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Wave of killings triggers memories of dark past in Kashmir

Wave of killings triggers memories of dark past in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India — The Kashmiri Hindu activist was listening to religious hymns on his cellphone when he was interrupted by a tragic WhatsApp message. It brought news of a fatal shooting of a prominent chemist from his community, just a few miles from the activist’s home in Srinagar, the largest city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.Sanjay Tickoo, 54, anxiously bolted the gate of his house and gathered his family in the dining room. His phone kept buzzing with calls from frightened minority community members.Within two hours of the killing of Makhan Lal Bindroo on Oct. 5, assailants shot and killed another Hindu man, a street vendor from India’s eastern state of Bihar, and in a separate shooting a native Muslim taxi driver. Two days later, two teachers – one Hindu and one Sikh – were shot inside a school on the outskirts of Srinagar.The killings led to widespread unease, particularly among the region’s religious minority Hindus, locally known as Pandits, an estimated 200,000 of whom fled Kashmir after an anti-India rebellion erupted in 1989.Tickoo, who like the chemist and some 800 other Pandit families had chosen to stay behind to live with their Muslim neighbors, and other prominent Hindus were swiftly relocated to secured accommodations. He was later moved to a fortified Hindu temple guarded by paramilitary soldiers in downtown Srinagar, the urban heartland of anti-India sentiment.“I have seen death and destruction from close quarters. But I have never felt as insecure, as fearful all my life,” Tickoo said. “The killings spread panic faster than the virus.”The chemist Bindroo’s killing was the first in 18 years of a local Hindu from this tiny community, whose people chose not to migrate from the strife-torn region. Fearing more such attacks, authorities offered leave to nearly 4,000 Hindu employees who had returned to the region after 2010 as part of a government resettlement plan that provided them jobs and housing.Tickoo again chose to stay, but nearly 1,800 Hindu employees left the Kashmir Valley after the killings. It brought back memories of the 1990s, which saw the flight of most local Hindus to the region’s Jammu plains and to other parts of Hindu-majority India amid a spate of killings that targeted the community.The killings seem to have “triggered memory that resonates with earlier history and mass displacement of Pandits,” said Ankur Datta, who studied Pandit migrant camps for his doctoral research and now teaches anthropology at South Asian University in New Delhi.The killings were widely condemned by both pro- and anti-India Kashmiri politicians. In a sweeping crackdown, government forces questioned over 1,000 people in an attempt to stem more violence. Police blamed rebel group The Resistance Front, or TRF, for the killings. The region’s top police officer Dilbag Singh described the attacks as a “conspiracy to create terror and communal rift.”In a statement on social media, TRF claimed the group was targeting those working for Indian authorities and was not picking targets based on faith. The rebel group’s statement could not be independently verified.Despite the ongoing crackdown, the targeted killings have continued.Assailants again shot and killed four migrant workers – three Hindus from the eastern Bihar state and a Muslim from the northern Uttar Pradesh state – in three separate attacks on Saturday and Sunday, increasing the death toll in targeted killings to 32 this year. The slain included 21 local Muslims, four local Hindus and a local Sikh, along with five non-local Hindus and one non-local Muslim, according to police records.Siddiq Wahid, a historian and former vice chancellor of Islamic University of Science and Technology in Kashmir, said the recent killings gained attention only in the context of sectarian concerns, even as people of all religions were killed, and noted that the subsequent debate has focused on statistics rather than the loss of lives.“The first distorts and the second overlooks tragedy. Both represent a deep loss for Kashmir,” Wahid said.In Kashmir, Hindus lived mostly peacefully alongside Muslims for centuries in villages and towns as landowners, farmers and government officials across the Himalayan region. A war in 1947 between India and Pakistan left Kashmir divided between the two countries as they gained independence from Britain. Within a decade, however, divisions emerged as many Muslims began to mistrust Indian rule and demanded the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.When Kashmir turned into a battleground in the late 1980s, attacks and threats by militants led to the departure of most Kashmiri Hindus, who identified with India’s rule over the region, many believing that the rebellion was also aimed at wiping them out. It reduced the Pandits to a tiny minority.Most of the region’s Muslims, long resentful of Indian rule, deny that Hindus were systematically targeted, and say India moved them out in order to cast Kashmir’s freedom struggle as Islamic extremism.These tensions were renewed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, and as the Indian government pursued a plan to house returning migrant Kashmiri Hindus in new townships.Muslim leaders described such plans as a conspiracy to create communal division by separating the region’s population along religious lines, particularly after India stripped the region’s semi-autonomy in 2019 and removed inherited protections on land and jobs amid a monthslong lockdown and a communication blockade.Authorities have since passed many new laws, which critics and Kashmiris fear could change the region’s demographics.These fears became more pronounced in early September when authorities launched an online portal for migrant Hindus to register complaints of distress sales and encroachments onto their properties, an overwhelming majority of which have changed hands in the last three decades. According to official figures, 700 complaints were received in the first three weeks.Thousands of Muslim families who bought properties from Hindus were left angered. Authorities even asked some Muslim families to vacate the properties.“The online portal seems to be a major trigger for the killings,” said Tickoo, the activist.Among the region’s minorities, Sikhs have lived relatively at ease with their Muslim neighbors and have emerged as the largest minority after the Hindu migration. But they too have faced targeted killings.After the killing of 46-year-old Supinder Kour, a Sikh school principal, hundreds of angry community members carried her body in Srinagar and raised religious slogans while demanding justice. Some Muslim residents joined them.“We don’t know who the killers are. Even if I knew, do you think I can talk freely?” said Sikh leader Jagmohan Singh Raina. “We are caught between two guns: the guns from the state and the non-state.”Raina said no Sikh fled after Kour’s killing but maintained that his community was shaken. He said while the state was “provoking and punishing” the region’s majority Muslims through new laws, the minorities were being “manipulated for politics.”Tickoo and Raina said the killings were “ominous signs″ for Kashmir. They asserted in similar comments that India’s changes two years ago “wounded all of us living on the ground.”“And the wound,” Raina said, “has become a cancer now.”———Follow Aijaz Hussain on Twitter at twitter.com/hussain—aijaz

Ex-soldiers protest in Guatemala to get civil war payment

Ex-soldiers protest in Guatemala to get civil war payment

Former soldiers who are demanding a war-time bonus  for serving in Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war have burst onto the grounds of the country’s congress building and set several vehicles afireByThe Associated PressOctober 20, 2021, 1:22 AM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleGUATEMALA CITY — Former soldiers who are demanding they be paid a war-time bonus for serving in Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war burst onto the grounds of the country’s congress building Tuesday and set several vehicles on fire.The protesters broke down gates leading into the building’s parking lot and torched at least three vehicles. Some of the demonstrators apparently carried machetes, and some congress employees fled over a rooftop to escape.Legislator Carlos Barreda wrote on his Twitter account that some of his colleagues were trapped inside the building. Another legislator, Luis Fernando Pineda, wrote that the ex-soldiers set fire to offices adjoining the parking lot.Soldiers eventually showed up to force the protesters out. The civil war pitted the army and police against leftist rebels. It ended with the signing of peace accords in 1996.The former soldiers are demanding a bonus of about $16,000 for having served in the civil war, in which at least 200,000 people, most of them civilians, died.The U.S.-backed army was responsible for most of the deaths, according to findings of an independent truth commission set up to investigate the bloodshed.

Negotiations drag on over 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Negotiations drag on over 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Negotiations stretched into a fourth day seeking the return of 17 members of a U.S.-based missionary group kidnapped over the weekend by a violent gang that is demanding $1 million ransom per person.The group includes five children whose ages range from 8 months to 15 years, although authorities were not clear whether the ransom amount included them, a top Haitian official said Tuesday. Sixteen of the abductees are Americans and one Canadian.The abduction is one of at least 119 kidnappings recorded in Haiti for the first half of October, according to the Center of Analysis and Research of Human Rights, a local nonprofit group. It said a Haitian driver was abducted along with the missionaries, bringing the total to 18 people taken by the gang.The Haitian official, who was not authorized to speak to the press, told The Associated Press that someone from the 400 Mawozo gang made the ransom demand Saturday in a call to a leader of the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries shortly after the abduction.“This group of workers has been committed to minister throughout poverty-stricken Haiti,” the Ohio group said, adding that the missionaries worked most recently on a project to help rebuild homes lost in a magnitude-7.2 earthquake that struck southwestern Haiti on Aug. 14.The group was returning from visiting an orphanage when it was abducted, the organization said.Responding to the recent wave of kidnappings, workers staged a protest strike that shuttered businesses, schools and public transportation starting Monday. The work stoppage was a new blow to Haiti’s anemic economy. Unions and other groups vowed to continue the shutdown indefinitely.In a peaceful demonstration Tuesday north of Port-au-Prince, dozens of people walked through the streets of Titanyen demanding the release of the missionaries. Some carried signs that read “Free the Americans” and “No to Kidnapping!” and explained that the missionaries helped pay bills and build roads and schools.“They do a lot for us,” said Beatrice Jean.Meanwhile, the country’s fuel shortage worsened, with businesses blaming gangs for blocking roads and gas distribution terminals.Hundreds of motorcycles zoomed through the streets of Port-au-Prince on Tuesday as the drivers yelled, “If there’s no fuel, we’re going to burn it all down!”One protest took place near the prime minister’s residence, where police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd demanding fuel.In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the FBI was “part of a coordinated U.S. government effort” to free the missionaries. The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince was coordinating with local officials and the hostages’ families.“We know these groups target U.S. citizens who they assume have the resources and finances to pay ransoms, even if that is not the case,” Psaki said, noting that the government has urged U.S. citizens not to visit Haiti.It is longstanding U.S. policy not to negotiate with hostage takers, and Psaki declined to discuss details of the operation.The kidnapping was the largest of its kind reported in recent years. Haitian gangs have grown more brazen as the country tries to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people.Christian Aid Ministries said the kidnapped group included six women, six men and five children. A sign on the door at the organization’s headquarters in Berlin, Ohio, said it was closed due to the kidnapping situation.News of the kidnappings spread swiftly in and around Holmes County, Ohio, hub of one of the largest populations of Amish and conservative Mennonites in the United States, said Marcus Yoder, executive director of the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in nearby Millersburg, Ohio.Christian Aid Ministries is supported by conservative Mennonite, Amish and related groups that are part of the Anabaptist tradition.The organization was founded in the early 1980s and began working in Haiti later that decade, said Steven Nolt, professor of history and Anabaptist studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. The group has year-round mission staff in Haiti and several countries, he said, and it ships religious, school and medical supplies throughout the world.———Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press journalists Matías Delacroix in Port-au-Prince, Matthew Lee in Washington, Pete Smith in Pittsburgh, John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio, and Julie Carr Smyth in Berlin, Ohio, contributed to this report.

U.S. congressmen complain about Mexico energy changes

U.S. congressmen complain about Mexico energy changes

Texas congressmen are complaining about the Mexican government’s attempts to limit competition in the electrical power sectorByThe Associated PressOctober 20, 2021, 4:10 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMEXICO CITY — Texas congressmen complained Tuesday about the Mexican government’s attempts to limit competition in the electrical power sector.In a letter to U.S. Ambassador Ken Salzar, about 20 Texas congressmen and senators criticized changes proposed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to restrict the market share of private power generators and favor Mexico’s state-owned utility company.The letter circulated by Republican Rep. August Pfluger said the new rules would “discriminate against American energy producers.”The complaint came on the same day the Mexican government claimed it is leading a transition to more renewable energy, even though López Obrador is pushing to restrict private wind and solar projects.López Obrador submitted a bill earlier this month that would cancel contracts under which 34 private plants sell power into the national grid. The plan declares “illegal” another 239 private plants that sell energy directly to corporate clients in Mexico. Almost all of those plants are renewable or natural-gas fired.The measure also would cancel many long-term energy supply contracts and clean-energy preferential buying programs, often affecting foreign companies.It puts private natural gas plants almost last in line — ahead of only government coal-fired plants — for rights to sell electricity into the grid, despite the fact they produce power about 24% more cheaply. Government-run plants that burn dirty fuel oil would have preference over private wind and solar plants.The plan guarantees the government electrical utility a market share of “at least” 54%, even though U.S.-Mexico Canada free trade pact prohibits favoring local or government businesses.The letter from the U.S. lawmakers from Texas said that “the (Mexican) government’s proposed constitutional reforms would increase state control of the electricity industry and severely limit private investment. These steps, among others, harm our critical trading partnership with Mexico and potentially violate key tenets of the USMCA.”The Mexican government released a statement Tuesday saying it was seeking to cooperate with the United States on renewable energy. Yet many of the wind and solar electrical plants that López Obrador wants to limit were built by U.S. or Spanish firms.Released after a visit by U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, the statement touted “cooperating closely with the United States to accelerate the roll-out of renewable energy in Mexico, including wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric.”Hydroelectric power is one of the few renewable sources that López Obrador’s administration has promised to invest in. But because Mexico’s dams are used for several purposes — storing water for human use, flood control and generating power — the conflicting demands and increasingly uncertain rains make it unclear how much more hydropower can be produced.López Obrador, a native of the oil-producing Gulf coast state of Tabasco, has made his main push in promoting fossil fuels. His administration is focused on building or acquiring new oil refinery capacity.Experts say López Obrador’s polices could endanger Mexico’s compliance with existing carbon reduction commitments. The president contends that increased hydroelectric capacity will allow Mexico to meet those goals.The statement came ahead of a United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, at the end of the month.

N Korea confirms missile test designed for submarine launch

N Korea confirms missile test designed for submarine launch

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Wednesday that it had test-fired a newly developed ballistic missile from a submarine, in its first such underwater test-launch in two years and one it says will bolster its military’s undersea capabilities.The test Tuesday was the fifth round of missile launches since September and came as North Korea steps up pressure on Washington and Seoul to abandon what Pyongyang sees as hostile policies such as joint U.S.-South Korea military drills and international sanctions on the North.North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said the latest test “will greatly contribute to putting the defense technology of the country on a high level and to enhancing the underwater operational capability of our navy.” It said the new missile has introduced advanced control guidance technologies including flank mobility and gliding skip mobility.The North’s neighbors said Tuesday that they detected the North’s missile firing and said the weapon landed in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. South Korea’s military described the missile as a short-range, submarine-launched ballistic missile and said the launch was made from waters near the eastern port of Sinpo, where North Korea has a major shipyard building submarines.KCNA said Tuesday’s launch was made from “the same 8.24 Yongung ship,” a submarine that North Korea said it used to conduct its first submarine-launched strategic ballistic missile test in 2016. Photos published by North Korea show a missile rising and spewing bright flames above a cloud of smoke from the sea. One image shows the upper parts of what looks like a submarine on the surface of the sea.North Korea last performed a SLBM test in October 2019. Foreign experts said the North used a submersible barge, rather than a submarine, for the launch at the time.Tuesday’s launch was the highest-profile weapons test by North Korea since President Joe Biden took office in January. The Biden administration has repeatedly said it’s open to resuming nuclear diplomacy with North Korea “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions. The North has so far rebuffed such overtures, saying U.S. hostility remains unchanged.The launch came days before Sung Kim, Biden’s special envoy on North Korea, was to travel to Seoul to discuss with allies the possibility of reviving diplomacy with Pyongyang.At a meeting in Washington with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, Kim emphasized U.S. condemnation of the launch, which violates multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, and urged Pyongyang to refrain from further provocations and “engage in sustained and substantive dialogue,” the State Department said.The U.N. Security Council scheduled emergency closed consultations on North Korea on Wednesday afternoon at the request of the United States and United Kingdom.Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies, said the North Korean weapon tested Tuesday was likely derived from its land-based, nuclear-capable KN-23 missile whose highly maneuverable and lower-trajectory flight provides it with greater chances of evading missile defense systems.Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi had said Tuesday that the North Korean missile flew on “an irregular trajectory” while traveling as far as 600 kilometers (360 miles).“A SLBM is the most intimidating nuclear weapon because we don’t know where it can be fired,” said Moon Keun-sik, a submarine expert who teaches at Kyonggi University in South Korea. “North Korea’s goal is building more powerful SLBMs that can be fired from big submarines like the U.S. does.”North Korea has been pushing hard for years to acquire the ability to fire nuclear-armed missiles from submarines, the next key piece in an arsenal that includes a variety of weapons including ones with the potential range to reach American soil.Still, experts say it would take years, large amounts of resources and major technological improvements for the heavily sanctioned nation to build at least several submarines that could travel quietly in seas and reliably execute strikes.North Korea has an estimated about 70-90 diesel-powered submarines in one of the world’s largest submarine fleets. But they are mostly aging ones capable of launching only torpedoes and mines, not missiles. The vessel North Korea used during the 2016 SLBM test is the North’s only submarine capable of firing a missile, but it has a single launch tube and some experts call it a test platform, rather than an operational weapons system in active service, Moon said.In 2019, North Korea unveiled a 2,000-ton-class submarine with several missile launch tubes but there has been no official confirmation that it’s been deployed for operational use. North Korea is pushing to build bigger submarines including a nuclear-powered one.Kim, the analyst, said the new missile tested Tuesday was likely a small-sized weapon displayed during a defense exhibition last week. The professor said North Korea likely plans to load this missile on the submarine it disclosed in 2019 while placing bigger SLBMs on larger submarines under development.In a report this month on North Korea’s military capabilities, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency said the North’s pursuit of submarine-launched ballistic missile capabilities along with its steady development of land-based mobile long-range weapons highlight Pyongyang’s intentions to “build a survivable, reliable nuclear delivery capability.”Some experts say North Korea might continue its weapons tests for a couple of more months until it halts them in consideration of the Winter Olympics slated for February in China, its last major ally and economic pipeline. They say the North may even test-launch long-range missiles directly threatening the U.S. mainland in a breach of a 2018 self-imposed moratorium on such weapons tests to maximize its pressure campaign.Nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea have been stalled for more than two years because of disagreements over an easing of crippling U.S.-led sanctions against North Korea in exchange for denuclearization steps by the North.———Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

Chinese-North Korean defectors face hardship in South Korea

Chinese-North Korean defectors face hardship in South Korea

GWANGYANG, South Korea — Abandoned, he feels, by three countries, Cho Guk-gyeong shows a visitor his South Korean alien registration card, which describes him as “stateless.” It’s an apt description for what his life is like in South Korea, 15 years after he fled North Korea.Most North Korean defectors to the South are ethnically Korean, but Cho, 53, is a third-generation Chinese immigrant. While ethnically Korean defectors are entitled by law to a package of benefits designed to help their resettlement in South Korea, Cho can’t receive that support because he maintained his Chinese nationality in North Korea, even though his family has lived there for generations.“I don’t need a state subsidy or other assistance. I just want South Korean citizenship so I can work diligently until I die,” Cho said during an interview in the southern port city of Gwangyang, where he recently worked as a temporary manual laborer, his first job in eight years.It’s unclear how many Chinese-North Koreans have come to South Korea over the years. Activists say about 30 have been designated as “stateless,” after unsuccessful attempts to pose as North Korean nationals landed them in prison or detention facilities in South Korea.That “stateless” designation makes it extremely difficult for them to find jobs and enjoy basic rights and services in the South, and, while their numbers may be relatively small, their campaign for better treatment illuminates a little-known but important human rights issue.“They are probably the most pitiful overseas Chinese in the world, as they’ve been abandoned by North Korea, China and South Korea,” said Yi Junghee, a professor at the Academy of Chinese Studies at Incheon National University. “They don’t get help from any country.”Returning to North Korea would mean lengthy imprisonment, or worse. Settling in China is often a problem because many don’t speak Chinese and have lost touch with relatives there. It could take years to get local residence cards in China.In 2019, Cho and three others applied for refugee status in the first known such joint efforts by ethnic Chinese from North Korea, and had their long-awaited first interviews with immigration officials this June. Prospects for getting approval aren’t good. South Korea’s acceptance rate for refugee status applications has been less than 2% in recent years.In a response to queries posed by The Associated Press, the Justice Ministry said it will review the likelihood of Cho and three other Chinese-North Koreans facing persecution if they leave South Korea, the consistency of their testimony and the documents they’ve submitted before it determines whether to grant refugee status. The ministry refused to disclose the contents of the June interviews but said its review may take a long time.The ministry said the four and some other Chinese-North Koreans are still likely legally Chinese but are unable to prove their nationality. It said authorities view them as “de facto stateless” people and are allowing them to stay in South Korea.Major Chinese settlement on the Korean Peninsula dates back to the early 19th century. An estimated 3,000-5,000 ethnic Chinese now live in North Korea. They are the only foreigners with permanent residents’ rights among North Korea’s 26 million people, analysts say.They can maintain Chinese nationality, visit China once or twice a year and engage in cross-border business. Men are exempt from the 10-year mandatory military service. But their ethnic background also often makes them the subject of greater state surveillance, bars them from joining the ruling Workers’ Party and limits their political opportunities.In general, they consider themselves North Koreans.Cho said that in his youth he was taught to worship the ruling Kim family with his North Korean friends at school. He worked for a state-run factory and lived as a naturalized North Korean citizen for two years.“My ancestral roots have dried up, and, quite honestly, I feel like North Korea is my home,” said Cho, whose grandfather moved to the northeastern North Korean city of Chongjin in the mid-1920s.About 34,000 North Koreans have moved to South Korea to avoid economic hardship and political suppression since the late 1990s. That includes some Chinese-North Koreans like Cho. Without Beijing-issued passports, they often hire brokers who guide them to South Korea via Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, the same route used by North Koreans.Upon arrival in South Korea in 2008, when he underwent questioning by intelligence officials, Cho posed as one of his best North Korean friends, who had died in a traffic accident. He said he wanted to make a fresh start by hiding his Chinese background, which he sees as a disadvantage in both Koreas. Cho said he wasn’t aware of the seriousness of his deceit.He was given South Korean citizenship, an apartment and other financial assistance under a law that protects North Korean defectors because South Korea legally regards North Korea as part of its territory. But in 2012 his lying was detected by authorities who thought initially that he was a North Korean spy. Cho was cleared of the spying charges, but he was stripped of his citizenship and other benefits and sentenced to one year in prison for immigration and other offences.Another Chinese-North Korean refugee, surnamed Yoon, said he was held in a government facility for about 20 months for a similar attempt to pose as a North Korean national. The 60-year-old avoided conviction because his lying was detected soon after his arrival and before his release into society.“I sometimes think I shouldn’t have come here. I don’t know how many more years I will live. But I want to die after getting nationality,” said the man, who wished to be identified only by his family name because of safety worries about relatives in the North.During their June interviews, the four Chinese-North Koreans told officials that returning to North Korea would expose them to punishment and that they could face difficulties in China because of a lack of residential cards, no relatives and the language barrier, according to Kim Yong-hwa, a North Korean defector-turned-activist who has helped them with their refugee applications.For South Korea, embracing Chinese-North Koreans is a delicate matter because it could prompt other ethnic Chinese in the North to come to South Korea, which would anger Pyongyang’s leadership and complicate Seoul’s efforts to seek reconciliation, Kim said.“We lived and suffered together in North Korea … so it doesn’t make sense to decide that they aren’t North Korean defectors,” said Noh Hyun-jeong, a North Korean defector in Seoul who has Chinese-North Korean friends in the North who came to South Korea.Unlike Noh, many other North Korean defectors often ignore “stateless” Chinese-North Koreans, who also often fail to get along with other ethnic Chinese who have lived in South Korea for generations, Kim said.Yoon said he relies on financial assistance from Kim and from a church. Cho, who lives with a North Korean woman defector, said he hasn’t told his defector friends in South Korea about his ethnic background and legal status.“I don’t think we would become estranged, but I’m scared about people who aren’t close to me learning about my background and status. I just don’t know how they would react,” Cho said.

Taliban to reward suicide bombers' families with cash, land

Taliban to reward suicide bombers' families with cash, land

The Taliban have promised plots of land to the family members of suicide bombers who targeted U.S. and Afghan forces, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry tweeted Tuesday. The tweet, posted in English, echoed an announcement made the previous day by acting interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who offered clothes and roughly $112 to dozens of male family members of “martyred” bombers who died for Islamic “jihad and sacrifices.”US SPECIAL ENVOY FOR AFGHANISTAN STEPS DOWN AFTER WITHDRAWALThe spokesman, Saeed Khosty, also said Haqqani considered the dead bombers “heroes of Islam and the country.””Now you and I must refrain from betraying the aspirations of our martyrs,” Haqqani reportedly said. The acting interior minister’s comments suggest extreme aggression could see a resurgence in the now Taliban-ruled country — a move at odds with previous assurances following the fall of Kabul in August. The U.S. and its Western allies have warned the Taliban that they will not recognize its government as a legitimate legislative body should the Taliban allow terrorism and extremism to flourish. STATE DEPARTMENT IG TO PROBE BIDEN ADMIN’S CHAOTIC AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWALThe Taliban leaders’ meeting at a Kabul hotel Monday was the latest in a series of steps taken by the group to seemingly push Afghanistan back to a radicalization not seen since 2001.   The United Nations has predicted the entire country could soon be in a dire economic situation and will require additional humanitarian support. The U.S. has frozen billions of dollars in Afghan assets following the Taliban takeover in accordance with U.S. sanction policies. International monetary organizations have additionally paused as much as 75% of all fiscal disbursements the previous Afghan government relied on, the Associated Press reported. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPThe U.S. has evacuated upward of 124,000 Americans, Afghan allies and at-risk Afghans since the fall of Kabul. The State Department has said it will continue to evacuate individuals still stuck in Afghanistan. Fox News could not immediately reach the State Department for comment. The Associated Press contributed to this report.