Sun, Nov 02, 2003 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Afghanistan
Taliban kidnapping

A Turkish engineer working on a road in Afghanistan has been kidnapped and his suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda abductors are demanding the release of six Taliban prisoners, officials and company sources said yesterday. Hasan Ornal was abducted Thursday night in southeastern Zabul province where the Kabul-Kandahar road is under construction, they said. A military official in Ghazni province said the abductors also took away Ornal's Afghan driver during the incident.

■ Bangladesh

Refugees line border

Border troops were on alert against a possible influx of Muslim refugees from Myanmar, officials said yesterday. Local media reports said minority Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar have recently been attacked by that country's military. Several thousand Muslims have gathered along the border in Myanmar's western Arakan province, and they may try to cross into Bangladesh, officials said, quoting intelligence reports. Nearly 250,000 Muslims from Arakan fled to Bangladesh's southern coast in 1990 and 1991, accusing the military of torture and forced labor.

■ India

Ritual child abuse persists

Children, most of them girls, who are "married" to a goddess of good health in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu are usually sexually exploited, according to a news report yesterday. A survey revealed that the practice, called "arunthathiyar," thrives in Tamil Nadu state despite police claims to have stopped it a decade ago. All 75 villages of two districts in the state pledged at least three girls under 18 to the goddess Mathamma, the study said. The children selected are usually suffering from a prolonged illness. A girl pledged to the goddess can never marry. She is treated as public temple property, and is usually vulnerable to ongoing sexual abuse.

■ Malaysia

Bogus witch doctor jailed

An Indonesian man was sentenced to 18 years in jail and six lashes of the whip after he tricked a woman into having sex with him as a remedy for her husband's impotence, the Berita Harian daily reported yesterday. Usim Room, 36, had pleaded guilty to raping the 46-year-old housewife in August at the victim's home in central Pahang state. Usim, who worked at a local plantation, claimed to be a witch doctor and reportedly told the victim's husband that he specialized in healing erectile dysfunction. The bogus medicine man then duped the couple into allowing the victim to have sex with him, claiming the man's impotence would then be cured.

■ Japan

Nukes taboo easing

In a sign that a taboo on discussing nuclear weapons is easing in Japan, a survey yesterday showed one candidate in eight in this month's election think there may be situations where Japan should consider acquiring nuclear arms. Japanese lawmakers who have previously hinted at ending the nuclear ban have faced fierce criticism, but the alarm over North Korea's nuclear weapons program had prodded some politicians to challenge the taboo, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said. It said 13 percent of candidates running in the Nov. 9 lower house election thought Japan should, depending on international conditions, consider obtaining nuclear arms.

■ United Kingdom
Men fume over TV joke

British television station Sky One said on Friday it had shelved a reality show that set up six male contestants with a gorgeous woman -- before revealing to the unwitting men that she was a transsexual. London law firm Schillings, acting on behalf of the six men, wrote to Sky and program makers Brighter Pictures on Thursday, alleging conspiracy to commit a sexual assault, defamation, personal injury and breach of contract. Schillings demanded that the program, provisionally scheduled to be broadcast next month, be ditched. Only at the end of the show did the men discover that Miriam was a preoperative transsexual.

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