KUNDUZ: A motorcycle carrying explosives blew up among supporters of an Afghan election candidate on Saturday, killing at least 14 people, officials said, in the latest attack on a political rally.
Violence related to the parliamentary vote has killed or wounded hundreds of people in recent months and more militant attacks are expected ahead of Afghanistan’s October 20 poll. More than 30 people were wounded in the explosion in the northeastern province of Takhar where candidate Nazifa Yousefibek had been campaigning, provincial governor spokesman Mohammad Jawad Hejri told the Media. Interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said most of the 14 killed were civilians.
“The explosives were placed in a motorcycle and detonated behind a tent where Nazifa Yousefibek was campaigning,” Rahimi said. Yousefibek was not hurt in the blast. No group has claimed responsibility. Ambulances have been sent to the remote district of Rustaq where the attack happened, but officials also are seeking to airlift the wounded to hospitals, Hejri said.
Khan Jan, who told AFP he saw the explosion, said there had been a powerful blast and “a lot of people” had been killed. More than 2,500 candidates are contesting the long-delayed legislative elections. At least nine candidates have died so far, most of them in targeted killings, according to the Independent Election Commission. A candidate was among eight people killed in a suicide attack in the southern province of Helmand – a Taliban stronghold – on October 9. No group has claimed responsibility. That incident came a day after the Taliban warned candidates to pull out of the “bogus” election, describing it as a “malicious American conspiracy”.
The group vowed to attack the ballot and those involved in it. An attack on a rally in the eastern province of Nangarhar on October 2 killed 13 people and wounded more than 40. The Islamic State group claimed the attack, which the candidate survived. Violence had been expected to escalate ahead of the poll. Preparations for the ballot, which is a test run for next year’s presidential vote, have been in turmoil for months and there has been a debate about whether the vote should go ahead.
Bureaucratic inefficiency, allegations of industrial-scale fraud and an eleventh-hour pledge for biometric verification of voters threaten to derail the process, which is three years late. Some 54,000 members of Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces will be responsible for protecting more than 5,000 polling centers on election day. But there are concerns over how they will manage as the Taliban and the Islamic State group step up attacks across the country.
China to remain top market for Asia-Pacific economies
LONDON: Despite a recent decline, China will remain the prime destination for Asia-Pacific (APAC) exports for several years to come, the British think tank Oxford Economics said today.
According to Oxford Economics researchers, APAC economies have been highly integrated with China’s economy since the country’s WTO accession in 2001. Given their geographic proximity, APAC countries even have stronger trade links with China than with the rest of the world.
“While China has become a principal final destination for many APAC exports, what’s more striking is that China is also the largest import source for most APAC countries,” they said in a study.
China plays an increasingly significant trade role for Asian countries such as India or Vietnam, which strive to increase income level and stimulate industrial development.
“Participating in Asia’s supply chain and penetrating the Chinese market are key to helping industrial sectors succeed,” the report added.
Meanwhile, trade dependence on China is also growing outside of Asia, the report showed.
“Resource-rich emerging countries outside of Asia, such as Chile, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, have high export intensities with China, exporting large amounts of energy and commodities there,” it said.
The researchers added that these countries’ “export intensities with China are even higher” than those of many Asian countries.
Furthermore, countries “such as Russia and Argentina have higher import than export intensities given that they import even larger amounts of manufactured goods from China compared to the energy and commodities they export,” it said.
China busts online fraud rings
BEIJING: Chinese police have nabbed 36 suspects in a series of fraud cases targeting middle-aged and elderly people on the Internet, said the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) at a Press Conference today.
The police accused the suspects of luring victims into joining fake poverty-reduction foundations and science projects with forged official documents and stamps. Chen Shiqu, deputy director of the criminal investigation bureau under the MPS, said the fraud rings specifically targeted their victims, most of whom were middle-aged and elderly people, by setting up group chats on popular messaging platforms such as WeChat and posting false information.
Chen also warned the public to watch out for false information posted on the Internet and in mobile applications. The police did not reveal how much money was swindled out of the victims, but a total of 2.73 million yuan (404,000 U.S. dollars) involved in the cases were frozen.
Tokyo’s Nikkei index closes up one percent
TOKYO: Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index jumped nearly one percent today as investors welcomed a weak yen and a broader rally in Asian shares.
The Nikkei 225 index rose 0.96 percent, or 195.59 points, to close at 20,555.29 while the broader Topix index was up 0.85 percent, or 12.99 points, at 1,542.72.
Tokyo shares opened lower after a public holiday the previous day with the market weighed by fears over a slowdown in the global economy following disappointing Chinese trade data.
Figures released on Monday showed drops in China’s exports and imports, fuelling fears of a global slowdown and sending world stocks slumping.
But shares entered positive territory by noon as the yen gradually declined against the dollar, boosting investor sentiment.
The dollar bought 108.69 yen in afternoon trade against 108.17 yen in New York on Monday afternoon.
Investors were also encouraged by gains in Chinese and other Asian shares, brokers said.
“Investors continued buying back shares which fell sharply recently,” said Daiwa Securities senior technical analyst Hikaru Sato.
“There still is room for buying as the market is recovering from the recent plunge,” Sato told the Media.
In individual stocks trade, Hitachi added 7.08 percent to 3,583 yen after soaring 8.63 percent on Friday as risk-averse investors welcomed a report in the Nikkei business daily that the company had decided to freeze its plan to build a nuclear power plant in Britain.
Olympus, which jumped nearly 10 percent on Friday following the appointment of a new CEO, added 17.47 percent to 4,705 yen.
IT investor SoftBank Group gained 0.14 percent to 7,709 yen, and Nissan edged down 0.19 percent to 903.7 yen.