Hundreds of protestors clash with police in Indian Kashmir

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Protesters shout slogans at a rally against the Indian government's move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy and impose a communications blackout, in Srinagar on August 16, 2019. (AFP)
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Security personnel stand guard during a lockdown in Srinagar on August 16, 2019, after the Indian government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy. (AFP)
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A young boy joins protesters holding placards at a rally against the Indian government's move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy and impose a communications blackout, in Srinagar on August 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 August 2019

Hundreds of protestors clash with police in Indian Kashmir

  • The clashes broke out after several thousand people rallied in the main city of Srinagar, where a security lockdown entered its 12th straight day after New Delhi stripped Kashmir of its autonomy
  • Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to US President Donald Trump about his concerns over the situation in disputed Kashmir region

SRINAGAR: Hundreds of protesters in Indian-administered Kashmir clashed with police on Friday who responded with tear gas rounds and pellet-firing shotguns, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
The clashes broke out after several thousand people rallied in the main city of Srinagar, where a security lockdown entered its 12th straight day after New Delhi stripped Kashmir of its autonomy.
No injuries were reported.
The protesters rallied inside the Srinagar locality of Soura that has witnessed regular protests since New Delhi announced its surprise move on August 5.
Police attempted to disperse hundreds of protesters who tried to march down the main road.
Protesters hurled stones and used shop hoardings and tin sheets as improvised shields, as police shot dozens of rounds into the crowd.
A drone kept vigil over the area as thousands of men and women gathered inside a popular shrine.
"We are trying to breach the siege and march to the city centre but police is using force to stop us," one protester told AFP, adding that three people were injured on Thursday in clashes with police officers and reservists.
Sporadic clashes were also reported in other parts of the Kashmir Valley, the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule for decades, where communications have been cut off for nearly two weeks.
Major towns and cities in the restive valley remained under curfew, with government forces allowing people to move only on special passes.
Government forces erected steep barricades and used concertina wires to block roads.
No big gatherings were allowed in the valley and most mosques were shut for the second consecutive Friday.
"We want what is ours. We are not begging for anything but demand India should respect its promises," another protester told AFP.
"We will not sit back until we achieve complete independence from India," he said.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to US President Donald Trump about his concerns over the situation in disputed Kashmir region, Islamabad's foreign minister said Friday, ahead of a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the issue.
"Today (Khan) has talked to President Trump. Views were exchanged on the situation in the region and particularly the situation in Occupied Kashmir," said foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during a press conference.


Korea test-fires ‘super-large multiple rocket launcher'

Updated 25 August 2019

Korea test-fires ‘super-large multiple rocket launcher'

  • Kim likes testing missiles, says US president
  • Denuclearization talks in trouble

SEOUL: North Korea test-fired a new type of multiple rocket launch system late Saturday into the sea off its east coast, state media reported.

It was the seventh test in a month, as negotiations to scrap the North’s nuclear arsenal flounder.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Sunday that the latest weapons’ test was on a newly developed “super-large multiple rocket launcher.”

The country’s leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the test and called the device a “great weapon.”

North Korea must step up its development of strategic and tactical weapons to counter the “ever-mounting military threats and pressure offensive of hostile forces,” KCNA reported Kim as saying while he oversaw the testing.

One of the short-range weapons has been identified as a KN-23, a mobile short-range ballistic missile based on the technology of Russia’s Iskander missile, which could hit targets across the South after evading missile interceptors operated by South Korea’s military. Pyongyang maintains that joint South Korea-US military drills are a provocation.

South Korea officials urged the North to stop hostile acts.

“We express strong concern that the North continues to test-fire short-range projectiles despite the South Korea-US military drills ending,” a presidential spokesman told reporters on Saturday. “We urge the North to halt such hostile acts that raise military tensions.”

Despite worries about the North’s provocations that could harm the security of South Korea where 28,500 US armed forces personnel are stationed, US President Donald Trump again touted his friendship with Kim.

“Kim Jong-un has been pretty straight with me, I think, and we’re going to see what’s going on, we’re going to see what’s happening,” he told reporters in Washington before heading to the G-7 summit in France on Friday night. “He likes testing missiles, but we never restricted short-range missiles.”

Trump and Kim held a surprise meeting in the Demilitarized Zone in June and agreed to resume working-level denuclearization negotiations within a month, but such a meeting has yet to be held.

In a further sign that nuclear disarmament talks are barely holding together, the North blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for complicating the talks, calling him a “diehard toxin.”

“He is truly impudent enough to utter such thoughtless words which only leave us disappointed and skeptical as to where we can solve any problem with such a guy,” North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said on Friday in a statement carried by KCNA, referring to Pompeo’s recent remarks in which he said sanctions would be kept until the North took concrete steps to bin nuclear weapons.

US Special Representative Stephen Biegun for North Korea was in Seoul last week to discuss ways to get negotiations back on track but it is not clear if he contacted his North Korean counterpart.

Biegun’s efforts were overshadowed by South Korea’s surprising decision to sever military ties with Japan. 

On Thursday, the presidential Blue House announced it would pull out of an intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, a key pillar of the US-led trilateral alliance in East Asia to check the influence of China and Russia.

The intelligence pact, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), has benefited South Korea’s military to collect key information on North Korean nuclear and missile activities, as Japan operates seven spy satellites while South Korea has no such strategic assets.

The decision to end GSOMIA came amid escalating trade disputes over Japan’s restriction of exporting chip-making materials to South Korea following disputes arising from Japanese colonial rule.