World in brief: Troops deployed ahead of elections

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 13, 2008

Tens of thousands of troops fanned out across Pakistan on Tuesday to bolster security ahead of next week’s parliamentary elections, but senior military officials say they would not try to interfere with the vote.

Underscoring concerns that violence could mar the election, at least nine people were wounded Tuesday in a bomb blast near the office of a candidate in the southwestern province of Baluchistan. It was the latest in a string of attacks that have overshadowed the campaign.

“The bomb was planted in a bicycle parked near the election office where Sardar Aslam Bizenjo was preparing to address a press conference,” said Hamid Shakeel, the police chief in Khuzdar, 185 miles south of Quetta.

The candidate was unhurt and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.


Gunmen kidnap German aid worker

Gunmen kidnapped a German aid worker in northern Somalia on Tuesday after exchanging fire with his bodyguards, a local government official said.

Mohamud Said Nor, the governor of Sanag region, said the German man worked for a relief group called Agro Action. A foreign woman traveling with the man was not kidnapped, Nor said. The reasons were unclear.

Sanag is in an area claimed by both the semiautonomous region of Puntland and the breakaway republic of Somaliland.

“We have sent policemen and military personnel to the mountainous area. We are hopeful to find him soon,” Nor said.


Jesus-themed cosmetics pulled

A cosmetics line that extolled the virtues of “Looking Good for Jesus” has been pulled from stores in Singapore after a number of complaints from shoppers, according to media reports Tuesday.

Promising to “Redeem your reputation and more,” the product line included a “virtuous vanilla”-flavored lip balm and a “Get Tight with Christ” hand and body cream, the Straits Times said.

Wing Tai Retail, which manages the British retailer Topshop, removed the line late last month after receiving complaints.

“These products trivialize Jesus Christ and Christianity,” it quoted Nick Chui, 27, one of the complainants, as saying. “There are also sexual innuendoes in the messages and the way Jesus is portrayed in these products.”

One product has packaging with the image of Jesus wearing a bright white robe as he looks toward the heavens, while a heavily made-up blond woman with an arm draped across his shoulder gazes dreamily at his face.

“Why would anyone use religious figures to promote vanity products? It’s very disrespectful and distasteful,” the report quoted 24-year-old accountant Grace Ong, as saying.

An unnamed Wing Tai Retail spokesman apologized to anyone who was offended.


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