Bangla oppn stages sit-ins

Dhaka: Supporters of Bangladesh’s main opposition Awami League staged sit-ins on Saturday ahead the party’s end-of-the month deadline for the resignation of the government as police kept up mass arrests. Police said nearly 7,000 people had been arrested in Dhaka since Monday in what authorities described as a bid to check rampant crime but which the opposition said was part of a government drive to crack down on rival parties. “It’s a normal operation to curb crime,” a police officer in the central control room told AFP. “We believe we have nearly 7,000 people locked up.” — AFP

Al Qaeda helpers give in

WANA: Tribal elders assembled on Saturday at a remote Pakistani village near the Afghan border for the expected surrender of five tribesmen wanted by the government for sheltering Al Qaeda suspects, witnesses said. The men were to give themselves up, in return for a government pardon, to a tribal jirga at the village of Shakai, 25 km north of Wana, a tribal representative said. The deal also allows hundreds of Al Qaeda-linked fighters to remain at liberty in exchange for pledges to live peacefully. It ends the Pakistani army’s bloody hunt for Al Qaeda-linked guerrillas in the tribal region which has left over 100 people dead. — AFP

Death for killing mates

BEIJING: A court in southwestern China has ordered the death penalty for a university student accused of bludgeoning four of his classmates to death, the government said on Saturday. Ma Jiajue, who was arrested last month, was convicted of murder by the Kunming Intermediate People’s Court in Yunnan province, the Xinhua said. Ma’s trial began on Thursday. Media reports have said the victims’ bodies were found stuffed in a closet in their dorm room at Yunnan University in Kunming on February 23. — AP

Karzai in troubled area

KANDAHAR: President Hamid Karzai arrived in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Saturday, on his first trip to the region since he escaped an assassination attempt there two years ago, officials said. Karzai, accompanied by Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and Urban Development Minister Gul Agha Sherzai, drove to the provincial governor’s house from the airport under tight security. He is expected to meet tribal and religious leaders, civilian and military officials as well as officials of UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan, the governor’s spokesman Khalid Pashtun said. — AFP

Lanka govt’s move hailed

COLOMBO: A political party representing Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka’s Parliament has applauded President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s for asking Norway to resume peace talks between her government and the rebels. “It appears that she wants to resume peace talks. We welcome this move,” Kanagalingam Sivajilingam, a lawmaker for Tamil National Alliance, told AP on Saturday. The alliance fielded proxy candidates for Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam rebels in the April 2 parliamentary election and returned 22 members from Tamil-majority northeastern Sri Lanka. — AP

Two held with fake notes

NEW DELHI: Two men have been arrested here with Rs 15,400 in fake currency notes, police said on Saturday. Deputy Commissioner of Police Deepander Pathak said shop owners Ashok Kumar and Sahib Singh had been circulating counterfeit notes in Rs 500 and Rs 100 denomination for the last six months. They were arrested from Sultanpuri in northwest Delhi on Friday night. Pathak said the suspects had been receiving the fake notes from a man named Amit, who is yet to be arrested. — HNS

CBSE paper leak scam

NEW DELHI: Private coaching institutes have come under the police scanner after an official of such a centre was arrested in the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) paper leak scam. Joint Commissioner of Police BK Gupta said that police were probing the possibility of coaching institutes here and in adjoining states having purchased CBSE test papers from the gang operating the racket. Police have also arrested a CBSE employee, Hemant Sharma. — HNS