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Killer disease reaches capital, five dead
AN OUTBREAK of the deadly Marburg haemorfever has spread to the capital Kampala after an infected woman travelled to the city.
The death toll from the disease, a cousin of ebola, has climbed to five, a health official said on Monday.
The latest outbreak was first confirmed on Friday in a district 430km southwest of Kampala and has rattled a country that only two weeks ago declared itself free of ebola after it claimed at least 16 lives.
There is no specific treatment for the Marburg virus, which is transmitted through bodily fluids or by handling infected wild animals. - Reuters
Truce hopes dim as violence rages on
VIOLENCE raged across war-torn Syria yesterday, dimming hopes of a ceasefire in time for this week's Muslim Eid al-Adha religious holiday as proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.
"Neither the rebels nor the regime appear to want a ceasefire and the daily death toll continues to exceed 100," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The two sides in the conflict have given a wary welcome to Brahimi's proposal but neither has committed itself to the plan.
The civil war has cost more than 34000 lives in the past 19 months. - Sapa-AFP
Battle of Britain pilot dies aged 99
WILLIAM Walker, whose poem is part of a national monument to his comrades in the Battle of Britain, has died at the age of 99.
The Battle of Britain Trust said Walker died on Sunday at home in London.
Walker, a Spitfire fighter pilot, was shot down and took a bullet in his right ankle on August 26 1940, as British pilots engaged a German bomber squadron.
His poem "Our Wall" is inscribed on the memorial on the Dover cliffs to the nearly 3000 men who flew in the battle from June to October 1940.
Walker was a retired chairman of a major brewery. - Sapa-AP
Fighting flares between Syria civil war factions
FOUR people were killed and 15 wounded in gun battles in Tripoli in a second night of fighting between Sunni and Alawite gunmen loyal to different sides in the civil war in neighbouring Syria, a military source said yesterday.
In the capital, Beirut, tension eased after troops fanned out across the city to clear the streets of gunmen.
The violence flared after the assassination of Lebanese security chief Wissam al-Hassan, who was opposed to the Syrian leadership.
The bombing and the ensuing clashes have triggered a political crisis in Lebanon. - Reuters
Party hints at reform by dropping Mao eulogy
THE dropping of references to the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong from two policy statements over the last few weeks is an intriguing hint that the ruling Communist Party is considering reform.
Mao has always been held up as an ideological paragon by the party.
Which is why the dropping of the words "Mao Zedong thought" from two recent statements by the party's all-powerful politburo ahead of a landmark congress, at which a new generation of leaders will succeed to the top party posts, has attracted so much attention.
Also absent were references to Marxism-Leninism. - Reuters
UN warns of desert locust swarms
THE UN warned yesterday that swarms of desert locust were likely to head for northwest Africa in the coming weeks and urged the deployment of teams armed with pesticides to protect crops.
Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Morocco have been alerted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
"A very small swarm eats the same amount of food in one day as about 35000 people," the UN said.
A desert locust adult can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food, about 2g, every day. A swarm of millions of locusts can fly 150km a day. - Sapa-AFP
Rebels kill 10 in shelling of oil state town
REBELS shelled the main town of the oil-producing South Kordofan state yesterday for the third time in two weeks, killing 10 civilians.
Sudan's army has been fighting SPLM-North rebels in the state, which borders South Sudan, since June last year.
But the South Kordofan capital, Kadugli, was until recently kept out of the fighting.
Army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khalid said the rebels had shelled an army garrison outside Kadugli but some shells had landed in the town.
"The attack led to the killing of two children and eight civilians," he said. - Reuters
Dozens arrested, millions seized in anti-Mafia raids
MORE than 60 people were arrested and more than à230-million in cash were seized in three nationwide anti-Mafia sweeps yesterday.
In Palermo, police arrested 41 suspected members of the Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian branch of the Mafia. They are accused of involvement in extortion, drug trafficking, illegal possession of firearms and other crimes.
In Turin, a judge ordered the arrest of 22 suspected members of the Mafia and the seizure of assets worth several million euros.
Judge Giuseppe Salerno said the Mafia had influenced the results of local elections. - Sapa-dpa
Exam answers sent to students' 'watches'
EXAM cheats have been caught receiving answers on cellphones disguised as wrist watches, police said yesterday after busting a criminal racket in Dhaka.
Officers paraded 10 handcuffed masterminds behind the scheme along with several of the electronic devices used in university admission exams and job application tests.
The criminal organisers bribed teachers or education officials to get the questions before the tests.
The gang leaders told police they had brought 120 pieces of the tailor-made device from China and had been renting them out since 2009. - Sapa-AFP
Heated bicycle paths under consideration
RESEARCHERS have come up with a novel way to get more cyclists out during the harsh winter months while also lowering the number of injuries: heated bike paths.
"The idea is to install a system under paths to prevent ice forming in winter," engineer Marcel Boerefijn said.
Several Dutch municipalities have expressed interest in the system that uses geothermal energy drawn from 30m to 50m below ground.
The idea would cost à20000 to à40000 per kilometre of bike path, of which the Netherlands has more than 35000km, but would reduce accidents. - Sapa-AFP