Children die in fridge
Three children were found dead by a grandparent after becoming stuck in an abandoned refrigerator as they played near their home, police said on Saturday. Their bodies were found on Friday in Atamelang, a town in the country’s North West Province, police spokesman Sergeant Kealeboga Molale said. “They go into the refrigerator and it looks like the refrigerator locks itself and they suffocated,” Molale said. “They were playing outside ... and that’s how they went into it and died, the three of them. Two were four years old and one [was] three,” he added. The grandfather of at least one of the children apparently found their bodies after they failed to return home and called the police.
Syrian boat people rescued
Nearly 500 boat people, mainly Syrian, have been rescued off of the country’s coasts in a 24-hour period, the coast guard said on Saturday. A first group of 170 saying they were Syrian were rescued after their boat began taking on water about 50km from the coast of Calabria, in the south. They included about 50 women and children and were transferred to a coast guard vessel and taken to the town of Roccella Ionica, the coast guard said. A second group of about 320, who were mainly Syrian, but included some Egyptians, were rescued overnight nearly 120km off of Sicily in an operation involving a merchant ship and two coast guard vessels. They were being taken in two groups to Sicilian ports, the coast guard said. The number of people fleeing war-torn Syria toward the country, usually via Egypt, has spiked, the UN refugee agency said on Friday. UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Adrian Edwards said 3,300 Syrians had arrived by sea in the past 40 days, and 4,500 since the start of the year. Only 369 were recorded last year.
PM rejects referendum
Prime Minister Mariano has rejected a request by the leader of Catalonia to approve a referendum that would allow the northeastern region to decide whether to secede from the rest of the country. In a written reply, Rajoy told Artur Mas, leader of the economically powerful region, “the ties that bind us together cannot be undone without enormous cost” and that the two politicians should hold talks instead. Rajoy’s answer on Saturday officially rebuffs the pro-separatist request Mas made in July. The constitution says that only the central government can call a referendum. More than 1 million people showed support for Catalan independence on Wednesday by joining hands to form a 400km human chain across the region.
A journalist has been detained for questioning the government’s case against a TV cameraman, a lawyer said on Friday. Journalist Zied el-Heni was detained for allegedly defaming a civil servant by saying on Nessma TV channel that he has evidence that the case was fabricated against cameraman Mourad Meherzi, who was arrested for filming the egging of a minister. El-Heni’s lawyer, Moufida Belghith, said the detention order was issued without hearing her client’s side of the story. El-Heni said on TV that the prosecutor himself should be charged for detaining someone without basis. Meherzi was accused of being part of a plot against Minister of Culture Mehdi Mabrouk and detained for two weeks after he filmed him getting egged.