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Troops, protesters clash on Almaty main square in Kazakhstan; shots heard

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(Last Updated On: January 6, 2022)

Several armoured personnel carriers and dozens of troops moving on foot entered the main square of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, on Thursday morning where hundreds of people were protesting against the government for the third day, Reuters correspondents reported from the scene.

Gunshots were heard as troops approached the crowd, according to Reuters witnesses.

State television reported on Thursday that the National Bank of Kazakhstan has decided to suspend all financial institutions. The Internet in the country is mostly down.

Around Kazakhstan, protests initially sparked by a fuel price rise killed eight police and national guard troops on Tuesday and Wednesday, prompting Kazakh president to appeal for help from a Russia-led security alliance, which offered to send peacekeeping forces.

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Thailand dissolves parliament for crunch election in May

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(Last Updated On: March 21, 2023)

Thailand dissolved its parliament on Monday to clear the way for an election in May, a vote set to reignite a long-running power struggle between a military-backed establishment and a political movement that has dominated elections for two decades, Reuters reported.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn endorsed a decree to dissolve parliament, according to an announcement in the Royal Gazette on Monday, ahead of an election that must be held within 45 to 60 days.

No date has been announced, but two sources with knowledge of the matter earlier on Monday told Reuters the vote would be on May 14, read the report.

“This is a return of political decision-making power to the people swiftly to continue democratic government with the King as head of state,” said the decree published on Monday.

The election broadly pits the billionaire Shinawatra family and its business allies against parties and politicians close to their rivals among the royalist military and old money conservatives.

With populist policies aimed at Thailand’s working classes, parties controlled by the Shinawatras have won every election since 2001, including twice in landslides, but three of its governments were removed in military coups or by court rulings.

According to Reuters the May election will choose members of parliament, which together with an appointed Senate will choose a prime minister by the end of July, according to a timeline provided by the government.

The main opposition Pheu Thai party’s Paetongtarn Shinawatra is the frontrunner to be prime minister in opinion surveys, with her support jumping 10 points to 38.2% in a poll released at the weekend, more than twice the backing of her nearest contender.

Incumbent Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has been in power since his coup in 2014 against Paetongtarn’s aunt, Yingluck Shinawatra, has been trailing in polls and was third in the latest survey by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA).

Prayuth, 68, will continue to lead as head of a caretaker government and is expected to run again.

“I’m glad I’ve built something good, generated revenue for the country, built industry. There has been a lot of investment,” Prayuth said.

“You have to ask the people if they are satisfied or not … I have done a lot in the many years that have passed.”

The NIDA poll of 2,000 people also showed that 50% of respondents would choose candidates from Pheu Thai, read the report.

Srettha Thavisin, a property tycoon and senior Pheu Thai adviser who has been campaigning alongside Paetongtarn, said parliament’s dissolution was a “turning point” for Thailand.

“I would like to invite everyone to study policies, positions and ideologies of all parties to find the one for you that will make the country of your dreams come true, to move the nation forward and improve lives,” he said on Twitter.

Paetongtarn on Friday said she was confident of winning by a landslide, with the aim of averting any political manoeuvring against her party, read the report.

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North Korea’s Kim calls for nuclear attack readiness against U.S., South Korea

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(Last Updated On: March 20, 2023)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for the country to stand ready to conduct nuclear attacks at any time to deter war, accusing the U.S. and South Korea of expanding joint military drills involving American nuclear assets, state media KCNA said on Monday.

Kim’s remarks came as the isolated country conducted what KCNA called exercises aimed at bolstering its “war deterrence and nuclear counterattack capability” on Saturday and Sunday to send strong warnings against the allies, Reuters reported.

In the exercises, a ballistic missile equipped with a mock nuclear warhead flew 800 km (497 miles) before hitting a target at the altitude of 800 m (0.5 mile) under the scenario of a tactical nuclear attack, KCNA said.

Kim, who oversaw the test, said the exercises improved the military’s actual war capability and highlighted the need to ensure its readiness posture for any “immediate and overwhelming nuclear counterattack” through such drills.

“The present situation, in which the enemies are getting ever more pronounced in their moves for aggression against the DPRK, urgently requires the DPRK to bolster up its nuclear war deterrence exponentially,” KCNA quoted him as saying.

Kim was using the acronym of his country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, read the report.

“The nuclear force of the DPRK will strongly deter, control and manage the enemy’s reckless moves and provocations with its high war readiness, and carry out its important mission without hesitation in case of any unwanted situation,” he added.

KCNA photos showed Kim attended the test, again with his young daughter, as flames roar from the soaring missile before it hit the target.

South Korea and Japan reported a launch of a North Korean short-range ballistic missile off the east coast on Sunday, the latest in a series of missile tests in recent weeks.

North Korea has reacted furiously to South Korea-U.S. combined military drills, calling them a rehearsal for invasion against it, Reuters reported.

The allies have been carrying out a multitude of their annual exercises since earlier this month, including air and sea drills on Sunday involving U.S. B-1B strategic bombers.

The U.S. and South Korea navies and marine corps are set to kick off their first large-scale Ssangyong amphibious landing exercises in five years on Monday for a two-week run until April 3.

Last month, the two countries staged tabletop exercises simulating North Korea’s nuclear attack amid South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s push for more confidence in U.S. extended deterrence – its military capability, especially nuclear forces, to deter attacks on its allies, read the report.

In another dispatch, KCNA said more than 1.4 million North Koreans have volunteered to join or re-enlist in the military to fight against Seoul and Washington, up from some 800,000 reported by a state newspaper just two days before.

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North Korea claims almost 800,000 have signed up to fight against US

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(Last Updated On: March 19, 2023)

North Korea claims that about 800,000 of its citizens volunteered to join or reenlist in the nation’s military to fight against the United States, North Korea’s state newspaper reported on Saturday.

About 800,000 students and workers, on Friday alone, across the country expressed a desire to enlist or reenlist in the military to counter the United States, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported.

“The soaring enthusiasm of young people to join the army is a demonstration of the unshakeable will of the younger generation to mercilessly wipe out the war maniacs making last-ditch efforts to eliminate our precious socialist country, and achieve the great cause of national reunification without fail and a clear manifestation of their ardent patriotism,” the North’s Rodong Sinmun said.

The North’s claim came after North Korea on Thursday launched its Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in response to ongoing U.S-South Korea military drills.

North Korea fired the ICBM into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan on Thursday, hours before South Korea’s president flew to Tokyo for a summit that discussed ways to counter the nuclear-armed North, Reuters reported.

The North’s ballistic missiles are banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions and the launch drew condemnation from governments in Seoul, Washington and Tokyo.

South Korean and American forces began 11 days of joint drills, dubbed “Freedom Shield 23”, on Monday, held on a scale not seen since 2017 to counter the North’s growing threats, read the report.

Kim accused the United States and South Korea of increasing tensions with the military drills.

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