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Thai Coup, Aleppo Prison Siege Ends, Coldplay's Magic

British PM David Cameron and his wife Samantha vote in the 2014 European Parliament elections.
British PM David Cameron and his wife Samantha vote in the 2014 European Parliament elections.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Overnight attacks from pro-Russian gunmen on a Ukrainian military checkpoint in the Donetsk region and against a military convoy in the Luhansk region have left at least nine Ukrainian soldiers dead and several injured, AFP reports. But the total number of casualties is likely higher, with AP journalists saying they had seen 11 bodies scattered near the checkpoint, while Russian media Life News spoke of 15 dead. There is, however, no information about the number of victims among pro-Russian fighters, which were described by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry as “ terrorists .” The leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic this morning declared martial law in the region “in connection with the start of unilateral military action by the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” The Kyiv Post reports.

“The entire country united to condemn his death and the murderous ideology his killers espoused,” UK Home Secretary Theresa May said today , which marks a year since the brutal killing of off-duty British soldier Lee Rigby in the Woolwich area of London. “They were swiftly brought to justice, and we are committed to doing everything we can to challenge those whose beliefs and behaviour threaten our way of life.”

Thai Army General Prayut Chan-O-Cha announced in a TV address that armed forces had taken over the government after roundtable talks failed, effectively staging a military coup that he described as “necessary” to restore order and “protect the life of the people.” The military had previously insisted that declaring martial law two days ago was not a coup. Read more from The Nation .

Attackers in Urumqi, the capital of the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, have killed at least 31 people and injured 94 at a market after running over shoppers with two SUVs before throwing explosives, Xinhua reports. The attack, which was described by authorities as “terrorist violence,” comes after a series of similar violence in the region that is home to the Muslim Uighur minority, which have been blamed in the past for violence.

Voters in Britain and the Netherlands go to the polls today to elect European Parliament members, in what marks the beginning of a four-day election marathon. Some observers believe they will result in the rise of far-right and anti-EU parties, Reuters explains. The election results will be disclosed Sunday night.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha leave the Methodist Hall in London Thursday morning after voting in the 2014 European Parliament elections.

Syrian troops have broken up a year-long siege of Aleppo central prison by the al-Nusra front and other Islamist groups engaged in the fight against President Bashar al-Assad, the BBC reports. According to the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the recapture of the facility and its surroundings "cut a path for essential supplies to rebel fighters between areas they control and the Turkish border," and comes after some 60,000 people in Aleppo received food aid for the first time in months.

Shazam, the mobile music identification application that recognizes and identifies songs, has released a list of the 10 most-searched-for rock and indie tunes of 2014. British band Coldplay's song "Magic," taken from their sixth album Ghost Stories , led the list, having been "Shazamed" 1,319,829 times. Find the full list here .

As op-ed contributor He Jun writes for Caixin , Vietnam will pay a high price for last week’s anti-Chinese violence throughout the country. “These incidents will have a significantly negative impact on Sino-Vietnam relations, on the Vietnamese economy, and on Vietnam's relations with neighboring countries ,” He writes. “More specifically, they will represent a serious setback for Vietnam's investment environment because the vandalized foreign enterprises include companies from China, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Japan, many of which are already considering retreating from Vietnam.”
Read the full article, Vietnam Will Pay A Price For Its Anti-Chinese Violence .

South Korean President Park Geun-hye named a former Supreme Court judge as her new prime minister, in an attempt to regain public confidence and to “push for national rebuilding” after the ferry disaster that killed over 300 people, Yonhap news agency reports. Park also announced she had accepted the resignations of the country’s spy chief and national security adviser. The reshuffle comes as campaigning for the June 4 local elections opened today, which her party is expected to lose. Read more from AFP .

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