- - Thursday, November 29, 2012

MYANMAR

MONYWA — Security forces used water cannons, tear gas and smoke bombs Thursday to clear protesters from a copper mine in northwestern Myanmar, wounding villagers and Buddhist monks in by far the biggest use of force against demonstrators since the reformist government of President Thein Sein took power last year.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who arrived in the area hours later on a previously scheduled visit, said she would try to negotiate a solution.

In a statement broadcast on state television, the government initially acknowledged using the riot-control measures but said it did not use excessive force.

But in an unusual move, it later retracted the statement, apparently sensitive to the great respect in which monks are held in the predominantly Buddhist country.

Monks and other protesters had serious burns after the crackdown at the Letpadaung mine near the town of Monywa.

Protesters who oppose the mine’s environmental and social impact had occupied the area for 11 days.

SRI LANKA

Monks urge a halt to judge’s impeachment

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s Buddhist monks on Thursday urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to withdraw an impeachment motion that accuses the country’s chief justice of misusing power and having unexplained wealth.

A letter signed by monks heading the four organizations that cover all the Buddhist monks in the country urged the government to safeguard judicial independence, saying the majority of the public think the impeachment motion “will lead to disenchantment about all branches of the judiciary.”

The motion filed by lawmakers of Mr. Rajapsaka’s ruling coalition levels 14 charges against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Opposition parties and independent analysts say the impeachment attempt is aimed at stifling judiciary independence and concentrating power with Mr. Rajapaksa.

Buddhism is the state religion of Sri Lanka, and monks are influential over the public and government.

About 74 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people are Sinhalese, who are mostly Buddhists. About 18 percent are Tamils, who are predominantly Hindus or Christians, and 7 percent are Muslims.

AFGHANISTAN

Roadside bomb blasts kill at least 12 civilians

KABUL — Two roadside bombs exploded Thursday in eastern and southern Afghanistan, killing at least 12 people and injuring 16 others, officials said.

Militants regularly plant roadside bombs to target Afghan and NATO forces, but the devices often kill civilians.

A bomb blast killed two civilians at a park in Khost, about 90 miles south of the capital, Kabul, said Jabar Nahimi, governor of Khost province in eastern Afghanistan.

Eight others were wounded in the blast, including four women and a child, he said.

Earlier, a minivan traveling in a remote part of Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan struck a roadside bomb, killing at least 10 people and wounding eight others, said Nayamatullah Khaliqi, the top government official in Dehra Wood district. He said most of the dead were women and children.

PHILIPPINES

Manila will not stamp new Chinese passport

MANILA — The Philippines is the latest country to say it will not stamp visas in a new Chinese passport because the map of China includes the South China Sea that Manila says encompasses its territory.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday that the visas will be stamped in a separate visa application form.

It said the move reinforces its protest formally conveyed to Beijing last week against China’s “excessive claim over almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.”

It said stamping the passport could be seen as “legitimizing” China’s claims.

Vietnam already has said it will not stamp the passports, while Taiwan has protested against the map’s maritime borders and India has rejected the map’s depiction of its northern border with China.

India has retaliated by issuing Chinese citizens visas embossed with New Delhi’s own maps.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports