Leader laments traffic safety
A state leader has said a deadly trio of riding flashy motorbikes, speaking on the telephone while driving and trying to impress women has caused a jump in fatal road accidents among young people. “If there is a good motorcycle, a good mobile or a good girlfriend, then accidents are bound to happen,” Raman Singh, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh State, told a traffic safety conference on Saturday. More than 110,000 people were killed in road accidents last year, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, with bad roads, speeding vehicles and poor driving among the many contributing factors. Singh told a seminar in the state capital, Raipur, that 55 percent to 60 percent of all road accident victims were young people.
Marathon ban reversed
Beijing marathon organizers have reversed a decision to refuse Japanese runners, reports said yesterday. Japanese runners had been barred from taking part in the Nov. 25 event due to concerns for their safety as tensions between the two countries ran high over a territorial dispute. However, officials have now updated their Web site to include “Japan” in the list of applicants’ nationalities, after the Japanese embassy in Beijing lodged a protest, the Yomiuri Shimbun and Jiji Press said.
Policemen accused of rape
Three policemen have been accused of gang-raping an Indonesian woman at a police station in a northern town. Lau Chiek Tuan, a local politician, said that the 25-year-old woman came to his office in the town of Prai just hours after the alleged rape on Friday. Lau said he held a press conference on Saturday where the woman claimed the three officers in a patrol car stopped a taxi she boarded on Friday morning. “They asked to look at her passport, but when she produced a photocopy, they still took her to the police station. It was just an excuse to bring her in,” he said. “She could identify the three men who raped her in a room where there was a mattress — I don’t know for what reason there is a mattress in a police station,” he added. News reports cited Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi as confirming that three policemen were remanded for a week on Friday night and suspended from duty pending investigations.
Bomb plot suspects arrested
Police said yesterday they had arrested three members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group and thwarted a bomb attack. Intelligence operatives intercepted the men on Thursday night on the island of Basilan, a known hotbed of the extremists, regional police said in a statement. Police said the three allegedly planned to set off the bomb in a heavy populated urban area. The suspects were members of a squad responsible for carrying out sabotage attacks to divert military and police attention as other members stage kidnappings, police said. The Abu Sayyaf is a small group of militants blamed for the country’s worst terrorist attacks, including a ferry bombing in 2004 that killed more than 100. The group is on the US government’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. A number of foreign hostages are believed held by the Abu Sayyaf in the south, including two European bird-watchers seized in February and an Australian abducted in December last year.
Give church winnings: Welby
Gamblers who made money betting on the identity of the next spiritual head of the Anglican church should donate their winnings, the newly nominated Archbishop of Canterbury said. “Thought in the night, those who made money betting on me give it to their local church! I suspect it was less than papers suggest,” Justin Welby, 56, a former oil executive who was named the next leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans on Friday, wrote on Twitter. Bookmakers said they suspended betting on Welby getting the job earlier in the week after a sudden flurry of bets. He explained later: “It’s a very strange feeling when you find yourself having odds quoted on you at a bookie. Generally speaking I am not a horse, I think that’s a really important point to get across.” Bookmaker Ladbrokes said it had donated ￡1,000 (US$1,560) to Canterbury Cathedral following the comments by Welby, who will become the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury after incumbent Rowan Williams retires next month.