Iraqi crackdown

MOSUL: Iraqi security forces have arrested more than 150 people, including Al-Qaeda leaders and Arab fighters, in a massive crackdown on insurgents in northern Nineveh province, the defence ministry said on Saturday. The operation, launched on Wednesday, centres on the restive city of Mosul, where daily violence against civilians and the army and police remains high compared with other areas of the country. “Around 152 people have been arrested,

including Arabs, leaders from Al-Qaeda and the enemies of the

political process,” said defence ministry spokesman Major General

Mohammed al-Askari. The crackdown involves members of

Iraq’s anti-terror forces, as well as

soldiers and police. — AFP

Aid workers set free

MOGADISHU: Kidnappers on Saturday released three foreign aid workers they had held in Somalia for more than two months, an Islamic militia commander said. Hizbul Islam commander Sheik Abdullahi Nor said he saw the three former hostages board a small plane Saturday in the southwestern Somali town of Luq. Intermediaries had contacted Hizbul Islam to ask about using their airstrip in Luq to fly out the former hostages, Nor said, explaining how he knew about the release. “I don’t know who released them or whether ransom was paid,” Nor said. The three aid workers were kidnapped in July in northern Kenya and had been taken across the border into Somalia. Nationalities for the aid workers have not been disclosed. — AP

Bus accident: 17 dead

BEIJING: Brake failure and overcrowding were blamed for a bus accident that killed 17 people and injured 54 in south China, state media said on Saturday. The 30-seat bus was carrying 71 people and flipped while descending a hill on Friday morning in Hunan province’’s Qiyang county, a man from the county’’s propaganda office said on Saturday. Like many Chinese officials, he would only give his surname, Wang. Nine people, including the driver, were declared dead at the scene and eight died after being taken to a local hospital, Wang said. An initial investigation indicated brake failure and overcrowding caused the bus to overturn, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Wang said he was not yet sure of an investigation’’s findings. Road accidents are common in China because of overloaded and unsafe vehicles, poor road conditions and bad driving habits. — Agencies

Vote for Lisbon Treaty

DUBLIN: Irish voters on Saturday backed the European Union (EU)’s Lisbon Treaty by 67.1 per cent in favour to 32.9 percent against, according to final results of a re-run referendum cited by the RTE state broadcaster on Saturday. Last time, the Irish had rejected the move amid the booming Celtic economy. — AFP