Asia Briefs: Seoul to curb vehicle use on bad air days

Seoul to curb vehicle use on bad air days

SEOUL • Amid worsening air quality, Seoul's metropolitan government has set a mandatory odd-even vehicle use ban on days of high particulate matter levels.

Under the scheme, vehicles with odd-number plates must not be driven on even-numbered dates and vice-versa, Seoul's Mayor Park Woon Soon said on Sunday, adding that the city may activate the ban during the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The announcement came after Seoul waived rush-hour bus and subway fares three times last week as part of emergency steps that take effect when ultrafine dust levels stay above 50 micrograms per cu m for two days running.


Kabul hotel killers targeted foreigners

KABUL • Taleban militants who killed at least 22 people at the landmark Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul went from room to room searching for foreigners, survivors said yesterday, as concerns were raised whether the attackers had inside help.

Insurgents armed with Kalashnikovs and suicide vests late on Saturday launched the assault that lasted over 12 hours.

A survivor said the attackers "even beheaded the guests and people inside the hotel".

The hotel's security was taken over by a private company three weeks ago. But an interior ministry spokesman said it was too soon to say if the militants had inside help.


Corrupt ex-oil firm chief gets life term

HANOI • A Vietnamese former state oil executive, who was allegedly kidnapped from Germany, was jailed for life yesterday for embezzlement, in the highest-profile corruption trial to target the communist country's business and political elite.

The case - also involving 21 other officials, including a former party politburo member - has captivated a country where the affairs of the powerful are normally kept secret.

The life sentence for Trinh Xuan Thanh, who headed PetroVietnam Construction, capped a dramatic two-week trial - closed to international media - that included a tearful apology from the 51-year-old. Thanh was sentenced to "14 years for mismanagement and life in prison for embezzlement", the state-run VNExpress news site said. He faces a separate embezzlement trial tomorrow that could see him put to death.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2018, with the headline 'Asia Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe