News & Current Affairs

September 7, 2008

Mudslides bury Philippines homes

Mudslides bury Philippines homes

Crushed house (07/09/08)

The ramshackle houses were crushed by cascading tonnes of mud

At least 11 people have been killed and 14 others are missing after landslides triggered by heavy rains buried several houses in the southern Philippines.

Dozens of rescue workers have been trying to reach victims trapped under debris in Compostela Valley, about 840km (520 miles) south-east of Manila.

Up to 30 makeshift houses were destroyed by falling mud and rocks in the disaster on Mindanao island.

Hundreds of people have fled the area because of the risk of more mudslides.

Army, police and civilian volunteers searched for survivors amid treacherous conditions, while two air force helicopters were deployed to ferry victims to hospital.

“Our people are battling against weather and time,” Major Armand Rico was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

A first landslide hit the area on Saturday, followed by a second one early on Sunday.

Officials have ordered people to leave the area because of the threat of a further landslide.

Such incidents are common in the Philippines, especially in low-lying and mining and coastal areas, during the monsoon season between May and October.

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August 12, 2008

Protesters shot dead in Kashmir

Protesters shot dead in Kashmir

Protesters defying curfew in Srinagar on August 12 2008

Protests over land erupted in June

At least seven people were killed and many injured when security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir opened fire onĀ  stone-throwing Muslim protesters.

Thousands defied a curfew in Srinagar and other towns in the mainly Muslim Kashmir valley for a second day. One person died in clashes in Jammu region.

The curfew was imposed ahead of the burial of a senior separatist who died after police opened fire on Monday.

Tensions are rising and threaten peace hopes after years of relative calm.

The BBC’s Chris Morris in Delhi says Kashmir has now become dangerously polarized, in a dispute which began over the control of a small piece of land.

Protests and counter-protests have been taking place for weeks in the Kashmir valley, and in the mainly Hindu region around the city of Jammu further south.

The demonstrations in the valley are some the biggest since a separatist rebellion against Indian rule broke out nearly 20 years ago.

‘Freedom’

Security forces opened fire on Tuesday on a number of protests by Muslims who defied the curfew.

If the blockade continues it will be a disaster for us
Mohammad Yousuf,
Kashmir Fruit Growers’ Association

The army fired to disperse a procession in the northern district of Bandipora, killing three people and injuring five. Three other people were killed in the Lasjan and Rainawari areas.

“We have imposed a curfew to ensure the peaceful burial of Sheikh Aziz,” local police chief Kuldeep Khuda told reporters.

In the Jammu region, one person was killed and more than a dozen injured after Hindus and Muslims clashed in the town of Kishtwar. Houses, vehicles and other property were damaged before police opened fire to restore order.

No other violence has been reported from the Jammu region.

Sheikh Aziz was a prominent leader of the All Party Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella of separatist groups which opposes Indian rule.

His body has been kept in a mosque in Srinagar. Mourners have stayed with the body and shouted slogans like “We want freedom”.

The police said they were trying to find out why security forces opened fire on the protesters on Monday.

Police say several of their personnel were injured by stones thrown by those at the protest.

Pilgrims

Sheikh Aziz was among thousands of protesters who marched on Monday towards the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border with Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

Kashmiri Muslim protester runs for cover as tear gas shell explode near them during a march in Srinagar 11 August

The violence is spreading

They were supporting fruit growers who wanted to sell their produce. Muslims say Hindus in the state are blockading a key highway that links the Kashmir valley with the rest of India.

The government, which denies the blockade, says lorries are moving between the two regions with security escorts.

Hindus have protested for weeks since the authorities scrapped plans to transfer land to a Hindu trust.

With the highway blocked for days, the Muslim fruit growers have complained that their produce is rotting.

The land row started when the state government said it would grant 99 acres (40 hectares) of forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board to be used by Hindu pilgrims.

Muslims launched violent protests, saying the allocation of land was aimed at altering the demographic balance in the area.

But following days of protests, the government rescinded the order, prompting Hindu groups to mount violent protests of their own.

More than 20 people – Muslims and Hindus – have been killed and hundreds wounded in clashes with police since the unrest began.

August 5, 2008

Taleban ‘burn Pakistan schools’

Filed under: Latest — Tags: , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 9:28 pm

Taleban ‘burn Pakistan schools’

School hit by arsonists in Swat

More and more schools are being destroyed in Swat

Suspected pro-Taleban militants have burnt down three more girls’ high schools in the Swat valley of north-west Pakistan, officials say.

Ten schools have been destroyed in the district in the last four days.

Nearly 70 state-run schools have been burnt down in the area in recent months, affecting over 17,000 students.

There has been no word from militant groups in relation to the latest arson attacks, but local militants group have admitted to such attacks in the past.

Correspondents say militant groups trying to enforce strict Islamic law want the schools to be shut down.

The area is now under a night curfew and no fresh incident of violence has been reported so far on Tuesday.

On Monday night, a girls’ high school was set on fire in the Matta area which completely destroyed the library and classrooms.

This was followed by two other attacks on different schools in nearby Mingora and Kanju.

Truce collapse

Figures released by the Pakistani army on Monday said that at least 94 militants, 14 soldiers and around 28 civilians had been killed over the previous week.

Torched school in Swat

The militants deny they are responsible for the attacks

The army says it compiled the militant casualty figures by constantly intercepting their radio messages.

The militants say only 10 of their fighters have died.

The military also said that it would soon launch an all-out offensive against militants in Swat, shattering a fragile deal between the two sides signed two months ago.

Both the militants and the military routinely accuse each other of exaggerating the others’ level of casualties.

Correspondents says that the security situation in Swat has been steadily deteriorating since the breakdown last week of a peace agreement between the government and pro-Taleban cleric Maulana Fazlullah.

The Swat valley has been the scene of an insurgency by his followers since 2007. They want to enforce his version of Islamic Sharia law in the region.

The militants have accused the government of reneging on the terms of May’s deal and have pledged to carry on fighting until all troops are withdrawn from the valley.

Mullah Fazlullah launched a campaign of violence last year, drawing the army into a conflict at a time when militants across north-west Pakistan had launched a wave of suicide attacks on security forces and leading politicians.

The Swat accord was part of the government’s plan to end Islamist militancy through peace deals.

The strategy led to a dramatic drop in suicide bombings but critics say it has also allowed the Taleban to regroup.

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