Violent attack disrupted
Police arrested three people who planned to attack a legislator in the south where violence has claimed more than 70 lives this year, police said yesterday. A group armed with knives, swords and guns had surrounded the home of Prabhu Sah, a legislator for former communist rebels, on Saturday in Patuara village, about 200km south of the capital, Kathmandu. Police were called to the house and were able to disperse the group, local police chief Yogeshwor Romkhami said. Three people, believed to be leaders of the group, were arrested, he said. Romkhami said the attackers were from the Terai Liberation Front, one of several militant groups fighting for greater rights for ethnic minorities. Attacks on government officials, strikes, transportation shutdowns and demonstrations have increased this year.
Professors boycott classes
Faculty at Dhaka University boycotted classes yesterday to protest what they said was the "persecution" of the country's two main political leaders by the military-backed government. The protest followed the arrest of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed on extortion charges and a court case leveled against her rival, ex-premier Khaleda Zia, by the government last week. Sheikh Hasina and Zia were charged as part of a corruption crackdown by an emergency government that came to power in January following a decision to cancel planned polls. The teachers believe the moves against the political leaders by the emergency government are "persecution" to "force both of them out of politics," said Anwar Hossain, general secretary of Dhaka University Teachers Association.
Earthquake strikes northwest
An earthquake in a remote region of Xinjiang brought down more than 2,100 houses and prompted the evacuation of 8,250 people, Xinhua news agency said yesterday. The 5.7-magnitude quake jolted Tekes County on Friday. Xinhua quoted an official as saying no one had died. The quake's epicenter was in a mountainous region 430km from Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. "Rescuers have displaced 8,250 residents as their houses, most of which are mud-brick, either collapsed or became dangerous," an official said.
Reserve to honor Irwin
The late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, killed in a stingray attack last year, will be honored with a new wildlife reserve in the outback, the government announced yesterday. A 135,000-hectare chunk of land near Weipa in the far north of Irwin's home state of Queensland will be named after the popular television host and managed by his family, Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. The area to be named the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve includes habitats for the endangered northern quoll, a carnivorous marsupial, and the speartooth shark, Turnbull said.
■ SRI LANKA
Minister to plea for girl's life
Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Bhaila has traveled to Saudi Arabia with the parents of a teenage housemaid to help prepare her appeal after she was condemned to death for murdering a four-month-old baby, a Sri Lankan diplomat said on Saturday. Bhaila arrived in Riyadh on Friday night with the parents of Rizana Nafeek. The 19-year-old was convicted of strangling her employer's baby in 2005, Sri Lankan Ambassador Amj Sadiq said. "The minister's week-long stay will include meetings with lawyers preparing Nafeek's appeal and we will also try to arrange with the Saudi authorities for the parents to meet their daughter," Sadiq said.