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Posts Tagged ‘blames’

N.Korea warns of more strikes, blames US as carrier heads in

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 5:20 am

SEOUL, Nov 25, 2010 (AFP) – North Korea on Thursday blamed the South and the US for provoking its artillery bombardment and warned it was ready to strike again, as a US carrier headed in for war games off the tense peninsula.

World powers agonised over how to deal with the volatile and nuclear-armed communist regime over its attack on a Yellow Sea island, in what one veteran North Korea watcher labelled a diplomatic “problem from hell”.

Isolated North Korea charged in a statement that “the US can never evade responsibility for the recent exchange of fire”, which saw four people killed when Pyongyang’s forces shelled the island in disputed waters on Tuesday.

An armed North Korean soldier (L) and civilian talk on the banks of of the North Korean border town of Siniuju across the Yalu River from Dandong in northeast China’s Liaoning province on November 25, 2010. AFP

“If the warmongering South Korean puppets fail to return to their senses and commit another reckless military provocation, our army will carry out second and third rounds of powerful physical retaliatory strikes without hesitation.”

The warning came as the US and South Korean navies plan to hold a four-day naval exercise in the Yellow Sea from Sunday that will involve a strike group headed by aircraft carrier the USS George Washington.

Although the show of allied maritime firepower had been scheduled well before this week’s attacks, the US military said, it would also demonstrate the US “commitment to regional stability through deterrence”.

South Korea also said Thursday it would “sharply increase military forces, including ground troops, on the five islands in the Yellow Sea and allocate more of its budget toward dealing with North Korea’s asymmetrical threats”.

Enraged by the first shelling of its civilians since the 1950-53 Korean War, South Korea was still counting the cost of the attack on Yeonpyeong island, which lies near the tense post-war sea demarcation line.

The explosions that shattered the calm of the remote islet killed two marines and two civilians, wounded 18 others, left 22 buildings in charred ruins and sent hundreds of terrified residents fleeing to the mainland.

US President Barack Obama has pledged to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with ally South Korea, where 28,500 American troops are stationed, facing off across a Cold War era frontier.

The world has often been baffled by the regime ruling impoverished North Korea, which has staged two nuclear tests, fired missiles over Japan and this month showed off to a US academic a modern new nuclear facility.

Many observers believe Tuesday’s attack was meant to highlight the military credentials of the leader-in-waiting — Kim Jong-il’s little-known 27-year-old son Kim Jong-Un, who two months ago took a key military post.

North Korea has also rejected a proposal by the US-led United Nations Command, which supervises the armistice, to hold military talks on the attack, Yonhap news agency reported citing a South Korean defence official.

While the US, European powers, South Korea and Japan have long pushed hard to sanction the regime, China and Russia have favoured a softer line with Pyongyang, a Cold War era ally and neighbour to both.

When an intergovernmental expert panel found that a North Korean submarine in March torpedoed and sank a South Korean corvette the Cheonan, killing all 46 sailor aboard, China refused to blame the Pyongyang regime.

Premier Wen Jiabao said in Moscow that “China is firmly committed to maintaining the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and opposes any provocative military acts”.

It was not clear whether Wen was referring to the North Korean shelling or to the planned US-South Korean military exercises. Beijing has bitterly opposed similar war games there in the past.

North Korea expert Peter Beck, with the US think tank the Council on Foreign Relations, said: “In the wake of the Cheonan sinking, Beijing showed us that they are more than willing to put up with Pyongyang’s worst behaviour.”

“Given that this incident brings us closer to the brink of war than the Cheonan, Beijing might conclude that enough is enough and quietly put their foot down, but I am not holding my breath.”

Source: SGGP

N.Korea blames South over attacks, says ready to fire again

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 1:20 am

SEOUL, Nov 25, 2010 (AFP) – North Korea again blamed the rival South for provoking a deadly artillery attack on a border island and warned that it stood ready to strike once more.

The country, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), said it fired a barrage of shells Tuesday because South Korea’s military had failed to call off a military exercise in disputed waters.

“The DPRK that sets store by the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula is now exercising superhuman self-control, but the artillery pieces of the army of the DPRK, the defender of justice, remain ready to fire,” a government statement released late Wednesday said.

North Korea killed at least four people when it fired 80 shells on to Yeonpyeong island, which lies near the disputed Yellow Sea border.

Pyongyang does not accept the UN demarcation line running through maritime territories which was drawn after the 1950-53 Korean war.

In a statement attributed to a foreign ministry spokesman, the North reiterated its case that Seoul provoked the attack by carrying out live-fire exercises on the island that sent shells into waters claimed by the North.

“The enemy fired shells from the islet which is so close to the territory of the DPRK that it is within each other’s eyeshot,” it said.

“This powder-reeking sabre-rattling cannot be construed otherwise than a politically motivated provocation.”

North Korea said that when South Korea went ahead with the exercise after repeated requests to halt it, it was forced to retaliate.

“The army of the DPRK (North Korea) took such a self-defensive measure as making a prompt powerful strike at the artillery positions from which the enemy fired the shells as it does not make an empty talk,” it said.

Source: SGGP

Iran blames West, Israel for bombings

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm

A wounded Iranian woman rests at a hospital in the southeastern city of Zahedan. AFP

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran blamed the West and Israel on Saturday for twin suicide bombings which killed at least 27 people, despite condemnation of the attack by the European Union, United Nations and United States.

Iranian police, meanwhile, arrested 40 people for “creating disturbances” in the southeastern city of Zahedan where the bombers struck on Thursday, the Mehr news agency reported.

“This blind terrorist act was carried out by the mercenaries of the world arrogance (the Western powers),” state television’s website quoted Deputy Interior Minister Ali Abdollahi as saying.

“The agents of this crime were trained and equipped beyond our borders and then came into Iran,” Abdollahi said.

Sunni militant group Jundallah has said it carried out the bombings which targeted members of the elite Revolutionary Guards at a Shiite mosque in Zahedan, capital of the restive province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

It said the attacks were to avenge the execution of their leader Abdolmalek Rigi on June 20.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani directly accused the United States for the bombings.

“Today, the country is mourning the tragic explosion in Zahedan which was done with the backing of Americans. Americans can’t come up with any excuse since they are connected with the Rigi group,” he said, quoted on the website.

Crowds of mourners gathered in Zahedan on Saturday for a mass funeral for the bombings’ victims. They assembled outside the city’s Jamia mosque where the bombers struck for a procession to the main cemetery.

“Those who committed these terrorist acts are neither Shiite nor Sunni,” read one banner carried by the mourners, while crowds chanted: “Death to terrorists,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

Tehran has long charged that Washington has provided support to the Rigi group as part of efforts to destabilise the Islamic regime by fomenting unrest among ethnic minorities in sensitive border areas.

But US President Barack Obama has condemned the “outrageous terrorist attacks,” while UN chief Ban Ki-moon blasted a “senseless act of terrorism” and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton condemned “these cowardly terrorist attacks.”

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar pointed the finger at Israel, Iran’s arch-foe.

“The terrorist act by the Zionists had a number of objectives, including creating division between Shiites and Sunnis,” the ISNA news agency quoted Najjar as saying.

He said Iran’s security and intelligence services now had “a grip on the situation.”

But MP Abbas Ali Noora from Sistan-Baluchestan resigned in protest at the handling of security in the province, saying such an attack was expected after the execution of Rigi.

“The culture of this region is of revenge. After Rigi’s execution, we had warned that this group would retaliate,” he told ILNA news agency. “We expected such retaliatory actions” on days linked to Shiite religious events.

Noora was the second lawmaker from the region to resign, following the example of Zahedan parliamentarian Hossein Ali Shahriari who stepped down shortly after the attack.

Thursday’s bombing came as Shiite worshippers were celebrating the birthday of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

In a message to the people of Sistan-Baluchestan, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on “Sunni and Shiite Muslims to be patient and to maintain unity,” the Fars news agency reported.

Jundallah claims it is fighting for the rights of Baluchis who make up a significant proportion of the population of Sistan-Baluchestan province and who, unlike Iran’s Shiite majority, mainly follow the Sunni branch of Islam.

The province borders Afghanistan and Pakistan and analysts says Jundallah has exploited the unrest in the region to find safe haven on the frontier.

Source: SGGP

Australia blames dollar plunge on Europe

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2010 at 9:15 am

SYDNEY, May 21, 2010 (AFP) – The steep plunge in the Australian dollar, which hit nine-month lows Friday, was due to global uncertainty not a proposed mining tax, the country’s deputy prime minister said.

The Australian dollar was trading at 93.04 US cents at the end of last month and this week hit a low point of 80.73 US cents.

At the close of business Friday it had recovered from sharp losses early in the day to be at 82.73 US cents. However, the currency has fallen 11.1 percent for the month thus far.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the fall was related to the wave of uncertainty in Europe and the United States stemming from Greece’s debt woes and not Australia’s proposed 40 percent tax on the so-called super profits of the resources sector.

“The euro is falling dramatically,” Julia Gillard told the Nine Network when asked whether the dollar’s dive was related to the proposed tax on the country’s most important export sector.

“We are seeing instability in Greece and what we know from the global financial crisis is when you get instability somewhere it feeds around the world.

“We are seeing a flight to the US currency. Whenever there are problems around the world people flow to the US dollar because it’s viewed to be the world’s strongest currency.”

The Australian dollar, which in 2007 was close to reaching parity with the greenback before it was pulled down under the weight of the global financial crisis, has hit some of its lowest points since July 2009 in the past week.

Australia’s economy is riding a commodities boom driven by Asia and the government’s plans to tap into resources’ companies profits has angered mining firms, which say it will drive investment offshore.

But Gillard said the government was committed to its controversial tax, although she did not rule out changes.

Source: SGGP

Indonesian ferry captain blames storm as search resumes

In World on November 23, 2009 at 7:04 am

Indonesia, Nov 23, 2009 (AFP) – The captain of an Indonesian ferry which sank killing 29 people rejected claims of overcrowding Monday and blamed a freak storm for the disaster, as officials launched an investigation.

The search for survivors from the Dumai Express resumed for a second day off Karimun island, near Singapore, amid fears scores of people could be lost at sea or trapped in the wreck at the bottom of the Malacca Strait.

Survivors from the 147-tonne Dumai Express ferry which went down in heavy rain and huge swells off Karimun island – Sumatra arrive at the port on November 22, 2009 (AFP photo)

With the official toll standing at 29 dead and 250 rescued, officials arrived at Karimun to try to piece together what caused the latest in a litany of ferry disasters in Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands.

The 147-tonne vessel’s capacity was 273 passengers and crew, but local police said more than 400 people could have been on board. Two survivors told AFP its decks were packed with undocumented passengers.

Captain Johan Napitupulu rejected the allegations and said he had no warning he was sailing into a massive storm when he left Batam island on Sunday morning.

“The weather was fine when we left Batam port. There was no sign of rain and we also didn’t get any warning from anybody saying the weather could turn bad at sea,” he told AFP.

“About half an hour later the weather suddenly turned really, really bad. The waves were higher than two metres (six feet), the winds and currents were strong.”

The captain said the crew had done all it could to arrange lifeboats and life-jackets for the terrified passengers.

“The ferry was sinking fast, front first. Within 27 minutes it was totally submerged… There was panic, everyone was screaming,” Napitupulu said.

Survivor Amir Azli, a 56-year-old high-school teacher, estimated more than 350 people were on board, many with heavy suitcases as they set off to spend time with their families ahead of a Muslim holiday on Friday.

“I saw at least 50 people without tickets sitting on the top deck of the ferry… It wasn’t just the bad weather,” he said as he recovered in Tanjung Balai on Karimun.

“The ferry was overloaded so of course I’m angry that the ferry operator broke the safety rules and people had to die because of that.”

Another survivor, 25-year-old factory worker Zulfitri added: “The ferry was overcrowded with people and things. On the first floor there were people standing because they had no seats”.

“They didn’t tell us there was a problem but only asked us to stay calm. We only realised we were in trouble when we saw the ferry sinking and that’s when we demanded life-jackets,” she said.

Karimun-based Navy Lieutenant-Colonel Edwin said the boat’s manifest listed 242 passengers and crew including 15 children, indicating some of the passengers were undocumented.

“There’s an indication of overcapacity,” he told AFP.

“The chances of finding survivors are still high because they were wearing life-jackets.”

Heavy seas were preventing navy divers from finding the wreck to determine if anyone was trapped below decks, he said.

Ferry disasters are common in Indonesia despite repeated official promises to tighten and enforce safety regulations.

Up to 335 people were killed when a heavily overloaded ferry sank off Sulawesi island in January. In December 2006 a ferry went down in a storm off the coast of Java, killing more than 500 people.

The actual number of deaths from such sinkings is rarely known because captains and port masters routinely falsify how many passengers are on board, or simply fail to count them.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share