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Police intervene following scuffles between pro-China demonstrators and anti-govt. protesters

Coming to blows: A group of pro-China demonstrators fighting with anti-government protesters in Kowloon Bay district, Hong Kong, on Saturday.APKin Cheung

Baton-wielding police moved in to break up scuffles on Saturday between pro-China protesters and those denouncing perceived Chinese meddling in the Asian financial hub, the latest in months of sometimes violent clashes.

The pro-China demonstrators chanted “Support the police” and ”China, add oil” at a shopping mall, adapting a line used by anti-Hong Kong government protesters and loosely meaning: ”China, keep your strength up”. “Hong Kong is China,” one woman shouted at passers-by who shouted obscenities in return in an angry pushing and pulling stand-off, marked more by the shouting than violence.

The clashes in the Kowloon Bay area of the Hong Kong ”special administrative zone” of China spilled out onto the streets, with each confrontation captured by dozens of media and onlookers on their smart phones. Police detained several people. But the unrest was minor compared with previous weeks when anti-government protesters have attacked the legislature and Liaison Office, the symbol of Chinese rule, trashed metro stations and set street fires. Police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.

Protesters complaining about perceived Chinese interference in the former British colony came out in their hundreds across the territory on Friday, singing and chanting on the Mid-Autumn Festival. They have also gathered in malls, with occasional scuffles with flag-carrying China supporters, often denouncing police for perceived brutality.

On Saturday, anti-government protesters also gathered in the northwestern New Territories district of Tin Shui Wai, with a brief stand-off with police. There were scattered scuffles between rival protesters elsewhere, including in the Fortress Hill area of Hong Kong island.

Four demands

The spark for the anti-government protests was a now-withdrawn Bill and concerns that Beijing is eroding civil liberties, but many young protesters are also angry about sky-high living costs and a lack of job prospects.

Their four other demands are: retraction of the word “riot” to describe rallies, release of all detained demonstrators, an independent inquiry into perceived police brutality and the right for Hong Kong people to choose their own leaders. The extradition Bill would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts, despite Hong Kong having its own much-cherished legal system.

‘Nothing will impede presidential poll’

Afghan spokesperson Sediq Seddiqi.APEbrahim Noroozi

The Afghan government will only consider making a “legitimate” peace with insurgents after national elections are held this month, an official told reporters on Saturday.

U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly called off talks with Taliban earlier this month. The Afghan government was largely shut out of the negotiations and concerned that any finalised U.S.-Taliban deal would delay the elections while a national unity government was formed, forcing the exit of President Ashraf Ghani.

“Nothing will impede the presidential election from happening,” said the Afghan presidential spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi. He also suggested that there will be a “big change” toward improving security across the country ahead of the voting and fears over more violence.

Mr. Sediqqi pointed to a Taliban delegation’s visit to Russia, just days after Mr. Trump called off talks, to say that the insurgents are faced with a “political failure” of their own. He added that the Taliban should hold talks directly with the Afghan government, which it has refused to do so far.

Taliban team in Moscow

On Friday, a Taliban negotiating team visited Russia, where it held consultations with Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Afghanistan.

The Interfax news agency cited an unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that the meeting underlined the necessity of renewing talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, and that the Taliban confirmed its readiness to continue dialogue with Washington. It was the Taliban’s first international visit following the collapse of talks with Washington. The team was led by Mullah Sher Mohammad Stanikzai.

Mr. Sediqqi said that the Afghan government has suspended its own peace efforts for now.

Separately in eastern Kapisa province, a bomb killed at least three civilians who had gathered to watch a volleyball game, said Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry. Mr. Rahimi added that two other civilians were wounded when Friday’s blast occurred in the Tagab district. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Also in southern Kandahar province, in an insider attack, two policemen turned on their colleagues and shot dead at least nine police officers at a checkpoint, according to a provincial official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The attack happened in the Shah Wali Kot district late on Friday night and both attackers fled the area, the official said. A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Houthi rebels have carried out a spate of cross-border and missile strikes in recent months

The two drone attacks on Saturday came as Saudi Arabia accelerates preparations for a much-anticipated initial public offering of Aramco, the world’s most profitable company.

Aramco is ready for a two-stage stock market debut including an international listing “very soon”, its CEO Amin Nasser told reporters on Tuesday.

“At 4.00 a.m. (0100 GMT) the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of... drones,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. “The two fires have been controlled.”

In recent months, the Houthi rebels have carried out a spate of cross-border missile and drone attacks targeting Saudi air bases and other facilities in what they say is retaliation for a long-running Saudi-led bombing campaign on rebel-held areas in Yemen. The Houthi rebels launched “a large-scale operation involving 10 drones that targeted refineries in Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia”, the group’s Al-Masirah television reported.

Last month, an attack claimed by Houthi rebels sparked a fire at Aramco’s Shaybah natural gas liquefaction facility — close to the UAE border — but no casualties were reported by the company.

Rebel drones also targeted two oil pumping stations on Saudi Arabia’s key east-west pipeline in May, shutting it down for several days.

Al-Qaeda attack in 2006

The Abqaiq plant, which Aramco says plays a “pivotal role” in its operations, has been targeted by militants in the past.

In an attack claimed by al-Qaeda in February 2006, suicide bombers with explosive-laden vehicles attempted to penetrate the processing plant, killing two security guards. The two bombers also died in the attack, which failed to breach the compound, authorities reported at the time.

In 2014, a Saudi court sentenced a man to death for links to the 2006 attack. Two other Saudis were jailed for 33 and 27 years respectively, state media reported.

The brother of Sodhi, whose family migrated to U.S. after the 1984 riots, was killed days after 9/11

Empathy and kindness: Rana Singh Sodhi at a memorial in Arizona, for his brother, Balbir, in a 2016 photo.APRoss D. Franklin

Indian Sikh immigrant Rana Singh Sodhi still preaches love and tolerance 18 years after his brother was gunned down in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks by a man, who mistook him for a Muslim because of his turban and beard.

“I want there to be more awareness, more peace in the world,” said Mr. Sodhi, who spent much of the first year after his brother Balbir Singh Sodhi’s death speaking at schools and houses of worship. “I believe education is very important for our community. I made a commitment to reach as many people as I can.”

The community will remember Balbir on the anniversary of his death on Sunday with a special meal at a local temple.

Recognised by govt.

Often working through the Arizona Interfaith Movement, Mr. Sodhi has been recognised by the State’s chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and by the White House under President Barack Obama’s administration.

The shooter Frank Roque is serving life in prison for the first-degree murder of Mr. Sodhi’s older brother at his Mesa, Arizona, gas station on September 15, 2011. Balbir was the first of scores of Sikhs as well as Muslims targeted in hate crimes after 9/11.

Another brother, Sukhpal, was shot and killed 10 months later as he drove his cab in San Francisco. Authorities did not confirm the second killing as a hate crime, saying it appeared to be a stray bullet from a gang shooting, but the family doesn’t doubt he died because of his Sikh identity.

In the case of Balbir, at least, “I feel like we got justice,” Mr. Sodhi said.

Despite the loss of his brothers, Mr. Sodhi, now 52, said he considers himself lucky to live in a country that was founded by immigrants and that allows him to practise his religion, even while the Trump administration makes it harder for newcomers to settle in the U.S.

Three years ago, Mr. Sodhi forgave Roque in a telephone call to him in prison. After hearing remorse in Roque’s voice, he said: “If I had the power to take you out from prison, I would do it right now,” according to a highly publicised recording of the conversation.

Mr. Sodhi said the family immigrated to the U.S. in 1985, one year after anti-Sikh violence killed thousands of people in their native India. They first settled in California, then Arizona. Balbir was shot dead while planting flowers at the gas station just four days after the 9/11 attacks. Attacks against Sikhs following 9/11 helped spark the creation of the Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh advocacy group in the U.S. Several documentaries about the attack on Mr. Sodhi’s brother were produced.

Tracking hate crimes

Since then, the worst attack against Sikhs in the U.S. has been the killing of six people in 2012 at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Federal law enforcement began tracking hate crimes against Sikhs in 2015, but many States still do not.

The Sikh Coalition declared a major victory in September when the Arizona State Board of Education in September approved new history and social science standards that included information about Sikhism for the first time. New York, New Jersey, Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, Idaho and California also include information about Sikhism in their standards for public schools.

Zimbabwe leader’s remains will be interred in about 30 days

Mourners with portraits of Robert Mugabe at a farewell ceremony on Saturday in Harare.AFPZINYANGE AUNTONY

Zimbabwe’s founder Robert Mugabe was honoured as an icon, principled leader and African intellectual giant at a state funeral on Saturday, after a week of disputes over his burial threatened to embarrass President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The remains of Mr. Mugabe, who died in a Singapore hospital earlier this month at the age of 95, will be interred in a mausoleum at the National Heroes Acre in Harare in about 30 days, his nephew said on Friday.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was booed by the crowd in the stadium after a wave of deadly riots and xenophobic attacks in South Africa earlier this month that triggered international anger. “I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and to apologise for what has happened in our country,” Mr. Ramaphosa said, to cheering from the crowd. Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta called Mr. Mugabe an intellectual giant, “a visionary leader and a relentless champion of African dignity.”

Other heads of state who attended Saturday’s funeral included long-ruling leaders from Equatorial Guinea and Congo while China, Russia and Cuba, which supported Zimbabwe’s liberation movements that fought white minority rule, were represented by officials.

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