03/10/2023, 09.10
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Xi'an ponders hard lockdown to counter (also) influenza

Today's headlines: 23-year-old Palestinian man injures three people in Tel Aviv, killed by police; The Taliban governor of Afghanistan's Balkh province dies in an Isis attack; Cambodian authorities arrest and reduce to a lay state a monk over suspected links to the opposition; South Korean president expected in Tokyo, first visit by a Seoul head of state in 12 years.

Not just Covid. To counter the flu epidemic that has hit the area, Xi'an administrators have envisaged the introduction of a hard lockdown 'when necessary'. The idea is to seal off entire areas and suspend classes if the outbreak poses a 'severe threat'. There was an immediate reaction from Chinese internet users who spoke of an 'excessive' measure. 

A 23-year-old Palestinian man opened fire last night in Tel Aviv, wounding three people - one of them seriously - before being killed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of a "terrorist attack" amid growing unrest in the West Bank. Hamas claimed responsibility for the act, in response to the killing of three Islamic Jihad members by the Israeli army. 

The Taliban governor of the northern province of Balkh was killed in a suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State. Mohammad Dawood Muzammil died yesterday in his office in Mazar-e Sharif. He is the highest-ranking official to be assassinated since the rise of the Koranic students in August 2021. A spokesman speaks of an 'explosion' caused by 'enemies of Islam'. 

The authorities arrested and reduced to a lay state a Buddhist monk (an unusual decision), 'guilty' of promoting a march calling on the government to restore ethical and moral values. According to the official accusation, the 72-year-old venerable Soy Sat had established links with opposition politicians. The affair marks a further escalation of tension ahead of the vote. 

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and his wife will visit Japan on 16 and 17 March at the invitation of Tokyo. It is the first trip in 12 years and follows Seoul's presentation of a compensation plan for forced labour. A meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is planned. An appointment considered a milestone in the rapprochement between the countries. 

Russian museum staff told the BBC that all touring exhibitions were blocked during the year of war, and the various institutions were left with boxed collections and archives that were effectively inaccessible to the public. Exchanges to the East can in no way replace those to the West, besides the fact that many artists and curators have emigrated from the country.

In the car markets of the velayat of Lebap, in eastern Turkmenistan, there is a real boom in used car sales, especially in the capital Turkmenabad. Many owners, in fact, are forced to sell their cars in order to support their families and, above all, pay the heavy bribes needed to enrol their children in high school.

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