Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pakistan Power Plant attacked by terrorists

BBC: A policeman and a plant employee were killed on the spot and nine people were taken hostage, police said.
Five bodies were later recovered from a nearby field but the whereabouts of the four remaining hostages are unknown.

No group has said it carried out the raid, but the Taliban frequently launch attacks in the region.
The attack temporarily disrupted power to parts of the city - the supply has now been restored.
The assault by militants armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades took place in the early hours of Tuesday in the southern Badh Bher suburb of Peshawar, an area frequently targeted by militants, correspondents say.

"They attacked the power station at around 02:30 (21:30 GMT Monday). They killed two officials on the spot," Javed Khan, a senior police official in the area, told Agence France-Presse news agency.

The dead include police officers and employees of the power plant.
"They entered the grid station and started setting ablaze each and every thing," police official Mohammad Ishaq told Reuters news agency.
"They kidnapped nine people and killed five of them later and threw their bodies in the fields."

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad says that there had been fears militants would step up attacks in advance of elections to be held in May.

North Korea firing up Yongbyon nuke facility

By Chico Harlan, Updated: Tuesday, April 2, 8:58 AM

SEOUL — North Korea said Tuesday that it will resume operations of a shuttered nuclear reactor at its Yongbyon facility, allowing the secretive nation to potentially expand its stock of fissile material for nuclear weapons as it threatens war against the United States and its allies.

The brief announcement, carried by the state-run news agency, marked a notable escalation from the rhetoric of recent weeks, which has been fiery but until now backed up by little action.

The graphite-moderated reactor — along with several related facilities — had been shut down in 2007 as part of a diplomatic deal that sent heavy fuel oil to the North. Pyongyang said Tuesday it wanted to to restart the reactor and other nuclear facilities to ease the nation’s “acute shortage of electricity” and to bolster the “nuclear armed force both in quality and quantity.” Experts who have visited the Yongbyon facility say the small reactor is ill-suited for power production and geared instead to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Plutonium can be culled from the spent fuel that is a byproduct of the reactor’s generating process. When the reactor is fully running, it can produce enough plutonium for about one bomb per year, according to atomic experts.

Restarting the reactor will take about six months, “unless they have been doing much of the preparatory work quietly,” Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory who has visited the North’s nuclear facilities numerous times, said in an e-mail.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday he was “deeply troubled” by rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and called for negotiations to resolve them.

“Nuclear threats are not a game,” he said at a news conference during a visit to Andorra. “Aggressive rhetoric and military posturing only result in counteractions and fuel fear and instability. Things must begin to calm down, as this situation, made worse by the lack of communication, could lead down a path that nobody should want to follow.”

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said there was “no need” for North Korea “to be on a collision course with the international community.” He said he was sure that no nation intends to attack the North “because of disagreements about its political system or foreign policy. But he expressed fear “that others will respond firmly to any direct military provocation.” Ban added, “Dialogue and negotiations are the only way to resolve the current crisis.”

The North’s announcement comes in the wake of a Workers’ Party pledge that described nuclear weapons as the “nation’s life,” tradable not even for “billions of dollars.” The announcement also suggests that new leader Kim Jong Un is willing to expand his nation’s weapons program even if it upsets neighbors, including the North’s key benefactor, China, whose Foreign Ministry expressed “regret” about the decision to resume operations at Yongbyon.

A former U.S. official who has visited Yongbyon, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak frankly, said the North’s apparent decision is “very dangerous,” because the facilities are not monitored by outsiders.


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