Malls ban wearing caps
Police in the capital have banned the wearing of caps in shopping malls to stop criminals concealing their identity from security cameras. The ban was imposed after a gang of hammer-wielding robbers looted a jewelry store at a popular suburban Manila shopping mall on Dec. 15. The suspects are believed to have used baseball caps to hide their identities. Police officials for Manila and its suburbs met with shopping mall security officials last week, telling them to bar people wearing caps from entering as a security precaution, Metro Manila police spokesman Chief Inspector Robert Domingo said. “We studied their strategies. If they want to commit a crime, they wear caps. That way, the [closed-circuit] TV will not be able to photograph their faces,” he said yesterday. He said mall security guards had been instructed to politely ask those wearing caps or any hats that may hide their faces, not to wear them inside.
Afghans set up camp
About 200 Afghan asylum
seekers and their supporters set up camp late on Sunday in the western town of Mons, demanding to see Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo to press for residency papers. The demonstrators had marched 70km from Brussels to see Di Rupo, who is also mayor of Mons. After learning the prime minister was on a trip abroad and would not return until yesterday, they vowed to camp out in Mons’ main square — decked out in Christmas decorations and vendors — until they could see him. The Afghans had been occupying a Brussels church for four months in a protest demanding permission to legally stay in the country. The archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Andre Leonard, has lent his support to their campaign. While Di Rupo has expressed some sympathy for their plight, his state secretary for asylum, Maggie De Block, has taken a harder line, saying the Afghans’ requests would be processed as for any other would-be refugee.
Airports shut due to strike
Authorities shut the nation’s international airports yesterday after workers at its civil aviation authority went on strike, officials at the transport ministry and airports said. The strike was due to a dispute with the finance ministry over the independence of the civil aviation authority, an official at the transport ministry said. The finance ministry froze the authority’s funds, he said. “The strike is ongoing until our demands are met,” the official said, declining to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly to media. Officials at Sana’a, Aden and Mukalla airports confirmed the shutdown.
Coalition deaths grow to 8
NATO says an attack in an eastern province has killed one of its service members.
A statement from the US-led coalition says the soldier died after coming under direct fire by enemy forces yesterday. The coalition, known as the International Security Assistance Force, provided no other details or the nationality of the killed soldier. Insurgents have increased attacks in recent months, intensifying a campaign to regain territory as foreign forces draw down ahead of a full withdrawal at the end of next year. Yesterday’s death brings to eight the number of coalition deaths so far this month. On Tuesday last week, six US soldiers died when their Black Hawk UH-60 went down during a mission in Zabul.