World news briefs: 5/16/14

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Runoff vote set for Afghanistan

Final results in the April 5 vote showed that former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, who became a top opposition leader during President Hamid Karzai's tenure, received 45 percent of the vote, short of a majority.

In the runoff, Mr. Abdullah will face Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank economist, who came in second with 31.6 percent of the vote.

Mr. Karzai could not run for re-election because of a term limit.

Deadly anti-China unrest

HANOI, Vietnam -- A 1,000-strong mob stormed a Taiwanese steel mill in Vietnam and hunted down Chinese workers, killing one, attacking scores more and then setting the complex alight, Taiwanese and Vietnamese authorities said Thursday.

It was the first deadly incident in a wave of anti-China demonstrations triggered by Beijing's May 1 deployment of an oil rig in the long-disputed South China Sea. Vietnam is demanding that China remove the rig and has sent ships to confront it and a flotilla of Chinese escort ships.

Taiwanese companies, many of which employ Chinese nationals, have borne the brunt of the protests and violence.

Military force threatened

BANGKOK -- Thailand's army chief said Thursday that the military may need to use force to counter any escalation of violence linked to the nation's six-month political stalemate.

The statement from Prayuth Chan-Ocha came hours after acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan was forced to flee from anti-government activists who stormed an air force compound where he was meeting with election officials, casting doubt on a poll tentatively planned for July 20.

Ferry crew tied to murder

SEOUL, South Korea -- Prosecutors brought murder charges Thursday against the captain and three other crew members of a ferry that capsized off South Korea's southwest coast last month, leaving 304 people dead or missing.

Lee Jun-seok, the captain, was among 15 crew members of the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol who had been arrested on various criminal charges, including accidental homicide. They were accused of fleeing their ship while making little effort to save hundreds of passengers who had been told to stay inside the vessel. Their behavior has outraged many South Koreans.

Bomb kills 43 in Syria

BEIRUT -- A massive car bomb ripped through a crowded garage Thursday near a rebel-held border crossing between Syria and Turkey, killing at least 43 people in an area that has seen fierce fighting between rival rebel groups, an anti-government activist group said.

The attack came as President Bashar Assad's forces have seized the momentum of the country's 3-year-old civil war ahead of presidential elections scheduled for June 3.

Greater military role

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday in a nationally televised address that Japan should allow its military to come to the aid of allies under attack, a divisive step that has been banned since the aftermath of World War II and would require a reinterpretation of Japan's pacifist constitution.

The reinterpretation still faces major legislative hurdles, but it would mark a drastic shift in the way Japan uses its military, known as the Self-Defense Forces.

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