World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Mon, Sep 23, 2013 - Page 7

PAKISTAN

Facebook used to kidnap

Authorities on Saturday busted a gang using a female member to lure youngsters through Facebook and telephone calls and kidnapping them, police said. The gang, which included a lawyer, his wife, the son of a policeman and four others, was active in Gujranwala in Punjab Province. “We have got verification about two boys who were trapped in fake love of this lady and were then kidnapped by this gang. Their families later paid ransom amounts worth millions of rupees to get them free,” said Shoaib Khurram, a senior police official.

NORTH KOREA

Execution reports denied

The government yesterday denied reports that it had executed several state performers to cover up the past of its leader’s wife, calling the media accounts an “unpardonable” crime. Yesterday’s denunciation focused on several reports carried by South Korea’s “reptile media” aimed at “hurting the dignity” of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. It cited a Saturday report in Japan’s Asahi Shimbun — which South Korean newspapers pick up — that several members of the North’s Unhasu Orchestra and other state music troupes had been executed by firing squad for taping themselves having sex. Ri Sol-ju, Kim’s wife, is a former member of the orchestra. Asahi said the execution of state performers, including a singer rumored to be Kim’s ex-girlfriend, had been ordered to quash rumors of Ri’s decadent lifestyle while she was an entertainer. It said police had secretly recorded conversations between the entertainers who said, “Ri Sol-ju used to play around in the same manner as we did.” The source for the report was a “high-ranking North Korean government official who recently defected,”

HUNGARY

Suleiman siege ruins found

Scientists say they have found the remains of an Ottoman-era town in the area in the south where the heart of Suleiman the Magnificent is believed to have been buried in the 16th century. The sultan died in Szigetvar in 1566 while his troops besieged its fortress, defended by locals led by Croatian-Hungarian nobleman Miklos Zrinyi. The siege was a pyrrhic victory for the Turks and delayed their advance toward Vienna for decades. Historians believe Suleiman’s heart and internal organs were buried in Szigetvar, and his body taken back to Constantinople, as Istanbul was then known. Norbert Pap, a member of the excavation team, said the discovery of the Ottoman town should offer clues that will help them narrow down their search for the tomb containing the sultan’s heart.

UNITED KINGDOM

Indian guru detained

Popular Indian guru Swami Ramdev, who heads a global yoga empire, was detained on Saturday at London’s Heathrow airport and questioned for six hours by customs officials, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported. Ramdev, a household name among Indian TV viewers who tune in regularly to his yoga shows, was quizzed when he arrived at the airport on a visitor’s visa instead of on a business visa, PTI quoted sources as saying. His spokesman, S.K. Tejarawala, said the pony-tailed Ramdev was allowed into Britain after questioning. He dismissed as “baseless” reports the guru was questioned about carrying medicines. “It was not clear why the yoga guru was detained for over six hours at Heathrow. He was not carrying anything with him except a small bag of personal effects,” Tejarawala said. Ramdev, who is customarily dressed in saffron holy man robes, traveled to London to attend a function in the coming days organized by Patanjali Yogpeeth. Patanjali Yogpeeth is a flagship project of Ramdev and one of the largest yoga institutes in India. Ramdev, born in northern India to illiterate parents, is in charge of a huge yoga empire and owns an island off the coast of Scotland and a private jet.

ITALY

Mafia boss arrested

A senior mafia boss who is one of the nation’s 10 most wanted men has been arrested in the Netherlands, the government announced on Saturday. Francesco Nirta, a senior leader of the ‘Ndrangheta crime gang based in the southern Calabria region, was arrested in an apartment in the suburbs of Utrecht on Friday, it said in a statement. The 39-year-old has been on the run since 2007 and in 2011 was convicted in absentia of murder. In a statement, the government hailed the arrest, saying it “inflicts one more blow to the ‘Ndrangheta” and reiterating that “the fight against organized crime remains an absolute priority for the government.” Nirta’s arrest was carried out jointly by police from Calabria, Milan and the Netherlands, and coordinated by Interpol.

SOUTH AFRICA

Alleged pedophile posts bail

A German Catholic priest wanted for child abuse by Germany has been released on bail, but will go on trial in November for committing similar acts, sources said on Friday. The priest, whose identity was not given, but who was said to be in his fifties and from Aachen, was arrested on Sept. 13 as he left a court in the northern town of Brits, where he was standing trial for assault and acts of indecency. The arrest was based on an international warrant and a German extradition request issued several years ago, sources familiar with the case said.

JAMAICA

Police seize marijuana

Authorities have seized more than 660kg of marijuana near the island’s largest port. Police said on Saturday that officials found the drugs after stopping a truck that was trying to enter the Kingston Container Terminal. Police said the marijuana was compressed and ready for export. One man was detained on Friday during the seizure, but no one has been charged.

UNITED STATES

Sisters reunite after 73 years

Three sisters have been reunited in western New York 73 years after their mother abandoned the older two and disappeared with the youngest sister. The Daily News of Batavia reported on Saturday that the sisters — 80-year-old Joan Billings, 78-year-old Shirley Mortellaro and 77-year-old Mary Kidwell — were reunited this month after decades of searching for each other. The sisters’ story begins in 1940 in Toronto, where their father was in the Canadian Air Force. The sisters told the newspaper that when their father was away, their mother would put them in the bedroom and tell them to stay there while she went partying. One day, the sisters said, they caught their mother with a boyfriend and told their father. A fight ensued and the mother left with her youngest daughter. The two older sisters settled in western New York while Kidwell ended up in Columbus, Ohio. The two older sisters spent years looking for Mary, and she looked for them as well. That search ended about three weeks ago when Mortellaro got a call from her grandson’s girlfriend’s mother in Florida, who had taken up the search. The woman had connected online with a friend of Kidwell’s who was also helping with the search. “We’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” Kidwell said.

UNITED STATES

Pentagon scraps account

The Pentagon has scrapped the Twitter account of an agency that counters homemade explosives after it posted joking comments about a bombing in the Philippines, officials said on Friday. After explosions at two movie theaters in the Philippines, a staff member at the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Organization (JIEDDO) wrote in a tweet on Wednesday that perhaps the cinemas were showing the film Gigli, a 2003 romantic comedy starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez that flopped at the box office. “Were they re-showing Gigli? Bomb explosions occur at 2 movie theaters in the Philippines... the IED is a global threat,” the post said. When the posting sparked critical reaction online, the agency tried to make another joke. “Bad ppl doing bad thing didn’t warrant bad movie reference. Will punish #socialmedia rep by forcing 2 watch Gigli,” the agency wrote on its Twitter account. After more negative reaction JIEDDO issued an apology. Pentagon press secretary George Little then promptly announced in a tweet that he had ordered the suspension of the JIEDDO Twitter account “following inappropriate and offensive tweets.”

PERU

Ban cat-eating: congressman

A congressman has joined animal rights activists to try and halt the consumption of barbecued cat at an annual religious festival. The activists say at least 100 cats were due to be eaten at this weekend’s festival of Santa Efigenia in La Quebrada, a town south of Lima. Congressman Juan Urquiza joined activists this year to write the district mayor and the health minister and demand a ban on cat-eating. Activists also claim that dining on felines is a public health danger. La Quebrada residents defend their tradition and say the cats are specially bred with only a few eaten.