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