Bomb kills three in Assam
At least three people were killed and 20 injured in a powerful explosion at a crowded marketplace in the northeastern state of Assam, officials said yesterday. Suspected militants of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) triggered the blast on Friday at a busy vegetable market in the town of Dhekiajuli, about 140km north of Assam's main city of Guwahati, police said. "The market was crowded with evening shoppers when the powerful bomb went off," Assam police intelligence chief Khagen Sharma told AFP. "At least 12 of the injured are stated to be critical," the police official said. Two paramilitary troopers were among the injured.
Leader calls for nuke debate
The policy chief of the ruling party renewed his calls for a debate over whether the country should acquire nuclear weapons capability in the face of the nuclear threat now posed by North Korea. "The main goal is to stop North Korea's outrageous acts," Shoichi Nakagawa, the policy chief of the Liberal Democratic Party, told a press conference in Washington. "As a form of deterrence, one can argue for nuclear an option. We must discuss all options to ensure that Japan would not come under nuclear attacks," he said.
Drug trafficking ring busted
Fifty people went on a trial in northern Vietnam for alleged involvement in one of the country's largest drug trafficking rings, state media reported yesterday. The defendants, including 11 policemen and border guards, were accused of trading 70 guns and trafficking 814.5kg of opium and 3.5kg of heroin, the Tuoi Tre newspaper said. Court officials were not available for comment yesterday. The case was uncovered in December 2004 when two former border guards were caught with four guns in Hanoi, the newspaper said. They told police that they had bought the guns from a police officer who was in charge of a warehouse in Hanoi run by the Ministry of Public Security, it said.
Unique show lodging offered
Cheap and quiet accommodation is available for visitors to an upcoming international horticultural show, but some may find it too quiet -- the lodgings are in the funeral hall of a Buddhist temple. Three million visitors are expected at this year's Royal Flora Ratchaphruek, which opens Wednesday in the northern city of Chiang Mai and lasts until Jan. 31, the Bangkok Post reported yesterday. The event, being held to honor the country's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is expected to strain the capacity of the area's numerous hotels and guest houses, so 20 local temples are also throwing their gates open to visitors, the newspaper reported.
Poor move into cemetary
In the crowded sprawl of Manila, the living must compete for space with the dead. Fortunately for Virginia Bernardino and hundreds of other slum dwellers who have moved into the largest cemetery in the Philippines, the deceased don't seem to mind. "So far we have not seen any ghosts here," the soft-spoken Bernardino, 59, said with a chuckle. "I think that only happens in the movies. As the saying goes, we should fear not the dead but the living." For years, Manila North Cemetery, a public graveyard in the center of the capital of 12 million people, has been a thriving community for those evicted from their homes.
■ United States
Clinton's office shut down