Hooch toll rises to 43

AHMEDABAD: Police say 43 people have died after drinking tainted home-brewed liquor over weekend in India. SS Khandwawala, the director-general of police, says another 29 people are being treated in hospitals in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The victims are mostly poor workers living in slums, he told reporters on Wednesday. Deaths from drinking illegally brewed cheap alcohol are common in India, where few people can afford licensed liquor. The illicit liquor is often spiked with pesticides or chemicals to increase its potency.— AP

Taliban chief ‘hurt’

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Fazlullah, the commander of the Pakistani Taliban in the northwest Swat Valley, has been reported injured during an

offensive against the insurgents, the army spokesman said on Wednesday.

Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told a press conference in Islamabad that they had “credible” information that Fazlullah was hit, but gave no further details about the hardline cleric’s condition. “In one of the strikes, Fazlullah has been injured,” he said. Radical cleric Fazlullah is the architect of a nearly two-year Taliban uprising to enforce sharia law in the Swat Valley. — AFP

Badger blocks road

BERLIN: German police called to clear a road of a dead badger found the animal in question had in fact gorged itself on over-ripe, fermented cherries and, blind drunk, staggered out into the middle of the road. “The animal’s stomach had turned the fruit to alcohol and the badger was, to put it crudely, drunk as a skunk,” said a police statement on Wednesday. “In addition, the badger was suffering from diarrhoea studded with cherry stones.” Prodding the reluctant beast with a stick, officers managed to persuade it to leave the road near the town of Goslar in northwestern Germany and to sleep off his night of excess in a nearby meadow. “It could not immediately be established whether the badger got into trouble with his wife when he came home in such a state,” the tongue-in-cheek police statement concluded. — AFP

Knut’s citizenry right

BERLIN: Polar bear Knut is now officially a citizen of Berlin. The Berlin Zoo said on Wednesday it will pay $600,000 to the Neumuenster Zoo to settle an ongoing financial dispute over ownership of the bear. Neumuenster owns Knut’s father and had insisted it was the legal owner of Knut, his first offspring. It has sought a slice of the proceeds from Knut, whose image as a cuddly looking fluffy white cub has brought in hundreds of thousands of euros. — AP