In short


Today's other stories in brief

Alcoholism a disaster, says Medvedev

MOSCOW – Russian president Dmitry Medvedev yesterday said alcoholism had become a “national disaster” . Mr Medvedev said measures aimed at reducing binge drinking had not worked.

“Alcoholism in our country is a national disaster. If I speak openly, I think that one cannot speak of any change. Nothing has changed,” he told a meeting of senior officials in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The president said he was shocked by official data showing the average Russian drank 18 litres (38 pints) of pure alcohol each year.

“When you convert that into vodka bottles, it is simply mind-boggling,” Mr Medvedev said.

Doctors believe alcohol-related diseases cause around half of all deaths of Russians between the ages of 15 and 54. – (Reuters)

Seven militants killed in Pakistan

PESHAWAR – At least seven militants were killed in northwest Pakistan yesterday in a clash between fighters loyal to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud – who the government says is dead – and his rivals, officials and residents said.

The clash erupted when Mehsud’s fighters attacked militants loyal to a pro-government group led by Turkestan Bitani, near the South Waziristan tribal region on the Afghan border. – (Reuters)

Rwandan genocide suspect arrested

KINSHASA – Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have arrested a man accused of planning the massacre of at least 2,000 Rwandan Tutsis during the 1994 genocide, a government official said yesterday.

Grégoire Ndahimana was arrested by Congolese soldiers on Sunday during UN-backed operations to stamp out Hutu rebel group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the violence-ravaged North Kivu eastern border province. – (Reuters)

Putin vows to defend Abkhazia

SUKHUMI – Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin pledged half a billion dollars to defend the breakaway region of Abkhazia during a surprise visit which Georgia said escalated tensions in the Caucasus.

Mr Putin’s tour of the enclave underscores Moscow’s increased foothold in the rebel regions since Russian troops repelled a Georgian attempt to retake South Ossetia in a five-day war which ended on August 12th last year. – (Reuters)

Mob kills mine owner in Kenya

MOMBASA – A Kenyan mob armed with clubs, spears and bows and arrows killed a prominent Scottish gemstone expert during a dispute over mining in a national park, police in the east African country said yesterday.

Campbell Bridges, a 71-year-old internationally-renowned geologist and gemmologist, died late on Tuesday near the town of Voi in southern Kenya, where he owned several gemstone mines. John Ole Shampiro, of the local Taita Police Division, said: “According to witnesses, a group of about 20 people . . . used a knife to stab the deceased. We believe that his death was a result of a mining dispute involving the deceased and the locals.” – (Reuters)

Costa Rican leader has swine flu

SAN JOSE – Costa Rican president Oscar Arias is suffering from the H1N1 virus, making him the first head of state known to have contracted swine flu.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mr Arias (68) felt unwell over the weekend and asked to be tested for the virus. – (Reuters)