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Top Asian News 1:56 a.m. GMT

December 27, 2021 GMT

Photos of aftermath of massacre in Myanmar fuel outrage

BANGKOK (AP) — Photos of the aftermath of a Christmas Eve massacre in eastern Myanmar that reportedly left more than 30 people, including women and children, dead and burned in their vehicles, have spread on social media in the country, fueling outrage against the military that took power in February. The photos showed the charred bodies of over 30 people in three burned-out vehicles who were reportedly shot by government troops as they were fleeing combat. The accounts could not be independently verified. The international aid group Save the Children said that two of its staffers were missing in the massacre, which sparked outrage against the military that took power after ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Australia’s most populous state reports 1st omicron death

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s New South Wales state reported more than 6,000 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and confirmed its first death from the omicron variant. The fatal case was identified as a man in his 80s who was infected at an aged care facility in western Sydney. He was fully vaccinated but had underlying health conditions. New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, reported 6,324 new infections Monday, a fall of 70 from the record number a day before. There were 524 people in hospitals, including 55 in intensive care. New measures came into force in New South Wales on Monday, including limits of one person per 2 square meters (22 square feet) in bars and restaurants and required “check-ins” with QR codes in hospitality venues.

Taliban-run government dissolves Afghan election commissions

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ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Taliban dissolved Afghanistan’s two election commissions as well as the state ministries for peace and parliamentarian affairs, an official said Sunday. Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for Afghanistan’s Taliban-run government, said the country’s Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaint Commission have been dissolved. He called them “unnecessary institutes for the current situation in Afghanistan.” He said if there is a need for the commissions in the future, the Taliban government can revive them. The international community is waiting before extending formal recognition to Afghanistan’s new rulers. They are wary the Taliban could impose a similarly harsh regime as when they were in power 20 years ago — despite their assurances to the contrary.

Jonathan D. Spence, popular China scholar, dead at age 85

NEW YORK (AP) — Jonathan D. Spence, a British-born historian who became a longtime Yale University professor and prominent sinologist and attracted a wide following with his 1990 best-seller “The Search for Modern China,” has died at age 85. Spence, who retired from Yale in 2008, died Saturday at his home in West Haven, Connecticut. His wife and fellow Yale professor, Annping Chin, said the cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease. The recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, a Los Angeles Times book prize and numerous other honors, Spence wrote more than a dozen books on China, along with reviews, essays and lectures.

Police say Pakistani-American woman was killed by ex-husband

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The body of a Pakistani-American woman, who investigators believe was killed by her former husband over a property dispute, was brought to the city of Rawalpindi for further investigation, police said Sunday. Wajiha Swati, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin, had been missing since she arrived in Pakistan in mid-October to settle issues with her ex-husband, Rizwan Habib. Habib was arrested on suspicion of murder last week, said Sajid Kiyani, Rawalpindi’s police chief. He said Habib confessed Saturday to killing Swati after four days of interrogation, and that he killed her the day she arrived in the city.

Louisiana researchers ID 14 new shrew species on Sulawesi

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana researchers have identified 14 new species of shrews on an Indonesian island where seven in that genus were previously known. There were so many and some look so similar that after a while Louisiana State University biologist Jake Esselstyn and his colleagues began hunting for Latin words meaning “ordinary.” “Otherwise I don’t know what we would have named them,” said Esselstyn, who also named the seventh known species of the pointy-nosed insect-eating mammals on the island of Sulawesi. That’s why shrews whose species names mean such things as “hairy-tailed” and ”long” have been joined by “Crocidura mediocris,” “C.

Factory boiler blast kills 6 in eastern India, injures 6

PATNA, India (AP) — A factory boiler exploded in eastern India on Sunday, killing at least six workers and injuring six others, police said. Rescuers were looking for any workers who may be trapped in the rubble of the factory that produced food snacks in an industrial area 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Patna, the Bihar state capital. The cause of the blast in Muzaffarpur was being investigated, said police officer Ram Naresh Paswan. He said the death toll was likely to rise as four of the injured were critical. Panic gripped the area as the powerful explosion shook and damaged homes and factories in the Bela industrial area, media reports said.

Militants gun down Pakistani soldier near Afghan border

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Militants targeted an army post in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border, killing a soldier in a firefight overnight, Pakistan’s military said. The attack took place in the Shewa area of the district of North Waziristan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the army said in a statement Saturday. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The military said that during an intense exchange of gunfire a soldier was killed. It said a search of the area was being carried out to find the militants. No additional details were released. North Waziristan served as a militant stronghold for decades.

3 members of K-pop sensation BTS diagnosed with COVID-19

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Three members of the K-pop superstar group BTS have been infected with the coronavirus after returning from abroad, their management agency said. RM and Jin were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday evening, the Big Hit Music agency said in a statement. It earlier said another member, Suga, tested positive for the virus on Friday. All three took their second jabs in August, the agency said. BTS is a seven-member boyband. The four other members are J-Hope, Jungkook, V and Jimin. According to the agency, RM has exhibited no particular symptoms while Jin is showing mild symptoms including light fever and is undergoing self-treatment at home.

Death toll in massive Bangladesh ferry fire rises to 40

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladeshi authorities buried 23 unclaimed bodies on Saturday after a day-long search failed to recover more victims or survivors of a massive fire on a crowded river ferry that left 40 people dead. Habibur Rahman, a top government official, said he had an incomplete list of 17 missing people who were on board the ferry on Friday when the fire awoke passengers around 3 a.m., forcing many to leap into cold waters and swim ashore. Divers looked for more survivors before suspending their efforts at sunset on Saturday. Rahman said 50 people were being treated in two hospitals, while 19 others have been sent home.