9 dead, dozens hurt as driver rams into crowd in China

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Blurred images of stricken people lie in a square in Hengyang city, after they were run over by a vehicle. (Twitter)
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Hengyang city in China’s Hunan province.
Updated 12 September 2018
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9 dead, dozens hurt as driver rams into crowd in China

  • Police have taken the driver — a man in his mid-40s — into custody
  • Pictures from the scene and shared on social media showed a red SUV with a crushed bumper

BEIJING: A driver plowed into a crowded public square in China, killing nine and injuring 46, local officials said Wednesday.
The incident occurred at 7:35 p.m. (1135 GMT), according to a statement on the official social media account of Hengyang city in central Hunan province.
Police have taken the driver — a man in his mid-40s — into custody, according to a report published by the state-funded news website The Paper, which added that a person matching the description of the alleged assailant had previously been jailed on drug charges.
Authorities said they were investigating the incident, but did not elaborate further.
Pictures reportedly from the scene and shared on social media showed a red SUV with a crushed bumper.
Videos of the incident circulated briefly on social media, but were quickly removed.
Violent crime has risen in China in recent decades as the country’s economic boom has widened the gap between the rich and the poor. Police have also previously blamed such attacks on militant separatists.
In 2013, two tourists were killed when a car rammed into bystanders on Beijing’s iconic Tiananmen Square before bursting into flames.
Three attackers also died in the incident, which Beijing blamed on separatists from the restive western region of Xinjiang.


Swiss canton becomes second to ban burqas in public

Updated 36 min 17 sec ago
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Swiss canton becomes second to ban burqas in public

  • Full-face coverings such as niqabs and burqas are a polarizing issue across Europe
  • The clothing has already been banned in France and Denmark

ZURICH: Voters in St. Gallen on Sunday approved by a two-thirds majority a ban on facial coverings such as the burqa, becoming the second Swiss canton to do so.
Full-face coverings such as niqabs and burqas are a polarizing issue across Europe, with some arguing that they symbolize discrimination against women and should be outlawed. The clothing has already been banned in France and Denmark.
Under the Swiss system of direct democracy, voters in the northeastern canton demanded tightening the law to punish those who cover their faces in public and thus “threaten or endanger public security or religious or social peace.”
The regional government, which had opposed the measure, now has to implement the result of the vote, which drew turnout of around 36 percent.
Switzerland’s largest Islamic organization, the Islamic Central Council, recommended women continue to cover their faces. It said it would closely monitor the implementation of the ban and consider legal action if necessary.
The Swiss federal government in June opposed a grassroots campaign for a nationwide ban on facial coverings.
The Swiss cabinet said individual cantons should decide on the matter, but it will nevertheless go to a nationwide vote after activists last year collected more than the required 100,000 signatures to trigger a referendum.
Two-thirds of Switzerland’s 8.5 million residents identify as Christians. But its Muslim population has risen to 5 percent, largely because of immigrants from former Yugoslavia.
One Swiss canton, Italian-speaking Ticino, already has a similar ban, while two others have rejected it.