- Pakistan's Musharraf survives assassination bomb attempt
- Minor tsunami hits Japan after Chile quake
- Japan cancels next Antarctic whaling hunt
Posted: 02 Apr 2014 10:18 PM PDT
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf (pic), who is on trial for treason, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt as a bomb went off shortly before his convoy was due to pass early Thursday, police said.
The bomb was planted on Musharraf's route from an army hospital where he has been staying since January to his home on the outskirts of Islamabad.
Nobody was injured and there have so far been no claims of responsibility.
"Four kilograms of explosive device planted in a pipeline under a bridge exploded around 20 minutes before the former president was supposed to cross the spot," senior police official Liaqat Niazi said.
He said the former president was taken home via an alternative route.
Muhammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Islamabad police, confirmed the incident, saying a bomb disposal squad had cleared the area after the blast.
"Nobody was injured in the blast," he said, adding Musharraf was the intended target.
Musharraf, who led Pakistan from 1999 to 2008, returned from self-imposed exile in March last year to fight in general elections but was barred from taking part and has faced a series of legal cases including treason.
The Taliban also vowed to send a squad of suicide bombers to kill him, and security threats have prevented him from appearing at all but two of his treason hearings.
It was the fourth attempt on the ex-general's life, with the first three occurring while he was in office. -AFP
Posted: 02 Apr 2014 08:45 PM PDT
TOKYO: Small tsunami waves hit northern Japan early Thursday following a powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake thousands of kilometres away across the Pacific Ocean in Chile after officials issued an evacuation advisory for certain areas.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said waves of 40 centimetres (16 inches) were monitored in Kuji, Iwate prefecture, at 7:39 am (2239 GMT Wednesday) about an hour after the first 20-centimetre tsunami was recorded there.
Waves of up to 30 centimetres were also monitored in other areas of northern Japan, the agency said, adding that bigger waves could hit the coast later.
Earlier Thursday, Japan issued a tsunami advisory, saying waves of up to one metre (three feet) above normal sea levels could hit eastern Pacific coast regions, but were unlikely to cause damage.
Large areas of the coastline covered by the advisory were damaged by the 2011 quake and tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and triggered a nuclear accident in Fukushima.
The agency advised people to leave the coast but said it did not expect damage from the waves.
"Get out of the water and leave the coast immediately," it said.
Local authorities issued evacuation advisories to more than 22,000 people living near the coastline in Iwate prefecture, public broadcaster NHK said.
Television footage showed people fleeing to nearby shelter in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, where more than 1,000 people were killed in the 2011 tsunami.
Before dawn a tsunami warning siren echoed over Ishinomaki, another city hit hard by the tsunami three years ago, and some local bus services were cancelled.
Authorities in Japan and many other countries at risk of tsunamis have well-developed early warning systems and tend to be cautious.
Television footage earlier showed officials in Kochi, southwestern Japan, closing a metal barrier to seal their local breakwater in preparation for possible high waves.
Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, suspended part of operations scheduled for early Thursday, a company spokesman said.
In 1960, a 9.5-magnitude earthquake in Chile sent a tsunami across the Pacific that killed more than 140 people in Japan.
Indonesia also said it could be hit by a small tsunami from the quake off Chile, which killed at least six people and caused nearly a million to evacuate their homes along the coast.
Waves of up to half a metre had been expected to hit the eastern region of Papua shortly after 2200 GMT Wednesday but officials said nothing had been detected so far.
"Until now there are no signs of even a small tsunami. We are monitoring closely," Frangky Ulus from the Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning System in Jayapura, Papua, told AFP.
Authorities in 19 provinces of Indonesia were alerted earlier as a precaution and people were urged to stay away from beaches.
Indonesia, which is frequently hit by earthquakes and has scores of active volcanoes, is particular vulnerable to even small tsunamis as many people on the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands live in poor, coastal communities.
More than 170,000 people were killed in Aceh province on western Sumatra island in 2004 when it was hit by a huge quake-triggered tsunami, which also left thousands dead in other countries around the Indian Ocean.
Northern Japan was rocked by a 5.6-magnitude quake early Thursday but there were no reports of damage or injuries and officials said there was no risk of a tsunami. -AFPRelated story:
Powerful 7.8 earthquake rocks northern Chile
Posted: 02 Apr 2014 08:57 PM PDT
TOKYO: Japan said Thursday it was cancelling its annual Antarctic whaling hunt for the first time in more than a quarter of a century in line with a UN court ruling that the programme was a commercial activity disguised as science.
A "deeply disappointed" Tokyo earlier this week said it would honour Monday's judgement by the United Nations' Hague-based International Court of Justice but did not exclude the possibility of future whaling programmes.
On Thursday, officials said the next Antarctic hunt, which would have started in late 2014, had been scrapped, just weeks after the most recent one finished.
"We have decided to cancel research whaling (in the Antarctic) for the fiscal year starting in April because of the recent ruling," a fisheries agency official told AFP.
But he added that "we plan to go ahead with research whaling in other areas as scheduled", including the northern Pacific. Japan also has a coastal whaling programme that is not covered by a commercial whaling ban.
Australia, backed by New Zealand, hauled Japan before the ICJ in 2010 in a bid to end the annual Southern Ocean hunt.
Tokyo has used a legal loophole in the 1986 ban on commercial whaling that allowed it to continue slaughtering the mammals, ostensibly so it could gather scientific data.
However, it has never made a secret of the fact that the whale meat from these hunts can end up on dining tables.
Public consumption of whale meat in Japan has steadily and significantly fallen in recent years and there is little support for whaling itself
But aggressive anti-whaling campaigns hardened sentiment among the Japanese public, who came to see the issue as an attack on differing cultural values.
Japan had argued that its JARPA II research programme was aimed at studying the viability of whale hunting, but the ICJ found it had failed to examine ways of doing the research without killing whales, or at least while killing fewer of them.
"Whale meat is an important source of food, and the government's position to use it based on scientific facts has not changed," Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told a press conference Tuesday in response to the judgement.
On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government would abide by the court ruling, but added that the ruling was "a pity and I am deeply disappointed".
Some legal experts have suggested Japan might simply redesign its whaling programme to skirt the ICJ ruling, but Australia and New Zealand are expected to keep up the diplomatic pressure to ensure Tokyo abides by the spirit of the pronouncement.
Three countries -Japan, Norway and Iceland - use objections or exceptions to continue whaling, a practice observers say claims more than 1,000 of the marine mammals, some endangered, each year.
But Japan is the only country to conduct whaling under a scientific permits category.
There are two major whale sanctuaries. One, which covers most of the Indian Ocean, was created in 1979 and is a breeding ground for many types of southern hemisphere cetaceans.
The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, surrounding the continent of Antarctica, was set up in 1994. Its waters, teeming with marine life, serve as a feeding ground for more than a dozen whales species. -AFP
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