21 die in factory fire


At least 21 people were charred to death and over 100 injured when fire broke out in a garments factory in Narayanganj, 20 km from the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka. Police said there were more than 600 workers trapped inside the four-storey Sun Knitting and Processing Factory as the exit doors were locked when the fire broke out on Thursday night. Fire fighters from Dhaka and Narayanganj fought the blaze and recovered 21 charred bodies. The toll is likely to rise. The fire probably broke out from an electric short-circuit and it immediately engulfed the entire building before it could be brought under control, said police. — HNS

Taipei test-fires missile


Taiwan has successfully test-fired its Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship missile in a major military technology breakthrough expected to beef up the island’s defence capabilities against rival China. The Taipei-based China Times on Friday cited defence sources as saying the military-run Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology had conducted “more than one” test-firing for the new missile after a decade-long development. Hsiung Feng III is believed to outperform China’s Russia-made SS-N-22 Sunburn supersonic anti-ship missile, the report said. It said the missile, with a range of 300 km, was likely to be deployed along Taiwan’s eastern coast or offshore islands. — AFP

Joint anti-terror steps


India has proposed to hold joint counterterrorism exercises with China as part of efforts to deepen relations between the Asian neighbours, the chief of the Indian army said. The Chinese have appreciated the proposal and “promised to look into it,” General NC Vij told reporters on Thursday during a trip to Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu-Kashmir state. Beijing has yet to formally respond. Vij’s comments came a week after he visited China and met with his counterparts there to discuss military cooperation. — AP

One killed in Thailand


A Muslim villager was shot dead and three people were wounded in a railway bombing, in attacks blamed on Islamic insurgents in southern Thailand, police said on Friday. Sama-ea Hamah, 34, was shot dead by unknown gunmen on Thursday in the southern province of Narathiwat, police said. Early Friday, two Thai police officers and a state railway official were wounded when a bomb exploded at a railway crossing in neighboring Yala province, police said. The policemen were guarding the crossing. — AFP

3 killed in Afghanistan


An Afghan soldier and two militants were killed on Thursday during clashes when government soldiers began eradicating opium crops in southern Afghanistan, officials said. The attack occurred in Deh Rawood district of southern Uruzgan province, Abdullah, spokesperson for provincial Governor Yar Mohammad said. Abdullah said a convoy of 50 government soldiers “was attacked by two Taliban, killing one Afghan soldier.” Later in the day government forces launched a counterattack killing both Taliban militants and seizing guns and four motorbikes from their residences, he added. — AFP

China detains bishop


Security forces in China have detained a bishop in the country’s non-government-controlled Roman Catholic church, a US-based monitoring group said on Friday. Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo was in a church in Wuqiu, a village near his home in the northern city of Zhengding, when he was taken away by government agents on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung Foundation. The report said Jia is believed to be in detention in Shijiazhuang, a nearby city. — AP