Mon, Jan 17, 2005 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Afghanistan

US releases 80 prisoners

Some 80 Afghan prisoners held as terrorism suspects have been released from the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan's Supreme Court said Sunday. "Around 80 prisoners have been brought from Guantanamo and they will be freed today after Supreme Court officials speak to them," court spokesman Wahid Mozhda told the press. The US had previously released some 200 prisoners from its remote base on the southeastern tip of Cuba where suspects were first taken bound and shackled three years ago in the wake of the US-led war in Afghanistan.

■ Nepal

Maoists kidnap 14 soldiers

Nepal's Maoist rebels have kidnapped 14 Indian soldiers from the Gurkha regiment while they were on their way home on leave, it was reported yesterday. The soldiers were kidnapped Friday from Kailali district, a Maoist stronghold 665km west of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, India's state-run Doordarshan television reported, quoting an army official. "The soldiers are reported to have been kidnapped from the bus they were travelling in," the officer said. The official said there was no word from the Maoists on their demands or why the soldiers had been kidnapped. An official with the Indian embassy in Kathmandu told the Indian Express newspaper that senior officials and others in Nepal had been contacted. He said it could be a case of mistaken identity.

■ Philippines

Gunman kills 7 at festival

At least seven people, including the police chief of the province of Aklan, were killed and 30 wounded yesterday when a gunman opened fire at a religious festival in the central Philippines. The Ati-atihan festival in honor of Santo Nino, one of the most revered Roman Catholic icons in the Philippines, was stopped, turning merrymaking into mourning for the victims. "We're still investigating the motive for the violent shooting," said the national police chief. "We're checking reports that this incident was drug-related, but we can't discount other angles." He said the provincial police chief was walking towards the municipal building after attending mass when a gunman opened fire at his group, sending hundreds scampering for safety. The shooting began during a fireworks display to start the festival in Kalibo town.

■ China

Activist farmers sentenced

A court in northern China's Shaanxi province has sentenced 27 farmers to up to 15 years in prison after convicting them of illegal gatherings and disturbing public order in an anti-government property dispute, state press said Sunday. The Yulin city court also convicted the 27 of involvement in organizing three demonstrations protesting local government tactics in the acquisition of village lands. The protests, involving up to 500 villagers, disrupted a construction project in March last year and led to the blockade of the neighboring Yuyang village government building in April, the report said. Gao Lading, fingered as the main organizer of the protests, was sentenced to 15 years; five others were also sentenced. They also organized a May 23 protest in which government officials and police were illegally detained for 41 hours while around 300 villagers took over the village's Communist Party offices for 133 days, according to the report.

■ United States

Teacher jailed for sex

A former teacher and coach at a church school was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of having sex with a 12-year-old student. Mark Vail, 27, who has insisted he was innocent, pounded his fist on a lawyer's table after the guilty verdict was read Friday. "I did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong," he yelled. Vail was removed from the courtroom by two security officers. "You did this to your family," Vail shouted, pointing back at his accuser as he disappeared behind a security door. Vail was arrested in January last year after the girl's parents discovered the relationship through her cell phone records.

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