■ Sri Lanka
Man starves in war zone
An odd-job man has starved to death in the country's war-torn north, officials said yesterday, the first such death since state records began in 1991. But officials said the death of Muthiah Chandrapala, 50, was not linked with food shortages in the northern Jaffna peninsula due to renewed civil war. Chandrapala died on Wednesday near the town of Point Pedro in the army-held Jaffna peninsula. "This is the first time a person has died of starvation," said Nadarajah Thangarajah, acting judge at the district court of Point Pedro. "But please don't try to connect this death to the shortage of food in Jaffna," he added. "It is not relevant, because this person was almost like an orphan. He didn't have a permanent home, he was a daily wage earner doing odd jobs. He lived like a vagabond."
Ten climbers missing
Rescuers were searching two mountains attempting to find French, Swedish, British and Nepalese climbers who have been reported missing during their climbs, officials said yesterday. Four French climbers were reported missing since last week, when they were trying to scale the 5,896m Mount Paldor. Separately, two Swedish climbers, a Briton and three Nepalese Sherpa guides have been missing since Tuesday, when they were trying to climb the 6,856m Mount Ama Dablam.
An 80-year-old Thai man has been charged with human trafficking after police arrested him trying to take five young Cambodian women back to Thailand, officials said yesterday. The suspect, Sathean Dy Em, and the women aged between 14 and 23 years, were detained on Sunday as they tried to cross the border in northwest Cambodia, police said. He was going to put the women to work in his guesthouse, provincial court prosecutor Nhoung Thul said.
Analyst on model murder rap
A political analyst with close links to senior politicians was charged yesterday in connection with the murder of a Mongolian model. Abdul Razak Baginda, 46, who heads the Malaysian Strategic Research Center think tank, was charged with abetting the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, the official Bernama news agency said. The crime is punishable by death. Abdul Razak allegedly abetted two policemen to commit the murder, Bernama said. The two junior officers of the police tactical unit appeared in court on Wednesday charged with Altantuya's murder. If found guilty, they also face the death penalty. Police have said the model, 28, was Abdul Razak's lover and was kidnapped from outside his home.
Toilets getting cleaner
Seventy percent of toilets in public places do not meet WHO standards for cleanliness, health officials said yesterday. But a campaign to provide the public with cleaner facilities appears to be working, Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla said at the opening ceremony of the 2006 World Toilet Expo and Forum in Bangkok. Authorities launched a clean-up campaign after randomly checking public toilets across Thailand in March and finding that 90 percent did not pass the standards for cleanliness, he said. A second round of inspections this month found that the percentage of dirty toilets had dropped to 70 percent, and authorities are hoping to cut the number to 60 percent next year, Mongkol said.
Shiite bakers killed
Gunmen killed seven Shiite bakers yesterday after storming their bakery in east Baghdad, a security source said. Two more employees were wounded in the attack which occurred in Baghdad's religiously mixed Zayuniyah neighborhood. Dozens of bakeries have been attacked in Baghdad in recent months during the Shiite-Sunni sectarian violence that has engulfed the Iraqi capital. A wave of violence has been unleashed across Baghdad in the past few days which has left hundreds dead.