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10 theSun | MONDAY NOVEMBER 24 2008

news without borders

steel barricades outside the
Strong earthquake parliament building and
firetrucks parked nearby, while
jolts Sumatra, officials said they would try to
handle the protest peacefully

no injuries or damage but were ready to call in the

“Force will not be used if it is
JAKARTA: A strong earthquake struck off not necessary,” deputy national
the western coast of the Indonesian island of police spokesman Surapol
Sumatra late Saturday. There were no immedi- Tuanthong told reporters.
ate reports of injury and structural damage, “Police will also ask the army
seismologists said. for assistance if police do not
The quake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter have enough man power.”
scale, jolted Sumatra’s Bengkulu province at On Thursday, one protester
11:01pm (12.01am Sunday in Malaysia). Its was killed and 29 wounded
epicentre lay about 142km south-west, the Anti- when a rocket-propelled
National Meteorology and Geophysics Agency government grenade exploded in the middle
(BMG) said, about 23km beneath the seabed in protesters of the Bangkok protest site,
the Indian Ocean. wave hand- while on Saturday eight people
The US Geological Survey put the quake’s clappers and were injured by a similar bomb.
magnitude at 6.8 on the Richter scale. shout slogans This time, police have been
Officials said there were no immediate during a ordered not to use tear gas or
reports of casualties or damage following the demonstration other “weapons” and only carry
quake, which was followed by a 6.3-magnitude inside the shields, government spokesman
aftershock about 10 minutes later. occupied Nattawut Saikuar said after a
It was the latest of series of earthquakes to Government meeting of security ministers.
jolt Indonesia in recent days. House in Prime Minister Somchai
On Monday, a powerful 7.7-magnitude un- Bangkok, Wongsawat, whom the PAD
dersea earthquake struck off Indonesia’s North yesterday. accuse of being the puppet of
Sulawesi province, killing at least seven people, exiled former leader Thaksin
injuring more than 150 others and damaging

Thai protesters begin

Shinawatra, his brother-in-law,
hundreds of homes. assigned army chief Anupong
Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due Paochinda to monitor the
to its location on the Pacific’s so-called “Ring of protests while he attends an
Fire,” an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling Asia-Pacific summit in Peru.
the Pacific Basin. Major bloodshed would raise

‘final battle’ against govt

A major earthquake and subsequent tsunami the chances of a military coup
struck in December 2004, leaving more than only two years after the army’s
170,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia’s removal of Thaksin, who now
Aceh province and around 500,000 homeless. lives in exile after skipping bail
– dpa on corruption charges.
The PAD enjoy the backing
of Bangkok’s urban middle
BANGKOK: Thousands of anti- classes and elite, including
government protesters rallied Queen Sirikit, while Thaksin
in central Bangkok yesterday, and the government claim their
the start of what they call the support from the rural voters
“final battle” in a five-month that returned a pro-Thaksin
street campaign to oust the party in a December election.
administration. The PAD is calling the
“I fear nothing. We will march “its final battle” to oust
not bow our heads to the the government, which it
dark power destroying our blames for Thursday’s grenade
country,” said Cat, a 48-year-old attack.
businesswoman, among the On the outskirts of Bangkok,
thousands of protesters waving thousands of red-shirted
placards and shouting “fight, government supporters rallied
fight” inside the Government in a Buddhist temple yesterday
House compound they have to show their support for
occupied since late August. Somchai.
The crowd led by the Raising the pressure on
People’s Alliance for Democracy Somchai, public sector unions
(PAD) were planning to march have also called a nationwide
to parliament early today, strike for tomorrow unless he
where police have erected stands aside.
barricades and stationed trucks Government decision-
with water cannons. making has ground to a halt,
A similar protest in October intensifying fears about the
left two people dead and export-driven economy’s ability
hundreds wounded, including to withstand a global recession.
scores of police, when police Some foreign firms are already
fired tear gas to break up cutting back. Even if today
the rally aimed at disrupting passes off peacefully, tensions
parliament. are likely to remain high with
Thai television showed Thaksin set to address a rally
images of police manning next month. – Agencies

28 years jail for dad

who raped teenager
briefs SINGAPORE: A father was sen-
tenced to 28 years in jail and 28
strokes of the cane for raping
Gigolo, 22, jailed for his teenage daughter 23 times,
a newspaper reported on Satur-
blackmailing lover day. “As her father, you should
HONGKONG: A 22-year-old Chinese have protected her,” High Court
gigolo who tried to blackmail his Judge Woo Bih Li was quoted by
wealthy married Hongkong lover the Straits Times as telling the 39-
with a video of them having sex be- year-old. “Instead, you engaged
gan serving a two-year jail sentence in a campaign of sexual abuse
Saturday. Peng Jun threatened to against her.” – dpa
expose the affair using a secretly
filmed video unless the 50-year- Aussie rescuers save
old woman gave him HK$1 million
(RM464,400). 11 stranded whales
Peng, from Hunan province, met SYDNEY: Australian wildlife rescu-
the woman in 2007 at a nightclub ers yesterday said they successfully
in Shenzhen, the southern Chinese returned a small number of pilot
border city where Hongkongers whales to the ocean after a mass
regularly go for entertainment and stranding in Tasmania. Chris Arthur,
affairs. At a hearing on Friday, Peng who coordinated the rescue effort,
was sentenced to jail for two years said 11 of the 64 animals found
after pleading guilty to blackmail at stranded on the island’s north coast
Hongkong’s District Court. – dpa were released. – Reuters