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Archive for Saturday, January 10, 2004

Briefly

January 10, 2004

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BEIJING

China detains 5 blamed for gas field disaster

Authorities have detained five gas company employees blamed for a well blowout in China's southwest that spewed toxic fumes and killed 243 people, the government said Friday.

Also Friday, the Web site of the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily said the deputy general manager of the state oil company that owns the well was dismissed because of the disaster.

Investigators blamed the Dec. 23 disaster northeast of the city of Chongqing on a negligent drilling crew that broke open a gas well and had dismantled safety equipment that might have stopped the blowout.

South Korea

Security tightened after terror threat letter

South Korea tightened security for its embassies and airlines Friday after its embassy in Thailand received threats.

The embassy in Bangkok received a letter Thursday in which a group called the "Anti-Korean Interest Agency" threatened attacks on South Korean diplomatic missions and businesses in Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and other Asian countries.

Embassy officials suspect that Thais working illegally in South Korea mailed the letter.

"The letter threatens to attack South Korean interests after my government imposed restrictions on illegal workers," said Ryoo Jung-Young, an embassy spokesman.

NEW DELHI

Airline flies to Pakistan for first time in 2 years

India resumed commercial flights to Pakistan on Friday after a two-year halt, while India's foreign minister said relations between the rivals showed "new signs of promise" ahead of next month's planned talks aimed at resolving a decades-old dispute over Kashmir.

Meanwhile, more violence was reported in the Himalayan region Friday when attackers hurled a grenade at a mosque during afternoon prayers in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, injuring 15 worshippers.

It was the first major assault since India and Pakistan began peace efforts last year.

HAVANA

Cuba bans Web access over regular phone lines

Cuba tightened its controls over the Internet on Friday, prohibiting access over the low-cost government phone service most ordinary citizens have at home.

The move could affect hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Cubans who illegally access the Internet from their homes, using computers and Internet accounts they have borrowed or bought on the black market.

Cuba's communist government already heavily controls access to the Internet. Cubans must have government permission to use the Web, and most don't.

Since few Cubans are authorized to use the Internet from home -- only some doctors and key government officials -- the new law amounts to a crackdown on illegal users.

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