Civilians killed in airstrike
Authorities say an airstrike by the US-led NATO coalition has killed eight members of a family in the east. The coalition says it is aware of the allegation and is looking into what happened late Saturday in Paktia Province. Provincial spokesman Rohullah Samon said yesterday that a man, woman and their six children were killed in a coalition airstrike 8pm in Suri Khail village of Gurda Saria district. The Taliban kills more civilians than foreign forces, but the deaths of citizens caught in the crossfire continue to be an irritant in President Hamid Karzai’s relationship with his international partners.
Activist’s brother back home
A rights lawyer says the brother of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠) has returned to his closely guarded village in eastern China. Ding Xikui (丁錫奎) says he received a message from a friend of Chen Guangfu (陳光) that said the elder Chen had returned to Dongshigu village. Chen Guangfu had traveled to Beijing, where he sought legal advice from Ding this past week on how to protect his son from what the family’s supporters call retaliation by local officials. Ding had no further information, and it was unclear if Chen Guangfu returned to the village voluntarily.
Russian consul dies in fall
A Russian consul-general died after falling down a 30m cliff during a ball game at a campsite in the northwest of the country, police said yesterday. Vladimir Pushkov, 55, who was stationed at a consulate general in Niigata Prefecture, was on a camping trip when “he fell down a cliff and hit his head hard when he was chasing after a ball on Saturday,” police said. Russian vice-consul Roman Kolesnik, 41, tried to rescue Pushkov, but was hospitalized after he also fell down the precipice and injured his back, the official said.
Four die in tunnel blast
Four construction workers were confirmed dead yesterday after being recovered from inside a mountain tunnel where they had been trapped since an explosion on Thursday, an official said. The blast occurred inside a 2.8km highway tunnel being built in Minami Uonuma, police and fire department officials said. Rescuers had been unable to enter the tunnel because of dangerously high gas levels for more than two days, but were finally able to bring out the workers early yesterday, a fire department official said. They “sent them to hospitals,” but all “four were confirmed dead there,” the official added. Rescuers detected four different types of gas, the official said. Police are investigating the cause of the accident, officials said.
Airport name criticized
A decision to name a southwestern airport after a local liquor brand has provoked widespread derision and controversy, reports said yesterday. Authorities in Yibin, Sichuan Province, said their move to name the new airport “Wuliangye” after a local liquor would have a positive impact on the city and the company. Various experts said that christening an airport with a trademark ignored both the law and custom that airport names should refer to their locations. Internet users derided the move. “Ha, ha, another new example of the collusion between the government and the business world,” Wu Yupeng mocked on his Weibo microblog.
PRI suspends ex-governor
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has suspended the membership of a former governor accused of accepting millions of US dollars in bribes from drug cartels. Former Tamaulipas state governor Tomas Yarrington would be suspended until the accusations are cleared up, the party said in a statement on Saturday. PRI leader Joaquin Coldwell urged Yarrington to cooperate with authorities so that the probe does not affect upcoming elections. Yarrington was governor of Tamaulipas, the home base of the Gulf drug cartel, from 1999 to 2004. Last week, US federal prosecutors filed two civil forfeiture cases seeking to seize more than US$7 million in properties Yarrington or his associates allegedly bought in Texas with drug money.
Ghost town evacuated
Residents near a privately owned New Mexico ghost town were ordered on Saturday to evacuate as a blaze in the Gila National Forest continued to burn erratically. Fire officials in New Mexico said on Saturday that the -Whitewater--Baldy Complex fire has shrunk slightly to 33,185 hectares, but is still zero percent contained because of weather conditions. The evacuation of Mogollon, a privately owned ghost town, was ordered due to extreme wind around the southwestern New Mexico fire. Four helicopters and more than 500 firefighters from around the state are on hand to fight the blaze, but have had to contend with “extreme conditions.” Cities as far away as Albuquerque remained under a health alert until yesterday afternoon because of smoke from the fire, which has spread across the state. State officials warned residents to limit outdoor activities during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Policeman killed by mob
An angry crowd in a poor neighborhood in the capital, La Paz, mistook a drunken off-duty policeman for a thief and beat him to death, the victim’s sister told ATB television on Saturday. “The neighbors confused him with a pickpocket and they lynched him. They killed him, and I want justice,” said a sobbing Rosmery Guarachi, the sister of 33-year-old Rolando Guarachi. Guarachi, a sergeant with the customs police, was dressed as a civilian and inebriated when he mistook a school for his house, which prompted the civil guard to issue a warning to residents that there was a thief in the neighborhood, his sister said. She said he was beaten for two hours on Friday in a public square in the Achacicala neighborhood. Police detained four suspects.
Militants killed in clashes
At least 22 Islamist militants were killed in overnight clashes and an airstrike in the south, where government troops are fighting rebels linked to al-Qaeda, a local official and residents said yesterday. About 15 of the dead were killed in fighting north of the militant stronghold of Jaar, a town in Abyan Province that has been controlled by the militants since last year. The al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) exploited last year’s popular protests against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to capture swathes of territory in Abyan, including the provincial capital Zinjibar. The expansion of the militants’ area of control has unsettled the US and Saudi Arabia, both targets of failed attacks by al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), which last week claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the capital Sana’a that killed more than 100 soldiers.