Briefs, September 24, 2012

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 September, 2012, 4:11am


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Panda cub dies a week after its birth in US zoo

WASHINGTON - A baby giant panda born just one week ago at the National Zoo in the US capital has died. The cause of the death was not known. Veterinarians said there was no outward sign of trauma, no outward sign of infection, and the cub was "in good body condition" weighing just under 100 grams. Mei Xiang, on loan to the zoo from China, gave birth to the cub on September 16. Zookeepers had chosen to keep a physical distance from Mei Xiang, in order to let her raise the cub naturally. AFP


Suicide bomber kills 2, injures 46 in Nigeria

BAUCHI - A suicide car bomber attacked a Catholic church celebrating mass in northern Nigeria, killing two people and wounding another 46 in a region under assault by a radical Islamist sect, officials said. The blast happened at St John's Catholic Church in the city of Bauchi, which has seen a number of bombings and shootings blamed on the sect known as Boko Haram. The victims were a woman and an eight-year-old boy. AP


Belarus vote tipped to strengthen president

MINSK - Belarus voted in a parliamentary election which was likely to reinforce hardline President Alexander Lukashenko's grip on the country despite a boycott call from the dispirited opposition. The two main opposition parties urged people to go fishing and mushrooming rather than vote in what they see as a sham exercise to produce a 110-seat chamber which largely rubber-stamps Lukashenko's directives. Lukashenko, a populist who has run the country of 9.5 million with an iron fist since 1994, dismissed the boycott action and opposition leaders, branding them cowards. Reuters


Move to free killer in Australia sparks appeal


SYDNEY - Australian officials said they would appeal against a decision to free and deport to Malaysia a man who shot dead one of the country's top heart surgeons, saying he should serve more jail time. Chiew Seng Liew, 69, was one of two men jailed over the 1991 fatal shooting of renowned doctor Victor Chang, who was raised in Hong Kong, during a failed extortion attempt. Liew, who has advanced Parkinson's disease, was granted parole after serving 21 years of his 26-year sentence. The New South Wales state parole board agreed to free him after his lawyers argued he would soon be unfit to travel and unable to be deported. AFP


Legislator shot dead by rebels in Somali capital

MOGADISHU - Islamist rebels said they shot dead a Somali lawmaker and threatened to kill every legislator in the country. Gunmen killed Mustaf Haji Mohamed outside his home in Mogadishu after evening prayers, the latest in a wave of attacks since Somalia's new assembly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud this month. Mohamud's election was hailed by his supporters and Western powers as a vote for change after more than two decades of violence. Reuters


US jeweller offers free rifle as sales promotion

ATLANTA - A jeweller in the United States is adding some bang to the bling. Under a new promotion, customers who buy a diamond worth US$2,499 or more from D. Geller and Son will get a voucher for a free hunting rifle. Owner Mike Geller told WSB-TV that he got the idea after seeing a similar offer at a car dealership. He said many of his customers are hunters and must go to a local gun dealer to redeem the voucher. AP


Drink-driver ploughs into Moscow bus stop

MOSCOW - A drink-driver ploughed his car into a bus stop in the Russian capital on Saturday, killing seven people and injuring three others, police said. The driver, who was detained and could face nine years in jail, had his licence suspended in 2010 for drink-driving, police said. Interfax news agency quoted a police official as saying he was driving at about 200km/h. Reuters