International Briefs

Toddler murder case

MELBOURNE: The distraught parents of an Indian toddler whose body was dumped by a Melbourne roadside made an emotional visit to their son’s body on Saturday, as police continued to investigate his suspicious death. The couple spent an hour viewing the body of three-year-old Gurshan Singh at the Melbourne coroner’s centre. The boy’s body was found on Thursday several hours after he disappeared from a suburban house. As stuffed toys, flowers and messages of support collected outside their home, family friend Ajay Pathania said the couple, who had been studying in Australia, had cancelled their plane tickets back to Punjab, northern India.

Brown in Helmand

CAMP BASTION: Early wins in a major anti-Taliban push in southern Afghanistan offered a “beacon of hope,” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Saturday during a surprise visit to troops. During a lightning eight-hour visit to Helmand province, Brown cautioned that it was vital to “win the peace as well as the war” and vowed that British troops would stay in Afghanistan until their job was done. “That’s why it’s so crucial that in just 20 days since the start of the operation, the combined international and Afghan forces, military and civilian, have begun turning a stronghold of Taliban insurgency into a beacon of hope for local people,” he told reporters.

11 soldiers killed

MANILA: Eleven Philippine soldiers were killed in an ambush by communist guerrillas on Saturday, a military spokesman said. The soldiers were on patrol in Mindoro island, south of Manila when they ran into a fortified camp of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) guerrilla group, said Colonel Romeo Brawner. A three-hour gun battle also resulted in the wounding of seven soldiers with “undetermined casualties” on the side of the rebels, he added. “The troops fought it out literally to the last bullet,” Brawner said.

Rao to visit Lanka

COLOMBO: India’s foreign secretary Nirupama Rao will hold talks with Sri Lanka’s president on resolving the grievances of the island’s Tamil minority this weekend, an official source said on Saturday. New Delhi has been pushing for political power-sharing between Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese and the Tamils since Sri Lankan troops crushed Tamil Tiger rebels last May, ending a nearly four-decade-long civil war. Rao, due to arrive late on Saturday in Colombo for a three-day trip, is the most senior Indian official to visit the island since President Mahinda Rajapakse won a second term in January polls.

Magazine apologises

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian Muslim magazine has issued an apology after two of its journalists joined a Catholic service and allegedly desecrated the communion wafer. The “Al Islam” magazine published an article describing how they took the wafer and spat it out after entering the church to investigate claims that Muslims were illegally converting to Christianity. “Al Islam magazine apologises... because the article had unintentionally hurt the feelings of Christians, especially Catholics,” it said on its website Utusan Karya.

Kid saves baby

MANILA: A six-year-old girl rescued her baby brother from a fire in the central Philippines despite suffering serious burns herself, local newspapers reported on Saturday. Virginia Rojo carried her four-month-old brother Joren out of their shack on the island of Negros on February 28, shielding the child with her own body as flames licked her face, said the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The girl was asleep when the fire engulfed her home. “Jesus told me to wake up

and save my baby brother,” the newspapers quoted her as saying. Although the brother was unharmed, Virginia suffered burns to her face and hands.