MANILA, Philippines – Philippine prosecutors charged the heir of a powerful clan with murder today in the massacre of 57 people, more than half of them journalists or their staff who were accompanying the family and supporters of an election candidate.
At least 10 witnesses will testify they saw Andal Ampatuan Jr. leading the gunmen, including police officers, who blocked his rival’s election caravan moments before the Nov. 23 massacre, prosecutor Al Calica said.
Hours later, troops found the bullet-riddled and hacked bodies near the highway sprawled in the grass and hastily buried in three mass graves by a backhoe together with three vehicles.
Ampatuan turned himself in last week and denied the charges.
U.S. vows to fund AIDS treatment
PRETORIA, South Africa – The U.S. said it’s giving South Africa $120 million for AIDS treatment in response to a plea from President Jacob Zuma that underlines his new approach to fighting the epidemic.
U.S. Ambassador Donald Gips said today that the funding for AIDS drugs is to be disbursed over two years.
Gips was to formally announce the funding at a ceremony later today, World AIDS Day, at which Zuma is scheduled to give an eagerly awaited speech on AIDS.
Ex-Miss Argentina dies after surgery
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – A 38-year-old former Miss Argentina has died from complications after undergoing cosmetic surgery on her buttocks.
Solange Magnano, a mother of twins who won the crown in 1994, died of a pulmonary embolism Sunday after three days in critical condition following a gluteoplasty in Buenos Aires.
Close friend Roberto Piazza said the procedure involved injections and the liquid “went to her lungs and brain.”
“A woman who had everything lost her life to have a slightly firmer behind,” he said.
Civilian death toll down sharply
BAGHDAD – Fewer than 90 civilians were killed in violence in November in one of the lowest monthly death tolls in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, officials said Monday.
According to figures compiled from various Iraqi ministries, a total of 88 Iraqi civilians were killed in violence last month. This compares with more than 300 killed in October, which included a major bombing in Baghdad that claimed at least 155 lives.
Winds push bergs back out to sea
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Strong westerly winds in the southern Pacific Ocean have driven scores of icebergs originally headed toward New Zealand to the east, away from the country, an oceanographer said today.
A shipping alert was sent out last week and maritime authorities have been monitoring the iceberg flotilla as it drifted north from Antarctica toward New Zealand’s South Island.
The nearest one, measuring about 330 to 660 feet long, was 160 miles southeast of New Zealand’s Stewart Island a week ago.