Bomb kills three soldiers
A roadside bomb attack killed three NATO troops in the east of the country, one of the deadliest flashpoints in the 10-year war against Taliban insurgents, the military said yesterday. NATO’s US-led International Security Assistance Force did not release the nationalities of the soldiers or give further details of the incident, which happened on Tuesday. The deaths take the number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan to 561 so far this year, according to an AFP tally based on figures from independent Web site iCasualties.org. A total of 711 foreign troops were killed in Afghanistan last year, the highest annual total since the US-led invasion in 2001 ousted the Taliban from power.
Tiger escapes from zoo
A rare Siberian tiger escaped from a zoo in Anhui Province, frightening locals in a downtown public park before she was shot dead by more than 12 police, the Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday. The nine-year-old big cat fled her cage in Wuhu city when a zookeeper there forgot to lock the gate properly after feeding time, Xinhua said, citing zoo officials. The tiger had a bad temper, “probably caused by mating anxiety,” the zoo officials told Xinhua, which said that further investigation is underway. No one was hurt in the incident. The tiger’s escape was the latest in a string of cases involving tigers escaping from zoos in the country over the past few years, according to local media reports. In January, a tour bus driver was mauled to death by a tiger at a breeding center in the northeast after he got out of his vehicle to check on a mechanical problem and was dragged off to a wooded area by the hungry cat.
‘Sparta’ leaves Antarctica
The patched-up Russian fishing boat Sparta completed temporary repairs and set sail from the Antarctic yesterday, ending a 12-day battle to stay afloat in icy waters, rescue officials said. “Repairs on the stricken vessel Sparta are complete. She is now heading north to rendezvous with her sister ship, Chiyo Maru No. 3, in the open ocean,” rescue coordinator Tracy Brickles said. The Sparta, with a crew of 32, had been stranded near the Antarctic ice shelf for 12 days after being holed below the waterline while heavy ice prevented nearby vessels from giving immediate assistance. Pumps and fuel dropped from a New Zealand Air Force Hercules helped keep the vessel afloat until a South Korean icebreaker reached it on Christmas Day with equipment to speed up repairs. “The Korean icebreaker Araon will escort Sparta and open an ice lane to allow both vessels to make their way from the ice shelf,” Brickles said. The Sparta is expected to make its way to New Zealand, 2,000 nautical miles (3,700km) away, for permanent repairs.
Mudflows kill four
Officials say fast-moving mudflows streaming from the mouth of a volcano in the Molucca Islands have killed four villagers. About 1,000 others have fled their homes. Mount Gamalama sprang back to life this month with a powerful, non-fatal eruption. Government spokesman Yusuf Sunnya said yesterday that days of heavy rains triggered flows of cold lava, rocks and other debris that slammed into villages near the base on Tuesday night. He said four people were killed and more than a dozen others were hospitalized with injuries ranging from broken bones to head wounds.