Policeman attacked at camp
An outback policeman was pelted with rocks and beer bottles and his stolen patrol car was used to try to run him down, police said yesterday. The officer was attacked by five people on Tuesday night at an Aboriginal camp near the desert town of Alice Springs. The attackers tried to run him down several times with the stolen car before they fled, dumping the vehicle 190km away. Police condemned the assault as “drunken, cowardly and brutal.” Alice Springs, a base for tourists visiting Australia’s outback, has seen a surge in violence in recent months, much of it blamed on local indigenous youths.
Shark crashes service
A large shark was an uninvited guest yesterday at a memorial service on a west-coast beach for a 51-year-old who is believed to have been killed there by a shark last week. Bathers at Port Kennedy Beach, south of Perth, were ordered out of the water and the 250 guests at the memorial service watched as a spotter helicopter circled after the sighting. “It was a freak accident and we are in their territory,” a relative of Brian Guest told Australia’s ABC Radio. “He was a man of the sea. We are just glad he went on the ocean. It was his passion.”
Troops foil bomb attempt
Troops yesterday disarmed a bomb planted under a road bridge in the country’s restive south, an official said. The device, made from a mortar shell rigged to a mobile phone, was discovered under the bridge in the town of Shariff Aguak on Mindanao island, army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Julieto Ando said. He said the device was similar to those used in previous bombings by separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels on the island since August last year. “We believe it’s part of the rebels’ diversionary tactic because they suffered as many as 10 fatalities in our air strikes yesterday,” Ando said.
Humidity brings spiders
One of the world’s most venomous spiders, Australia’s funnel-web, is enjoying the summer so much it appears to have brought forward its annual mating ritual, an expert said yesterday. Joel Shakespeare, head spider keeper at the Australian Reptile Park north of Sydney, said the number of funnel-webs found around Sydney was unusually high for this time of year, with about 50 specimens brought to him in the past week. “Generally we have an average of about 10 a week,” he said. “But we’re having that wet, humid weather which is bringing them out to mate. So it’s really a spike with the funnel webs.”
Suicide hotline struggles
The nation’s hotline for people considering killing themselves is stretched to its limit, with the economic crisis feared to be worsening the country’s suicide problem, its director said yesterday. More than 30,000 people kill themselves every year in Japan, giving the country one of the world’s highest suicide rates. A national suicide hotline run by the Inochi no Denwa — Telephone Lifeline — association is struggling to meet demand, with 7,000 volunteers handling some 700,000 calls a year. “We don’t have enough volunteers,” Yukio Saito, the head of the federation, said. “I’m afraid that there will be a rise in suicides with the economic recession,” he said. Japan’s suicide rate shot up in the late 1990s soon after the collapse of the bubble economy.