developments in the region and abroad
Pirate attacks drop worldwide
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 (AFP): Pirate attacks worldwide dropped 18 per cent in the first nine months of this year to 205 but Indonesian waters remained the most dangerous and accounted for nearly one third of the total, a watchdog body said Tuesday.
There were 61 attacks in Indonesian waters, the Piracy Reporting Centre of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in a statement.
"Violence and intimidation of crew continues to be the hallmark of these attacks (worldwide), with many of the pirates armed with guns and knives," it said.
The IMB said that during the period, 259 seafarers were taken hostage worldwide, 10 kidnapped for longer periods, 19 were assaulted and 12 remained missing. There were 251 pirate attacks during the corresponding period last year.
Tamil Tiger plot for election suicide bomb foiled
COLOMBO (AP): Police found an explosives-packed jacket stashed in the Sri Lankan capital that they suspect was to be used in a Tamil Tiger rebel suicide attack, the military said Tuesday, just a week before the presidential election.
Acting on a tip, police officers discovered the jacket - packed with C4 explosives, two detonators, two switches and iron balls - late Monday near a main road in Colombo, said military spokesman Brig. Nalin Witharanage.
"(The explosives) were all packed and made ready, without the batteries," Witharanage said.
Witharanage said he did not know who was the intended target, and that police were investigating. No arrests have been made.
The discovery came little more than a week before Sri Lankans go to the polls to choose a president on Nov. 17. The country has a history of bitter election-related violence.
US condemns long jail sentences of Myanmar's political leaders
WASHINGTON (AFP): The United States condemned Monday military-ruled Myanmar's secret trials and sentences of eight Shan political leaders to lengthy prison terms.
Hkun Htun Oo, Chairman of the United Nationalities Alliance Myanmar's foremost coalition of pro-democracy ethnic parties, was sentenced to 53 years and also given two life sentences.
Six other leaders also receiving multiple life sentences, according to a Yangon court announcement last week.
"The United States condemns the secret trials and sentences" of the Shan leaders, deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said in a statement.
These actions, he said, demonstrated that the military junta's so- called "Roadmap to Disciplined Democracy" was "neither credible nor inclusive."
Dreaded bandit shot dead in India
LUCKNOW (Reuters): One of India's most wanted bandits, linked to more than two dozen murders and 100 kidnappings, has been shot dead after a fierce encounter, police said on Tuesday.
Nirbhay Gujjar, armed with automatic weapons and boasting a flamboyant handlebar moustache, had wreaked havoc in the rough ravines of central Madhya Pradesh and northern Uttar Pradesh states for more than a decade.
He kidnapped small traders and affluent farmers, killing them if ransoms were not paid, police say. Gujjar, who was about 50, was shot dead by a police special taskforce (STF) in Uttar Pradesh on Monday.
"We were keeping a close watch on his movements and as soon as we had confirmed knowledge about him, we rushed an STF team and they finally got him," state police chief Yashpal Singh told the news agency.