Shrine to Jesus in Israel robbed and vandalized
A church in Israel built where Christians believe the transfiguration of Jesus took place has been vandalized, with chalices stolen, icons damaged and a donation box robbed, an official said yesterday. Church officials believe the motive for Monday’s incident was robbery and not Jewish extremism, which has been blamed for previous vandalism at Christian sites in Israel, said Wadie Abunassar, a spokesman for bishops in the Holy Land. Abunassar could not say how many chalices were stolen from the Basilica of the Transfiguration or how much money from the donation box had been taken. Communion bread had also been thrown on the ground. No graffiti was painted on the church as usually occurs with vandalism by extremists, Abunassar said. A report has been made with police. The church is located on Mount Tabor in the Galilee region of northern Israel, where Christians believe Jesus became radiant and spoke with Moses and Elijah.
‘Horror clown’ attacks leave several injured
The so-called creepy clown trend has spread to Austria where several people have been injured in attacks by masked assailants in the lead-up to Halloween. Three men disguised as “horror clowns” assaulted a 19year-old man with a baseball bat at the weekend in the western state of Tirol, local police said yesterday. The suspects fled the scene. In another incident, a 16-year-old jogger was seriously injured on Sunday when she fell down a steep hill after being scared by a creepy clown who had jumped in her path in the Carinthian city of Villach. The teenager was hospitalized while the suspect manage to escape, police said. Another 16-year-old girl twisted her ankle on Monday evening when she ran away from a man wearing a clown mask in a parking lot and fell down some stairs in central Styria state. Authorities said they were still searching for leads regarding the suspect. People have been reporting numerous other sightings across Austria on special Facebook pages dedicated to creepy clown spotting.
Ex-president spokesman quizzed in graft probe
Nigeria’s anti-graft agency said yesterday it was detaining and questioning ex-president Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesman as part of a wider probe into corruption. A source at the agency said the investigation touched on alleged misuse of funds alloted for fighting Boko Haram, Nigeria’s notorious jihadist group. “We have arrested Reuben Abati and he is undergoing interrogation in connection with some issues bordering on graft,” Economic and Financial Crimes Commission spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said. Uwujaren said Abati was arrested on Monday and was still in custody. Another EFCC official, who did not want to be named, said Abati “is being questioned in relation to (an) ongoing investigation into the misappropriation of funds earmarked for arms to fight Boko Haram.” Abati was a popular columnist and chairman of the editorial board of the independent Guardian newspaper before his appointment as Jonathan’s spokesman.
14 die, 147 injured as explosion rocks China
The toll from a powerful explosion in China rose to 14 dead and 147 injured yesterday, state media said, as authorities censored discussion of the incident online. Monday’s blast in Xinmin, in the northern province of Shaanxi, tore through five prefabricated buildings, destroying or damaging 58 others, the official Xinhua news agency said. It may have been caused by illegally stored explosives, an initial investigation found. Pictures showed widespread damage, with windows blown out of buildings, a crater in the street, and bloodied victims lying on the ground. Rescue efforts had concluded yesterday morning, and more than 100 of the injured were still hospitalized, Xinhua said, citing local authorities. The explosion comes at a time of heightened vigilance for the ruling Communist Party, which holding a high-level meeting in Beijing, the “Sixth Plenum”. Outraged social media users said that there were comparatively few reports on the incident available online, and others had been deleted, with comments on many platforms disabled.
Three Vietnamese fishermen held hostage for nearly five years by Somali pirates returned home yesterday to weeping relatives, saying they were “overwhelmed” with joy after their harrowing kidnapping. The men were among 26 hostages freed Sunday who belonged to the crew of Naham 3, an Omani-flagged vessel that was seized south of the Seychelles in March 2012. After a long flight from Kenya, a stunned looking Nguyen Xuan Phuong was greeted by his beaming father, who shouted the 27-year-old’s name as he spotted him at Hanoi’s Noi Bai international airport. “I am overwhelmed with happiness,” Phuong said, as he embraced his tearful dad. His crew, which also included seafarers from China, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and Taiwan, was taken hostage at the peak of Somali piracy. Only one other crew of fishermen spent longer in the hands of Somali pirates. The hostage takers initially captured 29 crew members from the Naham 3, but one died during the hijacking and two more died of illness during their cap
HANOI: Nguyen Van Xuan holds his daughter as he emerges from a flight from Nairobi, Kenya, at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi yesterday. — AP Joy as Vietnam’s hostages return after pirate ordeal