10 in TEN
Tsunami toll rises to 10 after dead child found
POWERFUL aftershocks rattled the Solomon Islands yesterday as aid agencies struggled to get a clear picture of the devastation four days after a 8.0-magnitude quake triggered a tsunami.
The confirmed death toll rose to 10 with the discovery of a child's body in a ditch in the remote Santa Cruz Islands, while more than 3000 people were squatting in makeshift shelters after their homes were destroyed.
Two boats carrying urgently needed supplies of medicine, food, water and tents had arrived at Lata, the main town in the island group.
Officials in the capital, Honiara, said they had not been able to receive full assessments of the situation on the outlying islands. - Sapa-AFP
Al-Qaeda offshoot faces Muslim military rival
AFTER years of fighting the government from hidden jungle bases in the south, an al-Qaeda-linked militant group is facing a new adversary: fellow Muslim insurgents eager to regain their lost stature by fighting the widely condemned terrorist group.
The emerging enmity between the Abu Sayyaf militants and the Moro rebels could bolster a decade-long campaign by the West to isolate the al-Qaeda offshoot Abu Sayyaf.
In their first known major clash, Abu Sayyaf gunmen battled rebels from the larger Moro National Liberation Front, leaving at least 22 combatants dead in the mountainous jungles on southern Jolo Island. - Sapa-AP
New year starts with less of a bang than usual
BEIJING'S annual Lunar New Year fireworks barrage has been notably muted following government appeals to keep air pollution to a minimum.
China's capital experienced almost twice the number of smoggy days in January, with levels of small-particle air pollution going off the charts at times. That prompted calls for restraint, along with a reduction in the number of licensed fireworks sellers and amount of fireworks on sale.
The fusillades that began on Lunar New Year's eve on Saturday night started later than usual and died out earlier than usual yesterday morning and relatively few explosions were heard during the day. - Sapa-AP
Company's pay-cut plan ruffles feathers
A FRENCH multinational's suggestion to ask older workers to accept pay cuts as a cost-cutting measure has touched a raw nerve as the Dutch economy faces a slowdown and rising unemployment.
French IT giant Capgemini's Dutch general manager, Jeroen Versteeg, said he was looking at "calibrating" 5000 Dutch-based employees to see if salaries matched current market value and productivity. - Sapa-AFP
President shuns party for new US commander
US MARINE General Joseph Dunford took control of the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan yesterday, in an elaborate ceremony for the commander who is expected to oversee the withdrawal of most foreign troops by the end of next year.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was absent from the change of command ceremony despite receiving an invitation. - Reuters
Five soldiers killed by roadside car bomb
POLICE say suspected militants have killed five and injured one soldier in a roadside attack in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south.
Police Major Torphan Pusanthia said the insurgents detonated a car bomb on a road in Raman district in Yala province, as the truck carrying six soldiers passed by yesterday.
The six soldiers were on their way to guard local farmers. - Sapa-AP
Three Chinese doctors' throats slit
ARMED men killed three Chinese doctors in a pre-dawn attack in the volatile northeastern town of Potiskum yesterday, the latest such killings in recent months.
"Unknown attackers scaled the fence of an apartment housing three Chinese doctors at about 1am and slit their throats," Yobe State police commissioner Sanusi Rufa'i, adding that it would be premature to accuse the Islamist group Boko Haram. - Sapa-AFP
Right-wing presidential candidate widens lead
RIGHT-WING opposition leader Nicos Anastasiades has widened his lead over his two main challengers a week before presidential elections, three polls indicated yesterday.
With voters looking for a fresh pair of hands to revive their struggling economy, support for Anastasiades rose above 40% in opinion polls by the Phileleftheros and the Kathimerini newspapers, with a 15-point margin over his closest rival, Stavros Malas, who, like Cyprus's incumbent president, is backed by the communists.
Just over half a million Greek Cypriots go to the polls on Sunday, February 17. The winner will have to negotiate a bailout for the tiny economy. - Reuters
Saudi Arabia keen to spend R18bn on boats
SAUDI Arabia is looking into buying patrol boats worth 1.5-billion euros (about R18-billion) from a German firm, and appears to have won the Berlin government's approval.
Germany's national security council, which includes Chancellor Angela Merkel and the ministers of defence, development, economy and foreign affairs, had already given the deal a preliminary nod, according to the newspaper.
There has been widespread public criticism of arms deals. Such exports are a sensitive issue in Germany given the country's Nazi past and the role arms makers such as Krupp played in fuelling numerous 19th- and 20th-century wars. - Reuters
Secular ministers leave Islam-led government
THE secular party of President Moncef Marzouki withdrew its three ministers from the Islamist-led government yesterday, saying its demands for cabinet changes had not been met.
The decision by Marzouki's Congress for the Republic Party deals a further blow to Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali's government, already reeling from last week's assassination of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid.
Belaid's killing on Wednesday - Tunisia's first such political assassination in decades - has thrown the country into turmoil, widening rifts between the dominant Islamist Ennahda party and its secular-minded foes. - Reuters