Landmine kills 10 girls
A forgotten Soviet-era landmine has killed 10 schoolgirls and seriously injured another in a grim reminder of the ongoing impact of decades of war on the country. The girls, all under 12, spent their mornings collecting wood to help their families through the bitter winter, and went to school in eastern Nangarhar Province in the afternoon. They were unwittingly gathered round a long-buried landmine, splitting logs with a small hatchet, when the blows detonated the old explosives, provincial police chief General Abdullah Stanekzai said, adding: “We found another two bombs at the site and defused them.” The tragedy came on the same day that a truck bomb in Kabul killed two civilians working for a US military contractor and wounded at least 15, and gunmen murdered an employee of the education ministry in Kandahar Province. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Crew blamed for jet crash
The National Commission on Safety Transportation said human error caused a Russian-made passenger jetliner to crash into a volcano seven months ago during a demonstration flight, killing all 45 people aboard. Commission chairman Tatang Kurniadi yesterday said that data recovered from the Sukhoi Superjet-100 indicated the pilot in command was chatting with a potential buyer in the cockpit just before the plane slammed into Mount Salak in May. Kurniadi said that 38 seconds before the crash, the plane issued warnings saying “pull up, terrain ahead” and later “avoid terrain,” but the warnings were ignored.
Japanese is world’s oldest
The mayor of Kyotango has hailed a resident of his city for becoming the world’s oldest person. At 115 years old, Jiroemon Kimura inherited the title from a US woman who died on Monday. Mayor Yasushi Nakayama confirmed his status yesterday, calling him “the pride of our town.” Kimura, born on April 19, 1897, is 15 days younger than his predecessor, Dina Manfredini, who died in Iowa less than two weeks after inheriting the title as the world’s oldest living person. Kimura, a former postal employee, has 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren. He lives with his son’s family. Kimura’s family declined to comment to reporters out of consideration for Manfredini’s family.
Ban Islamic parties: strikers
A general strike to demand that the Muslim-majority nation ban Islamic political parties shut down schools and stores and disrupted traffic in the capital yesterday. A coalition of five leftist parties was enforcing the dawn-to-dusk nationwide strike, a common tactic to highlight demands. More than two dozen Islamic parties want the country to be governed by Shariah or Islamic law. The strikers say the Islamic parties should be banned because they oppose the constitutional provision that says the nation be governed by secular law. Authorities deployed about 10,000 police and security forces in Dhaka as hundreds of protesters took to the streets, blocking roads and halting traffic. There were no immediate reports of violence. Dhaka’s Somoy and Channel-I TV stations reported that the strike disrupted communications in many of the country’s 64 districts. The strike also left thousands of commuters stranded at bus stations, but the government said trains and river ferries were operating without disruptions.
Christianity biggest religion
Christians are the world’s biggest religious group, numbering about 2.2 billion people, a study released yesterday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed. Pew assembled data on the size and geographic distribution of eight major religious groups, including non-believers. It found that Christians make up about 32 percent of the world’s population, followed by Muslims, with 1.6 billion adherents. Hindus were the third-largest group, numbering about 1 billion (15 percent), followed by Buddhists at 500 million (7 percent) and Jews, who number 14 million (0.2 percent). The study of more than 230 countries and territories found that more than eight people in 10 identify with a religious group.
Man arrested over posts
Police arrested a man for allegedly making threats on Facebook to local elementary schools, invoking last week’s Connecticut massacre — but prosecutors declined to press charges on Monday. Kyle Bangayan, 24, was arrested on Sunday at his parents’ Los Angeles home, where a cache of nine weapons, including rifles and handguns, was found, a police spokesman said. Bangayan said that if people did not stop posting about the shootings in Connecticut, he would do the same thing, an internal report by Assistant Head Deputy LA District Attorney John Gilligan showed. However, the LA County District Attorney’s Office said the Facebook posting, which Bangayan described as a joke, contained no specific threats.
Russians abducted in Syria
The government yesterday said that two Russians and an Italian steel worker had been abducted in Syria on a motorway from the port city of Tartus. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the government was undertaking “all the necessary steps both in Syria and other countries” to secure the men’s release. The nation’s embassy in Damascus had earlier confirmed that two Russian workers had been abducted together with a man identified by Italian media as Mario Belluomo. Neither the two men’s identity nor the circumstances of the abduction were released. The embassy said that the men worked for a privately-owned Syrian factory in Tartus.
Men face treason charges
Police said four men face treason and terrorism charges over a plot that included plans to attack the ongoing African National Congress convention. Brigadier Billy Jones yesterday said that the men were arrested in different locations around the country on Sunday. Police confirmed they made the arrests Monday, but offered contradictory information about the men’s proposed target. Police have described the men as having “right-wing” political beliefs, but gave no more details about them.
Trio of ‘dummies’ arrested
A group of Romans who broke into a designer clothes store at the weekend may possibly be the world’s worst thieves after they were caught pretending to be clothes mannequins. The three men — aged 55, 70 and 78 — allegedly broke into a store on Piazza Fiume in Rome through a rear window at 4am on Sunday morning and set about loading clothes and bags into sacks. Their noisy entrance woke a neighbor, who alerted police. A patrol entered the store to find the half-filled sacks, but no thieves. A careful search turned up the two older men standing stock still in a display, trying to pass themselves off as dummies.