Gunmen kill girl
Six people, including a six-year-old girl, were killed in an attack by unidentified gunmen in the southern Philippines, officials said yesterday. The victims were attacked on Wednesday night on their way home in Alamada town in North Cotabato province, 960km south of Manila, after selling a truckload of corn and other crops. Alamada Mayor Ernesto Concepcion said two women survived the attack by hiding in the bushes, but were in a state of shock. Police said five of the victims died on the spot, including the six-year-old girl who was shot in the head, while one died in a nearby hospital. The assailants took cash and other valuables from the victims.
Survivor told she's pregnant
An Indonesian woman who was plucked from the sea after clinging to a palm tree for five days in the wake of a devastating tsunami heard on Wednesday that she is 18 weeks pregnant with her first child. "I'm very glad, very happy," 25-year-old Malawati said from her hospital bed in the northern Malaysian island of Penang after doctors gave her the news following medical checks. When the waves swept her out to sea, Malawati clung to a sago palm and lived off its fruit before being rescued by a passing Malaysian tuna-fishing boat last Friday.
■ Hong Kong
Legislature rejects censure
A motion to censure the Hong Kong government for ignoring public demands for full democracy in the territory was defeated on Wednesday by pro-China legislators. The motion -- introduced by radical Legislator Albert Cheng (鄭經翰) -- demanded the government put forward a proposal for constitutional reforms. Cheng's motion also sought to urge the legislature to express "deep regret" for a recent government report that rejects demands for direct elections of Hong Kong's leader in 2007 and all lawmakers in 2008. Top officials had said such demands were "impractical" because they contradicted a ruling in April by Beijing that rejected any quick democratic reforms in Hong Kong. But pro-Beijing lawmakers defeated Wednesday's motion with a vote of 28 to 24.
■ Hong Kong
Smoke-free pub prosecuted
The manager of Hong Kong's first non-smoking pub said yesterday he was being prosecuted for making smokers step outside to satisfy their cravings. Noel Smith, manager of the Irish-style Dublin Jack in Hong Kong's trendy Soho area, said he was issued a court summons for obstructing the pavement, by making people smoke outside. The Dublin Jack made headlines last year when it became the first pub in the former British colony to introduce a blanket ban on smoking. Smith said the pub may be forced to scrap its non-smoking policy.
Migrant numbers at new high
China's migrants now total 140 million, the government said yesterday, making their numbers equal to the entire population of Bangladesh. More than 10 percent of China's 1.3 billion people are on the move, having left rural or less developed areas for new opportunities in the cities and more prosperous coastal regions, Xinhua News Agency said. China's migrant population, which was 70 million in 1973, hit 140 million in 2003, Xinhua said, citing the State Commission for Population and Family Planning. About 70 percent of China's migrants are aged between 15 and 35, it said.
Official faces extradition
A former German defense official accused of taking a bribe in a party financing scandal could be extradited soon, after the prime minister signed his extradition order, French officials said on Wednesday. Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin signed the extradition order for Holger Pfahls, a former deputy defense secretary, on Dec. 15, the prime minister's office said. Pfahls, arrested July 13 in Paris, is accused of accepting 3.8 million marks (US$2.57 million) in a party financing scandal that tainted former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. He allegedly accepted the money from the German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber.