- - Thursday, May 17, 2012

TAIWAN

TAIPEI — Taiwan is due to receive two coastal mine hunters from the United States within months in a deal aimed at enhancing the island’s ability to defend itself against China, the navy said Thursday.

The two Osprey class vessels - the world’s second largest mine hunters - are expected to be delivered in the second half of this year, a navy spokesman said, declining to provide a more specific time frame.

The two vessels, which were decommissioned from the U.S. Navy in 2006, are being retrofitted and are scheduled to be handed over to Taiwan in July, the state Central News Agency said.

The vessels can find, classify and destroy mines, and will help Taiwan increase its anti-blockade abilities in case of war with China, analysts say.

The sale of the two vessels is part of a $6.4 billion arms deal that includes Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and communications equipment for Taiwan’s F-16 fleet of fighter jets.

BANGLADESH

Bomb blasts, arrests occur during Bangladesh strike

DHAKA — Bomb blasts and arrests marked an opposition-called general strike in Bangladesh on Thursday in protest of a court order jailing 33 of the alliance’s leaders.

No injuries were reported from several crude bombs that exploded in Dhaka.

Schools and businesses were shut in the capital, and public life was disrupted in other major cities and towns during the shutdown. The United News of Bangladesh agency said police arrested at least 17 activists in Dhaka.

ATN Bangla television station said more than 100 opposition supporters were arrested in various districts.

A court Wednesday denied bail to 33 opposition leaders charged with involvement in an arson attack during a strike last month.

The defendants include former Cabinet ministers and the acting secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. It heads the 18-party opposition alliance.

The opposition says the arson charge is politically motivated and the bail rejection is aimed at suppressing the opposition movement.

PAKISTAN

Military planes crash, 4 pilots killed

PESHAWAR — Two Pakistani air force planes crashed in a residential area in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing all four pilots on board and injuring five people on the ground, police said.

Residents of Nowshera city, where the planes went down, reported that the aircraft collided before they crashed, but the air force is still investigating, said police official Fazil Khan.

The air force has suffered a series of crashes over the past year that it has said were the result of technical problems.

SINGAPORE

Chinese told to obey Singapore laws after crash

China urged its citizens Thursday to respect Singapore’s laws as footage of a deadly car crash caused by a Chinese expatriate driving a Ferrari drew more than 1 million hits on YouTube.

“We are saddened and regret this unfortunate accident,” Wen Penghui, first secretary of the Chinese Embassy in Singapore said in a letter published on the Straits Times newspaper’s forum page.

“We hope that Chinese citizens living in Singapore will respect life, value the safety of themselves and others, abide by its laws and regulations, and live responsibly and gracefully,” the Chinese diplomat said.

Chinese immigrants and workers in Singapore have come under attack since Saturday’s pre-dawn accident in which the Chinese Ferrari driver, a Singaporean taxi driver and a Japanese passenger in the cab were killed.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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