Army kills seven militants
At least seven militants were killed yesterday near the city of Lawdar in clashes between government forces and an al-Qaeda-linked group, a local official said. A defense ministry news service said in a text message that four of the militants, members of Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), were Somalians. More than 200 people have been killed since government forces stepped up attacks on the militants whom it accused of assaulting a military camp near Lawdar last week. Exploiting weakened central government control, insurgents have taken control of a number of cities in the territory, which is close to key shipping lanes in the Red Sea.
Scores jailed for terrorism
The Atyrau provincial court has sentenced 47 people to jail terms of up to 15 years on terrorism-related charges. Aigul Temirtasova, a spokeswoman for the provincial prosecutor’s office, yesterday said the defendants were arrested late last year after a spike in terrorist attacks. The trial, which ended on Wednesday, was held behind closed doors, and few details have been made public. One group of 42 defendants was jailed on charges including forming a terror group, financing extremist activity and organizing attacks. The remaining five were linked to specific attacks in October. Last summer, several police officers were killed in attacks and skirmishes with alleged militants and a scattered handful of explosions.
Military to defend island
Ground forces commander General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan warned that should diplomacy fail, the military was ready for action over Abu Musa Island controlled by Iran, but also claimed by the United Arab Emirates. Pourdastan said the military was ready to confront the “disturbing” party over the strategic island in the Persian Gulf. The remarks were reported yesterday on the state TV’s Web site. It was the first time an Iranian military commander commented on the issue since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Abu Musa last week.
Fucking name not changing
The hamlet of Fucking is sticking to a name that has made it a magnet for English-speaking tourists, sign thieves and the stuff of Internet fame. Franz Meindl, mayor of the town of Tarsdorf that includes the hamlet, dismissed news reports that residents were pushing to change the name to something less controversial such as Fuking or Fugging. “I don’t know where this comes from in the international press,” Meindl said by telephone on Wednesday from the Upper Austrian town near the German border. “This was discussed a few years ago, but nothing came of it. It is certainly not under discussion now.” Media reports said residents in the town — whose name apparently derives from Adalpert von Vucckingen, who lived there in the 11th century — had grown weary of tourists stealing town signs and striking indecent poses for photos.
Son of famed climber dies
The son of fabled Everest climber Ang Rita Sherpa has died attempting to scale the mountain, officials said yesterday, in the first death of the season on the world’s highest peak. Karsang Namgyal Sherpa, an experienced climber in his own right who had conquered the 8,848m peak several times, collapsed at Everest base camp on Wednesday, trek coordinator Dambar Parajuli said, adding that the probable cause of death was altitude sickness.