Cameroonian forces earlier this week freed seven Chinese hostages held by an armed gang off the southwest Bakassi region, the president’s office said on Friday. “The defense and security forces on March 17 freed seven Chinese nationals taken hostage in Cameroon’s territorial waters ... by individuals [who have] not yet been identified,” the presidency chief of staff Laurent Esso, said in a statement. The operation was carried out on orders from Cameroonian President Paul Biya, the statement read on state radio said without any details about how it was conducted or whether there were any victims. The seven fishermen were working for a private Chinese company when they were kidnapped on March 12 off the Bakassi peninsula, which is rich in fish stocks and believed to have substantial oil reserves.
Super-elastic iron introduced
Researchers in Japan have designed a super-elastic iron alloy that they hope can be used in sophisticated heart and brain surgeries and even buildings in earthquake zones. In a paper published on Friday in the journal Science, the researchers said the metal’s super-elasticity allows it to return to its original form and gives it additional properties, such as ductility and a change in magnetization. The iron alloy’s stress level is about twice that of nickel titanium and it can be used to deliver stents, which are tubes placed in blood vessels to stop them from collapsing. One of the researchers, T. Omori, at Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Engineering said: “Currently, heart stents are delivered into the body using nickel titanium but the diameter of the wire is too thick to go into the brain, so iron alloy will be the answer.”
Tadic skips conference
President Boris Tadic will miss a regional conference in Slovenia, his office said on Friday, highlighting deep divisions among Balkan states that could complicate their plans to join the EU. Slovenia, the only ex-Yugoslav republic that is already an EU member, organized yesterday’s conference along with Croatia to boost cooperation and help mend ties among the Balkan states that all want to join the 27-nation bloc. However, Serbia, the region’s biggest country, said it would not take part unless its former province of Kosovo attends as a UN run-protectorate, rather than as an independent state. “Unfortunately the organizers did not follow this principle and that prevents the Serb president from attending the conference,” Tadic’s office said in a statement.
Book returned 45 years late
It’s common to return a library book late — but not by half a century. Staff at a library say they were surprised and puzzled when they received a book that was 45 years overdue through their mailbox. Alison Lawrie, the principal assistant at Dinnington Library, near northern England’s Sheffield, says the Penguin first edition copy of Quartermass and the Pit by Nigel Kneale was due back on Oct. 15, 1965. She says the borrower remains a mystery because the library records don’t go back that far, and the sender didn’t attach a letter or note with the book. Lawrie said on Friday the sender need not worry about a hefty fine. She says: “If the person who returned the book wants to come forward, we’d love to know the story behind it.”