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Biggest attack in years kills 31 in China’s troubled Xinjiang

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Biggest attack in years kills 31 in China’s troubled Xinjiang | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Biggest attack in years kills 31 in China’s troubled Xinjiang
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Explosives hurled from two vehicles which ploughed into an open market in China’s troubled Xinjiang killed 31 people on Thursday, state media reported, the deadliest act of violence in the region in years.

China’s Ministry of Public Security called the attack in the regional capital of Urumqi a “serious violent terrorist incident” and domestic security chief Meng Jianzhu vowed to strengthen a crackdown on the “arrogance of terrorists”.

China has blamed a series of knife and bomb attacks in recent months on separatist militants from Xinjiang, the traditional home of the ethnic Muslim Uighurs.

The cross-country vehicles rammed into shoppers in an open market, Xinhua news agency reported, citing witness reports. Explosives were flung out of the vehicles, and one of the vehicles exploded.

One witness told Reuters he saw the aftermath of the blasts on his way to work. “The air was full of the smell of gunpowder and the sound of sobbing,” he said. “There were simply too many (casualties), old folks who were at the morning market.”

A business owner told Xinhua he had heard a dozen loud explosions at the market near Renmin Park in downtown Urumqi.

Xinjiang has been plagued by violence for years, but rights activists and exile groups say the government’s own heavy handed policies in the region have sowed the seeds of unrest.

Photos posted on social media purportedly of the blast, but not verified by Reuters, showed a column of smoke and chaos at the market, with bloodied people lying on the tree-lined road near small stands selling fruit, vegetables and eggs.

“There were two vehicles that drove like crazy towards the morning market,” another witness who declined to give his name told Reuters by telephone. “The market was total chaos. Hawkers and shoppers started running everywhere… it was definitely a terrorist act. I’m so angry.”

Other photos showed riot police on the scene and bodies lying amid flames. Produce and debris were scattered across the street.

Dilshat Rexit, spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, said in an e-mail to Reuters that while he wasn’t sure who committed the attack, he believed Beijing’s policies in the region should be examined.

“The volatility of the situation and Beijing’s repressive policies in the area have a direct relationship to this,” Rexit said. “I urge Beijing not to use this incident as an excuse to expand repressive policies, and instead to adjust policies to ameliorate a deteriorating situation.”

In a posting on its Chinese-language microblog account, the U.S. Embassy said it offered condolences to victims of the “violent attack”, but stopped short of labelling it terrorism.

The Xinjiang government could not be immediately reached for comment.

CRACKDOWN

President Xi Jinping said police would “step up patrols and security controls over possible terrorist targets and prevent ripple effects”, Xinhua reported. Xi vowed to “severely punish terrorists”.

A working group led by Guo Shengkun, China’s Minister of Public Security, was dispatched to the region to investigate.

The attack was the deadliest in a recent series targeting crowded public places in China. In March, 29 people were stabbed to death at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.

A bomb and knife attack earlier this month at an Urumqi train station killed one bystander and wounded 79. A car burst into flames at the edge of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October, killing five people, in what Beijing said was a terrorist attack.

China has said Islamist militants from Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Separatist groups in Xinjiang are seeking to form their own state called East Turkestan.

Xinjiang, resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of central Asia, is home to the Uighur people, a mostly Muslim ethnic group who speak a Turkic language and are culturally distinct from China’s ethnic Han majority.

Violent riots shook the region in 2009, when hundreds of locals took to the streets in Urumqi, burning and smashing vehicles. Dozens were killed in the unrest.

But exiles and rights groups say China’s repressive policies that have targeted religious freedoms and economic opportunities for Uighurs are the culprits when it comes to unrest.

In recent weeks, China has strengthened a crackdown on Uighurs in the region, jailing dozens for spreading extremist propaganda and manufacturing arms, among other charges.

Christopher Johnson, a former China analyst at the CIA, said China’s leadership may come to the realisation that a policy of constantly tightening controls on Xinjiang may not be effective in preventing attacks.

“I’m kind of doubtful that they are going to announce some sort of more liberal policy,” said Johnson, who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“But sooner or later I think they are going to have to come to that reality because the evidence is just smacking them in the face.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Hua Hin

Children injured on Hua Hin carnival ride, no safety certification submitted

Caitlin Ashworth

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Children injured on Hua Hin carnival ride, no safety certification submitted | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

3 children were injured when a carnival ride malfunctioned at the Hua Hin Red Cross Festival in Prachuap Khiri Khan. The required safety certification was not submitted and local officials are investigating, according to Mayor Nopphon Wutthikul. Carnival rides now are closed for the duration of the festival.

“Preliminary inspection revealed that they had yet to submit safety certification signed by licensed engineers from related government agencies. We will further investigate this matter to find out if there was misconduct by any official.”

The children were on an octopus amusement ride when the hydraulics system failed. Children rode in colourful cars attached to arms that arch and connect to a central axis, resembling the shape of an octopus. The central axis spins and goes up and down.

10 children were on the ride around 10pm Friday when the hydraulics system broke, according to the festival organiser Pannee Klomtheri. A Facebook user made a post saying she saw the ride collapse. Pannee says the injuries are not serious.

“Three children were injured and were sent to Bangkok Hua Hin Hospital with some bruises. Doctors said all the kids are now fine. There was no death caused by the incident.”

Pannee says the octopus ride and other nearby rides will be closed while local officials inspect the site. The festival ends on December 6.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Drugs

Burmese man busted with 20 kilograms of kratom

The Thaiger

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Burmese man busted with 20 kilograms of kratom | The Thaiger

A Myanmar man has been busted with 20 kilograms of kratom after he illegally crossed a natural border into Thailand in the southern Muang district in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Border patrol police and administrative officials were patrolling Ban Hup Phueng, a village near the natural pass on the Myanmar border, when they noticed a man walking with a shoulder bag.

45 year old San Nyunt was then arrested after police found his shoulder bag containing the kratom leaves. Kratom, is a mild narcotic, which has been categorised as an illegal drug in Thailand. San was then charged with illegal entry and possession of illicit drugs.

Such arrests of illegal border crossing have been more prevalent in recent months as the province has stepped up surveillance of the border due to the Covid-10 pandemic.

Source: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

The Pattaya to Hua Hin bridge. Government discusses 900 billion baht investment.

Caitlin Ashworth

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The Pattaya to Hua Hin bridge. Government discusses 900 billion baht investment. | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Post

The government is looking into a so-called “Thai Bridge” that would connect Pattaya to Hua Hin, an estimated 900 billion baht investment. The project would be part of the Eastern Economic Corridor development plan aimed at improving the transportation and infrastructure in Thailand.

The 900 billion baht investment is expected to take 10 years to financially implement, according to chairperson of the government’s committee for the Mobilisation of Economic Management Measures, Pailin Chuchottaworn. The Centre for Economic Situation Administration has approved the investment project to move forward with a pre-feasibility study by the EEC’s policy committee.

“We have to admit that 900 billion baht is a huge amount of money, but it is reasonable when considering its final results. It is also cheaper than some other mega projects that are currently being accelerated. We also planned to hire local Thai people and buy local materials for the construction to reduce the cost as well.”

The bridge would join other mega-projects by the EEC like a high speed rail that will link the major airports in Bangkok… Don Mueang Airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport and U-Tapao Airport (south of Pattaya). The train is expected to travel at 250 kilometres per hour. Another project is the renovation and extension of the U-Tapao International Airport. The EEC says the project will bring in 60 million passengers a year and is expected to be in operation by 2024.

The Pattaya to Hua Hin bridge. Government discusses 900 billion baht investment. | News by The Thaiger

The 80 to 100 kilometre bridge will most likely connect Pattaya to Hua Hin (likely to be just south of Pattaya in Sattahip), but also connect many provinces in the South. The bridge would likely increase tourism in Hua Hin. Pattaya draws in a larger crowd than Hua Hin with 10 times more tourists than the southern district, Pailin says.

The bridge will also need to allow shipping to traverse the Gulf of Thailand to Laem Chabang in Chon Buri.

“In truth, the tourists want to travel to both cities but they choose Pattaya first partly because Chon Buri has more attractions and more convenient transportation options. Many projects are also being built in Chonburi and the EEC in the coming future, such as a three-airport monorail and a city monorail which will potentially attract more travelers to the area, while none of the projects in the other tourist cities in the Gulf of Thailand were discussed.”

SOURCES: Pattaya News | EEC

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