■ SRI LANKA
Five civilians executed
Five civilians were dragged out of their homes and shot dead in eastern Sri Lanka, the military said yesterday, blaming separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. The attack on ethnic Tamil civilians took place on Friday night in Eravur town, in Batticaloa district, 220km east of the capital, Colombo, an official at the Defense Ministry's information center said. Rebel officials could not be reached for comment.
`Beidou' satellite launched
China launched the fifth satellite in its ambitious "Compass" global satellite positioning system yesterday, the latest effort in the nation's fast-developing space program, state media reported. The "Beidou" or "Big Dipper" satellite was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan province at 4:11 am, and accurately entered its planned orbit, Xinhua news agency said. The satellite was the fifth such vehicle put into space as part of China's indigenous global satellite positioning system, the report said. The system would provide "navigation and positioning services in transportation, meteorology, petroleum prospecting, forest fire monitoring, disaster forecast, telecommunications and public security among others," it said.
Cheating official sacked
A senior Chinese Communist Party disciplinary official has been sacked after being caught in a "compromising position" with a Russian woman in a Beijing hotel room, Xinhua news agency said on Thursday. Du Xiangcheng (杜湘成), deputy secretary of the Hunan Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Chinese Communist Party, was caught with "a woman other than his wife" in the five-star hotel while on a business trip in December. He has since been thrown out of the party and an investigation has been launched into his assets, Xinhua said. Du, who built a reputation for himself for his stance against graft, was quoted as giving mitigating circumstances for his hotel room service. "Cadres are only human and they have desires," he was quoted as saying.
Commercial fishing banned
A moratorium on commercial fishing will be imposed in coastal waters starting next January following a plunge in fish stocks, an official said. Only small-scale, individual fishing will be permitted until marine resources recover to sustainable levels in waters known as Zone 1, which covers 4.8km from Brunei's shoreline, Fisheries Department officer Ranimah Abdul Wahab said on Thursday. According to Fisheries Department statistics, fish stocks in this tiny sultanate on Borneo island fell 43 percent between 1980 and 2000. The worst affected area was Zone 1, where waters are as much as 50m deep.
US volunteer missing
A US Peace Corps volunteer has been missing for nearly a week in a mountain region in the northern part of the country, the American Embassy said yesterday. Julia Campbell, 40, was last seen on April 8 in the town of Banaue in Ifugao Province where she planned to hike alone, embassy spokesman Matthew Lussenhop said. The area, about 260km north of Manila, is famed for its mountain rice terraces and pine forests. The communist New People's Army also operates there. Lussenhop said the Peace Corps started looking for Campbell on April 11.
Students killed in crash
A bus carrying elementary school students crashed into a truck yesterday, killing at least 30 people, many of them young children, authorities said. The bus was bringing elementary school students from Izmir, a city on the Turkish Aegean, to Cappadocia, a popular tourist spot known for its unusual geological formations. The crash occurred in the city of Aksaray, near Cappadocia. Aksaray Governor Sebati Buyuran said the number of dead was at least 30, the government-owned Anatolia news agency reported. More than 20 injured were sent to regional hospitals for treatment.