North Korean Official Criticizes US for Expanding Support for Ukraine 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un smile during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un smile during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
TT

North Korean Official Criticizes US for Expanding Support for Ukraine 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un smile during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un smile during their meeting at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport outside Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 19, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

A top North Korean military official on Monday criticized the United States over its expanding military assistance to Ukraine, reaffirming the reclusive state's support for Moscow in the Ukraine war, according to state media KCNA.

Washington and Seoul have been increasingly alarmed by deepening military cooperation between Russia and the North, and have accused them of violating international laws by trading in arms for Russia to use against Ukraine. Moscow and Pyongyang have denied any arms transfer.

A pact signed by Russia's Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during Putin's visit to Pyongyang last week commits each side to provide immediate military assistance to the other in the event of armed aggression against either one of them.

Putin on Monday thanked Kim for his hospitality during the trip which brought ties to an unprecedented level, the Kremlin said on Monday.

Analysts say the pact would lay the framework for arms trade between the two countries and facilitate their anti-US and anti-West coalition.

Pak Jong Chon, one of North Korea's top military officials, said Russia has the "right to opt for any kind of retaliatory strike" in a statement carried by KCNA on Monday, adding if Washington kept pushing Ukraine to a "proxy war" against Russia, it could provoke a stronger response from Moscow, and a "new world war".

He referred to comments by the Pentagon last week that Ukrainian forces can use US-supplied weapons to strike Russian forces anywhere across the border into Russia.

Senior officials of South Korea, the US and Japan condemned "in the strongest possible terms" deepening military cooperation between North Korea and Russia in a joint statement released by Seoul's foreign ministry on Monday.

Russia may have received about 1.6 million artillery shells from North Korea from August to January, the Washington Post reported on Saturday, analyzing data from a US security nonprofit C4ADS that shows 74,000 metric tons of explosives moved from Russia's far east ports to other sites mainly along the borders near Ukraine.

Putin's mutual defense agreement with North Korea has the potential to create friction with China, which has long been the isolated state's main ally, the top US military officer said on Sunday.

North Korea plans to send construction and engineering forces to Russia-occupied territories of Ukraine as early as next month for rebuilding work, a South Korean cable TV network TV Chosun reported earlier, citing a South Korean government official.

Those forces, working overseas under the disguise of construction workers to earn hard currency for the regime, would be moved from China to those Russia-held regions, the network said. South Korea's foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment on the TV Chosun reports.



Despite Curfew, Deaths Mount in Bangladesh Student Protests

Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
TT

Despite Curfew, Deaths Mount in Bangladesh Student Protests

Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Commuters move along the road as Bangladesh soldiers stand guard following a curfew and the deployment of military forces in Dhaka on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)

Police imposed a strict curfew across Bangladesh and military forces patrolled parts of the capital Saturday to quell further violence after days of clashes over the allocation of government jobs left several people dead and hundreds injured.
The curfew follows the deadliest day yet in the weeks of protests despite a ban on public gatherings. Reports vary on the number of people killed Friday, with Somoy TV reporting 43. An Associated Press reporter saw 23 bodies at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, but it was not immediately clear whether they all died on Friday.
Another 22 people died Thursday as protesting students attempted to impose a “complete shutdown” of the country. Several people were also killed Tuesday and Wednesday.
The protests, which began weeks ago but escalated sharply when violence erupted Tuesday, represent the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since she won a fourth consecutive term in office after elections in January that were boycotted by the main opposition groups.
Police and protesters clashed in the streets and at university campuses in Dhaka and other cities across the south Asian country. Authorities moved to block online communications by banning mobile and internet services. Some television news channels also went off the air, and the websites of most Bangladesh newspapers were not loading or were being updated.
The curfew began at midnight and is set to relax from noon to 2 p.m. to allow people to buy essentials before being put back in place until 10 a.m. Sunday. A “shoot-at-sight” order was also in place, giving security forces the authority to fire on mobs in extreme cases, said lawmaker Obaidul Quader, the general secretary of the ruling Awami League party.

The protesters are demanding an end to a quota system that reserves up to 30% of government jobs for relatives of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971 against Pakistan. They argue the system is discriminatory and benefits supporters of Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and they want it replaced with a merit-based system.

Hasina has defended the quota system, saying that veterans deserve the highest respect for their contributions to the war, regardless of their political affiliation.

Representatives from the both sides met late Friday to find a resolution. At least three student leaders were part of the meeting in which they demanded a reform in the quota system, an opening of student dormitories across the country and the stepping down of university officials for failing to prevent violence on the campuses.
Law Minister Anisul Huq said the government was open to discussing the student leaders’ demands.

The protests are also backed by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party that has vowed to organize its own demonstrations with many of its supporters joining in the students’ protests.