Top Asian News 11:09 a.m. GMT

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired a short-range missile into the sea and tried to jam GPS navigation signals in South Korea on Friday, Seoul officials said, hours after U.S., South Korean and Japanese leaders pledged to work closer together to prevent North Korea from advancing its nuclear and missile programs. Officials said the attempt to jam GPS signals, which began Thursday, did not cause any major disruptions of South Korean military, aviation and sea transport and telecommunication systems. However, more than 130 fishing boats reported problems with their navigation systems and some were forced to return to their ports, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — As China opened one of its six dams on the upper Mekong River last month to help parched Southeast Asian countries down river cope with a record drought, it was hailed as benevolent water diplomacy. But to critics of hydroelectric dams built on the Mekong over the concerns of governments and activists, it was the self-serving act of a country that, along with hydropower-exporting Laos, has helped worsen the region's water and environmental problems. Much of Southeast Asia is suffering its worst drought in 20 or more years. Tens of millions of people in the region are affected by the low level of the Mekong, a rice-bowl-sustaining river system that flows into Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

KOLKATA, India (AP) — Police in India detained five officials from a company building an overpass that collapsed onto a crowded Kolkata neighborhood, killing at least 24 people and injuring more than 80. A day after the collapse in the crowded area of the eastern city of Kolkata, rescuers cleared the crumbled concrete and twisted metal rods. They had pulled 67 people alive. "There is no possibility of finding any person alive," said S.S. Guleria, deputy inspector general of the India's National Disaster Response Force. Engineers are being consulted about a part of the bridge still hanging over the disaster area, after which workers will "slowly start dismantling this particular section to avoid any collateral damage to houses around it." The five employees who were detained worked for the Hyderabad-based IVRCL Infrastructure Co., which was contracted in 2007 to build the overpass.

NEW DELHI (AP) — When an under-construction overpass collapsed and killed at least 23 people in the bustling east Indian city of Kolkata, the images were shocking: massive fallen steel girders, taxis crumpled under slabs of concrete, a crushed truck, destroyed rickshaws and dozens of people trapped. What followed was more or less routine in this country of 1.3 billion. The chief minister of West Bengal state blamed the private builders and the previous government that had commissioned the project. Other officials shot back by accusing her of playing politics. And the builders expressed surprise, calling the accident "an act of God." Tragic accidents from failing infrastructure, some of it old and some just being built, have occurred regularly as India undergoes a breakneck construction boom.

KIDAPAWAN, Philippines (AP) — Police clashed with farmers blocking a highway to demand government relief in the drought-stricken southern Philippines on Friday, leaving at least two demonstrators dead and dozens injured, including at least 23 officers, officials said. Police moved in to disperse about 6,000 farmers and their supporters who were demonstrating for the fourth straight day in Kidapawan, the capital of Cotabato province, when scuffles and gunfire broke out, police and Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza said. Mendoza said two protesters were killed and a journalist at the site counted 13 injured demonstrators. Provincial police chief Alexander Tagum said at least 23 police officers also were hurt.

BEIJING (AP) — China's Communist Party has a new target in its campaign against pernicious Western cultural influences: April Fool's Day. "The so-called Western April Fool's Day does not conform to Chinese cultural traditions or socialist core values," the party's leading propaganda organ, Xinhua News Agency, said in a brief message on its official microblog Friday. "Hope people won't believe in rumors, start rumors or spread rumors," the message concluded. Along with official newspapers including the flagship People's Daily and state broadcaster CCTV, Xinhua has been key in the party's campaign to rid China of Western cultural influences seen as challenging its political orthodoxy.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A prominent political prisoner was released Friday after he finished his six-month jail sentence, coincidentally on the day that Myanmar's new, democratically-elected government began working. Patrick Kum Ja Lee's release was on schedule and not ordered freed by the new government. But it serves as a reminder that President Htin Kyaw will soon have to confront the military to free scores of other political prisoners still in jail for speaking out against its rule. Many are supporters of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the force behind the new government. "I've seen many political activists who are imprisoned by the oppressive laws of the previous government," said Patrick as he walked out of the prison gates, where he was met by his wife, May Sabe Phyu, another human rights activist.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Global stocks fell sharply Friday ahead of the monthly U.S. jobs report, which will shed light on the health of the world's largest economy — and the likely pace of further interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve. Asian markets were weighed by a downbeat Japanese business survey. KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 was down 1.4 percent to 6,090.00 while Germany's DAX dropped 2 percent to 9,769.56. France's CAC 40 sank 2.1 percent to 4,292.98. Futures pointed to a tepid start for Wall Street. Dow futures and S&P futures both fell 0.4 percent. U.S. JOBS: The U.S.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A leading rights group Friday reported that deaths due to violence in Pakistan dropped 40 percent in 2015, but 4,612 people died that year in bombings and other attacks, as the government battles to contain a militant insurgency. The report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan was released just days after an Easter Sunday suicide bombing killed 70 people in a park in the city of Lahore, a reminder that despite improvements, rates of violence remain high in the country. The number of people killed in sectarian violence declined too, with 272 fatalities in 2015 compared to 420 in 2014, the report found.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea has officially announced it is blocking Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and South Korean websites in a move underscoring its concern with the spread of online information. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications announcement was posted this week at the country's main mobile service provider, Koryolink, and other places serving Internet users. Very few North Koreans have Internet access. Typically they can see only a sealed-off, government-sanctioned intranet. But foreigners had previously been able to surf the Web with almost no overt restrictions, though most likely with behind-the-scenes monitoring of their Internet activities. The new restrictions will make it more difficult for visitors or the small community of foreign residents in North Korea to post real-time information about the country to the outside world, and will further limit the ability of North Koreans with Internet access to view information about their country posted elsewhere.

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