Two US soldiers killed
Insurgents on Saturday killed two US troops in the east of the country, an area that has seen heavy fighting in recent months, the US military said. No other information about the deaths was disclosed, pending notification of family members. However, a US military official said two US special operations forces were killed by small arms fire in Wardak Province, southwest of Kabul. In the south, a policeman was killed and another was wounded when a remote-controlled bomb planted on a motorbike was detonated in Sangin District in Helmand Province, according to provincial spokesman Ahmad Zarak. In neighboring Kandahar Province, a roadside bomb killed another Afghan policeman in Kandahar City, provincial spokesman Ahmad Jawed Faisal said.
Blue whales tracked
Scientists are using military technology for locating submarines to track rare blue whales hundreds of kilometers away by eavesdropping on their distinctive songs. Blue whales can communicate with each other over an entire ocean basin by emitting low frequency sounds, or deep songs. Scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division started using directional sonobuoys this year to detect whale sounds — a big improvement on the standard visual method of monitoring whales. Over a 20-day period earlier this year, scientists recorded 103 sightings of blue whales in an area of more than 10,000km2 by using the technology. Australian Antarctic Division scientist Mike Double said despite growing up to 33m long, blue whales are very difficult to find and very little is known about them. The government hopes that improved monitoring of the world’s largest animal in the icy Southern Ocean will help prevent its extinction.
Syrian ex-PM in talks
The state news agency says the foreign minister has held talks with former Syrian prime minister Riad Hijab in the first high-profile meeting since the Syrian defected to the kingdom in August. The Petra news agency says Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh’s closed-door meeting with Hijab on Saturday focused on “developments in the Syrian arena.” It did not elaborate and officials could not be immediately reached for comment. After initially seeming reluctant to anger its more powerful northern neighbor, Amman recently has shown signs of leaning toward the Syria opposition trying to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. For months, Amman has been secretly receiving waves of Syrian security officials, but last week, it announced publicly that it is hosting 2,054 officials.
S Koreans killed by lightning
Two tourists killed by lightning in the central region have been identified as South Koreans, police said yesterday, correcting earlier reports they were Chinese. Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said the victims, a man and a woman, had been erroneously identified as Chinese tourists after the Saturday evening strike in Haputale, 200km east of Colombo. “It is now established that the victims were in a group of South Korean tourists,” Rohana said. “The autopsies will be done today.” He said three other South Korean women were injured and were undergoing hospital treatment. The group were at Lipton’s Seat, one of the highest look-out points in the central region, during a sudden thunderstorm, police said. The country is seeing an increase in the number of Asian tourists visiting after it ended nearly four decades of ethnic war in May 2009.