Saturday 19 January 2019

Bank staff put on bomb alert

Bank employees in the North have been put on high alert after recent bomb attacks by dissident republicans.

A branch of Banco Santander SA, in Derry, was badly damaged in a bomb attack last month.

The Real IRA said it carried out the attack. Last October, the same group exploded a car bomb in Derry outside a branch of Ulster Bank.

"We are urging our staff to remain vigilant and are helping police with their inquiries," said Andy Smith, a spokesman for Santander.

A spokeswoman for Ulster Bank declined to comment on "specific security matters".

The Real IRA has said it is targeting banks.

Syrian troops storm town

Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships have taken over a north-western town days after laying siege to it.

Syria-based rights activist Mustafa Osso said large numbers of soldiers entered Maaret al-Numan early today.

It was not immediately clear whether there were any casualties.

Human rights activists say more than 1,400 Syrians have been killed and 10,000 detained in the government crackdown.

Customs seize iguana meat

US Customs agents have seized 159lbs of iguana meat at the Mexican border, hidden in coolers of fish.

The coolers full of iguana meat, worth an estimated $4,500, were found in a vehicle being driven across the border by a 37-year-old man, Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Jackie Wasiluk said.

Blind activist 'badly beaten'

A blind Chinese activist under house arrest was beaten into unconsciousness by local authorities and denied medical care, his wife said in a letter that was smuggled out of the couple's tightly guarded home.

Chen Guangcheng and his wife have been kept under an unofficial house arrest in their village in eastern China since he was released from prison last autumn.

The letter was posted on the website of the US-based China Aid Association, a Christian rights group.

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