WASHINGTON — The Obama administration downgraded Thailand and Malaysia to the lowest possible rating in an annual report on combating modern slavery while lifting China and Sudan from that status to a “watch list.”
Men, women, and children in Thailand, most from neighboring countries, are “forced, coerced, or defrauded” into labor in fishing-related industries, garment production, factories and brothels, according to the State Department report released Friday.
More than 20 million people worldwide are trapped in some form of slavery, including women confined in brothels or as domestic workers, boys forced to sell themselves on the street and men compelled to work on fishing boats, the report said.
China and Sudan are among eight countries elevated from the lowest of the three-tier ranking, while at least four countries, including Thailand and Malaysia, were demoted to the lowest rung
Car bomb kills dozens
BEIRUT — A massive car bomb exploded Friday in a government-controlled village in central Syria, killing at least 34 people and wounding dozens more, Syrian state media reported.
The blast was the latest in a series of bombings apparently targeting zones in Syria where the population is loyal to the government of President Bashar Assad.
While global attention has shifted to the violence in neighboring Iraq, Syria continues to be the site of a raging, more than three-year war that has cost more than 100,000 lives and left vast swaths of the country in ruins.
Deadly Afghan clash
KABUL, Afghanistan — A clash between the Afghan police and security guards loyal to a prominent governor turned deadly Friday, claiming the lives of at least four people. Although the root cause was not immediately clear, there were signs that the two sides were allied with rival presidential candidates, raising the specter of wider political bloodshed.
The clash occurred Friday morning on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif, a northern city that has been a stronghold of Abdullah Abdullah, one of the two candidates in the presidential runoff election conducted last Saturday. The ballots in that election are still being counted, but Mr. Abdullah is boycotting the process because of allegations of widespread fraud.
Israeli troops kill teen
JERUSALEM — Israeli troops killed a Palestinian youth before dawn Friday and seriously injured several adults as their sweeping West Bank arrest campaign following last week’s disappearance of three Israeli teenagers both slowed and encountered more resistance.
About 25 Palestinians were rounded up overnight, the Israeli military said in a statement, less than half the typical daily number earlier this week. The arrests bring the total detained since Saturday to 330, 240 of them leaders of the militant Islamic movement Hamas. Troops confiscated material from nine Hamas-affiliated institutions, according to the military, among a total of 1,150 locations scoured in the past week.
Also in the world …
Negotiators from six world powers and Iran on Friday began composing the text of a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program, but remained far apart on key issues … Japan consulted with South Korea when compiling a 1993 apology to women trafficked to its military brothels across Asia before and during World War II, according to a government-backed report issued Friday.
Compiled from news services