Pak cops kill eight bandits

MULTAN: Pakistani police killed eight suspected bandits in a gunfight in a remote, forested region in western Pakistan on Saturday, an official said. One police officer also died. Police got a tip-off that a group of bandits wanted for several murders and robberies were hiding in Dalani, a village about 350 kilometers west of the city of Multan, said local officer Shahid Iqbal. Police raided the village, and the suspects opened fire from inside a house, sparking the gunbattle. Eight suspects were killed and nine others taken into custody. — AP

Tremor in Taiwan

TAIPEI: A strong earthquake shook buildings Taiwan’s capital on Saturday, with officials reporting landslides on a mountain road but no casualties. The quake registered a magnitude of 5.8, and was centred on the island’s east coast, seven kilometers west of the town of Hsincheng, the Central Weather Bureau said. The quake triggered landslides on a mountain road, trapping some travelers, weather bureau official Kuo Kai-wen told reporters. — AP

45 labour leaders held

QUETTA: Police on Saturday arrested 45 labour leaders in a Pakistani city wracked by sectarian violence to stop them holding a May Day rally, an officer said. “We arrested the labour leaders when they gathered on a road in the city for a rally,” said Qazi Wahid, a senior police official in the southwestern city of Quetta. He said cases would be registered against the 45 men. Authorities in Quetta have banned rallies since a March 2 suicide attack on a religious procession in the city left 44 people dead. — AP

Protest marks May Day

HONG KONG: Hundreds of protesters marched to the Hong Kong government headquarters as part of May Day rallies on Saturday, demanding improved working conditions and full democracy for the Chinese territory. Protest organiser Lee Cheuk-yan said about 1,500 people — some carrying placards reading “long hours, low wages” — demanded that the government set a minimum wage and criticized China for rejecting Hong Kong’s bid for universal suffrage. Police declined to estimate the size of the crowd. — AP

WHO probe on in China

BEIJING: WHO experts widened their probe of China’s SARS cases on Saturday, interviewing people at the hospital where lab workers were treated after getting the disease on the job. So far, China’s new cases of the highly contagious ailment are limited to people who worked at Beijing’s Institute of Virology - where SARS samples are kept - and others who came in contact with them. The Ministry of Health said Saturday a lab worker with the family name Yang, who was under quarantine as a suspected SARS case, was confirmed to have the disease. — AP

Afghan voter registration

KABUL: Afghanistan’s second phase of voter registration ahead of landmark elections began slowly on Saturday due to a public holiday, officials said. Afghanistan is due to hold its first post-Taliban general elections in September but eight million people have yet to register to vote and remnants of the ousted Islamic fundamentalist militia have threatened the process. — AFP