Constitutional camp held
Top leaders of the nation’s main political parties are camped at a resort south of the capital in an attempt to reach agreement on a new constitution. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai along with leaders of his Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) and United Democratic Madhesi Front have been meeting since Sunday afternoon at the resort located 10km south of Kathmandu. The road to the resort has been blocked by security forces and only the leaders were inside yesterday.
Maoists ‘are biggest threat’
Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said Maoist insurgents are the country’s top internal security threat even as traditional conflicts in Kashmir and the northeast have ebbed. He was speaking yesterday to a meeting of the chief ministers aimed at coordinating the country’s anti-terror efforts. He said the security forces’ fight against the Maoists in at least nine states was hampered by a lack of resources. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also appealed to the state leaders to help strengthen the country’s defenses against terror.
Two killed in collapse
Two people were killed and more than 20 others feared trapped yesterday after a building housing a blanket factory collapsed in the north, a senior police official said. TV footage showed emergency workers searching through the debris of the building which collapsed late on Sunday night in the town of Jalandhar in Punjab State. Jalandhar’s deputy commissioner of police, Tulsi Ram, said about 90 people had been working in the factory when it caved in, according to rescued workers. “We have rescued about 60 to 70 people so far, they tell us that at least 20 people are still trapped under debris, some with smashed bones. The rescue effort is in full swing,” he said.
Tot lived off Easter eggs
A two-year-old spent up to five days home alone with the body of her dead mother, according to officials who said yesterday she may have survived on chocolate Easter eggs. The severely dehydrated child was found on Friday after neighbors raised the alarm, leading to the discovery of the body of a woman in her 30s in a house in Wagga Wagga, about 400km southwest of Sydney. “She was quite lethargic and pale. She wasn’t saying much, she wasn’t displaying much emotion,” regional Ambulance Inspector Eamonn Purcell said of the toddler. Authorities admit there are many unknowns in the case, including how the mother died, but while the girl was dehydrated her blood sugar levels were good.
Python may be killer
Police were yesterday probing the death of a man whose body was found next to a 6.5m python. Shoji Fujita, 66, was found dead outside his home in Ushiku city, 50km northeast of Tokyo, with a reticulated python lying next to him, a local police spokesman said. The snake was kept by his son, who operated an exotic pet store in the same city, the spokesman said. Fujita died after telling his wife he was going outside to check the temperature of a locked reptile compound next to the couple’s house. When he failed to return, the woman went to check and found her recumbent husband with bite marks on his head and right arm, said the spokesman.
Ex-military officers charged
A court has pressed charges against dozens of former military officers, including four retired generals, over their role in the ousting of a prime minister. The court yesterday ordered nine more suspects, including retired General Cevik Bir, placed in jail pending trial for forcing the resignation in 1997 of Islamist prime minister Necmettin Erbakan. The court has jailed 18 out of 29 suspects in the case. Bir, a former deputy chief of staff who served in Somalia as commander of the 1993 UN peacekeeping mission, had gained fame as the fiercely secular military’s chief critic of radical Islam.