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11 police officers die in car bomb attack

ISTANBUL — Eleven Turkish police officers were killed and 78 people injured, including three civilians, yesterday when a car bomb blamed on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants exploded outside a police building in the southeast of the country.

The bomb attack caused immense damage to the headquarters of the special anti-riot police force in Cizre, with television pictures showing a thick plume of black smoke.

Early pictures showed the police building completely gutted by the power of the blast, and reduced to a shell surrounded by a pile of rubble.

Adjacent buildings sustained severe damage and some were still on fire.

Security forces closed the main road to Cizre from the provincial capital of Sirnak to the north after the attack, Anadolu said.

The Turkish security forces have been hit by near daily attacks by the PKK since a two-and-a-half year ceasefire collapsed last year, leaving hundreds of police officers and soldiers dead.

The PKK has kept up its assaults in the last weeks after the unsuccessful July 15 coup by rogue elements in the military aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The latest attack comes two days after Turkish forces launched an unprecedented offensive in neighbouring Syria which the authorities say is aimed both at jihadists and Syrian Kurdish militia.

Turkey on Thursday shelled the Kurdish militia fighters in Syria, saying they were failing to observe a deal with the US to stop advancing in jihadist-held territory.

The military has repeatedly over the last year ordered military operations and curfews in southeastern urban centres, including Cizre which has long been seen as having large PKK support.

Over 40,000 people have been killed since PKK first took up arms in 1984 with the aim of carving out an independent state for Turkey’s Kurdish minority.

It is proscribed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. — AFP

Kill drug lords, top cop tells addicts

MANILA — Philippines’ police chief has called on drug users to kill traffickers and burn their homes, as he sought to maintain momentum in President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial crime war that has claimed 2,000 lives.

“Why don’t you give them a visit, pour gasoline on their homes and set these on fire to register your anger,” said police chief Ronald dela Rosa in a speech aired on television yesterday.

“They’re all enjoying your money, money that destroyed your brain. You know who the drug lords are. Would you like to kill them? Go ahead. Killing them is allowed because you are the victim.”

Dela Rosa was speaking on Thursday to several hundred drug users who had surrendered in the central Philippines.

When asked if Duterte supported Dela Rosa’s call to murder and commit arson, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella denied that was the police chief’s intent.

“There is no such call. It’s a passionate statement,” Abella told reporters yesterday, without elaborating.

Dela Rosa’s comments followed Duterte’s own controversial directives that have sparked criticism from the United Nations (UN) and human rights groups.

Duterte, 71, who won the elections in May, had promised to kill tens of thousands of suspected criminals in an unprecedented blitz that would eliminate illegal drugs in six months.

When he took office on June 30, Duterte told a crowd in Manila: “If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.”

Days after his election win, Duterte also offered security officials bounties for the bodies of drug dealers.

The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, said such directives “amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law”.

However, Dela Rosa and Duterte have insisted they are working within the law, while their aides have dismissed some of their comments as “hyperbole” meant to scare drug traffickers.

Nevertheless, Dela Rosa told a Senate inquiry this week that the confirmed number of people to have died in the drug war was 1,946.

He said police had shot dead 756 suspects in self-defence.

He said there were another 1,190 killings under investigation, but said they were likely due to drug gangs murdering people who could implicate them, as he hailed the success so far in the crime war.

“I admit many are dying but our campaign, now, we have the momentum,” he told the Senate. — AFP

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Bolivian minister slain after kidnap by miners

LA PAZ — Bolivian Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo Illanes was beaten to death after he was kidnapped by striking mineworkers on Thursday, the government said, and up to 100 people have been arrested as authorities vowed to punish those responsible.

“At this time, all indications are that our deputy minister Rodolfo Illanes has been brutally and cowardly murdered,” Minister of Government Carlos Romero said in broadcast comments.

He said Illanes had gone to talk to protesters in Panduro, about 160km from the capital, La Paz, but was intercepted and kidnapped by striking miners.

The government was trying to recover his body, Romero said, in a case that has shocked Bolivians.

Defence Minister Reymi Ferreira broke down on television as he described how Illanes, appointed in March, had apparently been “beaten and tortured to death”.

Illanes’ assistant escaped and was being treated in a hospital in La Paz, he said.

“This crime will not go unpunished. Authorities are investigating … around 100 people have been arrested,” Ferreira said.

Protests by miners in Bolivia demanding changes to laws turned violent this week after a highway was blockaded. Two workers were killed on Wednesday after shots were fired by police. The government said 17 police officers had been wounded.

The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia, once strong allies of leftist President Evo Morales, began what they said would be an indefinite protest after negotiations over mining legislation failed.

Protesters have been demanding more mining concessions with less stringent environmental rules, the right to work for private companies, and greater union representation.

The vast majority of miners in Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest countries, work in cooperatives, scraping a living producing silver, tin and zinc. There are few foreign-owned mining firms, unlike in neighbouring Peru and Chile.

Natural gas accounts for roughly half of Bolivia’s total exports. Ex-coca grower Morales nationalised Bolivia’s resources sector after taking power in 2006, initially winning plaudits for ploughing the profits into welfare programmes and
boosting development.

However, his government has been dogged by accusations of cronyism and authoritarianism in recent years, and even the unions who were once his core support have soured on him as falling prices have crimped spending. — Reuters

Brazil police charge Lochte over false report

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police have charged US swimmer Ryan Lochte with making a false statement after he claimed he was robbed at gunpoint during the Olympics.

Lochte apologised last week for saying he and three of his swimming teammates, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen, were robbed by armed men carrying police badges.

He had initially said the men told the swimmers to drop to the ground and demanded money and their belongings.

When he refused, one of the men placed a pistol against the swimmer’s head, and he then handed over his wallet, Lochte had said.

“Ryan Lochte was charged with the crime of falsely reporting a crime,” Rio police said in a statement which added that police had recommended the courts issue a summons for the Olympic gold medallist to be questioned.

“Once he is summoned, whether he turns up or not, the penalty is the same: one to six months’ prison,” the news website G1 Rio quoted police official Clemente Braune as saying.

“If he is summoned and does not turn up to the hearing, the trial will go ahead in the accused’s absence until the final sentence is given.”

Lochte’s account of being held up with three teammates by men dressed as police officers embarrassed the host city, angered local officials and dominated news coverage of South America’s first Olympics, amid heightened concerns over security in the crime-ridden metropolis.

Police and Lochte’s teammates subsequently said that he had committed an act of vandalism at a gas station and became embroiled in a dispute with employees, who had demanded compensation.

One of the security staff drew his weapon when the row became heated, police said.

Rio police said in a statement they had recommended that prosecutors bring charges against Lochte for falsely reporting a crime — a minor misdemeanour normally punishable by a fine.

Lochte had left Brazil the day after the incident at the gas station took place.

Lochte won one gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

He was the breakout star of the 2012 London Olympics, landing a short-lived reality TV series called What Would Ryan Lochte Do? and appearing, as himself, on top shows such as 30 Rock and 90210.
— Reuters

Police: Terror link in Pokemon Go

KUALA LUMPUR — Popular game Pokemon Go can be abused by terror groups like Islamic State and be a domestic security threat.

“The country might be in danger if the games’ servers are hacked by terror groups,” said Zafari Zulkilfli from Bukit Aman’s Social Extremist Threat Division.

“On Google Maps we can only see the roads, now with Pokemon Go which can be accessed anywhere, we are able to see everything,” he was quoted by Malay Mail Online.

“If it is hacked by Daesh, they will know clearly when to target the country’s defence. This is not just a game anymore,” he said when addressing a forum in Kelantan on Thursday.

Zafari was also reported of saying Pokemon Go might be hijacked by terror groups not only to attack the country or places but also individuals.

“Pokemon Go is more dangerous as it can record every moment wherever we are. The danger that it not only can be used to attack the country but also target specific people,” he added.

Zafari also didn’t rule out the possibility that the game be launched with a specific agenda which was to collect information from the masses.

The Pokemon Go phenomenon is based on a 1990s game but updated with the latest technology that superimposes virtual creatures onto real world locations, and allows players to view and capture them through their smartphones.

The augmented reality game, that was launched in Malaysia earlier this month, has taken the country by storm with people crowding popular locations like KLCC, major parks and shopping malls to catch Pokemon.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had warned that playing Pokemon Go in restricted areas can be considered as trespassing and action would be taken.

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Rock solid payday for Johnson

SAN FRANCISCO — Wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson topped Forbes magazine list of the world’s highest paid actors on Thursday with an estimated 2016 payday of US$64.5 million (RM259 million).

Johnson, 44, knocked Robert Downey Jr off the top spot and more than doubled his 2015 earnings, largely thanks to his action comedy Central Intelligence. Johnson, known as “The Rock” during his wrestling career, also collected advance fees from the eighth instalment of the popular Fast and Furious movie franchise.

The Forbes annual list again highlighted the pay gap between men and women in Hollywood. Earlier this week, the magazine named Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence the world’s highest paid actress for a second straight year, with an estimated 2016 take of US$46 million (RM184 million).

Forbes said 18 actors banked more than US$20 million (RM80 million) in its June 2015-June 2016 scoring period, compared with four actresses.

Jackie Chan, who has not had a big US box office hit for years but is a prolific actor and producer in the burgeoning Chinese entertainment market, was second on the list with US$61 million (RM245 million). Matt Damon came in third with US$55 million (RM220 million), largely due to the success of his 2015 space film The Martian.

“Iron Man” Downey fell from top spot, despite reprising his comic book hero role in Captain America: Civil War. He ranked eighth, tied with Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, with US$33 million (RM132 million).

Harrison Ford crept onto the list for the first time since 2009 thanks to his return as Han Solo in the blockbuster new Star Wars: The Force Awakens and video game. Ford, who also is to reprise his role as adventurer Indiana Jones in 2019, ranked 20th with earnings of about US$15 million (RM60 million).

Forbes estimates earnings, before taxes and management fees, from movies, TV and commercial endorsements.

The rest of the Top 10:

  • 4. Tom Cruise US$53 million (RM212 million)

  • 5. Johnny Depp US$48 million (RM192 million)

  • 6. Ben Affleck US$43 million (RM172 million)

  • 7. Vin Diesel US$35 million (RM140 million)

  • 8. Shah Rukh Khan US$33 million (RM132 million)

  • 8. Robert Downey Jr US$33 million (RM132 million)

  • 10. Akshay Kumar US$31 million (RM124 million)

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Transportation has changed since Merdeka

KUALA LUMPUR ­— Transportation within and outside the country has seen a sea change since 1957 with air travel no more the privilege of the rich and ship journeys almost unheard of.

Road travel was a day-long affair on narrow trunk roads and rail trips long-drawn journeys in coaches powered by coal engines.

Long before Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and klia2 were built, there was the Sungai Besi Airport now used by the Royal Malaysian Air Force and later the Subang International Airport.

Lawyer Datuk Kulasegaran Sabaratnam was only 19 in 1956 when he flew to London to read law.

The Penang-born teenager took a DC-3 propeller aircraft out of Butterworth Airport to Singapore, marking the start of a five-day odyssey.

In Singapore, he stayed at the iconic Raffles Hotel and “I could not complain about that”.

In the golden age of air travel, airlines bore the cost of accommodation for stopovers, often in reputable establishments.

“It was okay I suppose,” recalled the 79-year-old, “as it met the needs of the moment in the country’s history.’’

From Singapore, he flew to Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he stayed at the Mount Lavinia Hotel, a beautiful beach hotel. Then, it was on to Bombay (now Mumbai) for a night and on to Turkey before landing in Frankfurt.

Then it was on to the United Kingdom.

He flew on British Overseas Airways Corporation four-engined Constellation aircraft (before the company became British Airways).

“It was a memorable and epic journey that I will remember for the rest of my life,” he said.

Kulasegaran, who flies frequently these days, said airports in Malaysia had numerous creature comforts with lounges and eateries to make passengers more comfortable.

“I don’t think there was a restaurant at the Butterworth airport,” he said.

Lakshmi Rasappan was 18 when she left Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, India, on Aug 12, 1958 to begin a new life here with her Malayan husband.

For the next seven days, home was the Rajula, a passenger ship from Madras (now Chennai), to Port Swettenham (now Port Klang).

“In those days, there were only two ships that transported people between India and Malaysia, the Rajula and the State of Madras,” said the 76-year-old.

Although pregnant at the time, she recalls the journey to be smooth-sailing.

“Travelling by ship was common back then because air travel was expensive and we could not afford it,” said Lakshmi.

The next time she travelled between the two countries was by air in 1990.

By then, air travel was becoming increasingly accessible to most with the Subang International Airport, later known as the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, operating full swing.

These days, the septuagenarian says travelling to her birthplace is a breeze thanks to budget airlines such as AirAsia which flies to Trichy in Tamil Nadu.

“Now it only takes around four hours by flight,” says Lakshmi, who became a Malaysian citizen in 2013.

Retired teacher Alexandrina Savari, 76 was posted in Batu Pahat, Johor, after completing teacher’s training in 1963.

For the next five years, she travelled to her hometown of Ipoh, Perak via boat, taxi and bus.

“From Batu Pahat I would cross the river by boat to Muar, take a bus or taxi to Malacca and Kuala Lumpur and finally catch a taxi to Ipoh,” she recalled.

“Those days, it was not so expensive to take a cab ­— my trips were always less than 10 dollars.”

Road travel was difficult in the 1950s and 1960s with the narrow trunk road barely adequate for traffic.

“The trunk road wound through small towns. Travelling from KL to Ipoh would take four to five hours with a stop at Tanjung Malim for a break,” she said.

In 1982, when the expressway was completed, road travel became a breeze with travelling time almost cut by half.

“It’s so much more convenient now as it only takes two hours from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh,” said Alexandrina.

“Sometimes I take the high speed train to Ipoh because senior citizens get half price and it only takes a few hours.”

The launch of the High Speed Electric Train Service (ETS) in 2010 also marked a milestone in Malaysia’s railway progress, cutting travel time significantly.

Between 1957 and 1958, Alexandrina recalls taking the train from Ipoh to Bukit Mertajam to attend the St Anne’s Feast.

“We used to take a coal engine train and it would leave around 8am and we would only arrive in Bukit Mertajam at 4pm,” she said with a laugh.

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Property value will rise, say agents

PETALING JAYA — Those owning properties near the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3) stations will enjoy better resale and rental value once the line starts operating in 2020.

Property agents, who rent and sell units in those areas, said prices were likely to increase by between 10 and 15 per cent.

Muhammad Zura Fahmi Zukifli, 26, said the increase would, however, depend on several factors including how popular the area was.

“A single storey house in Shah Alam goes for around RM300,000 now but with LRT3, the price can go up to RM330,000.

“While owners and buyers can expect higher prices, this also depends on the economic situation in 2020.”

He said with a new public amenity, more people would invest in Shah Alam.

“Many students also rent units. The LRT3 will provide them another option of getting around instead of relying on KTM Komuter and buses.”

G. Chandran, 42, said it would be easier to sell a property located near an LRT3 stop.

“Selling properties in Shah Alam and Klang is difficult as it is too far from Kuala Lumpur, but this will change in four years’ time. Public transportation is a key factor when people decide to buy properties.”

Real estate agent Deborad Grace David, 34, said LRT3 will ease traffic congestion in the two cities and encourage more to settle down there.

“The only public transportation available in Klang and Shah Alam are KTM Komuter and buses. The LRT3 will attract more people there.

The RM9 billion project, expected to serve 74,000 commuters daily, spannng 37km, is scheduled for completion by Aug 31, 2020.

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Music to football fans’ ears

PETALING JAYA — If there is one thing football fans hate about the majestic Shah Alam Stadium, it is getting there.

The lack of public transportation frustrate many who are forced to brave traffic jams on the Federal Highway and other expressways to get there in time for M-League matches that kick off at 9pm.

Some are even forced to park along the road and even at the nearby roundabout during major matches, with the possibility of receiving summonses or their vehicles towed away.

But this will change in four years after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had on Wednesday, launched the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3) project that will connect Klang and Bandar Utama. A station will be built near the Shah Alam Stadium, and the project is expected to be completed by Aug 31, 2020.

The stadium is the home venue for Selangor Football Association and often hosts international matches. The nearby Malawati Stadium, meanwhile, has also hosted several major meets including the World Table Tennis Championships in March and the Selena Gomez concert last month.

Selangor Soccer Fan Club president Haniff Manzoor said the news is music to fans’ ears.

“The Shah Alam Stadium is beautiful, one of the best in the country but getting there is a hassle, especially for those living far away from Shah Alam,” Haniff said.

“We have fans who receive summonses for parking along the road, some had their vehicles clamped and there have been cases of motorcycles theft. This will be a thing of the past as we can now rely on public transportation.”

He added the number of fans at the stands would increase with the transport convenience.

“Supporters now need not worry about getting stuck in traffic.

“On behalf of the fans, we are happy with the news and look forward to seeing more people at the stadium.”

Even football administrators lauded the move to have a station built near the stadium.

This, they said, would allow them to plan more activities there.

“It’s fantastic news. We have such convenience at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil and we will have the same comfort at Shah Alam Stadium. It will rid us of the traffic woes we generally face there,” said FA of Malaysia general secretary Datuk Hamidin Amin told Malay Mail Afternoon yesterday.

Selangor executive councillor in charge of sports development Amirudin Shari welcomed the news, saying it would boost businesses in the area.

“There is development there and with the LRT3 station at the stadium, it will further spur growth.

“Shah Alam Stadium will now match the National Stadium in terms of accessibility. It is already a great stadium and with this, it will enable us to host more events there and its surrounding areas,” added Amirudin, who is also Selangor FA manager.

He said fans should take advantage of the convenience and come support their teams.

“This include Selangor fans. They can come in numbers and head home in peace. It’s great news for football and sports.”

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LRT3 answer to half a million residents

PETALING JAYA — More than 500,000 Shah Alam and Klang residents can look forward to a greater connectivity between the coast and Kuala Lumpur with the recent launch of the Western Corridor LRT3 connecting Bandar Utama here and Johan Setia (Klang).

Uncertain train schedules, taxi drivers charging exorbitant fares would be a thing of the past when the service starts online in August 2020.

MRCB George Kent are the apppointed Project Delivery Partner for LRT3 and responsible for the completion of the project launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Wednesday.

Many told Malay Mail the LRT3 introduction is an achievement for Klang Valley’s public transportation system.

All agreed this new line would make commuting to the city centre easier and faster.

Housewife Aishah Abdul Zubir, 27, said the LRT3 would be convenient for her travels to the city.

“Now, I depend on my husband or take the bus to the Teluk Gadong KTM Komuter which is about 20 minutes from home.”

For bank manager Akmal Abdul Malik, the LRT3 means faster travel time.

“Being a frequent public commuter, the LRT3 line would help us reach our destination within a faster time frame. Presently, I have to leave home as early as 6.30am to catch the 7.10am train at the Klang KTM station so that I can clock-in at 9am,” the 29-year-old said.

For 24-year-old systems engineer Tinesh Nair Siva Kumaran the new line would reduce travel time.

“Furthermore, having a LRT station near my home in Taman Sri Andalas would be convenient.”

Student Shalini Chandrasekaran, 26, opined having an LRT line to Klang would be the best introduction as Klang has been ignored for a long time.

Private college lecturer Dianne Melissa John, 50, said she informed her relatives on hearing that there would be a LRT line which connects Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam and Klang.

“This would make commuting much easier,” she said.

Shah Alam residents also echoed similar sentiments expressing the anticipation of LRT3.

For them, the public transportation mode has failed them for many years.

They expressed their exasperation with the KTM Komuter service and also their disappointment of being held to ransom by errant cabbies who charge exorbitant fares.

“Some even charge RM60 for a trip to Kuala Lumpur from Shah Alam, and this is during non-peak hours,” one resident said.

Student Sumaiyah Najihah Mohd Zaini, 20, said the new LRT service would mean lesser traveling cost, as cab drivers would normally charge a ridiculous fare for travels within Shah Alam.

“I once took a cab to Klang and paid RM50 for the 10km journey.

Student Dinesram Sthri Ram, 20, said he welcomed the project as it would solve his travelling woes.

Financial consultant Mohd Faiz Kasim, 24, said his qualms about the existing public transportation service goes beyond the KTM service, but also the Shah Alam-KL Sentral bus service.

“It does not matter if I reach the bus stop early or late as the timing for the bus is always off, which is troublesome,” he said.

Tutor Ng KC, 41, said the decision to construct LRT3 was timely as the existing public transport service was not beneficial for residents.

“I have been petitioning for an LRT line all along so when the prime minister announced the construction of LRT3 on Wednesday, I was the happiest man.”

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