In short


A round-up of today's world news

UN Burma envoy visits prisoners

RANGOON -The new United Nations human rights envoy to Burma, Argentine lawyer Tomas Ojea Quintana, met five prominent political prisoners on his first trip to the military-ruled country.

However, he did not say whether he had met detained opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in prison or under house arrest continuously for the past five years, and on-and-off for nearly 13 of the past 19 years. - (Reuters)

Desert crash kills nine 'illegals'

PHOENIX -Nine people were killed and nine injured when a sports utility vehicle packed with suspected illegal immigrants rolled over on a desert highway near Phoenix, Arizona, police said.

Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said the vehicle crashed on state route 79 a few miles south of Phoenix yesterday. - (Reuters)

Drink and drugs link to Aids rise

MEXICO CITY -Younger men who binge drink and abuse drugs are the gays and bisexuals most likely to transmit HIV to others, and prevention programmes should be developed to target them, US researchers said yesterday. The study, presented at an international Aids meeting in Mexico City, also helps explain why the Aids epidemic is starting to grow again among US homosexuals. - (Reuters)

Tamil Tigers killed in raid

COLOMBO -Sri Lanka's government said yesterday it was making gains in an offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels after soldiers killed 16 rebels in fresh battles in the north. Defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella rejected any possibility of a ceasefire or peace talks at this stage, saying this could only happen if the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were to lay down arms unconditionally. - (Reuters)

Oyster ban after health fears

BORDEAUX -Authorities in southwestern France have banned the harvest and sale of oysters from one of the country's most famous shellfish-producing regions after a series of public health scares.

The ban on oysters from the Bay of Arcachon, on the Atlantic coast, comes after tests revealed safety concerns over local oysters and mussels. - (Reuters)

Morgan Freeman to divorce

NEW YORK -Morgan Freeman was discharged from hospital yesterday as his lawyer confirmed the actor and his wife were set to divorce after 24 years.

The Oscar-winning star, who broke several bones in a car crash last weekend, was discharged from the Regional Medical Centre in Memphis, Tennessee.

Freeman was with a female passenger, Demaris Meyer, who was also injured, when the car he was driving overturned several times in rural Mississippi on Sunday. - (PA)