North Macedonia, June 17 (AP/UNB) — Police in North Macedonia say they apprehended 50 Europe-bound migrants who allegedly entered the country from Greece.
A police statement said officers chasing a jeep Saturday on the main north-south highway in central North Macedonia found 10 people from Pakistan inside when the driver abandoned the vehicle. Police are still searching for the driver.
The statement says a routine inspection of a truck on Thursday led to the discovery of another 40 migrants, including 12 children, from Pakistan, Syria and Egypt.
Police say they were taken to a shelter and will be deported to Greece. The truck driver was arrested.
The European Union and individual countries closed off the main Western Balkan migration route to Europe but people smugglers still try to traverse it and alternative paths through the Balkans.
Sudan, June 17 (AP/UNB) — Sudan's former President Omar al-Bashir appeared in public for the first time since his ouster two months ago, as he was led to a prosecutor's office Sunday in a corruption investigation.
The deposed strongman has been held under arrest in the capital, Khartoum, since the military removed him from power in April amid mass protests against his 30-year rule. The military has since been locked in a tense standoff with the protest movement demanding civilian rule, even as it has promised reforms and held on-again, off-again talks with opposition leaders.
A judicial official with the prosecutor's office said al-Bashir was questioned over accusations that include money laundering and the possession of large amounts of foreign currency.
He said the probe partly related to millions of dollars' worth of cash in U.S. dollars, euros and Sudanese pounds that were found in al-Bashir's home a week after his ouster.
A spokesman with the military's media office confirmed that this is the first time the former president was taken out from his prison in Khartoum.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about ongoing investigations.
On Sunday, al-Bashir was led from prison to a Toyota Land Cruiser, wearing a traditional white robe and turban.
The official SUNA news agency quoted a police spokesman as saying al-Bashir's defense lawyers attended the questioning and he returned to prison afterward.
Al-Bashir has the right to appeal within a week, SUNA reported.
In May, al-Bashir was charged with involvement in killing protesters and incitement to kill protesters during the popular uprising that started in December, initially over price increases of basic goods and a failing economy, but which later turned into calls for his ouster. The military toppled him on April 11.
Al-Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s, but the military has said it would not extradite him to The Hague. He was the only sitting head of state for whom an international arrest warrant has been issued.
Meanwhile, the deputy head of Sudan's ruling military council pushed back Sunday against demands from protest leaders concerning the composition of a transitional legislative body.
Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo said a legislative body formed with a majority from protest movement leaders, who seek civilian rule, is a problem because it is not formed by elections. He said that "our problem is a non-elected legislative body which would root out all of us."
This would suggest a reversal to previous deals between the military and protest leaders, which included a three-year transition period, a Cabinet appointed by the protester leaders, and a legislative body with a civilian majority.
Dagalo also said those responsible for the bloody break-up of the protesters' sit-in outside the military's headquarters in Khartoum on June 3 would be given the death sentence.
"We are working hard to take those who did this to the gallows," he said.
The ruling generals have said several military officers are in custody for alleged "deviation" from the action plan set by their leaders to clear a problematic area, known as Colombia, near the sit-in area.
Protest organizers say more than 100 people were killed and hundreds were wounded during the razing of the camp and the subsequent clampdown by the security forces. The military-backed authorities say 61 people died, including three members of the security forces.
Dagalo's comments on the legislative body came less than a week after an Ethiopian envoy to Sudan said that all previous deals between the generals and protest leaders, despite the break in talks earlier this month, have been restored.
Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association which has led the protests, told The Associated Press that they expected the military council to withdraw the deal on the legislative body.
"Dagalo's comments were serious indication that the council wouldn't stick to the previous deals despite the Ethiopian mediation," he said.
He said the agreement on the legislative body was the most important victory for the protesters. "The government will be paralyzed without a legislative body supporting its agenda," he said.
The Arab League chief, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, arrived in Khartoum on Sunday to meet with both sides.
Aboul Gheit told reporters that he had met with the head of the military council, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, to discuss ways to break the political impasse.
Mexico, June 17 (AP/UNB) — Mexican authorities increased immigration enforcement along well-traveled routes for migrants in southern Mexico over the weekend, checking identifications, pulling migrants off public transport and intercepting four trucks packed with nearly 800 migrants.
The National Migration Institute said 1,000 immigration agents had been deployed in the north and south of Mexico. The deployment comes as Mexico faces heightened pressure from the U.S. to reduce the surge of mostly Central American migrants through its territory. Mexico plans to position 6,000 National Guard troops by Tuesday to its southern border with Guatemala.
The Associated Press saw nearly 10 armed soldiers at a checkpoint near Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, in Chiapas state, wearing black armbands to indicate they are part of the National Guard. The soldiers stopped vehicles while immigration officials checked identification and removed passengers without documents. At another checkpoint just north of Comitán in Chiapas, more than a dozen apparent National Guardsmen drove around backroads in the rain and dark, looking for migrants and human smugglers.
In the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, the National Migration Institute said 791 people were taken Saturday to a migration facility and that drivers of the tractor-trailer trucks transporting them were arrested.
Migrants are routinely transported through Mexico in packed semis, sometimes in dangerous conditions without food or water or sufficient fresh air. Government video showed officials breaking the lock on the door of one cargo truck and helping migrants out.
The institute described the detentions and arrests in Veracruz as part of a strategy implemented by its new commissioner, Francisco Garduño. The former prisons director assumed the post Friday, taking over for a sociologist and academic.
Military police wearing National Guard armbands were also patrolling Sunday along the Suchiate River that separates Mexico from Guatemala. In prior days, migrants were seen being ferried across the river by raft without interference from immigration or other Mexican officials.
Outside Comitán on Sunday, some roadblocks and checkpoints were manned by multiple soldiers and police identifying as National Guard.
At one checkpoint, immigration agent José Ángel Ramírez welcomed the help of the National Guard.
"We don't have a way to stop so many and the traffickers pass everywhere," said Ramírez, who was accompanied by a dozen National Guard officers.
Nearby, five Hondurans found traveling without papers were sitting in a holding cell.
One of the Hondurans, a farmer named Armando who was traveling with a daughter and nephew, broke into tears while saying he'd be killed if returned to his country.
After several hours, the Hondurans were transported to a Mexican detention center for migrants.
The Mexican National Guard is a new security force created by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office Dec. 1. The security force is still taking shape and was originally established with the goal of stemming endemic violence. Last year saw the highest number of murders in at least 20 years in Mexico.
Mexican soldiers have long been authorized to search vehicles for drugs or weapons, explained one of the newly minted National Guard officers, who declined to give his name. Now, he said, they can detain drivers or others suspected of helping the undocumented move through Mexico.
Comitán locals say that trucks often bypass area checkpoints at night. "We don't know what they have inside," said immigration agent Julio Velasco. Mexican officials have set up additional roadblocks in recent days to cover more territory.
Luis Guillermo Lechuga, who sells vests near one of the checkpoints, was skeptical that the increased security presence will reduce the flow of migrants through Comitán and surrounding areas.
"Everything will be the same," said Lechuga, who expressed a mixture of sympathy and annoyance with the travelers. "Nobody leaves their country without problems."
Hong Kong, Jun 16 (AP/UNB) — Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents, mostly clad in black despite the sweltering weather, jammed the city's streets Sunday in a vehement show of opposition to proposed legislation that has stoked fears of expanding control from Beijing in this former British colony.
The marchers are demanding that Hong Kong's leader first scrap an extradition bill that would allow some suspects to be sent for trial in mainland China and then resign. The conflict, which slipped into unusually violent clashes with police last week, is one of the toughest tests of the territory's special status since China took control in a 1997 handover.
The demonstrators carried banners demanding that Chief Executive Carrie Lam step down and repeatedly broke into chants. Walking slowly and shouting "withdraw" and "resign," the crowd filled a wide thoroughfare and side streets paralleling the waterfront of Victoria Harbor as tourists and shoppers who drive much of the Asian financial hub's economy looked on.
Lam's announcement Saturday that she was suspending the legislation failed to mollify critics of the measure who see it as one of many steps chipping away at Hong Kong's freedoms and legal autonomy. Opponents worry the law could be used to send criminal suspects to China to potentially face vague political charges, possible torture and unfair trials.
"Our demands are simple. Carrie Lam must leave office, the extradition law must be withdrawn and the police must apologize for using extreme violence against their own people," bank worker John Chow said as he marched with a group of his friends. "And we will continue."
Sunday's march looked likely to match in scale one a week earlier that brought as many as 1 million people out to express their concern over Hong Kong's relations with mainland China. Protesters focused their anger on Lam, even while acknowledging that she had little choice but to carry through dictates issued by Beijing, where President Xi Jinping has enforced increasingly authoritarian rule.
Many here believe Hong Kong's legal autonomy has been significantly diminished despite Beijing's insistence that it is still honoring its promise, dubbed "one country, two systems," that the territory can retain its own social, legal and political system for 50 years after the handover.
The rally drew marchers both young and old, some pushing strollers or carrying slumbering infants. Few wore face masks or seemed to be trying to hide their identities, in contrast with demonstrations Wednesday, when participants expressed worries over possible retribution from the authorities.
Protesters also are unhappy with the way police handled that situation, with officers using tear gas, rubber bullets and other forceful measures when demonstrators broke through barricades outside the city government's headquarters.
The police presence Sunday was considerably more relaxed, with officers deployed mainly to direct traffic as the protesters wound their way through Hong Kong's commercial center from a sprawling downtown park to government headquarters.
Farther down the parade route, mourners lined up to lay flowers and pay respects at a makeshift memorial for a man who fell to his death Saturday after hanging a protest banner that read in part, "Make Love, No Shoot" and "No Extradition to China."
The man slipped from the grasp of rescuers after clinging for a time to scaffolding outside a shopping mall. He missed a large cushion set up to capture him, and was declared dead at a nearby hospital.
Many protesters wore ribbons on their shirts and carried placards showing protesters who had been beaten bloody on Wednesday.
"I'm really sad. I'm grieving," one visitor, Peron Kwong, said after tying a white ribbon to a street rail. "As a person born and raised in Hong Kong, I'm heartbroken when I see Hong Kong become like this."
Pro-democracy activists were calling for a general strike on Monday despite Lam's decision to suspend work on the legislation. Some labor unions, teachers associations and other groups were planning boycotts of work and classes, demanding the Lam administration retire the proposed amendments and not bring them up again for passage at a later stage.
"We encourage all the public to carry on the campaign," said Bonnie Leung, a leader of the pro-democracy group Civil Human Rights Front. "If any new violence takes place, it will be the responsibility of the police."
The Communist Party-ruled mainland took control in 1997 with a promise not to interfere with the city's civil liberties and courts. Many in Hong Kong fear the extradition bill would undermine freedoms enjoyed here but not elsewhere in China.
"China just wants to turn Hong Kong into another Chinese city," said Alex To, 54, who runs a small business. "Carrie Lam is just a figurehead. Everything depends on the attitudes of the leaders in Beijing."
After Lam announced she was suspending the legislation to avoid more violence and allow additional debate, Chinese government officials issued multiple statements backing that decision. Lam, however, made clear she was not withdrawing it.
She has sidestepped questions over whether she should quit and also defended how the police dealt with last week's clashes with demonstrators.
Lam maintains that the extradition legislation is needed if Hong Kong to uphold justice, meet its international obligations and not become a magnet for fugitives. The proposed bill would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include Taiwan, Macau and mainland China.
So far, China has been excluded from Hong Kong's extradition agreements because of concerns over its judicial independence and human rights record.
Prosecutions of activists, detentions without trial of five Hong Kong book publishers and the illegal seizure in Hong Kong by mainland agents of at least one mainland businessman are among moves in recent years that have unnerved many in the city of 7 million.
Many protesters showed deep sympathy for Taiwan, which continues efforts by China to bring it under its control using the same formula as that applied to Hong Kong.
"Today Hong Kong, tomorrow Taiwan," read one sign.
Patna, Jun 16 (UNB) - Heatwave killed more than 40 people in Bihar on Saturday. The state is already grappling with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome outbreak in Muzzafurpur that has killed 100 children this month, reports NDTV.
Most heatwave deaths have been reported from Aurangabad, Gaya and Nawada. Twenty seven people died in Aurangabad alone.
Dr Surendra Prasad Singh, a doctor at one of Aurangabad's state-run hospital, said number of deaths in the district is likely to rise. "Many people were undergoing treatment at different hospitals in the district. All the people who died were suffering from high-temperature fever," Dr Singh told news agency ANI.
In Gaya, 12 people died due to heat stroke.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan called the deaths in Gaya "unfortunate". "It's very unfortunate that people have died due to heat stroke. I advise people to avoid moving out of house till temperature reduces. Intense heat affects brain and leads to various health issues," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
The country is witnessing its worst heatwave this year with four cities in north India on a record high. Delhi, Churu in Rajasthan and Banda and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh have witnessed temperatures of 48 degrees Celsius and above.
Heat wave is declared when temperature remains at 45 degrees Celsius and above for two days running. It gets a "severe" tag when mercury touches 47 degrees.
In Bihar's Muzaffarpur Acute Encephalitis Syndrome outbreak has also become a major health concern. The deadly viral infection killed 73 children this month alone.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan visited Muzaffarpur today to take stock of the situation. The state health department had cited hypoglycemia, a condition caused by very low level of blood sugar, as the main reason for the deaths.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed grief over the deaths and announced "an ex gratia payment of Rs. 4 lakh to the next of the kin of those who have died".
Earlier this week, Nitish Kumar said there is a lack of awareness on how to tackle this disease.