International Briefs

47 hostages freed

PROSPERIDAD: Tribal gunmen in the southern Philippines on Sunday released 47 hostages they had been holding for three days, after authorities agreed not to arrest them and animals were sacrificed. The ending to the ordeal was a rare piece of good news for the lawless south, following a political massacre last month

that left 57 people dead and the beheading of a man last week in an unrelated abduction. The vice governor of Agusan del Sur, where the mass kidnapping took place, told reporters that government negotiators

had signed a deal not to arrest the kidnappers, a key factor in ending the stand-off.

Sudan reforms deal

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s north-south leaders on Sunday said they had reached a deal on disputed democratic reforms ahead of next year’s elections and a southern referendum on independence. “We announce an agreement between the two partners on all points, which had been a source of disagreement on the referendum law in south Sudan,” said Nafie Ali Nafie, deputy head of Khartoum’s ruling National Congress Party. He was speaking at a joint news conference with the secretary general of the former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Pagan Amum, who said: “With this agreement, we announce the end of the crisis between the two partners

Iraq carnage: 13 held

BAGHDAD: Interior Minister Jawad Bolani on Sunday announced the arrest of 13 suspects over a devastating string of bomb blasts last week that killed more than 125 people in the Iraqi capital. Bolani was addressing MPs, alongside Defence Minister Abdel Qader Obeidi, National Security Minister Shirwan al-Waili and other security chiefs, amid alarm in parliament over the effectiveness of Iraq's security apparatus.