Mild quake hits B’desh

DHAKA: A mild earthquake registering 3.1 on the Richter scale jolted southeastern Bangladesh on Saturday, officials said. There were no reports of any casualties or damage. The tremor, lasting nine seconds, was felt in the port city of Chittagong, the private UNB agency said, quoting an official bulletin. The epicentre was located 73 kilometres from the city. — AFP

Three killed in Pak attack

QUETTA: Assailants with rockets and rifles attacked a natural gas plant in a remote tribal region of Pakistan, triggering a shootout that left a woman and her two children dead, a senior government official said on Saturday. The woman’s home was hit by a rocket late Friday when the militants attacked the main natural gas facility in Sui, about 350 km southeast of Quetta, said the official, adding security men deployed there returned fire and the exchange of fire continued for hours. There were no details of whether terrorists suffered any casualties, the official said. — AP

Falungong’s protest

TAIPEI: Thousands of Falungong members staged a protest here on Saturday against the Chinese government’s treatment of the banned spiritual movement’s followers on the mainland. About 3,000 Falungong members from across Taiwan linked hands to form a six-km long “Great Wall of Justice,” holding photos and paintings depicting alleged torture. China outlawed the Falungong, a movement which combines meditation with Buddhist-inspired teachings, as an “evil cult” in mid-1999 and practitioners have subsequently faced often brutal repression. There are an estimated 300,000 Falungong members in Taiwan. — AFP

Girl sleuths shut shop

BEIJING: China’s first all-female detective agency has been closed following allegations it broke the law and overstepped the scope of its powers, an official at the centre said on Saturday. The Women’s Rights Protection Investigation Centre was accused of “violating regulators procedures,” an advisor at the centre said. People had also complained to the local government about the centre’s efforts to catch cheating husbands, a local newspaper said. There have further been claims that the detective agency “intruded on marriage privacy” and charged excessive rates. — AFP

Thai PM’s radio talk off

BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Saturday he would stop giving his weekly radio address ahead of general elections next month, stemming a controversy over the broadcast. “To keep everybody happy, I would like to temporarily suspend my weekly radio address, as the royal decree setting the Febuary 6 election has already been declared, until the election is finished,” he said in his broadcast. Opposition politicians had asked Thailand’s Election Commission, the independent body that organises and supervises all balloting in the kingdom, to rule on whether the weekly broadcast violated electoral laws. — AFP

US man held in Myanmar

YANGON: Police in military-ruled Myanmar detained a Westerner who was staging a protest in a busy downtown area of the capital, witnesses said on Saturday. A foreign male carrying some signs was taken into custody Friday afternoon just minutes after placing himself outside City Hall, said the witnesses, who insisted on anonymity. They said they did not get an opportunity to read the slogans. A local official, who also insisted on not being named, said the detained man was a US citizen. — AP

Pilot, boy die in crash

BANGKOK: An air force pilot and a 16-year-old boy died on Saturday in eastern Thailand when their light plane crashed in front of hundreds of terrified children at an air show, police and air force officers said. The two-seat propeller plane, a CT-4 Airtrainer, crashed in Wattananakorn airfield of Sa Kaeo province in front of hundreds of children and their parents who went to the show held to mark Children’s Day in Thailand. — AFP