- - Sunday, August 29, 2010

PHILIPPINES

Crowd protests bus massacre

HONG KONG | An estimated 80,000 Hong Kongers marched Sunday in honor of eight locals killed in a bus hijacking in Manila, denouncing the Philippine government for botching the rescue operation and demanding justice for the dead.

Rolando Mendoza, a former Philippine police officer, commandeered a bus carrying a 20-member Hong Kong tour group visiting the Philippine capital last week, hoping to reverse his dismissal from the force on what he said were bogus robbery and extortion charges.

Mendoza released several children and elderly hostages early in the 12-hour standoff, which was broadcast live on television, but later opened fire on the tourists. A police sniper killed Mendoza — but not before eight tourists were killed by gunfire. Three others, including one still in a coma, were seriously wounded.



The Philippine government ordered a thorough investigation into the Aug. 23 incident, but that has done little to stem growing anger in this southern Chinese territory where violent crime is rare.

CHINA

Kim, son reportedly take succession tour

CHANGCHUN | North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited China’s northeastern city of Harbin on Sunday while on a secretive trip reportedly aimed at drumming up support for a succession plan involving his youngest son, a news report said.

Reporters have followed a 35-vehicle motorcade — apparently used by the reclusive Mr. Kim — around several cities in northeastern China. Mr. Kim, 68, rarely leaves North Korea and when he does travels by special train.

In Harbin, Mr. Kim toured a historic site commemorating his father’s communist movement, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said. Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung, engaged in anti-Japanese guerrilla warfare in Harbin during Japan’s colonial occupation.

Yonhap said Mr. Kim likely would depart from Harbin later Sunday or early Monday.

Yonhap earlier quoted an unidentified diplomat as saying Mr. Kim would visit Yanbian, a Korean autonomous prefecture in the far northeastern Chinese province of Jilin bordering North Korea, but it later reported that Mr. Kim arrived by train in Harbin without stopping.

North Korea does not announce Mr. Kim’s trips until after he returns home, and China has refused to say whether he is in the country, even though a Japanese television station had a grainy picture of him.

VENEZUELA

Jailed Chavez foe calls case a farce

CARACAS | The leader of a conservative group opposed to President Hugo Chavez has been charged with hiding explosives in his home — allegations he called a farce in comments sent from his jail cell.

Prosecutors announced conspiracy and arms trafficking charges against Alejandro Pena Esclusa on Friday, more than six weeks after he was arrested on July 12.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement that agents who raided his apartment found about 100 detonators and 2 pounds of C4 explosives.

Officials have linked Mr. Pena’s arrest to the capture of a Salvadoran man, Francisco Chavez Abarca, who is accused of helping to organize bombings in Cuba as part of a campaign against the island’s communist government.

Mr. Pena, who is jailed in the intelligence agency headquarters in Caracas, said Saturday night in a written response to questions from the Associated Press that “the accusations against me are a farce.”

TURKEY

Explosives found near oil pipeline

DIYARBAKIR | Security forces in Turkey disarmed a bomb placed along an oil pipeline and found 143 pounds of explosives stashed in a car, officials said Sunday.

The bomb, which consisted of 44 pounds of explosives and two propane tanks rigged to a timer, was discovered along the pipeline linking oil fields in Batman province to Diyarbakir, said the region’s governor Mustafa Toprak.

The PKK Kurdish rebel group claimed responsibility for an Aug. 10 blast that hit another pipeline linking Kirkuk in northern Iraq to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan and killed two people.

Turkish security forces also arrested three suspected members of the PKK Kurdish rebel group late Saturday after finding 143 pounds of explosives stashed in their car, security officials said.

NIGERIA

Gunmen kidnap presidential supporter

ABUJA | Nigerian police say kidnappers seized a man who claims be to the son of the nation’s first prime minister.

Police spokesman Moshood Jimoh told the Associated Press on Sunday that kidnappers seized Jhalil Tafawa Balewa. Mr. Jimoh said police shot one kidnapper and arrested another.

The spokesman declined to say whether Mr. Tafawa Balewa was freed after the firefight.

Mr. Tafawa Balewa, 60, said he is the son of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first prime minister who was killed in the country’s 1966 coup. The Tafawa Balewa family disowned Jhalil in 2008, claiming he wasn’t a son. It wasn’t clear whether the man kidnapped was the same Jhalil.

Jhalil Tafawa Balewa also is an organizer of a group called Goodluck Nakowa, which supports a bid by President Goodluck Jonathan in next year’s presidential election. Mr. Jonathan has not said whether he’ll run.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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