Briefs, January 31, 2013

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 3:01am

Minesweeper stuck in reef to be dismantled

MANILA - A badly damaged minesweeper stranded on a World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines for nearly two weeks will need to be dismantled before it is removed, the US Navy said. The drastic measure of pulling apart the 68-metre Guardian was proposed in a salvage plan to Philippine authorities, navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander James Stockman said. AFP


Thai navy blocks Rohingya refugees

BANGKOK - Thailand's navy blocked more than 200 Rohingya boat people from entering the kingdom as part of a new crackdown on refugees from violence-hit western Myanmar. A Thai navy official said more than 200 Rohingya were found about 40 kilometres off the Thai mainland. "We took them food and water before pushing them towards a third country," the official said. AFP


No statue for comfort women in Singapore

SINGAPORE - The government said it had rejected plans by South Korean activists to erect a statue in the city state commemorating women forced into sexual slavery by Japan during the second world war. The culture ministry denied claims by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery that there had been talks about plans to put up such a statue. AFP


Pakistan's former oil minister arrested

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's fugitive former oil-and-gas chief has been arrested in Abu Dhabi on suspicion of embezzling US$850 million in a scandal that could spark a criminal case against the prime minister. Tauqir Sadiq was arrested a week after Pakistan's top court ordered a case to be registered against Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf over the matter. AFP


Ex-politician held after eight years on lam

BANGKOK - Thai police have arrested a fugitive politician who disappeared eight years ago after being convicted of hiring a gunman to kill a rival. Police said 75-year-old Somchai Khunpleum was arrested in a car while travelling to his hometown of Chonburi in eastern Thailand. Somchai is the father of current Culture Minister Sonthaya Khunpleum. AP


Seven villagers hurt in monkey rampage

MAKASSAR, Indonesia - A mob of wild monkeys has gone on a rampage in a village in eastern Indonesia, entering houses and attacking residents. Seven people were injured, including one who is in critical condition. The surprise attack by about 10 monkeys happened in Toddang Pulu village in South Sulawesi. A 16-year-old boy was badly bitten in the attack and is being treated at the hospital. AP