Briefs, September 28, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2012, 4:19am

Major drug trafficker taken by police

MEXICO CITY - Mexican officials say they have struck a major blow against a faction of the hyper-violent Zetas cartel after arresting one of the country's most-wanted drug traffickers, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, known as "El Taliban", and placing him on display in a press conference. Velazquez Caballero has allegedly been fighting a bloody internal battle with top Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales. Officials say the split was behind a recent surge in massacres and shootouts, particularly in northern Mexico. Velazquez Caballero is the third alleged cartel leader to be arrested this month. All are accused of leading factions of the Gulf Cartel or Zetas, former allies now feuding over smuggling territory along the US border. AP


Insurgent who made 30 attacks arrested

BAGHDAD - Iraqi security forces have arrested an insurgent allegedly involved in more than 30 attacks, a security spokesman said as the number of people killed across the country this month reached 200. The insurgent, who was not identified by name, "admitted to carrying out more than 30 assassination and bombing operations", including setting off a car bomb in Baghdad earlier this month, Baghdad Operations Command spokesman Colonel Dhia al-Wakil said. AFP


Kenya set to pass anti-terror law

NAIROBI - Faced with an increased threat of terrorism from al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia, the Kenyan government looks set to pass the country's first anti-terror law to help police prosecute terrorism cases. But the legislation is opposed by a government human rights group that says the law would give the state sweeping powers that can be abused to intimidate political opponents. Kenya's Muslim community and lawyers have also raised objections over the Suppression of Terrorism bill, saying it infringes on constitutional rights of individuals. AP


Riyadh sets basic wage for Filipino maids

MANILA - Saudi Arabia has agreed to a US$400 monthly minimum wage for Filipino maids, a year after a row over the issue halted the entry of such workers, Philippine officials said. Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay said the kingdom had agreed to lift its ban on Filipino workers, imposed in June last year. The row erupted last year when Manila insisted the minimum wage for its maids was necessary to protect them from exploitation. Riyadh had resisted the demand and suspended the processing of employment contracts. The minimum wage for domestic workers in Hong Kong just rose to HK$3,920. AFP


'30pc' of timber trade handled by criminals

PARIS - Organised crime is now a big player in illegal logging, which accounts for up to 30 per cent of all wood traded globally, the UN and Interpol warned. In the mid-2000s, some tropical countries reported a fall in illicit forest clearance, but this may well have been a mirage, they said in a report. In fact, criminals laundered profits into tree plantation companies. They used these as fronts for driving corridors into old forests then plundering trees which they frequently passed off as wood from sustainable sources. AFP


Herbert Lom, 'Pink Panther' actor, dies

LONDON - Czech-born film star Herbert Lom, best known as the deranged Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus in the Pink Panther comedies, has died, according to British media. He was 95. Reuters


Two Sudans to sign partial agreement

ADDIS ABABA - Sudan and South Sudan were to ink agreements on a demilitarised border zone and oil production, but other key issues that nearly brought the two countries to war remain unresolved. The partial breakthrough after four days of talks should allow for the resumption of oil exports after a stoppage that has crippled the nations' economies. However, the limited agreement between President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and his Southern counterpart Salva Kiir fails to address other issues, such as the border of the contested Abyei region and other disputed oil- producing areas. Those issues would be addressed during later talks, officials said. AFP


Amnesty calls for end to grim isolation cells

LOS ANGELES - Amnesty International called on California to end the "shocking" conditions inside its prison isolation cells, which house some 3,000 inmates. Prisoners in the cells were confined for at least 22 hours a day in windowless rooms, with no access to programmes or group activities, Amnesty said. It said 78 inmates had spent more than two decades in the cells. AFP


Panic over deadly attacks in Congo

KINSHASA - Up to 12 people have been killed in shootings and grenade attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma, raising fears rebels in the area have started a new offensive, officials said. Witnesses said youths had started patrols to protect their neighbourhoods after dark and panic was spreading. The region around Goma has been been swept by violence since March, when hundreds of soldiers defected from the army in support of mutinous general Bosco Ntaganda. Reuters