19 miners killed in China

BEIJING: Nineteen miners died after flood and two gas explosions hit separate coal mines in China, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday. A mine shaft belonging to the Yaojie Coal and Electricity Co. in the western province of Gansu flooded on Friday, trapping and killing five workers. In China’s northeastern province of Liaoning, seven other workers died instantly and two later succumbed to injuries after a gas explosion ripped through the Daming Coal Mine. A separate blast on Thursday in Yunnan killed five miners and left four injured, the Xinhua news agency said. — AP

Poll security promise

BANGKOK: Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra on Saturday offered protection to campaigners on both sides of the political divide as murderous attacks on candidates and supporters overshadowed campaigning in the lead up to the February 6 national election. He also ordered a crackdown against the hitmen, many of whom are believed to be policemen and soldiers hired by politicians to do their dirty work. A Thai ruling coalition candidate was shot and injured and a party canvasser killed on Friday. — AFP .

‘Collegians can marry’

BEIJING: China is to lift a 50-year ban against university students getting married or having children — a restriction which has forced them to make painful choices, state media said on Saturday. For decades students contemplating marriage or who become pregnant have faced a dilemma such as whether to give up studying or delay their wedding, or stay in school and have an abortion. The Xinhua news agency cited an official from the Ministry of Education saying the restriction would be lifted. — AFP

2 held for envoy murder

ISLAMABAD: Two people have been arrested over the shooting death of a senior diplomat from Kazakhstan in Pakistan, police said on Saturday. Sapargali Aubakirov, deputy head of the central Asian republic’s mission in Islamabad, was found dead at his house in the capital on Wednesday with a gunshot wound to the head. He died at hospital on Friday. Police said they arrested two suspects from Islamabad and the nearby city of Rawalpindi on Friday. — AFP

Many hurt in train mishap

KUALA LUMPUR: A blast on Kuala Lumpur’s monorail train prompted the driver to use the emergency brake, hurling passengers out of their seats and injuring several of them, news reports said on Saturday. One woman broke her leg, while her daughter and niece hurt their hands when they were thrown off balance by the sudden stop, the New Straits Times newspaper reported. Other passengers were bruised in the incident. Rescue workers said the driver hit the emergency brake after hearing a blast in the undercarriage of the train. — AP

Canadian PM’s China visit

BEIJING: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin left China on Saturday after calling on its leaders to increase their respect for human rights. Before coming to China, Martin was pressed by domestic Canadian rights groups to discuss human rights with the country’s Communist leaders during his visit — his first as prime minister. Martin also touched on human rights during talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and with Premier Wen Jiabao. The two countries announced on Thursday they would expand their annual dialogues on human rights. — AP

Blast on Pak railtracks

QUETTA: A bomb blast blew up a railway track here on Saturday, disrupting train services in Pakistan’s insurgency-wracked southwestern province of Baluchistan but causing no injuries, officials said. Provincial home minister Shoaib Nausherwani blamed the attack on “terrorists” who wanted to create unrest in the province by resorting to rocket and bomb attacks. Railways authorities said the bomb was placed at a level crossing near the city’s university area. The blast occured half an hour before a passenger train was to arrive in Quetta. — AFP