World Briefs

US airline security

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday said it would step up airport security measures in response to the threat from Al-Qaeda. “We must remain vigilant about the continued threat we face from Al-Qaeda,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. “We are taking an additional set of aviation security precautions to protect the American people. “Some of these measures include enhanced random screening, additional federal air marshals on certain routes and adding individuals of concern to our terrorist watch list system.” The announcement comes after President

Barack Obama launched a wide-ranging investigation into the attempted bombing of a trans-Atlantic jet on Christmas day.

Iran cleric arrested

TEHRAN: Iran has arrested a cleric close to late dissident Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri amid a fresh crackdown on opposition supporters, a reformist website reported on Friday. Mid-ranking cleric “Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Taghi Khalaji was arrested at his home in the city of Qom on Tuesday,” Norooznews said. “The cause of his arrest is not known yet but he had on several occasions backed protests against election results” which saw President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad returned for a second term amid allegations

of massive fraud. The website described Khalaji as being close to Montazeri and Grand Ayatollah Yusuf Sanei, both strong supporters of the opposition.

Kids spark panic

BERLIN: Three young schoolchildren sparked a panicked search when they slipped out of their kindergarten to flee wintry Germany and “fly to Africa”, authorities said on Thursday. “The rogue youngsters aged five and six took advantage of an unobserved moment to break out of their class” in the southern city of Nuremberg, police said. “Their teachers called the police immediately and took part in the search” which included federal officers, the fire brigade and a police helicopter. About two hours later, they were found safe and sound and said they had aimed to catch a plane to Africa. “On the way they wanted to make a ‘stopover’ at a toy store on Trier Street,” police said.

Thai anti-govt rally

BANGKOK: Thailand’s “Red Shirts”, supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, will rally in Bangkok next month ahead of a court ruling on the fugitive politician’s frozen fortune, a leader said on Friday. The anti-government protest group has held several rallies over the past year in support of Thaksin, who was deposed in a military coup in 2006 and is living in exile to escape a two-year jail term for corruption. One of the group’s leaders, Jatuporn Prompan, said he expected up to one million protesters dressed in their trademark red tops to attend the event, although the exact date in February has not yet been set.