Suicide attack kills 11
Taliban fighters killed at least 11 people and wounded 22 in a suicide bomb attack and gunbattle at a police station in Jalalabad City yesterday morning, police and health officials said. The assault began with two explosions just before dawn targeting the police station and a nearby square, close to compounds used by international organizations including the UN. NATO-led forces sent helicopter gunships to support local security forces as a fire fight raged for more than three hours before they were able to clear the area of the remaining militants. Police said they shot dead six Taliban. A police district chief was among the dead, Nangahar Province police chief Fazel Ahmad Shirzad said. The Taliban claimed responsibility in a text message sent to media.
More chemicals removed
Nearly half of Syria’s declared chemical weapons have been shipped out of the country after two more cargoes were loaded onto vessels over the past week, the international team overseeing the disarmament process said. The joint mission of the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement late on Wednesday that 45.6 percent of the chemicals had been removed from Latakia port for destruction outside the country. Damascus agreed to give up its chemical weapons program last year in a deal with Russia and the US, but it is several months behind schedule and risks missing a June 30 deadline for the chemicals to be destroyed.
Man jailed for tourist abuse
A magistrate sentenced a man to 21 days in jail for an abusive tirade against a French tourist on a Melbourne bus, in which he told her to “speak English or die,” reports said yesterday. The young woman, Fanny Desaintjores, was with friends on the bus and singing in French when David Graham launched the verbal attack in November 2012. During his outburst, which was filmed by a passenger with a mobile phone, Graham said he would cut off Desaintjores’ breasts, and made insulting comments about her appearance. Magistrate Jennifer Anne Benn Goldsbrough said the comments were “overwhelmingly sexist, misogynist remarks and occasionally racist,” the Age newspaper reported online.
Twelve die in suicide blast
An overnight suicide attack inside a cafe in Baghdad killed at least 12 people and wounded 38, officials said. The bomber set off his explosives-laden belt among customers who were watching a soccer game on a cafe television in the western Washash neighborhood the night before, two police officers said. A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Train crash kills nine
At least nine people were killed and five injured yesterday when a train crashed into a bus carrying workers in the southern city of Mersin, local news agencies reported. The minibus was carrying the workers to an industrial zone on the edge of the city when it was hit on a railway crossing by a commuter train traveling between Mersin and the neighboring province of Adana. Video footage on the Dogan News Agency Web site showed the crushed minibus on the side of the tracks and medics trying to reach the injured. State broadcaster TRT said 10 people were killed.
Defense minister mends ties
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has told Washington he did not mean to cause offence in a speech that was critical of its policies, and officials in Jerusalem said they hoped the matter was behind them. In a lecture at Tel Aviv University on Monday, Yaalon said Israel could not rely on its main ally to take the lead in confronting Iran over its nuclear program, citing the Ukraine crisis as an example of the US “showing weakness.” US Secretary of State John Kerry called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to protest the comments. Yaalon’s office issued a statement on Wednesday, saying he had telephoned US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and told him: “There was no opposition or criticism or intention to offend the United States or our relations in my remarks.”
Earth spared solar blasts
Fierce solar blasts that could have badly damaged electrical grids and disabled satellites narrowly missed Earth in 2012, researchers said on Wednesday. The bursts would have wrought havoc on the Earth’s magnetic field, matching the severity of the 1859 Carrington event, the largest solar magnetic storm ever reported on the planet. “Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous,” University of California, Berkeley research physicist Janet Luhmann said in a statement. Massive bursts of solar wind and magnetic fields, shot into space on July 23, 2012, would have been aimed directly at Earth if they had happened nine days earlier, she said. The bursts carried southward magnetic fields and would have clashed with Earth’s northward field, causing a shift in electrical currents that could have caused electrical transformers to burst into flames, she said.
Baby gorilla improving
A baby gorilla who came down with pneumonia after being born in a rare Caesarean section at the San Diego Zoo in California has improved enough to begin drinking formula from bottles and to breathe on her own, zoo officials said on Wednesday. The baby, a female, was delivered on March 13. She was treated for pneumonia with antibiotics and other medication. The baby also had a collapsed lung that was reinflated.
Police seek attacker
Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann on Wednesday said they are seeking an intruder who sexually assaulted five girls in the region of Portugal where the toddler was last seen. Police have linked 12 crimes between 2004 and 2010, in which a man entered holiday villas occupied by British families in the Algarve region. In several of those cases, the man sexually assaulted young girls. Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said there were differences between the characteristics of the 12 incidents and the McCann case, but stressed the need to identify the intruder.
Jackman stalker out of jail
A woman who admitted stalking Hugh Jackman has been released after a guilty plea and months in a New York City jail. Katherine Thurston was freed on Wednesday. She was arrested in April last year after she followed the actor into a gym, pulled out a hair-filled razor and threw it at him. She pleaded guilty earlier this month to stalking, harassment and burglary and was sentenced to six months in jail, which she had already served, and five years’ probation.