Papuans protest to Australia
A student group says three activists from restive West Papua Province breached security to enter the Australian consulate in Bali, calling for leaders attending the APEC summit on the island to pressure the government to release political prisoners. The Alliance of Papuan Students says the men entered the compound early yesterday. They handed over a letter that asked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and other leaders to push the country to free 55 people imprisoned for “discussing their political and human rights beliefs,” according to a copy of the hand-written letter released by the group. The Australian government confirmed that the Papuans delivered a protest letter to the consulate and left voluntarily before 7am. The country is highly sensitive to the separatist struggles in Papua, a former Dutch colony.
Plane skids off runway
Nok Air says one of its planes has skidded off a runway in the northeast, but none of the 25 passengers and crew aboard were injured. The airline says the incident yesterday involved a SAAB 340B turboprop chartered by Siam General Aviation Co, which is known as Nok Mini. The flight left the northern city of Chiang Mai and was landing at Undon Thani airport at the time. Nok Air blamed “a glitch in the engine,” but gave no other details. The airline says the plane is not blocking other flights and will be inspected.
Clash with militants kills six
Six people, including two policemen, were shot dead in a fierce gun battle between security forces and militants, authorities said yesterday, after a raid in the south of the country. The clash broke out after a combined army, police and paramilitary group tried to search a village in Narathiwat, one of several conflict-prone provinces in the Muslim-majority region, on Saturday. “It was quite a big gun battle, which lasted a long time,” southern army spokesman Colonel Pramote Prom-In said. “The dead were on our wanted lists.” He said a further seven suspects with warrants issued for them were also arrested in the raid. Almost a decade of conflict has left more than 5,700 people dead in the south. Shadowy groups of Muslim militants, calling for autonomy for the region, have waged near-daily bomb and gun attacks, targeting security forces and civilians from both the Buddhist and Muslim communities. The attacks continue despite several rounds of peace talks, hosted by Malaysia, between the authorities and one of a network of rebel groups. The next round of talks is expected later this month.
Maddie’s parents hopeful
Madeleine McCann’s parents says they’re “greatly encouraged” by the expanding police investigation into the case of their missing daughter. Kate and Gerry McCann released a statement yesterday indicating they believe new information made available to police and a detailed BBC Crimewatch show may finally turn up vital information. The statement says the couple hopes the show “will bring further new evidence which will take us a step closer to finding Madeleine and to bringing those responsible for her abduction to justice.” The police said this week they are combing telephone records of thousands of tourists and residents who were at a Portuguese resort at the time of the three-year-old girl’s disappearance in May 2007. The Crimewatch show to be aired today will include a detailed reconstruction of the crime.