UK cyclists die in accident
A British couple who were 18 months into a trip around the world by bicycle have been killed in a road accident, police said yesterday. Mary Thompson and Peter Root from the island of Guernsey had ridden across Europe and Central Asia, documenting their travels through countries including Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and China in film and on a blog. Police said the pair, both in their mid-thirties, were traveling along the hard shoulder of a main road in Chachoengsao Province on Wednesday, when a pick-up truck veered out of its lane. Police Lieutenant Chaiyong Butrwan said the 25-year-old driver, who was arrested at the scene, had reached down to pick up his hat, causing the vehicle to swerve into the couple. The driver was released on bail.
Landslides, floods kill 15
Rescuers found five more bodies in the mud after flooding and landslides in the north, bringing the death toll to 15 after the disaster that sent thousands fleeing for safe ground, police and witnesses said yesterday. Crying relatives watched in horror as residents and rescuers pulled out muddy corpses on Sunday from seven hamlets devastated by landslides and floods in Manado, while more than 1,000 houses were flooded by an overflowing river. Authorities struggled to get tractors and bulldozers over washed-out roads hours after torrential rain sent mud and rocks crashing into hilly areas of Manado. Hundreds of police, soldiers and residents were digging through the debris with their bare hands, shovels and hoes.
Foreign workers kidnapped
Gunmen stormed a construction site in the north, kidnapping seven foreign workers and killing a security guard, police said on Sunday, in one of the worst attacks on expatriates in the restive region. Two Lebanese, an Italian and a Greek have been confirmed by their governments to be among those seized in the attack late on Saturday on the Setraco construction site in the town of Jama’are in Bauchi State. Bauchi, where Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has carried out repeated attacks, saw two separate gun raids earlier on Saturday, but it was not clear if the Islamists were behind the violence.
Islamists cause car crash
One man has died in a crash after activists with the country’s largest Islamic party chased a vehicle carrying passengers during a nationwide general strike to denounce a war crimes trial. The driver lost control of the vehicle and it overturned while protesters were pursuing it yesterday in Dhaka, local media reported.
Sultan claims Malaysian land
Followers of a sultan who crossed to the Malaysian state of Sabah this month will not leave and are reclaiming the area as their ancestral territory, the sultan said on Sunday amid a tense standoff. Sultan Jamalul Kiram said his followers — about 400 people, including 20 gunmen — were resolute in staying, despite being cornered by security forces, with the Kuala Lumpur government insisting the group return to their country. The southern Philippine-based Islamic sultanate once controlled parts of Borneo, including the site of the stand-off, and its heirs have been receiving a nominal yearly compensation package from Malaysia under a long-standing agreement for possession of Sabah. Kiram said he was prompted to send the group to Sabah after the sultanate was left out of an agreement sealed in October last year between Manila and Filipino Muslim rebels.
Country singer found dead
Troubled country music star Mindy McCready, whose platinum singing career was shadowed by substance abuse and suicide attempts, was found dead on Sunday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, an Arkansas sheriff said. She was 37. McCready’s body was found on the porch of a house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, on Sunday afternoon.
Sarksyan victory very likely
Armenians voted in a presidential election yesterday that is likely to hand President Serzh Sarksyan a new five-year term, but the lack of any serious opposition and an assassination attempt on one of his rivals cast a shadow over the election. Opinion polls suggest Sarksyan’s victory is all but certain. He is on target to win more than 60 percent of the votes, with the next of the other six candidates barely in double figures. Sarksyan’s supporters hope an election free of the violence and fraud that marred the last presidential poll in 2008, when 10 people were killed in clashes, would show the world the former Soviet republic is on the path to economic recovery after years of war and upheaval.
Morsi’s son forgoes job
One of President Mohamed Morsi’s sons withdrew from taking up a job with a firm affiliated to the civil aviation ministry on Sunday amid media accusations of nepotism. The decision by Omar Morsi to forgo a human resources post at the Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation showed the role of independent media in holding leaders to account following the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
CIA movies claim honors
The CIA thrillers Argo and Zero Dark Thirty have won top screenplay honors from the Writers Guild of America. The guild’s adapted screenplay award on Sunday went to Chris Terrio for Argo, director Ben Affleck’s tale of the CIA’s daring masquerade of six US diplomats as a Hollywood film crew to rescue them from Iran during the hostage crisis there. Mark Boal won the prize for original screenplay for Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow’s chronicle of the CIA’s manhunt for former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Chavez tweets he is back
President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return from Cuba yesterday, more than two months after cancer surgery that threatens to end his 14-year rule. The 58-year-old Chavez underwent a six-hour operation in Cuba on Dec. 11 and had not been seen or heard in public since then until photographs were published of him on Friday. “We have arrived back in the Venezuelan fatherland. Thanks, my God! Thanks, my beloved people! Here we will continue the treatment,” Chavez said via Twitter.
Runoff vote set for weekend
The nation heads into a runoff presidential election this weekend, with voters called on to select who will lead the country through a severe financial crisis after no candidate won an outright majority in Sunday’s vote. Democratic Rally party leader Nicos Anastasiades, a right-winger who presented himself as the most capable to negotiate a bailout with the country’s European partners and who went into the election a strong favorite, won the first round with just over 45 percent of the vote.