World in Brief, Dec. 27, 2009

By Epoch Times Staff
Epoch Times Staff
Epoch Times Staff
December 27, 2009 Updated: December 28, 2009

The Philippines

Second Ferry Disaster in Philippines

A second boat disaster in the space of three days has struck the Philippines, leaving six people dead on Saturday night. A passenger ferry with 88 people on board sank to the bottom south of the coast of the capital Manila. Search and rescue teams have managed to save about 60 passengers and crew members, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.

On Thursday, four people died as a result of a collision between a small ferry and fisher boat in the Bay of Manila. Boat accidents occur frequently in the Philippines, a nation made up of more than 7,100 islands. The ferries that run between the islands are often poorly maintained and are said to often exceed their maximum capacity for carrying people.

Pakistan

Pakistani Official Killed in Explosion by Militants

The home of Sarbraz Saddiqi, a government official in Pakistan's Kurram district, was destroyed by explosives Sunday morning, while he and his family were asleep. Dynamite was planted around the house, and Saddiqi, his wife, and four children were killed in the attack, according to BBC. It is still unknown who planned the attack. Bombings in Pakistan have been frequent in recent weeks, amid the Pakistan army's offensive against the Taliban. On Dec. 26, a bomb in the commercial capital Karachi killed at least 19 people. Another bomb attack took the lives of at least five people and wounded more than 20 others on Dec. 24 in the city of Peshawar.

Germany

World War II Bomb Exploded in Germany

Some 8,500 people were evacuated on Sunday for several hours from their homes, prison, and nursing homes in Vechta, Germany, as an unexploded World War II (WWII) aerial bomb needed to be dealt with. Discovered in the beginning of this year by Belgian aerial images, it was moved on Sunday from the residential area near Bremen in Northern Germany to a safe area. Attempts to diffuse the bomb failed, so the 500-kilogram bomb was detonated in a controlled explosion. Since the end of WWII, unexploded bombs have often been found in Germany, whose major cities were heavily bombed by Allied Forces during the war. An evacuation like today's is rare, according to the German media.

Thailand

Thailand to Repatriate Thousands of Hmong to Laos

Thailand is preparing to repatriate thousands of ethnic Hmong to Laos, despite fears they could face persecution after they return, a senior army officer told Reuters on Sunday. The 4,200 Hmong are currently at a refugee camp in Huay Nam Khao in Phetchabun Province in Thailand. Soldiers, police, and civil servants—armed with shields and batons—were already being sent by the Thai government to carry out the repatriation.

"The United States is deeply concerned about reports of the imminent and involuntary deportation," said U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner in a Dec. 24 statement. "We again urge the Royal Thai Government to uphold the international principle of non-refoulement and refrain from forcibly returning Lao Hmong who merit protection."

The Hmong are an Asian ethnic group from Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Burma. They fought alongside the United States during the Vietnam War and faced persecution after the communists took over Laos in 1975. Tens of thousands have been brought to the United States. They still risk persecution from the Laos communist regime if repatriated.