President promises Mercs
President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov on Saturday promised each of his ministers a gift of a Mercedes Benz car to mark the 15th anniversary of his country's independence. Regional chiefs only qualify for a jeep, but they will be upgraded to a Mercedes if they bring in their cotton harvest early, Niyazov said on national television. "I have already ordered a Mercedes for each minister. We will give them out for the 15th anniversary," he said. The nation marks 15 years of independence from the Soviet Union in October.
Escaped wolf re-captured
A Canadian wolf that escaped from a new zoo in Chiang Mai and caused havoc across the countryside has been captured, local officials said yesterday. The wolf, which had been brought to Chiang Mai Night Safari from the Czech Republic, escaped one month ago but zoo officials did not alert the public because they believed the animal posed no danger. But villagers were soon reporting mysterious deaths of chickens and dogs, prompting a wolf-hunt involving 50 zoo keepers. The rogue wolf at first eluded capture, but the mission ended with success late on Saturday night when hunters finally found the beast walking down a dirt road and shot it with tranquilizer guns.
Crowded bridge collapses
A search resumed yesterday for people missing after a crowded bridge collapsed in heavy rains in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 40 people, an official said. The 10m high bridge collapsed in Mardan, a city about 100km northwest of Islamabad. Witnesses said about 200 people and some vehicles were on the bridge when it fell, flinging pedestrians and cars into the flood waters below. Rescuers pulled out 40 bodies before the search was called off at night fall on Saturday, the mayor of Mardan, Himayatullah Mayar, said yesterday. Troops, civilian aid workers and local residents, using steel cutters, sledge hammers and a crane to break concrete and lift debris, were searching yesterday for the missing people, he said.
Premature blast kills bomber
A suicide bomber was killed early yesterday in the southwest when the explosives belt he was wearing exploded pre-maturely, police said. No one else was injured in the blast in Hub, an industrial town in Baluchistan Province, local police official Munir Hussain said. "This man was riding a cycle. He had strapped explosives to his body for a suicide attack and they exploded," Hussain said of the blast in Hub's Zehri Street neighborhood. The man's intended target was not immediately known, and police were investigating, Hussain said. Hub is about 580km southeast of Quetta, Baluchistan's capital.
King to loose land
The government is likely to seize land owned by King Gyanendra, who recently lost most of his power and his command over the army, a Cabinet minister said yesterday. Land Reform Minister Prabhu Narayan Chaudhary said the gov-ernment was investigating the amount of land owned by Gyanendra and members of the royal family and would have details of the probe in a week. "The laws of Nepal allow an individual to own only a certain amount of land and since the king has been stripped of his immunity and brought under the tax net like all ordinary citizen, he will not be an exception," Chaudhary told reporters.
Cops nab art theft suspects