■ PAPUA NEW GUINEA
13-year-old tips off police
Two bank robbers were shot dead after the manager’s quick-thinking 13-year-old daughter raised the alarm by sending a mobile phone text message, police said yesterday. An armed gang of six men in security guard uniforms took the bank manager’s family hostage at their home in West New Britain Province, a central island region in the Pacific nation, on Sunday night. On Monday morning, half the gang took the manager with them and ordered him at gunpoint to unlock the safe, police said. While guarded by other members of the gang at home, the daughter managed to send an SOS text message to local police, West New Britain police commander Richard Mulou told the Post-Courier newspaper.
UN: 350 women in jail
The country has some 12,500 prisoners, including 350 women, many of whom are being detained for “moral crimes” such as running away from home, the UN said on Monday. “In 2001 in this country, there were around 600 prisoners and today they are around 12,500 — 350 of them are women,” Christine Oguz, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul.
Bomb explodes on train
A bomb exploded in a train coach in the insurgency-hit northeast yesterday, killing at least two people and injuring another 30, a state government official said. The explosion occurred shortly after the train arrived at Diphu railroad station, about 300km south of Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, said District Magistrate M.C. Sahu. The train was heading from Lumding in central Assam to the eastern commercial hub of Tinsukhia, Sahu said. All the 30 wounded have been hospitalized, three of them in critical condition, he said.
Bad backs may stop toads
It seems a bad back might be the only thing that can stop the relentless spread of the nation’s poisonous cane toads, which are killing native animals as they hop across the nation, researchers say. Now an Australian scientist says evolution has seen the biggest and fastest cane toads interbreed, resulting in arthritis and bad backs, which could slow them down.
Astronaut tickets go fast
All 21,000 tickets to see three Chinese astronauts who performed the country’s first spacewalk were snapped up in a matter of hours yesterday. Thousands of people queued up at 21 distribution outlets to get the free tickets for the appearance by the astronauts at the Hong Kong Stadium on Sunday. The astronauts are due to fly into the city on Friday for a four-day visit, after which they will go to the gambling resort of Macau. The spacewalk by Zhai Zhigang (翟志剛), Liu Boming (劉伯明) and Jing Haipeng (景海鵬) in September generated patriotic fervor that Beijing appears keen to capitalize on.
Reporter gets jail for drugs
A court sentenced Australian TV reporter Peter Lloyd yesterday to 10 months in jail for consumption and possession of methamphetamine. Judge Hamidah Ibrahim sentenced Lloyd to eight-month terms for convictions on consumption and possession, which Lloyd may serve concurrently. Ibrahim also added a two-month term for possession of a drug utensil. Lloyd, 41, pleaded guilty to the three charges after the government dropped drug trafficking counts.
Organ donors get discounts
Health care insurers are to give a discount to clients who are registered as organ donors, reports said on Monday. Four major health insurers said they would give a 120 euro discount (US$152) on the annual fee for basic health insurance, which will be 1,200 euros for adults next year. In November, Dutch broadcaster BNN won a US Emmy award for its television program The Great Donor Show, aired in May last year. In the hoax show, kidney patients tried to win a transplant to put the problem of organ shortages on the agenda.