Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take



■ South Korea
Soldiers return to the North

Two North Korean soldiers rescued at sea by the South's navy earlier this month were repatriated via the border village of Panmunjom at 3pm yesterday. The two teenage soldiers were found on Dec. 9 on a small wooden boat off the city of Sokcho, and were later treated for frostbite and hypothermia. They were sent back at their own request, the UN Command said. It said one had to be carried across the border on a stretcher.

■ Japan

Second minister to resign

Minister for Administrative Reform Genichiro Sata is expected to resign after allegations that a group of his political supporters submitted false financial reports, media reports said yesterday. Sata would be the second of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's appointees to step down in a week. Abe's approval ratings have been falling since he took office in September, in part because of concerns that he was reviving the ruling party's old vested-interest politics. Sata's political support group reported some ?78 million (US$650,000) in office expenses in financial statements from 1990 to 2000 for an office that did not exist, media reports said.

■ New Zealand

Tourist boom to Fiji

The military coup in Fiji has sparked a mini tourist boom from New Zealand as holiday makers snap up cheap deals to the island. Tourism was rocked immediately after military leader Voreqe Bainimarama seized control of the country three weeks ago. However, post-coup deals offering up to 50 percent off accommodation, and a down-grading of New Zealand's travel risk advisory, has resulted in an upsurge of interest in Fiji as a holiday destination. A spokesman for the Flight Centre travel agency said about 50 percent of all enquiries were now about Fiji holidays. He said Fiji resorts also offering food and beverage vouchers along with the accommodation discounts to lure tourists.

■ Sri Lanka

Policeman killed by bomb

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels set off a powerful roadside bomb in the north yesterday, killing a police constable, officials said. The victim was on a routine patrol together with security forces in the district of Vavuniya, police said, adding that a search operation was underway. At least nine people, including four security force members, were killed in clashes with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on Monday.

■ Australia

War against the toads

Environmentalists have asked the military to wage war on cane toads, which have spread across the north in near-plague proportions. The toads, introduced in a batch of 101 from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed bid to control cane beetles, have spread 3,000km from northeast Queensland to Darwin. There are now more than 200 million. "We need as many people on the ground as we can possibly get, and if the military can work out strategies for controlling toads on their ground, well that's fine with us," Frog Watch spokesman Ian Morris said yesterday. The spread of the toads has led to declines in populations of native snakes, goanna lizards and quolls.

■ Russia
Suspected terrorists held

Police have detained six people on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack in a southern region on the Volga river with a large Muslim population, officials said on Tuesday. The suspects, aged between 22 and 24, are also accused of spreading extremist religious views, the Interior Ministry's branch in the Astrakhan region said. Police found explosive materials and literature promoting the strict Wahhabist sect of Islam during a search of one of the six detainees, who were taken into custody on Monday.

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