- - Thursday, January 10, 2013


ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani army accused Indian troops of firing across the disputed Kashmir border and killing a soldier Thursday, the third deadly incident in the disputed Himalayan region in recent days.

Indian officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s shooting.

The tit-for-tat fighting threatens to reverse recent progress Pakistan and India have made in improving their historically antagonistic relationship.

The two countries have fought three major wars since they achieved independence from British India in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.

The mountainous region is divided between the two countries, but both claim the area in its entirety.

A cease-fire over Kashmir has largely held for about a decade, despite periodic firing across the disputed border that sometimes causes casualties.


Lawyer says police beat give gang-rape suspects

NEW DELHI — Police badly beat the five suspects arrested in the gang rape and killing of a young woman on a New Delhi bus, the lawyer for one of the men said Thursday, accusing authorities of tampering with evidence in the case that has transfixed India.

“They are innocent,” Manohar Lal Sharma said of the five suspects ahead of a court hearing, which ended quickly because some of the official court paperwork listing the charges was illegible.

Mr. Sharma said police have beaten the men and placed other prisoners into the suspects’ cells to threaten them with knives, adding “you can’t believe the reality of Indian prisons.”

Five men have been charged in the attack on the 23-year-old woman and a male friend on a bus as it was driven through the streets of India’s capital. The woman was raped and assaulted with a metal bar on Dec. 16 and eventually died of her injuries.

Rape victims are not identified in India, even if they die, and rape trials are closed to the media.

Mr. Sharma, who has made a series of inflammatory and often-contradictory statements in the past two days, at one point Thursday said the woman’s male companion, who boarded the bus with her after they saw a movie together, was “responsible for the whole thing.” He gave no details, though, and a few hours later said the man’s responsibility “was only my opinion.”


Japan, South Korea meet again in reconciliation bid

TOKYO — Japan and South Korea agreed Thursday to work together on building ties as they look to repair relations frayed by a territorial row, Japanese officials said.

Vice foreign ministers from the two countries met in Tokyo for their 12th “strategic dialogue” since 2005, and had a “frank exchange of views on ways to further strengthen Japan-South Korea relations,” the Japanese ministry said.

It was the first such meeting since both countries elected new leaders last month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Ties between the two U.S. allies deteriorated last year after outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made the first official visit to the tiny disputed islands known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan.

The visit sent relations into a tailspin and reawakened historical animosities over Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule and the plight of Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.


Court orders cleanup of long-contaminated creek

BANGKOK — A Thai court on Thursday ordered the government to clean up a lead-polluted creek and pay nearly $4 million in compensation to local villagers as part of a legal battle that lasted almost a decade.

In the past 15 years, toxic waste from a lead mine and treatment factory established in 1967 have contaminated water, soil and aquatic animals, and affected villagers living near the Klity creek in Kanchanaburi province, 180 miles west of Bangkok.

The businesses owned by Lead Concentrates Co. were ordered to shut down in 1998.

But more than 150 ethnic Karen residents in the remote village of Lower Klity have been forced to shun their only water source since 1999, when the Public Health Ministry prohibited using the creek for water and banned fishing there.

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled Thursday that the government’s Pollution Control Department did not attempt to mitigate the damage in a timely manner.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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