Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 28th 2015 Contents A21
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China responded angrily after a US Navy
warship sailed with 12 nautical miles of
artificial islands it constructed in disputed
waters in the South China Sea, warning
that the situation could escalate.
The Chinese navy shadowed the USS
Lassen as it passed near the island built on
a coral reef near the Spratly Islands in one
of the world s busiest maritime trade routes,
a strip of reclaimed land the US Navy calls
the "Great Wall of Sand," and warned Wash-
ington against "escalation."
This is the latest in a series of nautical
face-offs between Washington and Beijing
and comes just weeks after President Xi
Jinping went to the US for a state visit that
was at times tetchy, and at which the issue
of rising tensions in the South China Sea
Messages were sent around on official
feeds on the WeChat social network, which
has hundreds of millions of users, saying
the "US military...has invaded the South
China Sea" and there were angry editorials
in state media.
China has territorial disputes with nearly
all its neighbours over claims in the South
China Sea, including the Philippines, Viet-
nam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, and its
land reclamation programme in the Spratly
archipelago has increased tensions with
Vietnam, Philippines and Taiwan, all of
which claim sovereignty.
"China will resolutely respond to any
country s deliberate provocations," Foreign
Ministery spokesman Lu Kang said, accus-
ing the US of creating tensions in the
Evaluating exactly what that response
might be exactly is difficult, but one pos-
sibility is that China might step up its pro-
gramme of reclaiming land and building
military facilities there.
In the last year and a half, China has
reclaimed land at three locations in the
Spratly Islands---the Subi, Mischief and Fiery
Cross reefs, and satellite footage show it is
building 3,000 metre-long airstrips that
can handle bombers.
"Such provocations threaten to worsen
the already gaping deficit of mutual trust
between Beijing and Washington, which
stems partly from the latter s frequent close-
in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance
against China," an editorial carried by the
Xinhua official state news agency said.
Washington s line has been to say that it
"conducted a transit" in the area, but it is
clearly flexing its muscles in the region as
it says it plans a number of such transits.
China fury as US warship
sails in disputed waters
With large mountainous areas of
Afghanistan hit and icy weather closing
in, the unstable security situation has
posed a major challenge to international
aid groups that have been repeatedly tar-
geted by insurgents.
But the Taliban, which have driven their
Islamist campaign against the Western-
backed government in Kabul across the
country this year, indicated they would not
stand in the way of aid efforts and ordered
fighters to help victims of Monday s 7.5
"The Islamic Emirate calls on our good-
willed countrymen and charitable organisa-
tions to not hold back in providing shelter,
food and medical supplies to the victims,"
the group said in a message of condolence
to quake victims, using its formal name.
"And it similarly orders its mujahideen in
the affected areas to lend their help."
Authorities confirmed 228 deaths in Pak-
istan while in Afghanistan, the death toll
reached at least 115. At least 4,000 houses
and compounds had been destroyed or dam-
aged, Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdul-
The toll could climb as road and commu-
nications links are restored to isolated villages
and as winter sets in across the rugged Hindu
Kush mountains where the earthquake struck,
the plight of thousands left homeless is
becoming more serious.
Taliban fighters to help in quake relief
Venezuela's attorney general says she
has sacked a prosecutor who criticised
the conviction and imprisonment of
opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
She said Franklin Nieves, who fled the
country, had abandoned his post.
Luisa Ortega Diaz also denied that
officials had been pressured to provide
false evidence at Lopez's trial.
On Friday, Nieves posted a video on
the Internet in which he apologised for
his role in what he called a political
show trial. In the video, he said he had
left Venezuela to escape pressure from
the government. Nieves urged fellow
prosecutors and judges to join him in
expressing their discontent. In a
television interview, Ms Ortega Diaz
rejected the former prosecutor's
accusations. "At the state prosecutors'
office we don't pressure anyone," she
said. She added that Nieves had given in
to "pressures from foreign and domestic
elements", but was not specific.
Ms Ortega also rejected that the
allegations by Nieves were grounds for
overturning the verdict in Lopez's trial.
He was sentenced last month to nearly
14 years in prison on charges of inciting
violence during anti-government
protests in 2014.
Venezuela prosecutor sacked after Lopez trial criticism
Children stand at the
entrance gate to their
house in Farkhar district
of Takhar province,
Afghanistan, after an
earthquake on Monday.
Saudi prince held for
A member of Saudi Arabia's royal family was de-
tained at the Beirut, Lebanon, airport over an alleged
attempt to smuggle drugs out of the country on a pri-
vate plane, a security source told CNN.
The prince was among five Saudi nationals ar-
rested Monday after being accused of trying to trans-
port two tons of Captagon amphetamine pills onto a
plane bound for Saudi Arabia, according to the official
Lebanese National News Agency.
It was the largest drug bust conducted at the
Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport. (CNN)
French pilots flee drugs
conviction in DR
Two French pilots who were sentenced by a court
in the Dominican Republic to 20 years in prison have
fled the country.
Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos were arrested in
2013 in the Dominican resort of Punta Cana.
Police said their plane was carrying 26 suitcases
stuffed with 1,500 pounds of cocaine.
The two pilots and two other Frenchmen on board
were found guilty of drug trafficking. They denied the
charges. According to French news channel BMFTV,
the pilots had previously worked for the French navy
and were helped by former intelligence agents to
leave the Dominican Republic.
The channel said that the ex-intelligence agents
helped the pilots, who were under house arrest, reach
a boat off the Dominican coast.
From there they sailed to the French Antilles and
then flew to Paris.
The French government said it had nothing to do
with their escape.
The pilots' lawyer, Jean Reinhart, told AFP news
agency that Fauret and Odos had returned to France
"not to flee justice but to seek justice."
Reinhart said the two were not "escapees" as they
had not escaped from jail. (AFP)
German border guards
to help Slovenia
LJUBLJANA---The first five border guards---all Ger-
man---of 400 promised to Slovenia by fellow EU
countries are expected to arrive today to help channel
a huge flow of migrants through the tiny Alpine state,
its government said.
Interior Ministry state secretary Bostjan Sefic also
said 100-120 customs police would join Slovenian sol-
diers, regular police and private security firms in deal-
ing with an influx that has strapped the country's
limited resources. The small ex-Yugoslav republic also
plans to hire about 250 unemployed people to help
run migrant reception centers.
Since Hungary's anti-immigrant government sealed
off its border with Croatia, causing the migrant wave
to shift westwards to Slovenia, 86,500 have poured
into the country, almost all of them bound for pre-
ferred destinations in Austria and Germany.
Slovenia's premier warned on Sunday shortly be-
fore the deal was struck that the 28-nation EU faced
break-up if its members could not stop squabbling
and agree a plan to confront the sudden influx of
refugees and migrants through the Balkans from the
Middle East, Africa and Asia. (Reuters)
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