Muslims back Sonny Bill
Islamic leaders are pushing to have All Black and “Muslim superstar” Sonny Bill Williams listed among the world’s 500 most influential Muslims, it was reported yesterday. They are disappointed the world champion midfield back failed to make last year’s list and will be writing to compilers — the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan — to have him included next year. The center says its annual list provides a window on the “movers and shakers of the Muslim world,” gives an insight into the ways Muslims impact on the world and “shows the diversity of how people are living as Muslims today.” Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand senior vice president Javed Khan said he would be writing to the center to tell them about Williams, the Herald reported.
Workers killed in Aceh
Unidentified gunmen on a motorbike shot dead three telecoms workers and wounded seven others in Aceh Province, police said yesterday. They killed the workers from the state-owned company PT Telkom on New Year’s Eve as they were resting in their rented house in Blang Cot Tunong village in Bireuen district, local police chief Yuri Karsono said. “Three people were killed and seven had gunshot wounds. Two gunmen came on a motorcycle, one got down and started shooting at workers with a rifle,” he said. “Their motive remains unclear. We are still investigating,” he added. Last month, unidentified gunmen shot dead three oil palm plantation workers and wounded five others in north Aceh. Police suspected “economic motivation” behind the shooting.
Girl killed as sacrifice
A seven-year-old girl was murdered in a tribal sacrifice and her liver offered to the gods to improve crop growth, police in Chhattisgarh State said yesterday. The body of Lalita Tati was found in October, one week after her family reported her missing. “A seven-year-old girl was sacrificed by two persons superstitiously believing that the act would give a better harvest,” Narayan Das, the police chief of Bijapur district, told reporters by telephone. Two men was arrested on Wednesday last week on suspicion of killing the girl. Police said the men had confessed to the crime. The girl was murdered in a jungle district of Chhattisgarh that is a stronghold of rebel Maoists who have tapped into disaffection among local tribal groups. Human sacrifices occasionally make headlines in deeply religious and superstitious areas of the country and usually occur in poor places where some people revere practitioners of black magic. The victims are often ritually killed by witchdoctors to appease gods, spirits or deities.
Firecrackers injure hundreds
Despite a government scare campaign, firecrackers and gunfire injured nearly 500 people as revelers welcomed the new year in one of the world’s most raucous and dangerous celebrations. About a dozen flights, including two from the US, were diverted or canceled early yesterday after dark smog caused by a night of firecracker explosions obscured visibility at Manila’s airport, officials said. Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the number of injuries — 454 from firecracker blasts and 18 from stray bullets — was slightly lower than last year, but remained alarming. Injured revelers, including many children, filled hospital emergency rooms in the capital shortly after midnight.