Residents of a tiny town danced and drank beer as they watched the home of a convicted pedophile burn to the ground in a suspected arson attack, the Australian newspaper reported yesterday. Up to 40 people swelled Meringur's usual population of 16 on Sunday night to celebrate as flames engulfed the home of Terrence Ellis, 52, the daily said. Ellis was convicted two weeks ago of abusing a young girl from the town in the southeastern state of Victoria and jailed for five years. "It certainly was a bit of a party," the victim's brother said. Victoria police confirmed the fire that destroyed Ellis's timber cottage was suspicious, but an investigator said the heat was too intense to pinpoint where it began. "I don't think they'll get very far," one resident was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Man steals 12 snakes
A man held up a woman and two children at gunpoint before fleeing with a dozen snakes worth more than A$100,000 (US$74,535), police said yesterday. The man demanded the 12 green tree snakes, which are not venomous, when he approached the door of the woman's home near Adelaide, on Wednesday, state police said. He then stuffed the snakes -- measuring up to 80cm long -- into a duffel bag and bound the woman's ankles and the hands of two boys before fleeing the scene. The snakes are valued at A$9,000 each, police said. Police were investigating the alleged theft, but no suspect had been arrested as of yesterday. The woman and children were not identified.
Border guards `kill' refugees
A Tibetan exile group said yesterday that Chinese border guards opened fire on dozens of refugees, killing two and wounding several more as they tried to sneak into Nepal from Tibet over the weekend. The refugees were crossing the Nangpa La pass, near Mount Everest on China's side of the border, when Chinese soldiers opened fire, said Lhundup Dorjee of the Tibet Refugee Center in Kathmandu. "Around 42 of them managed to escape and cross in to Nepal, but we don't know what happened to the rest of them," Dorjee said. Neither Chinese nor Nepali officials were immediately available for comment on the reported shootings, which allegedly took place on Sept. 30 at the 5,800m pass just west of Mount Everest.
Woman kills spy boyfriend
A woman stabbed to death her boyfriend, who worked for Pakistan's powerful spy agency, for not marrying her, police said yesterday. Mazhar Iqbal, 27, who worked with Inter Services Intelligence, or ISI, as a telephone operator, was killed on Wednesday by his 25-year-old girlfriend in Islamabad. The woman was arrested shortly after the incident. "She was in love with him. She told police that she killed him because he had refused to marry her," a police official said. The woman has not yet been charged and is being held for questioning. She was expected to appear in court yesterday.
■ Hong Kong
Smuggling turns deadly
A Chinese illegal immigrant who was smuggled into Hong Kong inside the wheel-arch of a tourist coach was killed on Wednesday when the vehicle crushed him as he tried to escape, police and media reports said. The elderly man was dragged at least 100m along a busy street, leaving a grisly trail of blood on the road. The victim, who was found with no identification documents, was declared dead on arrival at hospital.