More extremist attacks
A military report says al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants managed to launch more attacks last year than in 2010 despite many battle setbacks. The report, which assesses the first year of the government’s new counterinsurgency program, attributes the increase in attacks by the notoriously violent Abu Sayyaf group to ineffective law enforcement and the failure of authorities to fully isolate the terrorists from their armed and civilian backers. The report said yesterday that the militants staged 19 percent more attacks last year than in 2010.
Fire victim called for help
An aunt of a Filipino nursery teacher who was among 19 dead in a mall fire in Qatar says she received a final frantic cellphone call from her niece pleading for help. Julie Ann Soco told her aunt in the Philippines, “Help me, help me, I’m going to die.” Luzviminda Soco yesterday said she did not understand what the problem was and asked her niece to stop crying. The line was cut shortly after. She says she and Julie Ann’s mother, a caregiver in Egypt, were unable to reach her again. Julie Ann Soco and two other Filipinos were among the dead in Monday’s fire.
Fourth nuclear missile test
The government yesterday tested the fourth nuclear-capable cruise missile since India launched a new long-range weapon capable of hitting China on April 20. The Hatf VIII air cruise missile has a range of 350km and can carry conventional warheads, the military said. It described the “low altitude, terrain-hugging missile with high maneuverability” as “state of the art” with “pinpoint accuracy.”
Suicide bomb kills police
A suicide bomber rammed a police checkpost yesterday, killing at least five policemen and wounding six others in Kandahar Province, an official said. The attacker drove his explosives-laden car into the checkpoint at the district police headquarters of Arghistan district, provincial governor spokesman Jawed Faisal said.
Supreme Court judge killed
Police say controversial Supreme Court judge Rana Bahadur Bam was shot and killed yesterday morning. Bam’s bodyguard and another passenger in his car were also wounded in the attack which occurred as the judge was driven to work after worshipping at a Hindu temple, but his driver was able to escape. Police official Rabindra Shah said two masked men on a black motorcycle drove by the judge’s car and opened fire. Bam was alleged to have taken bribes from criminals in exchange for releasing them with light sentences and fines, but the case is still under investigation.
Army chief of staff retires
Army chief General Vijay Kumar Singh retired yesterday after a stormy tenure in office that included a series of public spats with the government. Singh took the government to the Supreme Court in January in an unprecedented dispute over his retirement due to confusion over his date of birth. He lost his lawsuit, in which he sought to remain in his post an extra year, after the court upheld the government’s stance that his birthday in official records was May 10, 1950. Known as an anti-graft campaigner, Singh embarrassed the government in March by alleging that he was offered a US$2.8 million bribe in 2010 to fix a supply contract, a complaint that was not followed up by the authorities.