Thousands flee riots
Tens of thousands of villagers have fled their homes in fear of rioting that has killed at least 18 people in recent days in the remote northeast state of Assam, police said yesterday. An additional 10 people have gone missing since the clashes over land rights erupted in western Kokrajhar District between the region’s ethnic Bodo community and Muslim settlers, Assam Police Chief J.N. Choudhury said. The violence has spread to two neighboring districts. Police have discovered bodies hacked by machetes.
Osprey deployment draws ire
The US military’s Osprey aircraft arrived early yesterday as residents rallied against their deployment after recent crashes raised safety concerns. Live TV footage showed MV-22s being unloaded from a cargo ship at the US Marines’ base in Iwakuni. Protesters in a dozen small boats demonstrated against the controversial aircraft’s arrival, chanting: “We don’t want the dangerous Osprey!” and “Osprey, go back to America.”
‘Hitman scam’ hits phones
Police across the nation warned mobile phone users yesterday to ignore a text message sent to “a large number of people” threatening death if they did not pay A$5,000 (US$5,150). “Sum1 paid me to kill you. get spared, 48hrs to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, death is promised … E-mail me now: firstname.lastname@example.org,” read the text. It prompted hundreds of calls to authorities from worried recipients. Police in the states of New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania all issued statements telling recipients not to be alarmed. Queensland police said the hoax was commonly referred to as “the hitman scam.”
Sex-tape star out of jail
One of the country’s best-known pop stars has been released from prison on parole after serving two years over a sex-tape scandal. A prison official says hundreds of fans gathered outside the jail yesterday, chanting Nazril “Ariel” Irham’s name and singing his songs as he walked out. Ariel, lead singer of the popular band Peterpan, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years behind bars after sex videos with his celebrity girlfriends hit the Internet. The 30-year-old star was the first celebrity to be charged under a strict anti-pornography law. The law went into effect in 2008, despite strong opposition. Ariel was arrested in June 2010 and said the tapes were stolen and posted online without his knowledge.
Mass grave discovered
The human rights commission said yesterday that it would investigate a report by the military that it has exhumed a mass grave containing at least 30 suspected victims of a 1980s communist rebel purge. Loretta Ann Rosales, chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights, said her office would look into the mass grave, but that it is too early to say whether the remains found in northern Quezon Province were victims of a rebel purge. Soldiers and policemen on Sunday unearthed at least 30 skeletal remains of people believed slain by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels as suspected military spies in the 1980s, army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc said. The remains were exhumed from a shallow grave discovered by a farmer in San Francisco town, he said. Cabunoc said some of the skeletons bore marks of torture, including cracked skulls.