■ MalaysiaPM's goats nabbed
Thieves stole two goats belonging to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi from a government facility in northern Malaysia, a newspaper reported Saturday. The pair of Boer goats from Australia have lived under the care of the Penang state veterinary department since businessmen gave them to Abdullah a few years ago. Thieves broke into the department's compound and stole 13 goats, including the pair of Boers worth about 5,000 ringgit (US$1,300). Police were checking with abattoirs and breeding farms to trace the animals and thieves.
■ Hong Kong
Man slain in teahouse
Authorities in southern China have charged two Hong Kong men and four from the mainland with a millionaire's 2002 execution-style killing in a busy Hong Kong teahouse, a newspaper reported. Police haven't announced a possible motive for the slaying of Harry Lam, which prompted fears that Hong Kong gangsters could evade justice by fleeing to China. Lam was killed in the Luk Yu teahouse in Hong Kong on Nov. 30, 2002 when a lone gunman walked up and shot him in the head. Hong Kong is a Chinese territory, but border controls remain in place and the two sides have no arrangements for extraditing crime suspects.
3 missing in copter crash
Three Japanese airline employees are missing after their helicopter crashed into the sea on its way home from offering Christmas flights in a mainly Christian area of Japan, the coast guard said. The Robinson R44 Raven helicopter went missing in bad weather late Friday after leaving the southern city of Nagasaki for its home airport in Saga about 70 km away. The charter flight company employees were veteran pilot Hiroyuki Ubukata, 48, Sachiko Fujimitsu, 33, and Yuki Morita, 33. Coast-guard ships, navy vessels and fishing boats had found debris from the helicopter in the sea off the southern city of Kagoshima, the spokesman said. A black bag containing Fujimitsu's driver's licence had also been found. "Divers will soon start searching for any other clue," he said.
Bus crash in ravine kills 18
A speeding bus packed with passengers plunged into a deep ravine in eastern Pakistan yesterday, killing at least 18 people and injuring 39. The accident occurred near Jehlum, a small city about 100km southeast of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. The driver lost control of the bus as it went around a sharp corner on the main highway. ?ief said. The bodies and injured have been transported to two nearby hospitals. The driver survived, but was in critical condition. Mohamood Ahmed, a doctor at the government-run hospital in Deena, said a total of 18 bodies had been counted at the two hospitals, while 39 others were being treated.
18 rebel villagers killed
Indonesian troops killed 18 suspected rebels in Aceh province, as violence continues despite Jakarta's claim seven months ago that security had improved, the army said yesterday. The guerillas were killed in separate clashes across the province on Friday, said army spokesman Ari Mulya Asnawi. Rebel spokesman Tjut Kafrawi denied the report, saying the dead were unarmed villagers who support the independence struggle. Both sides have been accused of committing human rights violations.
■ West BankLeadership campaign starts
The campaign to elect a successor to Yasser Arafat as Palestinian Authority president was to begin in earnest yesterday as frontrunner Mahmud Abbas prepared to unveil his manifesto. The official start of campaigning comes just over a fortnight before the residents of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and occupied east Jerusalem prepare to cast their ballots for only the second time. A total of seven candidates, four of them independents, are taking part in the Jan. 9 contest although only Abbas has a realistic chance of victory. The moderate former prime minister has already succeeded Arafat as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and has been chosen as the candidate of the dominant Fatah faction.