British hostage Ken Bigley was beheaded near Baghdad on Thursday afternoon, insurgent sources in the rebel-held town of Fallujah said yesterday. \nAbu Dhabi Television, quoting "informed" sources in Iraq, had said earlier that the militant group led by al-Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had killed Bigley. \nBritain's Foreign Office said it was aware of the reports. \n"We cannot corroborate the reports ... We are in close touch with Mr Bigley's family at this difficult time," a Foreign Office spokesman said in London. \nThe insurgent sources said Bigley was killed in the town of Latifiya, about 35km southwest of the Iraqi capital. \nThey declined to say how they had got their information. \nBritain's Sky TV, quoting British government sources, also said Bigley had been killed. \nThe 62-year-old engineer was kidnapped in Baghdad on Sept. 16 by the Tawhid and Jihad Group which has beheaded two American hostages who were seized along with the Briton. \nThe kidnappers had demanded US-led forces in Iraq release women prisoners in Iraqi jails to spare Bigley's life. Washington says it holds only two women in Iraq, both top weapons scientists from the days of former president Saddam Hussein. \nThe British say they are not holding any women. \nIraqi Interior Ministry officials in Baghdad said they had no information on the report. \nMeanwhile, US warplanes struck a building in rebel-held Fallujah where the US command said leaders of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror network were meeting early yesterday. A doctor said the attack killed 13 people, including a groom on his wedding night, and wounded 17 others. \nThe attack came despite signs of progress in negotiations to bring Iraqi government forces back into Fallujah for the first time in months. \nElsewhere, an aide to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr offered on Thursday to disarm his Mahdi Army militia in a move that could bring an end to weeks of fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City. The government welcomed the offer and suggested other militant groups also lay down their arms.
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
TARGETED TEXTS: The center’s head said that visitor numbers at scenic spots were greater than expected and people did not do a very good job of social distancing The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday sent two warning text messages to urge people to practice social distancing, especially by avoiding crowded scenic areas. The two messages were sent at 11:55am on the third day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, reminding people about social distancing and hand hygiene to help prevent COVID-19 infection. “When visiting crowded scenic spots during the Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, please keep a social distance of at least 1.5m indoors and 1m outdoors, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. Please wear a mask and seek immediate medical attention if you are feeling ill
The US National Security Council yesterday thanked Taiwan for its support amid the COVID-19 pandemic following President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement that Taiwan would donate 10 million masks to hard-hit countries. The donation includes 2 million masks to the US on top of the weekly 100,000 announced previously; 7 million to Europe; and 1 million to diplomatic allies, on top of 1 million Taiwan procured for allies from their neighboring countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday. After European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed appreciation for the donations, the US body yesterday wrote its thanks on Twitter. “We