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In brief: Garment factory fire kills at least seven

Sun., Jan. 27, 2013

Dhaka, Bangladesh – A fire swept through a two-story garment factory in Bangladesh’s capital, killing at least seven female workers and injuring five others, police and fire officials said.

The fire Saturday at the Smart factory occurred just two months after a blaze killed 112 workers in another factory near the capital, raising questions about safety standards and treatment of workers in Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry that exports clothes to leading Western retailers. The country has more than 4,000 garment factories.

The cause of the latest fire was not immediately known, fire official Abdul Halim said.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Monzurul Kabir said the bodies of seven women were recovered from the top floor of the factory in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur district. He said the factory was making pants and shirts, but could not provide further details.

Halim said it took firefighters about two hours to bring the blaze under control.

Kim orders ‘high-profile measures’

Seoul, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened top security and foreign affairs officials and ordered them to take “substantial and high-profile important state measures,” state media said today, indicating that he plans to push forward with a threat to explode a nuclear device in defiance of the United Nations.

The meeting of top officials led by Kim makes clear that he backs Pyongyang’s defiant stance in protest of U.N. Security Council punishment for a December rocket launch. The dispatch in the official Korean Central News Agency did not say when the meeting took place.

Last week, the Security Council condemned North Korea’s Dec. 12 launch of a long-range rocket as a violation of a ban against nuclear and missile activity. The council, including North Korea ally China, punished Pyongyang with more sanctions and ordered the regime to refrain from a nuclear test – or face “significant action.”

North Korea responded by rejecting the resolution and maintaining its right to launch a satellite into orbit as part of a peaceful civilian space program.

It also warned that it would keep developing rockets and testing nuclear devices to counter what it sees as U.S. hostility. A rare statement was issued Thursday by the powerful National Defense Commission, the top governing body led by Kim.

Iran warns against attacks on Syria

Beirut – Any foreign attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran, a senior Iranian official warned Saturday as the first Patriot missile batteries were declared operational along Turkey’s tense border with Syria.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s decision to deploy six Patriot missile batteries in Turkish borderlands has rankled the Syrian government and its chief allies, Iran and Russia.

Tehran and Moscow view the move as a provocation that could escalate hostilities and widen the almost 2-year-old Syrian conflict. About 400 troops from the United States, Germany and the Netherlands are expected to accompany the Patriot batteries.

The comments Saturday by Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are among Tehran’s strongest public declarations to date of support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran’s major ally in the Arab world.

Velayati noted Syria’s crucial role in the “golden resistance chain” against Israel and the United States. The Iran-led “resistance” front includes Syria, Lebanon-based Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas.

“An attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran and Iran’s allies,” Velayati was quoted as telling the semiofficial Mehr news agency.


 

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