World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Mon, Feb 23, 2009 - Page 7

■JAPAN

Young detective nabs thief

An 11-year-old boy turned detective by trailing a thief and leading police to the suspect’s front door, officers said yesterday. Police said the boy saw the man take a box of DVDs away from a parked car in front of a used bookstore in Sendai on Saturday and, finding his behavior suspicious, decided to follow him. The boy alerted the bookstore owner before tailing the thief for more than 1km until he entered his apartment. The young sleuth then reported the man’s address to a nearby police box along with the storeowner. “The boy told us that he just thought he had to catch the suspicious man,” a police spokesman said. Police arrested 28-year-old Ryo Ishigaki for allegedly stealing a box of pornographic DVDs worth about US$750.

■PHILIPPINES

Two rebels die in clash

Two communist rebels were killed yesterday in a clash with government troops in a Davao del Norte Province, an army spokesman said. Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner said the combat occurred in a village in Talaingod Town and the military suffered no casualties. Troops recovered three rifles and the bodies of the slain rebels after the firefight, he said.

■AUSTRALIA

Melon smasher breaks record

John Allwood broke his own world record yesterday by smashing 47 watermelons with his forehead in 60 seconds. The professional melon picker from the Queensland town of Chinchilla head-butted 40 to oblivion at last year’s Chinchilla Melon Festival. Chinchillla produces a quarter of the nation’s melon crop and its four-day festival is growing in popularity with people into fruit-abuse. Among the contests on offer are melon shot-putting and melon pip-spitting.

■SINGAPORE

Man arrested for hoax text

Police arrested a 19-year-old man on Saturday in connection with an text message hoax suggesting a terrorist attack in the city-state, media reports said yesterday. The text message, which had several variations, said terrorists were planning to bomb the Bugis area and that there were many policemen there. It also advised the public to avoid the area, the Sunday Times newspaper reported. “Although there was no credible evidence to suggest such an attack at that point in time, we took the information seriously and immediately put in place necessary precautions to enhance security in the area,” the paper quoted a police spokesman as saying. “We would like to assure the public that there is no cause for alarm as investigations have revealed that the SMS was indeed unsubstantiated,” the spokesman said. The offence may carry a sentence of one year in prison, a fine of up to S$5,000 (US$3,300), or both.

■MALAYSIA

Police launch manhunt

Police have launched a manhunt for a Singaporean detainee facing the death sentence, who escaped from custody in handcuffs while being escorted to court, a report said yesterday. The New Straits Times said the Singaporean man was being taken to a court lock-up in a police vehicle with two other detainees on Friday, when he shoved an officer out of the car and escaped. The remaining officer could not give chase as he had to guard the other detainees. A two-hour search at the scene, involving two police dogs, proved fruitless. Khalid Abu Bakar, police chief of central Selangor State, told the daily that an investigation would be conducted into how the man managed to escape. “The two policemen are also being investigated as certain procedures were not followed,” he said.

■BANGLADESH

More bodies found in river

Search and rescue workers recovered 12 more dead bodies following a ferry accident, bringing the death toll to 39, police said yesterday. Local police chief Nuruzzaman Chowdhury said many people were gathered on the banks of the river Kirtankhola waiting for news on missing relatives following Thursday’s accident. “So far we have found 39 dead bodies and we are expecting to find more. We do not know exactly how many people are missing, but many relatives are asking police to find their loved ones,” he said. The small ferry, carrying more than 100 passengers, was hit by a boat in early morning fog.

■INDIA

Protests erupt after shooting

Protests erupted in Indian Kashmir yesterday over the killing of two Muslim youths in a shooting incident blamed on the army, police and witnesses said. Authorities have ordered a probe into the deaths, which took place on Saturday evening in north Kashmir after soldiers allegedly fired at a vehicle, sparking fresh anger against Indian troops in the disputed Himalayan region. “Indian forces go back, we want freedom,” mourners shouted as they marched with the body of one of the victims in Bumai village, 60km north of Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer capital.

■VIETNAM

Woman dies of bird flu

A 23-year-old woman has died of bird flu, medical officials said yesterday, in the country which has the world’s second-highest death toll from the virus. She died on Saturday, said the director of the hospital where she was being treated in Quang Ninh Province. Her death brings the nation’s death toll from the bird flu virus to 53.

■SUDAN

Bashir to meet Mubarak

President Omar al-Bashir was expected to arrive in Egypt for talks on efforts to end the six-year conflict in Darfur, following a deal between a rebel group and Khartoum. Bashir was expected to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during his one-day visit, which comes as the International Criminal Court appears close to deciding whether to issue an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader. The court’s chief prosecutor asked in July for a warrant to be issued against Bashir for alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The New York Times reported earlier this month that the court had decided to issue the warrant, but a spokesman for the court in The Hague said that “at this moment, there is no arrest warrant.”

■ITALY

Opposition has new leader

The struggling center-left opposition elected a new leader on Saturday in a bid to relaunch itself following recent electoral losses. A Democratic Party congress selected Dario Franceschini as party secretary to replace Walter Veltroni, who stepped down on Tuesday. Franceschini, a moderate, had been Veltroni’s deputy in the party. His term will last until October, when a public vote is expected to be held. Veltroni resigned after the party suffered an embarrassing defeat in regional voting in Sardinia last week at the hands of a candidate backed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

■SLOVAKIA

Passenger train, bus collide

Twelve people were killed on Saturday when a local passenger train crashed into a tourist bus in the central part of the country, police said. The police updated its earlier reports that put the accident’s toll at 13 victims after the bus wreck was removed from the tracks, police spokeswoman Maria Faltaniova said. “The investigator on the spot confirmed that 12 victims were found [at the scene],” Faltaniova said. The collision took place at about 9am on an “unprotected” railroad crossing near a village of Polomka, the spokeswoman said. Two helicopters and 10 ambulances rushed to the scene.

■RUSSIA

Militants killed operation

Four rebel militants were killed and three security officers injured during a special operation on Saturday to root out insurgents in the restive southern province of Dagestan, police said. The fighters were holed up in two houses in the provincial capital of Makhachkala, a spokesman for the local Interior Ministry branch said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give his name. A further three rebels were detained, the spokesman said. Pictures broadcast on state-controlled TV showed what appeared to be a dead insurgent lying on the roof of a building with a pistol in his hand. Grenades and Islamic literature were visible inside a building.

■IRELAND

Mass protest on economy

As many as 120,000 people protested in Dublin on Saturday against the government’s handling of the economy and the activities of the banks during the financial crisis. The demonstration, one of the largest ever in the city, was called for by a number of unions. State employees vented their anger over government cutback plans and the effect that the recession, which began late last year, is having on workers. One speaker referred to the government and ruling elite’s “economic treason,” which was responsible for the destruction of the country’s international reputation.

■BRAZIL

Robberies target foreigners

Security is being tightened in Rio de Janeiro after a spate of robberies targeting dozens of foreigners attending the city’s Carnival, police said on Friday. There will be more patrols in neighborhoods where backpackers stay in the city’s roughly 90 hostels, police said in an e-mailed statement. The moves come after men armed with firearms and grenades invaded two hostels in the past two days, robbing at least 43 young travelers from England, Israel, Argentina and elsewhere.

■UNITED STATES

Mail arrives 22 years late

A woman in La Grande, Oregon, finally received an invitation to her nephew’s high school graduation in New Jersey, but she may be a little late — it was in 1987. Theresa Schlossarek found the invitation last week in her mailbox. The envelope, which had been opened, was postmarked on June 2, 1987, from Toms River, New Jersey, where her brother, Hermann Ilnseher, lives. Ilnseher said the lack of response from his sister was noticed but dismissed. “We just thought that she lived so far away, she couldn’t come,” Ilnseher said. “She usually would send money, though, so we did joke about that later on, that maybe she could send some and add interest for the years passed.”

■MEXICO

Man stoned to death

Police say teenagers stoned a 22-year-old man to death because they believed he had stolen a cellphone and a bicycle from one of their friends. Police officer Jaime Sanchez said Alejandro Lopez tried to flee on Saturday when the teens approached but was cornered. Sanchez said the teenagers had fled by the time police arrived at the scene in Tuxtla Gutierrez and found Lopez’s body on the doorstep of a house. He said Lopez apparently knocked on the door seeking help, but nobody answered. Sanchez said police believe the teenagers belonged to a neighborhood gang.

■UNITED STATES

Bush answers job offer

Former president George W. Bush visited a Dallas hardware store that earlier this month made him a lighthearted offer to work as a greeter. Andrea Bond, a manager at Elliott’s Hardware, said Bush walked into the store on Saturday and quipped: “I’m looking for a job.” The store had published an open letter to Bush, inviting him to apply for a store greeter position. The tongue-in-cheek appeal appeared in the Dallas Morning News. Bond says Bush spent about an hour shopping and talking to customers during the surprise visit. He bought a few flashlights, batteries and a can of rust-removal spray. He also bought night lights. Bush and his wife, Laura, moved into a home in the Preston Hollow area of Dallas on Friday.



■CUBA

Chavez visits Fidel

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has met twice with ailing former president Fidel Castro during a surprise 24-hour visit. Cuban state media said Chavez arrived on Friday night on a working visit and was greeted by President Raul Castro. Venezuela’s socialist leader — fresh off a referendum win that allows him to run for re-election — met with Fidel Castro on Friday night and again shortly before departing on Saturday. There were no images of Chavez meeting with Fidel Castro. Fidel has not been seen in public since 2006, when he underwent intestinal surgery and ceded power to Raul.