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Top Asian News 3:52 a.m. GMT

October 1, 2022 GMT

North Korea fires 4th round of missile tests in 1 week

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Saturday fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters, South Korean and Japanese officials said, making it the North’s fourth round of weapons launches this week that are seen as a response to military drills among its rivals. South Korea’s military said that it detected the two North Korean missile launches 18 minutes apart on Saturday morning coming from the North’s capital region. Japan’s Defense Ministry said it also spotted the launches. “The repeated ballistic missile firings by North Korea are a grave provocation that undermines peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Thai court rules PM can stay, did not exceed term limit

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled Friday that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha can remain in his job and did not violate a constitutional provision limiting him to eight years in office. Opposition lawmakers had petitioned the court to decide on their contention that Prayuth, who took power as army commander in a 2014 coup, had violated the eight-year limit for prime ministers that was included for the first time in Thailand’s 2017 Constitution. Prayuth officially became prime minister in a military government in August 2014, and was named prime minister again after a 2019 election. Using 2014 as a starting date, he would have reached his legal limit last month.

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Suicide bomber strikes Kabul education center, killing 19

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber struck an education center in a Shiite area of the Afghan capital on Friday, killing 19 people and wounding 27, including teenagers who were taking university practice entry exams, a Taliban spokesman said. The morning explosion at the center took place in Kabul’s Dashti Barchi neighborhood, an area populated mostly by ethnic Hazaras, who belong to Afghanistan’s minority Shiite community. The Islamic State group has carried out repeated, horrific attacks on schools, hospitals and mosques in Dashti Barchi and other Shiite areas in recent years. Around 300 recent high school graduates, boys and girls, had come to the Kaaj Higher Educational Center at 6:30 a.m.

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East Timor’s Catholics rally behind accused Nobel bishop

DILI, East Timor (AP) — East Timor’s Catholics reacted with shock but also expressions of support Friday for revered independence icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo following allegations he sexually abused boys decades ago in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation. The Vatican admitted Thursday that its sex abuse office had secretly sanctioned the bishop in 2020, restricting his movements and contacts with minors and forbidding him from having contact with his homeland. The Vatican revealed the restrictions after the Dutch magazine De Groene Amsterdammer exposed the claims against Belo by two of his alleged victims and reported there were others, too.

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Indian opposition party seeks to shed dynastic rule image

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, is set to choose a person who is not a member of its dominant Nehru-Gandhi family as its next president as it struggles to recover before key upcoming elections. Although the party has been led historically by the family, interim party president Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi, have decided to bring in a new face during a challenging time for the party, which has suffered crushing defeats in national and state elections since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party came to power in 2014. Their choice fell on a trusted party leader, 80-year-old Mallikarjun Kharge from southern Karnataka state.

Japan PM condemns Russian annexation of parts of Ukraine

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in telephone call Friday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, condemned Russia’s new annexation of parts of Ukraine as illegal and a violation of the country’s sovereignty. “I told him that the process that Russia called a referendum and its annexation of parts of Ukraine should never be accepted, and that I strongly condemn them,” Kishida said afterward. Kishida said he also reassured Zelenskyy in their 30-minute conversation that Japan is committed to working with other Group of Seven nations and the broader international community in further supporting Ukraine, and plans to impose more sanctions against Russia.

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Digital minister aims to wrest Japan out of analog doldrums

TOKYO (AP) — The politician tapped to help Japan keep pace with the digital age has his work cut out for him. After all, the nation known for Nintendo games, Lexus sportscars and other gadgetry galore also loves the fax machine and the traditional “hanko” seals that work as analog signatures. But Digital Minister Taro Kono has a reputation for no-nonsense action and for defying vested interests in high places. “I have no intention of playing coordinator,” he told reporters in a small briefing that was, aptly, conducted online Friday. “If people don’t listen, I am going to beat them up,” he added with a laugh.

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Amid rising seas, island nations push for legal protections

APIA, Samoa (AP) — When and if an island nation fully submerges due to rising seas, what happens to the nationalities of its citizens? This and other related questions are being considered by island nations advocating for changes to international law as climate change threatens their existence. “Climate change induced sea level rise is a defining issue for many Pacific Island states and like most climate change issues, Pacific Island states have been at the forefront of challenging international law to develop in a way which is equitable and just,” said Fleur Ramsay, head of litigation and climate lead of the Pasifika Program at the Australia-based Environmental Defenders Office.

Myanmar accuses rebels in east of shooting passenger plane

BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s military government accused rebel forces in the eastern state of Kayah of firing at a passenger plane as it was preparing to land Friday, wounding a passenger who was hit by a bullet that penetrated the fuselage. Rebel groups denied the allegation. State television MRTV said the Myanmar National Airlines plane, carrying 63 passengers, was hit as it was about to land in Loikaw, the capital of the eastern state of Kayah, also known as Karenni. It said Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, a spokesperson for Myanmar’s ruling military council, said the shooting was carried out by “terrorists” belonging to the Karenni National Progressive Party, an ethnic minority militia battling the government, and their allies in the People’s Defense Force, an armed pro-democracy group.

Indonesian police kill militant suspected in farmers’ deaths

PALU, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s elite counterterrorism police have killed a militant who was the last remaining member of an organization that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, police said Friday. Police said Al Ikhwarisman, also known as Jaid, was a key member of the East Indonesia Mujahideen network. The East Indonesia Mujahideen, known by the Indonesian acronym MIT, has claimed responsibility for the killings of police officers and minority Christians, some by beheading, and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. Provincial police chief Rudy Sufahriadi said Jaid conducted at least 10 of the group’s executions, including the killing of four Christian farmers in May 2021.