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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Beijing police in railway 'anti-terror' drill after attack

Posted: 02 May 2014 05:25 AM PDT

BEIJING: Beijing police said Friday they held an "anti-terror" drill at a rail station, a day after a deadly bombing in China's far west blamed on alleged attackers infused with "religious extremism".

The drill, involving armed officers, began late Thursday at Beijing Railway Station, police said on their official account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

The drill underscores official concerns about terrorism following an apparent suicide bomb attack Wednesday at a railway station in the restive region of Xinjiang that left three dead, as well as 79 people wounded.

Two of the dead had detonated bombs they were carrying, state media said, adding that the other fatality was an "innocent citizen".

The official Xinhua news agency called it a "violent terrorist attack", and said the suspects had "long been involved in religious extremism".

Xinjiang is home to the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, who are sometimes implicated in clashes with local security forces.

China's government blamed "separatists," from Xinjiang for a March knife attack at a railway station in the southern city of Kunming in which rampaging attackers killed 29 people and wounded 143 in what state-run media dubbed the country's "9/11".

The Beijing police statement made no mention of the violence in Xinjiang, but said that the drill was meant to simulate a "violent terror incident" at Beijing Railway Station.

The exercise began at 11:50 pm Thursday and ended at 12:25 am Friday, the statement said, adding that police as well as SWAT and anti-terror personnel participated.

Wednesday's violence in Xinjiang came the same day that state media said Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up an "inspection tour" to the region.

Xinjiang is a vast, resource-rich and nominally autonomous region, where decades of migration by China's dominant Han majority has fostered tensions with Xinjiang's Uighurs.

During Xi's trip, his first to Xinjiang since becoming head of China's ruling Communist Party in November 2012, he visited military facilities, conferred with police personnel and spoke to primary school students.
Even before Wednesday's violence, Xi was quoted by state media as telling law enforcement personnel in Xinjiang that they must "have effective methods to handle violent and terrorist criminals".

After the attack, he said "decisive actions must be taken to resolutely suppress the terrorists' rampant momentum".

China announced in March that it plans to roll out armed police patrols in cities across the country following the attack in Kunming. - AFP

Australia plans to push retirement age to 70

Posted: 02 May 2014 01:22 AM PDT

SYDNEY: The Australian government said Friday that it wants to lift the pension entitlement age to 70 - the highest in the developed world - by the year 2035 to help cope with an ageing population.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said the previous Labor government planned to raise the age from 65 to 67 in 2023 and the new administration of conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott wanted to take it further by 2035.

"Increasing the pension entitlement age to 70, we are intending for that to occur in 21 years' time," said Hockey, who is due to hand down his first national budget on May 13.

Australia has no statutory retirement age but men have been entitled to the pension at age 65 and women at 60 since it was introduced in 1908.

While no members of the OECD group of rich countries yet have an official retirement age as high as 70, the effective age for men in Japan and South Korea is close to this despite an official retirement age of 60, a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said.

Hockey said any Australians getting the pension now would not be affected but he stressed the government's view that the "age of entitlement" was over.

"It is hugely important we have long-term planning out of this budget," he said.

Australia has for years grappled with how to plan for its ageing population, and in 2009 the former government said it would gradually push back the age at which people could claim the state pension to defuse a "demographic time-bomb".

Over the next 30 years, the number of Australians aged 65 or over will double from 3.5 million to 7.0 million, accounting for 22 percent of the population, the Actuaries Institute of Australia has forecast.

Meanwhile the number of those aged over 85 will almost triple from under 0.5 million to 1.4 million people in that time, placing pressure on the health system, it said.

Australia currently has a population of 23.4 million, and the life expectancy at birth is 79 for males and 84 for females, according to official Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.-AFP

200 injured as subway trains collide in Seoul (Update)

Posted: 02 May 2014 01:09 AM PDT

SEOUL: Two subway trains collided in Seoul on Friday, lightly injuring 200 people and further undermining public confidence just weeks after South Korea's ferry disaster claimed the lives of hundreds of schoolchildren.

Briefing reporters, fire department official Kim Kyung-Soo said of the 200 injured on Friday, only an elderly woman with a fracture was seriously hurt.

More than 150 received some sort of treatment but mostly for minor cuts or sprains, he said.
News of the accident broke with the country still reeling from the April 16 ferry tragedy that left 300 dead or missing - most of them high school students - after the ship capsized and sank.

The disaster triggered widespread public anger and a bout of national soul-searching as to whether South Korea - now Asia's fourth-largest economy - sacrificed safety standards in its rush for development.

The subway accident happened around 3:30 pm (0630 GMT) when a moving train slammed into the rear of a stationary train at Sangwangsimni station in eastern Seoul.

Around 1,000 people were evacuated from the two trains, Kim said, adding that many of those hurt had complained of ankle injuries, cuts and bruises.

According to senior Seoul Metro official Chung Soo-Young, initial investigations suggested the automated stopping system that should prevent a train getting too close to another appeared to have failed.

The tunnel curves before entering Sangwangsimni station and Chung said the driver of the moving train did not see the platform was occupied until quite late.

He applied the emergency break, but the distance was "too short" to avoid a collision, Chung said.

The two last cars of the stationary train appeared to have been thrown off the rails by the force of the impact, and TV footage showed cracked windows on the two trains and one door connecting two carriages that had been completely knocked off its hinges.

Seoul's subway network is one of the busiest in the world, carrying around 5.25 million passengers a day, according to official data from City Hall.

Although there were no fatalities, the accident will likely fuel public criticism of the government for lax safety standards caused by the alleged collusion of transport companies and state regulators.

President Park Geun-Hye's approval ratings, which have been impressively high since she took office a little over a year ago, have fallen by around 11 percentage points in the wake of the ferry disaster, according to Gallup Korea. - AFP
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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