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The world in brief: Pakistan checkpoint blast kills 4 people

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | May 25, 2023 at 4:03 a.m.

Pakistan checkpoint blast kills 5 people

MIR ALI, Pakistan -- A suicide car bomber targeted a security checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing two soldiers, a policeman and a civilian, the military and security officials said.

It was the second militant attack to hit Pakistan in as many days.

The bombing happened in North Waziristan, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan and is a former stronghold of the militant Pakistani Taliban group, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

A number of civilians were also wounded in the attack, according to Rehmat Khan, a local police official.

The military in a statement also confirmed the car bombing and the casualties. It said the attacker wanted to target a nearby public gathering but security forces "prevented a major catastrophe" by immediately intercepting the car bomber.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack but suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban.

S. Korea: Nuke-plant queries addressed

TOKYO -- The head of a South Korean team of experts said Wednesday they saw all of the facilities they had requested to visit at Japan's tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant and Japanese officials had carefully answered their questions about a contentious plan to release treated but still slightly radioactive water into the sea, a sign of a further thawing of ties between the countries.

During their two-day visit, which was closed to the media, officials from the Japanese government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, showed the 21-member delegation facilities related to treatment, safety checks, transport and dilution of the waste water.

The plan has faced fierce protests from local fishing communities concerned about safety and reputational damage. Neighboring countries, including South Korea, China and Pacific Island nations, have also raised safety concerns.

The water release has particularly been a sensitive issue between Tokyo and Seoul, which are now repairing long-strained ties to address bigger challenges such as security threats from China and North Korea.

"We saw every necessary facility that was included in the initial plan," said Yoo Guk-hee, the chairperson of South Korea's Nuclear Safety and Security Commission who heads the delegation. His government has studied the water release plan since August 2021 and submitted a list of facilities it wanted to see, he said.

Woman, 95, dies after stun-gun shock

CANBERRA, Australia -- A 95-year-old Australian woman died Wednesday, a week after a police officer shot her with a stun gun in a nursing home as she moved toward him using a walker and carrying a steak knife, in an incident that has angered many Australians.

Clare Nowland, who had dementia, had been hospitalized in Cooma in New South Wales state since her skull was fractured when she fell on May 17 after Constable Kristian White shocked her with a stun gun.

Police announced Nowland's death hours after reporting that White has been ordered to appear in court on July 5 on charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault. The charges are likely to be upgraded after her death.

White and another police officer had gone to Yallambee Lodge, a nursing home in Cooma that specializes in residents with higher care needs including dementia, after staff reported that Nowland had taken a serrated steak knife from the kitchen.

The violence against an elderly and incapacitated woman has sparked a national debate about the police use of stun guns in such circumstances and the competence of aged care staff. Police are allowed to use stun guns when lives are in danger.

Islamic scholar acquitted in rape case

GENEVA -- A Swiss court on Wednesday acquitted noted Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan on charges of rape and "sexual constraint," citing lack of material evidence more than a decade after the alleged actions, contradictory witness statements and what resembled love messages to the accused.

The court said it would pay Ramadan's lawyers' fees.

It was a first victory for the former Oxford scholar with a worldwide reputation who had a brutal fall from grace with similar accusations still pending in France.

Ramadan faces potential trial in France over allegations by several other women that emerged more than five years ago.

Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, was jailed in February 2018 in France and handed preliminary rape charges over two alleged assaults in France, one in 2009 and another in 2012. A third woman filed a rape complaint against him in March. He was released on bail nine months later.

The outspoken scholar has consistently denied any wrongdoing and filed a lawsuit saying the allegations were false.

In the Swiss case, the court noted that it didn't pass judgment on Ramadan's sexual practices or his morality. A statement said the plaintiff's accusations weren't corroborated by any material elements, including traces of sperm or blood.

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