Suicide blast kills 10
A suicide bomber yesterday targeted a senior police commander near the US consulate in Peshawar, killing at least 10 people, including two women, officials said. A security official said Abdul Majeed Marwat, commander of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, survived the attack and was taken to a military hospital with “only scratches.” About 28 other people were wounded in the blast, medics said. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
University attack kills 15
Mortar fire killed at least 15 students in Damascus on Thursday, with state media blaming “terrorists.” “A total of 15 students were killed in a mortar attack launched by terrorists targeting the architecture faculty,” Damascus University dean Amer Mardini said, quoted by the official SANA news agency. The regime uses the term “terrorists” for rebels who are increasingly targeting President Bashar al-Assad’s seat of power. SANA said six other people were wounded by mortars targeting the faculty cafeteria. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the attack, saying many of the wounded were in critical condition.
Show reject threatens blast
A 70-year-old man was so enraged at being rejected by a TV talent show that he allegedly threatened to blow up the program’s broadcaster, police said yesterday. Kazumi Yaoita applied for a spot in an NHK singing contest that is shown nationally every Sunday afternoon, hoping to fulfill a long-cherished ambition, a police officer in the city of Niigata said. However, his application was rejected before he even got to the audition stage, with a postcard from the show’s producers saying he had not made the grade, the officer said. Infuriated, Yaoita allegedly telephoned NHK from his own mobile phone and said he would bomb the contest site. He was arrested on charges of forcible obstruction of business. If convicted he could face up to three years in jail.
Pol Pot’s deputy fit for trial
The war crimes court yesterday ruled that Pol Pot’s former deputy, Nuon Chea, was fit to continue standing trial after the death of a codefendant renewed fears that the elderly accused may not live to see verdicts. “The accused Nuon Chea is fit to stand trial,” Judge Nil Nonn said at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge war crimes court after speaking with medical experts. Nuon Chea, 86, the most senior surviving leader of the genocidal communist regime in the late 1970s, did not attend the hearing due to poor health, a clerk told the court. He is on trial with former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, 81, over war crimes and genocide charges.
Ottawa defends action
Canada defended its decision to pull out of a UN convention that fights the spread of droughts just a month before a major gathering would have forced the country to confront scientific analysis on the effects of climate change. Canada is the only country in the world outside the agreement. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has been vilified an as outlier on climate change policy in past international meetings. Harper said on Thursday that the UN Convention to Combat Desertification is too bureaucratic. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called it a “talkfest” that does a disservice to taxpayers.
Solar Impulse to fly in US
A solar-powered plane that has wowed aviation fans in Europe is set to travel across the US with stops in Phoenix, Dallas, Washington and New York, the plane’s Swiss creators said. Solar Impulse, considered the world’s most advanced solar-powered plane, is expected to be ready to leave from NASA Ames Research Center in California on May 1. Solar Impulse plans to reach New York in early July — without using a drop of fuel, its creators said. “We want to inspire the young generation to become pioneers, to help them find and develop their passion,’’ said Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse’s co-founder, pilot and CEO.
Security beefed up
Israel deployed significant security reinforcements yesterday in the occupied West Bank including east Jerusalem for demonstrations commemorating the deaths in 1976 of Arab Israelis on “Land Day.” “Thousands of police reinforcements have been deployed in Jerusalem including in the Old City to prevent disorder,” a police spokeswoman said. The measures were introduced “following information that groups of Palestinians were ready to engage in violent demonstrations” during the Land Day commemorations. Land Day is held every year to mark the deaths of six Arab Israeli protesters at the hands of Israeli police and troops during mass demonstrations in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee.
Teachers asked to snitch
Police in central Russia have ordered local teachers to report on students who join opposition parties and commit other “extremist” acts, teachers and education officials said on Thursday. The letter from the regional police in the Ulyanovsk region to the local education department was sent earlier this month, according to copies of the text published online. The letter told the education department to instruct teachers “to inform interior ministry authorities about underage children who join public organizations, extremist movements and groups, and other informal youth organizations.”
Super-sized egg up for grabs
It’s 30m long, nearly 23cm in diameter, and would once have made a really, really, big omelet. A London auction house is hoping buyers will be scrambling to take a crack at a massive fossilized egg laid long ago on the island of Madagascar by a now-extinct elephant bird. Christie’s said on Wednesday that the oversized ovum is expected to sell for up to ￡30,000 (US$45,000). Flightless, fruit-gobbling elephant birds resembled giant ostriches and could grow to be 3.4m tall. Christie’s says their eggs are 100 times the size of an average chicken’s. The egg is being sold during a travel and science sale on April 24.