Briefly


Thai troops pulling out

BANGKOK: Thailand's small contingent of troops in Iraq have started leaving for neighbouring Kuwait and will finish their withdrawal within four days, senior military officials said yesterday,ending a controversial year-long posting. 

The contingent of engineers and medics started pulling out on Thursday from their camp near the central Shi'ite holy city of Karbala and is expected to return to Thailand by Sept 20. 

Their heavy equipment was moved out last month. – AFP 

Plane hijacked

KHARTOUM: Hijackers forced a plane carrying about 70 Eritreans from Libya to land here yesterday before surrendering to security forces, according to a UN refugee agency official. 

Michael Lindenbauer, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees deputy representative here, said the plane had left southern Libya bound for Eritrea when unidentified hijackers forced the passenger plane to land in Sudan. – AP 

Journalist executed

DOHA: A group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq has executed Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni after holding him for a week, news channel Al-Jazeera reported late Thursday. 

The Qatar-based news channel said it had received a videotape showing the journalist after his execution, but had decided not to release it, as it would be too shocking for viewers. – AFP 

New premier for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly elected former finance minister Shaukat Aziz as Prime Minister yesterday.  

Aziz, a former Citibank executive credited with turning around Pakistan's economic fortunes, secured 191 votes in the 342-seat assembly, Parliament's lower house, where the supporters of military leader President Pervez Musharraf have a majority. – Reuters 

25 bodies discovered

NAJAF: At least 25 charred and bloated bodies were discovered in the basement of a religious court set up by rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the Old City here, police said yesterday. 

The bodies were brought up to ground level by police and Iraqi national guardsmen and could be seen lying in the courtyard, an AFP correspondent on the scene said. – AFP 

Japan braces for typhoon

TOKYO: Typhoon Chaba churned slowly north-east towards Japan yesterday, downgraded from “super typhoon” status but still powerful and threatening further damage to areas battered by a typhoon just over a week ago. 

The storm is heading for Okinawa and the island of Kyushu. – Reuters 

10 dead in boat mishap

HANOI: Ten people including nine women died and five were still missing after a river ferry was hit by a whirlwind and capsized in northern Vietnam, police said yesterday.  

Just three of the 18 people on board were rescued after Thursday's accident on the Bang river in Quang Ninh province, they said. – AFP 

‘Allow doc to receive prize’

MANILA: A senator urged China yesterday to allow a military doctor who blew the whistle on Beijing's SARS cover-up to travel here to receive one of Asia's most prestigious prizes. 

China barred Dr Jiang Yanyong, 72, from attending next week's Ramon Magsaysay Awards ceremony.– AFP 

Kim’s ‘wife’ dies of cancer

SEOUL: The woman believed to be the wife of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il has died after a long battle with breast cancer, South Korean news reports said yesterday. 

Chosun daily, quoting an unidentified North Korean source in Beijing, said Ko Yong-hui, apparently succumbed to her long illness after returning home from Paris where she receive cancer treatment. – AFP 

Arroyo cuts convoy

MANILA: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said yesterday she had cut the number of vehicles in her security convoy as her personal contribution to the Philippines' efforts to reduce fuel consumption to deal with high oil prices. 

“I have reduced my security convoy,” Arroyo said on Manila's Radio Mindanao Network. She did not say how many vehicles she had dropped. – AFP 

 

Fraudsters arrested

HONG KONG: Two fraudsters from Cameroon have been arrested here for trying to cheat people out of thousands of dollars by claiming they could convert blackened paper into US banknotes, police said yesterday. 

According to the South China Morning Post, they were working a common scam known as “Nigerian black money”. – AFP  

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