Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Thai police charge two eight-year-old girls who tore down pink lists <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Two 8-year-old girls in Thailand have been charged for violating campaigning rules ahead of a contentious referendum next month after tearing voter lists off a wall because they liked the pink paper they were printed on, police said on Sunday.</p><p>The military government has clamped down on dissent ahead of the August 7 vote on a military-backed constitution that it says will ensure stability in a country rocked by political turmoil for more than a decade.</p><p>The girls were charged with obstructing the referendum process and destroying public property after tearing down the lists posted outside a school, said Damrong Phetpong, police commander in the northern province of Kamphaeng Phet.</p><p>&quot;They confessed to tearing down the voter lists because they liked the color pink,&quot; Damrong told Reuters.</p><p>He said they would not face punishment because they were so young.</p><p>The referendum will be the first big test of the public&#39;s opinion of the military government since it came to power after a May 2014 coup.</p><p>Critics, including major political parties, say the draft charter would give the military too much power over elected governments, and would not resolve differences between populist political forces and the military-dominated establishment.</p><p>The government, which appears increasingly jittery ahead of the vote, has brought in a law banning discussion of the constitution and lobbying, both for and against, with a 10-year prison sentence for anyone who breaks it.</p> Sun, 24 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Reuters 2471322 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/07/24/505021/thai_protester.jpg Munich gunman fixated on mass killing, had no Islamist ties <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>A German-Iranian teenager who shot dead nine people in Munich was a deranged lone gunman obsessed with mass killings who drew no inspiration from Islamist militancy, police said on Saturday.</p><p>The 18-year-old, born and raised locally, opened fire near a busy shopping mall on Friday evening, triggering a lockdown in the Bavarian state capital.</p><p>Seven of his victims were themselves teenagers, who police said he may have lured to their deaths via a hacked Facebook account on what was the fifth anniversary of twin attacks by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik that killed 77 people.</p><p>The Munich shooting, in which a further 27 people were wounded, some seriously, was the third act of violence against civilians in Western Europe &mdash;&nbsp;and the second in southern Germany &mdash; in eight days.</p><p>Bavarian state crime office president Robert Heimberger said the gunman, who German media named as Ali David Sonboly, was carrying more than 300 bullets in his backpack and pistol when he shot himself.</p><p>Munich police witnessed the suicide at 8:30 p.m. local time, the police force said on Saturday.</p><p>Following a police search of the attacker&#39;s room, where a book on teenage shooting sprees was discovered, Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae all but ruled out an Islamist militant link to the attack.</p><p>&quot;Based on the searches, there are no indications whatsoever that there is a connection to Islamic State&quot; or to the issue of refugees, he told a news conference.</p><p>&quot;Documents on shooting sprees were found, so the perpetrator obviously researched this subject intensively.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>The gunman was born and brought up in the Munich area and had spent time in psychiatric care, and there was no evidence to suggest he had had an accomplice, Andrae said.</p><p>Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said it was also too early to associate the Munich shootings with Breivik, who in 2011 shot dead 69 attendees at a youth summer camp hours after murdering eight others by detonating a van bomb in Oslo.</p><p>But he told German public television the government would look carefully at its security measures once the investigation was completed to see if any changes were needed.</p><p>De Maiziere said a unit a federal police had been readied on Friday given initial indications of a possible large militant attack, but in the end it was not used.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Fast-food invite?</strong></p><p>Robert Heimberger, president of the Bavarian state criminal agency, told the news conference police were investigating findings suggesting the Munich gunman invited people to a fast food restaurant at the mall via the Facebook account.</p><p>&quot;[He] said he would treat them to what they wanted as long as it wasn&#39;t too expensive - that was the invitation,&quot; Heimberger said. He added that this still needed to be verified, but there were many clues suggesting the attacker had set up the invitation and sent it or posted it online.</p><p>Turkey&#39;s foreign minister said three Turkish citizens were among nine people killed in the Munich attack while Greece&#39;s foreign ministry said one Greek was among the dead. According to foreign media reports, there were also three Kosovo Albanian victims.&nbsp;</p><div id="related-video"><div><h2 tns="no">&nbsp;</h2></div></div><p>Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was &quot;mourning with a heavy heart&quot; for those killed, and that the security services would do everything to ensure the public was safe.</p><p>Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer said the killings - together with an axe attack by a 17-year-old asylum-seeker that injured five people in Wuerzburg, also in Bavaria, on Monday - should not be allowed to undermine democratic freedoms.</p><p>&quot;For the second time in a few days we&#39;ve been shaken by an incomprehensible bloodbath ... Uncertainty and fear must not be allowed to gain the upper hand,&quot; a visibly distressed Seehofer told reporters.</p><p>Both the Wuerzburg attack, and the Bastille Day rampage by a truck driver in Nice, France that killed 84 people on July 14, were claimed by Islamic State militants.</p><p><strong>&#39;Why kids kill&#39;</strong></p><p>The Munich gunman, whose father a neighbor said had worked as a taxi driver, had no criminal record but had been a victim of theft in 2010 and assault in 2012, police said.</p><p>De Maiziere said there were indications the killer had been bullied &quot;by others his age&quot;. He also cited concerns about the role violent video games may have played in the crime.</p><p>Police commandos, with night vision equipment and dogs, raided an apartment in the Munich neighborhood of Maxvorstadt early on Saturday, where a neighbor told Reuters the gunman had lived with his parents for about four years.</p><p>In the killer&#39;s room, police found a German translation of a book entitled &quot;Why Kids Kill &mdash;&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">Inside the Minds of School Shooters&quot;.</span></p><p>Asked if the gunman had deliberately targeted young people, Munich police chief Andrae said that theory could be neither confirmed or ruled out.</p><p>Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said there were several signs he had been suffering from &quot;not insignificant psychological troubles.&quot;</p><p>Three of his victims were 14 years old, two were 15, one was 17 and one 19. The others were 20 and 45, the police chief said.</p><p>Police will also have to find out how the 18-year-old obtained the firearm in a country whose gun control system is described by the U.S. Library of Congress as being &quot;among the most stringent in Europe&quot;.</p><p>&quot;The investigation is still trying to determine where it came from,&quot; Heimberger said, adding that the assailant was not the registered owner of the gun.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;I am shocked. What happened to the boy? Only God knows what happened,&quot; Telfije Dalipi, a 40-year-old Macedonian neighbor, told Reuters. &quot;... I have no idea if he did anything bad elsewhere.&quot;</p> Sun, 24 Jul 2016 07:51:00 +0000 Reuters 2471319 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/07/24/505021/munich_fire_engine_.jpg Islamic State claims responsibility for Kabul attack, 80 dead <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Twin explosions tore through a demonstration by members of Afghanistan&#39;s mainly Shi&#39;ite Hazara minority in Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 80 people and wounding more than 230 in a suicide attack claimed by Islamic State.</p><p>Graphic television footage from the site of the attack showed many dead bodies lying on the bloodied road, close to where thousands of Hazara had been demonstrating against the route of a planned multi-million-dollar power line.</p><p>&quot;Two fighters from Islamic State detonated explosive belts at a gathering of Shi&#39;ites in the city of Kabul in Afghanistan,&quot; said a brief statement on the group&#39;s Amaq news agency.</p><p>If confirmed as the work of Islamic State, the attack, among the most deadly since the US-led campaign to oust the Taliban in 2001, would represent a major escalation for a group hitherto largely confined to the eastern province of Nangarhar.</p><p>The explicit reference to the Hazara&#39;s Shi&#39;ite religious affiliation also marked a menacing departure for Afghanistan, where the bloody sectarian rivalry between Sunni and Shi&#39;ite Muslims typical of Iraq has been relatively rare, despite decades of war. Islamic State is an ultra hardline Sunni group.</p><p>Officials in Afghanistan&#39;s main intelligence agency, the National Directorate for Security (NDS), said the attack was planned by an individual named Abu Ali, an Islamic State militant they said was based in Achin district in Nangarhar.</p><p>They said three bombers were involved in the attack.</p><p>The Persian-speaking Hazara, estimated to make up about 9 percent of the population, are Afghanistan&#39;s third-largest minority but they have long suffered discrimination, and thousands were killed during the period of Taliban rule.</p><p>&quot;We were holding a peaceful demonstration when I heard a bang and then everyone was escaping and yelling,&quot; said Sabira Jan, a protester who witnessed the attack and saw bloodied bodies strewn across the ground. &quot;There was no one to help.&quot;</p><p>The Taliban, a fierce, albeit Sunni enemy of Islamic State, denied any involvement and said in a statement posted on its website that the attack was &quot;a plot to ignite civil war&quot;.</p><p>The attack succeeded despite tight security which saw much of Kabul city center sealed off before the demonstration, with stacks of shipping containers and other obstacles and helicopters patrolling overhead.</p><p>An Interior Ministry statement said 80 people had been killed and 231 wounded, with local hospitals straining to cope with those being brought in.</p><p>The worst previous attack against the Hazara was in December 2011, when more than 55 people were killed in Kabul during the Shi&#39;ite festival of Ashura. That attack was claimed by a Pakistani Sunni militant group called Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.</p><p><strong>Outrage</strong></p><p>President Ashraf Ghani declared a national day of mourning and vowed revenge, while the top UN official in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, condemned the attack as a war crime.</p><p>The United States and Russia condemned the attack and renewed pledges of security assistance to Kabul.</p><p>&quot;We remain committed to work jointly with the Afghan security forces and countries in the region to confront the forces that threaten Afghanistan&rsquo;s security, stability, and prosperity,&quot; the White House said in a statement.</p><p>Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his &quot;readiness to continue the most active cooperation with ... Afghanistan in fighting all forms of terrorism&quot;, Russian news agencies quoted a Kremlin statement as saying.</p><p>Saturday&#39;s demonstrators had been demanding that a 500 kV transmission line from Turkmenistan to Kabul be re-routed through two provinces with large Hazara populations, saying they feared being shut out of the project.</p><p>The government said the project guaranteed ample power to the provinces, Bamyan and Wardak, which lie west of Kabul, and that altering the planned route would delay it by years and cost millions of dollars. But the resentment felt by many Hazaras runs deeper than simple questions of energy supply.</p><p>In November, thousands of Hazara marched through Kabul to protest at government inaction after seven members of their community were beheaded by Islamist militants, and several protesters tried to force their way into the presidential palace.</p><p>The protests by a group whose leaders include members of the national unity government have put pressure on Ghani, who has faced growing opposition from both inside and outside the government.</p><p>They also risk exacerbating ethnic tensions with other groups and provinces the government says would have to wait up to three years for power if the route were changed.</p><p>The transmission line, intended to provide secure electricity to 10 provinces, is part of the so-called TUTAP project backed by the Asia Development Bank, linking energy-rich states of Central Asia with Afghanistan and Pakistan.</p><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p> Sun, 24 Jul 2016 07:20:00 +0000 Reuters 2471315 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/07/24/505021/afghan_suicide.jpg Heavy rain in China kills at least 87, thousands evacuated <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Heavy rain in China has killed at least 87 people and forced thousands from their homes, state media reported on Saturday.&nbsp;</p><p>Seventy-two people have been killed and 78 are missing in the northern province of Hebei after rain triggered floods and landslides, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the civil affairs department.&nbsp;</p><p>Nearly 50,000 homes have collapsed, it said.</p><p>In the central province of Henan, 15 people were killed and eight were missing after thunderstorms and strong winds forced 72,000 people from their homes and damaged 18,000 houses,&nbsp;</p><p>Altogether about 8.6 million people have been affected by the flooding, according state media and local government reports.</p><p>Large parts of China have been inundated with rain this summer, killing more than 200 people.&nbsp;</p><p>More than 1.5 million hectares of crops have been damaged, leading to direct economic losses of more than 20 billion yuan ($3 billion), the government has said.&nbsp;</p><p>The central bank on Friday issued a statement saying it would provide financial support for flooded areas.</p><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p> Sat, 23 Jul 2016 07:54:00 +0000 Reuters 2471286 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/07/23/505021/china_floods.jpg