Blasts in Indonesia :

PALU: Three explosions on Saturday hit the religiously divided Indonesian town of Poso in Central Sulawesi province, triggering tighter security but causing no casualties or damage, police said. Low-explosive devices caused the early morning blasts, the provincial police spokesman Muhammad Kilat told AFP in the provincial capital, Palu. One bomb was placed near a Christian church while the other exploded near a traditional market. “Nobody was injured in the blasts, but security in Poso is being intensified,” Kilat said. — AFP

Lanka backs S Korea :

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s candidate has pulled out of the race to succeed Kofi Annan as UN secretary general and the country has thrown its backing behind South Korea’s Ban Ki-Moon, officials here said on Saturday. Jayantha Dhanapala announced his withdrawal after finishing last in three informal polls among members of the UN Security Council over who will succeed Annan, who steps down at the end of the year. “Sri Lanka has now decided not to further pursue the candidature of Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala in the interest of ensuring a consensus in electing an Asian candidate,” the foreign ministry said. — AFP

Bali attack anniv :

JIMBARAN: The survivors of last October’s deadly Bali bombings relived their trauma but expressed new hope on Saturday, amid increased security ahead of events marking the one-year anniversary of the attacks on the popular holiday island. The October 1 bombings on the Hindu-majority island by Islamic extremists — which killed 15 Indonesians, four Australians and one Japanese — occurred just as tourism had recovered after bombings in 2002 that killed 202 people. — AFP

Polio cases reported :

NEW DELHI: Twelve new cases of polio have been registered in India bringing the total this year to 338 — five times the number last year, a report said on Saturday. The increase from 66 cases in 2005 has prompted New Delhi to launch an emergency immunization drive to vaccinate 120 million children. Ten of the new cases are from northern Uttar Pradesh state while one occurred in the capital, the Press Trust of India said. “This is an outbreak we are seeing,” a health ministry official said. — AFP

Oppn accepts offer :

Dhaka: Bangladesh’s main opposition party said on Saturday it had accepted a government offer for talks aimed at defusing a major row over electoral reforms ahead of looming parliamentary elections. The opposition has threatened to boycott the January polls if PM Khaleda Zia refuses to replace election officials it accuses of being biased towards the ruling BNP. “We’ve accepted the government’s offer for talks and we shall hold the meeting within one or two days,” said Abdul Jalil, the secretary-general of the main opposition Awami League. He said he would lead the 14-party opposition alliance in the talks. — Agencies

US criticism rejected :

Yangon: Myanmar’s military government on Saturday rejected a US report that again named the Southeast Asian nation as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom, even as a report from Bangkok said the largest ethnic rebel group battling Myanmar’s military, the Karen National Union , sent a team to Yangon on Saturday to hold informal truce talks with the ruling junta, the group’s secretary-general said. The US report accused the junta of infiltrating religious groups’ meetings. — AFP