Island peaks to be renamed
The government said yesterday it would rename peaks on islands disputed with Japan in an attempt to reassert its sovereignty over the territory after a decades-long dispute flared up again this summer. The two main peaks at the rocky outcrops roughly midway between the two nations will be renamed to highlight historical evidence of Seoul’s centuries-long ownership, the land ministry said. The row over the Seoul-controlled islands — called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan — boiled over in August when President Lee Myung-bak made a surprise visit to them. Tokyo said the trip to the islands, the first ever by a South Korean president, was deliberately provocative. One of the two peaks will be named “Usan” after its ancient title dating back to the Joseon dynasty that ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910, the ministry said in a statement. The other will be named “Daehan,” the nation’s official name in Korean.
Town mayor shot dead
A town mayor belonging to President Benigno Aquino’s political party has been shot dead by unidentified attackers, police said yesterday. Raul Matamorosa, mayor of Lupi town in the eastern region of Bicol, was having a television repaired in a shop when he was shot in the head by a man accompanied by two accomplices on Saturday, police said. Matamorosa, a member of Aquino’s Liberal Party, was rushed to hospital where he later died. Police said the motive for the killing was still unknown, although revenge killings linked to politics are common in the country. Aquino’s spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.
Bus crash leaves six dead
A speeding passenger bus slammed into a concrete wall surrounding a house after its brakes failed while negotiating a downhill curve in an accident that killed six people and injured 43 others. Police Investigator Celso Makidato says the impact hurled the bus conductor out of the vehicle in the accident on Saturday night in Cebu province’s Toledo city. All the casualties were from the bus, including the driver, who was arrested. Makidato told reporters yesterday that a passenger bus also lost its brakes and crashed into the same house a year ago in an accident that left 15 people dead. Many accidents in the country are blamed on poorly maintained vehicles and roads and inadequate driver training.
Marines killed in clash
Three marines were killed and 10 wounded yesterday in a clash with al-Qaeda-linked militants who hold several foreign hostages, the military said. The troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 were deployed to a remote village on the southern island of Jolo to check intelligence reports about the presence there of Abu Sayyaf gunmen and their captives. “The troops conducted a combat patrol to verify the reported presence of the kidnap victims in the area when they caught up with the Abu Sayyaf group, resulting in the encounter,” regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said. He said three were killed and military helicopters evacuated the 10 injured. The marines reported having killed two Abu Sayyaf militants, though none of the hostages were sighted or recovered.
Fighting rages, despite truce
A warplane flattened a three-story building, suspected rebels detonated a deadly car bomb and both sides traded gunfire in several hotspots across the country on Saturday, activists said, leaving a UN-backed holiday truce in tatters on its second day. The proposed four-day truce during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha had been a long shot from the start since UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi failed to get solid commitments from all combatants. Fighting dropped off in the first hours of the ceasefire on Friday, but by the end of the day, activists said 151 people had been killed in bombings and shootings, a standard daily toll. On Saturday, the first regime airstrike since the start of the truce reduced a three-story building in the Arbeen suburb of the capital, Damascus to rubble, killing at least eight men, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which compiles reports from activists. In the remote eastern town of Deir el-Zour, assailants detonated a car bomb near a military police compound, then opened fire at those rushing to the scene, killing a total of eight people and causing extensive damage, the Observatory said.
Police break up mine protest
Police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas on Saturday to disperse a protest by striking miners accusing union leaders of betraying worker interests. Bullet casings littered the ground and a helicopter circled, with police sirens howling, outside a stadium in northwestern Rustenburg in the latest strike unrest that has rocked the key mining sector for weeks. The violence erupted as the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the country’s largest labor umbrella, marched to the venue for a rally in a bid to regain its authority, which has been dealt a heavy blow since the mining unrest began in August.
Savile knighthood stands
The Vatican said on Saturday it never would have given Jimmy Savile his papal knighthood had it known of allegations the British TV star was a child sex predator, but that it could not rescind the honor now that he has died. The Catholic Church of England wrote to the Holy See last week, asking it to consider whether it could posthumously remove the honor awarded to Savile because of the many recent child sex abuse allegations against him. However, Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombard said the Vatican could not rescind the knighthood awarded to Savile because there simply is no permanent register from which to strike it. Savile was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II in 1990 for his charity work. He was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to charity and entertainment.
Cargo ship goes missing
A cargo ship with 11 crew on board went missing yesterday in the country’s far east in stormy conditions that were making rescue operations difficult, an emergency ministry spokeswoman said. The Amurskoye was travelling to the Shantar Islands in the icy Okhotsk Sea, which lies east of the Khabarovsk region and north of Japan’s Hokkaido Island. The Khabarovsk emergency ministry department received a signal for help at 2:50pm yesterday, ministry spokeswoman Yelena Yeremenko said. The ship had 11 crew members on board. “Right now, the weather conditions are bad, and small boats cannot work in the area,” she said. A tanker was searching for the boat, but visibility was too poor for helicopters, she added.