Fifteen dead in mine siege
Dozens of heavily armed Maoist rebels stormed a bauxite mine in the east and held roughly 100 mine employees hostage before police regained control of the facility early yesterday morning, authorities said. At least 11 police officers and four militants died in the nine-hour shootout in the Panchpatmali area of the state of Orissa, said senior police official M.M. Praharaj. The militants were hoping to steal large quantities of explosives used for mining, but they fled without them, Praharaj said. C.R. Pradhan, director of the mine company, National Aluminum Company Ltd, said the workers held inside the mine were not harmed, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted him as saying.
Health chief criticized
Environment groups yesterday lambasted the health secretary for supervising the burning of thousands of bottles of salmonella-tainted peanut butter. The Ecological Waste Coalition criticized Health Secretary Francisco Duque for supervising the incineration of the contaminated products last week in Taguig City in metropolitan Manila. The group said the disposal was a violation of the Clean Air Act, which prohibits the burning of materials that emit toxic and poisonous fumes. Greenpeace South-East Asia said the incineration was outrageous “when you consider that it was the health secretary involved in violating a measure intended to safeguard public health.”
Ex-rebels win three seats
Former communist rebels won three of six seats in the national assembly, an election official said yesterday, but it will have virtually no effect on the 601-person assembly. The by-election on Friday saw the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) win three seats, and the Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) and Madeshi People’s Rights Forum win one seat each, Election Commission spokesman Uddhav Baskota said. He said the election — to fill seats left vacant by resignations — will have no significant effect on the 601-member Constituent Assembly, which is charged with rewriting the Constitution and governing the Himalayan nation.
Bus crash kills six
Six people were killed and five injured early yesterday when a bus went out of control and overturned along a major highway in Selangor state. The injured passengers were taken to a nearby hospital, the official Bernama news agency reported. The double-decker bus was carrying 34 passengers plus the driver and his assistant en route to the Selangor state from the northern state of Kedah when the accident occurred. The bus driver was among the dead.
Anti-drug agents killed
Three government anti-drug agents were killed in an attack yesterday in the south, the military and police said. Three agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency were also wounded in the ambush in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao Province, 930km south of Manila. Colonel Jonathan Ponce, a local army spokesman, said the agents were on a mission to raid a suspected safe house of a notorious drug pusher in the town when they were attacked. “The agents had just gotten off their vehicles when they were fired upon by unidentified gunmen,” he said. Superintendent Danilo Bacas, a regional police spokesman, said government forces have launched pursuit operations to track down the assailants.