One dead in protest clash
Local media yesterday reported that police had opened fire on supporters of the nation’s largest Islamic party, leaving one man dead. The party members were enforcing a general strike to protest a court ruling that a party leader should be executed for war crimes. The United News of Bangladesh said police started firing yesterday in the western district of Meherpur after opposition supporters attacked security officials and critically stabbed a police official. The report says up to 15 people were injured in the violence. Police could not be reached immediately for comment. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah, a senior member of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, to death for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 independence war against Pakistan.
Editor flees after threats
A newspaper editor has fled the country following death threats and an armed attack on her home three weeks ago. Free Media Movement, a local media rights group, said Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema, the co-editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, fled on Monday to a “North American country,” along with her journalist husband Romesh Abeywickrema and 12-year-old daughter. Five men held Mandana and her family at knifepoint and searched her Colombo home in a pre-dawn raid on Aug. 24, before police intervened. One intruder died after being shot by police and four others are being held in custody.
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Canadian couple missing
Authorities were searching yesterday for a Canadian couple who were believed to have died when their rental van went over a cliff on a rugged road. Police said they were trying to recover the bodies of 25-year-old Connor Hayes and 24-year-old Joanna Lam off the Haast Pass road, which connects the west coast of the South Island to the rugged interior. The couple were last seen on Sept. 10 in stormy conditions. Parts of their wrecked rental van were found this week in the Haast River, about 80m below the road. Inspector John Canning said the chances they survived were “extremely remote.”
Child pageants banned
The senate voted 197-146 on Wednesday to ban beauty pageants for children under 16, in an effort to defend children’s — especially girls’ — rights. Anyone who enters a child into such a contest would face up to two years in prison and 30,000 euros (US$40,590) in fines, according to the measure. The legislation must go to the lower house of parliament for debate and another vote.
EU police officer shot dead
An EU police officer in Kosovo was shot dead yesterday in a northern, mainly Serb region where tensions are rising over a fragile accord between the Balkan country and its former master Serbia. It appeared to mark the first fatality suffered by the EU mission, known as EULEX, since it was deployed in 2008 after majority-Albanian Kosovo declared independence from Serbia with the backing of the West. The officer, whom EULEX did not identify, was killed when two EU vehicles “came under fire from unknown persons” at around 7:30am near Zvecan, EULEX said in a statement. The vehicles were part of a regular morning rotation from a border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia, one of two main border gates in the north that have been the focus of previous clashes between ethnic Serbs and NATO peacekeepers.