Police foil bomb attack
Police yesterday defused two homemade bombs found inside a passenger bus in the country’s troubled south, officials said. The bombs, made from 81mm and 60mm mortar shells, were hidden in abandoned baggage inside the bus in Isulan town, Sultan Kudarat province. Police Superintendent Suharto Teng Tucao said bomb experts removed the explosives from bus and safely defused them. The bus, which was carrying some 40 passengers, was allowed to travel after the bombs were removed. On Tuesday evening, a suspected bomb courier was killed and a police officer was wounded when a homemade bomb planted in a tricycle exploded in Esperanza town, also in Sultan Kudarat. Police said they suspect Islamic militants could be involved in the Esperanza blast.
Embassy security tightened
The US embassy in Fiji was placed under tight security yesterday after receiving a suspicious package containing white powder, police told local media. All access routes to the embassy were closed in the clampdown, Radio Fiji reported. At least 18 other US embassies around the world have received white powder this month, as well as more than 40 governors’ offices in the US. Initial tests showed the substance was harmless but the deliveries sparked security alerts.
Whale ‘hot spot’ found
One of the world’s highest concentrations of dolphins and whales — many of them protected species — has been discovered off the coast of East Timor, local and Australian researchers said yesterday. A “hot spot” of marine cetaceans migrating through deep channels off the Timor coast, including blue and beaked whales, short-finned pilot whales, melon headed whales and six dolphin species was uncovered in a study for the Timor government. “We were all amazed to see such an abundance, diversity and density of cetaceans. Most of them are actually protected,” principal scientist Karen Edyvane said. The survey was done by East Timorese researchers and experts from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, working from a traditional wooden Indonesian vessel.
N Koreans defect by sea
An official of South Korea’s spy agency says four North Koreans defected to the South by boat and are being questioned. The official of the National Intelligence Service said yesterday the defectors crossed the western sea border into South Korean waters on Tuesday. He declined to give details and asked not to be named, citing the agency’s policy. Defections by boat are rare, with the vast majority who flee the hunger and harsh political oppression in North Korea traveling overland through China and Southeast Asia to South Korea.
Teetotalism ‘risky’: expert
Making a New Year’s resolution to give up alcohol can be bad for your health, a rehabilitation expert said in a news report yesterday. It could have serious side effects and people should find out if they are dependent on drink before going cold turkey in the new year, said James Pitts, chief executive of Odyssey House, New South Wales. People with an alcohol dependency could suffer serious withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, convulsions, cramps, vomiting, delusions and hallucinations, the AAP news agency quoted him as saying. He said drinkers planning to go teetotal should seek advice from a healthcare professional.