International briefs

Foneska files papers

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and his main rival in elections next month, former army general Sarath Fonseka, handed in their poll nomination papers on Thursday. Rajapakse and Fonseka, both dressed in white national dress, were among 22 candidates whose papers were accepted by the national Election Commission. Rajapakse has called the January 26 poll two years early to take advantage of his popularity following the defeat earlier this years of Tamil Tiger rebels that ended a decades-old ethnic conflict.

Sarkozy’s threat

PARIS: President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday threatened to sue a lawyer who accused him of involvement in a corrupt deal alleged to have been behind a Pakistan bomb attack that killed 11 French engineers. Lawyer Olivier Morice, representing the engineers’ families, said Sarkozy was “at the heart” of the deal in which illegal kickbacks were paid as part of a French contract to build submarines for Pakistan. “Olivier Morice has made remarks that directly target the head of state, are libellous, and cannot be condoned as the legitimate expression of the victims’ grief,” said a statement from the Elysee presidential palace. “The president reserves the right to take legal action and categorically refutes these allegations,” it added.

‘Miracle’ suicide blast

PESHAWAR: A teenage suicide bomber blew himself up at a gathering in a northwestern Pakistani town on Thursday, but guests escaped unhurt in the attack. Senior police official Mohammad Ayub told AFP it was a “miracle” that no one was wounded or killed in the bombing in Essakkhel village in Bannu district, which borders the Taliban strongholds of North and South Waziristan. “A boy aged 13 or 14 blew himself up in the middle of guests who were visiting the house of a local political leader to congratulate him on performing the hajj,” Ayub said. “It was just a miracle that nobody was hurt in the attack,” he said. The boy was killed in the blast.