News in Brief / April 1

11 killed in southern Thailand bombings

Suspected Muslim insurgents staged the most deadly attack in years in southern Thailand yesterday, killing 11 people and wounding 110 with car bombs that targeted shoppers just before lunchtime. A first batch of explosives planted inside a parked pickup truck ripped through an area of restaurants and shops in a busy area of Yala city, a main commercial hub of Thailand's restive southern provinces, said district police chief Col. Kritsada Kaewchandee. About 20 minutes later, just as onlookers gathered at the blast site, a second car bomb exploded, causing the majority of casualties. (AP)

Islamist militants kill at least 10 soldiers in Yemen

Islamist militants reportedly killed at least 10 Yemeni soldiers and seized an army checkpoint in the south of the country yesterday, in an attack claimed by an affiliate of Al-Qaida. Local officials said heavy fighting broke out later between the militants and army reinforcements sent to retake the checkpoint, located on the road linking the southern provinces of Lahej and Abyan. Yemeni war planes then bombarded the checkpoint, forcing some of the militants to retreat toward the city of Jaar. The militant group Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the attack. (Reuters)

Flare extinguished on Total’s Elgin drilling platform

A flare near Total's Elgin drilling platform has gone out, reducing the threat of explosion at a massive gas leak from a North Sea well, the company's chief executive said yesterday. A spokesman for the company said the flame had gone out by itself without technical intervention. The flare had been lit as part of Total's response to a gas leak at the Elgin drilling platform off Scotland's east coast, to relieve pressure in the well. Located about 100 meters away from the rig, it raised fears of a massive explosion were it to ignite the natural gas that has been leaking below the platform for six days. (Reuters)

Cruise ship heads for Malaysian port after engine fire

A cruise ship temporarily stranded off the south Philippines coast after a fire disabled its engines is heading for a Malaysian port under emergency power, the Philippines coast guard and the ship's owner said yesterday. Coast Guard Captain Perfecto Eden said the Azamara Quest, which made a port call in Manila on Wednesday, is now on its way to Sandakan port, in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, after the fire was put out yesterday. Five crew members were injured in the fire. The ship is carrying 411 crew members and 600 passengers, many of them Americans and Western Europeans. (Reuters)

Search on for three winners of $640m U.S. lottery jackpot

There were three winning tickets in Friday's record-breaking U.S. lottery, with the victors sharing a $640 million jackpot. The tickets were bought in Maryland, Illinois and Kansas, and officials were yesterday waiting for the winners to come forward. The Maryland ticket was sold in the Baltimore area, the Illinois ticket in the tiny town of Red Bud, near St. Louis, and the Kansas ticket in the northeast region of the state. There had been a tremendous amount of excitement ahead of the draw, with over one billion tickets sold, lottery officials said. (Reuters)