the centre of the pneumonia outbreak in he city of tWuhan has been closed for disinfection since January 1.

Meanwhile, Thai officials are stepping up screening efforts with many flights flying in from Wuhan over the next few weeks for the Chinese New Year holidays. Health officials say they’re confident that their screening efforts will detect any infected passengers getting off flights at Thai airports.

SOURCE: CNN

Coronavirus spreads north and south in China - 139 new cases reported | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Bangkok Post

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More coronavirus cases detected in China, global alert for Chinese New Year

The Thaiger

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More coronavirus cases detected in China, global alert for Chinese New Year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Conversation

Chinese medical officials have now reported four more cases of the viral pneumonia strain caused by a new coronavirus. The discoveries are causing rising concern that the disease is not fully understand and could spread during the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays.

The new virus, originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan – the apparent epicentre of the outbreak – is believed to belong in the same class of coronaviruses that includes the deadly SARS virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 800 people around the world in 2002/03. That outbreak also started in China.

At this stage all signs are that the virus isn’t as lethal as SARS, but there is still little known about the coronavirus’ origins and how it is transmitted. But it has been established at this stage that it is not spread human to human.

Both Thailand and Japan have confirmed new cases of the virus. In Thailand the patient was detected when arriving on a flight from Wuhan. And Japan’s health ministry reported that a man who had visited the central Chinese city of Wuhan was hospitalised on January 10, four days after his return to Japan.

Both patients have fully recovered.

The new cases detected in China, and the cases detected overseas, are stoking global concerns as many of the 1.4 billion Chinese will head overseas during the Chinese New Year holidays that begin next week and run through to early February.

The Wuhan Health Commission reports that the the four new cases are now in stable condition. 45 cases have been reported in the city as of last Thursday. A second patient died on Wednesday this week. Nearly 50 people are now known to have been infected globally, but all of them either lived in Wuhan or have travelled to the city.

The London Imperial College’s MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis speculates that there are probably “substantially more cases” of the new coronavirus than currently declared by Wuhan authorities. Their modelling estimates that there would be 1,723 cases showing onset of related symptoms by the second week in January.

Meanwhile US authorities say they are now screening at three airports to detect passengers arriving via direct or connecting flights from Wuhan. And in Asia, authorities in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are stepping up monitoring of travellers from Wuhan at airports.

SOURCE: Reuters | Science Alert

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Dutchman jailed for 100 years in Thailand for money laundering is released

Greeley Pulitzer

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Dutchman jailed for 100 years in Thailand for money laundering is released | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Johan van Laarhoven walks free after serving six years of a 100 year sentence in Thai prison - The Chiang Rai Times

A Dutch citizen who was jailed for 100 years in Thailand, is now on his way home after years of campaigning for his release. His sentence was reduced to 75 years on appeal and later to 50 years by the Supreme court. Johan van Laarhoven, who ran several cannabis “coffee shops” in Holland, was jailed in Thailand for money laundering, along with his Thai wife, though the offences took place in The Netherlands.

Thai authorities began investigating Van Laarhoven in 2014 after a letter from a Dutch public prosecutor’s office, informing them that he had earned his money selling marijuana and requesting their help. Last year, MPs called on the government to to extradite Van Laarhoven and his wife back to Netherlands. The Dutch justice minister even met with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin to discuss the case.

Even though cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, Dutch officials bungled a tax query to Thai authorities regarding the sale of the Dutchman’s cannabis cafe chain. This led to a criminal investigation and his televised arrest in Thailand.

Thai authorities seized the Dutchman’s assets and he was sentenced to 100 years in prison. His young Thai wife, Mingkwan, was jailed for 13 years as an accomplice. The Netherlands has an extradition treaty with Thailand, but it can only be implemented after a case has been ruled “definitive.” Van Laarhoven’s sentence was upheld late last year, clearing the way for a diplomatic solution. It’s unclear whether his wife will be allowed to join him in the Netherlands.

Once back, Van Laarhoven will spend two years in a Dutch jail to complete his sentence, and also face criminal investigation for money laundering. The investigation will focus on tax fraud, membership in a criminal organisation and laundering €20m (675 million baht) according to a Dutch public prosecutor.

SOURCE: The Chiang Rai Times | Dutchnews.nl

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