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Afghan gun­men kill five fe­male air­port work­ers

KANDAHAR: Gun­men shot dead five fe­male air­port work­ers and their driver in south­ern Afghanistan yes­ter­day, un­der­lin­ing the threat to em­ployed women in the coun­try. The women were in a van driv­ing to the air­port in the south­ern Kandahar prov­ince when at least three gun­men on mo­tor­cy­cles opened fire at them, pro­vin­cial spokesman Samim Khe­p­lwak told AFP. “All the women and their driver aboard the van were killed. The at­tack­ers fled the area and we have launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said. Kandahar In­ter­na­tional Air­port Di­rec­tor Ah­madul­lah Faizi said the women were em­ploy­ees of a pri­vate com­pany who would pro­vide lug­gage and body search ser­vices for fe­male pas­sen­gers. He said the women were con­cerned about their se­cu­rity af­ter re­ceiv­ing death threats from peo­ple who dis­ap­proved of their ca­reer. No one im­me­di­ately claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, but Kandahar fe­males who work out­side their homes have long been at high risk of at­tack from Tale­ban mil­i­tants and other in­sur­gent groups. Afghan women have made gi­ant strides since the Tale­ban regime was ousted in 2001, but they are still ab­sent from pub­lic life and con­tinue to suf­fer high lev­els of vi­o­lence, op­pres­sion and abuse.

3 ar­rested for lynch­ing cou­ple over ‘witchcraft’

NEW DELHI: A mob beat to death an el­derly cou­ple ac­cused of witchcraft in east­ern In­dia, po­lice said yes­ter­day, the sec­ond such killing in the re­gion in two weeks. Three peo­ple have been ar­rested over the lynch­ing, po­lice said, adding that the cou­ple, both in their late six­ties, had been sus­pected of us­ing black magic to kill their neigh­bors in a re­mote tribal district of Jhark­hand state. Af­ter ru­mors spread that the cou­ple had killed four peo­ple with witchcraft, the mob set upon them, beat­ing them to death and burn­ing down their house. “The ac­cused said they killed the cou­ple in re­venge to the death of their four rel­a­tives, who they be­lieve were killed by the cou­ple us­ing witchcraft,” lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cer Amit Ku­mar Singh told AFP. Last week, in another vil­lage in the im­pro­vised state, a 60year-old wo­man was burnt to death by her neigh­bor on sus­pi­cion of hav­ing used black magic to kill a new­born baby. Po­lice ar­rested the neigh­bor on charges of mur­der. Ex­perts say be­lief in witchcraft and the oc­cult re­mains wide­spread in many tribal and re­mote ar­eas of In­dia, where oc­ca­sional in­ci­dents of hu­man sac­ri­fices have also been re­ported. More than 2,000 peo­ple were killed in In­dia on sus­pi­cion of witchcraft be­tween 2000 and 2012.

China protests Dalai Lama meet­ing with In­dian prez

BEIJING: China has ob­jected to the Dalai Lama meet­ing with In­dian Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee ear­lier this month, say­ing the talks had neg­a­tively im­pacted ties be­tween the Asian neigh­bors. The Ti­betan spir­i­tual leader met with Mukher­jee at the In­dian pres­i­den­tial palace in New Delhi dur­ing a child wel­fare sum­mit at­tended by No­bel lau­re­ates and world lead­ers on De­cem­ber 10-11. “The Chi­nese side is firmly op­posed to any form of con­tacts be­tween of­fi­cials of other coun­tries with him (the Dalai Lama),” Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang told a reg­u­lar me­dia brief­ing Fri­day. “We urge the In­dian side to... fully re­spect China’s core in­ter­est and ma­jor con­cerns, (and) take ef­fec­tive means to re­move the neg­a­tive im­pact caused by the in­ci­dent, so as to avoid dis­tur­bance to the China-In­dia re­la­tion­ship.” In­dia’s ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­istry brushed off Beijing’s ob­jec­tions, say­ing the Dalai Lama and Mukher­jee had met at a “non-po­lit­i­cal” event, lo­cal me­dia re­ported. The Dalai Lama fled to In­dia af­ter a failed up­ris­ing in 1959, but is still deeply revered by many Ti­betans in China. — Agen­cies

Sri Lanka road ac­ci­dent kills 10, more wounded

Ten pas­sen­gers were killed and another 21 wounded yes­ter­day when a van and a bus col­lided on a high­way in Sri Lankaís former war zone of Jaffna, po­lice said. All those killed in the head-on col­li­sion along the A-9 high­way were pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling in the smaller ve­hi­cle, po­lice said adding that three of the wounded were in crit­i­cal con­di­tion. The crash in­volved a van head­ing to Jaffna town and a big­ger bus trav­el­ling in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, po­lice said, adding that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der­way. A po­lice of­fi­cer told AFP it was the worst crash in the area that he could re­mem­ber. Last month, the govern­ment pro­posed sig­nif­i­cantly rais­ing the av­er­age traf­fic fine of 500 ru­pees to 25,000 ru­pees ($166) in a bid to re­duce the num­ber of ac­ci­dents on Sri Lankan roads. About 3,000 peo­ple are killed in traf­fic ac­ci­dents in the south Asian coun­try an­nu­ally.

KANDAHAR: An Afghan po­lice­man in­spects a dam­aged ve­hi­cle in Kandahar yes­ter­day, in which five fe­male air­port work­ers were killed. —AFP

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