China to free five South Africans shortly

JOHANNESBURG: Five South African citizens who were detained in China one week ago after being accused of watching "propaganda videos" will be released shortly, the South African government said on Friday. A total of 20 visitors from South Africa, Britain and India were held at Ordos airport in China's Inner Mongolia region last Friday. Six Britons and five South Africans have already been released. "The remaining five (South Africans) who still couldn't make it back home will be released in the coming 72 hours," Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told her country's Eyewitness News website. "We're happy that we've been able to find an amicable diplomatic solution to this challenge." She did not say whether the other four people would also be released. The reason for the detentions has not been confirmed, but Gift of the Givers, a humanitarian relief organisation based in South Africa, earlier said it was for allegedly "watching propaganda videos" in a hotel.

Anti-migrant protest

ROME: Residents in a chic Rome suburb and a northern Italian village staged angry anti-immigrant protests on Friday, with villagers setting mattresses ablaze in a bid to stop authorities from housing migrants. Authorities in the village of Quito plan to accommodate 101 immigrants in empty apartments, but several residents broke into one of the buildings, removed camp beds, mattresses and televisions intended for the newcomers and set them on fire outside. The protesters then put up tents, with the Corriere della Sera newspaper quoting them as saying, "We aren't going home until they leave -- this is an invasion." Italy is currently hosting more than 80,000 migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean fleeing war, persecution or poverty in the Middle East and Africa. The arrivals include many Africans, particularly Eritreans, as well as Syrians.

Rajapakse’s move

ANURADHAPURA: Sri Lanka's former strongman Mahinda Rajapakse formally launched his political comeback bid on Friday from the historic Buddhist pilgrim town of Anuradhapura with a call for ethnic reconciliation. Rajapakse, 69, is standing for election in parliamentary polls on August 17 after losing a presidential vote in January. After initially saying he wanted to retire, Rajapakse re-emerged earlier this month seeking to spearhead the parliamentary election campaign for his United People's Freedom Alliance.